Category Archives: Walking

2014

Sitting down in our local Tap House me and my fiancée were enjoying The Mills Winter Ale. The background, a buzzing atmosphere as many chatted away. It wasn’t long before we asked each other the standard New Years Eve question.

Now before I go into it, I must add that this was the first time since we’ve been together that neither of us were struck down with a cold and we were away from our house on New Years Eve.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9d/56130259/files/2015/01/img_0958.jpg
The question?…. “What are my highlights of 2014”

Immediately I dismissed it as a pretty standard year, 2014 appeared quiet and a lot calmer to that of previous years. It wasn’t until I thought a little harder about the question that it became apparent that 2014 has had its fair share of positives and some sad chapters as well.

In a year that saw a fantastic family wedding, an intimate In The Woods festival, camping trips and glamping in York, a birthday weekend away in Canterbury and many disappointing sporting woes from my beloved Leeds United it was hard to really answer this question with so much going on.

For those of you who have followed my blog since I started it in 2013, I’m hopeful that you’ve started to paint a picture of me and my life. I will always share what I feel comfortable with sharing and it’s because of this I feel that my followers understand how valuable I rate life. I will therefore answer this question honestly.

One of my main highlights of 2014 involved me and my fiancée moving into our first house together in February. I initially moved in with Lisa when I left Stratford and despite having a lovely place together then we made a decision to get a bigger place with our own garden. We have certainly benefitted from this and have spent most of the sunny days out in the garden cooking BBQs, growing plants and encouraging wildlife in to enjoy it with us. We have done many jobs to make this house our own and have just agreed an additional 2 year extension to our contract which is fantastic news.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9d/56130259/files/2015/01/img_0950.jpg

The bird feeder was one of my Christmas Pressies and despite the return of our resident scatty Wood Pigeon, it’s clear he isn’t afraid of heights and is giving it a go. Unfortunately he is just a bit too big to use the feeders. The scattered seed on the grass from other birds is his reward.

On a professional level 2014 saw me secure the biggest promotion to date in my working career. I became a Branch Manager in August and have been responsible in ensuring the Branch has finished the year in an excellent position. I work for a Builders Merchants and 2014 has seen the Banbury depot succeed at its highest level in recent history. Five months into my new job and I am fully aware of the numerous challenges that await, however it’s important at times like these to enjoy the successes and ensure I benefit from the welcome festive break. Time to recharge these batteries!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9d/56130259/files/2015/01/img_0871.jpg

With my new job I enjoyed my first Managers Christmas party and was very fortunate to be treated to a weekend around Cheltenham Races. It gave me the perfect excuse to get smartened up in a year that saw my fiancée improve my style and construct a far more fashionable wardrobe for me!

It is from this that 2014 sadly saw the passing away of one of my biggest influences in my professional career. In 2000 I started working in the Building Industry for a company called Underground Supplies. I was interviewed by the MD, a gentleman by the name of Andrew Bygate. I recall the meeting I had with the Recruitment Agency prior to this interview as if it only happened yesterday.

The lady at the Recruitment Agency advised me that Andrew was a positive man who admired forward thinking and driven individuals. I arrived with this in mind and following the interview Andrew simply said to me that he would be back in touch via the agency to let me know if I was successful. It was at this point I simply asked Andrew for the job. He looked at me, slightly perplexed by my forward nature before smiling and simply saying “ok then, the job is yours, well done”.

This was the start of nearly a decade working with Andy (Andrew was far too formal, once I started working for him!) Andy was diagnosed with a Brain Tumour in 2006 and undertook the biggest fight and challenge in his personal life. Andy fought hard and carried this on throughout 2014. Unfortunately Andy lost this battle in late 2014 but fought so bravely and inspired many people who crossed paths with him, this included me. Thank you Andy for inspiring me to succeed and play a major part in where I find myself today.

2014 saw one of my biggest personal challenges and one that me and Lisa were able to complete together. We had more than a few personal battles to overcome but on a bright dry day in Wales, we climbed and descended Mount Snowdon. If ever there was a challenge and one that needed team work of the highest order then this was it. Towards the end of the decent my legs packed in and I needed some heat pads and assisted stretches to keep me intact until the end. The important thing is we got through it and loved the breathtaking views and experience we shared together.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9d/56130259/files/2015/01/img_0023.jpg
So as we head into 2015 another book starts, one thing which is pretty certain is that we will be asking ourselves this same question again on future New Years Eves.

All I can say is I hope my readers and followers can take a moment to reflect and look back on 2014. It’s always nice when you can recall some stand out memories. Have a great 2015 and I look forward to sharing some more moments with you as I head into a big year!

Mark

Advertisements

Apologies for the Quiet

I must apologise to my followers for this moment of silence. I know there isn’t a need to do this, however I want to. I am extremely proud to have over 80 followers and I feel the very reason you followed me has been put on hold, well this has ended tonight.

As I appear from the shadows it is at the time of year the world we live in takes on a festive holiday filled feeling. So what have I been up to and how is 2014 concluding as we head into the final throes of the year.

I’ve had some fantastic weekends and day trips away with my fiancé which included a fun weekend exploring Leeds for a family members birthday. Leeds is a fantastic city and one that we both love. Who knows what the future holds with regards to this awesome city….

Last Tuesday we went to London and visited the Tower of London Poppies. We tried to go a fortnight ago but couldn’t quite battle our way through the crowds. This time around we were able to walk right around the tower and saw some amazing sights.

I have a couple of my favourite photos below:-
IMG_0542.JPG

IMG_0457.JPG

I witnessed Northampton Saints lose against Exeter last Friday which was slightly surreal. It’s the first time I’ve seen them lose and now the disappointment that Leeds United provide has been mirrored at Saints.

Towcester Mill has had a handful of visits as the nights draw in, it’s very cozy inside. It’s a shame we can’t quite enjoy the long evenings in the amazing gardens. It’s a good job the Winter Beers are on tap, there will be some reviews coming up soon!

Our hedgehog who became our fourth family member has gone into hibernation. I do have a photo from last month below as he made the most of our feeding station. We also seem to have a new kitten who visits our garden. It’s all go round our neighbourhood!

IMG_0374.JPG

IMG_0279.JPG
So what does the rest of November hold? Firstly it’s a certain special persons birthday. I can’t say anymore as it will spoil the amazing plans I’m rapidly compiling as next weekend approaches.

Work is going very well. I am into the fourth month of my new job and so far so good. I’ve always wanted to be a Branch Manager, now I have it, I won’t be letting go of it!

Ummmm oh and my Dad ran his first half marathon. He is running 2 more and his first Marathon as he raises money for Cancer. Please check out his sponsorship page and if you feel generous then please send him a message or even better a donation.

https://www.justgiving.com/Paul-Barrow3/

Phew! I promise I’ll write again soon! It’s far too hard trying to fill so much in one blog post!

Mark

Snowdonia Long Weekend

Following on from my blog written 1085 Metres above sea level on the summit of Mount Snowdon, I have been gathering my thoughts. On what was a truly amazing adventure we had the pleasure of enjoying one of the most picturesque of places visited to date.

The drive to our campsite was beautiful. As soon as we passed the Welsh border, we were greeted with winding roads offering some beautiful views. Mountains, open rivers, streams and fields full of nature on show setting a lovely background story to what lay waiting for us.
20140729-204304-74584352.jpg
Cae Du is a beautiful campsite, very neatly presented within a border of the Snowdonia Mountains. This campsite offered spacious pitches and a well stocked shop. The prices were good value considering the remoteness of this site. The facilities on this well maintained site included basic toilets open 24 hours with more modern and newer washing facilities open between 7am-10pm. The views all around the site were breathtaking and there were some lovely parts we walked around on the site including a secluded mountain stream.

Saturday was our judgement day as we climbed Mount Snowdon. Following on from my previous blog, I can confirm the decent was far more demanding than I thought it would be. My fiancé had to strap a heat pack to my calf and help me carry our numerous stretches to aid my tight calfs and sore ankles. Despite the aches I am still feeling, I wouldn’t have swapped this experience for anything.

20140729-205056-75056776.jpg
On Sunday we headed to the local village called Beddgelert. This village was so beautiful and the walk from our campsite took around ten minutes. This is a very lovely place and the walk into the village took us along a rocky river which was overlooked by some very attractive houses. One snap shot of this walk seemed to take us back to Greece, this picture is below.

20140729-205519-75319200.jpg
We had a walk around the shops and bought a couple of pieces from a craft shop. There was a lovely ice cream parlor where we sampled some delightful flavours. I had a strawberry, melon and Cointreau Ice cream which was amazing. We spent some time chilling at one of the local pubs and watched the world pass by as we rested our achy legs and bodies.

There is a sad local story to this village which played a huge part in the naming of Beddgelert. My story is very rough and if I’ve missed anything I do apologise. A prince dating back to the 1300s lived in this village and he had a loyal dog as his pet. One day he came home to find his empty sons cot covered in blood, the prince feared the worst and slayed his faithful companion Gelert. The prince frantic over the death of his air to the throne was in despair. It wasn’t until he searched the house that he found his son unscathed and the blood was from a wolf that had tried to attack him. The wolf was killed by his loyal dog Gelert. It is said that after this event the prince never smiled again. Gelerts grave remains to be seen today, the photo below shows his grave as well as a statue of Gelert.

20140729-210509-75909102.jpg

20140729-210509-75909502.jpg
We had a couple of meals in Beddgelert which were decent and enjoyed the lovely feeling this village gave us. The streams were beautiful and the sunshine lit up all the flowers and bright colours around the streets. This is a place we will visit again and one little treat we didn’t expect to find. The final night at our campsite was chilled and we played a couple of games of Scrabble before settling down. The rain was heavy and kept us awake but by the time it settled it gave us time to get some sleep ahead of our journey home tomorrow.

Before we got on our way home we decided to visit a place called Portmeirion to have a walk around the coastlines or that’s what we thought it would entail. Our adventurous streak got the better of us and once we walked around the streets with brightly coloured painted houses and pools filled with piercing blue water we found ourselves thrown into our own adventure.

Portmeirion is spanned over 70 acres and whilst most of it is mapped, we decided the sign pointing to a Ghost Garden was too much of a temptation to resist. Off the map and past the Dog Cemetery we were trying to find, we found ourselves clambering through Rainforests filled with bright plants, loud wildlife and areas that not even the most local of residents had passed.

We finally got stuck as we were presented with a steep sandy bank down around 30 feet of cliffs. We managed to clamber down safely and the walk led us down to the beach. Fortunately the sea was out and we could enjoy a lovely albeit lengthy walk back to the village centre. It was one adventure, one we didn’t expect to participate in, however it was bloody good fun.

Portmeirion turns out to be quite a famous place with many tv programs filmed there. These include The Prisoner and Doctor Who. It certainly offers a lot and we did enjoy some lovely cake in their cafe. It is very quaint and a strange thing is that some of the buildings have windows painted on them, now that is weird!

The drive back was pretty boring in comparison to the amazing long weekend we experienced. Snowdonia we will be back. Thank you!!

DarcyB

1085 Metres Later

As I sit here sipping my coffee on the summit of Snowdon I find myself reflecting. This challenge we set ourselves has been one amazing journey, one that through strength, determination and togetherness we managed to navigate.

1085 Metres altitude over rocky terrain and hazardous pathways behind us it’s certainly a sense of achievement. It’s far too early to even think about the return journey back down the route we have taken, one thing is for sure it will be a bit less demanding on the body and my legs.

The views have been truly breathtaking as the climb gradually saw us see the world from different heights and views. Great Lakes turning into puddles the further we headed upwards to the summit. The weather has been kind to us, some moments when the sun peeked around the clouds it became too hot, the overcast conditions for most of the climb a welcome present.

This is one of those moments you need to savor and I will certainly do so, it is when you do something as epic as this you begin to wake up the adventurous monster that lurks within my soul. This has certainly reminded me of the Grampians that I climbed in Australia but it is nowhere near comparable. This has been one awesome adventure, another one to the long list I am lucky to be compiling with my fiancé. Life is good!

DarcyB

My Blog is 1 Year Old – Happy Birthday

A year ago I decided to start my blog, over 80 posts, 5,000 views and 70 followers later I have never felt more accomplished than I do right now.

I must once again place my thanks on record to my friend Jaki Jelley whose similar minded approach to her blog gave me the final push I needed to start my own. So what has happened this year and have my random ramblings really entertained my readers or drove you to despair? I’d personally like to think it’s been a mixed ride with many different topics covered.

So what have been my highlights? Well this year I’ve written about Leeds United on quite a few occasions, I am still hopeful that I will get a piece published by one of the fans pages this season. I’ve had some fun adventures and holiday trips with my awesome fiancé, mainly involving the tent.

I’ve written about my travels, gardening and nature stories including our ever so near attempts to get a blue tit nesting in our garden right through to creating a hotel for our bee to lay it’s eggs in. I’ve cooked pickled Beetroot, attempted to grow tomatoes and even written up a couple of my favourite recipes.

I’ve managed to get an article on the Autumn Towcester Beer Festival published on the about my area website and have written further blogs about my love for local ales. There have been some exciting pieces on Music Festivals including the surreal In The Woods Festival.

I’d like to thank you all for taking that little bit of time out of your busy days to read my blog and I promise that this second year will see even more stories from my crazy world and the life I lead.

On one final note I’d like to share some awesome news with you all. I secured my promotion at work and have finally become a Branch Manager. This is something I’ve wanted these last three years and from the beginning of August I’ll finally be there. This is a big deal for me and I am so proud of myself and also would like to place on record my thanks for the support my fiancé has given me throughout my career.

So as we embark on another adventure this weekend in Snowdonia, I can already feel my next piece formulating together in my head. Here is to the future and the exciting times it promises to bring.

Thank you.

DarcyB

York City Adventure – Part 2

Bank Holiday Monday promised a day of sunshine and dry weather, this was the reason for deciding not to pack a jacket with me on our second day exploring York. I cooked us a couple of sausage sandwiches to ensure we started the day with a full stomach, the sun was out as we left the campsite to head back into the city.
20140529-204359-74639239.jpg
Today was going to be another day of new adventures, one that started by walking around the first part of the city walls. 75% of York is surrounded by the original Roman walls and these have been modernized in parts and repaired to allow walking access along them. The turrets with arrow slots paint exciting Images in my mind as I could see the Roman Army defending York from these points in history. This is when the weather decided against following the forecast and the first light showers hit us. I was determined not to allow these showers put me off as we left the City Walls and headed towards York Minster.

20140529-205007-75007529.jpg
York Minster is an impressive building, whose walls contains a lot of stories and historical events. Richard the Thirds young son was buried within these walls decorated with numerous examples of breathtaking interior design work. We decided not to visit the tower but that didn’t dampen the experience. There is a display that shows the work that is currently being undertaken with one of the largest stain glass windows. They are removing the panels one by one and cleaning them and resetting the panels. Each panel can take up to 1,000 hours with a cost of over £10,000 to repair. York Minster costs £20,000 per day to run and operate which is hard to imagine but after exploring it you can understand why these costs exist.

20140529-210127-75687293.jpg
York Minster has had to have some major foundational restoration work carried out. The East wing started to sink with cracks appearing in it. The Minster was saved with hard work and over £250,000 raised to carry out the emergency work required. Some of the bolts driven into the foundations are visible as we walked under the basement of the Minster.

We grabbed a drink in the Guy Fawkes Hotel bar which is another historical landmark in York. Guy Fawkes stayed here before his involvement in the failed gunpowder plot. I learnt so much about the story of what happened, I didn’t realise he was Catholic and wanted to lead the revolt to put a Catholic head of the monarchy in place. We “plotted” our next part of the day before deciding to head into Stonegate.

At 35 Stonegate there stands another haunted house. This place has had some convincing reports and reviews so with some gentle persuasion I managed to persuade my Fiancé to join me. The woman who managed the place gave us a brief introduction before our tour started and we were left alone.

20140529-211119-76279190.jpg
The tour lasted around half an hour as we were led around by audio commentary around the rooms. Some of the rooms were in darkness as I tried to take photos with my phone. There were a couple of instances where I felt a strange sensation. When I sat down on the bench in a room surrounded by old masks and various artifacts I felt a sharp cold sensation on my back.

The tour carried on up narrow stairs and darkened rooms. In the attic I thought I saw a golden sparkle in the corner of the room where a child’s cot sat. It was very obvious and something else that added to the feeling I was being watched. The final room had a large table with leather seats positioned around it. The table was set up for a seance with a glass globe positioned centrally on it, this room felt wrong. As we left Lisa my fiancé felt a bit faint as we made our way to The Punchbowl pub to grab some dinner. A couple of delicious cheeseburgers later and we were back on our way to explore York Gardens.

20140529-211654-76614287.jpg
York Gardens have some amazing ruins and colourful plants within the grounds. We had a lovely walk around and couldn’t help but be amazed by how some of these arches were still standing. The sun came out as we enjoyed the calming atmosphere that these gardens brought us. We walked through them to the other side before we rejoined the City Walls to finish off our day in the city.

The final night chilling at our Campsite was enjoyable as we ate cheese and crackers whilst finishing off the film American Hustle. The weather during the night was terrible as the heavy rain bombarded our tent, fortunately for us this stopped in the morning. Getting the tent packed up in dry conditions was a relief and we were soon off on our way home.

Thank you York for a truly amazing long weekend, we did so much but have so much more to come back and do.

DarcyB

York City Adventure – Part 1

We decided to take advantage of the late May Bank Holiday break and packed up the tent for the first camping trip of 2014. The Destination was York, to revisit a city I fell in love with in my early teenage years. I’d hoped to study at Askern Bryan in York for my Diploma before a change of events put that dream to bed. Despite this disappointment I have always loved this city and couldn’t wait to explore it properly with my fiancé.

The weather forecast was mixed which suited us perfectly. This kept changing as we drove up the M1, M18 and finally the A1 as we were greeted by Wagtail Park and the hardest of grounds to pitch our tent on. We were asked to bring Rock Pegs which on first inspection seemed like overkill. It wasn’t until I cockily hit a standard peg into the lush green grass that I discovered it was merely a topping. What lay under this welcoming layer was a silt filled, rocky mixture of quarry type material. After a dash to the local camping shop we had enough rock pegs to erect our tent and canopy securely.
20140527-204708-74828836.jpg
By the time we’d pitched the tent and got camp set up it was too late to wander too far away. There was a lovely fishing lake close by which we walked around and after we’d cooked some chili and drank a couple of beers we watched a film and called it a night. It wasn’t the coldest of nights, however as it was our first camping trip in nearly 9 months we needed to acclimatize. We survived the night and after a late breakfast which comprised of a bacon roll we headed into York.

The Park & Ride is quite simply excellent value for money. To park the car and get a return ticket cost £2.70 each which is far cheaper than parking in the city centre. We used the Sunday afternoon to explore the streets of the city as well as sampling some of the local food and ales. We walked up the Shambles which is a quaint cobbled narrow street lined with shops on both sides. The hustle and bustle of the bank holiday crowd evident and we were caught on a wave of visitors.

20140527-205809-75489595.jpg
We had our Sunday Beef Roast at The Golden Fleece which is the oldest pub in York. It is also the most haunted pub in the city, a claim backed up by the Most Haunted crew, who spent a weekend filming here in the pub/hotel. The place itself is typically quirky and feels very welcoming. There are a couple of skeletons that sit at the bar on a stool and also in the pub garden. All of the floors are wonky and slanted, so much so that my pint of ale was slanted and the gravy was trying to escape from my plate. A quickly constructed defensive wall using my mashed potato prevented any casualties. When we sat for dinner my fiancé did feel a cold sensation next to her side which hung around for a few minutes. It certainly backed up the claims of the owners and many guests who have stayed there.

We had a walk around Parliament Street which is the widest most open street in York and also had a tour of the York baths. This was conducted by a very knowledgeable Canadian historian by the name of Ryan, who not only told us about the Roman Baths in York, but also covered wars, deaths, Christianity and many other topics. By the time we left this small room which gathering heat the longer we stayed down there we were gasping the fresh air to celebrate our freedom. Joking aside it was well worth the £3.50 it cost plus a small contribution to Ryan’s education costs!

By a friends recommendation (thanks Aimee) we went to an off license called The House of the Trembling Madness. Above this there was also a bar which quite simply oozed class and style. The decor comprised of stuffed animals and randomly placed gothic designs framed by some stunning timber open framed roof trusses and beams. The place was busy and the small number of chairs and tables filled. The bar was small and quaint and the food smelled delightful. We helped ourselves to a couple of IPA’s and shopped till we dropped as I was reunited with some of my favourite Australian beers imported in their shop.

20140527-211345-76425312.jpg
We returned to camp just before the forecasted rain and had a very chilled out Sunday night. We ate some cheese and crackers and watched Taken 2 and the first half of American Hustle. Following on from last nights shock chill factor I put on an extra layer in an effort to get a warm comfortable nights sleep to get me in good stead for Mondays day of adventure. Historical visits, walks, haunted sightings and more local pubs awaited us, we certainly had a lot planned!

One final York related story before I bring this 1st Part of the blog to a conclusion. There are cats all over the city on various buildings. It is said that any building that is graced with the presence of a cat, is a happy place. We spotted a couple of these cats with one been on the front of The Golden Fleece Pub. Based on this story, I think it’s safe to say that my fiancé encountered a good happy spirit!

To be continued…….

DarcyB

A Winter Walk in Towcester

Today we went on a lovely 6 mile walk around Towcester in Northamptonshire. The weather was extremely pleasant to start with before the wind and grey clouds arrived. Fortunately for us this was towards the end of our walk.

I had the urge to share some photos with my followers showing off some of the lovely views we have in our home town. I would love to hear some of your comments and if you have some photos please show them to me.

These are some of the amazing views we saw today so enjoy! I have also experimented with some Black & White photography.

20131214-160447.jpg
1. Red Berries against a backdrop of trees.

20131214-160601.jpg
2. Sunshine creeping across an open sky.

20131214-160845.jpg
3. A Sheepish following.

20131214-160957.jpg
4. A disused Railway Bridge.

20131214-161109.jpg
5. A Ford on a country lane.

The last photo was a rather pleasant place to soak up the moment and have a cup or two of our lovely hot mulled rum. It’s been a really nice way to spend a Saturday.

DarcyB