Saturday 31 December 2011

Thursday 29 December 2011

Status Report

In January I shared with you my hopes and expectations, walking-wise, for 2011. I seem to recall that there was some loose talk of  Donalds and Projects. 'Tis now time for a performance evaluation.

On a lovely crisp January day I set off up Tilly Glen. I got 3/4 of the way up and was dead chuffed.
A couple of weeks later I tried to push the route out further, but was frustrated early doors by what proved to be a really nasty chest infection. Attempt the third, took me right up to the watershed. Excellent. In late September I completed the entire route (Erse for elbae of course) from Blackford through to Tillicoultry. Unfortunately I suffered a wee TIA roughly half way through, which involved sitting on the edge of a peat hag for nearly three hours holding my phone and wondering if I could face the embarrassment of calling the MRT. I did however complete under my own steam, albeit taking 12 hours for 10 miles.


In between the first and last visit to Tilly Glen I had some great days in the Ochils and the Moorfoots, but undoubtedly the highlight was a wee jaunt, complete with overnight camp, in midsummer in the Lowthers

For the record,I have Type 2 diabetes. It can't be cured - it can be slowed down by diet exercise and medication. There are lots of effects (google if interested) but my main problems at the moment are my feet and my eyes ( apart of course from my heart, my liver and my kidneys. And my fingers. And my bronchi
and a constantly running nose, and...)

I was put off the road twice for periods of several weeks with bad blisters. Now blisters can lead to infection and infection can lead to the Big G and before you know it you're auditioning in front of Peter Cook for the role  of Tarzan.
The Vision Thing is distressing. By somewhat devious means I have hung onto my driving licence, although I would only now consider driving in an extreme emergency. If the current rate of deterioration is maintained, I will be functionally blind sometime next summer. This, I think, is a Bad Thing.
.So there, as they say, you have it.

And for 2012 ?

Fuck knows.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas

To all our readers...

I suppose......

some alternatives to Noddy and co

Friday 16 December 2011

.....and finally, this.

Today, a young man on acid realised that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there's no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we're the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather."

Bill Hicks
Born December 16th, 1961

(courtesy of The Daily Mash)

Wednesday 7 December 2011

This was always going to happen

Bastards !

As with all "National Parties " throughout history, once the populist and undeliverable policies have conned the electorate, democracy and accountability are thrown out the window in pursuit of The Leader's Master Plan.

This has nothing to do with bringing electric light to the poor benighted folk of Denny. (there will be time enough for that later after they get inside toilets.)
It's all about the Mad One's plan to generate so much 'leccy from wind power in Scotland that we will be able to export it to England and other Third World countries.
Tankers will leave Scotland's shores brimming over with surplas voltage to power the impotent microwaves which are just waiting to feed the starving Somalis.
Nobel Prize ? Well, Thanks.That'll do nicely.  Richly deserved if you ask me.

What a feckin radge !

Well seen he's a fat Jambo who believed Vlad's Champions League in 4 years promise.

Am I angry ?

You're darned tootin' I am.

Enough to drive a good man to drink.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Gay Disco

Just the thing to get the feet tapping and the shoulders swinging on a miserable, wet day !

The only time I experienced it in the flesh, so to speak, was the night of my eldest daughters graduation, when the Mortality Family laid waste the picturesque little fishing village of Middlesbrough.
After visiting several hostelries which all seemed to have a signed Bernie Slaven top behind the bar, we moved into a totally different ambience.
Mrs.OM was the centre of attraction for a circle of fey young men, apparently drawn to her "Marianne Faithfull's dissolute older sister" look. The daughter's boyfriend and my son kept together, backs to the bar, trying to look agressively heterosexual, without realising that this was making them even more attractive to the regulars. I was at the bar talking to a guy of roughly my generation  who, despite his age and the leathers, seemed to have little knowledge of 1950's single-cylinder overhead-valve British motorcycles.
The girls danced til they dropped.
We finished up in a cafe somewhere off Ayresome Road with Breakfast Pies - all the makings of a full English amusingly encased in a pie shell.

That was then and this is now.
The rain is lashing down again and the roof is leaking. I know exactly what to do to fix it, but it's not the sort of job you would attempt sober.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Doesn't get much better

in my humble opinion, likesay.
Just sorting out stuff for the tape for the Big Day- a very long bittersweet operation.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Today I went for a walk

Yes I did. Round the reservoir. Now, I know I've done this often and even blogged about it a couple of times, But today to make it different and more interesting for you I wore red socks.

As a result of certain gerontomedical issues, I have been off my feet for a wee while, but today was just too good to miss and so I was off out.

After a long lay-off, the first bit up the steps was a bit of a swine, but I was pleased how soon this wore off. I wasn't exactly "on fire", but I was "gently smouldering"

 Bit of a bugger that the autumn tipped to be the last I'll see , one way or another, has been so disappointing as far as colour is concerned. No real frost to date has meant that dahlias are still unblackened on the first of November and the trees have just gone a dull muddy brown before defoliating.

However, onward and upward.

I had my usual seat on the dam and enjoyed an Egremont Russet

Resident pair of swans with two cygnets

From a distance I thought this was yer man coming to save the mighty Glasgow Rangers from administration.

Two hours - I reckon about 4 miles and 400ft of up

Now here's a little competition for all the Greater Manchester based readers.

Name that station.

I am lead to believe that it's now a Morrisons.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

A Health Warning !

After recent sensational features such as "Bloggers : send 'em back" and "Blogging blamed for 90% drop in house prices" , Lord Rothermere's organ today leads with "Outdoor blogging is bad for your health"

The article, by I. Madeitallup highlights a recent spate of illness and injury among the tight-knit coterie of outdoor bloggers

Apparently going for a walk, taking some pictures and then posting them , along with with a few well chosen words, on the internet, creates invisible microwaves which can bugger up your brain and other bits.
Perhaps most worrying of all is the revelation that these powerful waves can even affect domestic pets who may be curled up by the fire as the blogger works at the computer..

Top-style outdoor blogger Oldmortality told The Mail " When I started, I was the only invalid posting. Since then, it seems as if everyone is trying to get in on the act. Piles, shingles, arthritis, bad backs, heart problems which I can't spell - and that's just the dogs ! We should never have joined that there Common Market"

And there was  confirmation last night from Professor Rufus Chuckabutty of the University of Bellsdyke (formerly the RSNH) who said " I can confirm everything that The Mail article claims. With figures, And graphs. And percentages and stuff. Invoice to the usual address, I take it ?"
Conventional medicine seems to have no answers and many  bloggers are resorting to quack remedies including massive doses of expensive new gear.

Where will it all end, I ask you ?

Monday 24 October 2011

Referrer Spam

Everyday's a school day ! Apparently this is the name given to these automated urls who visit your blog without viewing any pages ( have I got that right ?)

Apparently all blogs get it, but with "high volume" blogs it tends to go unnoticed in the crowd. Only in a "low volume" or, as I prefer to call it "boutique" blog does it become noticeable.
Apparently it is harmless ( apart from buggering up your stats) and is merely an invitation to click on the link and avail yourself of the services offered on the website concerned.
I suppose I shouldn't complain, as, on some days, it's the only traffic I get.

Recently my frequent visitors have been jobsforsmartpeople, which is naturally quite flattering, and gothise, after visiting which, I died my hair black and sulked in my room for a week.

But life comes and goes .

Where it all started for so many of us all these years ago.

Saturday 22 October 2011

The Bitch is Back

After protracted negotiations (we covered all the angles !) I can now announce the following agreement.

Blogger will, with immediate effect, allow me to post and to respond to comments.
The viewing of my followers will be  phased in over a two year period, subject to an exhaustive review of manning levels and differentials.

In return, I have agreed to desist from describing Blogger as a steaming heap of skunk excrement, developed by a circle-jerk of socially inadequate intellectual pygmies and maintained by a crowd of lazy incompetents with personal hygiene issues.
In addition, I will refrain from posting noisy rock music before the watershed.
Seems fair.

Eppul si muove.

I've a wee bit redding up to do, and then I'll be back in business.

Thursday 29 September 2011


Blogger is not allowing me to respond to comments.
I have not been able to see my followers for about 6 months
There was a suspicious level of activity yesterday.
Someone altered yesterdays post. I have restored the original from the saved copy.

All in all, completely unsatisfactory even for something that is free.

So sod this for a game o' sodjers - I'm off.

Thanks for all the fish.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Visiting Scotland - a warning !

If any of youse had been considering popping up from Englandshire for an afternoon's frolic in the heather - well don't !

It is oppressively hot here in the Centrals, and the natives are not responding well.

However the good news is that the rain (albeit of the warmer sort) will resume tomorrow continuing what has been the wettest, most miserable summer since before Hibs won the Cup. You will find that we have topped up all the bogs for you and installed several new ones where once there was terra firma ; all the burns are now running like rivers and the rivers - well, better get here quick before the bridges get washed away. All in readiness for the rainy season and then the snow.

Look forward to seeing y'all !

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Vital signs

There being an unexplained gap in the otherwise perpetual precipitation, I was allowed out to play for a couple of hours this afternoon, on the understanding that I didn't get my feet wet, and I didn't talk to any strange women.

A leisurely stroll round the yew-knee-versity campus seemed appropriate, and a fine wee walk it proved

A sign of Autumn. (Acer sacharinum)


This strange triptych apparently marked the spot where the old counties of Stirlingshire, Perthshire, and Clackmannanshire met. You can just make out the P for Perthshire on the facing stone. The boundaries have long since changed and the marker itself has been moved and re-assembled facing the wrong way.

This baby is supposed to mark the spot where Malcolm Canmore defeated the Picts to create a united(sic) Scotland. Or it marks the site of a fair held by the locals to sell stuff to the Highlanders on their way through on the cattle droves. Or possibly both.

This has to be the worst drawing of an oystercatcher ever. !

And finally

I leave you with this.

It made my day, it did.

Monday 19 September 2011

Twelve Glorious Months

Well that went quickly !  A whole year since I started this.

I had hoped there was a niche for something different, but like many before me, discovered that it is a very fine line which  separates "different"  from "shite"

My big break came early on when I posted Gear Review and Alan Sloman puffed it on his blog. Many hundreds read it, but 99.99% never came back. It's really been down hill from there on in, with followers departing and other bloggers dropping it from their lists.

Perhaps I should listen
After all, as Dick Tuck famously said ".......

However, I must thank the dozen or so long suffering souls who read this on a semi-regular basis and those bloggers who still link to it. I discovered as I went along that doing this blog helped tremendously in my recovery/survival programme. So if you stop visiting now, you'll  feel guilty for the rest of your life. Your call !

Thursday 15 September 2011

Water Falls

But you knew that. It's one of the basic scientific facts they teach you at school. Like shit happens etc. Way back when I was a temporary junior acting unpaid hillwalker, I used to console myself as I struggled through squelchy stuff at the beginning of the climb that gravity will have brought all the water down here and the peaks and ridges will be firm and crisp underfoot. Aaah, bless ! The discovery that you could still lose a boot at 4000 ft came as a nasty shock.

Nowhere near 4000ft today, but I did spend  a bit of time contouring across a pronounced slope -pronounced s-l-o-p-e. (thank you Milligan) which was remorselessly moisture retentive

Anyway, Gargunnock.
The Gargunnock hills are part of the escarpment that forms the southern wall of the Carse of Stirling. Same sort of idea as the Ochils to the north, but not so high and not so many deep glens.I had considered going up to the top, but correctly opted for the low level circle.

Looking North to the start of the Highlands

This is Downie's Loup, named after some clown who tried to jump it on his horse. He was killed at the third attempt, becoming one of the early recipients of a Darwin Award.

Part of the way featured a kind of causeway through the bog along an overgrown dyke, but this came and went.

More water falling

Now it had been peeing down quite a lot recently, but the vegetation just said "Squelch !"

So how squelchy was it ? Let me put it this way.......

At this point I was savouring a custard cream and asking myself , more in sorrow than in anger "Why didn't you put your gaiters on, Dickhead ?"

Looking East to the Ochils. Ah can see ma hoose !!

The rich farmland of the Carse of Stirling. At one time this was under the sea. At another time it was under a glacier and a mere 200 years ago it was under a thick layer of peat. Some time in the future it will be under houses.

Some interesting livestock at the farm on the way down

I'm guessing Balwens, unless you know different.

Indian Runners !!

Harris Hawk.  ( No - I'm sure it's not an oyster catcher. Now piss off !)

Harris Hawk in the huff.

Not sure about these. They are cattle. And they are white. But I don't think they are White Cattle.

"Stop it. You're just encouraging him" !

Nice wee kirk in Gargunnock. Note crowstep gables and cross at one end and horns at the other.

Now I've noticed that the popular blogs usually feature a reason for each walk - either preparing for another excursion or testing of an item of kit. Well today's objective was to evaluate a new ancillary equipment  management system which I have developed in conjunction with NASA. This consists of two elements. First the carrying of  essential items such as compass, monocular, spectacles, teeth etc on lanyards (ok - string) around my neck. Phase two involves the over-the shoulder carrying of a map case. Now, I have hitherto regarded the  map cases in the same light as man-bags and earstuds as sending out completely the wrong signals. But hey, don't knock it till you try it, as they say.
 You will be surprised to hear that this turned out somewhat less than the total disaster which I am sure you were expecting. It will however require some management practice to avoid a bit of a bourach involving the sternum strap. Perhaps I could go on a course.

Well I enjoyed that ! Wet underfoot but a delightfully warm and sunny late summer's day. 5 ish miles and and, dunno, 5/600 ft of lift . Just what the doctor ordered.

Monday 5 September 2011

Boot Review

I am often asked what I do to occupy my time between the exquisitely chronicled adventures which feature on this blog.
Well, sometimes I sit and think ......
and sometimes I read books.
Here are some what I have red recently, by the way.

To begin with, the second volume of Tim Neat's biography of Hamish Henderson. When I started reading the first volume, I wondered if the writer's closeness to the subject would render it a piece of hagiography. Having completed both volumes, I think not. It's not "warts and all" , but he does touch on, however sympathetically, the obvious weaknesses.

I knew Hamish, as did hundreds of people with connections to CND or the Forrest Hill Bar (Sunday name !),  in the late '60s. By this time he had already squeezed in several lives - war hero, poet, folklorist, song writer and international  political activist. Sadly, thereafter, his light burned less brightly. I found him, like John Martyn, interesting when sober, good company with a few drinks, and boring and irritating when drunk.
He wrote many letters, fought many battles, some real - some imagined.
Tim Neat was a witness to, and participant in much of the latter period of Hamish's life. He helped scatter his ashes on Ben Gulabin above the little cottage at Spittal of Glenshee where he had spent an idyllic childhood.
He was a remarkable man with mysterious antecedents (I had always believed the Duke of Atholl theory, although Neat puts forward a more mundane explanation) .  I believe his true worth will only emerge after the death of most of the people he pissed off.

And one of the people he pissed-off on a regular basis (and vice versa) was Norman MacCaig. Moving on the fringes of these circles, I was temperamentally more drawn to MacCaig,  "the sarcastic lizard" as Allan Bold had called him. Both were tall, distinguished looking figures in those days, but could not have been more different - war hero versus conchie for a start. At one point they both worked for Edinburgh University and held court at opposite corners of George Square

Which brings me by a typically circuitous route to my second book
At the Loch of The Green Corrie by Andrew Greig
Like most good books this operates on several different levels. When I borrowed this from the library, the librarian said "Oh, my husbands just been reading this"  "Really," I said. "Is he interested in poetry ?"  She looked confused, then said "It's about fishing". Ah well, maybe it is. It's about fishing, and hills, and Assynt, and Norman MacCaig. But it's also about Andy Greig, and ultimately about all of us.
I've never met Andy Greig ( you'll be pleased to hear!) but he is a Central Belt laddie of roughly my generation with some Incredible String Band stories to tell. He did go to Dollar, but we won't hold that against him. I thought  Kingdoms of Experience,  about his expedition to Everest  with Mal Duff was excellent and a cut above most of your "Mountain Literature" I intend to read more of his stuff.
I once went out with a girl who was attending MacCaig's creative writing seminars, and who confided in me that Norman had written "A Man in My Position" for her. Some 20years later I was at a cocktail party in College Station, Texas and met a woman who had been an exchange student at Edinburgh in the late '60s. She told me that "Professor" MacCaig had written A Man in My position just for her. The old rogue !

And finally two books specifically about walking

Extreme Rambling by Mark Thomas. is about a walk along the length of The Wall or Security Barrier that the Israelis are building to separate the Jewish part of the country from the Palestinian West Bank area. This is obviously such a sensitive political topic that, just as when talking about Northern Ireland ( The North Of Ireland, Ulster, The Six Counties etc ) the very vocabulary used crackles with religious significance.

Now Mark Thomas is an activist. You may have seen him on the television. If your world view is reflected by the work of, say Richard Littlejohn, Jeremy Clarkson and Melanie Phillips then forget about his book .
Mark wears his heart on his sleeve, and although he does interview Israeli government spokespeople,  as well as Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, they tend to shoot themselves in the foot , metaphorically speaking of course. However this is not a polemic. It's about a walk. He walked 450km along The Wall through some of the most beautiful countryside in the Middle East (if you screw up your eyes and block out the razor wire).
There's mud, there's blisters, there's flies. What more could you want ? Even Martin Banfield hasn't done this one !! (I think)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.You know, the kind that feels when you finish it,  as if a friend who had been staying with you has gone home.

I found  Ribbon of Wildness by Peter Wright a bit of a puzzle. It's about the Watershed - the imaginary line up the spine of Scotland separating the land which drains west to the Atlantic from that which drains to the North Sea. That sounds fairly straight forward, however ,at least in parts, the line is open to interpretation and of course there are sections where it is impossible to walk.

Now, in the frontispiece Mr Wright claims to have walked the entire 745 miles of his version in 64 days. I have absolutely no reason to doubt this, but could I tell from the text ?  No. You would think that a high level walk of over 700 miles up the spine of Scotland would be a cracking read. Imagine what some of the Challenge bloggers could make of it. But this is not a walk journal - nothing about the weather, campsites, support etc. It could not even be described as a guide book - I don't think you could follow his route with just the book and an OS. If anything, I would describe it as a "Companion" to the Watershed, with lots of background information to read in the tent or the pub. Mr Wright is obviously involved in "Countryside Management" and faithfully list where the route crosses from a SSSI to LLNP to FC land etc. The foreword is by Robin Harper, scarf-wearing former Green MSP.Says it all really

Several years ago, Ben Cleuch fetishist Dave Hewitt (The Angry Corrie) walked his version of the Watershed and wrote an entertaining account which was  available to download free on the Tacit website. Save yourself £14.99.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Least said the better

I have now read the guidebook description. ( "Why didn't you do that befo.." just shut the feck up, eh.)

It confirms
1 Paths marked  on the OS map for this route either do not exist or exist in a different place.
2.The way I eventually adopted in the mid section ( ie climb up onto the ridge and stop looking for a contouring path) was "correct"
3 This is a grade 4 (highest) difficulty walk . For this area, of course.

The Naismith is given as 3hr 50min, so I wasn't that far out, was I ?

I have not yet decided whether to retrieve my rucksack from the wheelie-bin.