Mountain Talk

Mountain Talk
Paul’s Blog – A racing update – Posted 20/04/17

As I spoke to Nick Bradley before the start of the Moelwyn race the Saturday before last it was clear he was ruing his luck as he commented ‘someone’s ordered this’ in response to my ‘bit different to the weather 2 weeks ago’. Nick of course is the race organiser for the Arran race which two weeks earlier had seen us lashed with rain & a biting wind. What a difference, the Moelwyn was blessed & would take place under clear skies with only a light breeze higher up. Not all good news as we sweltered in the becalmed cauldron on our way up to the Cwmorthrin mines, it was seriously hot but all in all what a wonderful afternoon to be running this fantastic circuit of Blaenau’s mountains.

So how did I get on amongst all that sweat & grimacing, well it’s becoming a familiar tale as once again Mr. Rowlands got trotted past me on the final descent, as indeed did other serial good descenders such as Emlyn Roberts & Gary Porter-Jones. To add insult to injury running across the Rugby field to the finish Liz Barker flew past me ‘rewarding’ me for supporting one leg of her Paddy round two years ago, in truth I could see the stamina of a seriously good long distance mountain runner as she went by.

My time was slower than hoped & only partly justified by the extra distance of the race this year, is this sounding like gloom & doom? Well there are bright sides to clutch at, generally other runners like for like times were down on last year, maybe the heat had gotten to us all, my placing of 39th was the first time I’ve ever achieved a top half finish in the Moelwyn field. However the main highlight was Kean who slowed as he approached the finish turned to wait for me to close the 10 metre gap & shook my hand as we crossed the line together. All thoughts of his cheating by using me as a Hare & bringing along a bus load of his supporters were well & truly forgotten.

Conclusion, more mountain work required in training or else it could soon be Kean 4 Paul 0 for 2017, have I really just written that?

This Saturday sees the Goldrush Trail Race take place in the Coed y Brenin, as I said before this for me is the finest of the marked Trail routes at CyB so the Cafe can expect me to go AWOL once again. I recced it 2 days ago which ended in me helping two women who’d got their car stuck on the course! What were they doing there? Still what could I do other than help push them onto terra firma & receive their warm thanks as I then led them in the right direction. My recce time (1:18) was 6 minutes down on race time last year, will I lose those when in racing mode, bring on Saturday for me to find out. Good luck to Matt Ward & his fantastic team for the event, to all the runners taking part I am sure you will enjoy their hospitality & route enormously.

Thank you to all our customers over a very busy Bank Holiday weekend & apologies to anyone who struggled to get into our car park or find a table. I sneaked out late Saturday for a short loop of Capel & then again for Siabod’s summit on Monday afternoon. there is a rumour that this latter run might be connected to an aborted call out for the Ogwen team but as I have prattled on enough for now perhaps more of that another day but rest assured that, for now at least, I remain a Non-UK Mountain Rescue statistic.

Toilets Upgrade – Posted 20/04/17

We are pleased to announce that on Monday 24th April works will begin to expand our Internal Toilet facilities, we hope you will see the benefits of this investment before the summer season commences. Can it really be 5 years since we took over the cafe, closed it for 5 weeks for refurbishment & converted the existing staff toilet to a Customer toilet. Clearly this single toilet has become less & less adequate as we have become busier over the years so we have bitten the bullet to sacrifice our office for the greater good. Well that’s the good news, the bad news is it is not an easy option, there will be some disruption as phone lines, electrical services are moved as well as the inevitable banging & refurbishment noises which will emanate from the works area. Despite this we will be open for business as usual & hope this temporary distraction does not spoil your experience when visiting us.

All going well the additional toilets should be open by late May, bringing an end to those peak time queues.

Early Closing Saturday 8th April

Please note that due to an evening event at the Cafe this Saturday we will be closing our doors an hour early at 7:00pm with last hot food orders at 6:30pm. Hope that still gives you plenty of time to enjoy the hills in the expected good weather & re-fuel with us if you want to.

Paul’s Blog – Posted 05/04/17

First things first, this Saturday sees the Moelwyn Race taking place from Blaenau Ffestiniog, despite those slippery descents (not my forte) it is one of my favourites although I frequently have to remind myself of that as my lungs gasp for Oxygen on the run out towards Moelwyn Mawr & my mind thinks of the further climbs thereafter. Despite this oxymoron it has been ever present in my calender since 2011. This year I feel under-prepared but at least I’m not making the mistake of tackling it 6 days after the Manchester marathon like I did last year. Well done to Gonks & his team for taking over the running of it this year, the weather looks like it will be kind, hope to see some of you there whether you run or simply want to cheer us on.

Based on that I’m hoping for a calmer start to this Saturday than last Saturday, have you heard?

Well in truth things started to go wrong around midday on Friday when my local roofer responded very quickly to a request to solve a leak. An hour after putting in the call the leak was fixed, the roofer paid, all was well. An hour or so later Dorina asked where’s the cat? I calmly responded, she’ll be fine just having a wander, these soothing words failed to calm the Angel.

Moving on, arriving at the cafe early Saturday the lights in the Gallery failed to come on, not being an Electrician I decided to fix it. I have survived 51 years partly because I have always respected electricity so quite why I decided to listen to some Romanian advice ‘Paul don’t re-secure the plug cover until you’ve tested the new fuse’, the plug went in, the unsecured cover slipped, I danced to an Electric tune & was soon in a shaken heap on the floor.

By now I was not feeling well so decided to bite the bullet, look for more trouble & picked up the phone to the roofer (Angel had already connected that a missing cat & the roofer might go together). Yes his wife said, he did see a cat jumping out of his truck, my heart rose (O.K. so he lives in the country, the cat will be close to his house, we have a chance) then she added he was in the middle of Tywyn 25 miles away at the time! My heart sank, the cat was lost, I put down the phone in an increased state of SHOCK.

An Angel was heard shouting ‘I told you we should have got her (aka Isabella) tagged!’

Think Paul, forget those electrocuted neurons, think!

Phoning the roofer’s mobile I soon knew the location of last seen, vets were called, social media notified, photo’s printed & an hour later I was setting of from Capel to Tywyn some 60 miles away, ooh what a lovely morning.

The search began just after 1:00pm, of course it was a needle in a Haystack but my thanks to a second hand bookshop keeper in Tywyn’s old Market Hall as well as an anonymous woman in a shop nearby, as well as a cafe & hairdresser’s opposite for their warm sympathy & help. Isabella is not a bad name to be continually shouting around a graveyard & other Tywyn hotspots but after half an hour my initial hopes of finding a cowering cat were ebbing away.

The anonymous woman again enquired & suggested I try the house leading North, not the first one (I’d already eyed it’s fierce dog). At the gate to the second a lady appeared at the window ‘are you looking for a cat’ (guess she’d heart my graveyard calls) ‘I saw a grey one on my lawn an hour ago’. I showed the photo, she had doubts, but we searched the garden, no cat but cat hairs on her fence, ‘try Sheila’s next door’.

Sheila, bless her, in her 70’s let a demented man walk through her house to her back garden without a care before a shout from her neighbour relieved the tension, ‘I’ve found her’. Two minutes later Isabella gave up her cowering between a fence & a shed & walked into my arms, could you write this stuff….

Back in the car tears came as I put the call into Angel & a cheer resonated through the Cafe’s kitchen. The drive home was the first time Isabella has ever purred whilst in a cat box in a car, if only this could be repeated when we take her to the vet to be tagged!

My reward for all this has been a tad clingy Isabella & better still Angel!

Of course I apportion no blame to Kean, where does he come in you may ask, well the week before I’d said ‘kean I’ve got a leak’ to which he replied ‘sod your leak I’m off to Cornwall’, may our paths meet on the Moelwyn’s….

Open MIC Night – Saturday 1st April

Just a quick reminder that our last Saturday in the month Open MIC Night was moved back to the 1st of April this month, full details on our events page. Hope you can make it for a relaxed evening at the Cafe.

Paul’s Blog – I was once 50! – Posted 29/03/17

Well I had planned to post this a week or so ago, but as always with age you blink & yet more days have flown by, now 6 days into being 51 it is time to make amends & update (for those who may have thought I’ve passed away) with how I got on with my 5 challenges for my year of being 50.

Firstly the facts:-

1. Run the West Highland Way (95 miles) in two days – achieved.
2. Run a sub 3 Hour Marathon – not achieved, pb lowered to 3:10.
3. Climb two out of 3 targeted Oberland 4,000 metre peaks – not achieved.
4. Traverse Skye’s Cullin Ridge – achieved.
5. Complete the 214 Wainwright summits in The Lake District – achieved.

I think I have covered the three I achieved pretty comprehensively in previous blogs so won’t bore you with their highs & lows again so what of the two ‘failures’? Well it wasn’t for the want of trying & I’m certainly not losing any sleep over them, after all if we got everything we wanted it would be a boring life where everything is taken for granted.

With the Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau as those who regularly subject themselves to my blogs will know a certain rock got in the way. The only seriously important thing to report is that Tim has made an excellent recovery. He is not simply up & about, he has been seen in Antartica, Patagonia & being very patient with a wanabee Ski Tourer in the French Haut Alps. Refusing Tim’s offer of finding an alternative guide to help me pursue this goal I had replaced this challenge with a winter ascent of The Monch but a storm stepped in between us helping it allude me for the third time in less than 2 years. The mountain will still be there for a future attempt as indeed I am to talk about it.

The 3 hour marathon simply was a miscalculation of my energy & motivational levels. I gave it a good shot in Manchester but in truth it was too early in the year for me to seriously threaten it. Summer would always prove out of the question due to various factors including the WHW, a charity run, alpine goals, busy cafe & a certain ridge on Skye (are you hearing excuses) but in my mind I always had the Autumn to play with, WRONG! A certain Mr. Wainwright got in my way, I simply hadn’t factored in how much time, planning & energy I would have to devote to the Lakeland Fells (ooh & in between I did escort a certain Angel over the WHW & up The Ben). So whilst this was going on I simply didn’t do any Marathon training, to then run two Marathons within October was a good ask but only the first (Chester) offered any hope, I ran hard, the wheels fell off but in truth 3:16 was still pretty pleasing all things considered. All was not lost though as Wrexham in early March was a last ditched pitch at the goal.

Always intelligent to go Skiing/Ski Touring for a week (slotted in a couple of runs for good measure), run a Half Marathon the first day back (in pouring cold rain) & then expect to run a Marathon pb just a week later. My mind said yes, my calves & blistered feet said no, wisely (for once) I didn’t even make the start line.

So do I look back at failure or success, well actually I look back with pride & joy, my lack of understanding the enormity of the physical demands I was placing on my abused body certainly led to me missing the Marathon challenge, bad luck twice thwarted me on the Oberland (or was that good luck?) but what a year it was & how lucky I am to have had plenty of support throughout from many & especially Dorina.

The body has been seriously sore in recent months but as I write this there is light, exercises to strengthen it start today & June will see me subjecting it to arguably it’s toughest month yet, more of that another time.

In essence my 50th year started on a tremendous high with a wonderful Birthday run & ended with a mad but incredibly rewarding Aran Fell race in appalling conditions in which Kean not only beat me to the finish but also out fell me falling 5 times to my 3, we were both put to shame by the guy who went into a bog up to his waist & came out smiling.

Now it’s time to be 51 & grow young & reckless, what’s a number, simply not important unless it’s a race placing below Kean’s. That Aran result almost hurt as much as my back, shoulder, left knee, blistered feet, but no excuses……, you understand!

Spring has been seen, hope you have great plans for an Outdoor year ahead, if not stop reading & make one would be my advice for what it’s worth. Thank you for listening.

Early Closing Saturday 11th March 2017

We will be hosting the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organistion’s AGM this Saturday evening so will have to close our doors to other customers at 18:30 with last orders for hot food being at no later than 18:00. We hope that you will still be able to have an enjoyable day in the hills & get down in time to re-fuel with us if you wish to.

OVMRO do great work helping those in need so we hope you will understand & put up with any inconvenience it may cause.

Paul’s Blog – Posted 07/02/17

Well I knew a blog was overdue but has it really been 4 weeks since I last sat down to do one! So many good intentions such as writing about the Winter Trail Half Marathon in Coed y Brenin & the camaraderie with a girl called Sarah who kept on praising my pace as we continually swapped positions ending in a warm hug at the finish. But with this great event more than two weeks ago I’ll say no more than thanks to Matt Ward & his team for a great event & belated congrats. to fellow Eryri runners, Martin, Steve & Alwyn for winning their age categories when yours truly could only finish 4th in his.

The following week saw me in The Lakes for a walk with the Liverpool Trekkers where we got temporarily lost in a light Blizzard (is there such a thing) between Esk Pike & Bowfell. A good winter hill day nonetheless followed by a relaxed evening & a lovely early morning run to blow the cobwebs away.

Running has taken over again, 4 half marathons or more over the last week has seen me clock up 70 miles, injuries (knee, back & shoulder) are fading into the past, each day my spirit is lifting & confidence in my body growing, may the year ahead prove to be as good as last year, the plans are laid & I’ll detail these separately in the near future.

But now to more here & now issues:-

Moel y Ci race this Saturday, will I see you there? Good luck to race organiser Gary Porter Jones, weather looks like be crisp & dry.

Banda Bacana are playing at the Cafe (also this Saturday), things kick off at 7:30pm, promises to be as fun as ever, dancing in the ailes almost obligatory, free entry with extended drinks license until 11:00pm.

Finally I am pleased to announce that we have just made a major investment in our cooking facilities, food will still be cooked fresh to order but the super quick new kit should bring down waiting times substantially whilst not affecting quality. It may take a few weeks for Gaby & her team to be totally up to speed but already we feel sure that you will soon reap the benefits, of course once you’ve eaten you are still more than welcome to linger & plan your day at whatever speed you choose.

Finally we have two important announcements to make, so watch this space over the coming days.

Paul’s Blog – Posted 10/01/16

Firstly a reminder that this coming weekend brings plenty to look forward to here in Northern Snowdonia, things kick off with Cerdded Conwy Walks & their series of ‘New Year Walks’. A variety of walks in & around the Conwy valley from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th. Sandwiched in between is Buc’s presentation ‘Stories from a Local Shepherd’ here at the Cafe on Saturday evening. So why not join an organized walk & then relax in the Cafe in good company listening to Buc’s experiences in farming in the Ogwen Valley. For more details of the walks & Buc’s presentation visit our Events page.

How are your plans for 2017 going? Mine are still shrouded in a bit of fog, why, probably in truth due to recent injuries that are hopefully just a blip. Things are looking up having put in back to back 16 & 10 miler’s this Saturday & Sunday but near the end of the 10 miler my right knee felt odd so basically before committing fully to my thought processes I am still looking for some restored confidence. The mind & body are having a bit of a tug of war! So what are the plans & thoughts, I’ll let you inside my head a little (not a pretty place):-

Plans: Walking in The Lakes end of January. Skiing, Ski Tour & possible winter ascent of The Monch end of February. Wrexham Marathon early March. Goldrush Trail in April. Welsh 1,000 metre race in June, Wales Trail Marathon mid-June.

Now for those thoughts: Paddy Buckley. 24 hours up & down Siabod for Reach Out for Nepal in June. A 7,000 metre peak in summer 2017 or 18. An 8,000 metre summit in 2018. Walking challenge with Dorina this Autumn & closer to home Ice Axe & Crampons this weekend. We can dream but can we do, only one way to find out. Now out for a run to listen to that knee, back, shoulder & inner voice. Happy thinking & doing.

Buc ‘Stories from a Local Shepherd’ – Posted 06/01/17

Quick reminder that Buc (aka Gwyn Thomas) who farms in the Ogwen Valley is giving a presentation at the Cafe on Saturday 14th January. Full details are on our events page. It promises to be a fascinating insight to how someone manages the land & mountains that we love to play in.

There will be specials with meat supplied by Buc & an extended drinks license until 11:00 pm. Tickets available both over the counter or by phoning us on 01690 720429 at £10 per head with all monies frOm ticket sales & ‘Buc’s Specials’ going to OVMRO. We hope you can make it.