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.