Expedition Planning

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Phew, been spending a huge amount of time planning for our Lakes District hike. Only two weekends between now and the weekend we head off. Next weekend we’re going for a trial run, a two day hike around countryside along the River Stour north of Colchester. It is just for the weekend, camping at a proper campsite on Saturday night. We’ll have packs fully loaded as they’ll be for the start of our Lakes District trip though.

This quick weekender will give us one last-minute chance to make adjustments and find any issues with our gear or procedures. (The weekend after is a write-off as the local Rhythms of the World festival is on and we’ve all volunteered for the opening and closing steward slots. 0800 until midday Saturday, and 2000 to midnight Sunday. We won’t have time for much else that weekend!)

What is fully loaded? That’s the main question that has been bugging me. The most obvious thing is water, we each have 500ml bottles and 3 litre platypus bag (they go into your pack and you drink from them using a hose.) In my case I’ll aim to start each day with the full 3kg of water, plus an additional 1000 to 500 millilitres. Food is the next big thing, and what’s great about food is that over the trip it gradually reduces in weight 🙂 (As does the water through each day of course.) I’m working on carrying myself 8 days worth of ~2100 Calories per day (I’ll be burning more than that, but that isn’t a problem), that’s about 3.5kg of food. The food in question is mostly carbs, lots of high-Cal-per-gram dry carbs like granola and couscous. Plus plentiful dried fruit and nuts.

The 8 days is one day is surplus of requirements, which gives us some flexibility. We also do go through one reasonably sized town, but we aren’t planning for ad-hock sustenance on the road. No doubt we’ll have a pub lunch if we find such a thing along our more cosmopolitan walking routes, and National Trust tea and scones at Beatrix Potter’s house is probably on the cards.

Combine the food and water above with packs, clothes, tents, mats, bags, and other gear and I seem to be talking a starting load of about 12kg. Our test walk next weekend will be interesting! If it goes well perhaps I’ll pack some additional luxuries, if not then I’ll have to see where we can cut back. Kathlene will, of course, be carrying a lighter load from the outset (I’ll take the tent and all the cooking gear.) Hopefully Yaël will have a weight somewhere between the two of us, though she also has to take her whole tent (which is heavier than ours) – perhaps I can carry the poles or something to rectify the loadings.

So much stuff, so many online orders rocking up at work (my collogues may think I’m about to go off-grid!), so much planning. But it is a “first time”, of sorts. We’ll make mistakes no doubt, but I’d prefer to minimise them. And next time it’ll be so much easier!

Meanwhile we’ve also been working up our endurance a little, nice long weekend walks. I also rode all the way home from work on Friday, a 67km bike ride, which took me a little over 2.5 hours (about 25km/h average speed, which was better than I expected.)

So much to do! But first I must cook dinner: tagliatelle with prawns, scallops, and chorizo (the latter from Barcelona!)

Preliminary Lakes Route

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

I’ve been asked to post a mudmap of our planned Lakes District walk. So here it is. There’s a rather small version iframed below too. The last two days (yellow and cyan) are very vague, I just threw in some random lines really. This starts on July 12th at the blue marker. The dark blue line is a steam railway, everything else is walking. The intention is to do about 10 miles per day (FYI: long days, no hurry, very wrinkly terrain in places.) If we find this is too easy, we’ll cover more ground, if it is too difficult then perhaps less. The current plan loops us back to our departure point well within time, so we have a lot of flexibility for timing. It’ll probably all change drastically once we’re on the ground and have the first couple of days of walking behind us!

Belated Postcard from Barcelona

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

We went to Barcelona a couple of weeks ago. As always I had big plans to write about this, but all I’ve really managed is to write about Barcelona’s excellent Mercat de la Boqueria (coming very soon.) In summary: it was an excellent trip. Kat and I went with my sister, and we met up with a couple of other Aussie friends over there.

(Shamelessly stealing my sister’s “postcard” approach.)

From the towers of Segrada Familia, through to sangria.

Segrada Famillia, Towers
Segrada Famillia, Spiral Stair

Day 2

Distant Segrada Famillia

First thing on the second day was a stroll up the hill behind the hotel, we had an hour or two to kill being earlier risers than our travelling companions. The Hotel Catalonia Park Putxet, where we stayed, was just fine as a sleeping venue, though perhaps a little noisy. The best thing about it was the location, close to Lesseps metro station (good for getting to most of the city), a stroll from Gaudi’s Parc Güell, and parc del Turó del Putget, just a block away, offers an excellent refreshing morning hill climb with wonderful views over Barcelona.

Above all, the second day was the day of The Picnic, and oh what a picnic it was. Jamón, cheese, chorizo, fruit, and bread from Mercat de la Boqueria plus wine we picked up along the way to our picnic site. We were going to catch the cable car up to Montjuïc, but the line thwarted us, so we walked. Inadvertently taking the back way through the service entrance of some hotel/restaurant at the other end of the cable car line.

Picnic Goodies

Once up there we found our spot: a bench with an excellent view over Barcelona’s coastline. We camped out here, good food and good company for several hours. Highlights include an apparent police chase (on foot), and a buck naked old man with budgie smugglers tattooed onto his arse… and a phenomenally large penis. Finally we wandered further up the hill, then caught the metro home (they have an interesting sloped metro line running up and down the hill.)

Picnic Spot

After a quick cleanup at the hotel we headed out again to visit the Picasso museum, then then ate a late night paella before returning “home” to sleep.

Day 3

The day of Parc Güell. First we quickly wandered through the park, then climbed a seemingly endless staircase before sitting down to enjoy the view and snack on melted coffee-bean chocolate, cherries, bread, and Roquefort cheese (well, I think I ate almost all of that!) We then continued on a circumnavigation of Parc Güell before re-entering the “highlight” area of the park and paying closer attention to said highlights.

View From Hill Bahind Parc Güell

We spent most of the rest of the day drinking German lager at some random pub in a hotel district, before eating “Tarantino” pizza, then finding a bar in the gothic quarter and drinking until the metro stopped (at which point some of us taxied home, while other silly people – me included – walked for about an hour to get to the hotel!

Simply Enjoying Some Beer

Day 4

Kat was ill this morning, which was somewhat of a blessing for her I think. The rest of us found our way to Barcelona’s modern art museum. In the end I think I’d have rather been sick. We wandered the whole museum, eternally hoping the next room would offer something worth the visit. But all we found were things like rooms full of TVs displaying “white noise” (bullcrap) with visible compression artefacts. The highlight of this museum was an OK, for Barcelona (i.e. excellent for England), espresso at their café. Sorry… but what a complete pile of bollocks.

Dried fruit and sweets, better than modern art
Cheese, infinitely better than modern art

Kathlene had recovered by this stage. We met up outside Mercat de la Boqueria, and bought some lunch in the market. Then meandered our way down to the beach where we enjoyed sunlight, sangria, and cocktails for much of the rest of the day. Finally heading back inland for dinner at a traditional Catalan restaurant (actually a small chain, offering quite decent food) and then home. In bed at 1AM, an early night!


Day 5

Really only half a day, since our flight departed at 14:30. We got up early and headed to the market, which I’ve written much about already and I’ll hopefully post that in the near future. We wandered down to the harbour, saw the modern swing-bridge open to let a small yacht out, then zigzagged back through gothic quarter streets (via lunch and icecream) to a metro station. Then train to the airport, then flight to Luton, bus to Hitchin, and early bed.

All in all it was an excellent, if tiring, holiday. I expect, and hope, to visit Barcelona again – if only for their brilliant market!

Market in the morning
Jamón! Jamón!