Sunday 30 June 2013

I seem to be on fire,


as Joan of Arc famously remarked.

In my case, and speaking figuratively, I refer to my recent and totally unexpected hill-fitness enhancement.This has risen to levels unprecedented since the golden days of  the Lowther Hills adventure almost two years ago.The intervening period has been filled with a frustrating succession of health incidents and crises, all of which I have borne with the phlegmatic grace and stoicism  for which I am known. (Aye that will be shining …….. A Reader)


Whatever. It’s been a good week, so I avowed to crack on while the momentum was there, and before it all inevitably assumed the profile of a juicy Williams Bon Chretien.The plan was for a wee recce up Alva Moss via Alva Glen and Silver Glen. The omens were not good. There was a cold stiff breeze, the cloud was well down, and before I had even reached the waterfall in Alva Glen my body was telling me that today was not what we hypochondriacs call a “Good Day”


A lesser blogger  might have packed it in, gone home and spent the afternoon crying in his room before being coaxed down for his tea.But yours truly, as you are aware,  dear reader,  is made of sterner stuff. I fact my stuff is so stern that they use it to make the back end of boats. In the spirit of One Small Step, I resolved to just keep plugging away slowly, perhaps 50 yards at a time, and keep going until 2pm or I fell down.



As I left Alva Glen for the now gorse -free traverse to Silver Glen, I heard a noise as if someone was banging two pieces of wood together. Looking over the dyke, I saw this pair of tups. One had obviously spilled the others pint, and the group on the right are saying “Leave it Kevin. He’s not worth it”


As I trudged on up the glen, passing each little interim target, the wind freshened, the cloud came down, and I started feeling better. Way before the cut-off point of 2pm I reached the watershed at the top of the pass.




A recce was out of the question,! Good day,though.



I thought I could play a bit until I saw him do that

Saturday 29 June 2013

Verrry interestink….




What, that ? It’s just an old ditch, innit ?

Ah well, that is where you are mistaken, my pretties. It’s a lade and I reckon it was dug about 1790. I’ve traced it for about 2.4 miles across the moor, and there are only a couple of pieces required to complete the jigsaw.

But then it would be finished. So there’s no rush.

Here’s some appropriate summery festivally music.

Warning. Not suitable for elderly gentlemen with high blood pressure

Thursday 27 June 2013

What about this weather, then ?


This time last year I was remarking on the incessant rain and calf-deep mud.

Really ? Moaning and whingeing, was I ?  Can’t believe that.

Anyhows. Completely different this year, here in the Central Belt.

Warm ( but not Scorchio !), dry apart from some light showers to freshen up the greenery,and mainly overcast with some sunny spells. Ideal walking weather apart from perhaps some cloud or haze obscuring the long views, if you want to be picky. The paths are dry, the burns jumpable, and the wee rivers splashable.

Today I was out locally doing about 5 miles to 700ft in about 2.5 hours. Carrying a pack ballasted to 11kg.

The more astute ( and I use the term loosely) among you will see where we are going with this.

Or not


Wednesday 26 June 2013

Futile gesture




I had started to prepare a long post about medical history and motivation and inspiration and stuff, but decided to just cut to the chase. On Monday evening I packed the Jag for an overnighter and headed off up the glen.

I found a perfect spot beside the river and set up the tent. The next morning I packed up again and came home.

That’s it really.

 DSCF4264  DSCF4267

So, what did we learn on the show tonight, Craig ?

Well, I know that I can get everything I need to keep me in reasonable luxury into my old Jaguar E54.I know that I can walk uphill for two miles with a 10k pack and two miles back downhill the next day.

I re-learned some basic tent management such as how much water i need to lay-in for breakfast.

“So, it was a success then ?”

Well, more like deferred failure.*

“But did you enjoy it ?” 

Aye, I suppose it was alright, like. **

*Scottish optimism

** Scottish enthusiasm


Sunday 16 June 2013

The Sloman Effect. (or Dont Drink the Kool Aid)


In addition to being overendowed in the organ department, the indefatigable  Alan Sloman  now appears to possess one of these twitter things.

No, me neither. I’m more social security than social media.

However,exhaustive research appears to indicate that it is some sort of device which allows elderly gentlemen to exchange smut using portable telephones.By exploiting the technology, La Sloman appears to have developed a sizeable coterie of devoted acolytes, or “pursuers” as I believe they are called, who obey his every wish. Now, every now and then, the great man has his funny bone tickled by some piece of puerile whimsy on this blog, and commands the lieges to view.

And they turn up in their hordes (hordes I tell you !). Naturally they are extremely welcome, and boost the page view numbers dramatically, so further putting off the evil day when Blogger close me down for wasting bandwidth. Tragically, most of them are bitterly disappointed, can’t see what the fuss was about, and never come back. Such, I suppose, is showbiz.Thus, today, having swept up all the empty crisp packets, silver paper, and rolled cardboard left by my recent guests, I am left again with just the tumbleweed for company and a severe dose of la tristesse.

Such is the awesome power of the twa tweet that I feel I must caution The Pursuers against the day when The Dear Leader suggests that they take all their families and start a community (Slomanstown) in the Central American jungle.With free soft drinks.



Oh, and thanks, Mr.S.

Anyway (anyhow, anywhere)

This is one of my favourite songs,and I can’t find a decent version of it on the Tube. Dick Gaughan and Edi Reader are a bit OTT- The Corries (the Angry one and the other one) are, well, The Corries.Even instrumental versions are a bit iffy ( there doesn’t even seem to be a good flute band clip which is surprising as it’s a standard) , but this is pretty ok.


Friday 14 June 2013

In for a penny…


Well here we go with the interim report on the Berghaus Freeflow 20 daysac

I was rather inveigled into doing this by a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless. Lets just say he is unlikely to be doing gear reviews for Gillette

Having bitten the bullet, I couldn't wait for the snail mail delivery, so I downloaded the file, printed it on my new 3D printer, and after a few minutes basic origami I had the product in front of me.


In a previous post I promised exhaustive testing and assessment, yet only a few weeks later here we are with a review. How come ?

Well,that's just the kind of guy I am. Suck it up.

I took it to the shops and the library. I took it to the city for a couple of days. I took it for some shortish 2-3 hour walks in what one of the uber-walkers scathingly derided as “the woods nearby”. And I took it on a couple of 8-10 mile walks in the hills.I have a pretty good idea of what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of the product – it's not something that needs to be tested on a trek to the South Pole.If I wait for a year to see if the stitching starts to unravel then it will probably have been replaced by a new line. And anyway, people don’t worry about how long things last these days – it’s a disposable society – loadsamoney. If I change my mind on anything, I'll let you know. OK ? Fine. Lets crack on.

First Impressions  I usually start with Tommy Cooper and then move onto Michael Ca.........

Oh. Right.

I see what you mean.Well – its certainly compact. Neat even. Bijoux. Petite.

Can you sense that I'm trying to avoid the word “small” ?

Now, I know that all readers of this blog are familiar with the expression “Size doesn't matter”, but it has to be said that compared to my other daysacs - all in the 25-30 litre range- it looks tiny.I’ve been known to go out for a day walk in winter carrying a 7kg pack, and even at this time of year I will take a light fleece, light waterproof, first aid, meds, water, sometimes a flask, butties, banana,maps, camera and binoculars. And this little fella struggles to cope with that

DSCF4218-crop A loaf, jar of coffee and a litre of milk. Oh, and some biccies.

What's it for ? Well. The label says that it is a “fully featured daysac ideal for single day trips, commuting to the office or college.” Fine. That explains the waist belt thingy which is obviously not meant to be load-bearing, but to give stability while jogging or cycling.

Now blogionados will be aware that lately have been unable to indulge my passion for jogging and cycling as much as I would like (cough).But I do undertake single day trips, so they haven't got completely the wrong guy.(Or have they ?.)

What about the “Technicals”. I seem to recall that it's made from recycled spinach and weighs 27 escudos, but then my memory for that sort of stuff is particularly poor these days. Best you check with the Berghaus site   here. .However, my gear weighing equipment has only two readings – “OK” and “Too fucking heavy”. And this comes out as OK.I know this is utter heresy, but I feel that for something of this capacity, weight is not really all that important.

Comfy ? Again, by it's very nature, it's not something that you are going to wear for long distance walking, but for a couple of 6 hour days it was ok.

Waterproof ? Yet to test it in a downpour, but seemed fine in a couple of heavy showers. This is, I believe, a critical factor and one which obviously require further testing.I'll get back to you.

Features. Again you can get the technical stuff from the website, but here's my take. The haul-loop/grab-handle seems very robust. The main compartment opens flat with two zips, pretty well standard configuration these days, but one that I find irritating . The zips can be awkward to get round the corners at the top and tend to snag on the storm flap. I prefer a lid. There's a handy inside pocket for stuff, and a pouch for a hydration system. I tend to use these pouches for maps and paperwork and carry my water in a bottle.I'm never in such a hurry that I have to sook water from a teat on the move – just get the bottle out, maybe have a wee seat and enjoy the scenery while rehydrating.And the external mesh pockets on this sac seem adequate, if a bit flimsyThe front compartment has, I'm afraid, all the functionality of an ashtray on a motorbike. Perhaps it could hold some tickets, a slim volume of metaphysical poetry ( the Wit and Wisdom of Jeremy Clarkson if you prefer) or a small quantity of drugs ( for personal use), but that's about it. It opens with a vertical zip which goes up into a little hood which reminded me of a clitoris.



Freeflow V. This is the Berghaus arrangement of solid internal panel and webbing frame to keep the sac away from the wearers back and allow a cooling flow of air to reduce that annoying trickle of sweat running down the sheugh of your bum.

DSCF4241 DSCF4243

I have two daysacks with a similar feature – a Karrimor Somethingorother, and a Gregory Z 25. It's well known that these systems make the sack heavier, more difficult to pack, less stable when sitting on the ground and don't really work.So what about this one ? Well, I have to say it seems to work better than most

This may be due to the unique Berghaus features or, more likely I think, due to the smaller surface area of skin covered and the fact that it sits higher up the back with the lower pad sitting just below the shoulder blades and not on the sweaty small of the back area.I have been experimenting with my Gregory, which, according to the instructions, requires a micrometer, a spirit level, and Trinny and Susannah to fit properly, and now have it sitting higher up which might make a difference. More on this subject later, perhaps.

So would I buy one ?    No.

Intrinsically, it may be a decent product, but I am just not it's “demographic” The small size, and the difficulty in using even the limited capacity with awkward shaped stuff just irritated me. Frankly I had to force myself to take it out instead of one or other of my old faithfuls. Now, there may be a graphic designer from Croydon who commutes by £2000 mountain bike to his job with a new-media consultancy and for whom this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it aint me babe.

And so endeth my brief career as a gear reviewer as yet another of life’s bridges goes up in flames.


have I ever mentioned Texas on here ?

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Mo Blues


I’ve been a bit busy lately, what with the Bilderberg thing and all, and I feel I have been neglecting you. So, would you settle for some more of the devil’s music while I work up some details of my plan that Christine Lagarde has asked for ?