Ping!

Timing is everything. The sun was shining all through easter and I wasn’t anywhere near being able to take advantage of it which was a bit frustrating given the nice places I have to be going.
But going out to play ’round the back kept me in a good mood. I’m getting used to the old camera again, it feels a bit clunky and it’s way more contrasty than its replacement at the same settings, but I’m happy enough for now.

That’s Jo my fellow ranger below. We did a bit of extra exploring, the Lang Craigs is only a wee part of the Kilpatricks and it’s good to see it in context with a bit of height and distance. We also saw and heard bats, yes heard, via the magical powers of a bat detector which picks up their wee voices and can be used to unnerve the wary and terrify the nervous.

The other good news is that the weather means I’m back in an outdoor shirt rather than a baselayer. Happy, and more on that at some point.

Not That One

While I have no camera I’ve decided to clean out the laptop files, stick all the old photie folders in safe places and take the load off the bulging filing cabinet under the keyboard. Get myself ready for all the new stuff coming up etc
It being me of course all that’s happened is I’ve found stuff that I like and filed away F/A.
So, the first in a few posts of the recent past revisited, the photies that didn’t fit at the time due to wacky poses, funny faces or the like but make me smile now. At least until I have to pay to get my camera back.

Ben Starav last year was the trip that brought the joy of the hills back to me and looking at it again I feel just the same. A perfect evening and a full memory card to prove it.
Damn, this blog is getting big and fat.
Alright!

7

Reunion Tour

The report came back that to repair my LX5 would be £180, it was the wee motor that operates the lens, I can hear the broken part rattling around inside the camera. In fully operational condition they’re going for less than that on ebay. The LX5 has further part to play in my story.
I still needed shots, so I was looking for a previously undiscovered box of cash under the bed to fund my long planned camera upgrade or I was taking my intermittently functional LX3 to Torridon.

What the hell, the old camera fit the zeitgeist, I was going in the Ka. The Ford Ka came about when the truck was off the road for repairs earlier in the year and the hire charges for wheels for a couple of weeks were far more than the cost a neighbours old car which was otherwise headed to the scrappy. The £100 Ka has ran faultlessly for two months with some running repairs by Jimmy who likes that kind of thing.
So with a boot full of kit, and I mean full as the boot’s the same size as a rucksack, a poly bag full of old tapes for the cassette player I hit the road with time to spare.
Imagine that.

I was blasting out an old Saxon compilation I’d pulled out of the bag, it was a lottery as none of the tapes were marked. I even found some tapes of gigs from my band back in the early 90’s. I was a far better guitarist back then but a much worse singer, I’ll lay part of the blame on the smoky clubs we played in back then which shredded my voice pretty quick. Must be great singing in clean air these days.
Saxon took me to the Glen Coe cafe where my ringing ears – a combination of back axle noise and heavy metal – needed a rest and breakfast. The clouds had been light and mostly high on the way up, it looked like it would clear.

A quick stop at Ft Bill for food was amusing. A pastry and a wee bottle of Banrock Station Chiraz fro Morrisons was easy, getting some dehydrated food from Ellis Brigham wasn’t.
“Hi, I was looking for some camp food…” I asked as I rooted around the camping kit shelves looking confused.
“Tinned food? Morrisons?” Was the reply.
“Freeze dried, dehydrated, dinner in a bag, just looking for a main meal?”
“Eh…” Said the wee lassie who joined us “I think there’s a box of that stuff in the corridor…”
There was. Awesome.
Every visit to the Ft Bill EB feels like I’m caught in a hidden camera stunt.

The road ahead brought more joy. Kintail will always be special to me, memories and the hills too, today it was crowned with a little cloud and looked spectacular. Beinn Bhan was clear, unlike when I camped on it a wee while back, dammit.
Torridon was draped in high cloud, the light was grey and the hills were flat and my heart sank a little, even the discovery of Judas Priest’s Sin After Sin album on a tape didn’t suppress the feeling of joy trickling away. Of all the places to have crap weather.

But, as I fannyed around choosing socks and chocolate, grey or tan, Bourneville or Terry’s Chocolate Orange? – nightmare – the sky cleared a little, the cool breeze that threaded through the trees was blowing the grey away.
The initial climb is through Scots Pine where the rhoddies are being cleared. The tall branchless trunks are punctuated by fire pits where the rhoddie roots have been dug up and burnt, blackened craters with rising wisps of smoke. It was every inch a scene from the First World War. Unsettling.

It all goes fairy woodland quite quickly, a waterfall, a really nice one too, frustratingly difficult to see unless you want to take a machete to the shrubbery, the pines take on a more twisted shape as they become higher and more exposed to the weather. The path swings effortlessly through the magical scene as snow streaked slopes are glimpsed through gaps ahead.
Suddenly the forest slips off your shoulders and in clear air you are ringed by mountain shapes. Behind are the giants, Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe. Almost cloudless now, their slopes glowing in the afternoon light. Ahead seemed more thrilling, Maol Chean-dearg’s seemingly unattainable summit looming through the bealach while my ulimate goal poked it’s buttressed snowy nose past the ridge ahead. Beinn Damh was a good choice.
The sun reflected off the snow and lit the still autumnal coloured slopes in a flash of warm tones. I couldn’t feel the cold wind, I was moving as fast as I could and my brain didn’t have space for it anyway, too much to look at.

The ridge arrives sooner than expected and a wander to the far side is worth the extra steps. Little broken pinnacles and steep slopes tumble down to the loch as Beinn Bhan dominates the view. Light shimmered on the water which is everywhere, sea, river and loch to the little summit lochans which sparkle into life from miles away. I always want to visit them, more than distant summits, something special about sitting by a high lochan at dusk, the lapping water is soothing, it slows you down and makes the sunset slower, and I’d even say it makes the colours brighter.
But not today, I still had a wee way to go, not steep, but rocky and in the early evening’s golden light utterly glorious. I pulled up my hood as the fast passing air cooled me and headed into the boulder field.

I watched my feet as they picked through or over the rocks and it’s something I’ve watched all my life. But now and then, when I don’t feel pressure, when my mind’s not elsewhere, when it’s all about where and when I’m at, those feet could be from 1992, 1975, 1986, the simple timeless pleasure of walking in the mountains, it’s a thread running through my life and every trip makes a knot that when I run a finger down the thread and feel that knot it triggers a memory or a feeling and I’m there again. 
When I’m not able to do this anymore and I close my eyes and think of my countless days in the hills I’ll see my feet taking the next step before I see any of those summit views or sunsets.

The summit was just over the coire, short descent, stiff climb and what the hell, I’ll do it tomorrow. I’d added over an hour to the ascent stopping and looking, taking photies and grinning, all very tiring so I was ready for dinner.
There was a grassy spot between a snow bank (water supply, yay!) and the rock garden with a shallow angle and sea views from the door. I got to unpacking and pitching.
Pitching was interesting, the grass was no thicker than a shagpile carpet, but my titanium nails got hammered in and there they stayed too.

Everything got sorted, the stove went on, I sat in my chair and watched the sun slowly sink through ribbons of cloud turning from orange to rust to crimson to purple. The Torridon giants glowed pink behind me and as the sun slipped away, fingers of low cloud crept over their ridges from the north and east, looks like the cloud invasion had been waiting for darkness, and as you know that’s when clouds are at their most dangerous, their night vision is even better than an owl.

I opened my wine and toasted the world with a Wish you were here via twitter. I’m used to being alone in the hills, but somehow it didn’t seem right that I was alone on this night, it had been a beautiful evening and it deserved to be shared.
But it was getting colder and windier, a moonless sky had its stars muted by a light haze and it was time to retreat inside, get cozy and listen to some music, it would be a long night.

A wee snooze was just right, but I woke dry mouthed and hungry so I had a drink and a snack, then I thought I’d better nip out for a pee. It was very cold now, the tent was frosted and the twinkling lights on Skye and along Loch Carron seemed awfy far away. I turned back to the tent and something on the northeast skyline caught my eye. I watched for a while, it was hazy and very dark but a green shape slowly fluxed in the far distance. My eyes got sharper as my night vision kicked in, still never as good as the cloud soldiers of course, but I watched for a while. I set up the camera and stood beside it to shelter it, the wind was strong enough to blow the tripod straight over. The 60 second exposure looked completely black on the camera screen and under coercion by editing back at home it looks like a psychedelic experience, but after checking with Aurora Watch it had indeed been a wee flash of the Northern Lights.
Nice.

The wind picked up. The tent rattled, it shook, nothing I’m not used to, I snuggled down into my bag, the music would win over the rattling. But on it went, it got louder, the tent got more mobile and while not worried, I was getting resigned to having less sleep that I needed or wanted.
I have no idea what time it was when it happened, I was too busy trying to stand up outside and attach an extra guyline to keep the tent on the ground to look at my watch. The pole had snapped clean through and then came through the fabric channel on the outside. The tent rippled at high speed making it hard to keep a hold of, but to my great relief the pegs held it firm to the ground despite the pressure from above trying to tear it away from the hill.
The wind was ferocious.
My lash up kept the tent where it was but it was in bad shape, I lay by the door and counted the minutes until it was light enough to pack and run like hell.

It got lighter outside and with it came the snow. I jammed the broken pole across my shoulder to give me enough height to pack inside but my legs and pack were sticking out the open door and that let the snow blow inside. What a difference a day makes.
I ate some cheese and oatcakes and drank some chilled water, with no hope of getting the stove on it was as good as it was getting for breakfast. Everything packed, I just had to get the tent down.
I could barely stand up, the wind tore past me, desperate to rip the tent from the ground and throw me face first into the boulders but I kept low and mostly in cotrol of my direction. I pulled the pegs out one at a time and stuffed the tent into my pack as best I could.

There was no question of going on to the summit, that was asking for trouble and I wasn’t waiting it out up here to see if things got better, it was time to go.
It got better as I dipped down to the west, but I never looked back and second guessed my decision on trying for the top. I could see how fast the cloud was still moving.
I got back to the coire rim and it all seemed better, I was out of the wind, it was brighter to the west and I had warmed up. I took off some clothes and went back to my plan, descending the ridge on the east side of the coire that no one seems to know is there.

Happy again, I clambered the rocks and enjoyed the views, a spring back in my step. Liathach was crowned with cloud, to the east was deep grey, almost dusk like, but I was in a pool of brightness that took in Loch Torridon and Beinn Alligin.
I was hungry though, I could have stopped and unpacked for breakfast, but the cooking gear needed cleaned after rolling around the tent porch getting full of heather and grit and then getting stuffed away haphazardly. I’d be at the road in an hour at most and then 30 seconds from the inn and some sit-down hot and tasty. It was all good.

I met various folks of their way up and they all had time to stop and chat. They were all smiles and enthusiasm and it brightened me further, any thoughts of my trip being cut short and somehow being a failure were left behind. There was too much good found and being taken home for this being anything but a win.

A change of clothes and I suddenly didn’t smell like sweaty damp down anymore. I turned the corner into the Torridon Inn and smiled at the lassie, “Do you do breakfast?” I knew they did, the sign said food all day, but it’s nice to be polite.
No she said, breakfast finished at ten. Lunch wasn’t for two hours and that was that.
Oh well. Can I have some info on the inn and the hotel, telephone numbers, what kinds of accommodation do you have? I’m writing a wee piece on the area.
Sudden change in interest level.
Oh, I could have a word with the chef, get you a roll on bacon?
Hmm.

I hit the road to Kinlochewe looking for fuel and breakfast. Having to drive by the sunkist slopes of Liathach and Beinn Eighe was no great hardship and the former goal achieved with a smile and some banter, the latter lay just around the corner at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
I went in the door and looked around hoping that the place was open and fully functional and that the format was obvious, counter service/table service etc, these things should be written large when you go into somewhere so you don’t shuffle awkwardly looking for inspiration. But I had no time to think about any of that, a jolly faced lassie at the nearest of several tables full of folks immediately piped up “Hello, how are you?” Hungry was the honest one word answer I couldn’t stop from coming out, but it was at least delivered with a smile.
The lassie was the owner, she stood up with a laugh and orders of “Let’s sort this man out!”
I was sat on the couch at the back next to the log burning stove and I was so relieved I could have sobbed into the sleeve of my purple hoody. I had porridge with honey and sliced banana, a scone with cream and jam, orange juice and a cuppa. I had time to relax, look through my photies and wish I had got the sensor cleaned on the old camera, that dirt spot is going to take ages to ‘shop out when it’s in the sky. I just adored the place and the breakfast I had there.

It’s nice to know the good folks are still out there, the Highland welcome is alive and well.

It was a long way home, but I had plenty time and took a different road. It’s interesting driving the old battered Ka, no matter how fast you’re going, folk will not sit behind you, it’s as if it’s a personal insult to their social standing and character that they have to sit behind my burgundy bubble car. I lost count of the suicidal/homicidal moves folks made to get past me and then drive at the same speed or slower – their nerves shattered but honour satisfied as they were no in their rightful place.
These dumb bastards made the afternoon fly by. As did Bobby Harrison’s Funkist album that I found a tape of. Where the hell did that one come from?!

It didn’t go as planned at all, it went better. I wouldn’t change any of it and I’m now watching the forecast again.
I suppose I will have to change the tent for that right enough.

Older, Wiser, Fuzzier

I wasn’t supposed to be home so soon, but since my home away from home got demolished to make way for a bypass as I slept in it, here I am. What joy there has been, the widening grin below is proof of that.

1

Conic Screwdriver

Sometimes things work out just right, the Trail that’s in the shops has a route I wrote for Conic Hill above Balmaha on Loch Lomond which was the result of a quick schedule change. It was perfect as I know the hill so well, I’d just climbed it again so knew my facts were already up to date and I got to push a proper gem to the front of the queue for a wee while.
Conic almost always pops its head through an inversion and the views from it are epic, nothing less. I was properly enthused writing this one, I suppose I always am really, but this one is special cos it’s local and the route isn’t what most folk do, it’s got my own regular way up, down and around.
Magic, go climb it.

Sandwood Bay

It was our anniversary weekend, it was Joycee’s birthday, the weather looked good and we had no idea Holly was brewing scarlet fever while we were away. Sandwood Bay seems like an awful long time ago.
Luckily we took some photies. Actually we were lucky to have any photies to bring back, my Panasonic Lumix LX5 shat the bed, focus fault, dead in the water. Luckily the old LX3 with its will it work/won’t it work display saved the day. So did the phones, so here we’ve got two cameras and two smartphones snapping away. Too complicated for me. I’m going back to a sketchbook and telling tall tales.

We stopped at the Tain Asda for fuel and matches or a lighter for camp back-up and had a quick cuppa while we were at it. I went back to the motor to sort some kit outwhile Joycee went to the kiosk and she followed me out a minute later with a big grin on here face “They asked me for ID, I need my purse”. Not letting a 37 year old buy a lighter because she didn’t look 21? I’m still hearing all about it now…

The road from there is a pure joy, every mile of it. As you get further west the grin gets wider as the mountain shapes become more defined and wear names that bear witness to a different history to the peaks further south. Then suddenly you’re in heaven at the coast.

It was late when we left Blairmore with a  four and a half mile trek to the beach. The sky was draining of light and colour but the going is good, it was cool and dinner was waiting for us at the end of the line.
The pace was good and we walked as far as we could using our eyes as they adjusted to the darkness. We went to red light and then to full beam as got near the end. We passed dark lochans, tiny dark beaches, silent expanses of heather but all with the beacon on the Cape Wrath lighthouse ahead. It could have been creepy, but it was more bracing for want of a better expression.
We knew we were nearly there because we heard it, the roar of the ocean. We couldn’t see it until it was just a few feet away, but its presence was definitely felt. Dark shapes disguised the cliffs and the wind whipped across the sand as we walked north towards the light.

We picked a spot near the fresh water river at the far end of the main stretch of beach. The dunes aren’t necessarily a great place to camp, but with some long pegs and some rocks the tent was surprisingly secure and we snuggled inside up as sand-free as we could and got the stove on.
Dinner and a wee bottle of red, a little music, layers of down and the sounds of the sea. The lullaby of doom indeed. The wind howled and the tent shook, but it held it’s ground and went nowhere.
The night sky cleared now and again as ships lights passed along the horizon, but it wasn’t a night for taking photies. Sleep called and we already there.

Not a glorious morning, but a pretty one, quite a calm one too. The wind had dropped a little but the waves had grown, they crashed onto the beach and rocks with a constant roar.
We could see now too, Am Buachaille standing proud and solo to the south and sheer cliffs bursting seewards all the way to the cape not too far to the north.

What a place this is.

We knew we weren’t alone, a fire at the far end of the beach when we’d arrived in the dark gave that away. We soon met the firemaker, Duncan and his girlfriend had been camping and Duncan had come to catch the waves as he worked his way through a ticklist of must-do surf spots. Fair play to him, and indeed the other board carriers we met on their way in later on.
It like meeting mountain bikers or paragliders on the hills, there’s always another way and another perspective, I love that.

Breakfast, break camp and head out while have a wee explore was the plan. The tide was going out, the rocks were emerging and we found a message in a bottle in the sand. It was addressed to Holly and had been sent by a mermaid. It was lucky we’d been there at the right time.

The showers that had drifted across cleared to a blue sky as we tred the miles back out. It was a different world we walked through on the way out, snow dusted peaks lined the eastern skyline, colour was all around and the lochans hidden in the heather were now indigo fringed with gold.
The pace was a little slower this time, no hurry to get back in the car seats, it would be along road home.

There were diversions on the way back, it would be a crime not to stop now and again and get out to have a better look. The part of the country pulls at me like no other place, the hills and the land around them hold their mystery no matter how many times I climb or trek them.

There’s also no more appropriate place for the two of us to spend our anniversary. When we got together the first thing we did was throw our gear into my van and head up here and elsewhere. From Ben Hope to Cairngorm we went visiting every tea shop inbetween. Things haven’t changed that much then.

Magical Mystery Tour

If you’ve been watching the news, which we were doing accidentally because Richard Branson screwed up our telly once again leaving us with just socialist TV and no cartoons to watch, that is five channels plus BBC 3&4, you’ll have seen the endless horrors currently unfolding around the world.

It’s no wonder that this news item seems to have slipped under the radar. As down south’s coast takes a pounding unearthing ancient footsteps and fossil forests up here the snows have brought to light their own ancient mysteries.
Below in an undisclosed location in the north west is the site of the slaying of the last real live Highland Tattie-bogle. As you can see it suffered horribly at the hands of the terrified clansmen of the day, its tumshie heid knocked off and its arms dragged off so they could no longer grasp at unsuspecting passers by.

The loss of the wolf and the bear from the Highlands are what people lament and you never hear of Tattie-bogles (other than Jon Pertwee’s historically inaccurate depiction in Worzel Gummidge), Fear Dubhs or any of the sea dwelling cousins such as the Skelpie. These were a great part of our natural heritage and are almost unknown today. But not entirely unseen, but I’ll come back to that.

Down on the Upside

It’s been the ultimate of contrasts the past couple of days and I’ve been thinking about things that I suppose we all know are always there but maybe we pretend they aren’t.

Trail mag came through and I was pleased to see my Mourne Mountain routes are in there. That trip was brilliant in every way and despite only having about half an hour free of cloud or rain the whole time we were there we discovered mountains and places and people that were a total joy. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
It was also the last proper mountains I’ve been near until the last couple of weeks. It feels like a lifetime ago.

Then the news came through, fallen on Bidean, 12 hours injured in a gully, airlifted to Belford at 0300. When it’s friend you feel it in your stomach and then you run through the what-ifs and come up with nothing.
The story’s not over though the ending is looking far better than anyone might have expected, but it’s swept the feet from under me.

Sunshine on a rainy day

grey

It was mid afternoon, I’d nipped out to do a wee job which went well, the girls had finished their kids party mayhem and we were suddenly all in the same place at the same time.
Quick, go somewhere!

Balmaha came up, Arrochar too, but Luss won by default as that’s the road we were on and it was there when we needed cuppas and toilets. It’s good to have these needs line up at the same time on days out, it’s when they space themselves apart things can get a little, atmospheric shall we say. Especially when like me you’ve just home left much later that planned.

Luss was dreich, but that’s not a bad thing.  The cafe in the visitor centre had a warm fire to sit by and home made cake to go with the cuppas.
The snow line hung below the cloud while mist softened the edges of the streaks of white, Loch Lomond was a sheet of rippled grey steel and the ducks and swans were never so pleased to have company as they were when we appeared on the beach.

Grey doesn’t have to be a dull colour.

f1wee

 

Little Feat

Music in my ears, my eyes squinting onto the bright swirl of cloud and snow. I had to pull on gloves and was glad of my hood.

It was difficult at first. It felt awkward, I wheezed, I felt stiff, my pack felt unfamiliar on my back and I shifted it around. I sucked air in, sure I was going to burn my throat like I’ve done on so many winter ascents in the past.

Sleet came down the glen in a wave, I could see it coming while it was still minutes away and by the time it hit me I was hidden in my shell. My legs had woken up, my breathing was regular and my good pace was delivered standing up straight.

 

I was surrounded rather than up top, but my cheeks were tight with the cold air, I swear I could smell the snow in the air and I just grinned at myself, at where I was and at the poor bugger who wandered up to me having expected to see no one in this wee backwater place. Nice to have a bit of banter.

Cloudy tops could not diminish my joy. It was enough to be back in familiar places, joyful places, inspirational places. Places I’ll be back to in a few days.
Let’s see if my shoulder’s ready for an overnight pack.

Parking on the old road

I was picking up Joycee from the train and I was early, I know, I was surprised too, and it looked lovely over the river. It had been misty all day and it was just breaking up as evening took over from the afternoon and I pulled off the M8 to take a couple of photies on my phone.

I might and try to be early for things again.

Pleased to meet you

It was foggy. I had things to do, but it was foggy, what the hell did you think I was going to do?

I could have gone to the Kilpatricks, but I know that Conic Hill’s wee summit usually just pokes through an inversion and it’s not too far away at all. I quickly packed some bits and pieces and I was off.
The lochside was clearing, I could see some islands, I was too late. I pulled into the back of the Balmaha carpark, could I really be arsed now? Ach, I was here, it’s a lovely wee walk. What the hell.

I kept the pace up, it was still pretty thick above after all and the forest was eerie as the tall straight trunks faded to grey high above. I gasped past two girls as panic set in after I realized I had a shot at a view above and my legs pushed past the point my lungs and heart could power them. The weeks of avoiding all the things the physio said I had too has ruined me. I’ve rarely felt so unfit. But, I’m not waking up every half an hour during the night as my shoulder punches me in the face with a mittful of pain so it was worth it. I’ll get it back.

Met a couple of fellas coming down, “Lovely view” they said. I pushed on and walked out of the cloud just below the knobbly summit ridge. Joy, grinning at the scene I know well but thrills and inspires me every time. I through my pack off and rimaged for the camera. I couldn’t feel it, I opened up the pack and looked inside. No camera, no camera bag.
It was back at the car. Well, that’s what I thought, actually is was sitting in the middle of the living room floor back home, so it’s just as well I didn’t go back to the car to get it.

What the hell, the phone will do, all I need is a memory jogger and it’ll manage that just fine.

Met a happy pair slipping down the icy track from the summit and then I had the place to myself. Down jacket, hat gloves, cuppas and sammidges from the garage. Bliss.
I heard the girls voices below me, they were wandering past the summit on the West Highland Way route, I felt like shouting something about how nice it was up here and didn’t they want to see the view, but bloody hell, I know just how bad that would have gone so I went back to my flask and gazed around some more.

The top clouded over a few times, but it was mostly clear to the horizon. There was high level cloud with a sun trying to burst through, so it was all a little muted, an understated beauty rather than the obvious glamour of the blue sky above. It was perfect as it was.
I heard the girls again, they were making for the summit after all and were enjoying the iced track. This time I did shout, “It’s easier after that bit” That seemed to be well received and they were soon with me.

New to the hills and climbing the local peaks for the first time, the joy and enthusiasm from the two of them was wonderful to witness. I remember that feeling, the first times are different and special and they’d done this first in style today. We blethered away, more cuppas all round and I tried and failed to hold back my usual flow of useful information. They were kind and didn’t run away and it was great to have company. Moments like this deserve to have an audience, nature putting on a show and most folks are unavoidably detained under the clouds which carpeted our view as far as we could see in every direction.

It wasn’t long until there were four of us, another pair of experienced feet and accompanying bearded chin arrived to claim a slice of the communal win. More chat, more excuses to stay as if I needed that.
But, Holly needed fetching from school and I had to go. I was still the last to leave the top though, it looked like the sun was breaking through, perfect Brocken Spectre conditions, but it wasn’t to be.
I followed the ridge down into the cloud, so much to enjoy on this wee hill, and caught the girls up in the fog and they were still all smiles. It was an infectious state of mind. What a good idea it was going there today.

 

Short Term Memory Loss Win

Having a week or so between a trip and really looking through the photies is something I might have to do again. It’s full of surprises and springback action memories.

If someone from another planet  looked through my pages it must look like I live in a world of low light and splashes of colour. The poor buggers must be spinning their globe of the earth wondering where the hell it is I hang out while their mum shouts over her shoulder “He’s either always running late or it’s all ‘shopped”.

Bloody aliens, I’ll show them.

Winter Opening Hours

If you’ve been watching the news over the past few days it’s hard not be stunned by the little chain of occurrences at home and overseas that have brought tragedy to many folks.

After a wee bit of unavoidable admin this morning we decided to get out mid afternoon and made a dash for Aberfoyle. It was beautiful, clear and cool with golden light picking out the hills in amber.
Other families were out playing too, Mrs Santa was at the visitor centre and the hide for bird watching was a perfect place for Holly to draw a picture in the visitor book as the birds tweeted and flapped past her.

Joycee said on the way home that folk really should make the most of what time the can find together. She’s right too.

Picnicasonic LXPies

That camera dial got turned to Film Grain setting in my pocket and I never noticed. Interesting. The LX5 was a worry on the Mournes trip, the wee dial that adjusts the exposure shat the bed and jammed itself on -3 meaning that everything was dark except photies done on Intelligent Auto, that is pale washed out and flat looking setting. Playing with it back at the hotel I managed to persuade it back to zero and a bit of research back home revealed this as a common problem. Solutions seem to be tentative in their application, but after my old LX3 picked up the slack in Northern Ireland after the screen seemed to start working again, I decided to spray some RS Computer Solvent Aerosol (Many years old, the font on it is countdown…) into the wheel and see what happened. Some intensive twiddling, some more spraying and it works again. Yay. Saves me buying a new thing which I’d have to learn how to work.

Picnic day in the Lang Craigs was fun. Holly raced up the hillside including all the wee scrambles like a natural and was much impressed by the clouds below us. This lasted whole seconds before the picnic took priority and the frantic search was on for the perfect spot.
We found this on some rocks sticking out of the heather and had a fine wee time to ourselves with turkey and cranberry wraps in surprisingly warm air. As we got ready to go a visitor arrived, my purple softshell was a giveaway he said, it was Fatwalker who has often commented on here and lives local. One thing was immediately apparent, he isn’t fat at all and also, I can’t believe we haven’t ran into each other sooner. Magic. I’ll be watching for him now I know what he looks like.

More wandering too us past the cup marked stone, or the Fairy Stone as it is now and even back at the car the day was far from done. We went across the river to cut a couple of hundred whips of willow for a project which we did today and as it got dark and then had another picnic by the river. McDonalds made this one for us though. For money, not as a favour, but I think they’re like that with everyone.