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.

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.

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.

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.

Jealousy in Gentian Blue

Being 50 and a single parent with various other stuff going on to fill every waking minute would appear to remove many tasty options from the buffet table of possibility.
So it was with some surprise I found myself getting ready to go out on my first date in not a kick in the arse off of 20 years.

It’s lucky that my date knows me already, purple Converse and my old truck weren’t a deal breaker in any way when I picked her up. Even shouting over the vintage engine tones on the way into the city centre was expected and was just fine.
The truck was parked up where we eventually found space away from the action and off we went into bright lights and a brave new world. This was at a reasonable hour of course, I am well aware I’m not 19.

It went really well, with nice food and easy laughter which continued all the way back to the truck which I could now see was parked on a dark and deserted side street. It looked a little sad on its own.
The engine kicked into life easy enough if not enthusiastically but it seemed that the lights were dimmer somehow. Maybe just because I don’t drive at night very much I thought? My mind elsewhere, the truck set off onto the road home just like it always has.
I think though, it was listening.

Things were going well, the night was the youngest of any of us and we thought we’d nip into the M&S garage for some supplies. I parked up and in we went for snacks.
We sat back in the truck and I turned the key. Uch! Ahhhooooo… click. What the hell? I pulled the key out, looked to my left with a grin made more of optimism than amusement and tried the ignition again. Kchuk.
Ha,the truck’s dead.
Haha, good try, we’re not teenagers anymore.
No really, the truck’s dead.
The reaction was laughter, genuine, big laughter and I just had to join in. I think I had already been a sketchy choice as a date and I just got away with this as well. I think I used up the very last of my life’s supply of luck right here.

Laughter doesn’t keep you warm for too long though and although pretty close to home, we were very much stranded on garage forecourt late at night with a worry in my mind that the conversation would run out before hypothermia set in.
I phoned the RAC and a disinterested girl somewhere far away informed me that it might take three hours to send someone, although due to the truck being in a priority location (garage forecourt) they would try and get someone there in two hours.
What’s the point of paying this? is what I took away from this interaction.

We sat for a bit, thought of other options. Taxi, walking, praying, pushing etc None would work.
I’m going to phone home.
Oh my god, don’t you dare…
Jimmy will save us, it’ll be fine

Sure enough, a little later Jimmy pulled into the forecourt in pyjama bottoms and rigger boots with the jump leads that could save the day.
Say hi I said indicating the embarrassed face and waving hand behind the passenger window.
Oh, er, hello ventured Jimmy, not quite sure what to make of it as I just grinned at the ridiculousness of the situation.

I knew it was the alternator, the dim lights, the slightly sluggish start in town. I should have caught it, but my mind was elsewhere.
Right now though that elsewhere was maybe 33 years ago, a seventeen year old in his first car, broken down with a torn faced girl in the passenger seat wanting to get home home while they waited for his dad to rescue them.
2019 style it’s a fifty year old man waiting on his eighty old dad to rescue them. How the hell did this happen? How am I still the daft boy? I really just don’t believe it.
This is one big difference however. The girl this time laughed through the whole thing.
We’re still laughing in fact.

It’s all my fault though. I was thoughtless and insensitive, I should have known something like this would happen.
All the love and support, they were always there for me and threw this in their face with no warning or explanation when a word or two in advance would have meant no surprises and then no trouble at all.
So, my dear old truck, I’m sorry. But there was no need to be jealous and act up like that, we’re going to be great friends, all of us together.
I hope the new alternator and my burst knuckles from fitting it show you how much you mean to me.

Onwards and upwards.

With special thanks to the fine spring sunsets at Bowling harbour April ’19

…little April showers

The last week in March was all about panic (! at the disco, I’ll get to that next) and prepping for my first flight overseas in many years and the month since has been a total blur.
I never even logged in here in April at all.

However, note to self: get it down over the next week so some of it sticks.

Been all change. Spring started to burn into summer, I realised I was never going to be the old me, the new me is making sure of that, and then there’s Minnie.
That bloody mouse has changed everything.

And the crags? They have never loomed to large in my story. Good days right now.

Klaus

“Mum’s getting me a guinea pig!” That’s nice I thought to myself, Holly gets all the fun of a pet and as it’s at Joycee’s I won’t have to feed it, clean it or wheeze and itch as it sets off my allergies.

Now I’m not sure quite what happened next, I was busy doing other stuff and maybe not listening or whatever but the next thing I know I’m bringing a giant cage in the front door and trying to keep a shaky guinea pig in a cardboard box calm.

Holly is pleased obviously, and as much as I try to suppress it I was immediately melted by the cute hairy quirkiness of the little guy.
There was some quick research, some shopping and the only place we could put him right now was in the living room, so he’s immediately part of the family.

Aye, there’s inconvenience, but there is also joy. But the question still remains, how the hell did I come to have a guinea pig?
I really have no idea how this happened and I feel he needs a friend despite his two years (I believe) of solo living. Well, if he proves healthy and happy, we’ll sort that out.

But for now, welcome Klaus.

Frisky Wharf

If Bowling Harbour was in the USA there would be a kiosk selling guides and bumper stickers saying “I’ve been to Ghost Harbour”.

Originally the naturally formed shelter of Bowling Bay and visited by Glasgow’s tobacco lords and slave traders to get away from the city smoke it was built into an industrial hub which ran until the 60’s. Its in a unique position where the canal, two major railways, the main west coast roads and the River Clyde met on the north side of the river, close to the firth.

I saw a lot of the physical remains of this when I was young but the years have softened the edges from the abandoned to the archaeological and vandals have removed far more than the passage of time would have done alone.
Where I saw ships launched and heard sheds ringing with hammers there’s now expanses of flat concrete erupting with trees, smooth stone walls are split and tumbling into the river, metal shapes hacked away and stunted give few clues to what the once supported.

Yet I find it beautiful. The decay, the melancholy, the whole place bursts with memories and as quiet as it is when I sit out there with my camera waiting on the sun to set I can easily imagine the shouts, the idling engines of ships, the steam whistles, the laughter, the whole harbour full of life.

Frisky Wharf is the wooden pier now twisted and collapsing into the river. It used to have railway sidings carrying goods to the waterline and back and ships could dock there.
Now a single step onto it’s once mighty timbers would be a gamble with your life.

The swans don’t care. It did care when I was creeping up on it though, I found reverse quick enough. A swan can break your arm apparently. I think it would have to peck at it for long time. A very long time.

Listen to the money (Tales from the Toolbox #1)

With the approval of the Hydro schemes in Glen Etive this week there has much talk of backhanders, brown envelopes and bribes heading towards Highland Council members.

This is largely due to frustration and disbelief, folks just can’t believe that someone would approve these horrendous schemes so they look for the reasons why and self interest in the people responsible is usually top of the hit list.

The real answer is more complex. A lot of folk don’t care about the landscape in the way that we do as it’s a barrier to business and progress, so there is a financial element, but a more transparent one.

There’ll be an element of “don’t tell us what to do”, central belt internet warriors interfering in things they don’t understand being put in their place.

Lack of vision, lack of empathy, lack of care and disregard of the future all play a part, how many people have you met who care nothing for the world beyond the limits of their own bubble of personal interest.

It’s part of why we are where we are on a global scale. Stepping sideways and seeing things from someone else’s perspective is a rare and vital skill and brings with it an ability to see problems while they’re a possibility and before they become a reality.

People, you can’t live with them, and you can’t live… with them?

In saying all that, I’ve been asked for backhanders many times in my business life.

Some were casual inquiries, almost testing my commitment as a prospective contractor, some were exactly the seedy interactions that folks imagine.
I remember one in particular in a cafe with a local authority clerk of works who told me what the other contractor had offered him personally for the works under discussion and could I better it. I laughed in his face.
Had a similar proposal from another local authority figure, but probably most disappointingly was the “How much is it worth?” to get a contract from someone in a major learning institution in Glasgow.

There’s been plenty of that in more minor ways over the years along with abuses of position, pushing of luck and taking of liberties. Business really does run like your worst fears suspect it does and if you step over the line into the cesspit you’ll never get back out.

Blah blah blah moral high ground? It’s all very well but it’s also probably why I’m skint.

This has got me thinking though. 35 years of tales from the tool box? Aye, time I got that stuff down on here.