Friday, October 27, 2017

Walking in the Lake District 2017 - Day 4

Penrith, Cumbria.

Friday 27-October-2017: Great Langdale.

This day we were joined by our co-host, Kate, who was able to get the day off work. A walk that she and Nigel had been wanting to do for some while.


The best weather of the week. Look at that sky. Walking weather doesn't get much better.


I insist on tucking my trews into my socks and carrying a map case. The former looks a bit naff but keeps my trouser hems clean. The latter is prudently essential on any walk - I love OS maps..


None of the route was particularly strenuous. Just as well as I am not the gung-ho mountaineering type.


This stream was crystal clear. A joy to see and a contrast to the River Wandle, my local, urban river.


More beautiful sky, typical bridge and crystal waters. Truly lovely.


Stats: 3:44 hr 12.9 km.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Walking in the Lake District 2017 - Day 3

Penrith, Cumbria.

Thursday 26-October-2017: Saint John's in the Vale

A pleasant circular walk, neither too strenuous nor too long and more clement weather than the day before.


The cute church of Saint John's in the Vale was our start point.


The clouds were lowering overhead but brighter over Thirlmere reservoir in the distance.


We saw free-range goats...


... and goats in a paddock. We were not sure if they were friendly and hoping we were bringing food or being territorial and seeing us off the premises. Either way we didn't hang around to find out.


Eli the dog led the way for most of the walk. We reckon Nigel was cheating by being canine assisted.


Stats: 2:46 hr and 8.4 km.

Walking in the Lake District 2017 - Day 2

Penrith, Cumbria.

Wednesday 25-October-2017: Threlkeld to Blencathra via Blease Fell.

This time we went for height rather than distance. We were joined by our friend Nigel and dog Eli, a Husky-Malamute cross.


Bit of a gloomy day with sunshine trying to illume the far valley


A fellow walker took this photo of us at the very windy apex.


On the way down the effort was less but the wind chill factor was a killer! Steep and muddy paths made for interesting walking including some unintentional backwards grass surfing


More "operator error". Checking the Garmin on the way up I accidentally turned it off so lost the first part of the track from the car park to Blencathra. Luckily I noted the time and distance so know the full walk stats as 14 km and 5:04 hr.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Walking in the Lake District 2017 - Day 1

Penrith, Cumbria.

We were visiting friends in Penrith for the Winter Droving festival and decided to go up early for a few days walking.

Tuesday 24-October-2017: Eamont Bridge to Askham and back via Brougham Castle.

The aim was to visit a potter in Askham where we bough a teapot last year. Unfortunately he was closed, recuperating from a lengthy operation so maybe next visit.


Weird looking tree with high level shoots. Maybe an effect of animal grazing?


Typical Lake District bridge.


The River Lowther at Askham Bridge


Great lunch at The Punchbowl in Askham plus a paddle of beers for tasting.


The impressive Lowther viaduct.


Brougham Castle - using our English Heritage membership for the first time.


Wordsworth looked out this very window and was inspired to write:

“... That river and those mouldering towers
Have seen us side by side, when, having clomb
The dark some windings of a broken stair,
And crept along a ridge of fractured wall,
Not without trembling, we in safety looked
Forth, through some Gothic window’s open space,
And gathered with one mind a rich reward
From the far-stretching landscape...”


Brougham Hall was an extra stumbled upon by chance.


A fascinating and ambitious restoration.


The Garmin battery died so I only have the plot for the outbound leg which was 12km in 2:35. We walked about twice that in the day so we'll call it 24km then.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Emeli Sande at the O2 Arena

London. Wednesday 18-October-2017.

We flew back from Italy for this concert (and to visit Mary's Mum for her birthday) and well worth the trip. It was an excellent concert considering we only knew the one song from the Olympics closing ceremony back in 2012.

The support act was Calum Scott who seemed genuinely amazed and thankful to be there and perform before such a huge crowd thanks to Emeli.


Emeli herself was brilliant. I have to say big thanks are due to the sound engineers. We could hear every word she sang which really helps when you don't know the songs. At many concerts the audience is full of the faithful who know every line of every song.


Chloe Hubbard at The Independent called it "Powerful and captivating". I'd go with that. Full review here: Emeli Sandé at the O2 Arena, London.

As luck would have it, on our return from Mary's Mum, we saw a cheap copy of Emeli's first album in Glasgow airport so we snapped it up and have been listening to it regularly since with great pleasure.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Everyday differences in Puglia: Prickly Pears

Puglia Differences: an occasional series on things that strike this Brit as so very Italian.

Wandering round the market I saw a hardware stall selling, amongst the easily identifiable tools, these devices.


Closer inspection was no help and my Italian is not up to enquiring their purpose.


A friend enlightened me. The centre piece is to take a pole and the cups are for harvesting Fico D'India - prickly pears.


I have tried them out of interest but would not bother to repeat the experiment. Pretty dry and flavourless and full of pips. A bit like a pomegranate with all the juice and flavour taken out. And spikes!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Aperitivo Classico 2017

Bar Fod, Cisternino, Italy.

One of the highlights of summer in Cisternino is Aperitivo Classico, a series of Sunday lunchtime concerts at Bar Fod. A drink, a taster of local food and an hour of music from talented young musicians.

A crowd of us book a table there every week and have done so for the last four years.


Sunday 02-July-2017


Solo pianoforte; fresh figs with ham.


Sunday 09-July-2017


Piano and violin; baked mussel and potato.


Sunday 16-July-2017


An excellent saxophone quartet; ham, fig, cheesy ice cream and an interesting fritter.


Sunday 30-July-2017


Harp; seafood from a guest restaurant, Pesce just across the square.




Sunday 06-August-2017

No Aperitivo Classico as it was the festival of San Quirico, the patron Saint of Cisternino.

Sunday 13-August-2017

We missed this one as we were at the wedding of my nephew Tom and Leoni.

Sunday 20-August-2017


Introductions from the artistic director, the bar manager and his son.


A small singer with a large voice; a selection of salami and cheese


Sunday 27-August-2017

I love that this includes Zizzi the photographer who is at most of these events snapping away.


The trio in all permutations of duos...


...and the full trio


Fritters and aubergine.


A few words from two of the brothers.


The last concert is always followed by a team photo of staff and customers. I'm the one in the Panama.


Plus a photo of the owners and staff.


Sunday 03-September-2017


An bonus concert for the first Sunday in September. Piano, singer; courgette tartlet.


After the last concert we had an excellent light lunch at Osteria Bell'Italia.

Another series series successfully and enjoyably concluded.