Isle of Wight

Anyone fancy going to the Isle of Wight festival next year? Apparently it’s mid June and tickets go on sale on December 10th. My brothers + girlfriends and various other hangers on appear to be going for the duration.


From the BBC website

Croatia rose to the occasion in their crucial Euro 2008 defeat of England – after an apparent X-rated gaffe by an English opera singer at Wembley.

Tony Henry belted out a version of the Croat anthem before the 80,000 crowd, but made a blunder at the end.

He should have sung ‘Mila kuda si plania’ (which roughly means ‘You know my dear how we love your mountains’).

But he instead sang ‘Mila kura si planina’ which can be interpreted as ‘My dear, my penis is a mountain.’

The importance of catching the second-to-last bus & the lakes

45km is quite a ludicrous amount ground to cover. I shouldn’t wonder if your feet are not covered in numerous blisters. Most impressive though; it puts our 8km walks in the lakes to shade!

It’s also a good illustration as to why I always used to get the second-to-last train back from Chichester, back in the day when I actually went out…

Our trip to the lakes was very successful. With the final guestlist comprising of Me, Han, Sue and Patty, we split our visit between epic walks and visits to towns and other places of interest. Jul, being partially crippled, stayed at home.

Han and I did three big walks in total: Cat’s Bells (returning via Derwent water, 4hrs), very pleasant and a good warm-up walk; Harrison Stickle (via Stickle Tarn, as recommended by Tan, 6hrs), good fun with a great decent down by Loft Crag; The Old Man Of Coniston (coming back via Swirl How, 6hrs), really good, steep climb up to the top of Old Man and good views on the way down.

I shall upload some photos when I can get Virgin to sort out our broadband!

Last bus

The other day, we visited the villages and citrus groves of the Lecrin Valley.
To do this, we walked down to Orgiva, and got a bus to Talera. From there, we
reckoned on a pleasant enough ten to fifteen kilometre stroll along little used
roads and footpaths to take in three or four villages, before retracing our
steps in time for the last bus, which left at 6.30.

Having already experienced the readiness of the local buses to arrive and
depart before the advertised hour, we got to the bus stop well in advance. It
had been a warm day, but there was a nip in the air, which made me regret not
bringing a fleece. As it was, dressed in shorts and light shirt, I was looking
forward to sitting in an agreeably warm vehicle, being propelled homeward at

Our limbs were aching a little, and I remarked to my companion how I felt my
hip joints had had just about the right amount of stretching for one day.
Because we knew we wouldn’t have to carry it further than the kilometre and a
half back up the track from Orgiva, we bought a seven kilo bolsa of tangerines,
to add to our already heavy bag of clutter.

We spent some time agonising which side of the road the bus would stop on. As
it happened, we needn’t have worried, as it didn’t turn up at all. I kept
having increasingly disbelieving looks at my timetable, but to no avail. It was
a little after seven when we finally acknowledged this was not to be relied on.
We debated what to do. Night had fallen and it was getting colder. For some
reason, there are no taxis in this part of the world. Nor were there any
hostels or hotels in the town we were in.

There didn’t seem likely to be any more buses, going in any direction. We
trudged to one end of town, to try our hand at hitching, but there were no
cars, so we trudged to the other end, but there were no cars there either.
Eventually, we decided to walk the 4km to the next village, which was in our
direction home. The total distance to Orgiva, via Lanjaron, was around 25km. I
reasoned that we could walk some of that way, hitching as we went, and maybe
find a place to stay in Lanjaron.

Reckoning on 4km an hour – the roads are hily, and it was dark – I thought the
absolute worst case scenario would be arriving back at our cave around three in
the morning; but that this was hardly likely to happen!

I impressed upon my companion the fact that our situation could have been a
lot worse. It could have been raining. We might not have had provisions in the
form of tangerines, whose weight was beginning to dwell on me. We might have
been prisoners, being force marched to our execution. All in all, when looked
at squarely, ours was almost an enviable situation to be in.

We arrived at the next village at 9pm. My hips were complaining, but I ignored
them. Only two cars had passed us, and neither had slowed down. There were no
taxis, hostels or evidence of people in this village, so we walked on a further
2km to a large roundabout. There we could either try hitching a ride on the
motorway to Grenada or the Coast, with their abundance of places to stay, or we
could wend our way through the testing mountain road towards Lanjaron, another
8km distant, hitching as we went.

I looked up at the moon and sighed. Despite it not raining and us not being
prisoners, this wasn’t a situation I relished. The best of a bad set of
alternatives seemed to be to head towards Lanjaron.

We fetched up there at 11.30, and sank onto the first bench we saw. It had
been a gruelling climb, made worse by the cars roaring past us at regular
intervals, flattening us up against the safety barrier separating the road from
an often sheer precipice. Although we continued wafting our thumbs at them, it
had seemed futile. Who, after all, would want to let two cold strangers into
their warm car interior at dead of night?

Although we were aching all over, the prospect of getting back to our familiar
abode and sliding into bed, albeit at a late hour, seemed much more alluring
than staying in one of Lanjaron’s fine hotels. We enquired about prices, but
frankly, by this time the adrenaline was surging in me to such an extent that
they could have offered to pay me to stay in their ludicrously overvalued
dosshouse and I would still have spurned them. My companion was at one with me
on this – I took considerable pains to establish this was the case – and so we
set off on the last but one leg of the night, to Orgiva, a mere 10km away.

Somehow, we acquired en route a small Scottie dog, scurrying twenty or so
yards behind us. It was black, and we could only see it when a car passed by
and illuminated the road. We tried everything to get it to go back: the dog
dazer, stones, menacing gestures; but still it advanced, like a loathsome

We stopped to eat tangerines at each kilometre marker. Around one in the
morning, we finally got rid of our attendant dog, when it attached itself to
another couple, who slipped by in the night, apparently in a similar
predicament to us, but heading in the opposite direction, for Lanjaron. We let
out a muted ‘Hola’, wondering if they might be brigands, with rusty knives,
after our valuables.

The second half of the journey was mostly downhill, but this didn’t make it
any easier. I became worried that my companion was finding the going hard,
since she seemed to be lurching from one side of the road to another. It turned
out she couldn’t see, on account of the moon having disappeared behind cloud.
Rather more worrying was when she had been walking in a straight line for a
while, and I asked her a question, but got no response. After closer
examination, I discovered she was asleep on her feet!

I felt pretty wrecked on arriving in Orgiva at 2.30am. I was chilled to the
bone and my feet seemed jellified. The ache in my hips resembled that which I
imagine a couple of freshly heated pokers inserted at right angles into the
sides of the pelvis and waggled about a bit would produce. However, luckily, a
degree of disassociation had set in, and the pain seemed to be happening to a
different body than the one my brain presided over.

We came at last to the track we had descended so gaily some seventeen hours
earlier. This climbs a couple of hundred metres in a steady, unremitting way
that gives no chance of a breather unless you stop and rest. I felt it would be
fatal to do that. In fact, I issued strict instructions to both of us to not
even think of sitting down when we eventually did make it home or we would
probably never get up again.

Grappling in my overladen bag amongst the kilos of uneaten tangerines to find
the house key and then to insert it in the dark with my palsied, feverish
fingers grappling for the tiny slot almost made me cry out in despair. Finally,
I flung the door open, we stumbled inside, and in pre-agreed order of
precedence, I lurched towards the shower room, ripping the few clothes I had on
from my shivering body, sluicing myself clean and drying myself fitfully,
before sinking into the inexpressible luxury of bed.

The sensation of moving from standing, bearing my own raddled weight, to lying
down, being supported, was extraordinary. One entire gamut of pain receded like
a chimera, with the most intense relief imaginable, but it was only to be
replaced, moments later, by a new pain, deep inside my muscular tissues. It
felt like rigor mortis setting in. However I positioned myself, an intolerable,
racking ague resulted. Was this cramp, I wondered?

Luckily, my companion of the night, who I feel I must pay tribute to for her
fortitude in adversity, had the good sense to feed me some granules of arnica.
Wondrous as it is to relate, as the grains melted in my mouth, I felt the pain
dissipate. By the time all trace of the arnica was gone, so was the pain.

It took longer to get warm, but when I did, I slept like a baby. The following
morning, I found I could barely walk. I estimate we covered 45km in all, at
least half of it uphill, on mostly tarmac roads, a feat of unintended endurance
I have no desire to ever do again.

The moral of this story is that there’s a lot to be said for living near a
station where, if the last train fails to get you home, they provide a taxi. As
it is, I keep asking myself, what sort of place is it that has no taxis?

Sunny days

One week into our ‘retreat’ and, somehow, we find ourselves in the Lake District of the South, but without the lakes. The same rounded mountains, sparsely covered with straggly vegetation, separated by lush valleys (only these ones have citrus groves in them) with distant views of a succcession of hills. The same endless paths criss crossing the terrain, with signposts almost non existant. Even the same lowering mist, appearing out of nowhere, although thankfully this is restricted to the higher ground.

We’ve managed to get lost every time we’ve ventured out and we’re continually finding ourselves backtracking. Once we walked a mile in what we thought was the right direction, returned the way we had come when we realised it wasn’t, and then went back agan when it turned out we had been right after all.

So far the weather has been perfect, with glorious sunny days that are never too hot and cool nights that are never too cold. We have a fireplace but there’s been no need to light a fire, yet.
This afternoon, hurrying down a snaking path past a ruined Cortijo with a staved in roof, wafting the Dog Dazer at a insistent hound, we were accosted by a toothless worthy who insisted we were going the wrong way. He wrenched the map from my hands, and perused it upside down with a frown, before ushering us into his lair with much sucking in of air through his gums.

The interior of his abode was fetid to a degree, but politeness prevented us rushing away, particularly as he might have been right about our faulty sense of direction, and we needed to know where to go, as there was only one bus back down the valley, which went in less than an hour..

His inner sanctum, into which we were shepharded, was bizarre. It had a wildly sloping concrete floor, so to stay standing was hard work. Perhaps this was deliberate, as he kept gesturing for me to sit, as Mama had already done, on one of the twenty four variously sized wickerwork chairs that lined three of the walls. The fourth wall, where our friend had ensconsed himself, in a coner seat, with, I noticed, a huge flagon of rose and a half empty glass, was covered with a mosaic of photos of ‘walkers’ in various attitudes of innebriation or merriment, all of which showed our ‘host’ in the forefront, his single yellow fang gleaming prominnatly.

Alongside these photos were some hand printed notices alluding to the necesssity to make a donation to this brigand in grateful acknowledgment of his hospitality. Looking from his mottled face, past his stained jerkin and his open flies, to the dirty wine glasses he was about to bring forth, I was put in mind of Evelyn Waugh’s story of the man in South America who befriended a traveller and became so enamoured of his manner of reading Dickens to him at night he refused to let him go. That was, the visitor was free to go, but didn’t know the way, and every time he tried to escape, locals brought him back, believing they were helping him.

If this toothles rascal had had an oubliette under his sloping concrete floor in which to whisk those hapless victims sitting on his wickerwork chairs, I wouldn’t have been at all surpised. As it was, he accepted our departure without too much complaint

Our bikes are essentially even more useless than they would be in the Lakes, given the hair raising ascents and descents, both by road and track. I’ve unpacked them, but we’ve yet to venture anywhere beyond our access road. I even managed to get a puncture going that far – every other plant seems to have a thorn attached. Added to which, the front wheel of the Rudge appears to have got buckled in transit and the derailleur is playing up. If it doesn’t pull itself together, I’m thinking of removing the good bits and jettisoning the carcass here.

For me, the highlight of our days has got to be the prevalance of pomegranate trees bordering the fields, with their lush fruit hanging at just the right height for a long arm to snake out and twist off. For some reason, these fruit are considered commercially worthless, and most of them crack open on the trees, dropping their scarlet seeds on the ground; so we don’t feel too bad about helpng ourselves.

The cave is okay, as two room hovels go.