Holiday

A Wonderful Christmas.

Christmas was very pleasant with Mother over for dinner on the day, then Boxing Day saw us head up to Hamilton with the in-laws. 28th December saw us fly out to NYC to visit Brian my friend, with a return on the 3rd January.

There is a lot to cram in about the trip to NYC, and not enough space for words; suffice to say that Brian did us proud in terms of hospitality in Congers and when in the city. Highlights started straight away with a Christmas performance by the Rockettes at the marvellous Art Deco Radio City Music Hall just off the Rockeffella Centre.

New Year’s Eve saw us stay overnight in the historic Gramercy Park Hotel in preparation for the Midnight Run in Central Park.

Central Park

https://www.strava.com/activities/2047758369

Plenty of food was consumed, photographs taken and laughs had. I even managed to squeeze a trail run in the State Parks above Rockland Lake and the Hudson River.

Nyack from Hook Mountain State Park

Nyack from Hook Mountain State Park

A weekend in Hawes.

The pervious weekend saw us head to Stone House Hotel just outside Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales to celebrate mother’s birthday meal.

On arriving Saturday we checked into the hotel and caught up with Mother. The house commands a dominating position above Hawes, one that the family owners have turned into a beautiful and unique hotel with simple yet atmospheric gardens. By the time we arrived in the afternoon the weather had turned dark, cold, freezing rain. It was 3 degrees C when we left and not far from the hotel had reached minus 1. Snow was forecast.

We headed out for a walk in windy, wet, freezing conditions. We needed to get out of the hotel otherwise cabin fever would have set in, or Mother would have set us off. And Ted can only stand for sold long being grappled with the accompanying sent of Estee Lauder Youth Drew. So off we set with Ted, who wanted to turn back due to the weather, but mostly due to the sound of shotguns in the valley. It was a pleasant walk but cold as we headed to Hardraw, just down the road passing from field to field. By now water droplets were freezing in the wind. Ted’s coat by this point as had clothing become quite wet. We made it to Hardraw’s Green Dragon Inn, took shelter and had a drink whilst drying out clothing on fire guard for the wood burning range, chatting to locals with a sense of fun in the conversation; as usual Ted was the centre piece.

We headed off, despite a local offering us a lift, across the fields with it now dark, the weather deteriorating, Ted struggling on the frozen grass. He had to be picked up about half a mile away from the hotel shivering hard. On making it back safely we dried out by the log fire in the hotel lounge with mother, to then retreat to the room for a rest before changing for dinner. A challenge popped up. We discovered that Chairman Ted of Found Us fame was not able to make dinner in the restaurant, no dogs. Should I try the “Siberian Hampster” ruse?

We ended up leaving Ted in the suite we had, Ted obliged by shouting the house down. He’s not one to be left out when he’s wearing a Harris Tweed bowtie collar. This was a predicament bearing in mind the two suites above us. A compromise was reached. On eating each course I headed over ice frozen and treacherous pebbles to check on him and feed him lamb across to pheasant. He woofed it down, and eventually settled.

The morning saw a rather “pucker” full English with Mr Woof sadly banished to the suite and checked upon by The Boss. After breakfast we all headed of to Hardraw with a view to seeing the famous Hardraw Force. And we were not disappointed when we got there, with the heavy rain having created a great flow of water over the waterfall. The spray immense and drenching, the noise deafening.

After a right proper dousing aad ignoring the signs saying don't go behind the waterfall we headed to Hawes for the Wensleydale Creamery for cheese buying and shopping.

Shopping involved Claire getting her foot stuck in a boot she tried on with her having to be extricated by myself and the shop owner, the purchase of two sets of ladies’ shoes, one lady’s gillet, a men’s checked winter shirt, and a gift from Mum of a lovely Jacobean replica companion set for the fire, hand made by Belltrees Forge and at the reasonable price of £345 - we went for a sit down brew and cake… It was then off home, sad to say goodbye, but happy in a great weekend.

A week to remember in Arisaig.

Arisaig is a wonderful place on the North West coast of Scotland in The Highlands, with Eigg and Rum just across the sea. It was the host of the Cobley and Wright clans for the October half term.

View toward Arisaig

Claire, Ted, and I headed up to Hamilton on the Friday before half term to stay over with Claire’s folks before the trek up to the holiday home in Arisaig. We arrived in the dark on a Saturday night to discover the holiday home had not been cleaned with unmade beds and towels left over from the last people; thankfully they had kept the place clean. Fraught phone calls to the owner, who was sort of helpful but we had a feeling he’d been caught out as well. Time dragged on. Cottages.com who took the booking (actually they were closed so it was the Hoeseasons office) could not have been more helpful out of hours. We were advised to check into a hotel. Booking.com provided a list of dog friendly hotels, and we contacted the West Highland Hotel in Mallaig who could kindly accommodate us, all of this at short notice. Re-pack car and off we went. On arrival the lovely staff took pity on us and upgraded Claire, Ted, and I, Ronnie and Josie to luxury double rooms overlooking the town and sea, breakfast included. Dog friendly as well!

We headed back Saturday morning after a brief spell in Mallaig; fishing town, ferry terminus for the islands, and final destination for the West Highland train all the way from Glasgow (it also calls at Oban) and popular with the Harry Potter fans as it crosses he famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, often seen carrying the Hogwarts Express in the films.

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The rather huge and modern house, four bedrooms, large lounge, had been cleaned and so we settled in. Cottages.com explained in the morning that the home owner would need to pick up the bill for the unforeseen hotel stay.

The stay over the week was much needed and whilst the weather overall was not great, cold and rain, the stunning scenery made up for it all. Claire and I ran in the local hills and were privileged to see deer, birds of prey, a multitude of Autumnal colours, spectacular sights, and a sense of remoteness, of being alone. We all stayed local and enjoyed the comfort of the house, Arisaig, Morar, Mallaig, the beaches, runs, walks including one along along Scotland’s deepest loch, Morar.

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Strava Runs:

Monday 22nd October: https://www.strava.com/activities/1920550223

Tuesday 23rd October: https://www.strava.com/activities/1922579143

Wednesday 24th October: https://www.strava.com/activities/1924510081

Friday 26th October: https://www.strava.com/activities/1928906048

The runs were just stunning…

We ate in and we ate out, with the Arisaig Hotel and it’s great Crofter’s Bar and Lounge with artists jamming and dog friendly. Wood burner heating the open area, great food and drink, with welcoming staff.

And last but not least we got to spend time with two special people, Ronnie and Josie Wright.

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A Portuguese Extravaganza.

Typing here in the Limekiln cafe with Mr Ted on my lap. Overcast and it looks like it is going to pour down Biblical fashion. (Now at home and it is peeing it down…)

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Well, back into it in terms of Found Us, the fell running, and the weather bearing in mind it got to 33 degrees C in Portugal; more on that below. I was out last night on the Tuesday night session with the Saddleworth Runners and toward the end the rain at Broadstones (Sykes Pillar) was coming in horizontally, thankfully it was not cold.

I’d arrived back from Portugal with Karl in the early hours of Monday having spent four days at his parent’s place at the village of Figueirinha in the hills about an hour from Faro. Remote, hilly, local, spectacular, and all importantly quiet and far from the madding crowds. It was something Karl had suggested and I needed at the Wake for my father. I’d also not seen James and Di his parents in a while, and that appealed.

There were no plans, and it simply became four days comprising a bit of work, relaxation, swimming in the pool, running, and venturing out in the hire car. Notably was a jaunt out on mountain bikes which is something that I’d not done in a while across the tracks crisscrossing the hills. It was much needed. Me, a break from it all, time to have reflection and down time, and a simple break for Carl with his running a business and having a family of four children.

The area is interesting for the simply reason that it holds a barren ruggedness in the the eye of the visitor with its expanse of pine, eucalyptus, and Medronho trees from which a liqueur is made. Temperature? Hot and dry. Best example is the solo run I took on Sunday with the intention of running 10 miles. This was sacked off at 6 miles even before 11am in the morning in a day that saw the heat rise to 33 degrees C.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1850635223

Flickr Figueirinha photos.

Di and James were on good form and great hosts, and so pleased for them with the house they had built by an artistically led architect. It was a risk, a real risk, but Cristina Rodriquez has delivered.

It was fascinating to see the local way of life which revolves around community and self sufficiency with people literally living off the land as they grow crops, tend bee hives, or hunt wild boar; a way of life James and Di have adopted.