More steam McPhail

Jimmy only seemed vaguely interested as the safety valves were tested. They worked fine, although bringing a steam boiler to enough pressure to make the safety’s lift is always feels like something I should viewing on CCTV rather than standing on top of the boiler tightening bolts as is hisses angrily and vibrates with enough pressure to level the building. But, that was that: cuppas and home to try and sort the tools out. Although what actually happened was they got thrown into the workshop to get sorted “later”.

I’ll Be Your Sister

Binge and bastard purge.

I’m dead on my feet tonight. This week so far has been played without a pause: 40 hours of pipes so far, more at the weekend; two nights in the hills, a late-evening meeting with a customer, a night in the studio (where if we can’t get a recording slot for the new tunes soon we are going to melt into a bubble of feedback and slaver) and then dinner at my folks tonight where Holly went loopy.
I used to be able to have 18 hours of activity in every 24, day after day and leap out from under the duvet at dawn in Bruce Lee style, ready for more. Well, apart from the time where we all fell asleep in a cooling tower on a factory roof after a very late gig.
The bass player and crew guy worked with me at the time and we were all totally burst from playing ’til after 0200 in an airless sweat hole in Glasgow. By the time we got back to base and unloaded the van it was time to put the tools back in and get going again. The day was doomed from the start, but Davy and I woke up at lunch time and staggered to the canteen while poor Rab got discovered sleeping and got a new hole punched in his arse by Jimmy. We sniggered like schoolboys ‘cos we didn’t get into trouble too.
But aye, youthful energy is wasted on us when we don’t have the perspective which age presents to us to appreciate it, and indeed exploit it properly.

I caught myself doing something very odd tonight. I’ve got some mountain bits and pieces to do in July for a couple of folk, and I was actually planning a route around what side of the ridge the sun would be shining on so I could get the right photies. The heating engineer in me got up, left the room, and flew back through the door a few seconds later with a kitchen stool to break across my teeth.
Aye, that’s better.

May I?

Mmmfff.

I don’t work too many weekends or late nights these days, but both have been forced upon me by circumstances outwith my control, but well within others, making the whole thing avoidable. Other folks’ mistakes, sloppiness and corner cutting always feel personal somehow.
Besides our own electrical problems in the old church we’re working in, the previous heating engineers had hidden an open ended pipe behind the old lath and plaster wall, meaning that every time I pressurised the upgraded system, water could be heard jetting off “somewhere”. A lengthy process of elimination was satisfyingly resolved when I finally lost patience and launched a steel toe though the wall to find the pipe in question right there in front of me. Capped, sorted.
But, some of that teeth-clenching frustration was offset by Jimmy and I having a Chinese takeaway in the church late last night, which was kinda fun, and then turning up today to find that the heating was running okay and there was a jumble sale on with cuppas and cakes in abundance. So the place was warm for the wedding, I got fed, and everyone was happy.

But, I was supposed to be oot doing stuff this weekend, in fact, I should have been doing other stuff the past two days. I’ll revist that in a few weeks I hope, a wee trip to see outdoor gear getting made in the UK, imagine that?! 
Right now though, I should be settling into a cave for the night and rediscovering the “joys” of a bivy bag. That might have to be midweek now I think, I’m going to see KISS next weekend. Well, two of KISS and two real musicians in makeup picking up the slack if we’re being honest.
I’ve got two other trips in May that are on my mind. One is to the Cairngorms, where I’ll be spending two or three days out and about. I’m really looking forward to that, I’ve hardly been over there the past few years. It’ll all feel new and exciting again.
Next is something that I’ll be making a bit of a fuss about (hush now), in three weeks I’ll be taking some of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park folk out wild camping in the park. The consultation on the Drymen to Rowardennan camping ban ends in just a few days, and whatever way it goes, we’ll be demonstrating that wild camping within the park is business as usual. I’ve got a fantastic route in mind, I’ll be supplying gear, we’ll be looking at where to pitch, how to make your stay low-impact and environmentally sound.
It’s an opportunity to publicly differentiate what we do to what the neds do, wild versus informal. Most importantly it’ll show that The Park is still encouraging wild camping.

Ooh, part two of Doctor Who is on soon…

Rutger Hauer

I was checking to see if all my old Photobucket stuff was still there and found some photies from the Knoydart trip that I was looking for after some memory prompting on here the other day. The wee beastie with the hitchers below brought a smile and thoughts of the trip came right back.

This week so far has been spent in a crypt. That’s not a expression of dismay for unpleasant surroundings, I’m working in a church crypt installing boilers. The access is via a steep spiral stone staircase and the ceiling is about 5’6″. My head looks like a raw haggis that’s been wire-brushed.
Still it’s actually rather good fun, there has been banter, cuppas, pipework both destroyed and installed, tourists trying to hurt themselves and the surreal experience of talking to Trail on the phone about bivying in the summer when the only light I can see is through an old boarded-up coal chute above me.

Anyway, that’s the knee rested again. back to the crypt.

Electile Dysfunction

So who are we all voting for? Let’s look at the options…

Labour, the current overseers. Untrustworthy incompetent Tory wannabees. They’ve eroded our civil freedoms, ruined what was left of the economy, treat us all like we’re idiots and repeatedly invade countries that America tells them to. They think they’re going to get away with it and should be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.
Conservative, The Phantom Menace. They destroyed British industry the last time they were in to teach the unions a lesson, treat Scotland like a cross between a car park and a council tip. Their personel remain suspiciously shiny. They think we’ve all forgotten what a shower of bastards they are and should be holding labour’s hand as they line up against the wall with them when the revolution comes.
LibDem, neither up nor doon. They want to be your friend so badly, but I do worry about them. If they got into power it’s a bit like a train spotter suddenly being asked to drive the north-bound express from Kings Cross. Sure, he knows what it all looks like, he’s read the manual by torchlight under the bedcovers so many times. But stick him in the driving seat and he’s going panic when he has to stop at Glasgow Central and he’ll put the train straight through WHSmith at 125mph and into the street outside. 
SNP, my local folk. They gave me my first real Scottish government (the previous Labour one in Edinburgh doesn’t count as Blair was in charge of it) and then they approve the Beauly-Denny powerline and kiss Donald Trumps golf-flavoured arse to burst my bubble and leave me distraught. They’re not the party I’ve voted for all my life anymore.
Green. I’d rather have a single huge well funded and properly maintained nuclear plant (possibly on the site of the O2 Arena in London?) than a country that looks like a hedgehog from the air (think about it).
Assorted pointless others. Stay at home instead with your oddly specific agendas/ undeserved optimism/ nazi memorabilia/ nice new ties, keep your deposit and prepare for the worst.

We really need change, and I don’t think any of the useless bastards above can provide it.
I think we should chose someone to invade and take over things. My first instinct would be the new colourful daleks as they’d be quite cheerful while dishing out the misery, my second would maybe be some sort of Scandinavian expansionist coalition. No, no, ancient Egyptians, that’d be cool.
Sinbad the Sailor for Prime Minister? Peppa Pig, a tin of Plumrose Hotdogs?

Would it really be any worse.

They say jump

He worked with the numbers all day. Even changing them to something random just to see if it looked better or worse.
It didn’t help though. Ideally some sort of natural mind-reading ability in humans would be the answer, but then an advantage born of experience would be worth nothing.
A trip to the kitchen put him too close to the ringing phone to ignore it, although six rings did put it within a baw-hair of the answering machine getting it. The call was a diversion though.

“Yelldotcom here, I see you haven’t renewed your advert yet”
“Aye, and I’m no gonnae”
“You know you’ve had fifty calls from your ad?”
“Indeed, forty seven from tool suppliers, mobile phone sellers, industrial laundry services, fuel card providers and three from friends to ask if I’d changed my phone number because you’d changed the number on the add to the tracking one after I expressly told you not to?”
“Ah, I see Sir, now we do offer…”
“I want my money back or a date for a square go after school with the Yell MD”
“Er… ”

He went back to his numbers with a cuppa and a KitKat, a two-fingered one at that. He saw that as a victory of sorts, in times previous it would have been a four-finger with some Nutella spread on it.
Sod this he thought with his nose at the screen, this is how much it costs, if I go less I’m paying for the privilege of doing the work. I’d be as well sitting at home scratching my arse and selling shit on ebay that I bought in TK Maxx.
Attach File, Send, Relief. It was out of his hands.

Reduce time for fan-assisted ovens

It’s been a while since I was on a trip that consisted of more than a brace of campers. In fact, the last time was when a trio of us set off for Glen Affric and came back in the pissing wet after an hour of miserable trudging down the track.
But, as it stands just now, there will four of us heading to Loch Quoich tomorrow to do a thing. There will be some hiking and camping after dark as we’ll be leaving late (not my doing for once, it’s “circumstances”) and hopefully much sitting around with cuppas with banter aplenty.
I don’t want to jinx the trip, but after the last trip I’m kinda looking forward to seeing a sunrise, doesn’t have to be spectacular or clear, just cheerful.
It’s going to be tent-tastic as well, I’m taking a few. Although I’m sorely tempted to take a bivy bag, not the Three-Wire, an old school body-bag type. I’ve got a cave-sleeping thing coming up and I really should re-acquaint myself with the horrors of a bivy, or maybe it’ll just make me sad? Ach, I’ll probably crap out of it and take a tent.
I should be fun, I wonder who snores the loudest?

It’ll be nice to get away from this damned infernal lightbox. I’ve been doing quotations all week and my head it melted.
I hope I get some of the work or I’ll be somewhat disappointed.

I’ve turned the cooling unit back on, Mother?

“Zat some good swag ye got man?”
The nasally toned question came from a pale and scrawny junkie with glazed eyes who was walking down the middle of the road.
I’d just jumped over a locked gate onto the pavement after mortaring-in a couple of holes that I’d made when I’d removed some drain pipework from the building next door. The shell-suited cavalier in question had spotted my big plastic bucket and assumed that I was operating at his level, and had been pilfering from the builders yard that I’d just sprang from.
“No, it’s half a bucket of cement, do you want what’s left?”
Like a call-centre battery hen, he scanned his screen for an appropriate response to the unexpected enquiry and came up with nothing.
“Eh, ye gawn for a drive?”
“Yes, I’m hoping to go to Kintail in a couple of days”.
“Eh, naw… naw, I was gonnae say, cannah get a lift… I’ll gie ye a couple a quid…”.
This was a conversation in motion by the way, me on the pavement heading around the front of the building, with the forthcoming statistic in a baseball cap still in the middle of the road, acting as mobile chicane for passing drivers.
My first thought was “Yeah, I’ll carry you in the same motor as I put my daughter in, you scumbag waster bastard.” Then I wondered if I could hold his head in my bucket long enough for the mortar to set on his head.
Coming back to reality with a little whoa moment. I merely explained that I was still hard at work and had much to do this day.
Good to know that my tolerance is still at the same level as it always has been, but reassuring that age and experience has given my a huge brake lever to throw on when necessary.

Anyway, the gear is indeed at the door, that drive is imminent. Doesn’t matter what the weather’s doing either.
Help ma’ Boab.

Glee Club

A working week trapped in a whirlpool of coincidence and stupidity has reached the deceleration zone.

Meeting new folk all the time gives me a sometimes amusing, always enlightening and often frightening insight into the wide range of people whose lives, when woven together form the manky dog blanket of society.
It was one of those weeks when I felt like a visitor to the blanket, perhaps a flea, maybe even a moth, probably a big brown one, more times than I felt like a stitch in the weave.
Thank Jimmy for my fellow fleas and moths.

Let’s wash the dog blanket on Sunday if it’s a nice day. Or better still, let’s beat it with one of this big wicker things that you see in the Broons. Looks like a Ace of Clubs.

What the hell happened to the dog?

1% Progress

One again I’m sitting here at the last minute, ankle deep in bank statements doing absolutely anything other than actually filling in the blanks on my online tax return.
I looked in the cupboard to see if Moira Stewart was going to give me some words of encouragement, but all I found was biscuits. That’s probably a win then.

The (bastard) banks are phasing out cheques as you know, and I foresee something the (bastard) bankers may not have, or have and don’t care for mentioning. As a business I accept all forms of payment except credit and debit cards, I have used PayPal on occasion, BACS is simple, cheques are easy and help book-keeping and of course there’s cash.
Now small businesses dealing with the public, joiners, electricians etc almost always get paid by cheque or cash, few of us have swipe machines in our vans for cards, and not many punters want to set up an electronic payment account for getting their heating fixed.
So when cheques are dead, unless the banks are going to hand out card readers and drop any charges associated with accepting that form of payment, it’ll be cash for all. In fact, how many businesses will go all cash? Suddenly they’re paying for materials as well as getting paid in cash, and within a couple of years we’ve got a black economy where the money is untraceable and self employed people are dropping off the tax radar in their thousands.
It’s going to be as funny as hell when the government had to fund the poor (bastard) banks panicked reintroduction of cheques to save the economy. Again.

I dunno, is it time for a revolution yet?

Flush the Fashion

I found a big file of photies from one of my old phones tonight. It’s all from years ago, and there’s a bunch of great stuff on there, there’s sad, there’s happy, bizarre, and stuff I just don’t remember anything about at all. Just what a pile of old photies should be really.

I now remember being stuck in an abandoned office block testing pipework with nothing but an almost-finished flip board and some pens to play with as we waited for something (or nothing) to happen. The results of which were clicked upon by whatever annoyingly unreliable Sony Ericsson I had at the time.
Not only had I forgotten all about the day in question, but also all about the original inspiration for the drawing below. It’s nice to have a wee reminder of both.

I’ve just found # on the laptop

They just never saw it coming did they?

Legislation and regulations are always formed in reaction to something. These people are never clever enough to see what’s coming. Or, they do see and are fingering their purses thinkng “Hmm, not today”.
So, it’s with mixed emotions that I’ve been fielding calls from near and far by people reporting water dripping from their boilers. And you what it is? Condensing boilers with their condense drains freezing up, the water backing up, filling the boiler and running out through the screw-holes or whatever.
I know that most of these installations have been fitted to regulation standard or beyond, so I fully expect a reaction to this from “The Powers That Cost Us Money” that will mean more retraining and cost to the industry, ie me and others like me, and also from the manufacturers who will have some quick fixes and arse covering because, they know exactly what could happen and were banking on us never having such protracted low temperatures again. Well, not in the guarantee period anyway.
Wouldn’t it be better to devise practices that exceed the limited view of having to operate within “normal parameters”. Why can’t we use the information at hand (-25°C at Braemar 15 years ago) and get it right the first time?

Still, as inconvenient as some aspect of the current situation may be, the daily light-show out of the living room window is soothing my housebound mind.
Tomorrow regardless, I’m back at work. I’ve got a meeting with one of my favourite customers to look at pipes that look pre-war and may contain water, gas, or nothing at all… That’s the kind of thing that I like.

Eight bucks even buys a folding chair

It’s like being on holiday this week, apart from all the work.
On Tuesday Holly and I hung out all day, I took her into see the folks at an engineers merchants that Jimmy and I have known forever and there was much fussing from the girls in the office. Then there was lunch at Tiso (where they make a mean babyccino) and a visit to the Xscape where we marvelled at the snowboarder gear in the Ellis Brighams. The colours, the mental patterns (orange and purple tartan), the sheer fun designed into some of this kit is so uplifting. Then you see the dull walkers and climbers gear in the regular EB store round the corner and your smile is removed by the notion that you’ve landed in a shop on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain in 1971. Why must this be? They did have the new version Black Diamond Raven Ultra ice axe, now with sparkly orange shaft, so there is hope.
There was more fun and games, and we met up with Joycee too, when I got home I was knackered. That was the best day I’ve had for a long time.

The fun continued last night with Alice Cooper at the Armadillo in Glasgow. It’s a rubbish venue for rock’n’roll, but it got better as the show went on and from the third row we had a face and ear full of all that was happening. The sight of Alice singing the lovely wee ballad “I Never Cry” with a noose around his neck standing in the gallows was just wonderful. He was sharp, his voice was great and he played songs I’ve never heard him play, some of my favourites too. Joycee and I missed his last show in Glasgow as Holly was being born as his support band were on stage, so this was kinda right for out first proper night out since (!?).
It was just brilliant.

The interest continued outside where the aftershow melee in the carpark was at full throttle. There’s a strip of no-mans land in the SECC grounds where a few cars can fit and claim free parking, but it tapers away from the pavement leaving a drop of a couple of feet onto the old dockside cobbles at one point. As we walked out to where we’d parked towards the city (walking is free, laziness costs about a fiver) with the rest of the merry punters, we were all intrigued by the loud banging noise coming from a brand new Beemer parked at this sketchy cheapskate zone. As a crowd gathered to peer around the back of the car we saw the driver trying to lever up his rear wheel (which was hanging in space, the car lying on its chassis at that corner) with what looked like bits of broken packing case. The car at this area was starting to look a little creased shall we say.
Whether or not the assembled group had grasped the real story of how this came about (he’d spent two years wages on his car and couldn’t afford parking or intelligence/ was just a cheapskate bastard) I don’t know, but sympathy was unforthcoming. One passerby quipped “If you’d bought an Audi you could driven out with your four wheel drive”. All we could hear was laughter and sarcasm until we got out of earshot. I do wonder what effect that episode will have had on both the car and the mind of the driver.

I’m not claiming any vehicle superiority here, Joycee’s Renault Nogaun is in the garage again. The quicker we get beaming technology the better, or replace all the cars and roads with a huge Scalextric style system. You just press “Go” and your wee transport bubble sets off and you can sleep, eat or whatever and you don’t have to operate machinery to get somewhere.
Anyway, that’s getting into the realms of David Essex as the infantryman from War of the Worlds, “…I knew I’d have to leave this strange dreamer…”. Well said Richard.

Carry on.

Mountain King

For the recent West Highland Way weekender, the team on foot were equipped with Trail Blaze poles courtesy of Mountain King.
As they wandered into Tyndrum, one of the first things I heard was that the poles had got one pair of feet to the half way point and had kept the other pair happy. We’ll be coming back to that whole thing in the future, but I was reminded by what the boys were saying of my own first reaction to when I used the Trail Blaze for the first time.
I was immediately excited when I saw the pre-production versions, it’s not often a bit of kit just smacks you in the head like that. I hounded MK for a test pair, and after using them for many many miles I found myself unhappily faced with the prospect that they might not make it to the shops for a long time, if at all.
Luckily with plenty of real-world testing if became obvious that these poles were stronger than they looked and were ideal for the outdoor activist that needed low weight, packability, peformance and wasn’t planning to spend the day leaning over their poles catching their breath. Compromise-free kit it was indeed.
When my original bent and scraped pair went back to Mountain King to be trailed arpound the trade shows they were replaced by an early production run version which still needed a couple of tweaks, that’s the black pair which have been well seen around this parish.
Now though, fresh from MK, I have a pair of up-to-date Trail Blaze, fully sorted and also in purple. Help ma’ Boab.
The finish is crisp, the widgets are secure , the handles and straps are neat , the little velcro tag is slippage-free, the internal cord holds everything nice and tight. The even smell new.

I think the Trail Blaze is a fantastic piece of kit, it’s very different to other poles both in construction as well as scope of use. Taken to the extremes, I can stow them in a trouser pocket for scrambling sections, but snowshoeing made them nervous.
In some ways they ask something of the user, they’re not a leaning-pole or a walking stick, and you have to tune into them or they won’t work well or you will have issues.
Bearing that in mind, failures have been very low, and that to me says that the public can be trusted with quirky or complex equipment. Score one for us and zero for the nanny state.

I spoke to MK main-man Simon KIng (see, it’s not a random name on the poles…) as I was interested both in the outdoor aspect but also in the fact that MK are still manufacturing in the UK.
As a fellow small businessman I know how difficult it can be at times in the current climate, and also when fighting against that never ending search for a bargain.

When did Mountain King start, what brought you into the world of trekking poles?
The company started in 1995.  Carolyn and I had done the Tour of Mont Blanc a couple of years earlier, backpacking and wild camping as much as we could.  We bought a pair of poles in Courmeyer because they looked like a good idea.  After finishing the TMB and realising how useful they were and yet at that time not many people using them decided to manufacture poles in the UK. 
At that time most of the poles were made in Europe and we wanted to introduce a good quality British product to the emerging UK market.
Pole use has changed over the last 10 years with poles now being accepted as a mainstream accessory.

In a tight design format like a trekking pole, where do you draw your direction, do you design from scratch?
The designs for poles are driven by customer demand – the challenge is for lighter, stronger poles.  We are constantly trying new ideas out – not all of them make it to market.
How much of the actual pole production do you do yourselves?
We buy in raw aluminium tube made to our specification and start from there. We do all the processsing and assembly work here in Newcastle.
How many operations go into the manufacture of a single pole?
There’s approximately 20 main processes. Some of the main ones are, cutting, grinding/cleaning tube, painting/powder coating/anodising, screen printing, over laquering, deburring, assembly.  All in a day’s work

As a small independant, do you feel you have a speed advantage over large companies manufacturing wholly overseas in being able to react to trends, feedback and changes in materials technology?
We still need a certain amount of lead time to turn the aluminium into poles, but yes, we can react to demand.  We can also modify/introduce new poles to meet demand.
What about product quality and costs?
Hard work, attention to detail and making sure the quality is good!  Only by doing as much as is possible in our factory can we keep strict control of the quality.  Also we are not paying other factories to work for us and so we can keep the costs down.

The Expedition Carbon poles have an interesting construction (carbon/alloy), was there a reason you chose not to go down the pure carbon fibre route?
The properties of carbon mean that you can damage it one day, but it may shatter at a later point in time.  this is a problem that afflicts carbon fishing rods as well.  Carbon/alloy has the best properties of both materials – it doesn’t shatter, it is light weight and the locking mechanisms work.  It is based on the same principle as the composite material used in the fuselage skin of the Airbus A380.  Effectively the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and offers a very strong material for its weight.  Also it is more affordable than carbon fibre which itself can any combination of glass fibre and carbon fibre and still be called carbon fibre.  Like all poles though, it isn’t indestructable

What are the challenges and hurdles to pass to get a design like the Trail Blaze that is such a departure, off the drawing board, through testing and into the shops?
Manufacturing challenges include – sourcing materials to make the pole e.g the right alloy to give the right characteristics of weight and strength , the right type of adhesive – there are three diifferent adhesives holding each pole together each of which has to be extensively tested prior to production. How to put it together efficiently and then testing to see that it does the job. Then we are faced with the difficult challenge to get the retailers to introduce new products, otherwise however good we think it is, the public don’t get the opportunity to buy.

Antishock is always a talking point, what’s your view?
There are advantages in absorbing shock, but like all things it is personal preference.  Adding a spring adds weight and for some users the choice is to keep things light weight.  The two springs in the Experts are great for coming downhill with a full rucksack and like most of our poles the antishock can be switched off for up hill sections to avoid wasting energy.

There are still a few independant UK outdoor manufacturers making cutting edge, quality kit.
If you are going to manufacture, you have to focus on a good quality product otherwise where is the pride in what you are doing.  There are a lot of products designed in the UK but manufacturing is outsourced to the far east, east Europe.  What we wanted to do was keep production under our control so we see all the poles and know that they meet our rigid standards for quality and performance. At the end of the day each pole has my name on it.
The quality is then reflected in the low level of returns we get, plus we are able to repair poles that have had the misfortune to be trapped between rocks or had their handle eaten by the family labrador.
What’s next for MK?
We are constantly reviewing the range, looking at better finishes grips/straps etc.  The Trail Blaze and carbon poles are still very new additions and we would like to see more shops stocking these and giving people the opportunity to try/buy.

The economic climate is on all our minds, what’s your feeling on where it’s taking the outdoor trade?
Who knows what the overall impact will be  – so far the feed back from retailers is quite positive.  To quote ‘people are still going out to play’ and ‘people are looking to spend more wisely on good quality products that will last’.
The fact that outdoor products are not traditionally bought on large amounts of credit, that people aren’t going to give up all their leisure activities and that we don’t need our customers to order months and months in advance may act in our favour.

I’ll have updates on the (purple) Trail Blaze and Carbon Expedition poles once we’re into winter.

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.

Will I eat that second cream slice?

The fact that I could hear the quior singing above me meant that no matter how fast I went I wasn’t getting the heating finished in time for the service.
I threw the tools in the motor and checked my phone messages. Elaina, Sandy and Louise were heading up the Kilpatrick’s and I thought I might head back to base, pack my gear and see if I could catch them.

Bastard headwind. I took the usual ascent route and fought against an ever increasing wind which eventually brought me to a standstill and I had to push the bike up an easy bit. Passing children were pointing at laughing at the red faced old man.
I phoned the guys and they were on Doughnot Hill, I’d meet them on the trail at the reservoir. The trail was very different in the daylight, I’d kinda forgotten how nice it is up there when you can see it. I spun happily on my way, there was no real “training” here. Lack of motivation because I was solo maybe, bored with preparation and just wanting to get on with it?
I sat by the water and waited for my my pals to descend. I could see them wandering down and I sat by the water, feeling the sun on my neck. Just a hint of the wind was making it through the trees and catching the tops of my ears, the sunlight sparkled on the little waves on the waters surface. Too long since I’ve sat and just breathed it all in.

I met my pals to much rejoicing and merry banter, briefly disturbed by arseholes on dirt bikes. We worked our way around down and I left them at the top of the steep run to Overtoun. But it was even wetter and looser than the during the week, and even in daylight it was a good bit slower. I stopped and got the camera out.
It’s probably not the most scenic spot, but I love it. The burn has cut deep into the volcanic landscape, showing layers of lava and ash, the pine trees still stand firm in their line facing the exposed moor. The colours grow warmer as the air grows colder. It’s just magic up here.
I sped the last of the trail and met a fell runner who is as keen on his local ground as I am. Good lad.
We all met up again at the fence at Overtoun and then it was down to the currently well frequented BP garage for cuppas and banter in the sunshine.
A good day.