Following the double co-incidence of bumping into Julie for the first time last week (read my latest blog if you want to know more) we are delighted to announce that we have 15 Signed copies of her excellent book about her motivations & insights into her Fell Running & the challenges she has faced. There is an excellent review of the book in the latest copy of ‘Fellrunner’ magazine but for those of you unlucky enough to not have it on subscription here goes a brief review by me for whatever that’s worth.
I bought & read Julie’s book despite never having heard of her (my ignorance) shortly before my running in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks race for the first time a few weeks ago in the hope that I could use it as motivation on the lead in & race day itself, I wasn’t disappointed. Julie’s story is both fascinating & inspirational & shows just what can be achieved with a bit of good old fashioned bloody mindedness in it’s best possible sense.
Particularly riveting was her reaction to an insensitive & almost throw away comment by a climbing partner whilst in the Alps was anything but thrown away by Julie. A short time later saw her complete what was supposedly beyond her, a very respectable Bob Graham Round in 22 Hours & 50 Minutes despite the weather gods being against her.
Then their are her back of a fag packet type hand drawn maps together with snippets of her own poetry both adding a charm to her stories.
Julie covers many thought provoking topics on how she has narrowed the gap between her & that Red Line, these includes deep friendships, shared experiences, the beauty of her local fells to name but a few. If you know that you enjoy running in the Mountains but want to understand more fully why that might be this book will provide many thought provoking answers.
Julie herself won the English O.50’s Fell running champs in 2014 & went on to win the British Champs the following year, she is Doctor & Psychologist but most of all she knows herself & what she is talking about. I read the book in 2 days, & recounted her grit to myself more than once on my Y3p’s!
I am proud that she has accepted my request to stock her book, it is now available at our counter for £9.99, you do not necessarily need to be a fell runner to get an awful lot from it but being a fell runner helped allow me to see at least a bit of myself in Julie.Paul’s Blog – 2 Races & 2 Con-incidences
I have to face facts, I have slowed down, the reasons could be varied, too much recently?, too much slow stuff?, age?, wine?………….. the list goes on but despite this I am enjoying myself & this was proved once again last week which saw two races in 3 days.
First up (Sunday before last) was the 2 Lakes race around Llyn Brenig & Llyn Alwyn under glorious skies & quite a lot of heat. Placed O.K. but was 7 minutes down on last year but what a lovely route this is when the sun shines, worth a walk or a run at a more ‘leisurely’ pace to really take in the full splendour of the scenery.
Next was my first ever Joe Brown’s Mid-week Series race, this is where the co-incidences start but first the race. I had specifically chosen Moel y Guest for two reasons, firstly I had never been on Moel y Guest despite living at Borth y Guest with Dorina for a year back in 2011 & having it recommended to us by our then neighbours. Secondly, it is the nearest race in the series to my home & would allow me to race & still be home for an evening meal at something like a reasonable time (still well after 9:00 pm by the time we’d sat down). My decision was rewarded by a great feeling of camaraderie, a lovely route (bit technical for my skill set but no falls) & the feeling that I have been away from my local fell races for too long, must correct this after Stockholm. My lack of Facebook means I still don’t know the results but the joy of taking part makes that almost meaningless, I know I didn’t set the world alight but more than ever that’s not the point. Thanks to Mike Blake & Gonks Hughes for putting it on.
Now those co-incidences, arriving at registration I joined a queue of one behind a woman I thought I recognised but surely it couldn’t be, Mike Blake asked her where she was from, ‘Keswick’ she replied, that’s it as I asked ‘are you Julie Carter’, yes she replied! Now this may not mean much to us Snowdonia folk except in my case on a recent visit to Keswick I had bought a copy of Julie’s new book ‘Running The Red Line’ & promptly read it in a couple of days as motivation for my Y3p’s race the following week. After a chat it transpired that Julie was holidaying in Snowdonia & after two years out of racing due to a bad back was using the Moel y Guest as her first race back, the same race as I’d chosen as my introduction to the Mid-week series, what were the chances of that! But it didn’t end there, next day whilst typing away on my computer at the Cafe three women walked in for lunch & made a beeline for our Sofa’s one of whom was the very same Julie Carter, of all the cafe’s in Snowdonia what were the chances of that? I couldn’t resist re-introducing myself & soon we had reached an agreement for us to stock & sell her book which I’ll cover in more detail in a separate blog. As I write this I still find this sequence of events most peculiar in the nicest possible way.
Before ending I must say a big thank you to all those who have been asking how ‘our’ Nick is. Despite being released from hospital yesterday Nick had to call an ambulance in the early hours of this morning & is waiting to be allocated onto a ward, he has Quincy, a severe complication to Tonsillitis. Nick we are all thinking of you so try to use that to put just the hint of a smile on your face, we & customers are missing & thinking of you. I’ll see you later once you confirm the Ward.Bank Holiday Opening Hours
Just a quick reminder that we will be keeping our doors open longer than normal this Sunday, hopefully that’ll allow you more time to enjoy Snowdonia in what looks like being good weather before needing to return to re-fuel. Below are our opening times for this weekend, please note that last orders for hot food are half an hour before we close.
Friday – 7:30 to 18:00
Saturday – 7:30 to 20:00
Sunday – 7:30 to 20:00
Monday – 7:30 to 18:00
Hope you have great plans & that we see you at some point.Paul’s Blog
Once again I have to thank Dorina who pointed out half an hour before I set off for the Moel y Guest race that I would be somewhat early because it is next Tuesday & not tonight so please accept my deep embarrassment at getting references to it in my blog earlier today wrong. Do I fancy still planning to run in the Joe Brown series tonight, frankly no as it’s half an hour further from home & would delay our evening meal to past 9:00 pm, hardly fair on the workers who are getting up at 6:00 tomorrow morning, nothing to do with the rain, honest. Good luck to everyone who braves what looks like a pretty ugly evening but once running I’m sure you’ll soon be enjoying yourselves.Paul’s Blog
It’s been a while since I’ve wittered on about my running but with my planning to turn up & run in my first Joe Brown Tuesday evening run tonight it would seem to be a suitable time to make amends, so here goes.
With a descent Manchester Marathon well behind me the following week saw me get out for a couple of ten milers feeling strong & more importantly more upbeat about my recent foot pains. During a mini break in Keswick to catch up with Doug Scott & gear shopping I got out two evenings back to back to run the 11 mile circuit of Derwent Water, it felt like I was in heaven but where there’s a heaven there’s a hell & that hit me the next day (Wednesday). As planned I drove down to Yorkshire to meet up with Janet who was going to give me a recce of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks race route. As ever Man & Woman were on the same wavelength with me turning up to walk & Janet turning up to run ‘I’ll run with you Paul but will leave you to bag the first couple of peaks whilst I wait for you’. At this news I should have said ‘Can you wait 10 minutes to allow me to de-camp essentials from my walking bag to my running bag’, being me I of course didn’t & proceeded for the next 6 Hours 20 Minutes weighed down by 6/7Kg of useless kit on the first day of that mini heatwave. That gave me a great start to tapering for the Goldrush race 45 miles in under 48 hours, ‘way to go Paul, you cretin!’ Thursday & Friday were spent trying to recover whilst loading a skip & entertaining friends Friday evening with Red wine. Saturday dawned, roasting hot, Goldrush (9 miles) well what could possibly go wrong with such (dare I say it) SPJ type pre-race planning?
The Goldrush, un-like me, was as well organised as ever by Matt Ward & his team even announcing an extra drinks station to help us out in the heat. Sadly my race was already cooked (same can’t be said for my pre-race eggs which an Angel forgot to bring home from the cafe the night before) & I felt my stupidity from the off. It was a tough call to keep going but at least I can say that I did & felt proud that despite the fatigue my stamina & feet saw me through to the finish. Time for once wasn’t really important but was 3 minutes down of my dead heats from 2016 & 17. However I placed 23rd out of 187 & 3rd O.50 out of 20 so I feel every justification in feeling good, it’s about the mind & this was another step forward.
Of course the big test was to come a week later, a week where I learnt some lessons, no runs & only one more skip filled, I had at long last tapered!
Last Friday evening I arrived at Janet’s feeling excited & almost fresh, then made the mistake of saying ‘yes I’d love a coffee, 5 times’. Usually I drink de-caf, these of course had Caffeine & were followed by less than 2 hours sleep, Paul, Paul, Paul……….
Janet’s daughter, Katy, arrived pre-race at 7:00 am, there was no need to wake me as I’d been a Jumping Jack Flash all bloody night as excitement morphed into nerves, would these nerves have energy?
In truth it was a magical day that followed, very ably supported by Janet & Kate, who cheered me on out on the route & topped me up with Electrolite. It was arguably the most competitive & best field of runners I’ve ever been up against, the cut off times at check points 3 & 5 were themselves daunting ‘Paul, you’ve got to at least reach them in time to not be stopped from carrying on by the organiser’s to re-pay your supporters’ efforts.’
It was hard, 23.5 miles & I felt all of them but gradually my pace more or less held as some others began to fail, yes many still overtook me but a net gain of 71 places in the second half of the race did add some icing to soothe the pain & I finished a credible 449th out of 767, in contrast to the Goldrush or even more so the Manchester Road Marathon, when the going gets tough the Fell Runners are the stuff! That is not to belittle all the other runners I ran against in April, we ran at some point & probably many we can all feel lucky & smile at ourselves.
My race ‘highlights’ were many but of particular note:-
- Coming over a brow at the start of the brutal Whernside climb to see two runners literally stuck in a bog & saying to those on my tail ‘God this looks like fun’ before 3 guys went to their aid & we gained 5 places, guilt, surprisingly none!
- A river crossing where 6 or 7 runners tried to keep their wet feet dry (why?) I just walked past them through it’s safer but wetter bed.
- That Whernside climb, small stats compared to Snowdonia’s monsters but believe me it was brutal & seemingly never ending.
- The run in from Ingleborough to the finish, false dawn after false dawn but for once I picked up some places on a descent.
- Despite all my experience I still decided to lie down at the finish & duly cramped when I tried to get back up, these had been narrowly held back for almost 3 hours ever since I skirted that bog.
Janet finished the day off by cooking an excellent meal as we were joined by Kate’s friend Nat, a relaxed end to a great weekend so thank you Janet & Kate for being so accommodating & excited about the race.
There is yet more to be positive about, this Sunday sees me trying to defend my O.50’s win in last years Two Lakes Half Marathon, my supporters this week will be my Father & niece, Beth. But more importantly my feet, is it the new insoles?, is it the physio?, or is it Dorina’s constant attention to them each evening with mud pack, massage & ointment (yes she does wash her hands before she bakes the cafe cakes)? I have a feeling it’s an Angel that has tipped the scales in my life yet again, lucky, lucky man, I am running without pain again!
It’s started raining since I began this waffle, but having once lived under Moel y Guest the time has come, Mike Blake & the Joe Brown series here I come, many Fell runners will whip me but that just isn’t the point, is it.
PS. Well done to Matt Fortes for a great run in the Y3p’s & thank you to Becki Law who twice was still in place long after Matt had flown by to cheer me & the other Eryri Harriers on.Reach Out for Nepal Day – 23rd June 2018
I am pleased to announce that things are now well in hand for our 4th Reach Out for Nepal Day with another wide variety of Events taking place in or around the Cafe, something for everyone. But rather than cover them specifically in this update I’ll list them on the Events page but please note that the list is likely to become extended in the coming weeks so click into the Events page periodically to get the most up to date information.
I met up with Doug Scott CBE a week or so ago & he and Anne were most helpful in both giving me an update on the School & it’s Hostel buildings as well as giving me a variety of items to help raise funds for CAN’s general fund, I’ll tackle the latter of these first before giving a summary of progress on the School.
Doug has given me a further 26 Signed copies of his ‘The Ogre’ book which are now on sale at the Cafe for £20 each with 100% of funds raised going direct to CAN. The previous 26 copies sold out fast so if you haven’t read this fascinating account of both this iconic mountain & Doug’s epic escape please be quick of the mark to secure your copy.
Doug also gave me 12 Signed Copies of the first part of his Autobiography ‘Up & About’, these are also now on sale at the Cafe for £24, again 100% of the proceeds will be going to CAN.
In addition he also gave me 8 new prints to sale, 6 have a Reserve price of £250 each & two have a lower reserve of £200 but note these are both of Lenin Peak, a mountain I have a connection with & so may well be buying one for myself. Again all proceeds from these prints will go to CAN.
Now onto the school itself, despite many setbacks over the last couple of years due to land & access issues I am very pleased to announce that significant progress has been made over the winter months. Three of the Girls Hostel Blocks & One of the Boys Blocks are now complete & better still occupied bringing an end to sleeping under temporary tarps. for some of the pupils. A further two boys hostel blocks are built up to roof level as is the Girls Toilet & Bathroom block & work has also commenced on the Boy’s Toilet & Bathroom block.
As to the School buildings themselves plans were still being revised & finalised during CAN’s last visit in late 2017. A couple of days after our meeting Doug & Trish Scott together with other members of CAN flew out for a 3 week review of CAN’s various projects, this will include a visit to the Melamchi School so we can expect a fuller update by the end of May so keep watching this space.
As for our Reach Out for Nepal team I provisionally agreed with Doug that a visit to the School from a member/members of our team should be scheduled for late November/early December this year when to co-incide with CAN’s next visit, should all things continue to move forward with a pace, we can get a hands on impression of the fruits of the funds we (with so much of your support & generosity) have raised. This was always a long term aid project making it all the more heartwarming that great progress is in hand, Doug & his excellent team deserve the greatest applause & support we can give them.
As for myself, last year’s run has left me feeling I need to ease off a bit this year & recent feet problems have emphasised this, but there is a challenge planned & you are welcome to join in be you a runner or a walker, it could well be a great day in the hills for us…….
Hope to see many of you at this years ROFN Day, it’s only 2 months away!
PS. To date our running total for 2018 funds raised is £1,589.89, thanks for this are largely due to the collective efforts/generosity of Twiggy & Peter Price, Rob Collister, Maggie Oliver, Trefoil, Rachel Bolton & Rob Johnson, thanks guys.Paul’s Blog
Easter has come & gone & from a Cafe point of view went well but it ended for us in tragedy as we returned home on Bank Holiday Monday to discover our beloved cat, Pemba, had been hit by a car. A magnificently strong cat had somehow made it home to say goodbye but his internal injuries were un-survivable & I buried him under beautiful blue skies on Thursday morning, Dorina & I were devastated & lost.
Seeing & feeling our grief Gaby decided to hold the fort & dispatched us on a busy Sunday so that I could run the Manchester Marathon with Dorina’s loving support but as ever nothing in this sometimes trying life is easy.
From a running point of view preparation was far from perfect, a few weeks earlier saw me try to correct this only to seriously aggravate feet problems of recent months, this I am now sure is a pretty painful case of runners’ dread Plantar Fasciitis, as friends will have noticed, it has been getting me down with the thoughts of ‘there’s so much in the diary, this is going to mess with my life’.
Based on this the common sense consensus was ‘Paul, Manchester will still be there next year’ but I knew I needed Manchester as prep for Stockholm, Dorina I’m running! My body was having none of it, failing to listen to my feet my left calf tried to take control when in the early hours of Saturday I woke (& indeed woke Dorina) with a scream to an extreme cramp in said calf. The rest of Saturday saw me limping & applying Magnesium spray but the knot in the calf just wouldn’t yeald.
Despite this we headed for the sanctuary of Kean & Sandra’s house on Saturday evening, if I couldn’t run we were at least going to have Sunday off together to come to terms with our loss of Pemba.
Good company & a few drops of wine gave us a relaxed evening with Kean & Sandra putting up with ‘Angel, that hurts a bit!’ as Dorina administered more Magnesium under a ‘gentle’ massage.
Race morning saw us all rise early, Sandra cooked my poached eggs (3), beans on toast perfectly & the calf felt surprisingly good, decision a no brainer, sod the calf, sod the feet I’m running!
I won’t dwell on the journey to Manchester other than early road closures for the race caused a lot of frustration & anxiety with no final ablution possible (thankfully this cause for concern was a false one) but at 9:00 am I was lined up at the start with 9,500 others & with a plan. ‘Dorina, I’m going to set off behind the guy carrying the 3 Hr 29 Marker to see how it goes so look out for him at the 5K point & you should see me.’
With commentary by Matt Ward & Vassos Alexander we were on our way. 4K in enough was enough, ‘Paul, this feels O.K., time to step it up’. At 5K Dorina waved, I ran on, this was now a proper race.
Over the next 3 hours my stats per kilometre remained pleasingly consistent, yes the final 6K (out of 42) were in truth a bit of a battle but I kept below 5 minutes per K at all times & I finished in a respectable 3:16:37 in arguably my best managed flat road marathon yet albeit not a pb but that wasn’t the point. One of the most pleasing stats was that I went through the 10K mark in precisely 46 minutes & when I went through the 30K mark I was still averaging precisely, to the second, 46 minutes per 10K, that feels good even today.
Post race saw Dorina & I head off to Manchester’s Chinatown where we dined & stocked up on Dumplings etc. for our freezers before heading home to end a long traumatic week.
Pemba is deep in our hearts, Gaby had given us first Thursday & then Sunday to mourn together & my love of running has dragged me back to a more positive frame but as ever I couldn’t be writing this today without my Angel’s love & support, this last week we’ve needed each other, something positive to reflect on at least.
There is now a lot in the running diary to look forward to but first Physio later today & that’s going to hurt! Pain however is relative & this thankfully is a new week with positives to take forward, have I ever mentioned what running can do for……………Easter Week Opening Hours & Events
With an early Easter fast approaching it’s time to make your plans so if you are in Snowdonia over the Easter period here’s whats happening at the Cafe to help you decide what to take advantage of:-
Saturday 31st March – Open MIC Night, with extended Drinks license until 11:00 pm – See Events page for more details.
Easter Sunday 1st April – Extended evening opening to 20:00 with last hot food orders at 7:30 pm.
Friday 6th April – Rachel Bolton & Rob Johnson of Filmuphigh present ‘playing on the Pinn’ followed by Music & Poems with last hot food orders at 7:00 pm & extended Drinks license until 11:00 pm – See Events page for details & how to reserve tickets.
We hope you are able to take advantage of these Events & extended opening hours but whatever your plans have a great Easter enjoying Snowdonia.
Having not blogged for a while I can only blame an awful lot of running around (mostly in cars) interspersed with a great first trip to the Pyrenees which saw my off-piste skiing go from extremely poor to extremely poor but my piste skiing move from extremely moderate to moderate. For this ‘improvement’ I have my ski instructor, aka Judy, to thank for her ‘friendly’ shout ‘Paul, you need to plant your poles at each turn’, was there a hint of frustration in her, certainly looked like it but what do I know about women?
That brings me on to last Saturday when two female friends whom had also attended Bob’s memorial service came into the Cafe on there way home. Quite how the conversation got onto them saying ‘Paul, you need to write a book on ‘Everything you know about Women’ & then we’ll edit it for you’. Marion & Dorina were quick to latch on to the idea, presumably all sparked by something I must have said, but god knows what?
So here goes girls:-
Everything Paul Knows About Women
I didn’t get to almost 52 without knowing how to precis, so edit that ladies!
Now moving on to something I do know about, I discovered (in truth I already knew) on a 16 miler down & back the glorious Mawdach Estuary on a springlike (well I was wrapped up a bit) afternoon yesterday that I am seriously under-trained for the forthcoming Manchester marathon in less than 3 weeks time. It can now only be damage limitation as to how far I am going to be behind my pb set 2 years ago in Manchester itself. So I am using the excuse of becoming 52 this Friday to run from home to the cafe to at least get my long run in two weeks ahead of race day. Haven’t quite decided on the direct route (26 miles) or something with less road but longer but either way I’m finding that long runs are the only way to celebrate each passing year, gone are the days when money needed to be wasted on costly Country Hotels, at least I’ve learnt something about me even if I’ve learnt & know nothing about……..
So if you see me looking a bit tired somewhere between Dolgellau & Capel this Friday give me a beep, I promise not to take it as a compliment girls!Forthcoming Events at the Siabod Cafe
We were delighted to host Eryri Harriers Presentation Night on Saturday so congratulations to all those who won awards (Paul’s still trying to figure out how he got a medal too?) & especially to Bronwin Jenkinson who had such a spectacular year with surely many more to come.
Hot on it’s heals are two more Events at the Cafe to make a note for your diaries:-
First up on Saturday 17th March we host the Snowdonia Society’s Quiz Night, no booking needed but might be prudent to reserve a table in advance.
Friday 6th April sees friends of ours (Rachel Bolton & Rob Johnson) give a presentation & music night entitled ‘Playing on the Pinn’ this promises to be something very different & we are looking forward to it immensely. Tickets are available now & can be purchased either at our counter or over the phone.
For full details of both Events just click onto our Events page, we hope you can attend.Early Closing on Saturday 3rd March 2018
This Saturday evening sees us hosting the Eryri Harriers Presentation Evening which we are delighted to do.
As such the Cafe will be closing earlier than normal at 6:00 pm with last Hot Food orders at 5:30pm, hopefully that will still give you plenty of time to re-fuel after a day enjoying the snowy mountains & trails. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.‘Mountain’ Bob
It was on the cards but as ever when you learn of the loss of a friend that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. I am not in the habit of putting pen to paper in my blogs when someone close to us passes away, yes I briefly posted about the loss of Ian already the best part of 4 years ago but have restricted it to that, however in Bob Postings case I am going to make an exception. This is partly due to the way that Bob thrust himself upon our cafe in our early days & partly to help his daughter Colette spread the news that there will be a service in Bob’s memory & she would like anyone who knew Bob through his Outdoor Activities to come along to it.
So first things first, the service is to be held at Porthmadog KH at 12:00 on Saturday 17th March, postcode LL49 9EG, Colette has asked for dress code to be in your Mountain Gear &/or Colour, no Black. I hope you can make it to give this ‘One-Off’ a great send off. Bob died peacefully on Friday in a bed that had magnificent views of his beloved Snowdon, a more fitting end to a man who once scaled Crib Goch more than 250 times in a year is impossible to imagine.
My memories of Bob in the six short years that I knew him are many, we knew how to insult each other but more importantly both knew how to take it with a smile & a laugh & to come back for more but I’d like to share a few of the funnier anecdotes making no apologies for any that repeat parts of previous blogs. Please read on there is some ‘new’ stuff here too.
Bob found us soon after we opened our doors for the first time in March 2012, within weeks he was a regular visitor on Saturday & Sunday mornings, ever an early riser needing a tea or hot chocolate, veggie breakfast or beans on toast whilst waiting for his latest victims (some might say clients) to arrive. Soon his hidden caring side came to the fore, ‘Paul, you need to do this’, ‘Paul you need to do that’, was this his caring nature or just self-preservation as he willed us to succeed so that he could keep coming into a Cafe at 7:30 am? I believe a bit of both. As these suggestions flowed I almost set up a ‘Bob’s bin’ at our counter where I could simply write them down & bin them in Bob’s name but in truth he was a wily old sod, I listened & even in a few weaker moments acted, we quickly became friends.
By August 2012 we’d got to the stage where we challenged each other to a race, Bob would drive to Dolgarrog Gorge & I would run there across the mountainsides, he was even graceful enough to give me a few minutes head start, I’d subsequently saw his driving & would never have taken him on it had I’d known. I’ll blame once again a group of Boulderers causing me to trip along the shores of Llyn Cowlydd, knock myself out before running on bleeding profusely from a head wound & scaring the living daylights out of a couple of walkers. I of course lost the race but Bob had more tricks up his sleeve. After applying first aid ‘Come on Paul don’t wait there come up the Gorge with us’. The next hour or so saw Bob repeatedly fail to get his victims nay clients to take up his challenges ‘Paul you do it & show them how it’s done’, the bandaged me was soon clinging to a rock, energy sapped away due to lack of ‘bouldering’ (there I go again) skills, dunk, I was in a freezing pool paddling my beleaguered body to safety, Bob’s idea of admistering First Aid clearly bucking modern trends. From here another hour passed as we completed the gorge & trudged back to his car, the temperature was not rising in my running gear. He showed me off to surprised staff in my beloved Cotswold Outdoor before distracting Dorina back at the cafe whilst I sneaked upstairs to clean myself up. My headache lasted 3 weeks although you could argue for much longer as our friendship continued to grow.
Spring the following year saw me needing a lift from Bob to retrieve my car from the start of the Moelwyn race, this was, from memory, due to Dorina watching me at the race start & taking my car keys for safe keeping, my fault not hers, before driving herself back to a busy cafe. At race end Emily Wood gave me a lift back to the Cafe & Bob offered to run me back to Blaenau, yes I know best planning since Gallipoli! Bob pulled out of the cafe in front of a speeding Merc, who promptly overtook us. Not having that Bob floored it re-took the Merc leading us to be chased by road rage all the way over the Crimea Pass, just what a tired fellrunner had been looking for, at least I now knew the reason for my Dolgarrog defeat. I can only imagine that probable brain damage from the fall subsequently led me to get in a car with him on at least two more occasions.
Not long after in that same Spring, ‘Bob, I want to run the Welsh 3,000’s, I’m never keen to be on Crib Goch alone, fancy seeing me to the summit & then I’ll run onto the other 14 summits & see you the next day’, or words to that affect. The ‘boy’ in Bob took over, he began to bound up the Pyg track to show the boy what the Mountain Man could do. I was soon thinking now come on Bob get real, giving me more than 20 years on my type of climb you are going to come un-stuck! He was soon floundering needing to strip to his sweating waist as he puffed & spluttered his way to CG proper. Reaching the ‘wall’ he was a spent force, my choice of ‘guide’ a clear folly at this rate I’d not be starting the challenge let alone completing it that day. Moments later ‘Bob, I normally cut left & then traverse right here’, ‘sod that Paul, straight up & over is the way to do it’, he led, I learnt, the real Bob was back. He skipped up to the ridge ahead of me & then seeing me crawl tentatively along the ridge to the summit stood in front of me on one leg almost doing a cartwheel, cocky bastard & then bid me to try it receiving a definitive no in return. Once away from the ridge we bid each other a fond farewell the hare was off with Bob enthusing me on. This was later followed my my overshooting the contour descent line to Nant Peris & my infamous descent into my nicknamed ‘death gully’ a wet & shaly trap that I was lucky to escape alive. The next day I took Bob to Nant Peris to show him where I’d gone wrong ‘You descended that!’ as he creased up in ‘sympathy’ for my tale.
In a brief running career, with coach Paul, Bob took to the forest tracks & again the innocence of youth would lead him to spurt & then pant ‘will you ever learn’. I even persuaded him to buy a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3’s, months later with the heels hanging off (not due to running miles) I would comment ‘Bob, you need to loosen the laces before you kick them off’ . Un-perturbed he was soon seen in his similarly beloved Cotswold with a new pair FOC due to ‘quality issues’.
An anecdote which I received third hand due to being away at the time Skiing with Dorina was Bob taking Susan (a seriously disabled friend) on a snow viewing tour of the Ogwen valley. Only Bob would think about using the back road above Buck’s farm as the preferred route to Ogwen Cottage from Bethesda on snow covered roads, he was soon a Mountain Rescue Statistic something I’d narrowly avoided on that ‘race’ in 2012. Of course there was no gloating upon my return to the U.K. or at least none until I saw Bob!
I could go on but as you can see I had a lot of fun in the too few years that I knew the irascible old git aka ‘Mountain’ Bob, your memories may be similar, they may be better or they may be worse but there is no doubt he made his mark on those who knew him & not everyone can lay claim to that.
Bob fought his illness bravely & stubbornly, for him there simply could not be any other way, Colette, we feel for your loss, feel warmth & security that in this you are not entirely alone, I am sure there are many others who feel they have lost a unique Man.
Bob you are remembered warmly, kiddo & many others are thinking of you Dad.Defibrillator Campaign reaches it’s Goal
We are pleased to announce that this Sunday saw the completion of the installation of the Defibrillator outside our Cafe so a big thank you once again to everyone who donated to the cause & to Tomos Hughes who completed the installation & has guided us throughout the campaign.
The Defib. is located immediately outside our main entrance doors & will be accessible to all but please note the important date of Friday 9th March when (between approximately 15:00 & 19:00) Tomos will be helping to provide free training to members of our staff as well as anyone else who wants to come along & learn how to use it, the more the merrier.
As for me, as I battled against ferocious headwinds around the Great Orme on Sunday together with over 600 other runners in the Nick Beer 10K there were times when I felt I might need a Defib. myself as the gusts did their best to take my breath away, so although I won’t be around on the 9th I will be making sure I get trained as soon as I return from my next sojourn.
Hope you can make the 9th & help us to maximise the benefit of this new Defib. to Capel & the Outdoor Community alike.There’s Something Fishy Going On
Have you noticed the changes to our Weekend Specials? Gaby has teamed up with the excellent & renowned Mermaid Fishmongers of Llandudno to allow us to offer a wide variety of Fish options every weekend. With their expert guidance we hope to provide you with a wide variety of Fishy options throughout the year some of these will be based on their recommendations of what’s in season, so if like me & you love fish there is everything to look forward to as 2018 progresses.
These changes have already begun with Dover Sole, Cod, Haddock, Salmon & Scampi already making an appearance & being snapped up by customers. This weekend offerings will include mains of Battered Cod, Chips & Peas as well as Salmon & Dill Fishcakes with Potato Wedges & Salad. A couple of starters will also be available, Whitebait & Breaded King Prawns, both served with salad.
For those wanting a starter & mains why not pick this Saturday, although last food orders will be a little earlier than normal (7:00pm) you will then be able to dance the calories away to the sounds of Bandabacana!
Our Fishy Specials will be available throughout the year every Friday, Saturday & Sunday whilst stocks last, we hope you enjoy them.Bandabacana at the Cafe this Saturday
Just a reminder that Bandabacana are playing at the Cafe this Saturday so come along & keep warm by dancing the night away to their Sweet Grooves & Hypnotic Harmonies, free entry, for full details see our Events page, hope to see you!Defibrillator Campaign
Monday morning found me in a very gloomy mood, the day before I had been subjected to a vicious verbal attack from a woman who chose to react badly to my request to keep her dog under control. I won’t go into details but it left me traumatised, her later attempts to falsify the events on facebook & no doubt in the days ahead on tripadvisor are of no surprise but even my logic cannot fully help me to realise the futility of being hurt by such abominable behaviour. As Monday afternoon wore on & my morale still side-swiped by the incident a shining light shone into my life via Johnathan who helps us with our Facebook & Twitter pages, a customer had made contact asking about our Defib. campaign.
Within an hour this very same customer donated £500 towards our campaign, the second such donation we’ve received in little over a week, this was incredibly good news for our campaign but in equal measure was incredibly good news for me as I was jolted back to the reality that so many people enjoy & show affection for what we try our best to provide through our Cafe, ‘Paul, don’t let one incident affect you in such a way’. Of course easier said than done but I have come back to the light, so thank you Chris, I look forward to meeting you.
Regarding the campaign I am delighted to announce that together with many other kind donations, proceeds from Alex Kendal’s presentation we have now exceeded our target of £1,500, indeed we have reached £1,690.00. This morning I have asked Tomos Hughes of Achub Calon Y Dyffryn to commence the purchase & installation of the Defib. so that it can hopefully be in place before the end of February, with any excess in funds going to help Tomos secure another Defib. for the local area. I will of course keep you posted on it’s progress but in the meantime on behalf of all of us involved in the campaign thank you to all of you who have donated, clearly we are a like minded bunch of basically good people, thank you!Cash is King
Well at least it is if you are visiting the cafe today. At midday yesterday our phone lines went down & this disabled our card machine. We have been onto BT repeatedly to get it fixed but it doesn’t look like a solution will be in place until sometime on Friday 19th January presumably they are a little busy after last night’s storm. Just to be on the safe side you might like to pack some cash if you are planning to visit us this weekend, sorry for any inconvenience caused but Mother Nature reminds us that she can be in charge of our ‘modern’ world.
Talking about inconveniences in order to open the cafe this morning I had to change into Chainsaw operator mode & cut our way out of our house’s driveway at 6:00 am this morning only for the Cafe to suffer a mid-morning power cut which has also affected Betws too. At least we now have power back, Capel back on before Betws could be a bit of a first?
So that covers things that comes in 3’s or………
Hope you have fared a bit better in the storm, can’t remember it being given a name so maybe it was just a bit of old fashioned weather!Snowdonia Way – Signed copies available
Our thanks to Alex Kendal, creator & author of this new route & Cicerone guide, who gave an excellent & informative presentation about the route & it’s creation at the cafe on Saturday night.
Ticket sales raised £272.00 & will be split equally towards the BMC’s campaign to improve a notorious footpath on Cader Idris & our own campaign for a Defibrillator to be housed outside the Cafe, so thanks too to all those who attended.
Alex went down well selling 19 copies of the guide book on the night but then called in again on Sunday & signed a further 9 copies which are available from our counter so be quick if you want to plan & discover this great route yourselves.
The night raised £272.00Defibrillator Campaign
I am delighted to announce that our campaign in association with Achub Y Dyffren & Cardiac Charity SADS UK to purchase & install a Defibrillator outside our Cafe has got of to a flying start with the total donated so far, after just 5 weeks, already reaching £377.00. A big thank you to all who have donated so far.
This will receive a further boost later today when half of the ticket sales to Alex Kendall’s talk about his Walking the Snowdonia Way Cicerone Guide book gets underway at the cafe at 8:00 pm. There are still tickets available, seE our Events page for details. The other half of ticket sales goes to mending a footpath on Cader Idris, more than fitting as the Snowdonia Way has a higher route alternative which climbs Cader Idris as well as some other of Snowdonia’s iconic mountains.
Remember our target is to raise £1,500 so please support the cause, the collection tin sits on the right side of our counter.Paul’s Blog – The Snowdonia Way
Saturday 6th January 2018 sees us hosting Alex Kendall’s presentation of The Snowdonia Way. Alex both devised this new route & is the Author of the Cicerone guide detailing it which came into publication in February this year, details of his presentation including how to purchase tickets for it can be found on our Events page.
Alex & I put this date in our diaries 9 months ago with me saying ‘I’ll aim to do it before then so that I can add insight if needed’, well time flies as did my year so inevitably by mid-December I had not set a foot on it! So urgent action was needed, a plan hatched, ‘Dorina I’m going to run it over 3 days, Monday to Wednesday the week leading into Christmas providing the weather isn’t awful’.
The forecast looked relatively O.K., the snow had gone, the run was on so at just before 8:00 am on Monday 18th Dorina took my picture at Machynlleth’s Clock tower & wished me well, ‘take it easy darling the pavement is icy!’
Indeed it was a surprisingly cold start, a late frost had descended from the clearing skies, it was a beautiful start to the run but a tad treacherous under foot on the early tarmac section of the route. I was kitted out with plenty of spare food, drinks & warm clothing & also a new waterproof camera together with the guidebook itself, this was to be an experience to be enjoyed safely & not a race.
The plan for Day 1 was to reach Trawsfynydd some 29.5 miles later where my neighbour Bill would pick me up & drive me back home. The dawn was glorious, the Kilometres were clicking by, I was soon heading into the remote upper reaches of the Llefenni valley with fabulous light thinking ‘I’ve never been here before, it’s beautiful’. Dolgellau would come & go as I made my one significant Nav. error just after it’s Golf Course, this added a little but being local I could figure out where I was & soon re-joined the route as it headed North towards my home village of Ganllwyd. This section would take me through an area where I knew navigation would be difficult but true to his words at the Quiz night two days before Alex’s directions were clear & accurate & I was soon descending back to more familiar ground. At Bill’s house (literally metres below mine) I stopped to re-supply from a cach I’d left earlier in the day & gave myself a talking to ‘yes Paul you’ve done a marathon, 400 metres could see you back home, but Traws. was the plan so Traws. it will be, it can’t be anymore than 7/8 miles’. Several talking to’s later Traws. came into sight but I thwarted this by getting lost in a muddy field ‘need to talk to Alex about this’, back or forward? Forward over two walls, knock on Farmer’s door to apologise, no answer but at least I’d tried.
Just after 14:30 having phoned Bill a little earlier I ran into Traws. to find Bill waiting at the statue of Welsh Poet, Hedd Wyn, Day 1 over but longer than expected at 35.5 miles.
Overnight my sore throat of the last few days which had seen me finish Eryri’s Sunday fun run with unusually achy legs blossomed into a feverish cold giving me a fitful night’s sleep, I awoke for the umpteenth time thinking I really don’t want to do this.
Dorina again prepared breakfast & Lemsip & was soon dropping me off at Traws. for the start of leg 2 at 8:00 am, as I left her I utterred ‘Dorina today I may need to bail’. The route today would start by taking me over the long footbridge which crosses Llyn Trawsfynydd & after a road section onto an improved footpath which took me around the Western side of the lake to reach the dam. This delightful section despite the mist & drizzle which had invaded during the night seemed to lift my spirits, the fever had left & I even began to enjoy myself. From here to Penrhyndeudraeth took a bit of navigating but again Alex’s directions were clear & could be followed as I stopped frequently to make sure I kept taking the right tracks, a particular highlight was coming across Llyn Tecwyn for the first time. From Penryn. the route took me over to Rhyd, where a crass bit of forestry cutting almost obliterated the route & then onto Croesor. By now my left knee was beginning to hurt on any tarmac sections but then eased once I’d passed Nantmor & took on the ever beautiful Aberglaslyn Gorge. Reaching Beddgelert I diverted to the store to take on a sugar loaded Coke & Twix, then as I left the shop my knee ceased up out of the blue, two failed attempts to run on failed after two paces each, ‘face the facts Paul, you have to bail’. Bail I did as I called Dorina from a hotel & disconsolately waited for her over a coffee. I’d covered a little over 20 miles but with more than 18 still ahead including the most remote section of the entire route I for once had made the correct decision but that didn’t make me feel any better.
Apart from Dorina I was also being followed by a few friends & their kind words via e-mails were much appreciated but I was still seriously p….. off at this setback.
Wednesday dawned, the knee felt better but caution was my first reaction to the new day as we travelled to the Cafe. By 10:00 my mind was made up, with Fiona being unable to travel over (we’d planned to do the first part of leg 3 together) I was free to try & put yesterday’s disappointment to bed. At 11:00 Dorina once again dropped me off, this time it was back at my nemesis, Beddgelert, with a plan to complete Day 2 on Day 3.
We hatched an early contingency plan, rather than Dorina drive back to the cafe only to get another distressed phone call from Beddgelert we agreed she’d drive to Llyn Dinas & wait for me to see if I (or more importantly my knee) was in a mood to continue. As I reached the lake she’d even left the car to walk to the footbridge in the continued drizzle to avoid me taking a diversion, ‘it’s fine Dorina I’m carrying on’.
From here the route took the improved footpath down the Eastern side of Llyn Dinas before crossing the road & passing Llyn Gwynant to the West which included an airy view despite the gloom from the Elephant rock. Next came a boggy crossing which led to the climb to Bwlch y Rhediad & arguably the remotest section of the entire walk. This isolated section which crosses the Paddy Buckley route had been on my mind for some time, it passes to the left of the Cwm Edno Bog where in the 1950’s all crew & passengers of an Air Lingus flight lost their lives, some of the bodies remain un-recovered despite a major attempt to do so both at the time & many years later. The thought of passing the site alone, in deep mist in the middle of winter had been playing mind games with me, a tumble here, who would find me & more importantly when? Thankfully logic & care soon saw me emerging from the clouds to breathtaking light as I descended towards Dolwydellan at times paddling through the stream like path. The leg was now in the bag as I took a familiar track to Capel so I did what I’m good at relaxed & took my first tumble into the mud, pride before a fall & all that. Reaching Capel I put in a burst which saw me reach the cafe in a few seconds below 4 hours, I had put yesterday’s disappointment well & truly behind me. Reality also saw me making a mental note that yesterday’s decision to bail had been a very good one indeed!
It was then a couple of days of ‘back to normal’ or more accurately ‘not back to normal’ as I knuckled down to Cafe paperwork followed by Christmas food shopping but soon Saturday dawned with better weather, ‘shall I, shan’t I, I shall!’
At 8:30 I left the Cafe to attempt the long final leg to Conwy. The initial sections were like running in my own back yard but a lot of care was needed along the slippery & wet section pass Llyn Ogwen where the in-sight road did little to quell my isolated nerves but a slow pace saw me emerge un-scathed & running in towards Bethesda on safe ground. Up ahead two dogs off lead, ‘hope they are not the aggressive ones belonging to the farm I’ve just passed’. The owner stalled, put them on leads, they yapped, she smiled, she was Sue, Sue is the lovely mother of ‘our’ very own Rebecca Roberts, just what are the chances of that?
Via Bethesda is not exactly the fastest way from the Cafe to Conwy but this is the Snowdonia Way & it weaves it’s way through & around the mountains so Bethesda needed to be ticked & after 12 miles it was, now back to the guidebook, 21 miles & 1,480 metres of climb ‘shit Paul that’s going to be f…… hard’, & it was. Despite the fact that it led me around the flank of the Carneddau with fabulous views of fog banks lurking over both Anglesea & the sea to the North ‘please stay where you are’ & past herds of Carneddau ponies my spirits were hard to lift. Those miles, those climbs but one by one they fell behind me & by Moelfre thoughts of bailing were finally vanquished, I was going to do this.
From just above the Sychnant pass I decided to stop & take stock, I’ve got signal, ‘Dorina, I reckon 40 minutes from here’ ‘shall I set off now then’ ‘yes please’.
The run into Conwy was on familiar ground before a short road section led me to a delightful run along the Afon Conwy. I walked the final climb up the High Street crossed the road to the finish post at Rosemary Lane looked round 2 seconds later to see my car approaching, what timing, what a relief, what a sense of achievement. This leg had covered 35 miles & had taken 7.5 hours of mental battling, despite past form those battles don’t seem to get any easier but the final rewards keep me needing them all the more.
In all I’d covered 109 miles during 4 days out of 6, actual time on the route had been 22 Hours which has now got me thinking a 100 mile day might need to become a new goal but more importantly for now I had come back from adversity, adapted a failed plan & felt the positivism of ‘success’ albeit in a transformed form.
Alex must of course be thanked for both devising the route & his accurate directions (Alex, we do need a chat about the mileages or do I need a new Garmin?) as Bill must too for driving me home on the Monday. But as ever Dorina must take most credit continuing to drop the important things to help me to self-indulge my needs & for keeping me feeling me as positive as possible when I was in truth seriously down.
The Snowdonia Way, is it for you? Why not come & listen to Alex next weekend, personally if you are an experienced walker or indeed fell runner I’d thoroughly recommend it & don’t forget there is a longer high level route option, Dorina, what am I doing next summer?