I, Assassin

I was not along in watching the sunset.

We both had snacks, mine were sweet, I think hers were savory.

We went to see Gary Numan at the O2 Academy in town, I think she just played at home. Still savory.

Still, could have worse neighbours.

Keeping Breakfast Down

With Holly at high school now our day starts at normal time, I’m ready for action at the same time as normal people. It also means I can be a skiving bastard much earlier in the day as well.
When I walked into the living room this morning and saw the fog and I knew what I was doing. Engineering kit went in a bag for later, hill gear went on.
I dropped the girl at the train and swung by my folks for a quick breakfast, filled a water bottle and made a dash for the crags.

The mist was thinner at the car park, light was forcing it’s way through in fuzzy spotlight beams around the trees and the pylons. I wanted to run for it but I was caught by the glistening spider webs that seems to be stringing every blade of grass on the hillside together into one shimmering blanket or wonder. And terror I dare say, the spiders at the centre of each web looked hungry. And there was a lot of them. A lot.

It was cool in the mist but got warmer as I climbed and breakfast was making it’s presence know too.
I had no need to hurry, it would be like this til lunchtime, I just wanted to be above the cloud.

I’ve done this countless time and it’s breaks a grin and girly laugh every time. I love it up here anyway, but some days shine a little brighter in my memory and my imagination.
This is happiness.

I went straight to the top and looked out, glorious. The higher tops, the real mountains are all far away but I don’t care, this is home, this is mine, this is pure magic.

I saw the Brocken Spectre follow me up, changing intensity and size with my height and the mist level all the way. It had the fogbow outer edge as well which seemed like it extended in an arc all the way to the Cowal peninsula, it was so distinct I felt I could step out onto it and walk on this ghost bridge high above the Firth of Clyde in the sunshine.

I sat and kept of sitting, I drank my cool Robinson’s lemon. Worry free just for a while, full of joy and wearing a smile under that manky old cap.

I eventually decided to wander the edge of the crags. It’s a lovely trail anyway, but the evolving view sells it even more today.

Ben Lomond was lying on it’s back under the clear blue skies, the trees have lost that angry summer green and the moon slips quietly across the sky, most likely wondering why the hell it’s here in the daytime. It’s used to shiftwork, but this isn’t right surely?

As the sun rose so did the fog, in tufts and waves it poured slowly up the glens and the gullies before finally running out of puff then breathing back in and fading into patches that would sit defiantly until I got back to the truck.

The little white dot on the ridge above is a pickup truck. The quarry track goes round the rim and I watched the big trucks driving round ferrying fresh stone downhill. What would that dashcam footage be like.

I stayed up there for hours. Wandering and watching, just letting time pass.

I came down the long way, checking on the cup marked stones (don’t ask, still not telling) and my gate repair. I was starvin’ too.
Back to my folks again.
“Oh, you want some lunch?”
Er, aye…
“How did you get on a work?”
Fine, just fine.

 

The View Remains the Same

It was only this week that I finally took the big chrome fan that’s kept us cool all summer out of the living room. Might have been a bit early looking at it out there on Saturday, but I’m sure that blue sky and sunshine was programming fault and the hotfix arrived in time for our day out on Sunday when it surely pissed down.

I can see the seasons change from this window just by the sky. The sun disappears from view when it hits the horizon for the summer, but autumn brings it back a few degrees a day and winter has it staring right back at me through the glass.

I’m glad the times are changing. I’m looking forward to golden leaves, cold days, weak sun and frost. So much has changed this year, I’ve had my very own seasons. Magic.

Nightflight

Haven’t been up the crags at night for a while. This was a definite attempt to catch the sun going down and we did okay, it was nice to watch the sunset play out and we sat on the highest bench for about 45 minutes with flasks and snacks until the last flames died into brown and deep blue.

It got cold then too, I had to put gloves on. I had to pull my hood up for a wee while too. I do like this.

We were prepared for the night time trails with headtorches fitted with fresh batteries. However Linda also decided to keep her prescription sunglasses on and by the time we noticed the Overtoun car park was far behind us.
So no glasses it was and this brought with it some arse to ground moments on the descent. But a wee rest on a bench to take in the lights and get distracted for a while and we were on the easy downhill.

Just feels like home.

Moon Landing

A few weeks back the moon was very strange. Dark and fuzzy, deep orange behind mist and ribbons of dark cloud.

I remembered it well, it happened a couple of nights in a row.

I was up the crags last night and took a bunch of photies. When I downloaded them when I got back there were a few of the moon from back then still on the card.
I must have taken them on a late dozy wander for a pee or a cuppa. The moon slipping down into Misty Law and Hill of Stake with the reflection on Bowling Harbour.

Magic.

Lock

It’s been a quick summer. It feels like I hardly sat down, even a month into the new school term feels like I blinked and it happened.

I’m going to go back through my files and try to piece some of it together so I can remember it in times to come.

Truth be told I won’t forget it, it’ll just be nice to see it again when my knees have finally gone completely.

It’s a bomber, hey hey

I spend so much time creeping up on wildlife just for it flit, flat, flut away. Especially in the crags where it’s all over the place all the time and I have no evidence of it whatsoever.
But, this time was different. I heard it first, the low jagged thrum of the wings was really close. We stopped and I tuned my ragged ears into it as best as I could.
There in the grass, just by the path.

I pulled my phone out, flapped open the case and pulled the camera up in what felt like 33 minutes.
Still it sat there, big eyes disinterested, wings wide and hanging from a blade of grass looking as gallus as as a cafe racer leaning on a BSA Goldstar.

I got a couple of shots. That’ll keep me going for a wee while.

Aff

Got behind in my explanationing. Blogging is old hat so that’s what I’m calling this now.

So I was rummaging behind the passenger seat of the truck for a folder of certificates and much to my surprise all I found was a sharp pain.
I pulled by hand back, saw the nail hanging off of my (former) ring finger, pressed it back on with my right hand then dropped my face onto the drivers seat before I puked all over myself.

I’ve had a lot of stupid injuries, but this was the winner, even better than being blown up. A fingernail. What the hell man.
So with bravado and pain killers, some help with cleaning and bandaging I got on with it. For a whole day and a half.

My finger started going a bit funny, red was creeping down past the knuckle and it was very swollen and angry looking.
The doctor went “Oof” and I nearly shat it.
“Take these for 48 hours, if there’s no improvement or you feel anything else before that, phone in and we’ll take it from there. Can’t be too careful with sepsis.”
Whatever he gave me knocked me flat, I slept for most of the next week and with a much less red finger, I must add. Caught in time.

It was a mess though and I was off for best part of three weeks, couldn’t hold tools, couldn’t play guitar or hold a PlayStation controller either for that matter.

All because of impatience. And putting the nail back on, apparently that was stupid. I like the new claw I’m growing in its place though. Much fancier.

Luckily Linda’s schedule is as all over the place as mine and there was much lunching, cuppas and gadding about.
And a blue ice lolly? Hell yes, maybe it was all worth it.

Klaus II

Klaus is gone. Rescue pets are always a risk and whatever happened in his previous life to give him his PTSD and swollen belly caught up with him. It was all very quick, the vet was kind but realistic and a pain relief shot eased him through his last day.
We are heartbroken.

I know it sounds stupid and if was reading it instead of writing it I might roll my eyes, but I really bonded with the wee guy. He knew my voice and he was happy to be handled, I cut his claws without any fuss and he was quite at home, running around the place in the evenings like he was at home. Which he was.

I can’t explain how much having this wee guy helped my head.  We are going to miss him.

NewCo Glencoe

There’s something quite wonderful about seeing favourite but familiar places for the first time all over again.

Linda had never been to Glen Coe which is obviously a travesty and something I had to fix as soon as we could get away.
A couple of Saturdays back we had the whole day and even with patchy weather forecast we got up early and hit the road north. Not in the truck though, the recent flat battery incident and the “smell of diesel” means the two of them are not yet friends. They will have to accept each other at some point, I don’t care how many tears there are.

So, with me driving the “hot hatch” erratically and often sideways (power steering is for the weak and I can’t get used to it) it was with some relief we stopped to try TJ’s, the new diner at Tyndrum.
It feels very new, a little uncertain, a little unprepared but the pancakes and bacon with syrup were magic. I hope it has a future, Tynrum is the go-to A82 stopover place these days and more competition in the village is a good thing, the regulars have gotten complacent and expensive.

I stopped at all the tourist spots, the low cloud made it all look dramatic and it was grins all the way. I haven’t been on my own for a wee while and it was good to breath the air, feel the rain on my face and find a parking spot really close to the door of the now rather swanky Glencoe Visitor Centre.
As well as having a very welcome customer hat drying area in the shop the whole place has been transformed since my last visit. The exhibits were interesting and the film was very good although the sound mix is not good, they need to turn the music down when the narrator is talking.

We took a wander around the waymarked trails which I’d never done in my life. Lovely wee walk and it takes you just high enough and away from the road that you get new views of the hills. Even in the swirling cloud and rain, it was lovely. And no midges. Alright.

It was still really early so we headed north for lunch in Ft Bill. It was pissing down which felt very normal for the familiar grey high street.
Had pizza in the Nevisport cafe for the first time in my life which was rather nice. Got the windae seat and watched the local neds filing through the underpass on their way to McDonalds on the other side of the roundabout with their hoods up and heads down. Ah, feels good to be back.

Old Inverlochy Castle is a much overlooked local place of interest. Sill raining so we had just a quick run around and two of the towers are closed for works which is a shame.
With half the day still to play with I had a think about what else to do. Aonach Mor stuck in cloud, so no Where Eagles Dare reenactment on the gondola, no proper rain gear so no Glen Nevis. We’d drive for a bit and see what popped up.

Ended up at the Eas Chia-aig waterfall at the end of Loch Arkaig. Nice wee drive in the roller skate, as I will now call the hot hatch and as ever, the killer midges were waiting in the car park. In all my travels in this wee country I have never know midges like the ones here. Every trip here I have been grievously assaulted.

It is lovely though. Even if the horrendous desolation through the glen from the hydro scheme still lurks unrepaired just beyond the trees above the falls.
The moss along the Mille Dorcha is as long and hairy as ever but forestry work has burst holes through the old stone wall killing some of the growth and also letting light into the area for the first time in many years. I wonder if this will see the demise of the mighty moss?

From here it was a meander down the road, no hurry and it wasn’t without yet more distractions.

One of which was the Falls of Falloch as we got close to home. The rain really brought out the best in the waterworks.

We don’t get a lot of days to go and out and play, but we do fill them up when we get there.

Pipe Dream

Hmm, did I find an ancestor on our travels this day?

We wanted to get out and up into some cool air but energy levels were a bit low. I’d promised the top of the Sloy pipes long ago, it felt like a good fit for an easy day.

Any slower and we’d have been in reverse. We stopped and had Lunch #1 while Holly fired some photies onto Instagram. A medium to which I too have finally posted a photie. I don’t feel my life has improved for that but it’s early days.

We can’t help ourselves. We spent way too much time trying to make a shot the rear cover of our album. I think it looks like an 80s rap album, Holly says that’s fine because the 80s are cool again? I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.

Talking of that I put the first three Public Enemy albums on my phone. I keep getting caught out when I’m driving around with the playlist set to Songs: random.

I keep expecting them to fence this area off but I suppose it doesn’t see much footfall.

What I would give to get inside those tunnels and maintence doors. A lifetime of going through doors marked Authorised Access Only only makes it worse, I’ve paid my dues, let me in dammit.

It’s a fine second lunch spot at the road end a bit above the pipe buildings. Properly good views. Passed through here a few times on my way up Vorlich, which is great way to go, you will never see another soul.

The road’s a wee bit alpine feeling and folk go “Where the hell is that?” when you show them a photie.

The girl did well as always, legs stretched a wee bit and we did find some cool air.

A wee bit of colour too on the way too, it is Macfarlane country after all.

 

Blue, sweets and no tears

You know all the telly adds asking you to sign up for being bombarded with vouchers? I always saw them as personal detail hovering schemes.
This still may be true, but Linda is fully vouchertronic and we’ve got some rather nice deals in return for our retail souls.

A sail around Lock Katrine on the Sir Walter Scott and afternoon tea in the cafe for two jam jars and  bundle of old newspapers was too good an opportunity to miss and the weather came along for free.

Got there early and had a wander with an ice cream. Saw the new pods they’ve got for camping by the loch and they look really nice, wonder if there’s a voucher for those?
Chatted to a fella staying in the camper van slot. He had his wee dug in hos bike basket. Poor wee bugger was smaller than Klaus.

Watched the boat come in, it was mobbed with pensioners in regulation shades of beige. It gracefully cruised in and swung gently onto the pier, ready for the next sailing. That was us, get a move on misses…

Wasn’t as busy for us although the bow and stern seats were instantly taken up by particularly aggressive and fast moving pensioners who then sat there guarding their spots for the entire sail. I’m not so far from that age now, I wonder what I’ll be like. Not in beige, that’s for sure.

We took a big lazy loop around the loch and it was glorious. A cool breeze on the move while the sun beat down and the banter from the crew came thick and fast over the tannoy. It was funny as hell, they were having as much fun as we were.

You’re on the water for an hour but it’s over too fast. Familiar mountains seen from unfamiliar angles, less trodden hills and woodland line the lochside and I could have stayed on there all day. I mean, they have cuppas and everything.

I hadn’t been on the boat for years, definitely recommended. Height of summer with a full boat though? Might be a different experience.

I think the cafe had been caught out but the midweek busyness, they were mobbed and harassed.
Worth the wait though, we had old school sammidges, pastries and tray bakes on the wee three tiered plate thing that I’m too lazy to google the real name of.
We sat in the sun, ate and grinned.

The longer days and the good weather mean more time to explore and we just couldn’t drive past the forest park above Aberfoyle.
Super quiet in there today, more ice cream and wandering. It was quiet enough to watch a red squirrel fannying around from the hide where usually the screaming weans keep them away.

The light in the trees was gorgeous. Always loved it here.
Although popular and accessible it somehow keeps a little wildness about it.

I say “best day” quite a lot and mean it every time, and this was a best day. I hope to have more best days.

50? Easy.

 

Chicken Maryland

 

Maryland is the Lang Craigs area where the fire started before blowing across our fence line and down towards Bonhill where folk started to care about it and post photies online.
The chickens are the ned bastards that started it.

We were lucky, we didn’t lose a lot of trees but we did lose habitat. Just earlier in the day something rare and green was recorded in the charred broom bushes by one of the other rangers (can’t remember the name of it which would have helped with the drama, but I’m the fence guy, what do I know).

I saw the smoke from miles away and ran up with Holly to see what I could do but there were four appliances already there and some very busy firefighters with beaters.
The action had moved west but we still got another engine up beside us just in case.

I came back to survey the damage the next day and the ground was still hot and smoking, the fence line was intact was needed urgent repairs.
Folk were letting their dogs run through the burned areas, oblivious to the yelping of soft paws on hot ashes. Folk, eh.

Disneyland Paris

I hadn’t been abroad for years, hadn’t been on a holiday in years. It came as a great surprise when my folks came home all smiles and excitement “Guess what we’ve booked!”
It was confusion and stress, panic and desperation all through the run up to going but when I got to the airport, I was fine. Better than fine.

The flight was uneventful and an easy first step into the air for Holly.

France was warm and misty as the bus took us the short journey to the Disneyland Hotel where we were greeted by cast not staff in the set of a movie from my childhood and from that moment on, it was pure magic.

Dinner was bizarre, the food was excellent and we had company at every meal. The real deal too, no impostors here. Minnie was lovely, saw her and Mickey a lot. They certainly put in the hours.

The parks are amazing and we spent the next few days working around every ride, catching every show, being flipped upside down and having faces that were sore from smiling.
Me and Holly walking the park late at night and catching the last ThunderMountain ride before wandering home through the dark and the lights is something I will take to the grave.
The adverts always talk about making memories here and it turns out it’s true. They are very clever these Disney folk. Yes you pay for it (well, Jimmy did, bless him for all time), but they come through on the deal perfectly.

One dinner was constantly interrupted by these women visiting the tables. Holly seemed to know them all.

Snow White swung by first and I swear to you it was the girl straight out the 1937 movie, the look and the voice, it was her. It’s amazing.

The nightly shows are epic and beautiful. It’s clean and friendly and we all got so tired it took us a week to recover.
The food was excellent, I was with those dearest to me and loved every second of it. So many memories made and so hard to articulate it.

It was important in ways I didn’t expect. Dealing with the airport and travel confusion, not speaking much French, I found my old confidence was right there where I’d left it and I came back home feeling the best I had done in years. And, that hasn’t faded at all, everything changed on that trip and it’ll stay with me for the rest of my life.

What will also stay with me is the time I spend with Minnie and also the bizarre experience of the Star Wars ride with C3PO screaming at me in French. Just brilliant.

Grab your coat, you’ve pulled

It’s not all about plastic. I find these ring pulls all the time by Loch Lomond, more than 30 years after they became obsolete.

It shows that the lochside has long been a magnet for stupidity, it’s not all about a sudden influx of car carried stupids the past few years.

Maybe you can’t educate some folk to see what they’re doing wrong or get them to care about it.
One of my worries was a mile away from this photie where the Park were charging folk to camp on a manky badly angled patch of scrub at Firkin Point. If they charged me for that I’d want to throw litter and burn my tent in the morning.

Maybe treat people better and they will care.

See, it really is that colour

I should do more video, but this is a good advert for why I don’t. Sitting watching this beautiful scene with birdsong as a companion then I bark in your ear.

Still, this might have been the best sunset of recent times and it’s right ootside my door.