1 September 2012


"Hello...Is that Mr Pudding? It's me. Wendy. I'm the cleaner at Crowden. I've got your car keys. You left them in the toilet. When you get this message phone me back. This is my number *********. Bye". - Message via The Puddings' answerphone service Aug 31st 2012
Triangulation pillar at Black Hill
I had driven over to Crowden on the Woodhead Pass that eventually leads over the Pennines to the modern day city of Gomorrah - Manchester. Upon arriving at the visitor car park, I laced up my walking boots grabbed my camera and headed up the path to the public conveniences next to the campsite. There I made an offering to the God of Lavatories before commencing my walk three miles northwards to the triangulation pillar at Black Hill.

It was hard going and often the path was invisible amidst the moorland bogs, peaty groughs, rough grasses and heather but eventually I made it to the middle of the Black Hill plateau before descending on a different path - The Pennine Way that clings to steep hillsides west of Crowden Great Brook. By the cliffs of Laddow Rocks a feeling of vertigo threatened to overtake me as I teetered along the edge knowing that with one unfortunate slip I could be crashing to my death on the boulders below - which would no doubt have pleased  some bloggers of my acquaintance.

Finally, I made it back to the car park, planning to drive home via Glossop and then make our evening meal. I had a nice quiche in the fridge and there'd be rice and salad too. But. Yes, but.. Where were my car keys? I searched my pockets, checked out my camera case, looked under the car. They were nowhere to be found.

I remembered the offering I had made in the porcelain booth that morning but when I got there the cupboard was bare!

Just next to the toilet block is a small campsite run by the Camping and Caravanning Club of Great Britain. I went into the office/shop and spoke with the warden on duty. "No, no keys have been handed in mate!"

It was about four fifteen in the afternoon and I knew that Shirley would be home from work very soon so I waited and then used the campsite phone. Now Crowden is about twenty five miles from our home in Sheffield and I am sure that the last thing Lady Pudding wanted to do after a week's work was to battle through Friday night traffic and out to the wilds of northern Derbyshire but she agreed to do it. I was left chatting to the warden whose name is Mark. 

What a bizarre world we live in! Turns out he's married to a woman from East Timor and ventured there last summer. He had several interesting tales to tell and it was a good way of passing the time before Lady Pudding finally arrived with the precious spare key. It was starting to rain by then as I shivered under a young sycamore tree by the car park.

We didn't get home until seven thirty. We scrapped the idea of the quiche dinner (or "tea" as we prefer to say in Yorkshire) and headed for "The House of Spice" - one of our favoured Indian curry houses. Well, every cloud has a silver lining! In fact our cloud had a double silver lining because when we got home I discovered the answerphone message transcribed at the top of this fascinating post. What a relief - not to have to shell out the £1,750 SEAT would no doubt have been demanding for a replacement car key!
Crowden Youth Hostel
View west across the Crowden valley
Laddow Rocks high above Crowden Brook
This post is dedicated to Wendy and her husband Dave who prove that most people are decent, kind and honest - there's a tenner in the post for them.


  1. Your jaunts are creeping closer and close to Chez Parrot. I'm glad your keys turned up and you didn't have to attribute the loss to some Mancunian pickpocket!

  2. Mountain walking and losing of keys often go together, apparently, and as such my best friend recommends leaving your keys under the car, hanging from any of those bits and bobs only mechanics can name.
    Obviously sounds a bit risky to consider doing this in Lancashire ....

  3. SHOOTING PARROTS One day you'll look out of your window and see a dishevelled hiker passing by with map in hand. I trust you will invite me in for a cuppa so that I can regale you with tales of pineapple growing in East Yorkshire.
    BRIAN Fortunately, I wasn't quite in Lancs... still in Derbyshire where the locals are reasonably civilised and law-abiding. But your chum's idea is one I shall certainly keep in mind.

  4. I hate that sinking feeling when you realize your car keys are gone. It's only exceeded by the feeling you get when you have your keys in hand and discover your car is gone. Glad you were reunited with both. If you ever come hiking through Sloughhouse, let me know and I'll try to figure out how to make a spot of tea.

  5. No, Keith would have done it a lot cheaper than that for you, YP, but you would have had to wait for him to get there. ;)

  6. A booth is a small hut or dwelling not an americanised idea of some screened compartment.

    My ancestors were hut dwelling folk who lived off the land in some of these inhospitable places you frequent. Not where you have recently been frequenting- public toilets for a few hours with men with exotic tastes... in Manchester...

    Speaking of exotic tastes- Abraham Lincoln? I wonder if the US corruption of the word has anything to do with the killer of the much loved cross dressing president of old?

  7. JAN BLAWAT I don't want a "spot" of tea, I want a "pot" of tea! Besides, when I meet you you will be so overwhelmed that we'll have to drive out to the nearest "Taco Bell".
    JENNYTA I can see now why Keith has stuck with the car key business. He must surely be a millionaire by now!
    BANGKOK BOOTH Is it true what they also say about your ancestors - that they were bog-dwellers from Ireland? BTW John Wilkes Booth looks like your twin brother!

  8. How did you know that you'd left them in the lav? And not half-way up some desolate rock-infested crag?

  9. KATHERINE I didn't "know" but I knew it was a possibility. My fear was that they'd be somewhere in those boggy hills to be discovered by archaeologists a thousand years from now.

  10. I had a wife who was forever locking the keys in her car which cost me a packet every time. So I bought from Halfords a plastic box with strong magnets attached and stuck it under the car with a spare key in it. Next time she locked her keys in the car, she got the spare out of the box and she was happy, I was happy. Then she rang me to say she'd done it again so I told her to use the spare, 'It's in the ashtray of the car, I forgot to put it back in the box' she said...

  11. HIPPO It's easy to see why that particular wife is now spoken about in past tenses! Was she blonde by any chance?

  12. By remarkable coincidence...

    I could always forgive her air headed approach to life and loved her dearly. Sadly, so did the married gas bottle filler from AGA Gas with whom she ran off with, a blow to my self esteem equivalent to having ones testes crushed in a vice and if that wasn't already enough to make my eyes water, the divorce settlement concluded the process (you are aware, I am sure, that 'Divorce' is Latin for 'Extracting a man's wallet through his penis'). I always regret not pointing in out in court her inability to work out that the she and her car keys should always remain on the same side of her car door, as I am sure the Judge would have ruled in my favour.


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