Fail with Chips, Fail with Curry Sauce, Fail with Cheese…

The Central Belt of Scotland is well known for its heart-attack inducing cuisine. The frying, the salt, the refined sugar, the horror…
Many are happy with this harem-scarem lifestyle of denial, I prefer an all things in moderation approach, but there seems to be a movement towards public support of the former view, and rarely have I seen such an aggressive stance taken on the subject as I saw on a Paisley burger van this very day.

7″, 12″ and Limited Edition Shaped Picture Disc.

I haven’t been out the door this weekend. The world outside looked like a helluva place to be altogether, so I sat inside with my cough and tried to exorcise it with snacking and telly.
Interestingly this seems to have had some effect. I shall therefore increase my snacking and telly intake as it obviously has previously undiscovered health benefits. I reckon a week of such therapy would transformeven the poorliest of specimens into a sparkling athlete, positively bursting with hootspa, possibly gusto, and to a lesser degree glee.

I caught up on some writing stuff which I had badly screwed up on. Losing the computer was just inconvenient for most stuff, this one item was a nightmare to put back together. Lesson learned. Maybe.

This will be an interesting week ahead as I’m so behind with work. I have to run around all day tomorrow and placate customers face to face (always better that way) so I can disappear again on Tuesday as I’ve got Holly all day, Alright!
I’m supposed to have ordered kit to fit at various places as well, exactly what and where escapes for the moment, so searching for clues is ahead. Customers don’t like when you don’t know what you’re meant to be doing for them, it unnerves them for some reason, so I’ll be tentatively fishing for some reminders during the conversations. Ah, this is going to be awfully tiring.

Still, apart from Holly-day, there are Alice Cooper and Gary Numan gigs this week which I’m looking forward to. Then there’s the snow which will be falling up high all the while this rain is causing such difficulties for us all down below.
In some ways I feel like I’m coming out of a very long tunnel. Where the hell have I been and what have I been doing there?

And now, once again I turn to the backlog, die you bastard, die.

My Inner Sanctum, R-I-P, Uh!

Celtic Frost lyrics as a post title, I’ve waited two years to get some of that stuff in.

The computer is dead. Completely dead, as pronounced by computer doctors in the computer hospital.
I have most stuff backed up on the wee ootside box, so all I’m missing are some annoying inconveniences, some work stuff an’ that. All the photies are safe, as is my iTunes library. I just hope I don’t get audited by the VAT people or something, because I’ve got heehaw left for the last two quarters now.

So, I’m working off of Joycee’s old ex-work laptop (It’s Bontempi or Mattel, the label’s worn off…) for the foreseeable future. At first I was horrified, now I quite like it. It’s wee, sociably quiet, in fact the keyboard is nearly silent, the only problem is the slightly odd screen colouring that I can’t quite get right. Photies don’t look right, so editing down to blog size and shape is going to a minefield of potentialy amusing explosions of colour. Ah what the hell.
The laptop had some old photies on it, one below of a high camp above Loch Trieg from years back, and above that’s Skye from Gairich, and it’s so nice to see some of the stuff again. Even me and Joycee as a carefree young couple in the Cairgorms, jeez!

New computer? Aye, soon. Now that I know that it’s not coming back, I don’t feel the pressure that I did at first when there was an unfamiliar gap under the table.
Stuff is good, stuff is handy, but you don’t really need stuff after all.

Weekend

It was Holly’s second birthday on Saturday. She’s recovering from the same bug I eventually got (and Granny, Mum…), but she still loved her presents, cake and candles.
I can’t believe it’s been two years. It feels like two minutes, but we feel like we’ve always been a team of three.
There really is no greater joy in life than watching your little one learn and grow. As much as I sometimes would happily sell my soul for an undisturbed nights sleep, I am a lucky, lucky man.

We went for a little galavant today to show Holly the snow on the tops and have a wander and a picnic in the winter sunshine. Everyone else seemed to have the same idea, and the roads were mobbed. Good to see folk off the couch.
We came home to a subdued winter sunset across the Clyde. I miss that during the dull months in the middle of the year, the sun hits the horizon out of sight of the living room window.
Tired but happy.

I’ve got mixed emotions about tomorrow. Monday means I have to switch my phone on and deal with stuff and things as I’m fully mobile again.
But, last week some money came in and the cheques should be cleared (self-employed remember, no wages) so I’ll probably buy some ammo with that and shoot at the vultures circling above me while I eat a festive bake from Greggs at lunchtime. I won’t get them all, but enough to keep the group circling higher until they re-group later on.
Lets see what karma hits me with to redress the balance with that slight swing towards optimism.

Friday

The week is almost done. Thank Jimmy for that.
I nipped out to the rehearsal studio last night, ill or not I’m a Scotsman and I’m not paying for something without getting the benefit (we’ve got a block room-booking).
It was a good idea, I had a great time. We’ve settled on what tune we’re recording and we’ve pencilled in studio dates, one day recording, one day mixing. Sounds a lot for one song, but I have to overdub like a bastard as I play everything except the drums, and also “sing”. Craig (not the same Craig often seen on here) usually gets his drum track down after a handful of tries and then enjoys watching my stress increase as the day goes and and I run out of talent and energy alarmingly quickly.
I like recording old-school too, so it’s all live-room playing with mic’ed speakers. None of this plugged into a desk amp emulation bollocks, I like to feel those low frequencies through my Converse when I’m playing.
So, low-budget detuned doom metal coming to an outdoor blog sometime soon…

There’s more gear arrived (Ooh, and a nice Dirty Harry t-shirt), but it’ll have to wait ’til next week as I’m working off of our old Bontempi “My First Laptop” and I’m not leaving the couch again until Monday.
But there’s a couple of things that need a mention as you people out there have a had a hand in their appearance one way or another. One is the redesigned, lighter and better Radical Design Wheelie which I’ll get up on here shortly. I had a quick shot and this one will make it over rougher ground, I’ve got half a mind and that half mind says that a wander around the Cairngorm passes might be a possible. I can carry it with shoulder straps, so the Chalamain Gap won’t see me buckle a wheel. It could be fun. There’s room in it for luxury sized supplies too.
The other new arrival is the X-Bionic Trekking Underwear Pants, that’s the mid compression version with the very long legs. These have been a subject of much discussion, and because of that, they’re here. A quick measurement says that unstretched the inside leg is 9″, so these aren’t giving you a wedgie.
It occurs to me that these would be good under zip-off trousers as the long legs should cover the zip area in some models that I can always feel (my leg hairs may be like over sensitive anntenae though, who’s to say?), and when zipped off you’re going to have some good tick protection there as well.
Anyway, all good. Coming soon and the like.

Winfield C60

The weather says no. And I’m kinda disappointed.
Today I actually, properly realised that I really miss being out there, the sights, the sounds, the cold fingers and nose that you get at this time of year, 7am cuppas at 900m. Time has skipped forward a big chunk without me noticing, and I feel a little melancholy.
I’m excited to go back into the hills with a tent. It’s like looking forward to going to the Apollo to see Judas Priest 30 years ago.
I’m glad it’s like that.

Sharp intake of breath.

I got the boilers running late last night, after even more unforseen snags with the existing equipment. An expansion vessel with no air in it? Luckily the bike’s track pump was at hand to recharge it. Not before the pressure in the now operational system had peaked and emptied all the water out through the safety valves. Still, thank Jimmy that’s done.
I haven’t been on the bike for a week. I need to pack, I need to see what I need and try and get it before we leave, I need… I need…

I need to sit down and have a cuppa.

Oinkuss Pie

I’ve been stuck in the hoose all weekend, when I should have been in Glen Coe. Under pressure of time and thinking of getting in an invoice, I lifted an item using poor technique on Friday and I felt something go in my upper back. It felt like pulling apart a McCowans toffee bar that had been heated in the sun.
A lifetime of moving heavy stuff undone in a moment of distraction. So, lying flat in front of the telly and meekly asking “Cuppas… cuppas… please…” has been the programme of events. Looks like nice weather out there too. Painkillers ago-go and doctor tomorrow if there’s no improvement.
Bastart.
Funny though, I haven’t been on a big trip for a few weeks and it has me feeling a little melancholy. That last trip to Sgurr nan Ceathremhnan was magical, it was more than I could have hoped for, and somehow it’s been enough for me for the past wee while. It’s like it was last flat Revel in the bag, I want to hold onto the flavour in case the next one’s a coffee.
At the same time, I’m desperate to get out and watch the sun set from a tent. The evenings are beautiful just now.
Ach what the hell. Maybe it should all be a little beyond my reach sometimes.

Hier kommt die Sonne

Work is very much in control at the moment. I’ve been lucky enough to snag a couple of wee jobs that I really wanted, so the wolves can circle some other poor bastard for a few weeks.
But, to be true to type, I’m running behind. Does that stress me? Hell no, not any more. I’ll get there, and getting there in the nick of time is much more fun than leaving early. For one, the customer thinks “If it’s that easy, why aren’t we paying him less?”, and also there’s no stories to tell later if it’s easy.
I’ll make the mountains this week though. You just see if I don’t.

The Guns of Navarone

I just couldn’t bear having that photie of my “just woke up” face at the top of the page any longer.
Even Gregory Peck there is trying to climb away from it, and in decidedly innappropriate footwear too.

It’s pissing down, it’s been a long week, and I have no energy or motivation to things beyond the front door.
I should be psyched for training, but training is not going well, although organising is. We’ve got six participants in the West Highland Way race now, a second road cyclist has joined in, we’ve got endorsements for kit and more, and it’s now gone too far to back out of it. Why do I do these things to myself? No idea, but as long as I’m feeling fitter than I do now it’ll be a lot of fun. And, after it I think I’ll face the heavier packs and shorter days of winter in good form. Or burst.

The weekend? It’ll start after breakfast tomorrow. Or Sunday at the latest.

Bee! Again!

I thought over my training regime as I leaned on the boiler watching the other Peter fit the new carbon monoxide detector. The roll on egg & tattie scone was nice, the cream bun was nicer, but the coffee only had one sugar in it. A lifetime of two sugars was overturned in a couple of days a few years back, and two sugars now makes my face roll up like unsecured linoleum if someone forgets and applies the old amount to a beverage.
I blame this breakfast banquet on the lack of water at home, I left for work devoid of a cuppa, but clean of neck and teeth, so we’ll call the battle a draw. Water is now restored, and at no leaks at all pressure, which is enough to cleanly cut a soft cheddar in half under the kitchen tap when it’s turned on full. It’s not a clean cut though, so probably not worth pursuing as standard practise.
The roll shop in this part of Paisley is fine indeed. Buses struggle to pass the badly parked white vans lining the narrow street outside it most of the day, and inside fitba taps and rigger boots appear to what all the young folks are wearing these days.
It was the smell of frying that changed my mind, the red mist descended, well, not really red mist, maybe evaporated lard vapours?
Anyway, I was doomed from the moment I entered, I was hers. The angel behind the counter, the bright lights , the earthly fragrance, the colours, the overwhelming mix of sensations in that room were penetrated only by her golden voice as floated across the room to me… “Ho, dozy! Yer next, whit ye wantin?”.

Then, I had a call from “Look what we found”, purveyors of fine boil-in-the-bag fare for the mountains. I’m getting some of their stuff in for test, and as food is very much on my mind just now their timing was perfect. Aye, it’s heavier that dehydrated food, but I can carry less water or camp further away from a water source. If I’d had their food with me a few weeks back, I’d have spent the night right on the top of Lurg Mhor instead of descending to the lochan. Ach.
In fact, the next few weeks are going to be gear central. I’m seeing the new merino X-Bionic kit next week and some other goodies too, I’ve got the KORS outdoor show where I’m meeting up with some names both familiar and unfamiliar on here and then I’m off to Montane HQ for a rummage through the new kit with the new logo (and this time I can take photies of it and talk about it…). I’ll be watching the post for a Big Sky tent at the end of the month, and a wee while after that might see us having a shot of a Terra Nova Photon Elite.
All of which is very well, but hopefully I’ll be tanning some gradients on foot and wheels in amongst that.

And fitting heating, aye heating. Christ…

Told you so

Combi boilers are very popular. It’s not because they’re better, it’s not because conventional boilers are outdated, the reasons for their success have nothing to do with their performance at all. The truth is that they’re simple to fit, in fact it’s barely a step up from plugging in a toaster. Quick and easy, minimum effort and maximum profit for the installer, and that’s why they’re pushed so hard.
They’re fantastic in flats as they’re a great space saver, no doubt about that, but in houses I’ll fight tooth and nail to get customers to keep the old style separate boiler and hot water cylinder for reasons both numerous and genuine, even in the face of the other 17 quotes they’ve had for sticking in a combi “That’s yer hot water and heatin’all sortit at the wan time misses”. 

The water main burst outside today. There’s been no water all day (and won’t be until well into tomorrow), but we’ve still got 120 litres of hot water in a cylinder in the loft. The only one in the street that does in fact, courtesy of my “old fashioned” heating system.
See, I wisnae lying about the “unlikely circumstances” ya doubting bloody Thomas’s.

How could they cut the power man? They’re animals!

A handful of years ago I’d have said “Aye, I’ll fit it in”. That very attitude had me working 18 hour days for six months, eventually leading to hospital and the near assassination of a particularly whiny customer on Christmas Eve.
Times are hard, work is good when it comes my way, but as much as I like this new customer and would enjoy doing the job I just can’t do it until I’m clear of everything else.
It’s such a bastard though, as perverse as it seems I kinda liked being up against it, under pressure, having to think fast to get the result at 11:59. But with Holly here and me now past 40, it’s really not a good idea.
Mind you, I’m fitting in two trips to the Lakes and one to Glen Affric around real work over the next two weeks, so maybe my commitment pendulum has swung off into some consequence-free alternative reality where time has no meaning and all the bills have their decimal points shifted one place to the left.

Ah what the hell, in the words of Spider from Bad News (currently high in my consciousness, having bought The Comic Strip Presents: The Bad News Tour on iTunes), Never mind Den, it’s all anarchy innit?

1983, it was a good year…

The Aircrash Bureau

I just had some blokes at the door, with their pamphlets and their books and their eagerness and smiles. Years ago I’d have been instantly confrontational and made myself look really stupid, these days I’ll have a chat, we’ll talk about our respective points of view, our hopes for the future and maybe eventually touch on the merits of interpretation. When we part ways it’s with genuine good wishes for the rest of the day from both sides.
You might never make someone understand your side of things, but letting them know that you’re intelligent, reasonable and friendly at least establishes that folk the from the other side aren’t all slavering aggressive inarticulate stupids. Is that bridging gap of understanding, maybe just a wee bit?

I’ve had a poll up for a while with options for opinions on training. It was inspired by me having to start that very activity. I’m doing a team event in October (no, not that one), and I have to be bike fit, both for riding it and for carrying it. Two months seems like a long time, but I think it’s going to fly by, and there will be panicking at some point when I’m still a fat bastard with very little progress made.
I say this because when I came back from fueling up the motor I walked into the shop on autopilot and bought a roll on a egg & tattie scone and a cream bun. Is there really no hope?

Thwaaap!

We seem to be past the half-way point. The elastic can go no further and the nights are fair drawin’ in.
Summer is very bland, it’s like nature isn’t trying anymore. Of course it could be that nature is sitting back with its feet up, newspaper folded in its lap, having a wee doze while the fire burns in the hearth, dreaming about what kind of tricks to pull over the winter months.
The air was fresh after the rain today, I pulled my hood back as the downpour gave way to droplets and I swear I got a wee sniff of change.
I can’t help but pine for the dark nights, cold cheeks and a bunnet pulled down over my ears. Sure I’ll have to carry more weight in the hills, but never enough to take the spring out of my step (for long anyway).
I’ll probably look back at moments like my 7am summits in a t-shirt and get misty eyed as I peer out of the living room window in January at heavy rain falling onto slush as I cancel a camping trip.
Ach, whats life if you can’t look forward. And complain as well.

Weekend

This is just along the road, it has some E numbers to test your grip on an overhang round the corner, and looks a bit like the mountain from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The bloke in the security office was watching me, and shut the gate to er, stop me taking photies. His actions reminded me of a bird pretending to have a broken wing to lure a predator away from its nest, that is, it would work on something lower down the evolutionary chain, but not a human. Well, most humans. To give him peace of mind I looked frustrated, shook the camera and went away all upset.

This week I also found some of Price’s fine motor oil, complete with its wee applicator, from 1909. Some of the stuff I work on is properly old. It smells… indefinable, oily, fruity, not stale at all. Maybe it’s been refilled over the years, but the bloke that let me in had been there for fifty years and never seen it, so who knows. I wonder who bought them over?

Final stop of the week was familiar, but when you know where the lights switches are, maybe a little dramatic too.
I love working in old buildings like churches, you seem to get peace to get on with your work, the folk in charge are often retired and know their shit, and usually yours as well. That’s good though, you don’t have to explain why you’re doing or proposing something to make the pipes work properly, you get “Aye right, can you make sure the floors are back down for Friday tea-time?”.
Yes, they will be. The edges just might have to duct-taped down ’til Monday.