Sunday, 28 April 2019

Why DIY is better than fell walking

Are you sitting comfortably?  Do you have a nice cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit?  Good, because I'm about to let you into a secret.  DIY is in NO WAY better than walking the fells.  DIY is a hateful waste of time and I'm only embroiled in it because I can't afford to shell out for painters and decorators.  Of course I'm blaming all of you for this because if more people bought our books then I wouldn't currently be sitting at the laptop, swathed in the aroma of Deep Heat and trying to explain a 4 foot painted daisy to Steve.  (😉) but, I'm getting ahead of myself...

The last time I was up a fell was on 31st March when I joined the fabulous Debs & Andy from Access TOG for a romp up Blencathra to see the new summit stone unveiled. Since then work, a nasty cold and even nastier home improvements have kept me away from the green stuff.  Don't get me wrong, our builders are wonderful but don't be fooled by all those grinning lunatics on Homes Under the Hammer of Grand Designs - DIY is the work of Satan himself!

Those of you who have followed this blog from the start will recall that back in March 2011, when we eventually moved out of the camper van and into a real home, we knew we had some DIY work ahead of us.  At that point I didn't realise how far ahead it would be nor how much of it there was!  In a nutshell we moved into a bungalow with, what they call up here, an "undercroft", which is basically a full height downstairs (affectionately nicknamed "the dungeon") which we always planned to expand into.  It looked like this.

The builders arrived in late January and it's been undergoing a transformation.  I was all for making a feature of the cement mixer but Steve said no...

We were *incredibly* excited when the stairs went in!

Of course what they don't show you on these TV shows is what a complete pain in the backside it all is.  Yes, I know "it will look lovely when it's finished" but I want it finished within the hour.  You know, like it is on the telly...  Instead we've had days with the utilities switched off and, at one point last week, we were without gas, electric and water all at the same time.  And my desk was here...

And then there's all the stuff I don't understand.  Skirting boards?  Why?  "So they finish the wall off nicely" is the best anyone can tell me so far.  Hateful little strips of wood that gather dust is my view. 

Then "what sort of light switches do you want?" Ones that turn the lights on and off, so long as they do that, I'm happy.  The decisions are endless - what sort of doors, what taps, where should the plugs go, and "do you have any more bourbon creams?"

I'll be honest, we have zero idea about decorating and DIY but our good friends Sarah and Stewart (from Crumble Cottages) have been on hand to advise us, though I am sure our attempts fall woefully short of their levels of attention to detail.

Still, it's coming along nicely, if very, very slowly. And don't peer too closely at anything.  (Also Steve may have been right, the table is definitely more practical than the cement mixer!)

As well as being inept at DIY I am also incredibly messy and have the patience of an over-tired toddler.  Having thrown paint around the walls, floors and me Steve suggested I hone my painting craft in the cupboard under the stairs (Why does that even need painting?  So the hoover can admire my fine brushwork on long lonely nights?  Honestly the only reason I have agreed to paint it is in case anyone ever peers in there and we become known as "those people who didn't paint under the stairs.") 

Anyway,  Steve banished me to my little cell with the famous words "There's not much mischief you can get into in there."  I beg to differ.

It will keep the hoover company and I'm sure Steve will learn to love it eventually.


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Monday, 1 April 2019

Corpse Wanted - Apply Within

Fairy Steps Corpse Route
We have an exciting opportunity for you to help us with a future book project.  Later this year me and Steve will be teaming up with the wonderful Debbie and Andy from Access the Outdoor Guide to walk all of the corpse roads in Cumbria and, in order to fully recreate the experience of our ancestors, we plan to take a corpse with us.  Not a real one of course because a) there are bound to be rules about things like that and b) it would get a bit whiffy after the first few days (although it might make a pleasant change from Andy's feet...)

Old Corpse Road near Haweswater
As you probably already know our wonderful county is criss-crossed with these ancient routes which were created by our ancestors when a lack of consecrated ground meant they had to ferry their dead up and over the fells to the nearest church.  Although there were often nice, flat, routes available they generally preferred to strap their dearly departed to the back of a pony, head up the steepest track possible and across the most godforsaken fells they could find - probably to atone for some sin or other. 

As we sadly don't have a pony we will, instead, be making use of Debbie's amazing Terrain Hopper but we haven't yet decided whether we'll need to strap you sideways across the front (as our ancestors would have done) or take the easy option and tie you to the back and tow you along.

Obviously we have a full job description for this role and suggest you have a good read through before deciding if it's suitable for you or not.

Job Description

  • You will be required to lie completely still at all times.
  • That's pretty much it.
  • Oh - and no groaning or moaning if we go over any bumpy bits or accidentally drop you.
Key Skills
  • Able to lie completely still (Essential)
  • Able to hold your breath for extended periods of time (Highly Desirable)
  • Able to hold your bladder for an extended period (or supply your own Tena pads)
  • Flexible (Not completely sure yet how we'll attach you to the Terrain Hopper, but it's likely to require bending.)
  • No fear of confined spaces (I'm not saying we *will* bury you, but we may give it a go for the sake of authenticity.)

In exchange for your time we are prepared to offer you a minor credit in the book and, if we can stretch to it, the odd sandwich when we stop for lunch.

To apply please email your CV and covering letter to