Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas Music from Kings

For me, this was the highlight of the BBC's wonderful Carols from Kings College Chapel, Cambridge this evening. This version is from quite a while ago but I hope to replace it with today's at some point, as it was simply glorious.

Happy Christmas, everyone.

EDIT: 27th December 2017

There's still no YouTube version of the Kings 2017 piece up yet on YouTube but I've found this more technically proficient piece. However its fabulous accuracy is badly let down by woefully exaggerated post-recording volume adjustments. Of course, it lacks the incredible acoustics of Kings College Chapel. However it's better than the video posted above and will have to do until the BBC gets its act together.

HOWEVER! For a short while you can watch and listen to the real deal on BBC iPlayer. If you have no wish to listen to the whole programme, which would be a shame as there are some other gems within, you can fast forward to 1:02:24 for a stunning performance

Trust me: This is really, really fabulous. Please click on the link below:


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

TGO Challenge 2018: A route sheet

It is still possible to print out a blank route sheet and fill it in by hand but in more recent years with speedy dispatch and handling in mind, Challengers have been encouraged to fill out an electronic form. 

It is entirely possible to make a pig's ear of this sheet, as it extraordinarily easy to nudge margins and tabs all over the shop or turn the thing into three or four pages! The fact that the document available to download already has some some unintended errors to start with isn't great.

Uncle Roger might been very cross to receive such an abomination as it would not have sat well in his filing system at all! Twenty-odd years ago I sent in my and Bob Butler's entry forms, with our details cut up from separate pages of our two magazines. The cut forms were returned and we were required to resubmit on just the one sheet, as the instructions had clearly stated. Could it have been coincidence that we got our places from the standby list that year? 

Lord Elpus and I are of the same mindset. Over the years we have taken a little pride in nudging the sheets back and forth to fit better on the pages, tidying up columns and rows, inserting tiny rows to make the text appear less crowded within the frame and rearranging the grid to make it more pleasing to the eye. Over-long headings are simplified, superfluous instructions removed, fonts swapped, and coloured text changed for greater contrast and ease of reading.

Of course, the complete fabrication that is the route description - the real meat of the document - remains the same whatever we do. But it makes us so much happier that it looks pretty.

Last night, just before the midnight chimes of Big Ben our vetted route plopped gently into our inboxes. This year our extraordinary Vetters were Les & Issy, and the Challenge Coordinators, Sue & Ali, were burning the midnight oil. 

Happily, no changes are required. We are good to go!



Postscript: An observation.

All Challengers should aim to get their route accepted, at the first attempt. From reading the Challenge Message Board it seems that a small number view the Vetters as a source of assistance when designing a route. It should be stressed that our admirable Vetters are volunteers and whilst happy to offer a route suggestion that might add interest to a Challenger, they might not be overly impressed receiving routes that are poorly prepared, needing countless revisions.  

Sunday, 12 November 2017

TGO Challenge 2018: A cunning plan...

In 2013, for his tenth TGO Challenge Lord Elpus assumed full control of planning our route across Scotland. Mad'n'Bad and I had one or two issues with his plan; At the time, I wrote:

"Now tell me if you think I am a curmudgeon but it would seem logical, that given we’ll be starting on the west coast, if we want to finish on the opposite side of the country it would be a good idea if we were to head in an easterly direction. Well, of course it would. But in our case, we shall be heading west..."

This year I have had a cunning plan...

We are starting at the mainland's most westerly cafe and lighthouse: Ardnamurchan Point. According to good old Google, there is sod-all west of here for some two thousand miles, apart from seawater and fish, until you arrive at Newfoundland. 


It follows that the only direction available to us is East. 

After enjoying a civilised cup of tea in the cafe at Ardnamurchan Point our plan is to then walk in an easterly direction for two weeks until we arrive at another wonderful cafe at the east coast. To add a spark, a frisson of excitement to our endeavour we have elected to walk within a tightly observed ten kilometre wide corridor, bounded by the OS Grid Northings 60 and 70. 

This voluntary constraint (Miss Whiplash tells me in confidence that Lord E enjoys a little constraint) at times requires very careful planning to ensure we don't inadvertently stumble over the thin blue lines to find ourselves horrifically out of bounds. This means that on occasion we will be found tumbling down and up steep valley sides instead of enjoying airy perambulations around the heads of glens. Public houses will be tantalisingly out of reach.

This is an expedition like no other we have attempted in the past. There will be suffering, howls of anguish. We are taking this challenge on for you, dear reader.  

Below, you'll find an overview of our route. It's three hundred kilometres long. 

NB: You can click on each of the maps to blow them up. However, if you right click on them you are given the option of seeing them at full size in a new tab. For those of you who enjoy RouteBuddy's full strength mapping, I should warn you; This is hardcore and should only be viewed in the company of consenting adults.


The next four RouteBuddy Maps screenshots show our route in a little more detail.





Lord Elpus has been busy: Our transport up to the West Coast of Scotland is all arranged and Bed and Breakfasts are booked. All that remains is for me to finish the route sheet and persuade our Vetter that "it'll go."

Oh. There's also the small matter of walking three hundred kilometres of tick-infested bog next May.

What could possibly go wrong?

EDIT: 22nd November 2017:
  • Point where we cross Scotland's W/E watershed added to map
  • Our group's Captain, our Senior Boy, Lord Elpus sent our beautiful, quite sublime route sheet (can you tell that I spent ages fettling it so that it looked reasonably professional rather than the botched, ugly job devised by a previous Challenge Coordinator who shall remain nameless) to the Challenge Coordinators on 20th November for vetting... However, at the time of writing we have yet to have the contents, which is what's really important, approved. We have one or two doubts whether it might pass scrutiny - but more on that at a later post!

Friday, 20 October 2017


Time marches on.

A few days back the blog passed its eleventh birthday.