High Force, Part III

(This was originally written for a walk that happened roughly two weeks ago…)

Wow, that was a walk and a half. I’ve lietrally, just in the last hour or so (probably more when I get this published) got back from Walk #something in the series of epic walks around the North East with Gary and one of his dogs, who will, for the rest of eternity, replace the omni-absent Jamie S. This one was particularly entertaining, as it was my first trip to High Force in several years. This time, however, it involved an 8-mile walk.

It was one of the locations originally discussed when we first started talking about doing walks. I knew there were walks around High Force itself, as in my previous trips, we could see people over the other side of the waterfall. Just like any waterfall, it has two sides. One is a very short walk though a “gate” which you have to pay £1.50 to enter, the other is free, and takes you to the other side via a bridge roughly a mile away. The only difference is one side has fences, but the other side doesn’t.

Gary had thankfully memorised whereabouts we were going, with the help of Google Maps and knew the distance was about 8-9 miles. We parked the car up in the Bowlees visitor centre, and headed off along the road roughly a mile and a half. We walked past a feild of cows while on the B6277. Rex got a bit too near, and started barking at one of the cows. Suppose you could say it was “Close Encounters of the ‘Herd’ Kind”…. Gary moooved him away quickly before he started barking at anudder one…

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I’m cracking awful puns before we even got to the steep gravel patch that leads you to the official start of the walk. The first thing that greets you is a bridge and a not-so-steep incline. At this point, you’re pretty much at the beginning of the Pennines, so from the odd patch of bright purple flowers, there’s nothing but gorse bushes and sheep for company…

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White noise is the next thing that hits you. It’s clear you’re only a few hundred metres from the biggest waterfall in the North East.. the closer you get to it, the louder it gets.

I’m not normally scared of heights, but when I reached it, I just didn’t want to go to the edge. Maybe my mind was subconsciously warning of this incident where a man tragically lost his life after falling over the edge. Maybe I just didn’t want to risk getting my camera wet. Actually, I seem to recall msyelf being more concerned about Rex going close to the edge!

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We carried up the river. Natural beauty suddenly comes to an abrupt end a few hundred yards past the waterfall, as there’s a huge quarry nearby. To say it sticks out like a sore thumb is an understatement. In fact, you could say it sticks out like a quarry in an area of outstanding natural beauty… if you wanted.

After an uphill climb, we stopped for a quick break. My day was instantly brightened at the discovery of Chilli Doritos in my bag. I’d forgotten about them. Lovely.

The uphill climb was annoying, as I knew we had to cross the river again, meaning we had to go back down. At this point, the weather closed in, and it pissed down for a short time. We were, at this point, exactly half way. The walk downhill was more of a terror drop. We let Rex off the lead, and he happily ambled down the side of the hill, while me and Gary struggled down, managing to cover 100 yards in 6 minutes.

After walking past a farm, we could hear a familiar squalk. I don’t know much about wildlife, but what I do know, thanks to the Osmotherley walk, is that the squalk was coming from a pair of lapwings… Unfortunately, these particular avians had chosen to place their nesting site close to the footpath, meaning our prescense was less than welcome, especially with a dog in tow…

We crossed the bridge that led over the Tees, and started the 4-mile journey back to the car. Gary slipped while trying to avoid a cattle grid and twisted his ankle. Unfortunately, it happened again further up the road, so we needed somewhere to stop off. This abandoned building seemed the perfect place. there was a few steps so Gary could rearrange his footwear, and enough space for Rex to wander on his extended lead. I’d explored the area, and noticed a drain without its cover. As we were ready to leave, Rex started sniffing around the drain. I announced to Gary that “I wouldn’t let him drink out of there, it’s a dra*SPLOOSH*”…

Yup, before we knew it, Rex was up from his tail to his chest in what could only be described at the time as sewage. Gah. We walked the rest of the journey with a soggy doggy who’d fallen into a boggy, and at this point, fucking stunk. A footpath diversion took us down to the river where we could at least get the worst of the pollutions from the clumsy canine. Gary led him into the river while I went in and sploshed water over the dogs’ back.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t do much, as it turned out the offending liquid was oil. Gary informed me over facebook that there are now “black marks around the house and over carpets :(“, but on the plus side, Rex has suffered no ill effects from his trip down the drain. One of the reasons why I delayed the post for so long is that I wanted to make sure Rex was OK.

On the way back, we passed a field with some sheep in it. Not uncommon, considering this was technically the middle of nowhere, but there were two particular lambs in the field. Originally, I started filming one with a busted leg. I planned to film it, and add some type of caption such as “Lamb for the Chop”, “Don’t fancy that leg of Lamb”, “Rotten meat, coming to a kebab shop near you”, or something equally as ‘shan’… instead, my ears and eventually the camera turned to the cries of another ursine… poor thing, it must have had the most pathetic “baaa” I’ve ever heard in my entire life…

And so, a short distance later, we arrived back at the car. The next stop was for food. Now, I’m all for saving disk space and bandwidth, so instead of taking a new photo of where we stopped, I’ll recycle this from 2007…

Acer Image
Acer Image

Gary was apparently less than impressed, but I found them delicious. Bloody southerners, don’t know a good chip when they see one, especially when I bought them! For a good part of the journey, we were between sunlight and rain, meaning there were interesting rainbows for a good part of the journey. I supposed it balanced out the smell of sewage-soaked canine.

Pics or it didn’t happen

Well, I must admit, at 11AM this morning, I didn’t expect to be typing this blog. It’s the middle day of my 3 days off (in fact, I’ve got 9 days off, consider this a 12″ extended version), so me, Gary and Jamie were due a walk. As can be expected, Jamie pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances (for the third week in a row, might I add), meaning that Gary and I were left to do the walk on our own.

With the help of Google Maps, I’d chosen the location. I remember Ste, from Employment Palace, telling me there was a nice walk in Guisborough, which isn’t too far away. Despite being out the night before, I awoke, fresh as a slightly decaying daisy, reeking of alcohol and vindaloo, complete with an occasional burp which tasted of Jagerbomb. Joy.

Anyway, prior to Gary picking me up, I headed of to Lidl, to pick up some water for the trip. Let me just say that I got as far as the petrol station… in fact I’ll let my Facebook status tell the story…

Andrew D isn’t far wrong – I took a stash of bog roll in the camera bag, just in case!

Gary picked me up, and along with his dog Boris, we headed along the A19, A174, A172, A171, and just a smidgeon of the A173, we arrived. Once thing that was instantly noticeable compared to our other walks, is that spring had definitely sprung. The trees were starting to grow leaves, and the whole area had a much greener hue to it compared to the rest of the walks. The first photos were taken, when Gary discovered a small tunnel. Unfortunately, we didn’t get chance to emulate Jamie S’s epic troll photo as the tunnel was full of flies.

Immediately after this photo was taken, disaster happened. As I was putting the camera back in its bag, it left my grasp a little too soon, and went hurtling to the uneven, gravel-stone ground. Fucking hell. The crunch it made was enough to make me bring a little bit of sick up. “Oh well, the lens could do with an upgrade” was my instant thought. Imagine my surprise when I picked up the camera to find absolutely no damage to the lens glass, or the camera mechanics. Upon closer inspection, there’s a small chunk removed from the lens body, and a small scratch near the shutter button. That’s all. My luck for the month has now been used up.

The walk continued. It was all uphill, but it wasn’t as uphill as the challenge we were about to set ourselves. We reached a junction in the forest paths. While I took photos of daffodils again (oh, come on! they’re only out for a few weeks every year!), Gary looked through the trees, and noticed how close Roseberry Topping was. It was literally half a mile away.

Roseberry Topping is a place I will always hold dear. I’m going to ramble on here, and for that, I don’t apologize. It’s one of my favourite places on this planet. It was always visible when we went to places for days out such as Whitby. It’s the prominent focal point for the whole of Teesside. I seem to remember Cleveland County Council using it in their logo for a years, even though it’s technically in North Yorkshire. Anyway, as a child, being 11 years old, I always remember having a dream about it. being visible from Hartlepool. A few days later, on a walk home from school, I stopped dead in my tracks on the coast road. There it was. Roseberry Topping was indeed visible from Hartlepool. I couldn’t quite believe it.

In January 1992, Daddykins took me and him to climb it. This was 20 years ago, there was no path at the time. There’s a photo somewhere of me, climbing up the side of it, grabbing onto frost-covered ferns for dear life, as we attempted what seemed like the impossible.

Again, there are photos of me and Daddykins at the top of the hill – we made it up there without further incident or injury. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a clear day, so Hartlepool wasn’t visible. On the way home, to give you an idea of how long it was ago, I heard “Twilight Zone” by 2 Unlimited for the first time, and went home to play Bubble Bobble on my Commodore 64.

The next time I climbed it, was with Wayne, and his dad. By this time, it was the summer of 1995, and the pathway to the top had been laid. It was still a bitch to climb. Unfortunately, there’s no photographical document of this walk, but after we’d came back down, we went to see Judge Dredd at the Showcase… my one and only trip to this particular cinema.

Back to the present day, and I left you with me and Gary, stood in the middle of a forest, wondering which way to go. I’d already had a few miles in my legs by then, and I was reluctant to do the Roseberry Topping bit. Gary convinced me it was a good idea. I don’t know how he managed that.

At the bottom, I took a video. It’s pretty clear just how uncertain I was!

Oddly, I arrived at the top, and my exact thoughts were “Woah… was that it?” I think, the only difference between my previous trips up Roseberry Topping and this one, was the fact I’d notuched up 55 miles of walking in the previous month, and I had a bottle of water. I’d hazard a guess that they both helped.

I almost lost the contents of a testicle when I noticed I could see Hartlepool, and could easily make out Steetley Chimney with the naked eye. The image below is a cropped image, but the original can be found here

It would have been more prominent if the buildings attached to it weren’t demolished several years ago.

We reached the top, and made contact with an elderly couple who had also made it to the top. Apparently, they make the trip to Roseberry Topping every hear for his birthday. He was 83, and she was 80. Bloody hell. If I look a day older than them when I’m their age, then these walks have done their job. They walk all over the local area, and even gave me a couple of ideas for future walks. As they were about to leave, they asked me to take a photo for them on their camera. They were even apologetic over it. I hope I convinced them that I really, really didn’t mind at all!

OK, so there needs to be some evidence that we made it up there, hence the title of this posting. Glen posted the “pics or it didn’t happen” comment, on my previous posting, as he knows for a fact, I don’t go anywhere these days without some type of digital picture recording device

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So, there’s me cared for… as for Gary and Boris… You’d think they were waiting from a lift from a nearby plane…

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Something visible from the top of Roseberry Topping is a structure. I have no idea what it is, or what its purpose is…

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It was enough of a mystery for me to want to go down and investigate it. Thankfully, Roseberry Topping has several paths leading from its top to its base, and one of them leads you along this path. In fact, it’s the main path to continue if you don’t fancy attempting the big hill. Along the way, we found, of all things, a discarded lightbulb. Gary suggested that it would be a good idea to move it from the beaten path, to somewhere a little more safer. Although a perfectly acceptable idea, it meant that I ended up carrying it for about half a mile before dispensing it in the afore-mentioned little buildong…

Neither the walk over there, nor the photos clear up the mystery of this strange little building in the middle of nowhere. It’s either a folly, or some type of hunter’s refuge from years ago, if things suddenly turned shite.

The three of us (including the dog) didn’t fancy going back the way we came, as we’d have to complete the bottom third of Roseberry topping again, therefore we took a chance, and headed through what we think was private land. There were no signposts, and the gates were opened by hand, so if the landowner happens to view the endomondo link at the end of this post, and notices we trespassed, I’m sure the lord’s prayer has something about forgiving trespassing ‘n’ shit. I didn’t eat any of your crops, though if you get a ladybird infestation, this could be the reason why…

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It’s rare enough in 2011, to see ladybirds. It’s even rarer to actually see them “doing it”. Therefore, this video should be considered ultra rare I would have considered doing a voiceover / soundtrack featuring 70’s porno music, but as we were probably on private land, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

We rejoined a path. Thankfully, it was the correct one. It led us back through the forest, and after a detour following an obstacle course which we both avoided, we arrived back at the car park.

It seems a perfect opportunity to post the Endomondo link, therefore…

Does the link work? (EDIT DEC 2016…. Yep, it does now)

If it doesn’t, I’m not going to apologise, it’s not my fault. I can’t change the privacy on my walks at the moment, because whatever scripting they’re using to show the buttons, has died, so I can’t change my default view. Whoops. Gary’s calculation also left something be be desired. I’m not sure why, but it showed us in several fields. My link is much more accurate, yet I have no idea why. There’s an obvious alien invasion about to take place.

The last paragraph in this post saw me ripped off, and it was entirely my own fault. On the way home from the walk, we pulled into a Tesco service station. I was already feeling the pain from the walk, and after noticing it sold beer, picked some up. After all, it would have saved me walking down to the offy in agony. I’d headed to the till with the following:-

4x Stella, 568ml @ 4.39
4x Stella, 440ml @ 4.99

There was other stuff I’d purchased, but that was the fucker. How did I not notice I’d picked up two different sets of volume, and prices? The receipt will forever be a testament of what a cock I really am…

Scribbler’s had a big juicy walk

Once again, the walks are going to dominate the blog. It’s the only thing worth blogging about at the moment, and it’s made me get the camera out, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m going to try to compress two walks into one blog post, seeing as I’m so far behind on talking about them. therefore…

6 days ago, I completed the impossible. Well, OK, I did it, so it wasn’t impossible, but to me, in my little ol’d head, it was. for you see, I managed to walk the entire length of the Hart to Haswell walkway. this is something that I have always wanted to do, but have never had the motivation to do it.

Oddly, the walkway doesn’t go anywhere near Hart (the small village on the outskirts of Hartlepool), and it doesn’t touch Haswell neither. If you’re travelling to the start of th walk by car, your best bet is to park at Crimdon, and walk over the footbridge at Hart Station (which is at least a mile from Hart). This gives you the opportunity to pass my most favourite signpost ever…

Unfortunately, the weather for this particular walk was abysmal, therefore there are very few photos. It was foggy and cold.

Probably the highlight of the day was this photo…

It’s Gary. Punching a horse. Oh, okay, he wasn’t really punching it. It was just a combination of low light and camera settings. Made me laugh though. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the huge beast of a horse in the same field, scratching its chin on the wooden fence.

In order to keep this short, I’ll but the rest of the informalities, as I’ve now got two other walks to write about. Unfortunately, the fog didn’t lift. It’s hard to explain how I felt after completing the walk. Exhausted, achy and absolutely overjoyed that I managed the whole thing. I’d been along some of the journey many times before, but never the entire 10 mile stretch.

Endomondo – Hart to Haswell (EDIT: You should be able to view this now – had the privacy set incorrectly!)

I’d be happy to do this walk again when the weather gets just that little bit better. I’m sure there was plenty I could have taken photos of, but thanks to the weather, I never really got the opportunity.

I got the chance, however, to prove where we were…

I’d like to finish, as is traditional, with a photo of a streetlight. It turns out, an old flickr photo of mine is No. 1 search on Google for “Revo Lucidor”. As these are becoming more and more rare in numbers, I was happy to find a few of them living on in Haswell.

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That’s your lot. Next stop, Wynyard.

The long walks continue…

Wow. I’m officially two weeks behind when it comes to blogging.

From my previous posting, you’ll notice that I have once again been out on one of my long walks last week, with the company of Gary and Jamie S. This time, the destination, instead of a forest, was the complete opposite… a cliff edge. For you see, we were going to walk from the cliffs at Saltburn, to the relative flatness of the little village of Skinningrove, some three miles away.

Of course, before we were going to attempt anything of this magnitude, it meant a stop-off in Moddlesbrough’s Asda for some eateries. I don’t think I’ve ever been such a depressingly dull supermarket in all of my life. It was awful. the smell outside of the place, however, had me reaching for the Kleenex. Apparently, there was a chinese food factory over the road from the Asda. It was so nice, I was almost tentpegging. I bought the “packed lunch” for everyone… water, crisps, Opal Fruits (I refuse to call them St*rburst), and of course, sausage rolls. They were red-hot, by the way, so I had one of them before anyone else got them.

We arrived in Saltburn. I donated £2 towards the £2.50 parking fee. However, getting up to the cliff edge wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Well, it was, just an uphill one…

It’s not easy to make out in that photo, but there’s a wood ‘n’ mud staircase, leading up to the top of the hill behind the pub. All three of us were completely knackered by the time we got to the top of it. I think this added a mile to the journey. At least.

Within a few minutes, we began the journey along the cliffs. This was pointed out to us by a particularly interesting sign…

Now, some of you thought I photoshopped the image I uploaded to flickr of a Samaritans sign plastered on Tyne Bridge… nope, these things are genuinely located at suicide hotspots. Oddly, it’s an 0845 number, which means it’s going to cost you if you’re calling from a mobile. Surely paying for the phone call isn’t going to help if you’re about to throw yourself into the murky abyss…

Nothing much happened on the way there. I think I farted a couple of times (wait, think? I know I did!), and Jamie S managed to twat his head off part of a “modern art” sculpture…

I don’t understand what it was, or why it was there. The only animals we could work out included a starfish, a horse and a fox, though the fox could have been a cat. I don’t know. Either way, I missed a “You’ve Been Framed” moment, as Jamie S nearly fell flat on his arse, whilst still clutching that can of Relentless. It appears to be a permanent fixture with him.

It seemed like an age until we arrived at Skinningrove. One thing became clear. The path, after this point was SHIT. It’s hard to explain. Actually, it’s not. It’s another one of those wood ‘n’ mud stair paths, covered in remants from a slagheap, and if your footing left you, the only way was down…

Awmazingly, all three of us survived, and we made it to the bottom. Slight problem was, it suddenly became apparent how far we’d have to travel vertically on the way back…

We tried not to think of that, and instead, headed into Skinningrove with the hope of finding a pub and something to eat. Both were dashed, when we found the town completely deserted, and the only pub shut. Luckily, we managed to find a cafe located in the local community centre. I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t like these type of places. Fair enough, the cuppa I had was perfectly fine, but I felt a bit strange in there as an outsider. I did want food at this point, but it seemed that we were a bit late, so we just had our appropriate beverages and left with a smile.

I’m going to delete the previous posting, so this is the route we took there… Note, I forgot to start Endomondo until we were about 10 minutes into the walk.

So, off we went onto the journey back. None of us were looking forward to the journey back up that hill. It was dodgy enough going down. It would be even dodgier going back up with our weakened legs. The first step was to get off the beach. This was easier said than done, for unlike Gary, me and Jamie decided to walk along the beach. It was great until we tried to get up the sand dune.

I like the way I was more concerned about getting sand in my camera bag than actually getting up the sand dune. This was, quite literally, just the start. I soon realised I was in the same position I was an hour ago when I took that picture.

Words cannot explain how I felt when I got to the top of the hill. Well, they can, if I’m honest. those words are “out of breath, slightly light headed, and overall, amazed I did it without the use of a helicopter”. I wasn’t the only one, however… Gary appeared to be in a world of his own and/or partially unconscuious, while Jamie S spent the next half an hour sucking on his inhaler. Ok, slight exaggerations there, but that hill was something I don’t wish to repeat for a long time.

The wind was to be in our faces on the way back, which means that after the uphill climb, we also had to put up with the wind in our faces. Like everything else, however, the walk back was much better than the way there. We passed landmarks, and we were able to track accurately how long it would be before we were back on the comfort of terra firma. Once again, Endomondo tracked the way back…

You’ll notice the little section where I move closer to the cliff just after the two mile point. That’s because Gary fell over, and I wanted a wee.

The rest of the journey was bathed in the evening sunshine which slowly set against the silhouette of Teesside.

The photos for this walk are here

It’s forest o’clock!

OK, I’m really struggling these days when it comes to imaginitive titles. After my massively expensive shopping trip yesterday, it was time to do something entirely different, and that was to spend the day walking around Hamsterley forest. This time, I’d be with Gary (aka Flav), and, once again, Jamie S would be in charge of the transportation.

Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed on Thursday morning, was the fog. It’s the thickest it’s been in a long time. Thankfully, Hartlepool is on the coast, and Hamsterley Forest is many miles inland. I’d be hopeful that the mist would burn off. After a quick stop off at the town so Jamie S could pick up some Primark Plimmies, we headed off to Port Clarence to pick up Gary. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of this particular place, but it does have one of my favourite pieces of graffiti…

FUCK OFF

Awesome. It’ll always remind me of getting the No. 1 bus to Middlesbrough for jury duty.

The first step was to the petrol station. It was only fair that we helped fill Jamie S’s car up a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mortgage application form to hand, so I just handed him a tenner and hoped his car would get away with breathing fumes.

The journey there was brightened up with the discovery of the best placename of the day…

North Bitchburn. Awesome. Jamie S had to hold up traffic slightly while I took that photo. Unfortunately it was in the wrong direction for us, so the only thing I can say about the place is it has a wikipedia article that really should be tidied up.

Shortly after, we arrived at Hamsterley Forest. The car park was literally nothing more than a few mounds of earth and a bit of gravel. Saying that, it looked newly constructed, so they’ll probably put grass over the top of the mounds to make it look a bit more attractive. The question is, what route were we going to take? There was the blue route, which was a piece-of-piss 1 mile journey around Bedburn Beck. There was also the orange and red walks, which were longer. Of course, what’s the first thing three blokes do when entering a forest? No, not that, you pack of pervs. You go and have a play on the swings of course….

To be honest, I actually want one of those swings. They’re pretty awesome. One thing I don’t want, however, is a fireman’s pole, though Gary appeared to thrive off them…

Riiiiiiiiighty-ho. Moving swiftly on, we began to follow the orange path. According to the signs, it was a decent length, and would have taken a perfectly acceptable amount of time. Of course, there were distractions and diversions….

The biggest distraction had to be when we accidedentally walked off the beaten track, and found ourself in the middle of a mountain bike course…

Eventually, we found our way onto the correct path, mainly by chance. Something came darting out of the trees near the bottom of the path we were heading. I think my first reaction was “Woah, what the fuck was that?” It took me a few moments to notice it had a red collar on, and was a dog. Eventually, the orange path just sort of fizzled out. It headed into some fields with picnic tables, with no clear path on where to go next. Therefore, we just made up our own way back. We knew which side of the ‘river’ we needed to be on, and thankfully, there was a gravel path leading back in the general direction.

We were right, it was indeed the correct road, and we ended up back at the swings. Jamie S was so delighted by this, he surprised us all with a beutiful rendition on the tubular bells…

Truly haunting. Jamie S and Gary continued to make use of the “obstacle course”, with hilarious results. It had been a good walk, and it’s only thr second time I’ve been able to use Endomondo properly…

endo

Well, I say properly, it would appear I’d had it set on “running” instead of walking. Never mind.

We headed back to the car, and discussions on food were next. We’d passed through a village that appeared to have a nice chippy, so off we jolly well went. and could we find it? No, is the definitive answer to that. We passed through all manner of villages and small towns, looking for a location that would serve us deep-fried potato chunks. Eventually, we ended up in Durham city centre. A bit of a way out, but hell, there was bound to be edibles there.

At this point, Jamie S informed me of his purchase at the Metro Centre the day before. He had bought a bottle of… “scent”. I don’t know what you call it. It’s not aftershave, it’s not deodorant, but either way, it was presented in a large box, and price-tagged at £25. My jaw initially dropped at the time of purchase, but by jaw dropped even more when it explained what was in the box. A blue, glass bottle, no bigger than his inhaler, with 30ml of expensive guff inside of it. That was just under £1 per millilitre….

So, I got ripped off with onion rings, he got even more ripped off with… I don’t know. Our thoughts turned away from small bottles of smelly, and we walked around Durham looking for an eaterie. We ended up, ironically, at Burger King. The irony is, that there has been plenty of discussion recently about my refusal to eat burgers. It seemes foreign to some people that you can live a life without eating a burger. I’ve managed 31 years so far… I do have to wonder, if I’m the only person to ever enter Burger King and not actually order a burger… instead, I ordered large fries, and a portion of onion rings… which cost a third of what they cost me at the Metro Centre. They weren’t as nice, however.

After screaming at traffic on the way out of Durham, we headed back home. After all, he had to get changed for the night out…