This odd winter has kinda messed with my review schedule on Walkhighlands, so I’m now looking at testing the stuff for next winter just now as forward samples are becoming available, never will I have been so organised. Aye, we’ll see.
So, I pulled in the kids gear reviewwhich has been on the go for many months. Holly and my buddy David’s youngster Jake have been abusing the gear since early last year and as I’ve found over the years doing kids kit, it’s pretty damn good.
I was just in the Kilpatricks doing visitor surveys with fellow ranger Jo in the wind and rain when a dad and two boys came down from the crags towards us and were happy to stop and answer our damned fool questions.
Dad had his hill kit on and the boys were also head to toe in the right gear, waterproof trousers, jackets, rucksacks, hats and gloves. They’d walked over the hills from Clydebank and knowing the route these youngsters who are about Holly’s age 8 or 9 had done exceptionally well both with the distance and the weather. They were warm, still enthusiastic after a lot of miles and told me that their plans were to start the Munro’s this year. They even had their whistles on the pack chest straps and proudly told me what they were for and how to use them.
I did the survey, so I know this a family who doesn’t have a lot of money to throw around but they still had it so right. The kit and the smiling faces told the story. I was just so pleased to see it and so happy for them to be doing it. It really was a wee emotional moment for me, the dad and the mountain man in me shared the joy equally.
Best of luck to them.
The best snow for me this winter so far wasn’t on a big hill, it was in the Kilpatricks. As a Woodland Trust Lang Craigs ranger it’s not all about walking the deer fence, there’s the wacky and fun stuff too and the Torchlit event was probably the best do we’ve had on the site.
Cancelled a couple of months ago because of high winds, the fresh snow and travel problems didn’t stop it from going ahead this time and it was magical. Children and grown ups were wide eyed together as they walked the snowy paths to find a minstrel in the trees who led them through a candle lit forest to find two pixies swinging from a tree. These two brave wee souls took them all further uphill to the fire wielder in the meadow who led the kids a merry dance around the sculpture.
Holly was wearing her wolf hat and was named “Wolfchild” by the swinging pixies, this of course went down very well. There was a frozen harpist in a tent, hot chocolate for all and it was very well attended despite the falling snow and temperature drop.
Tom, one half of our degu team died yesterday. He lived a happy six months after losing and eye and having a lot of scarring to recover from received during what turns out to be common degu feature: hormone fueled battles with cage mates.
I never wanted pets but these wee guys won me over instantly and they both have, had, their own characters. I look forward to the wee squeaks when I come home and despite myself I like having them around.
Holly was distraught as expected, Tom was everyone’s favourite and we had a proper farewell in the pouring rain just like we were in a movie. Quite right too.
Jerry’s on his own now, he’s family so here he stays, we’ll just see what to do next, he’s lonely now. We’re a little at a loss today.
Bloody hell, who’d have thought.
Just finishing up my next review for Walkhighlands which is, should I say what it is? It’s good anyway, something a bit old school. As much as the brands and technology want to keep moving us forward onto the next thing, some basic stuff just works. I think it works better with a hood too.
The next few months is what’s making me think, the seasonal range changes can make a review only a few months old out of date which is kind of annoying, gear really shouldn’t date so fast.
But I still don’t want to repeat any of last years review subjects so I’m trying to get to winter 2016 without a single retread of something. I’ll be cutting it close at times, lightweight waterproofs where I did winter weight last time around, backpacking and larger capacity rucksacks where I’ve just recently done day sacks. Hey, if it all gets too much I’ll do socks. Oh, socks, the difference between a good day and a bad day? Goes to look at 2016 socks…
While I think about that, here’s me in the recording studio thinking about why I’m trying the 17th take on a guitar solo I’ve been playing live and in rehearsal for a year.
The world this weekend is too big for me to talk about, but while all is turmoil on whatever channel you turn to, there’s always something to lift you.
I spotted a light slowly heading upriver through the storm. It was silent at first then the throb of diesel engines could be heard, maybe felt just a little too. The lights picked out shimmering cones of light as the rain blasted through the beams and the drops splashed then ran down the hull plates giving them a glittery sheen. The windows all had a warm glow and as they slipped past in the deep darkness they seemed like a little island of calm and coziness. No one could be seen on deck struggling with equipment or the wind, it all looked calm and under control as the two tugs and the ship in their care moved as one past us and on towards the bridge.
When the day long darkness lifted its weight a few times I was delighted to see the hills splashed with some white, even down to 100m or so.
Snow brings a mix of joy and terror, It’s been interesting seeing the different reactions from my mountain buddies and my musician friends. I like this extra perspective, I also like being the most weather ready guitarist out there.
Here’s a smile inducing memory from earlier in the year. I could barely stand up. Awesome.
It’s been foggy of late, and we all know fog is only skin deep. I’ve been in the Kilpatricks at night most of the time which I enjoy but when I can’t see a thing out the window and time is short, there really is only one thing to do.
15 minutes and I’m in a different world. The Kilpatricks are seeing a lot of change, ravaged by forestry commission’s vandalism with machinery on one side and on my side where the Woodland Trust are we have a mix of new wild growth and a softening of the edges with new access paths.
There’s more people up here which is as it should be, but I can still find peace so it’s still a place I go by choice as well as to look at the deer fence.
One thing that used to regularly punctuate all the other shite I put on here was the view from the living room window. It’s WSW so catches the sunset from autumn to spring and it’s as glorious as an summit sunset.
I’ve missed catching so many, but last week the camera was where I could find it quick. The colours are as real as Panasonic will let them be, nature knows her stuff.
My recharged love of making music continues with two main focuses. One is the reunion of the original Trinity lineup from the early 90’s. We’re all of a certain age, all dads and after a near death via whisky night out, we’re the friends we used to be once again which is the best thing about it all.
We have plans, we’ll see how that pans out early next year, writing and rehearsing will continue for the time being. Band Facebook page has photies and sounds.
Which one am I below?
Twometresdeep is still there, injuries and the difficulties of getting the five of us in the same place at the same time has made for gig cancellations and lack of playing time, but we have a bunch of new songs of which I am very proud and the following recording of which I am very pleased. The cleanest guitar part I ever played in my life.
We recorded this in Red Eye in Clydebank under the expert engineering eye of George. No click tracks, it’s almost one-take with the band playing live. I’m pretty chuffed with that.
Laura stuck a wee video together for it.
I’ve still been in the hills, still been using gear and my reviews are up once a month right here. The next few months are looking good too, I’ve tried not to repeat any of the review subjects from the last year. See how long I can keep that up.
There’s a stack of stuff has fallen the rough the gaps and I’ll be catching up with that on here with a bunch of reviews over the next wee while.
I’ve had a few little flutters, I’ve had to catch my breath and let it out slowly so I didn’t blurt out the wrong words, but today the flow of thoughts and emotions finally ran through all their little gullies and into a river flowing the same way.
My last spark of inspiration came from the original source, voices and images from nearly 25 years ago and I was suddenly both then and now. It’s a rare thing to catch once again the feelings of your first step and I think I’ve been very lucky, I think I got away with it.
Better do some house keeping.
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.