Hence why I included the qualifying adjective.
Wednesday 10th October 2018 - Shutlingsloe
Gig: Liam Read
Venue: Swan With Two Necks, Macclesfield
I really really wanted to record a SOTA activation today. My son Liam had his first paid booking, in his own right, to host the open mic night at one of the premier live music venues in Macclesfield, so I really wanted to shoehorn in an activation to mark the occasion permanently online.
But Marianne suggested a walk up Shutlingsloe, and I rather fancied that plan too, despite the likelihood that there wouldn’t realistically be time afterwards to nip out and do a SOTA before getting everything ready for Liam’s gig.
So we had a splendid circular walk in the sunshine through Macclesfield Forest and onto a very busy Shutlingsloe summit. Not even a handheld radio was carried - no point really. From the summit, it appeared that the moorland to the east of The Roaches was on fire again, but I have since been unable to find any news reports of this, so hopefully it was some organised burning that looked far worse than it was from our vantage point.
Tomorrow’s gig is with a different band again, and in Preston. I am resolved to get the SOTA activation in tomorrow and get back to usual order.
In the next instalment of EYP’s Trying Monologues (also known in places as Tolstoy’s War & Peace), here’s where my travels have taken me this past few days:
Thursday 11th October 2018 - Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
Gig: Biscuit Brothers
Venue: Ballers Sports Bar, Preston
Selections from my immediately local summits are set to increasingly become the choice on gig days anywhere in the North West. This is due to me completing the G/SP SOTA region as an activator in 2018, so anything would have to be a pointless repeat!
After my big walk with the XYL the previous day, and gig with my son the previous night, I’d had quite a lazy morning, and it was gone 2pm before I ventured out at all. First up was Gun, still pleasantly dry and firm underfoot - though I wonder how long that will last now? Try as I might, I could only rustle up a single contact - John M0JDK. Mind you, I was only using the handheld!
Moving across to The Cloud, and things had picked up somewhat. Five QSOs on the handie in ten minutes on summit. That was fine; I couldn’t hang about - I had a dentist appointment at 4.30pm in Macclesfield, then the gig to get to.
Liam and Jimmy joined me on the gig for a bit of a night out, and as expected, Liam got up and belted out a few tunes on the Bandeoke!
Friday 12th October 2018 - View Edge G/WB-018
Gig: Joe Longthorne
Venue: Weoley Castle WMC
It was a mid-morning departure from EYP Towers. I had initially aspired to activate both Callow Hill G/WB-015 and View Edge G/WB-018 en route to the gig, but Storm Callum soon realigned my thinking. As the car drove down through Market Drayton and Church Stretton withe wipers on top setting and being buffeted by the crosswind, I reckoned my trusty SOTA Pole would quickly become an ex-SOTA Pole if deployed on an exposed summit. And I would get very wet.
As I drove into Craven Arms, I glanced upwards to the folly on Callow Hill, high on my left - and decided against it. I knew that if operating in the quarry area of View Edge, I might have a chance of getting a sheltered spot in amongst the steep grassy banks, rock faces and trees.
And that is exactly what I did. The rain conveniently eased off as I parked up, and I had a short walk into the quarry to find a reasonable spot. This was quite easy with the multitude of depressions from which to choose, and I was able to erect the 20m groundplane without any difficulty.
Eight QSOs were made on 20m CW, including two into the USA. After packing away I called on the 2m handheld and got an immediate reply from a surprised Matt G8XYJ/M, who remarked “Blimey, you’re brave!”.
Matt did warn me that my likely route across to Birmingham, the A4117 over the flanks of Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-004, was closed, forcing him to turn back on his own journey. Thankfully, it was reopened by the time I got there, otherwise I would have been late for soundcheck. I did pass a very battered up white van - total write off. I couldn’t tell whether the collision had been with another vehicle, or a fallen tree.
I set off home from that night’s gig even thinking about a late night jaunt up The Cloud G/SP-015 on the way. The combination of tiredness, and the M6 being closed between J14 and J15, put paid to that! I do intend to pop out shortly this afternoon though. No gig tonight as it stands - so at least I’ll have that rare joy of watching Match of the Day at the proper time! Aaargh - just remembered - it’s international break this weekend - so no footy on the telly. Disaster - someone gimme a gig quick…
Don’t kid yourself. You’re no Tolstoy.
I wouldn’t describe myself as that. But it seems there are fans of my work in the most unlikely of places.
Saturday 13th October 2018 - Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
I hung around and waited in until gone 5pm, on the chance that a Saturday night gig might come in. It didn’t. So eventually I jumped in the motor with the HT and logbook and made my way to the Staffordshire Moorlands.
For the first time in ages, there was running water on the path up Gun G/SP-013. Nowhere near as bad as it can get, and it was easy to keep one’s feet on dry ground, but nonetheless an indication of normal service being resumed after an unusually long dry spell.
Four contacts were made on 2m FM using the handheld.
I then actioned the increasingly frequent switch over to The Cloud G/SP-013, and the incredibly familiar ascent. 2m FM was nice and busy on the handheld, and I was treated to no less the nine QSOs when I was on the summit. I kept trying to go QRT and descend, but the calls kept coming!
I was keen to get back though, for an arranged pub outing with Jimmy and Liam, and a curry take-away to mark a rare gigless Saturday evening.
Sunday 14th October 2018 - Gun G/SP-013, The Cloud G/SP-015 & Winter Hill G/SP-010
Gig: Joe Longthorne
Venue: Viva Blackpool
It were reet chuckin it down outside. But at lunchtime, a decision needed to be made if I was going to get my SOTA fix in before going to work in Blackpool. Despite the inclement weather, the decision was made to activate.
Upon arrival at the gate to commence the walk up Gun, I could see that it had at last, after many months of uncharacteristic dryness, reverted to type. The path was replaced by a fast flowing river and I was going to need to remember the technique of hopping up there in trainers without getting wet socks.
At the summit, five QSOs were made, four on 2m FM and one on 2m C4FM. Time was against me so I didn’t hang around - not that anyone would want to in that rain anyway!
I descended and drove over to The Cloud. The dog at the farm close to the summit seemed very pleased to see me after I’d climbed the staircase.
At the summit, four QSOs were made, three on 2m FM and one on 2m C4FM. Suddenly, it was time to be getting back home, washed, changed and back out to work.
On my way back down, the dog came to greet me again, wagging its tail furiously. I spoke to it for a few moments, then remained where I was to take a selfie in front of the National Trust sign. I then heard the dog barking (in a non-threatening manner) 20m or so away. It had run down to the other end of the garden, close to the top of the steps, and was wondering why I hadn’t also made it to there!
So then as usual on a Sunday, it was the 71 mile drive to Blackpool for the residency gig. Following that, also now usual for a Sunday night, I made my way home via a lengthy stop near Bolton to activate Winter Hill.
I was on summit earlier than usual, and the weather was relatively mild, so I decided to erect the 20m groundplane and see if there were any last signs of life on the band. There were - I could see CQ calls on FT8 coming from Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic - but I didn’t manage to work any. To my own CQ calls, I got one reply - from EC7ZR - and that turned out to be my only contact of the activation.
It is quite nice to hear that there is life beyond the get up and go to work, repeat four more times before having two more days usually filled with either more work or domestic jobs…Hopefully half term will bring the opportunity for a bit more activating. And I would agree - not quite Tolstoy, I believe that Enid Blyton might have published quite a lot of work too…
Monday 15th October 2018 - Winter Hill G/SP-010, Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
As we went into the new UTC day, all the traffic died out from the WSJT-X display. There was nothing anywhere else on the band - CW, SSB etc - apart from some tones possibly coming from the many nearby masts on Winter Hill. I packed up the HF station and called on 2m FM with the handheld.
I worked Steve M6HGR in Swinton and Mike M6XBQ in Salford for a two-QSO activation. I then continued the chat with the two of them during my drive home. Not only were they still on frequency after I’d packed up and walked down to my car, they were still QRV as I backed onto the driveway at home - so it was a journey that flew by with a bit of company.
Nice to see that Rob @DM1CM is still reading! Not too trying after all then I guess
After a bit of sleep, the rest of the Monday morning and into early afternoon was consumed with filing my self-assessment tax return. With that out of the way, I headed for Gun which was still a bit soggy, but free of the cascading torrents of water pouring down the path!
It was a bit of a damp squib at the summit - just Greg M0NZO coming back to the CQ call - another single QSO activation - I don’t really want to be making too much of a habit of these!
A bit later on, and into early evening, I ascended The Cloud. The headtorch was necessary once the 20m groundplane was set up on summit, although bright as it was, it was never going to find the Windows 10 tablet that I had managed to leave in the car! So much for more FT8 fun and games then.
Instead, it was good ole’ CW which turned round nine QSOs, the best being Doc N7DR in Colorado. After packing up the antenna, I called on the handheld and added four QSOs on 2m FM. Many thanks to all chasers who called in.
Correction: I’m not reading this turgid essay in gurning-for-dummies, conceit and self-absorption - rather, I had been notified by the reflector system that a comment had been made in this topic by Richard G3CWI.
I read Richard’s comment, gave a thumbs-up and left smartly by the nearest exit. Which, incidentally, is what any person with a decent ear for music would do if they happened to find themselves in a hall where the woefully talentless Joe Longthorne were giving one of his “performances”.
Oof, well that’s told me hasn’t it
My mum liked Joe Longthorne, saw a few of his seaside pier performances and thought he was marvellous. She would have been 92 yesterday but passed on 3 years ago.
Nice one Phil. When I was helping my mum move flat last year and sorting through her stuff I came across a Joe Longthorne vinyl album from the 1980s - which was quite amusing! We’re back on the road again in a few days, starting with two nights in Romford. Not the optimum location for SOTA but I’ll try to manipulate activations into the schedule somehow - I usually find a way!
You do very well Tom - quite a change from your work with Motown Gold.
I follow Francis Hylton on Twitter. He plays bass for Incognito and he’s good. Have seen them play many times. They are performing in USA at the moment and he is trying out the Backbeat rumble pack whatever that is…
Going a little off topic I fear…
Yeah great player, great band. I’m not quite sure of the merits of the rumble pack, but I’ve never tried one so I’m uninformed. My latest gadget is the Valeton Dapper pedal which is a delightfully simple but high quality effects unit and amp emulator. I’m also pretty taken with my new Sfarzo V strings.
Off topic? Well it seems anything goes on here these days. But I’ll bring it back with an activation or two this evening. Oh I just noticed that Steve @G1INK is still with us reading too. Even better!
Rob, that was a totally uncalled-for attack both on Tom and Joe Longthorne which I would have excised at once if I had been at the computer rather than tidying up the garden. If it happens again I will put on my moderator’s hat, the one with the spike on top!
When it comes to an ear for music, the last - very last - question a musician asks himself is “do I like it?” After all, you can’t like everything, can you? If you don’t like Shostakovich, or Steeleye Span, or yes, Joe Longthorne, that doesn’t mean that they are talentless or worthless, it just means that you don’t like them. Take a deep breath next time, here endeth…
I can’t imagine Shostakovitch ever doing a Ken Dodd tribute, but who knows? - in this topsy-turvy world we live in, even that might be possible.
Dmitri was a brilliant musician, he could play his own concertos, he could read an orchestral score and sight play it on a piano, he earned his stripes improvising for silent cinema, he could play jazz piano (a talent that he had to hide during the Stalinist years) and burlesque. If someone had asked him to do one of Doddies numbers he would have carried it off with elan. I deduce that Ken Dodd was not your cup of tea, he wasn’t mine either, but he was a consumate professional who could grab an audience by the short hairs and “make them have it”! I told you above what the very last question is, but the very first question is “do they play it as if they mean it?” I’m sure that a trumpeter counting fifty bars rest in a Bruchner symphony might be thinking “God, I’m bored” or looking forward to his next jazz session but he would never show it, that is professionalism!
Ken was a brilliant comedian - “The Professor of Comedy” - and, lest we forget, a very fine vocalist as well. He was a true professional in the business and an absolutely lovely gentleman to work with. I can’t imagine why it counts against the calibre of an artiste (if I am reading your comments correctly) to perform a tribute to this much loved entertainer who passed away earlier this year.
I can see that expressing an opinion here is much like walking along a pavement - one really has to watch very carefully where one places one’s feet.