Friday, 6 December 2019

QC Blogging Day

Times Quick Cryptic No 1499 by Rongo - I love to go a vandering....

A neat and entertaining Quick Crossword to end the week from Rongo with a cheeky cryptic device that had me chuckling, although some may consider it groan-worthy. Elsewhere some fine surfaces and, I think, generally straightforward word-play... well I wasn't significantly delayed by any, finishing in a whisker over 4 minutes. Thanks you Rongo! How did everyone else get on?

Oh. By the way, if you are at the Championship tomorrow look out for me in Times HQ or in The George (after my morning preliminary eliminates me) and say hello if you spot me.
Read all about it... )

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Ten do Devil's Dyke

This was the invite from Joyce:

"Tuesday 3rd December. This Tuesday, Nick and I are offering Devils Dyke Walk. I We have a plan for this linear walk. Can all of you park at Woodditton Village ready to start the walk at 11am. Nick and I park along this lane under the Water Tower. We will then walk the Dyke (7.5 miles) and at the end we will have a coffee at Elk Coffee Shop in Burwell before we transport you back to your cars at Woodditton. If anyone else is joining us then we will happily put you on the hourly bus back to Newmarket and then transport you back to Woodditton a little later so don't be put off. Nick and Joyce. "

But what about the wolf, goat and cabbage problem? How were we going to get everyone back to their cars? I volunteered to help... and a plan was formulated...  I Would meet Joyce and Nick in Burwell, leaving Nick's car and mine there and Joyce would drive us to meet the rest at the start in Woodditton. And with 1 more seat available in her car I could give Julie (who lives very close) a lift and take one less car to the start.

So I picked up Julie and we drove to Burwell to meet Nick and Joyce, and she drove us to Woodditton to meet the rest of the group, 10 of us in all. So five in each car to get back. Simples!

We set off at 11am on the dot. No need for maps to check we were still on track... this was our route along the top of Devil's Dyke, a man-made bank up to 10.5m high.

Here are a few of my photos.

At the start...

With me behind the camera, there is still one missing. Ah. There she is...

The start of the walk, even though it doesn't say Devil's Dyke.

To get to the dyke we had to cross a bit of a muddy field.

And here we climbed up to it.

There were a lot of trees each side of us.

But we did get nice views when the trees thinned out. The soft wintery sunshine gave a pale golden glow to the landscape.

We crossed the Icknield Way...


"Devil's Dyke is the largest of several earthworks in south Cambridgeshire that were designed to control movement along the ancient Roman roads. When it was created, it completely blocked a narrow land corridor between the southern edge of a region of water-logged marsh (now known as The Fens) in the north-west and dense woodlands in the south, so making circumvention difficult and forming an effective defensive barrier for the lands to the east. The dyke crossed three important Roman roads, including the ancient Icknield Way, and may thus have served as a way of controlling trade and movement in and out of the area."

..and, later, the railway line between Ipswich and Cambridge. Just a single track, you will notice, which limitis the  frequency of trains... I'll say no more.

Mostly bare trees on the skyline  testify that we are in winter now.

The path now is much more open.

We passed the golf course. A couple of the championship tees are actually on the path.

In the distance I spotted the Ship of the Fens through the haze about 12 miles away.

We stopped to eat our lunch between the two Newmarket racecourses.

We were glad there was enough wintry sunshine to throw shadows.

The Millenium grandstand at the end of the Rowley mile.

We carried on in parallel to  the July course and stopped close to where it happened for Nick to tell us the story of  Frankie Dettori's plane crash. Nick was on-duty and called to the scene and was the first one there, helping get Frankie safely off the plane. He didn't get mentioned inh the press coverage, though.

Looking back to the grandstand.

We crossed the Beacon (Cesarewitch) Course that extends the Rowley mile for another 2 furlongs, just before we got the A14. Anyone for a race?

Eventually we could see Ely Cathedral again, but it was hard to get a view without power lines.

WSe were heading for Burwell and our destination was in sight now.

Nick and Aidan stopped at the high point (Gallows Hill) and view surveyed the view. "What area can we see from here?",  he asked. We could see Ely Cathedral 11 miles away so, assuming we could see that distance in each direction, I did a quick calculation... about 380 square miles.

As well as a hare, we saw some deer.

I was now at the front of the group as we neared the end of the Dyke at Reach.

Then it was on to Burwell to the Elk coffee shop.

Then it was back to the start in Nick's car and mine. Thanks Joyce and Nick for the great walk and sorting out the logistics and everyone else for the company.

You can see more details of our route here on MapMyWalk and more of my photos here on Flickr.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Songbook Sunday - Juliet Kelly

December already... Good-bye Autumn. But time for another Songbook Sunday at the Athenaeum.

This was the listing...

Just me this time and I didn't take the buffet so I was seated in the cheap seats at the back. Not that it mattered. I could see and hear just fine. I sneaked a couple of pics on my phone...

What a great voice and lovely expressive singing. The backing trio were pretty good too. Owen had some great solos and Chris and George were impressive as ever.

There were several Nina Simone favourite songs, but the highlight for me was Juliet's own song "Little things". In the absence of any backing vocalists on stage she got the audience to take part, which was rather fun.

What a great way to spend a cold December lunchtime! Thanks Juliet and the Chris Ingham trio. The next Songbook Sunday is not till March, but I'm sure I'll be back.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Blackthorpe Barn Walks

Today's walkers... although Barry didn't actually walk with us, Jane successfully hid from the camera and Anna didn't join us until later... and, of course, I was behind the camera.

This was the invite from Joyce...

"Friday 29th November. We will meet at Blackthorpe Barn, Rougham at 10.30am for coffee or 11.15am to walk only. The first loop will be a gentle 4 miles over to Thurston and back through the woodland at Rougham Park. We will be back at Blackthorpe Barn around 1pm and then for those who wish to walk some more we will start another longer and brisker loop of between 6-8 miles depending on weather. Bring a sarnie for lunch if you are walking the longer route as the morning coffee stop is our 'main' break."

We duly assembled for coffee at the Blackthorpe Barn cafe before setting off for our two-part walk. Here are our routes.

You may notice the start is not in the same place as the finish for this first part... I neglected to start my tracker until we had crossed the A14, but our route out up to the A14 bridge was the same as our route back.

This was our afternoon route.

Here are a few of my photos.

There is a load of Christmas stuff for sale at the barn.

But we were here for refreshments before our walk.

The Rougham Estate has some turkeys....

...and geese.

Which reminds me... many years ago my (Irish) workmate Ian said one day, about this time of year, "I phoned my mother last night and said I would like to come and stay with her for Christmas. 'That's lovely' she said. 'I'll get a turkey'. 'But mother, I'm a vegetarian'. 'Oh yes, so you are. In that case I'll get a duck'". (It's quite logical, if you think about it!).

I digress. We saw some lovely trees on the Rougham estate.

We were overflown by a few light aircraft... the airfield gets quite a view visitors at the weekend arriving from Friday morning.

There are plenty of fungi about.

Walking through the woods.

Back at the bridge over the A14 we had a nice view of where we had just walked from.

Soon we were back at the barn and this lovely tree by the overflow car park.

Off we go for part 2... I've got some catching up to do already as I restart my tracker and finish my can of Diet Coke.

We had some lovely lanes to walk on with fallen leaves underfoot.

We headed to Rougham church, which was often in view this afternoon, as we continued our walk.

Another of the lovely trees we passed.

And some nice houses too.

Happy walkers.

A lot of trees had been felled in the wood by the lake off Eastwoodhill Road.

We heard all about it from the forestry workers when we passed through here previously.  Let me see if I can find it... Not on this one, nor this one, nor this one. It was this one! We've done plenty of walks around here this year as Joyce set herself a target of walking all the paths around Rougham this year... and today was the culmination of that.

Further on we came to this field.... and were glad we didn't have to walk over it!

No. The photograph is not in black and white (you can see a couple of  trees with reddish leaves in the distance).

By now the sun was getting low. Here is the view back to Bradfield St. George church.

Some bare trees on the skyline.

And some with their leaves yet to fall.

We passed through Rougham village.

..before the sun set.

Our last unwalked path... the avenue from Rougham church up to the A14.

And then it was back from the bridge over it, as we had done in the morning, to our start at Blcckthorpe Barn, just as the light was fading.

Thanks Joyce for the lovely walks and to everyone else for the company. Yes. I think we can say we've done the Rougham footpaths now! And this felt like the dying embers of autumn. But I'm sure we will have some nive winter walks too.

You can see more detail of our routes (part 1)  and (part 2) on MapMyWalk and more of my photos here on Flickr.