Thursday 25 December 2014

Work in progress

Fresh from the success ( and I use the word in it's uniquely Scottish sense ) of my Christmas charity appeal, I will now start bugg  implementing a carefully planned strategic remodelling of the blog.
This will probably result in some faux posts. And possibly some faux pas. But hopefully no mauvais pas.

Here's something religious for Christmas.

You gotta move

Wednesday 24 December 2014

A Christmas Message


Well, it's almost here again - the time for feeling merry and gay.
Our Reader Demographic Research Team tell me that many of you will spend Christmas with your children and grandchildren in the bosom of your family. Some of you may spend it in other bosoms.
Whatever. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy.

* I wanted a Christmas Carol themed post, and when I googled Tiny Tim I got this.What the Dickens !!


Look out for Cumbernauld bus station in the video.

Sunday 21 December 2014

We have a winner !

And it is.....(fumbles with envelope) …. Danny ! Within an hour of the post going up he had the answer complete with grid reference and latitude/longitude. I suspect he somehow used yon internet, but that wasn't prohibited so, after a steward's enqoiry, the result stands (subject to passing the usual drugs test). So a crisp tenner will be whizzing its way through the ether to Mind in his name.
Alan Rayner also got the correct answer (twice), but his finger wasn't quick enough on the buzzer.Dave had a good attempt – I know what he was thinking about, but I can't remember the name either – and Scott entered into the spirit of the thing with a wild guess. Mike of course, knew, but was ineligible ( it's not a stigma these days ) Good game, good game.

So, if you didn't win, here's your chance to get yourself a warm fuzzy feeling in time for Christmas. Just get out the plastic (credit/debit/library/bus pass) click on this link and Bob's your auntie's live in partner.


Why ?
1.Mental health issues affect every family in the land – Mind ( and SAMH in Scotland) do great work in a hugely underfunded area.

2.If you are reading this, odds are you read the Pieblog. Good value, innit ? Averages 3 posts aweek – you get a bit of a titter (sic) and useful walk routes, plus loads of helpful hill lore based on a lifetime's experience (I'm not overdoing this, am I ,Mike ? No, keep going MK.) And dog pics.All this would cost you about £400 a year in the Daily Telegraph!!. So, cash that 10/- postal order you got for Christmas and do the decent thing.

3. Well, I had hoped you wouldn't make me do this.....

No more Mr. Niceguy

What ? Where is it ? Ah, yes.
It's the Three Brethern near Selkirk. The cairns mark the meeting point of three estates ( Philiphaugh, The Yair and another one I can't remember). They sit on the route of the old Minch Moor drove road along the ridge between Tweed and Yarrow.The Southern Upland Way partly follows this route . The picture, scanned from a print, was taken sometime in the mid-80's on a day walk from Gala to Innerleithen.Lovely Borders landscape, hoaching with history and soon to be improved by the obligatory windfarm.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Sensational Prize Competition Bonanza !!

Hyperbole Productions present the biggest cash giveaway since the Royal Mail privatisation !

OK. Here's the deal.
I'm preparing to revamp the blog – new skin, new “feel”, updated bloglist, new Reader's Wives section, new celebrity gossip, - you know the sort of thing.
I'm also planning to change the rather bleak cover page picture of the Madonna tribute cairns. Hence the competition.
Winner is the first person to name, via the comments, the location of the current picture. Couldn't be simpler.I will apply comment moderation for the duration to make it more interesting (as if that were possible). FIFA rules of fairness and transparency apply.

First Prize. I will donate 10 spondulics, in your name, to the Mind charity via the Virgin giving page set up by award-winning blogger Mike Knipe.You will of course receive the warm fuzzy feeling you get from doing good, plus you will still have a tenner in your sky rocket to spent on some of the exiting, must-have gear advert reviewd by the top-style bloggers. Result.
The first 500 runners-up will receive a voucher allowing them to donate their own £10 to this worthy cause. In this case you will still receive the warm fuzzy feeling, but in addition you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you haven't wasted your money on badly made overpriced designer label tat.Result 2.
Off you go.

Guitarists – don't try this at home !

Sunday 14 December 2014

The Bloggies 2014. Part The Second. (and this is where the story really starts)

Due to an unforseen IT failure, similar to that recently suffered by the air traffic control system (NADS), I have hitherto been unable to bring you the second part (and climax) of this years top blog awards.
I have, however, availed myself of the services of top IT consultancy firm Reckless, Boring, and Odious (LLP), and they dispatched a young man with badly written legs and an ill-concealed drink habit who at least partially solved my problem.
So here we go
I can smell the anticipation from here.

First up is Alan Rayner. Blog on the Landscape
Like many of the award winners, Alan has been around a bit and actually has something to write about. As well as interesting posts about his walks and backpacking, he is the “go to man” for gear reviews.Meticulous, practical and objective are words which come to mind.And where he perceives a weakness in a product, he can often advise on a simple mod.
He is also renowned for his DIY gear tips, where he shows how to make items of kit in your own kitchen using only items of domestic waste, a capstan lathe, mig welder and hydraulic press.
While talking of Alan, I have given a special award jointly to Sheila and to Sue Banfield for smiling bravely beside various trig pillars in driving sleet while their better halves fumble with the lens cover.

Next on the elite list is Alan Sloman Alan Slomans Big Walk
Now I must declare an interest here.Many people have been friendly and helpful to me since I strated blogging, but Alan has regularly plugged the site on his hugely popular blog, often resulting in page view numbers well into double figures.Now I am aware of rumours that, in return, he received cash,drugs, and sexual favours from me.This is nonsense. The cash, drugs, and sexual favours were for something completely different. I hope that clears that up

Alan Sloman wers his heart on his sleeve – his liver in his pocket and various extraneous organs concealed about his person..
Many people these days know of Alan in his “Outraged of Berkshire” persona, but he also writes in more relaxed mode. His Lejog account is a classic of its kind and was one of the first things I read when I discovered outdoor blogs.The Challenge chronicles are much read for route information by those who follow, but are also infused with much love and pain.

And now theBig Two
Alen McFadzean. Because they're there
Alen goes to interesting places and illuminates them for us. He also goes to mundane places and makes them interesting.
Each post is carefully crafted with a beginnining, a middle and an end. They are thought-out and thoughtful. A man with a life and a sense of place, humanity and a love of words. And the pictures are no bad either.

And finally (in descending order of inside leg measurement)
Mike Knipe  Northern Pies
This blog ticks all the boxes – as does the writer. Having ticked off the Birketts, he is now working on the Greggs and the Baynes.
When others pull the duvet over their head, Mike is out on the hill. When others turn up the central heating and settle down with a good book, Mike is out on the hill. When others are sitting beside the log fire in the pub supping pints of ale, Mike......well nobody's perfect.After years of acting as Boswell to Bruno's Doctor Johnson, he now chronicles the wit and wisdom of a new companion, (I should be so) Lucky. Lots of good stuff, lots of variety, witty, and sensible (?). Comes complete with the smell of wet dog. Fab!

Two very different entries.Lets just say Alen gets Blog of the Year, and Mike gets the Lifetime Achievement (So Far!) Award.

Thanks and apologies to everyone else, especially Andy JJ, Louise, Laura, Iain, David, Ken, Purple Traveller, James etc who have supported the blog, but haven't made it onto the red carpet this time. Next year ?

Right. Everyone back to my place for the after-party.What's on the menu, Bessie ?

Monday 8 December 2014

Ulrika !

It may have come to your attention that, in recent months, I have become somewhat disenchanted with the functionality of the Google editor.Comments such as "Fucking shite" - "Total garbage", etc read in cunjunction  with my frequent out-flouncings from the blogoshere in fits of pique (and other small dogs) may have hinted at my mild disapproval.
Some of you may have been bemused and distressed by this outflowing of angst. Not, however, the Geek coterie among the readership, with their tweeters and their loom bands.They knew all the time that the dopey old git was one of the 20% of computer users cast adrift by the great god Microsoft and still struggling with Windows XP and IE8.And they were right.
Today I had a Road to Damascus (ok Causewayhead, actually) moment.The Flaming Pie that had appeared to St. John ("with an A") told me the answer in two words Firefox.
And so here we are.

It appears that I can now edit and manipulate text/pics/ clips  and post Links

It's not perfect but then who amongst is  ? Really ? OK, apart from you ?

Here's a couple of clips wot you missed from a previously deleted post

PS. After previewing it appears that the links dont work and that certain random (in its classical meaning)  words appear in big blue letters, but not in the draft.
So it's as you were, I'm afraid.

(Flounces out stage left

Monday 24 November 2014

The Bloggies 2014

Mount Sloman has erupted again (6.5 on the Richter scale), apparently about some poll of outdoor blogs in a hiking comic called GTO (formerly McNeish's Monthly.)
As a retired outdoor blogger myself (yeah yeah – pining for the fjords) I feel I aam ideally placed to arbitrate on this matter, and in the process reveal the red carpet list for the first ever Bloggies Awards.
Entries were confined to the blogs on my side bar because – well just because, right ? And I might add in a blog thats not on the sidebar if I feel like it . OK?
So, can I start then ?

Postcard from Timperley is first because I used to have a Phreerunner tent (single skin goretex- ripped to shreds on a fence).Martin gets the Duracell Bunny award.Fascinating trips all over the world and many other places. Requires careful reading – you are following daily posts fron some Haute Route, miss a couple of days aand you find he's Munroing on Skye after a brief stop off on Spitzbergen !
FFS, Martin, do you never have a day sprawled on the couch in your pants with some beer and Pringles watching Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women ?
Seriously, interesting stuff, but I have to have wee lie down after reading.

Scott's blog is great, but I don't see it on too many blogrolls. Scott is doing the Munros as weekend day trips from the Central Belt.
I spent a lot of Sunday mornings in the eighties shivering in a cold kitchen at stupid o clock filling a flask and making a piece, listening to the rain lashing the window. Then driving 3-4 hours in a mixture of extreme conditions, not knowing if we would even get on the hill when we arrived, never mind summit it.This blog brings all that back for me and features some great foties of the roof of the world, Scottish style.Also features dogs and rock n roll.

Then there is Danny.What to say about Danny that hasn't been said in the police reports. Posts irregularly with each little gem eagerly awaited by a small but dedicated band of afficionados.Can quote Walter de la Mare and Aldous Huxley. Like most of my favourite bloggers, Danny is a human being with a ”hinterland” - he's done stuff, he knows stuff. He's just the right side of weird (“Which side is that,OM ?”).Not for the PC minded.

So why should big rough tough hillwalkers follow a blog by an middle aged spinster who makes shopping bags out of cat food sachets ? Well, because its Ilona, a national treaure.A fellow seeker after yellow tickets, I'v got some good “economy” recipes from this blog. But every now and then she gets someone to look after the cats and sets off on multi-day backpacks. The routes are usually “non-standard” but have their own internal logic. Her “kit list” for these rambles would baffle most of the youngsters and was probably put together, including her unusual underwear, for less than £20. Again, someone with a life,and with stories to tell.

And then there is Mark. When I first started playing with Blogger, I sent my first post off into the ether and waited for a response.Response came there none until Mark dropped in an encouraging comment and the rest, as they say, is geography. Had he not bothered, One Small Step would have withered on the vine, the skies would have darkened, and civilisation would have come to an end in line with the Mayan prediction (allegedly). Posts appear irregularly and mainly feature a little corner of the planet which I have visited briefly, but which intrigues me.The most talked about feature of this blog is the exquisite close-up flora and fauna photography.What appeals to me about this is not the camera technique, but the fact that he spots the bugs plants etc in the first place. This tells me he is not tanking along at 4+ mph while updating his Facebook page.Also includes kids.

So, if I havent mentioned your blog does this mean that it's crap ?
I may not have mentioned it for one or more of the following reasons
1.You don't post very often
2.I've never read your blog.I'm a busy man, subject to regular tests and experiments conducted by less scrupulous members of the medical profession. Ars longa, vita brevis
3 I read your blog and its informative but lacks the X-factor.
4Your name is Sian
5 Your blog is crap.
6Your blog has made it onto the elite list and will be dissected on a subsequent post when my fingers have stopped bleeding

Sunday 14 September 2014

"Well it's a mess, aint it , Sheriff?"

this indyref thing.
With North Korea and The Sun supporting one side, and UKIP and the Orange Lodge supporting the other, what's a poor boy to do ?
How, in one week, did I switch, in the eyes of the Mailograph readership, from being a whingeing subsidy-junkie that we would be better off without, to being a treasured fellow citizen that we deperately wish to embrace ?

Tell 'em. Sherriff.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Birthday boy


Why do you keep posting all that old hippy type music , OM ? There's just as good stuff being written today.

Aye, right.

Friday 16 May 2014

On the trail of the lonesome pine



Well, not exactly lonesome – there were hunerts o’ them. Pine Central, in fact.


Yes, yesterday’s wee stroll in the ancient Caledonian forest at Rothiemurchus.














My diminutive amanuensis, Buspassepartout, came up trumps again, and I was able to get a decent day with a change of scenery courtesy of National Express 588. Nothing too demanding – about 6 miles with virtually no up at all. Lovely scenery, dry if chilly weather, and a pleasant chat and skinny latte from the young lad at the cafe by the bridge.

Highly satisfactory

Saturday 10 May 2014

It was good..




….to get out again into the foothills (Hillfoots, even), and hear the whaups and the laverocks, the burns and the linns.



Each bug or wee turn seems to take longer to shake off and leaves me a bit weaker than before. However, my main problem yesterday was the final demise of my camera. This was bad news. Bad news indeed and will necessitate a trip to Poundland to procure a replacement. The antiphotographs featured on this post were taken using my smartphone.

Well, it claims to be a smart phone, but I don’t believe it’s that smart, compared, for example to the wool in my socks. Anyway.










A couple for Danny





Saturday 3 May 2014




..being what is known in meteorological circles as a “fine day”, I set out for a stroll along the Kings Highway between Menstrie and Logie. This is the route of the old road which held up along the base of the Ochils before the carse was drained and “The Turnpike” was built.


As I wandered, lonely as a cloud, I beheld a host of golden….

DSCF4590 well, Doronicum actually.


DSCF4589 not the sort of thing you expect to find in the woods.


DSCF4599 The Whin was in full bloom, although you can get flowers showing for 10 months of the year.


DSCF4600 An old, amply proportioned kissing gate. In fact it’s probably more of a knee-trembler gate.


DSCF4601 Blairlogie – the kind of conservation village where the local pub probably has Snowcem on draught.


Now this is where the story really starts ( as Wallace Greenslade used to say).

I’ve walked past this house dozens of times and created a history in my head based on my interpretation of various current features. 5 features, in fact, and I got 5 out of 5 wrong !!

(I know – difficult to believe, isn’t it ?)

The owner was parking his car as I passed and I engaged him in conversation. (It’s just a knack I have). He turned out to be a thoroughly pleasant, informed and chatty bloke – there are a few still about but, Christ, you have to look hard for them.

We leant on the the gate in the sunshine, chewed the fat, exchanged prejudices, sucked on straws, and gently farted, as old men do. He told me where I had gone wrong.

DSCF4608 I had this figured for a doocot being restored. WRONG. It was actually built in the mid-19thC as a ruin – a folly, and was now being converted into holiday accommodation.


DSCF4610 At first cursory glance I had this figured as an converted horse mill, a theory I found other evidence to back up .WRONG. It was built in the 1970s as a granny flat !




This I had down as the mill lade with the fenced off area being the remains of the sluice gate. WRONG.WRONG.

This was the spring-fed well for the house drinking water,pumped up using a hand pump. The channel was an overflow which fed the local curling pond.


DSCF4616 All that is left of the curling pond. You can just about make out the remains of the overflow mechanism which kept the water level low to facilitate freezing.



And finally, the lych gate thingy which I had decided was a folly or conceit. WRONG .Actually it was moved when the extension was built and was originally the gate from the garden through to the well and was in fact The Watergate.

So, pretty comprehensive, really. Shows to go ye. eh.



Now, I’ve been suffering a bit from bloggers block. I’ve done a few wee walks, uploaded the pics and then couldn’t be arsed writing it up.

This hasn’t been helped by the fact that Livewiter no longer handles Youtube clips and Blogger editor doesn’t really handle text or pictures. So I tried this, the new 2 part post.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Charlie horse


Since Christmas, people have been coming up to me and saying “Open your diary and write our name in the first available space”

And I have been replying “ Open your wallet and repeat after me “Help yourself””

This mutually beneficial arrangement has taken a lot of my time in terms of preparation, performing, travel and recovery, and little time has been available for walking or blogging. Witness my January and February walking stats displayed below.


However,the work load now seem to be easing off, I’ve lost some more weight, and have bought a new pair of shoes which seem to suit my feet. So, let the planning begin.

There is, however, one major disappointment . I had hoped that this Spring/Summer I might do some light camping.(Shurrup you boys at the back with the beards and glasses).Whilst I can realistically forget about the mountains and the big hills, I had thought I might attempt some of the big passes – in, say, 10 mile days with an overnight.

The problem with this is in the post title – not, as you might think,Nigella Lawson’s recipe for a speedball (allegedly), but a strange name given to acute night cramps – a symptom of several of my ongoing conditions.I won’t go into detail – a lot of people are much worse off than me- but it is not a condition which lends itself to spending the night in a sleeping bag in a small tent.

So day walks it is – with the possibility of some B&Bs funded by my recent activities.And hopefully next months graph will display more parabolas and bell en curves.

When I snap my fingers, you will wake up and forget everything you have just read. There, I told you so.


Ok, you’ve been very patient. So, a double ration of cheap music.


As you were.

The lazy, smelly ,halitotic, socially and culturally inadequate self-abusers who refer to themselves as IT specialists (the SH is silent) seem to have fecked up Livewriter so you can no longer insert Youtube clips.

May their balls go square and fester at the corners.

Friday 21 February 2014

Walk 21/02/14


Today I went for a walk in the Ochil Hills

It was a bit windy and then it came on rain

I enjoyed it.

It was about 6 miles long and 800 ft high.

Thank you


Welcome to the first of our Value Range of blog posts – designed for those of you whose modern hectic lifestyle doesn’t allow sufficient time to work out what the words mean, peer at the anti-photographs, and boogie on down to the music clips on a normal blog.

Monday 17 February 2014

Those John Muirs explained




John Muir was an old guy with a beard, a stick and a big hat. he was born in Dunbar 200 years ago and emigrated to the USA with his family as a boy (like David Byrne). While working in the lab, late one night, he discovered the National Park Movement, for which the Americans were very grateful. He walked a lot in the mountains of California, but unfortunately, none of his spreadsheets have survived.

The John Muir Trail is a waymarked walking route named in his honour in the Californian mountains

The John Muir Trust is a Scottish based charity devoted to preserving “wild land” in the UK. It owns Schiehallion and some other places, and lobbies against wind turbines and stuff. Basically, on the side of the angels.

The John Muir Country Park is a managed area of foreshore and woodland to the west of Dunbar.A very pleasant place.The branding is probably quite appropriate as it is a mini National Park and close to the great man’s birthplace.Run, not by The Trust, but by East Lothian Council.

The John Muir Way (1). A waymarked walking route from Dunglass to the outskirts of Edinburgh. Or vice versa.. If I recall correctly ( something I do but rarely these days), this used to be called The East Lothian Coastal Trail, a more appropriate title as there is little connection with Muir apart from passing through Dunbar. I’ve walked most of this at one time or another and it is generally a good mixture of cliff-top, foreshore and farm and woodland. I tend to leave out the tarmacy bits.

The John Muir Way (2) Due to open in April 2014, this is a coast to coast route from Dunbar to Helensburgh.Eagle eyed readers will have spotted a similarity in nomenclature here. I haven’t seen a detailed route map yet but it is bound to overlap with parts of the original John Muir Way, Macaroon McKeich’s Goretex Trail,and possibly parts of the West Highland and Three Lochs Ways.I do know that it will cut across the western corner of Stirlingshire, and The Cooncil are wetting themselves at the prospect of the area being inundated with bearded Englishmen buying vast quantities of beer and  pies and propping up the failing local economy. We shall see.The John Muir name in this instance is really just taking the piss – just because it starts in Dunbar. Why not go for sponsorship like the sainted Cameron  did–---the Emirates Trail or The Buckfast Way ?



So, I hope that has cleared everything up for you and , no, Jean Muir was a dress designer.

Monday 13 January 2014

I tried walking sideways, and walking to the front..



but everyone said..

What ?

Who ?

Me ?

Really ?

Did I ?

Eric Clapton ?

Well, of course I meant to say Penelope Keith.

I’m always getting them mixed up.

Ever since that strange night at the old Marquee on Wardour Street when I found that piece of funny blotting paper in my drink.

Anyway Penny richly deserves it for services to the middle classes. Her acting range spans the whole gamut from A to B+. But, like the Murphy’s …….




I once had the privilege of buying a beer for Guy in a bar in Navasota.Since then he’s become an old man. Unlike me. Shirley ?