I think it’s a A5 variant

While I spent a lot of time looking out tents and stoves and whatnot, it turns out that packing for the studio would actually lead to my first post lockdown escape.

It’s nearly five months since we last stood socially distanced in this room. Still keeping our distance, but with a few vaccinations around the room now we tried to get stiff fingers and quiet voices back into full working order.
There really is nothing quite like creating and playing music with other people. These folks here give me energy and inspiration even though I was genuinely in extreme pain with the last chords of the last song before we ground to a happy halt after three hours of non stop playing.

We found our groove pretty fast which is a very good sign, a few bars of Black Sabbath before getting straight into our own tunes.
We’ll be ready to record soon, I think a couple of songs are shouting “pick me” at us. It’s not metal, not even close. Folks that know me are going to be raising an eyebrow, can’t wait to share it.

Back in next week, work to do. Ah what a joy.

Tomorrow’s Dream Vol 11

This trip was notable in several ways and it’s stayed in my mind because of that. It was a glorious day whatever way you look at it and I had an excellent long walk in up Glen Nevis to have a wander over the Aonachs’ Beag and Mor in fine snowy conditions.

I met a fella as we both worked our way through some icy rocks in the sun, I think on Aonach Beag. We stopped and chatted for a bit and went back on our opposing directions.

I spend some time on Aonach Mor as the light was dimming and as the sun set behind Ben Nevis a little patch of cloud appeared and wrapped around the Ben below the summit and over the edge of the CMD arete. Very atmospheric, very pretty, worth some cold fingers to watch with a cuppa.

As I left to take a steep line down west to lose height quickly I bumped into another lonely figure with a ginger beard and a fancy Rab eVent shell suit on. We stopped and chatted for a bit and went our separate ways.

Later on my way down the line of the burn to Steall I caught a bright silver flash in the water under my headtorch beam and went to look. A bright shiny quartz boulder. Lovely.
I dug it out and put it in my pack. It was too big, it was too heavy, it’s still at my front door today.

Back at home the wonders of the internet surprisingly filled in some blanks. I went on the old OutdoorsMagic website to share my fun times and it turned out my first chance meeting was with Steve Morley, a familiar name from the forums and someone who I hadn’t met in real life yet. One of many from that place I can still counts as friends today.

When he thought I’d stole his photie because it was so similar to one of his own taken when we were standing just a few feet apart, the other stranger turned out to be Steve Perry, now sadly passed, who was on his continuous round of the winter Munros.

It’s a small world but it can give you big memories and bigger smiles.

 

A quick wee daydream

I think I was either away looking to see where the purple had gone or I had left a light on in case the purple came home.

I’ve been bombarding a pal with wild camping photies to let him know what he’s in for on his first trip to a night on the tops.
As usual I get sucked into buckets of files full of joy.
I wonder if I can still do this stuff.

Going to see awfy soon.

Paint on my cruel or happy face

It wasn’t ideal, we had planned for running away on the 26th but freedom was granted early, what else could we do but improvise.

The cool bag was ready, the blanket and down jackets were packed and the 4am start was as clear headed as it was ever going to be.
The road was nearly empty, the A82. Ha.

We drove north under a brightening sky, dark silhouettes lined the road, every shape had a name, a story, a time and a place and of course, I had to tell them about it.

We reached the edge of Loch Ba with the sun set to rise in around 10 minutes. It was still frosty, the air chilled and the sky a cold pale blue but the east was a burning orange, ready to burst upwards through a thin layer of swirling mist.
Blanket down by the loch, breakfast laid out, eyes to the east.

The first sun rise seen from a grid square that didn’t start with NS in what, a year?

We made the most of it, familiar places, familiar roads, new thoughts and feelings, it had been a week for memories in more ways than one.
The traffic was coming out way as we headed south, it was going to be busy.
We’ll be back soon enough, not doing a 4am start though. I think it will have to be late when I leave. Tradition isn’t it.

Linda took that last two on here phone. Nice misses.

Tomorrow’s Dream Vol 10

Above was taken on whatever low res camera loaded into the Sony Ericsson phone I had at the time, below was taken on whatever borrowed camera I had at the time, and just before the solitary battery died too leaving me with just the phone to capture what I have to say was an absolutely perfect morning.

Easter, space year 2000 and something and it was like yesterday in my mind. I was camped on Carn Dearg, north of Rannoch Station, an easy walk and a fine pleasant camp, but with that morning, oh what a morning.

I was in a first gen Alpkit down bag the night before, Alpine Dream was it? Great warm bag with a shite hood that was barely a pillow, glad they changed that. It was frosty but that sun was instantly warm and the glens, hell the whole landscape, flooded with fog as soon as the first rays broke the horizon, just over a wee bit from Schiehallion if memory serves me right.

That was a multi cuppa breakfast, I didn’t leave until the mist lifted and the sun was high up. The run across to Sgor Gaibhre does not linger sharply, I think I was still stunned by the preceding hours, but I do remember gladly reaching water in the coire and seeing the first of the days’ fresh feet ascending towards me. Too late folks, you missed it all.

Now, I wrote that first bit above over my morning coffee before I went out to meet a client. By the time I got back to base everything had changed.
Travel restrictions are being lifted on Friday this week, not on the 26th.

This has spun me right onto my arse, the dream is a reality etc. But I’m getting my first jag on Saturday and I’m expecting having some sort of reaction to it, I don’t see me getting anywhere right away.
It’s not theoretical anymore, I’m planning for reality. It’s like an out of body experience, what do I do, I know what to do, what did I forget, what do I need?

Bloody hell.

That big grin below, he had no idea what the next few years would bring to him in the outdoors. But now I’m looking ahead too. Time to make a brand new grin to catch and keep with all these old ones.

 

Deep blue see

I was in a dungeon in the dark with the water on the floor actually drying up rather than deepening as I usually tend to find it since I’d actually stopped the leak and then the call came.
It was an international call, it meant a border crossing.

I had all I needed, I could go then and there. “It’s 12 miles to Argyle and Bute, we got a half tank of gas, half a pack of Wrigley’s Extra, it’s sunny and my sunglasses are in Linda’s car”. In my head: “Hit it”.

I put my feet on foreign soil for the first time in a long time. Funny, it felt like home. Fresh snow, blue skies, cold dark water, a chill breeze, a tingle in my toes and a tear in my eye.
I laughed out loud, a nervous reaction I think. All the lockdown breaking arseholes who have seen this and walked or driven through it without worry or consequence and I’m playing in my head how I would explain to the police where I was going and what I was doing if I got pulled.
I had the set of church keys in my pocket, my tools in the back and a documented loss of pressure to investigate. And I was still a little worried.

Come the 26th I don’t care, I’ve done my bit. I played the game to the letter, if there’s a third wave due to dumb bastards mixing willy-nilly over Easter and consequently another lockdown I’m declaring myself the ambassador of a small independent Scottish protectorate and I’m going wherever the hell I like with diplomatic immunity.

Aye.

Done.

The journey ended in another dungeon of course and with a few fancy moves I left it all in fine working order. Amusingly I’ll have to got back next week though because it needs a pump. Bummer.

Tomorrow’s Dream Vol 9

This is still borrowed camera time and also my first iPod days, so I think it’s spring 2008. I know exactly where this is, the Laserlite above is parked on the ridge of Meall Coire Lochan (ish) west of Meall na Teanga above Loch Lochy.

I remember this one vividly, mind you I think if you show me any photie it pretty much all comes back as I’ve discovered these past few weeks.
See, that’s why we should take always photies, that’s why we should blog. Memories might bring mixed emotions but there’s a real joy in it, and I don’t feel any stronger inspiration that realising what I can do myself after so long of not doing it.
Seeing others adventures can be aspirational, seeing my own makes it all feel accessible. Sometimes that’s just enough where you’re a bit rusty.

It was raining all the way up. I’d dumped my pack at the bealach to run up Sron a Choire Ghairbh and then enjoyed a little clearer air on the fine traverse over Meall na Teanga.
I had music on in the rain, metal in my earbuds and I had Celtic Frost’s then recent new album on repeat. Singing Os, abysmi os in my best death metal voice as I went. Can’t believe that detail has stuck so fast in my mind.

I was damp getting in the tent but warm enough, staring out to a distant Fort William as the sky darkened. I only saw the sky by accident and it had me scrabbling for wet shoes and my jacket to get out and see it.
Vivid red out to the west with a window to a pale clear sky that had been hidden all day. It kinda makes it all worth it, these wee moments.

I must have slept well, I have no horror stories of wind or rain, animal attacks or seismic events to recall. It was a lovely morning too.

I feel it’s my duty to point out that the fuzzy pastel scenes here are exactly as seen on the day. I haven’t done that, it’s a combination of cheap camera and actual weather conditions.
Mist on Loch Arkaig, the last of the snows clinging onto Ben Nevis’ gullies. I sat there for hours, it was nearly lunch time before the rising sun burnt off the soft sheen and I descended in unexpected bright sunshine, bare skin cooking well before I got to the treeline.

The trees are gone now, Gleann Chia-aig having been dynamited end to end for a hydro scheme. I was there with Gus a few years later and the whole place was devastated.
I do remember walking down through the tall pines on a winding trail, rushing water below and the occasional whisper of wildlife far above. Now I just immediately think of bare rock and bulldozed slopes.

That’s another reason to go somewhere, to take photies and to write it down. Some bastard is always ready to take it all away.

Tomorrow’s Dream Vol 8

Scoutmaster. That word will forever have a meaning for Z, Helen and I after our Knoydart trip.

It was a mission with a purpose back in 2007 I think, we were there to retrieve the Wilderness ARC adventure race electronic check in point that was bolted to the trig point on Ladhar Bheinn. If ever there was an excuse for a wee jolly this was it.
We had just made the tide for the the boat from Kinloch Hourn and were gloriously late as we sat in the bothy for a cuppa. We were camping though so late evening found us high on Stob a Chearcaill in two Laserlites with the cloud scraping my head if I stood up.

I think that’s Bachd Mhic an Tosaich across from us below and I think that was the only patch of sun we saw until we started descending next day. We didn’t care though, it was a joy from end to end and Ladhar Beinn without a view is not a lesser experience at all, under your feet and hands is awesome every stumble of the way.

The walk out though, that was maybe the best of all. There was a scout troop who were leaving around the same time as us for the 10km or so walk back out from Barrisdale and their brave leader didn’t like the look of us one bit.
We hit the trail, we spotted wildlife, dealt with a blister, we laughed etc and all the while, we caught glimpses of the scoutmaster peering at us from the distance to see just how far ahead we were.

It’s a glorious trail by the loch, but it is long and we soon found ourselves fully immersed in this game of cat and mouse to help pass the time. Every time they got closer we horsed on and widened the gap. Scoutmaster rallied his troops and whipped them forwards in his hopeless task to assert his domination over the trail.

I can imagine the poor kids red, sweating and miserable faces and the curses uttered underneath. I can also imagine that they clubbed to death and then buried the scoutmaster in an unmarked grave by the loch and then went feral for they never were seen again after Skiary…

From that day on, between us and soon also our once tight knit wee group of adventurers, to Scoutmaster *verb, meant to push hard, to beast in, to race for the goal.
And so it remains.

April Shower

500m over the river from the front door but across a local authority boundary. It only just occurred to us that we were allowed to go.
Picked a nice evening for it too.

I’ve often said on here that I can walk out my door into the hills and I know that sounds like exaggeration, but below is both my door and the hills behind it.
Bowling is right in the middle, if I go either way I’m in the Highlands or a Glasgow restaurant in the same amount of time.
The village may have spend many years abandoned by West Dunbartonshire council but Scottish Canals are building a linear garden on the old railway viaduct, the shops in the arches are still open and other brownfield sites on either side of us are showing the green shoots of new purpose.
We shall see.

We took a different route, going down through woodland on trails I’d never even see. Around the trees is a jagged blanket of lush green getting ready burst with bluebells, we’ll be back to see that.
It was cool, not too much of a breeze, but enough to keep the beach and trails quiet so we had the place to ourselves.

The tide was pulling the river away leaving waterlogged and reflective sand to mirror the golden sky. It’s really quite beautiful, but you have to line it up right, I can see this same bit of sand in the photie below from the living room window and I can assure you it’s kinda brown. You have to find the sun and walk towards it, always.

I have made a packed dinner, it’s way too late for lunch mind. I slow cooked a sirloin steak in the griddle pan, cut it into strips and filled a baguette with it along with proper butter, fried red onion, sliced baby tomatoes, Seriously cheese and Hellman’s chilli mayo. They were wrapped in foil, oven warmed to get the cheese melting and stuck in a cool bag, you know, to keep them warm.
Warm they were and emotionally tasty with a flask of coffee.
And then there were Patisserie Valerie cakes. It’s date night, come on.

The riverside terrain is complicated to say the least and there was much falling over. It’s a place to blow out a knee or twist an ankle, I’ve watched a helicopter rescue unfold here from home for just that.
There’s weird stuff too, I think below it’s a table set for a giant or something? Neolithic toilet? Troll crutch and fez Christmas set?

There were dope smoking neds lurking in the dark trees on the way back so we took a detour through the old Erskine Hospital grounds, sorry Mar Hall.
Last time I was in there they had a steam leak in the basement which had blown all the asbestos off the pipework and it was floating in chunks in the hissing bubbling water as it gained depth in the plant room.
The 80s were great, health and safety hadn’t come in yet. We did get to chat to WW1 and WW2 veterans at the same time we were there too.

Never seen such scars, or men alive and talking with such substantial bits of their heads missing. I’m not making light of this one little bit. These poor bastards got blown to pieces there wasn’t the knowledge to do any better than what these old boys got.
It’s a testament to their own inner strength and the regenerative capabilities of the human body that they were still there.

We walked the deserted access road back to the car as a fox scurried from side to side ahead of us. The world was quiet, but the next morning it was going to wake up and go mental for easter.
I’m glad life is coming back but I will miss the quieter times and places, I’m going to have to look a little harder to find them now. Drive a little father too? Oh, I remember that stuff.

Less than three weeks.

Easter Ned Hunt

Easter is a horrible time. It’s where the unthinking cadre of the urban masses launches into the countryside without care or courtesy and cause misery before leaving their shite behind them and returning home to their telly once again.
Why easter I don’t know, there’s no difference from the weekends either side of it, is it just because there’s a mark on the calendar and they get a subliminal trigger or something?

The Lang Craigs are a prime spot for this mayhem. The car parks and access roads were choked by 10am and the site was heaving with bodies. I was working on pipes etc elsewhere so I went up after dinner to see what was happening, any fires burning, manic campsites etc Luckily I missed it all, the site was nearly quiet.
But elsewhere there was violence towards staff at Balmaha trying to keep the car park running smoothly, so the stupids were definitely out in force.

The access roads from nearby Old Kilpatrick to the hills were double parked and blocked from early on too. I believe many loose wing mirrors were seen along those same roads later on. I guess that tractor was pretty wide eh?

For me it was cool and eventually quiet on the crag edge though. I watched the last dregs slip away screaming and shouting downhill towards Milton through my binoculars and then there really was just me.
There’s a couple of points on the crags I can see the whole site and I scanned everything as the light dimmed and left me with stars randomly poking out of the deep blue above me.
The light lingered pale and pastel on the horizon and I could pick out all those familiar peaks. They’re well beyond my head torch, but not beyond my imagination.

I was back home in under two hours, a short shift for me. But, I was limping. On Friday I’d fell down a hole, it happens. Straight down on my heel which kinda jarred my heel, ankle, knee and hip. But I walked it off and was just a wee touch stiff on Saturday.
Come the descent from the crags that night it was louping though, I could barely put my weight on it (and what a mighty weigh that has become…).

It stems from an old work injury (’98, it’s a good story for later) and I today am shoeless for a wee bit. That’s okay though, it’s a while til the 26th yet.

April Fooled

I stayed off the internet by accident and missed any wacky news stories or whatever that folk had prepared for the 1st.
Not sorry, not really in the mood this year. I think that joke has been on us long enough already.

However, an evening by the water to see the day out brought a smile if not a laugh. Not just the sunset either, we found a huge piece of driftwood that had ideas scratched all over it and we just couldn’t leave it there to be lifted by the next tide and be swept out to the firth with all our lovely ideas being washed away with it.
So I heaved it onto my shoulder and made it up to the road while Linda scurried ahead and rescued me and it with the car soon after and before I fell over on the pavement.

I want to make a magical portal, Linda fancies a nature display of things from our adventures, Holly fancies a purple stained glass window. All these are possible, it’s quite the odd shape.

There will be more.