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The next few months is what’s making me think, the seasonal range changes can make a review only a few months old out of date which is kind of annoying, gear really shouldn’t date so fast.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.
My latest Walkhighlands review is live here. I suppose it might look like I was doing a stunt of some sort, but I’ve been doing this stuff too long to even try any of that fancy shite these days so what it is is a straightforward account of a night in an emergency shelter.
I did learn some new stuff doing it and one thing that’s been in my head since then is that I’ve now spend the night in a £20 shelter and a £1200 tent in recent times and the difference between the experiences isn’t as big as the price gulf would suggest.
I did have a fine day to wake up to and this is the view I got when I sat up.
Here’s the decent enough kip area and my kit, that down gear really isn’t as straightforward as it looks. Detail in the article.
The Fanatic beanie is cut from Polartec Powerstretch and has been on my head or in my pocket on almost every trip for along time. It’s slightly oversized so it can be pulled down right over my ears and cover the back of my neck or pulled up where the fabric helps it sit like a normal beanie with an optional wee sticky up peak at the crown of my napper if I’m in the mood. The fabric is excellent, it’s a top-end polyamide faced grade of Powerstretch so bobble resistance is excellent with regular wear and washing. It wicks fast, it dries fast, it has a little wind resistance and has the right amount of warmth for winter days and summer summit camps. The best thing about it is I can sleep soundly in my tent at minus whatever degC while wearing it as it doesn’t itch or pull at my hair or make me too sweaty and the like.
I like peaked caps, they keep the sun out of my eyes, the rain off my glasses and the sun of my thinner than it used to be hair as well as giving a proper shape to some of those floppy hoods you get on test jackets.
The Equator comes in baseball cap flavour with a stretchy headband for one size fits all, a very stiff peak to ward off the wind and wet and its cut from a light softshell Flexable fabric which breathes and dries well and gives a close grippy but not compressy (I can’t of another word, so that one says what I want to say) fit which also means that the winds doesn’t easily pluck the cap off my heid when the wind gets under that peak. There’s reflective detailing to spoil your night time selfies too.
Maybe not vital kit, but it’s nice to know that thought and effort goes into producing genuinely usable bits of gear of a sort that we all suspect is really just a way of getting a brands logo onto somebody.