This year for the first time in many, many years we spent Christmas away from home. We drove through the rain up to Durham on Christmas Eve to spend a relaxing few days with my Mum. From here we zipped across to the Lake District to do a bit of walking the turkey off. The weather as you can see was very character forming, but a good time was had by all. Red Tarn at the foot of Helvellyn was our target, the summit being lost in cloud and storm-force winds and very snowy to-boot. On the way out the next day we had a brief visit to Aira Force, a large waterfall that was very spectacular given the amount of rainfall.
Half term, and a plan for Lynn and I to go to Snowdonia was quashed for some reason or other, so in order to gain a few days mountain experience in Scotland, I took a cheap but long coach journey of some 15 hours to Pitlochry, at the southern end of the Cairngorms National Park to spend a night in the Backpackers' Hotel - a characterful place, before venturing onto the hill to experience Scotland's mountains. A wet first day with very poor visibility although disappointing, did give some good navigation practise. A very, very, very cold night camping convinced me that one night is enough, so plans were changed to allow me to stay warm in town each night. Some excellent walking with some superb mountain scenery - once the sun showed itself.
An icy spell of weather straight from the Arctic was chilling our bones in a fresh northerly wind as we stepped out of the car in Princetown, ready for our monthly hike on Dartmoor. The 'we' were Chris, Adrian, Lee and Sparky the dog who followed the Devonport Leat to Nun's Cross. This was a short walk, as I had to be back in |Dartmouth for a concert that evening, but the clear skies gave stunning views.
Last Sunday saw the occasion of the 50th Abbots Way Walk. So what else to do than pack our day-sacks and head off for the start-line at Buckfast Abbey just in time to hear the dawn chorus. The team consisted of Lynn (wife of 33 years and one day), who together with Chris Bishop and myself made up the intrepid 'Dartmouth Baptist Church Ramblers'. At 8am we set off for the moors, climbing, ever climbing until we reached the green and pleasant land they call Dartmoor. Ten hours later we staggered into Kelly College at Tavistock, proud to be the last-but-one team to finish the gruelling 24 miles.
Well done the team!
After waiting patiently to get away together for some sort of holiday, our planned 4 day perambulation of Dartmoor was cut short to two days when Lydia achieved the distinction of being the only offspring of ours to break a bone to date. She returned from Corfu last Friday with her lower left arm in plaster! Never mind, two days are better than none. We did a short circular walk on the North Moors, camping next to the East Dart River. Day two saw us doing some tricky navigation in very poor visibility, and you can see from Lynn posing next to Beardown Standing Man. The sun came out and with very wet feet we finally reached the car at Princetown after walking past the TV mast at North Hessary Tor.
Lynn and I took a few days to travel to Wadebridge in Cornwall for the 2012 Creation Fest, a Christian festival featuring speakers and some pretty good bands. We enjoyed this time, able to recharge our spiritual batteries while being challenged to pray for our country. Wet weather at the beginning of the week soon turned to a couple of hot sunny days towards the end - a photo opportunity!
Lydia and I escaped to Dartmoor for a couple of days walking this week. Our first day although slightly damp, presented us with clear walking weather with lovely views. After about 14km we found a good spot to wild camp near Kit Rocks , not far from the head of the East Dart River. Wind and rain during the night persisted into the next day and we awoke in a cloud with very poor visibility. We used the range markers as a hand rail to guide us back to Princetown, but just and hour away from the car, the heavens opened and half an hour of rain left us wet through. All good fun though, and cheesy chips at the Fox Tor Cafe soon had us back on equilibrium!
Last weekend the BRNC Volunteer Band took part in the annual RN Volunteer Band Festival, this year held at HMS COLLINGWOOD in Fareham. We had a successful day and managed to win the best concert band, best marching band and best overall band in the RN Volunteer Band Association - a result we were all delighted with. The party afterwards was also great fun!
Last week saw our Holiday Bible Club at Dartmouth Baptist Church. We were joined by Andy and Caroline plus a few of our own folk who came together to present the Good News that Jesus loves the to the children, and a few parents who stayed. The theme was 'On Your Marks ....!' and was built around the theme of Global Games (not being allowed to mention the Olympics because of copyright!). We looked at 'Calling the Team' when Jesus called his disciples; 'Shaping the Team' looking how through faith, Jesus was able to heal blind Bartimaeus; 'Inspiring the Team' where Jesus was revealed as the 'Son of God' on the mountain top; 'Challenging the Team' where Peter steps out in faith to walk on water, but when he takes his eyes off Jesus he starts to sink; but Jesus reaches out and saves him; and finally, 'Sticking to the Team' where through the parable of the sower, we looked at how our lives can bear fruit for God by passing on the Good News. A good time was had by all!
With the sun properly shining for seemingly the first time this year, we rejoiced because it clashed with our latest Dartmouth Baptist Church walk on Dartmoor. The chosen route took in the highly popular Haytor a remarkably well preserved Medieval village and the famous Hound Tor, the inspiration for 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' where Sherlock Holmes will no doubt have uttered his well-known line "Elementary my dear Watson."
I retired from the Royal Marines Band Service in 2007 having served for 33 years as a musician, eventually becoming a Director of Music and running my own band. After retirement, I took my family sailing in the Philippines with a view to sailing back to the UK via Australia. However, for many reasons our plans changed and after 9 years living in Dartmouth we have now moved to Totnes.I am married to Lynn and we have four children. Daniel and his wife Sara live in Portsmouth; Hannah is married to another Dan and they live with our grandchildren Sophia, Isaac & Elijah in Topsham. Lydia is currently studying in Lancaster and Julia is Studying Art at Totnes, due to attend University at Falmouth in 2016. I teach music in the local school and work part time for the Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority, driving the yacht taxi. Between this, directing the local orchestra, various musical performances, involved with the local church and helping train the local Ten Tors team, life can be very busy.