Thursday 28 May 2015

Sometimes, when someone goes away for a while and then returns, there is much rejoicing and killing of the fatted calf (vegetarian option available).  And then again, as here, sometimes not.

The purpose of this post is to tidy up a loose end from a few months ago. I doubt if anyone remembers or cares, but I asked if readers could identify the location featured in the current header photograph. Now, most of my early hillwalking pics are transparencies, and I haven’t yet got the technology to digitise them. This was a rare print, and from the context, I at first assumed that it was Culter Fell. However, after some consideration, I decided that I didn’t recall a fence on top of Culter Fell, and that it was much more likely to be Windlestraw Law. I hope this helps !

One of the reasons for my absence was the increasing difficulty that I was having blogging with my previous computer running Windows XP. I fought against the corporate marketing rip-off for a while, then had to admit defeat and get a refurbished Tosh with Windows7 (avoiding the obligatory Windows8 on all new machines).

I now find that the Blogger editor works much better, though it’s still far from perfect, but Livewriter won’t let me in because of some issue with my Google identity !

Monday 25 May 2015

Admit it

You thought I was dead. Or Operation Yewtree.

But no. Thanks to the pharmaceutical industry ( and a good lawyer) I’m still here, although, like the Lib-Dems, in a much reduced form.

Avid readers of the  Pieblog   (and is there any other kind ?) will know that the current buzzword is “Tump”. Now, I had assumed that this was some arcane Yorkshire ritual involving beer and sheep, but a closer study of the context suggested that there might be hills involved. So off I went to the Relative Hills of Britain website. After discovering tthat comedian (?) Harry is a second cousin to Dave out of Slade, I realised that there might be several websites with similar titles. Having found the one by Alan Dawson,  I quickly ascertained that Tumps do actually exist, that they are little hills, and that some are literally on my doorstep. (I use the word “literally” here in its contemporary sense of “metaphorically”. The only things that are literally on my doorstep are dead birds brought home by the cat.) Whatever. There are loads of Tumps nearby, several of which I have previously summited, and one in particular seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. In truth, what the doctor ordered, and here I paraphrase, was “Fuck off and die, so I can devote more of my budget to younger more attractive patients “


The walk-in from the bus stop was accomplished without difficulty, and the story really starts at the old mill lade.


A certain discomfort was felt as my wasted legs interfaced with the rising ground, but nothing that the codeine and the beauty of the scene couldn’t handle.
Bluebell Central


And then wild garlic. I believe swathes would be the mot juste


Up here are the remains of a vitrified fort. These unconventional, translucent, fortifications seemed to have been effective until the defenders had that nasty accident while testing their new ballista, giving rise to the saying “People who live in …………..”

And now for the big surprise. I hadn’t realised that, while Munros, Corbetts, Marilyns etc are crowned with a little pile of stones or a concrete trig pillar at best, these Tumps come with a much more impressive summit marker.


Makes it all worth while, really.


Of course, dedicated Tumpers (Tumpistes ?) will have realised that we are talking Abbey Craig here. This is where most of the Scottish army were concealed, while William Wallace took a small force to lure the English down from the castle onto the narrow wooden Stirling Bridge (site of which is in the middle distance) Once half of the English troops had crossed, the bridge supports were knocked away and the McGlashans and others raced down from the Abbey Craig, along the Causeway and put them to the sword. Of course the English are not so gullible these days – you won’t get them blindly following their born-to-rule, Old Etonian, posh boy  leaders into a trap now, will you ?


And then there is The Music

With the recent passing of John Renbourn, Bert Jansch and John Martyn, the Devil has finally foreclosed on the deals he made that night at The Crossroads. JR wasn’t the most innovative or charismatic of the Cousins crowd, but he was probably the most technically gifted. A few years ago we were invited to the back-stage do after he played The Wynd in Melrose. Unfortunately I had to miss the gig as my dad was dying and I had to rush up the road. Perhaps just as well – I don’t associate hearing him with driving a few miles in my fat-cat motor and mingling with the Borders glitterati over wine and canap├ęs. I can still think of 400 mile overnight hitch-hikes down through the roundabouts of the old A1, sleeping in the parks during the day, the seedy glitter of Soho in the evening, queuing on the stairs in Greek Street as the guys attending the early evening blue-beat session came up in a cloud of ganja smoke. and waiting for the Oxford Circus tube station to open in the early Sunday morning. You had to work for The Music in dem days !