To all my readers, commenters, fellow bloggers, and groupies.
All together now………
Having a bit of a pre -Hogmanay redd-up in the attic of my mind.
I know, I know – i just can’t help myself !!
While waiting in the queue at the checkout in the Windsor branch of Poundland, it occurred to one that the lieges might appreciate an alternative to Noddy and Roy as the soundtrack to their festive extravagances.While one’s own preference is naturally for hard core hip-hop, the following may be more to the taste of the lower orders.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen ( and Tipsy Ladies !)
I just thought that I should post something in case you started to believe that I had died,and began pestering my wife for my “gear”
In fact, I’ve been rather busy what with some unexpected pearlcasting, supervising the builders ( you’d think that they had never had to build a simple mausoleum in a suburban back garden before !), and enjoying a little sunshine. None of which has occasioned a visit from the muse.
Anyway. Where was I again ?
Ah yes – Awards.
It’s been a bad 12 months for me, I’m afraid. Missed out again on Rear of the Year despite a shed load of testimonials, including some from readers of this blog, averring that I am a complete arsehole. And then, only the other week, the disappointment of the Bad Sex Awards where I was shortlisted (sic) for The Lifetime Achievement award but lost out to a panda.
I heard a wee whisper that The New Year List will finally contain Sir Slowhand. Apparently his rather odd political views have been held against him in the past and it may seem a bit of a comedown for someone who was deified in 1964, but – Elton John, Tom Jones come on !
But, whereas last week this was the pinnacle of my achievement , yesterday it was a mere staging post on the way to greater things.
The official excuse was the overdue completion of my Autumn path inspections. But, in truth, no excuse was needed to venture out on such a fine crisp-cold sunny day.
I may see dozens more like it. Or it may be my last. And exactly the same ( in a non-mathematical/statistical sense of the word) could be said by the miserable eyes-down buggers who failed to acknowledge my “Fine day” greetings. Arseholes.
The backside of Dumyat
Where the Ochils kind of meld into Sheriffmuir
The old farm of Jerrah. The earliest farming, arable as well as livestock, took place up here on the plateau, as the fertile river valley was still a swamp
Well, you didn’t think I walked, did you ?
Turning the corner to head South down Menstrie Glen, the smell of yeast became apparent in the still, cold air.The Diageo complex in the middle of the pic processes yeast for many of the company’s distilleries.
Probably about 7 miles and 1000 ft ascent, but who’s countin’.
It’s 50 years since Aldous Huxley died. I seem to remember Don Van Vliet telling of having sold a vacuum cleaner to Huxley while working as a door-to-door salesman. This may have taken place in reality.
Or it may have just have been part of one of the Captain’s trips.
Or one of Huxley’s
Or one of mine.
..is, of course the motto of The National Union of Laundry Workers and Allied Trades. Feeling no ill effects from Thursday’s little adventure, and mindful of the fact that the right-wing press (is there any other kind?) were predicting Snowmageddon next week (they must have been reading God’s e-mails), I decided to undertake a bit of overdue Autumn path inspection. I’ve managed the local woods stuff easily enough, and, not feeling quite ready for the “big one” up to Lossburn, I did the Logie Kirk to Menstrie one along the foot of the escarpment.
Nothing really to report. It was a fine day, but with a snell wind.
More guitar burning music !
For the past few weeks I have been a trifle unwell, a condition usually associated with children's birthday parties.
Now, lesser men might have allowed this set-back to turn them bitter, seeing the hard won progress of the last couple of years apparently dissipated in a matter of days. But not me. No, sirree Bob.
Sorry. Where was I ? Ah right. I’ve been getting about on the level, but anything remotely “uphill”has been more problematic. However, it being a stoatin’ good day, I resolved to head for the hills. That is, in the “mole” sense of the word.
It started off innocuously enough
Round about this point vertigo set in
Even more bloody up
I haven’t been this high since , dunno….. Isle of Wight 1969 ?
The final approach
“Aw naw. It’s that feckin reservoir again, He’s always going up there”
Yes ? And so.. ?
I see this blog as a haven of cosy familiarity, acting as an antidote to the locational exoticism of, say, the Phreerunner blog. Anyway, I use these local walks to calibrate my fitness. One hour and ten minutes is the par time from my back door to sitting-on-the-dam-wall-eating-a-banana. Today – hour thirty.Room for improvement.
I completed the usual squelchy circumnavigation and trotted off home.
The GPS app (? !) on my portable telephone said 5.31 miles in just under 3 hours at an average speed of 1.78 mph and total ascent of 3609 feet. Quite satisfactory in the circums……….woah there. Haud the bus. 3609 ft ??? In my dreams.
Having consulted one of Her Majesty’s Ordnance Survey maps (non-electronic) I can confirm that the distance is about right, but the height gained was nearer 600 ft. How do these things measure altitude anyway?
You’ve been a lovely audience, and I’d like to finish,if I may, with a little ditty that has been going through my head as I write this.
I expect most of my demographic will be away in Germany competing in the World Beard and Moustache Championships.
It’s been a quiet few weeks here at Loch Woebegon.
I suppose quiet is better than silent
The Man finally arrived
Due to overwhelming demand, a fifth night has had to be added to the dates at Glasgow’s newest venue, The Hydro.
This demonstrates two things.
Firstly, as I have often pointed out, Jeremy Clarkson is an absolute cult.
And, secondly, that the predictive text function on Blogger is a bit unreliable.
A few years ago we were up in Edinburgh for a daughter’s graduation, and went for coffee to a little cafe in Nicholson Street opposite the Old College. As I was spooning the froth off my cappuccino, I became conscious of a strange “I’ve been in this place before” feeling . The low ceiling, those pillars, the change in level, the stair in the corner – definitely spooky. Then I realised that this used to be a dance hall/ club/music venue. And that this is where I saw the magnificent Keef Hartley Band back in nineteen canteen. A great gig, only slightly marred by occasional views through the crowd of my ex-girlfriend being , I felt, ostentatiously affectionate to her new beau.
Keef was from Preston and got into the music business by replacing one Richard Starkey in Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He also played with Merseybeat legends Freddie Starr and the Midnighters before moving to London and joining cult band The Artwoods. Then it was a spell at Mr. Mayall’s finishing school where he played on the Crusade album with 18 year old Mick Taylor. His own band, featuring Miller Anderson made one classic album (Halfbreed remains in my Top Twenty Greatest of all time) , a couple of good ones, and played loads of stormin’ live gigs. He seems to have packed it all in around 1980, went back to Preston, and worked as a cabinet maker for the next thirty odd years. His death, in 2012, seems to have passed me by completely until yesterday.
As far as I can recall, Jon Hiseman replaced Hartley in The Bluesbreakers. Some more survivors.
(Incidentally, Songs for a Tailor is also in my Top Twenty)
One of the latest graduates from Mr. Mayall’s Academy seems to be finding his own blues “voice”
Started some light streetwalking.
Still infested by Poles and Ukrainians
You lookin’ at me ?
The blog has been seriously parasitised by these referrer spam creeps again, folks.They pick on an old post and then hammer it daily with ludicrous numbers of page views. When I delete that post, they just move onto another.I’ve tried several forums for a solution, but the consensus seems to be that nothing can be done – it’s annoying , but harmless. Well, that’s as may be, but I have always believed that there is no such thing as a free lunch, so these shitheads in Poland, Germany, and Ukraine must be getting something out of it. As if I wasn’t pissed-off enough.
So for all my new fans in Eastern Europe, the land that humour forgot – join in all together now………….
I’m allowed books and internet.So….. Been reading In Another Light by Andrew Greig. Now, I've read some of his stuff before, and we have some shared background and interests, so I should be in his target demographic. However, I have to say that I was disappointed.
That’s not to say that it is not a fair page-turner, if you are not put off by the the parallel sub-plots unravelling in alternate chapters. It’s about Life and Death (what isn’t ?) and Islands. there is a lot of distinctly average writing interspersed with the occasional little nuggets which serve to remind you that the author is capable of better.
The plotting is far too contrived – resolving a love triangle (twice) by making one of the trio come out as gay is, frankly just lazy.Deus ex closeta ?. The Miss Haversham type character is believable in Dickens, but simply a caricature in 21st century Edinburgh.Even in Trinity !
I did finish it, and if you are looking for an unchallenging light read, then this might fill the bill.But you would probably be better off with something by Christopher Brookmyre.
Don’t think we’ve had Bessie on the show before. Shame.
When I used to hitch to London of a weekend to take in the music scene in Greek Street and Wardour Street these people used to sometimes provide a bit of floor for my sleeping bag.
This is my kind of shit
Stones have never done anything worthwhile since he left and they brought in that poser Ron Wood
So, I went down the doctors.
He said “There’s good news and bad news”
I said “What’s the good news ?”
He said “ You definitely don’t have hypochondria”
I said “Can you give me something for the wind.?”
So he wrote me a prescription for a kite.
He said “You seem to have caught a dose of alice”
I said “What’s alice ?”
He said “We don’t really know, but Christopher Robin went down with it “
There you go. Three vintage gems for the collectors.From the blog which continues to demonstrate that the old ones are not necessarily the best. Anyway. Point is.
I walked up to the post office yesterday. About half a mile – dead level.Had to stop twice for a rest. I currently have one foot which almost looks like a normal human foot, and another which, if cut off and hollowed out, would serve as an acceptable umbrella stand in a gentleman’s club.Apparently, if they operate on my heart, my liver will explode. Or is it the other way round.
.. it was the spring of hope. it was the winter of despair.
Naw, come on. I’m quite chipper really.These wee down turns usually clear up themselves quite quickly I just put that bit in to show off and be all literary and stuff.
“That’s not like you. OM”
I know. I just thought I’d try something different
To finally get to the point of this post.
People keep asking for more clips of the Nocturnals. This is perfectly understandable - Matt Burr is a fine drummer.
You may be wondering what I was doing in Wooler yesterday . Unfortunately,were I to tell you,I would have to seek asylum in the Venezuelan embassy. Suffice it to say that it involved one of these babies.
The John Deere R962i is a
missile launc crop sprayer which will not only slobber Amistar over your barley, but can “capture, store, analyse and share data over a variety of platforms” Bit like a Scotrail station announcer, really.
Nice place – nice people – nice day.
I’d just like to sign off on the Berghaus Freeflow 20 rucksack which i have been “testing”
I wanted to see how it performed in the rain. This is known in the trade as the “Fred Astaire test”
Now this has been a terrible summer – all heat waves, sunshine and dry spells. An absolute friggin nightmare for we pro gear-testers .However,we have had some short sharp showers recently and I exposed the little fellow to one as an experiment.I have to say that it came through with flying colours with and without the raincover. Now this does not equate to 7 hours driving rain on Rannoch Moor, but that is not the intended environment for this product. As long as it keeps your ciabatta and iPad dry.
There you go – can’t say fairer then that. Not something I can see a use for in my life, but if this is what you’re looking for – you’ve found it !
So that clears the decks ready for the Pro Shell jacket testing – same address please Mr. Berghaus.
You never forget your first (or last) redhead !
Today, for reasons not unconnected with my birthday, was spent at the seaside with some “young people”
During the course of the day, I completely failed to instil in them their grandfather’s spirit of humourless cynical misanthropy.
Finding a hollow in the dunes, they cunningly tricked me into lying down and despite my vigorous efforts to escape, completely buried me in sand apart from my head. This is apparently what passes for “fun” when you are six.
A little of such frivolity goes a long way, and it was a great relief to return to the dark morbid world from which I emerge only to communicate with you, dear reader
Shipton and Tilman by Jim Perrin
There are several biographies of both these giants of the tweed jacket and tricounis era of mountaineering, but Mr.Perrin here concentrates on their relationship, and particularly it's expression during the 1930s when they did so much, together and with others, to explore ( a word which had real meaning in those days) the high regions of the Himalaya.
The sub-plot is the development of the (relatively) lightweight fast-moving expedition, living off the land.
This is a good book, a serious book, almost a scholarly book, in fact.
“So, it's boring and hard to read ?”
No, not really.
But if your recent reading has been the latest Jackie Collins , you will have to devote a few pages to acclimatisation.The syntax is precise and measured, the frequent fascinating footnotes slow the readers' progress, but, for me, this is merely deferred gratification.
This is not a one night stand of a book. Nor is it a cosy pipe and slippers, finish-each-others-sentences book. Rather it is an intense passionate, but ultimately doomed affair of a book.
These were no working class heroes – no Joe Browns or Don Whillans.They were of their time. Their ability to endure hardships honed by cold baths and cross country runs experienced during their developing years at minor public schools.They inhabited the world of Kenya’s Happy Valley, of the Planters Club, of dinners at Browns and randy widows (Shipton only – Tilman was of more monastic bent !)
The whole book reeks of understatement and English reserve
Tilman relates how he and Odell celebrated the long awaited summiting of Nanda Devi - “ I believe we so far forgot ourselves as to shake hands upon it”
Perrin comments thus -“It is a wholly characteristic Tilman comment, that familiar operative principle of reductive irony used to check the expression of emotions for which words would inevitably seem insufficient, refuge taken in an odd and satirical version of litotes therefore.”
Incidentally, Tillman's book about this expedition is reputedly the inspiration for “The Ascent of Rum Doodle”
This is not a masterpiece. As Perrin points out, it has been a much loved and much worked-on project. Perhaps it suffers from that. And from the fact that, at the end of the period in question (1939), both protagonists had long and eventful lives still ahead of them – briefly alluded to in an essentially unsatisfactory and anticlimactic epilogue
I was interested to read on the dust jacket that Mr Perrin is currently working on a book about George Borrow. My much read copy of Wild Wales is inscribed “Capel Curig 1958”
Yes, once again it’s the feast of St. Jeremy, patron saint of twats.
The young men of the land, circulate the streets of the villages in Nissan Micras with defective silencers, while the maidens (and I use the term loosely) compare tattoos and drink vodka until they fall down. Meanwhile the village elders don pink tu-tus, put flowers in their hair and set off in procession to “inspect the paths”. This an ancient ritual aimed at appeasing the goddess A’ Xsoffisah before the end of the month.
Having done all my in-by paths last week, I have been waiting for an opportune moment to pop up Menstrie Glen. The path to be inspected is only about 3 miles, but requires a walk in/out making the total nearer 10. And that is about a day’s endeavour for me these days. And an official grading of “two bananas”.
I wont bore you with the initial details – this is the third time we’ve done this together this year, and the only “issue” today was this cross drain which requires a ranger to cut a nick in the down side retainer to let the water away.
What I will bore you with, however,is today's walk-out variation, which was a new one.Normally I carry on past Lossburn reservoir, round the back of Dumyat to Sheriffnuir Road and home by Cocksburn reservoir.Today's plan was to go round the head of the glen and then come back down the West side to Menstrie.
I must say that I have never had any hassle from heilan’ kye, even when they have calves at foot, but they do like to stand in the middle of the path and stare you out right to the last minute.
The dam at Lossburn reservoir. Now, Scotland’s water supply is currently on a grid system, fed by a few massive reservoirs, and all over the country are hundreds of former burgh waterworks which Scottish Water is legally bound to maintain. And what does millions of gallons of water held back against gravity represent, children? That's right , Energy. Hundreds of mini hydro schemes just crying out for a subsidy.
The ruins of the old farm of Jerah. Looks ancient, but I believe people were living and working here into the 1950’s.
Now from here on, things got a bit hairy for an hour or so. I refer you to the relevant chapters in my book “Hillwalkers Hairy Bits”.
These being “Is it a path or a sheep trod ?” “The narrowing gorge” “Hanging onto tree roots over a 50ft drop” “The 100 ft climb out up ridiculously steep wet grass and bracken” In the course of the latter I slipped and fell, and my knob made a deep bruise on my upper thigh.
The hard rubber knob you put on the end of your walking pole in transit, and take off and put in your trouser pocket when you are on soft ground.
And there’s more. i found myself in a sea, nay an ocean, of shoulder-high bracken. I watched a line of spear tips cross my path and assumed it must be a hunting party of the Weraphekawi tribe. After thrashing about for half an hour or so, I reached one of dem erotic boulders and stopped to consume banana#2 and formulate a cunning plan. This was to drop back down to the valley bottom, cross the burn, and climb up some steepish pasture land to hit the track I had come up on. Ok, that would work.However, on reaching the bank of the burn I crossed what looked suspiciously like – a path.
Deciding to give it a try for a few hundred yards, it soon morphed into a delightful thoroughfare with bridges and stuff, the sun came out and everything turned out for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
Except I was late for my tea, and Mrs.OM had a tooth abscess and was in a bad mood. O,joy.
How 48 years seem to have flown by. My, my….
Being a dopey old blogger, I can’t work out how to put links into comments, so I have had to resort to a new post in order to further the discussion I’ve been having with Alan Rayner concerning my previous post.
Logie is the next door parish to Lecropt and the pic is from an excellent brochure produced by the admirable Logie Old Graveyard Group. I have previously blogged about this old kirk and graveyard, and no doubt will do so again.
My family name is one closely associated with the Templars, but I have no personal connection. Apart, perhaps from that old box in the garage that granddad said was very precious.
Anyway, I think that the answer is that the skull and crossbones was found on many graves of the period, including Templars, but is not in itself an indication of membership of the order.
Alan’s blog, full of common-sense erudition from a man who obviously has many miles under his boots, can be found here.
Today I’m taking you to a special secret place that not many people visit. Are you ready ?
We will start here. Inviting, non ?
After struggling along an overgrown path we arrive at this Alice type doorway.Entry is made by pushing aside the pallet and we are in.
Follow the merest suggestion of a path through the trees.
What’s this ?
There you go !
We are on the Keir estate outside Bridge of Allan, home to the Stirlings of Keir since dinosaurs roamed the earth (according to Sarah Palin). A family with a distinguished military tradition, the monument to Sir David, founder of the SAS, is just up the road.
The parish for the estate is called Lecropt and there used to be a small village of this name and a church. Around the beginning of the 19th century it became fashionable for landowners to enclose their estates. The Stirlings built a high wall and several lodges and relocated the tenants and the church to the outside.
If you are heading North on the M9 heading for the A9, you will cross the flat carse land with Stirling Castle on your right, and as you start to climb towards the roundabout, the new Lecropt Kirk is on your right and Keir is on your left.
And this, of course is the Old Lecropt Kirkyard
In the 1960s, Archie Stirling, businessman, farmer, impresario, politician (failed) and Sir David’s nephew, had to sell the house and policies to a Middle Eastern gentleman as a result of “cash flow” difficulties.The current owner does not encourage visitors and sails very close to the wind with regard to the Countryside (Scotland) Act.
This is sometimes referred to as the Stirling Graveyard, but, although many family members are buried here, it was also the last resting place of ordinary local folk up until 200 years ago. So anyone can visit it.If they can find it
This cross marks the site of the altar
Looking down what was the nave
Back down on the carse, haymaking seemed to be racing on in near perfect conditions.Such a change from last year.
This boy is using an old pick-up baler and sledge to make traditional “square” bales for the private horsey people who can’t handle big round. Notice the wee tractors.