Medical Assurance

I had a lot to do but at the back of my mind the whole week was that I couldn’t find my wee medical kit.
I have had it on every single trip I’ve done in maybe 15 years and I actually felt a wee undercurrent of panic in case I’d left it on Beinn Narnain when I stuck a bit of Spenco Adhesive Knit on my heel when it felt like I was getting a hotspot because I was in stiffer boots that normal.

I found it today, it was in my food bag where I keep my drinks sachets and snack bars etc. It was a proper sit down, breathe out slowly moment. A genuine relief.

Of course, the only thing that’s original is the little yellow bag it came in, it is/was an Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight .3.
But, until I thought I’d lost it I didn’t realise that the little yellow bag wasn’t just a quiet, constant rucksack lid passenger, it’s a full part of the team, it’s bore witness and it’s often been the star.

I took out tape and painkillers in Glen Falloch after midnight when I burst my feet walking the West Highland Way over a weekend, I’ve taped up friends feet many times too.
I’ve had indigestion tablets when camp food was fighting my stomach, a signal mirror when a sprig of heather got in my eye in the tent, I had Sudocrem in a tiny tub when a hot summer trek had me chaffed in the sunshine outside the tent at 1000m.
I’ve had scissors and dental floss when having neither would have made my life a little less fun until I got home.

Its a bag refilled by experience looking at its mostly in-date contents, but it’s a bag of memories looking at the outside.

Ha, I wonder how many miles it’s got on it.

Hazy Shade of Winter

No story here at all. I knew it was coming and I knew I wanted to catch it again.

I drove over the Erskine Bridge, whipped around the roundabouts on the south side and came straight back over to park at the top of Lusset Glen and hike up the walkway on the west side to catch the sun as it went down.

I forgot it’s still winter though, this bloody weather threw me. In summer the sun goes down over by the firth, right now, my lens is just wide enough to catch it and the scenery with my hands stretched through the big fence.

Still, it was gorgeous. Well, that’s not much of a story.

Next up something pale or light blue, this place is just a ticker tape of black and orange just now.

 

Wee piece of peace

It had been a glorious day and I was determined to get up the crags for tea time, catch the breeze, point the camera westwards, sit on my arse for a bit and take it all in.
However as the afternoon wore on the haze thickened, it grew dull and my enthusiasm waned dramatically.

I sat at my folks house having picked up Holly from school and we thought about what to do that evening as we’d just finished the brilliant Umbrella Academy on Netflix and we were feeling bereft.

Ah it’ll be a long year til season 2.

I was antsy anyway, there had been an arsehole in a white SUV parked like a prick outside the school who also wanted to reverse over me, Holly and some other kids, stopped only by my fist on his window.

The pre-fatherhood me was dragging him out of his seat onto the road but the current me gritted his teeth, went home and failed to get through to the local police on the phone multiple times.

The school is brilliant, awesome, amazing and at their wits end with dumb bastards in vehicles at home time. So they tell us to phone the local polis in the hopes that they’ll sent officers around at home time. We shall see how this progresses.

Through my own internal fog I caught something out of the window, a gable end along the road bright with the rays of a sun near the horizon. I ran to the window and whooped out loud. I’m away I shouted, grabbed the camera, pulled on my boots and legged it for the truck.

I parked up at the harbour and it was just awseome. The sky was stirring itself up, the sun was burning through the murk, the water was calm and the air was cooling.

I spent exactly an hour running up and down the crumbling harbour walls grinning and taking photies, sitting and watching and always listening too, so much birdsong.

This all brought me back to where I needed to be, I knew it would from the moment I saw that patch of light. You can’t underestimate the power of nature, our environment, the world out there and just being in it for a wee while.

Ships that pass

Oh for crying out loud.

I saw it too late, I fumbled with the settings, I leaned out of the windae, and that’s what I got.

A huge lightless freighter steaming under cover of darkness, guided by two tugs, slithering up the river like a silent dinosaur.

Awesome.

Nearly.

Tomorrow Belongs to Me

 

(Helps to know the tune)

The sun on the coire is wintry and low.
The stag in the forest makes a nice photie.
But gather together to read MWIS.
Tomorrow belongs to me.

The branch of the Scot’s Pine is spiky and green,
The loch rushes cold to the sea.
But somewhere a trig point awaits unseen.
Tomorrow belongs to me.

Now Forecast, Forecast, show us the sign
Your subscribers have waited to see
The morning will come
When the mountains are mine
Tomorrow belongs to me

The Pacifier

Petesy heard a creak, a splash and what could have been a muffled cry somewhere behind him.

“Holly, did you hear that?” he called as he blinked into the low winter sun.

There was no reply, but he got on with lining up that important selfie anyway.

Beach bum

I have got into the habit of sticking a camera in the truck most days and it’s good in that I can take photies, but bad in that I take photies when I should be doing something else.
I’ll live with it for the time being, the sun comes up at the perfect time around the school run which won’t last, so what the hell.

I love this spot by the river, the light, the birds, the water and currently the fact that everything is frozen solid, from the sand to the seaweed.
What a place to watch the sun rise.

The tide was coming in, the river every so gently flowing into the frozen depressions in the sand, circling the rocks and creeping up the blades of the seaweed melting the frost and turning them from sparkling white to glossy green. It was like watching a timelapse film, silent and hypnotic.

Retreating from the water towards breakfast there’s still things to see and I wander through the frozen trees like a schoolkid on a daytrip to the museum, swinging arms and head to the sky.

After all the stress and turmoil of the past few years I’m increasingly finding more of the me that I remember.
And, holding onto it.

Harbouring a secret

As much as I like running up the hills when I run out of things to do/abandon my responsibilities I couldn’t be arsed going home and getting changed this afternoon, so it was either cotton polo shirt versus the snowy crags or a wander down the harbour.

I made the right choice, bloody hell it was cold.

Maybe not the grandest of skies, but worth viewing and soaking in. The wrecks looked lovely in the fading light too, one side dark and frosty, the sunny side warm and orange until the sun hit the wrong side of the horizon.

A few other folk were out taking it in too. I love that, it gives me hope when folk just enjoy the world for no reason other that it’s awesome.

I went back to my folks for home made steak pie. This ended up being a good day.

Stay on target

I am sitting in front of the laptop looking at numbers that make no sense, shuffling through paperwork with my name on it that doesn’t look familiar.

The good part of that is that I have a desk of sorts again and the laptop is on it rather than in a bag all the time or on my er, lap.

However, I have a friend right now constantly sending me photies from the Lang Craigs and it looks exactly like it does above and below.
The top one is the first photie I ever posted on the blog. Aw.

Typing and counting like a bastard now, I will get there today.

Haglöfs Winter 2019/20 Preview Part #2

I’m quoting this important information from part #1
Now, the lighting in the new shed is horrible, so we have bunch of out of focus and oddly coloured photies coming up. 
My co-stars Gus and MT have never looked quite so strange.

Even when I had proper hair I loved hats. In good weather, a cap is likely, in the cold I put a beanie on as soon as I get out from under the duvet. Above looks like the accessory dumping area at my front door.

We have an interesting selection here in a bunch of different and blended materials and styles from “brilliant for the hills” to “look at my logo”.
Some come in different sizes, some are one size fits all. Amazingly my planet sized head fits in those just fine. It’s a miracle, it’s miracle.

Above MT has the Stipe Beanie in 50/50 merino/acrylic and I’ve got the Lava in the same mix. Chunky, yes please.
Below are Whooly Beanies in a polyester, nylon and recycled wool* blend. Now, I picked that because of the colour but now I read the workbook and see the materials this might actually be a cracker for the hills because of that mix. Close fit too, good for under a shell hood.

They have a Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap, ear flaps, brim, waterproof and fleece lined but the photies of it were too bad even for here. I’m sorry for this, because it’s a good take on the classic format. I’ll go to the kitchen for a while, put the kettle on and think about what I’ve done.

*I’m back with a coffee and have moved on from the cap remorse, what I’m wondering about now is the recycled wool. Where does it come from? Is is the tufts recovered from fences that we all know so well? Old jumpers from charity shops? WW2 army blankets? I should have asked, I’ll be up all night worrying about it.

Which is a proper point isn’t it, we’re so used to seeing “recycled” now, we really should be asking from what and where from.

For a while it looked like Haglöfs couldn’t be arsed with gloves which was frustrating because they had made some of the best gloves I’ve ever used.
The Helix winter gloves, insulated and mostly leather and the genius Paclite mitts are two of my favourites which are still in use, had them both out this week.

These new models are all out around September this year and there’s a chance I’ll get the names wrong as it’s a bunch of black gloves and the tiny workbook pictures aren’t helping at all.

Above and below are the Nengal Gloves. Leather, Gore-Tex, stretch nylon, QuadFusion insulation, velcro wrist, microfleece liner, it’s the replacement the  grym glove, but it kinda feels like a new Helix to me.
The fit and feel are excellent, the materials should make them durable and the dexterity was good with the precurving and outseam construction. Love them.

Niva Glove and Mitten above and below. Ski they say, mountain I say, the reinforcing works for axes and poles whatever your feet are attached to.
Leather, nylon faced Proof waterproof shell, microfleece lining, wrist adjusters and long cuffs.

Great fit, good dexterity, room for a liner for me so a good “system” component glove.

That’s the Touring Glove below. FlexAble soft shell, leather palm, microfleece backer.
Same excellent fit and dexterity and lightweight. It’s a go-to general use glove, much improved of the last version of this format they had.
Can’t remember the name, but the internal seams were huge and the fit helped suck the heat out of my fingers. It looks like the downtime away from making gloves was spent with their thinking caps on.

Oh. My. God.

This is the Bow Glove in Gore-Tex Infinium. Close fitting, soft, completely dexterous, warm, windproof and I want them.
I’ve always loved Powerstretch gloves and the Bow’s take all the reasons for that and extend them a little bit.

Haglöfs have got a lot right here in the glove range, the fit and features are excellent, but the colourways have the range looking all very similar unless you’re comparing A to B in your hands, I’d be worried that some the the magic here will slip past the shoppers eye in the ocean of black gloves already out there.

Essen’s Leftover Mimic Moccasins and Mittens.

I carry insulated feet and hands to every camp and can recommend that stuff to anyone. The story here is a good one, the fill is synthetic QuadFusion and the shell is Pertex Quantum off cuts left over from making other stuff.
Practical lightweight kit (65g for a pair of mitts) keeping material out of the bins.

Yes please.

The footwear has changed a lot since I last saw it. The Skuta Mid and Low here have a Proof waterproof inner, that’s the white thing above from the shoe version.
Interesting, I wonder how the durability is compared to a Gore liner, it’s tested to the same standards and used to the same construction standards, just need to rub some of the killer grit/heather fibre mix into it and flex that toe on the trails.
The Mid has mesh where it’ll help breathability with suede elsewhere and synthetic randing on both. It’s all a bit old school looking, I like that.

Nice flex to both, good looking sole units too.

Proof liner and suede again on the Kummel’s above. It’s a jeans compatible outdoor shoe, something which I have grown an appreciation of in recent times.

At the other end of the spectrum we have the Vertigo. The first thing I was expecting was a stupid flat scrambling outsole, but no, it’s got a grippy Vibram unit on there which makes it a proper usable trail shoe.
Nice looking upper, lacing to the toe, flexy suede and a stiffish sole. I wish they didn’t make samples in a UK 8 or I’d have tried this one on.

Proof waterproof liner, 510g for pair of UK8’s.

Above are the Trail Fuse variants, GTX version on the left. 325g for a pair of UK8’s for that one and 290g for the unlined version.

They feel good, flexy, good shape, nice big areas of mesh on the unlined one.

That’s the Gram Trail below, narrower more racy version.

The Grevbo Proof Eco. Suede, Proof liner, fur, fur, fur, synthetic fur!!!!
It’s got a wool footbed too. Sigh.

Haglöfs first ever product was a rucksack and it’s something that gets a little overlooked now in favour of the clothing I think which is a bit of a shame as there’s individuality and some clever thinking in there.
I’ve used a lot of Haglöfs packs over the years, the fit and comfort has always been good which is the deal maker or breaker, beyond that there’s the practical and the quirky, sometime both on the same pack.

The Roc Summit 40 is above, a beefy mountaineering pack and the the Spiri 20 daypack below, a whole kilo lighter at 575g.
I like the Spiri’s layout, good options for storage and attaching gear with webbing and hidden loops. Nice big hip fin pockets.

Below is the Spiri 33. the format is the same as above and Haglöfs expand it across six different capacities, sizes and back lengths. The harness was done at a Uni in Sweden, so it should fit well and have beer can shaped pockets.
The sizing variations are a good idea if a store has them in a line, you can try them on with a climbing rope or a tent in it to see what one fits best.

I mean, we all still do that don’t we, who the hell would buy a rucksack without trying it on first, right?

I like retro and the Torsång above brings me joy. My laptop (dare I say urban as well?) bag for the past few years has been a Haglöfs Vike 25 and this carries on that tradition with smooth lines, metal buckles and leather detailing.

The ShoSho below has some of this old schoolness, it’s based on an original 70’s model so it’s in a more hill friendly format with regular buckles. Both packs have a beefy polyamide fabric, so the looks are just that, they’ll be tough and usable.

These packs are like slices of cucumber on my eyes. The arms race of modern design tires them out, these packs soothe them.
It’s like Formula 1 cars, currently hideous, complicated and efficient and everyone misses the inefficient, sleek, sexy designs of the old days.

Humans, we’re an odd bunch.

A trio of Tight packs below. Haglöfs make a bunch of them, all different sizes, specs and colours including some vintage reissues.
Unassuming and practical, and I love the logo on that first one.

So, what did I learn? Well, I liked some of what I saw a lot and I know there’s more to come because of the work being done just now. In a year’s time the grins will be wide.

Maybe Haglöfs had a crisis of confidence or identity which I think they’ve got over, those little painted wooden horses speak to me more than a generic alpine climber hanging off a rope ever would.

The biggest thing for me though is from the text in the workbook and I touched on it a few times, the environmental aspect. So much of the small print is about the sourcing, manufacturing, recycling and the chemical impact aspects of the gear.
If big business really is taking this on and not just paying it lip service, maybe there’s hope. It’s the only way forward for all of us.

Shake and Bake

It was nice to see some other daft bugger catching the sunrise this morning.

I had the camera in the truck and I shot down to the shore after the school run.
It was cold, the seaweed was frosted but the sun was bright and warm as it rose, peeling off the layer frost as it crept past the deck of the Erskine Bridge.

What a lovely start to the day.

New Year’s Dinner

It’s just nature I said. Nature had been busy though, nature had a lot of teeth, nature was very hungry.

Nature took the head home with it.

I’m going to be very, very careful around nature this year.

N-n-n-n-nineteen

I had the place tidy, not a dirty mug nor a balled up sock to be seen anywhere.
I hit the road with a clear conscience and a dirty windscreen on my way to get the Girl in time for the new year.
We were meeting at Stirling, it was as good a place as any as she traveled back from here other grandfolks in Fraserburgh where she’d been for a few days.
Holly’s spent every Hogmany since she was wee up north, this year she wanted back home in time for the bells. Happy dad is happy.

I arrived really early, imagine that, and parked up at Kings Knot just below the castle, seemed like a good place to see the fireworks which had concided with our meet up. I was right too, within half an hour the locals were jammed into every parking space and gap on the kerb.
The Girl and Joyce arrived just a bit after the nick of time, but we jumped into the back of the truck to get some shelter from the wind and we had juice, snacks and fireworks.

The redneck look fits us well, but it was cold and there were a few miles to go.
The back road was dark, deserted and drizzly, the year was grinding out its last hours determinedly.
Ah, but you can touch me any more you bastard. The truck stuck to the narrow, windy and wet road despite its natural propensity to stick its arse out sideways in this situation.
We were soon home.

Jimmy however had decided to take the Wee Spark out to sound a whistle at midnight in the spirit of the old days of shipping on the Clyde.
I got my boots back on and walked out into the dark.

I stepped on board as the year died. 2019 started out to the beat of antique diesel engines and the clink of glasses, and of course the shrill, breathy howl of a steam whistle.

Onward.

Christmas Day

A day of joy, but maybe not for all

Counting my blessings, some have none at all

Another year survived, and another to greet

Family and friends have kept me on my feet

I love you all, in my chaos you save me

Is there enough time to repay what you’ve given me?

I know I forget, in my bluster and hurry, to say the things that you should all hear

But know that inside, I’m happy it’s you who helps me keep moving.

Every word, message and thought I will forever hold dear.

It’s the most seasonally appropriate photie in the library. Ha.

Fifty+

Plans changed and I found myself with a wee window of opportunity.
I managed to see, speak to or narrowly miss so many folk that are dear to me this week it was probably destined to be that on my “big day” I’d wander the Lang Craigs, the place that too, is dear to me.

My phone pinged with messages and kind words so while I was alone I was with friends the whole time too.

The calm and quiet has lingered on and I’m really quite content tonight.
Happy? Imagine that.

I had to copy this from Facebook messages. I really am terrible at this stuff. Ha.

Fifty

I am fifty today.

I had planned a serious post that spoke of my journey, my disappointments, my joy and more and I tried to take two photies to illustrate this in a very grand fashion.
The first would be serious and dour, the weight of the world and experience creasing my brow.
The second light and smiling, to show that I might win out after all and that I’m all about the joy of things, that would go at the end of the post.

As I struggled with the practical part of this, the camera on the tripod in the bathroom where the light is brightest including one tripod leg in the sink with me leaning over it from the front, faffing with the settings with no glasses on taking useless shot after useless shot on the timer I realised that this whole process kinda summed me up.

And that’s at fifty I’m actually no different than I’ve ever been.
So that’s what I think this is, the final photie I took, it’s me realising how ridiculous it all is, how ridiculous I am, and making my peace with it.

I’m saying blacking out the badly placed bathroom curtain is a metaphor.
A metaphor for what I don’t know yet, but my enthusiasm for whatever it is will be mighty. Onwards.

Alright!