Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gambling with Clouds - Skiddaw Walk

I drive past Skiddaw a lot, meaning that I drive along the A66 from West Cumbria towards Keswick and Skiddaw, on a clear day, dominates the view across Bassenthwaite Lake.  More often than not, the top is obscured by clouds, but when you can see the top, it really is a magnificent sight.

Skiddaw is the fourth highest mountain in England with a summit of 3054 feet.

I last went up Skiddaw three years ago.  Since that time, I have lost weight and greatly improved my fitness to the extent that, what was a struggle and full day in 2007, makes for a fair to middling morning walk in 2010.  I'm not sure how long it took in 2007 but today, I was up and back down and enjoying my sandwich in my car in two and a half hours.

Today was also my first real hike since my dog emigrated.  That's a story for another blog post but it was good to be back.

Here's the route I took:

Up and down from Underscar with a slight detour to bag Skiddaw Little Man on the way back.  
About six and a half miles altogether.

The thing about going up Skiddaw is that you either pick a really clear, cloud free day or you take a gamble.  Of course, I took the gamble.

there's the top of Skiddaw (right behind all that cloud)

setting off from the Underscar car park (which means less climbing by about 800 feet).  
There's a bit of blue sky up there.  That sheep doesn't look too impressed.

Monument to two Skiddaw Shepherds and the first views over to the Newlands Horseshoe and beyond.

the winding path towards the summit

looking to the east, the sun is trying to break through

not bad to the south either.

and in the direction we are going...hmm.

I nearly turned around at this gate

but, suddenly...

it's all clear

Leaving the cloud behind, I have a feeling it wont be the last I see of it.

looking back to Skiddaw Little Man, see you on the way back.

Skiddaw summit off to the right, Bassenthwaite below

here comes that cloud again

the top is around here somewhere

Hmm, I'll have to take your word for it

I can't see a thing, let's head

thirty seconds later - all is clear

let's go and get that Little Man

nearly there


down below the clouds now

there were about 5 cars when I set off

got a big push ahead but the downhill will be fun

back to the car park.  Time to eat my sandwich and have a drink

Skiddaw sometimes suffers from the Eiffel Tower effect - when you go up the Eiffel Tower, you are not able to see the best part of the view, the tower itself.  Skiddaw from elsewhere:

from Walla Crag

from Cat Bells

Good to get back to walking.  Hoping to do some more in the autumn and winter.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Raw Vegan Failure - Sorry VeganLisa

I love the idea of being a raw vegan but have never committed to it.  Every now and then I like to pretend so when I saw a recipe for Raw Apple Streusel Bars on Vegan Lisa's blog, I had to have a go.

First thing was to check the list of ingredients:

For the Cashew Crust: 2 cups of cashews (check), 1/4 tsp sea salt (check), 2 tbsp agave (what??)

I decided, purely by guessing, that golden syrup was a suitable substitute for agave.

For the Raw Apple Butter: 2 cups of apple (check, although I will have to work out how much a cup is), cinamon, ginger, clove, dates (check), ground chia (errr. no, I used some sunflower seeds), lemon juice (check).

For the Streusel: walnuts (check), coconut sugar (seriously??, coconuts have sugar? - brown sugar substituted), salt and cinamon (check).

For the Cashew Icing: cashews, lemon juice and water (check, check, check).

Ok.  Let's get started:

looks like my usual helper is having a power nap.  
Perhaps for the best because she doesn't like the 'whiz, whiz' (food processor).

my best guess at a cup measurement

Whiz 2 cups of cashew nuts and 1/4 tsp of salt to make a fine breadcrumb then add the agave (or in my case golden syrup) until combined.  Press into a tin.

the cashew crust ready to be pressed into the tin.  It looks really dry here but I think I made it too wet.

pressed in and rolled out.

Then you blend all the ingredients for the apple butter and spread it evenly over the top.  Mine looks a lot more 'rustic' and 'wholemeal' than Lisa's.

Next slice an apple really thinly and layer over the top of the apple butter:

apple layer in place.

Then whiz up the walnuts and other ingredients for the streusel and spread over the top of the apple layer.  I had to use about twice as much as it says in the recipe but then I wasn't confident about how much a cup was.

Finally whiz up the ingredients for the cashew icing.  My helper woke up at this point so I had to stop using the whiz whiz before I would have liked.  This meant that the icing wasn't as smooth as it could have been.

I had extra cashew icing so I used it all up.  That's why the lines are so thick.

This is where my version deviates radically from Lisa's.

Next you realise that the whole thing is too wet.  So you put it in the oven and bake it for half an hour, totally failing in the concept of making raw food snacks.

the finished (and baked) product.

Absolutely delicious.  If you are going to try this, I really recommend that you follow Lisa's recipe.  She seems to be able to do it a whole lot better than me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

After work photo-ride

I often go for a bike ride after work.  I know I'm lucky to live where I do.  Today, I took some pictures.

Here's the route I took - not too fast as I kept stopping to take pictures:

And here are some pictures.  I'm not going to go into detail of what is where:

That's looking over to Scotland

cows and clouds, plenty of these on the ride


open road

bloody tractors!

lake district fells - not heading that way today, tends to be a bit hilly!

wanna race?

unsuitable for HGVs - damn right!

dead tree

Hello Dean

and more cows

ok, let's head off again now

heading home now

love it!