Friday 31 December 2010

Perthshire man gets OBE

Gaun yersel, Dougie.!


If you're Scottish, and its Hogmanay, and you're reading this in a hotel room in Houston, or Doha, or Milton Keynes, do not click the start button on the following clip

Thursday 30 December 2010

Enough, I hear you say,

of this light hearted shilly-shally.

This is supposed to be a walking blog. I think.

And, as usual, you would be correct.

To recap. Earlier this year I was told that if I didn't stop drinking, lose some weight and get more exercise, I would be dead within months
. Now, when  your window cleaner tells you something like that it gives you a bit of a fright. I sought a second opinion. I sought several second opinions. Most agreed ; in fact the lady in the papershop gave me days instead of months. Only the bloke in the off-license disagreed.  As a last resort, I ambushed Doc Holiday as he was putting his clubs into the back of the Lexus in the Health Centre carpark I took his   " whatever" as being the final word on the matter.
Now it occurs to me that some of you may not appreciate what I was giving up here, due to your being unfamiliar with Scottish licensed premises. This may help.

 I live in a hilly place, so training walks were easy to find, but not so easy to do. I expected sore muscles and joints, but not dizzy spells and being unable to stand up at times. Dumyat (a hill) had been my end of summer target, but I managed it quite easily by May. Other short and medium term targets proved more elusive. Progress has been hindered by my accumulating more injuries than the Rangers squad in an international week, and the long time they seem to take to heal. However, so much for history. A new year approaches.

I' m going to be more positive. Hill walking/climbing is 30% in the legs, 30% in the lungs, and 40% in the head. (or some such numbers). The plan is to do serious damage to the Donalds this year. I've done lots of them before, but, not having a bagger's gift for record keeping or that drive that makes him go for that far-off outlier at 3 o'clock on a November afternoon, I never finished them off. So, start from scratch again, I think.
The there is The Project. I had given this up as beyond me, but, as I can't seem to interest anyone else in doing it, I may have to do the bugger myself. Perhaps as day walks, but maybe...... If things go well, you may hear more of The Project. However, One Small Step at a time.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Thursday 23 December 2010

From the heart of my bottom......

Merry Christmas and a Guid New Year

Little musical edit here to avoid my being drawn, by implication, into something that's nothing to do with me.

"For the countless confused, accused, misused strung-out ones and worse
And for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe"

Monday 20 December 2010


I popped into the salon this morning and asked Tracy to touch-up my highlights. Well there aren't many pleasures left at my age ! As usual, she tactfully declined, and I had to settle for the regular nose, ear and brows trim. Outside, it was still cold, but nothing like the glacial temperature inside our house, where The Lady of The House has declared one of her door-slamming/ crockery rattling fests. Married men will be familiar with the Heller-esque paradox- "Whats up, pet? / If you don't know I'm not going to tell you."  Hmmm - looks like they've just upped the number of missions again !
Years of experience have shown me that intelligence is the key to these situations, so I consulted Wikileaks (AKA Ruth, the cleaning lady). Apparently the critical word here is "Anniversary". During lachrymose conversations while the pair of them were "tidying" my (now redundant) drinks cupboard, expressions such as "thirty five feckin years of this" were regrettably deployed.
So that's what all the fuss is about. Not a problem. Now that the roads are a bit better, I'll just pop down to the filling station and pick up a bunch of these very good value carnations. Sorted.

Or perhaps I may have to resort to "Our song"

Saturday 18 December 2010

Festive Top Tips

Tesco : Want to engender a feel- good atmosphere among the customers in order to encourage them to spend more in store ? Then bin the silly antlers on the check-out staff and use the money to fix the wheels on the sodding trolleys.

Edinburgh Council : Why waste council tax payers money on a little diddy ice-rink in Princes Street Gardens when you could follow the lead of civic masterminds ,Stirling Council, and turn the entire pavement and footpath network into a giant ice-rink ?

English sporting media : World Cup ?  Ashes ? Which bit of the fat lady thing do you not understand ?

Sadly. So it goes.

Friday 17 December 2010

There is a season........

....for looking back. evaluating, and looking forward.

Like a family, it's all relative. One person's major triumph is another person's everyday occurrence.
We attended the graduation of one of our children this summer.It wasn't the first, and it wasn't the fanciest, but because of the odds overcome, it was very special for all of us.Certainly beat climbing some stupid hills as the year's highlight.

Perspective, I see Swarb  has a full schedule of gigs for 2011. Despite having The Telegraph publish his obituary 10 years ago !

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Snow pictures

Not my own, I'm afraid, but some interesting foties from Dave (TAC) Hewitt's  article in the Caledonian Mercury.Here

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Blog Security Notice

Our Head of Blog Security, Big Senga, has informed me that one of The Followers is missing. Our previously happy band of 16 is now deficient to the tune of one.
I immediately suspected that Wing Commander "Jumbo" Sloman had gone "over the wire" as is his wont. However, he responded (if somewhat woodenly !) to his name at the roll-call, so we must look elsewhere for the miscreant. And rest assured, he will be hunted down, dragged back, and will spend several weeks in the cooler playing with his ball.

I must say that I am disappointed . I had thought that I ran an enlightened blog, with none of the gratuitous brutality found elsewhere in the blogosphere. Obviously my trust has been misplaced, and therefore I have no option but to suspend the use of the following items which I had donated to The Followers Social Club
  • The vaulting horse
  • The JCB
  • The dumper
  • The false moustaches
  • The piano
  • The compressor and all the rock-drilling tools
  • Women's clothing (except, of course, for that belonging to the women)
  • The tilting stove.
  • All motorbicycles and microlight aircraft except those for which a valid permit has been issued.
  • All graphical material in the "Visit Switzerland" series issued by the Swiss Tourist Board
  • The passport machine.
  • The pop-up toaster
In addition all work will be suspended on what I am told is an artificial ski slope being constructed beside the eastern perimeter fence
And finally, Followers will no longer be eligible to receive "Red Cross Parcels" from Backpackinglight.

I hope this will serve as a timely warning.

That is all.


Sunday 5 December 2010

You lookin at me, pal ? (with slight returns)

I would like to start, if I may, with a little ditty perhaps appropriate for love in a cold climate.

Now here's the deal.

They've all gone out
I'm not allowed out
I am suffering low level pain/discomfort
I haven't had a cigarette for 28 years
I haven't had a drink for 7 1/2 months
I've finished all my library books

So, I'm going to prowl the blogs/message boards/forums looking for trouble.
If you see me coming, I suggest that you step aside.

I'll be back.

Edit 15/15

Just been through my contacts list and deleted a lot of tossers who I have no intention of ever emailing again. Sent "strongly worded" reminders to people who owe me money.

Heres more John Hiatt. He's bloody good. Who says Americans don't "do" irony - the running pastiche by the guitarist is excellent.

Edit 16.39

And another thing.
No. don't get me started on that!

Did you know that when Dusty Hare won a "most promising young guitarist" award Jimi Hendrix came second ?

Edit 18.22

The Support Team arrive with Special Fish Suppers (the vegetarian option !). Tales are told of nightmares in traffic and at the shops. My mood improves considerably.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Beware of soft-shoe shufflers

We will now be closing down for essential maintenance.

Please feel free to talk among yourselves.

Beware of Darkness !

 BTW does this remind you of anything ?

Sunday 28 November 2010

Did I order snow ?

Many years ago - (have you noticed that most of the matters of which I write  happened  'many years ago'? Funny that. Well, not for me, obviously.). Where was I again ? Right.

Many years ago, I went down to a crossroads at midnight and did a deal with The Devil in one of his many guises - he got the media rights to my immortal soul and I would be able to play guitar like Robert Johnson. While my people and his people were doing the necessary due diligence, Auld Nick informed me that he held a part-time agency for Scottish Widows, and, in exchange for an affordable monthly contribution, I would be in receipt of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice when I achieved three score years.The dizzy prospect of serenading Judith Chalmers with Stop Breakin Down Blues on some sun-soaked beach proved irresistible,and I signed up for both deals.

Alas, in the fullness of time, neither arrangement proved wholly satisfactory.Perhaps as a result of finding hitherto well concealed deficiencies in the soul under advisement, Beelzebub (or Jeremy as he is currently known) limited my virtuosity to that of Boris Johnson. And the pension thing was a bit of a bummer too.
Lucifer had neglected to list his directorships in Scottish Power, Scottish Gas, and BT , as a consequence of which I am required to occasionally venture forth again into the world of commerce in order to avoid the freezing of the drip on the end of my wife's nose.

And so it was that last week I was engaged in the ignoble pursuit of casting pearls before clients. During this time the unattended blog was visited by a (relatively !) large numbers of people apparently based in Finland. Whether they are all disciples of their countryman Tom, I have no way of knowing. But, given his predilection for unnaturally large members, I thought this from the Wirral's finest might be appropriate. And its about hillwalking too !

Monday 22 November 2010

Just a quickie....

to say I'm a bit busy this week and I'll get back to you all later in the week. But in the meantime

To those who have joined as followers  "Welcome. Your badges and certificates are in the post"

To those who have posted comments  "Thank you- you are very kind"

To those who have visited and enjoyed. " I'm astonished and gratified "

To those who have visited and wonder what the fuss is about " Serves you right"

To those who googled Emperor Clothing and Goughtex  "Dearie, dearie me"

 I'm slowly starting to get into the Christmas spirit

Thursday 18 November 2010

World Championship

World Scotch Pie Championship (also including bridies and sausage rolls). Over 400 entries.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Yesterday I walked ..... to Tesco

I was awakened as usual at 04.30 by the slamming of a car door as The Lady of The House left for her job at the quarry (these rocks don't break themselves, you know). After anothe couple of hours of warm snuggling, I went downstairs to find my spurs on the table.
Now, I didn't actually find spurs on the table. I don't own any spurs, having found them to be rather counterproductive on a bicycle. No, I was using a figure of speech. Like what they used to teach you at school 'n that. I was of course referring to the The Borders legend that when a Reiver saw that The Lady of The Keep had placed his spurs on the table it meant that they were all out of beef, and that it was time to get on his horse and reive some more cattle from the Geordies.Except of course for the Kerrs of Jedburgh who, as well as being congenitally left-handed, were also vegetarian. Many a pack-horse laden with quorn and humus looted from the College and Coquet Valleys did they lead over the Carter Bar !
Nowadays, of course, Mrs. Rutherford/Scott/Armstrong/Laidlaw just texts her husband to pick up two pizzas and a couple of Mars Bars on his way home from the call-centre. And then switches on the deep fat fryer.

I digress
In fact it was through the medium of a post-it note that I was instructed to "Buy porridge". My first reaction was that it was a hot tip to invest in cereal futures, but more mature consideration showed that a journey to Mr. Cohen's food bazaar was required.
Now, I know what some of you are saying . "Why didn't he go to the Coop, its closer ?"  Well, it's a bit delicate. One of the ladies who works at the Coop was in my class at primary school, and I know that she knows that I remember that she used to pee her pants. So, best avoided, I think.

The White Bridge
So off we go then over the White Bridge, past the factory and up the station brae.
What ? Yes, I know it's blue. But it's still the White Bridge. Alwways has been. Just because the council painted it blue, doesnt make it not The White Bridge. OK ? May I continue ? Good.

The station
This des res used to be the station. Where I used to marvel at Sir Nigel Gresley's masterpieces thundering northward. Now there is a new "station" - a few platforms with a couple of bus shelters. But it's not a real station with porters and barrows and Celia Johnson and stuff.

A gate

Withe the heavy rain last week, and the frost coming out of the ground, there was a lot of this

and this


The Ladies Pool
One of my favourite spots on the planet. I could sit here for ever. In fact, I'm told that I sat here for nearly two days in 1966. But then hallucinogenic drugs were legal in those days. I think.

The Boulder Field
The crux of the route !

This bit is Roman. You can see how it is cunningly laid out so that a chariot with blades on the wheels could run up and down and trim the grass verges.

The golf course
And not a golfer to be seen. Dammit. I'd brought the crossbow,  too.

The railway bridge
Yes, I know it's blue, but I'm not starting that again

The summit !
So there you have it.

Really ?

Van ?  Website ? Credit card ?  Jeez - now you tell me.
A pencil, presumably, must be led ?

Can Spring be far behind ?

Sunday 14 November 2010

Gear Review

Committed as I am to the doctrine of continuous improvement, I have been studying some of the proper outdoor blogs for ideas which I could appropriate.

Several options presented themselves
1. Walking long distances over hostile terrain, climbing to high altitude, and then writing about it in an entertaining, witty and inspirational manner. This option I discounted out of hand.

2. Walking with a small animal which can feature as a focal point in various amusingly captioned photographs. This I considered a real possibility, but a search of local pet shops for an arthritic sloth proved fruitless.

3 Gear reviews. Could this be the answer ?

Now , I'm sure most of you think of me as a flat-cap, ventile jacket and tweed breeches kind of guy. Those of you who know me better (something I naturally discourage !) appreciate that I am someone who does not shrink from "getting down with the kids". I have,therfore, recently purchased a jacket and trousers from the Emperor range of outdoor clothing. This stuff has the three-fold attraction of being ultra-lightweight, shockingly expensive, and hard to get in this country. It's made of the revolutionary new Goughtex fabric which uniquely functions as base layer, mid layer and soft-shell.

So,how does it perform ? Well I have to say that it's by far the best kit that I have ever worn. I'm not sure how many grams the jacket weighs, but you really don't know that you are wearing it. It certainly attracts favourable comments from people you meet on the hill. Lady walkers seem particularly impressed ! All in all a definite winner and it gets 4.5 stars out of 5 ( the only minor quibble is that small boys tend to shout at you, but thats not important)
I'm now looking forward to receiving the latest Emperor lightweight tarp, (hopefully free of charge!)

You know, looking back, it's hard to believe that I climbed over a hundred Munros without the benefit of wicking underpants or an HTML editor. Christ, we were hard in those days !

Just read that these guys are back together

Unusual things to find on top of a hill #147

Not trig points or cairns or walruses. More like the stuff you get on top of Snowdon, or Green Lowther or Broad Law.

 So, todays little competition. Can you name this hill ?
D'ya know what it is yet ?

Ok. Here's another clue. About half way up, the Ranger Service has set up a viewpoint with indicator

Which bit of "viewpoint" did they not understand ?
Now some of you know this, but keep quiet and don't spoil it for the others.
Getting near the summit now - deep inside the "death zone"

Come on, surely.......

OK. You're chappin. Here it is

Or perhaps this makes it easier

Or perhaps this view is more familiar

Yup. It's The National Wallace Monument atop the lofty Abbey Craig, one of the line of basaltic intrusions which stretches across the Carse of Stirling. The Craig itself is about 360 ft high and the monument adds another 220 feet. I considered going in, but first phoned TLOTH to check if our lottery numbers had come up. She answered in the negative so I gave it a bodyswerve. £7.50 - that will be shining.

The monument, of course is in memory of William Wallace who led a tiny force of blue-painted Scots to victory over a massive army of the perfidious, arrogant, malodorous English at the battle of Sirling Bridge.They, however, being notoriously bad losers, put him to death in a manner which cannot be described on a family blog.

Bridge of Allan with snowcapped Ben Ledi
One of the Links of Forth with the castle in the background
Looking to BenLomond and Ben Venue
Weather : Lovely winter afternoon
Distance ; Some kilometres (Some multiplied by five eighths miles).
Height gained ; Nil. (I  was 5'11 when started, and the same when I got back)
Toe status: Still there.

Monday 8 November 2010

Greta Bloody Garbo

The wind was in an unusual airt last night. Sure enough, just as I was dropping off ....... tap, tap, tap.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Is it just me ?

The local library has a sign saying "Fiction ends here"

Mountain Warehouse have an offer on monoculars - "Buy one, get one free"

Edit. Trespass are doing "3 for 2"  on all socks.

Sunday 31 October 2010

Corrections and Clarifications

I refer to my previous post.

It has been drawn to my attention that a few parts of this, taken out of context, might have given some readers  the impression that, in some way, I had been involved in an incident during which a shotgun was discharged in the general direction of a dear sweet old lady in some imagined dispute over confectionery.

Let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. Except for the evidence in the Tommy Sheridan trial, obviously.

And my injured toe? I hear you ask. Well, my solicitor suggests that I claim it was sustained "hillwalking"

 Whatever. The fact remains that I have lost the nail on my left big toe and it has turned septic. The festering nailbed currently exhibits a combination of colours hitherto only previously seen on the cover of 5000 Spirits or The Layers of the Onion.

In the circumstances, I have to conclude that this is a "Bad Thing".  And so it goes.

Returning to happier times. As you do.
This was one of the first numbers I played in public as part of our class "group" circa 1964. Only cheap equipment prevented our vesion being as good as this.

Bizarrely, in the '80s I sat in for Rory (in rehearsal) for 20 minutes while he took a phone call.
The rhythm section was Jack Bruce and Charlie Watts.
The singer, Jim Diamond.
Strong drink had been taken. Bruce was then on his first liver.
Rory came back and said "Cheers"
More strong drink was taken.

Monday 25 October 2010

Better meddle wi the deil

I had planned some time up there at the weekend, but  have been rendered temporarily hors de combat. Nothing serious, just a trivial little incident at the "Anger Management for the Over Sixties" class at the Community Centre on Thursday afternoon, I won't bore you with the details, suffice it to say that the fat bitch involved had to get ATS out to put four new tyres on her mobility scooter before she could get home for her tea. Result.

Meanwhile, the Bloggers Song

Saturday 23 October 2010

Drink the Kool-Aid !

Goodness me. Events move jolly quickly in this blogosphere thing. I now have a follower (thanks, Alan, for starting the stampede ).

As you can imagine, I have absolutely no idea what this means technically, but I feel that, all in all, it must be seen as a "Good Thing".

It is reassuring to know that you are all out there waiting in readiness for the day when The Voices tell me it's time to gather you all together in order that we can all pass over to A Better Place.

Here's a picture of a burd. She writes love songs for grown-ups.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Thanks, neebs !

Just a quick post to thank the guy who the Fatdog employs to lift her over fences. The plug worked wonders, and I now have a horde of drooling Sun readers on my case.

Big Senga fae Fallin has been booked for the photoshoot in her Icebreaker merino scanties, so - soft porn and gear review in a oner - the perfect outdoor blog !

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Latest from that crisis meeting.

Oldmortality : Do you think they will notice the changes ?

Creative Director: With luck they'll think it's another blog - and anyway the figures can't get any worse.

Oldmortality : True, true. And if this doesn't work ?

Creative Director : Like I said, it's the "pictures of burdz in their pants" option next. Never fails

Oldmortality : I'm so glad I hired a true professional. I'll leave it to you then.

Stats, damned stats, and ...........

I have spent the last few days locked in crisis talks with the marketing staff here at One Small Step PLC. Various reasons ( apart from the obvious "It's crap") have been put forward for the current dismal circulation figures, and one that the guys with the Gok Wan spectacles kept coming up with was "lack of stats"

Now, I had noticed that real outdoor bloggers include detailed distance and uplift figures for all their adventures. Indeed there is a subset who appear so committed to this that they post stuff like "Just popped upstairs to the loo and realised that this brought my uplift figure to a round 12000 metres for the year to date - an increase of 2.8% on the same period last year"  Well yes. If your bathroom is upstairs and you wash your hands sixty times a day, you are going to do a lot of climbing!

Now I have tried, but I am afraid that, at my age I no longer have the manual dexterity to manipulate a gnurled (hmm, probably first time I have had reason to write that word) wheel through the creases of a Landranger or the eyesight to count contours. I strongly suspect that some of the youngsters out there use some kind of electrical device to produce these figures.

I can, however, share with you some figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, which demonstrate the differences between hillwalking in the 1980s and the present day

As a result of inflation, and the devaluation of the foot against the Euro, all hills are now 78.23% higher than i remember. In addition, as part of their strategy to reduce the deficit, the government has cut the distance between contour lines, making all hills, at a stroke, 47.5% steeper in real terms.
The RTI (Recovery Time Index) has, of course, gone throught he roof and currently stands at 343 ( seasonally adjusted).

Here is another interesting figure

Sunday 17 October 2010

The Human Body..........

is a funny thing, is it not ?

Well mine certainly is.

I set off to do this walk about a week ago, and had to quit after about 20 minutes - dizziness and a general inability to put one foot in front of the other.

Ah wiz bilin !!

Yesterday, however, after examining the entrails, (my own and those of a stray goat) I formed the opinion that the omens were auspicious for a redeck.

Up the steps beside the walnut tree, past the tennis club and bowling green and into the Mine Woods.

Copper mining was abandoned here in the nineteenth century.

Up to the Pendreich road and on to the entrance to the reservoir. There is an excellent panorama from here on a clear day, stretching from Ben Lomond round to Ben Vorlich (Perthshire). I just wish my camera could do it justice.

Then up the road to Cocksburn Reservoir. I was looking forward to a seat and an apple at my usual spot on the dam, but was annoyed to see "my" spot occupied by a couple sporting matching hun tops.

Past the reservoir and on to Sheriffmuir Road, where the parked cars gave an inkling of what was to come.

That sign !

And on up the six lane highway that is Dumyat. Very busy, by my standards.

I find it rather distressing having  people immediately in front or behind me who are walking at a different, often erratic, pace. I managed to keep this to a minimum by the deployment of selective flatulence.
For the gear-freaks, some of my fellow walkers seemed prepared for the Pennine Way. and some for the Bigg Market.

OK, Dumyat is a family afternoon stroll, but you do get some splendid views over the Carse, the links of Forth and as far away as the Forth Bridge and the Crianlarich munros.

Over the top and down to Menstrie Glen . Never saw a soul on the way down. Bus home from Menstrie. Very satisfying afternoon.

Friday 15 October 2010

Empress of Morroco

A recent conversation between Doc Holiday ("I'm sorry, he's having a little break this week. Yes, another one. I know. Would you like to see one of the other doctors ?") and Our Hero.

DH (writing scrip) :  I'm going to try you on these for a while.

OH : Will they get me leaping up mountains and trekking through vast wildernesses ?

DH:  I shouldn't think so, but if I prescribe them to six more patients, I qualify for comps and hospitality at the Open next year.

OH: I see. How will you know if they're working ?

DH : I read the obits in the Stirling Observer every weeek.

OH : Fairy Nuff. I suppose a litre of Rohypnol is out of the question ?

DH : Aye. Right. See you when I get back from ma holibags.

And so, once more to Crieff, scene of my recent exploits on the Knock. No mountaineering this time - just a pleasant stroll along the river Earn to Muthill (that's Mew-thill).
I got the route on the excellent Walkhighlands site, and the directions were spot-on.

The cloud was well down all day, and there were no views to the Crianlarich munros or other surrounding hills. The walk starts through suburban Crieff and, at 9am it was eerily quiet.

Here's a picture of a horse to alleviate the boredom

There is a brief view of the Earn from the road bridge, before the path climbs away from the river.

A little puzzle for you - is that a very high fence, or are these very small horses ? Or are they far away ?

The path descends through mature mixed woodland before crossing the main Stirling road at the Stuart Crystal shop and heading down to the river bank. For the next 5 miles or so it follows the river, sometimes close, sometimes at a distance. I would say the river was at winter level, but not in spate. and I saw two good salmon going through.

Guid stuff that Roundup,eh ?

After about 5 miles, the path turns right onto an old railway.

                                Don't fancy yours much ! Two of the ugliest sheep I've ever seen.

The final section is through some more woodland to the outskirts of Muthill.

Around this point, I had to stand aside to let through more than 30 members of a walking club going in the opposite direction. I didn't take a photograph in case any of them were Native Americans.

So, what about this Morocco thing. Weeeeeeel, legend has it that a blacksmith's daughter from Muthill set sail for the Colonies to seek her fortune, there being no professional footballers in them days. Her ship was captured by Barbary pirates and soon she was, like Websters Dictionary.................. .Arriving in Tangier, she was recruited for the Sultan's harem. Her proficiency in carrying out the duties required of her resulted in the Sultan rewarding her with Turkish Delight, tangerines, and the title of Empress of  Morocco.

So, there you have it. True as I'm riding this bike.