It’s with mixed emotions I’ve just submitted my last route to Trail, for the time being at least.
I’ve always run close to the deadlines for submitting these, there’s no other way to do it than with the most recent information possible or you’re as well just having a page saying “Buy the SMC books”. This has worked for me, with forestry operation changing long established route, new deer fences etc, but also against me as I have spent far too many days sitting in laybys in the pissing rain waiting for a clear hour to run up a hill I know well to get new photies.
Doing the routes has seen me visit or revisit many wonderful places and try to spread the joy of what I see there but I think it’s time for me to chase the patches of blue sky wherever they are, camp on a hill I hadn’t thought of until that day and look at the calendar to see how far away Christmas is, not how close a felt tipped pen cross through a day is.
It’s been an absolute joy the past few years, and the fact that everyone hates Trail amuses me no end as despite it being the most popular mag, as a hate figure it’s made me feel a little bit counter culture having been involved in it.
It’s product, like every other magazine or website out there despite any pretensions of being an authority on its subject, it’s made to sell, but that doesn’t mean there’s not good folk in there. Matt Swaine who brought me in originally was a good lad, Phoebe Smith, now editor of Wanderlust, who I did two of the hardest days on the trail I’ve ever done is passionate about wild places and instantly made my wants list as a post apocalypse team member. More recently Dan Aspel is who has suffered from my oblique approach to scheduling and deadlines, he’s man who loves the mountains and who I’ve enjoyed bantering with but unfortunately never managed out on the hill with. Yet.
“Tell Petesy to stop writing about music and go back to the mountains”. Someone said that to Joycee a few weeks back, someone she didn’t know either, I guess that’s the power and reach of the internet.
It won’t happen overnight, but now I wouldn’t be writing about every trip twice it might encourage me to write my trips up on the blog again. For the blog it has to be done right away, I have to get my thoughts down when I come back, if I leave it too late it’s just a description of where I’ve been and I don’t want to read that kind of shite on here when I’m 70. I want to read about the mistakes, the swearing, the donuts, the song in my head and just how awesome that sunrise is.
Aye. We’ll see.
The always excellent BBC Radio Scotland ‘s Out of Doors have me and fellow Kilpatrick Hills ranger Jo on this weekend talking to Mark Stephen on a walk around the Lang Craigs. Plenty of banter and laughs, we had a great time and the sun shone all day.
Did a piece on the long forgotten hydro scheme at Overtoun for the same show as well which we’d only recently found out about, lots of clues if you dig around.
Nice to see Mark again and do a show where we’re not sticking it to the national park for extending their bans and byelaws. Catchup is here.
I really have to remember to bookmark some of the more interesting things I do on here in posts so I don’t forget them.
I’ve done a couple of covers recently, one each for the areas I love the most: music and mountains.
The first is the cover of Moonwalker, the book by Alan Rowan. It’s a fine account of night time ascents, something that I can very readily relate to.
I took the shot on the cover, indeed that’s also me in it the shot and it was cleverly adapted to perfectly fit the title by not me.
That’s a black Diamond Raven Ultra in my hand. How sad is it that I remember that.
Next up was something I hadn’t done for a long time, then I got all excited and properly into it. I did the cover for The Red Eyes EP, out now and very good indeed – old school punk with better musicianship, songwriting and production.
Main man (and old school pal) Alan described what he wanted and I did my best to make it. I did it from scratch too, I made the old-looking paper by crushing and dying white paper and everything else there is either hand drawn or placed onto the paper as it’s a single photie.
It was fun and I was so pleased when the band liked it and used it.
I have seen and indeed taken a lot of photies of mountains and the one that has always caught my imagination the most is Fay Godwin‘s Meall Mor.
It’s a familiar sight as you travel west through Glen Coe and this shot captures the hill looking dramatic beyond its height. It’s also now historical as the road layout and markings changed long ago and the original visitor centre can be spied to the right by the trees.
I liked the old visitor centre, but what the hell do I know.
Unlike many outdoor shots it puts me right there beside the camera and that’s why I like having it around, it’s the only mountain photie I have on a wall at home.
I often wonder how long she waiting for the cloud behind her to line up just right to get the foreground in the shade or it she pulled over and ran out with the camera because it just right when she was passing.
Her stuff is wonderful and should be sought out and viewed by all.
Didn’t work, my cold’s till here so I’m back to natural rather than supernatural remedies. First bug I’ve caught in ages and its timing was perfect, screwing up some perfect weather with nothing on my agenda but a will to go and enjoy it.
Still, I did catch some riverside views on the way back from chemist.
I was standing by the truck as the cloud decided not to shift leaving the sunlight playing on the lower slopes further down the loch.
I had my binoculars, I was looking at fence lines and gates, for once not in my patch but someone else’s. The cloud ribboned around the high crags and summits, ice clung to every contour on the rock and I could see hunched figures making slow progress among them.
I took another mouthful of hot coffee and felt a little tug at the heartstrings, it wasn’t playing a tune as such, maybe just some tuning up.
With the tail sliding out I left the dirt and headed back to the tarmac. It needs a little more time in the oven I told myself, I’ll come back later.
The last gig of the year is done and the (concrete) dust has settled. Being in the band has been a total joy, there’s been moments, with five folk stuck together like that there’s bound to be, but the music makes me glad from my weather-beaten head to my merino comforted toes.
The gig kept me away from the snow, but it was no contest, hills are easier to get onto than a stage. I’m happy to prioritise this way round, you never know when it’ll all go tits-up so I’ll enjoy it while I can.
No more live shows for a while, we’re recording first and when that’s done we’ll see. I love recording, I love winging it while the tape’s rolling and I know that attitude will freak the rest of the band out.
I’m sure they’ll be fine once their nerves settle.
There’s some great shot here from the gig. The snappers are eindp.co.uk and click and pray and they both know their stuff, worth going to have a look.
Talking of photies, the new LX7 is taking a little bedding in, but we’ll get there. The rainbow frames the Lang Craigs sculpture and the retro pickup just nice.
Pity I was up to my waist in mud while I was taking those.
Holly has a problem. Every time she discovers a new “thing”, like fossils, pirates, Victorian dresses, Alice Cooper or whatever, we like miracle workers say “Oh, hand on a minute…” and after some rummaging appear with a selection of items relevant to her new and sometimes fleeting interest.
And there’s Holly’s problem, she’s just like us. Doomed to life of finding interest in almost everything and the inescapable urge to know more about whatever it is.
So we’re driving in the £100 Ka and fishing out a tape to play I found sides 3 and 4 of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds on an old TDK C90. Some guitar, some synth, some disco, some rock, flood of melody and then Richard Burton. Holly was captured. We listened through the tape twice.
What about the Martians? What happened to Carrie? What’s wrong with the man’s digging? Did this happen a long time ago? When I told her she still had the first half to listen to I thought she was going to explode.
So, rummaging back at base I found the DVD of the 2006 live show we saw in Glasgow which was fantastic, Chris Spedding, Herbie Flowers and a Martian fighting machine on stage? Yes please. She sat transfixed by the DVD before examining in great detail the ’78 album and it’s wonderful book with all the iconic paintings. Then there were drawings and more questions.
At the back of my mind an email was ringing bells, so a wee search found the head’s-up for the latest and apparently final live tour. Next week in the Glasgow Hydro.
The question was popped “What do you want for this year’s pantomime? You can have Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, that ballet thing your mum mentioned or War of the Worlds…”
Granny, grandpa, mummy, the girl and me will be in the nosebleed seats at the Hydro next week. Merry Christmas and Ulla!
Perfect day for the hills. Unfortunately the scratchy throat of Friday turned into lethargic snuffles on Saturday which needed fed by a large curry and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and a bottle of red wine. What can I say, the girls are away visiting this weekend and I turn into a lone male cliche when they do that.
So while Sunday felt better it started awfy late and I enjoyed the peaks I could see from the window just fine as I worked my way through a backlog of stuff recorded on the V+ box.
However, the end of the day was worth all the potential I wasted. Since I started this bog, which was just over seven years ago and I totally missed marking the anniversary, I’ve always posted the view out the living room windae and it’s something I’ve missed out for too long. I think this makes up for it.