The Wee Spark gets doon and oot, Part 1

Boats sit in the water and that water wants to get in and so does the plant life swirling around in it, so your hull need cleaned and repainted to keep things watertight and rot free. But your boat sits in the water.
So, you if you want to get into it you’ve got to get out of it. That’s where a trip down the Clyde come sin, a sail down to Dumbarton to Sandpoint Marina to get lifted out and onto shore for a frantic couple of days work. We were hoping the sun would shine.

The crew for the day was Jimmy, Bill and John, the usual suspects. The Wee Spark was in the canal so had to come down through the lock into the top basin, drop the mast and funnel to get under the broken and therefor unopenable bascule bridge then get prepped for going through the sea lock into the harbour and the river beyond.
This prep was putting the mast and funnel back up and waiting for the tide while enjoin tea and pieces on the deck while waiting for the tide.

 

We had a wee bunch of well wishers to send us off when we got into the sea lock. The Wee Spark draws folk in and just makes them smile, it’s quite something.  Even water in the air pipe going to the whistle meaning the cheery toot as they sailed into the harbour was actually a gurgley squeak was endearing.
Off the went with me waving a white hankie as the chugged away onto the Clyde.

I swapped the hankie for my phone pretty quick though “Can you see that coming up river, huge bow wave?”
They did and were getting ready for it, but the speeding tug threw on the brakes and passed the Spark safely. That would have not been fun.
Fair play to the tug captain and good observation spotting them, but they shouldn’t have been horsing on like that.
However, it was back to the motor and down to Dumbarton to wait for them.
I didn’t have too long and they made quite an entrance, that wee splash of colour stands out well on the crags of Dumbarton Rock.

The boat lift is quite a machine. It drives into the Leven, cradles the boat and drives back out with it swinging inside the frame. The Spark is surprisingly beefy at eight tons but the lift has a forty ton rating so this thing is strong enough not to notice us and it has no cross bracing except at the drive end. I’m always dead impressed by it.
More impressive is the convenience of it as they leave is hanging at a good working height to get into the flat bottom and get it prepped for painting. We were all scrapers and wire brushes until Frank who was working on his yacht offered his pressure washer. Oh happy day, hours saved, knees saved and never was a bottle so well deserved. Bless you sir.

The intense heat dried the hull fast and by the time dusk came we had two coats of black on. We sat by the Leven with fish suppers raided from the High Street, tea in dirty old mugs, faces dirty and a just a little sunburnt.
Job nearly done, just got to get back in the water tomorrow and race for home.

Blink and you’ll miss it

I’ll knew the eclipse was coming but I still forgot a camera. It was cloudy too, maybe that was a subconscious gremlin in my pocket filling routine for the day ahead.

Whatever, when it broke through the gloom I was having a fly cuppa with Linda and was many miles away from base and any camera.

I didn’t want to miss it so I snapped away on my phone and got several shots over bright blurry disappointment. I sat in the motor ready to leave and saw my clip-on Polaroid shades. Oh, says I.

Scratched sunglasses over phone camera lens. Day saved.

Jumping back in time

My old pal Rab from School scanned a bunch of old photies and shared them online with most of the folks in them, including me, mostly with a guitar.
I haven’t seen or heard of some of the folk in there since the 80’s. So many memories and also so many things I just do not remember at all.

From pals to nothing, how does that happen. Glad to say I regularly bump into some of them along at the old folks social club, Facebook that is.

One thing is for sure though, I was a skinny hairy bugger in my late teens. While I wouldn’t mind being lighter and maybe having some extra living follicles up top, I like the man I became better than that daft boy.

Oh, the stupid things he is about to do and say. For years to come. Don’t do it Peter… Too late.

Tomorrow’s Dream Vol 12

I think this was the first photie I ever posted on here and that’s getting on for a long time ago now.
It still looks something the same, the view as well as this dark mode bucket of digital consciousness. The rhododendrons have gone from around the pines now which has changed the whole feel of Black Wood.
It’s not so black for a start, the light shines right through. I suppose that gives a clearer shot at the deer…

So lockdown is gone and when we finally got out it was on the day when the heaviest rain we’d had in weeks arrived, maybe even in months. We looked at the hills from the motor and ate our lunch.
That’s a lie actually, we looked at where the hills probably were.
I’m trying to take positives from the experience but other that the company I was keeping there’s nothing to report, the roads are full of stupids and there’s litter everywhere, the A82 is like the access road to a landfill site where overfilled bin lorries are dropping crap from their load as they trundle towards the gate. It’s actually quite dispiriting.

Not the glorious return I was hoping for. It’ll be better next time.

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.

Floored (Tales from the Toolbox)

I seem to spend a lot of my time on a floor, or indeed under a floor. I suspect I’m getting to old for it too as the recent trapped upside down with my back arched over an electrical trunking under a concrete slab incident brought to mind.

But it can be pretty. look at that window. I woke up to fresh snow all over Misty Law and Hill of Stake on Saturday and immediately went to spend the day prepping four churches’ heating to go back for their surprise services the next day after a successful legal action during the week. Which I did rather enjoy.
Aye, you can safely hang out together in a church now but I can’t step foot in Argyle and Bute solo. I spend my life in churches, surely all that dust from the floor must give me whatever covid repelling proprieties that they said they have to allow early reopening?

I could probably say that I wish I had their lawyers, but what the hell. I can’t begrudge folk getting together for their mental health, and that’s exactly what this is. Besides, given the average age of congregations, they’ll mostly have had their shots. I wish them well and look forward to getting cuppas and cake when the groups start filtering back into the church halls when I’m in fixing stuff.
I get to know the days where groups are on, Wednesday I can get soup here, Monday is just coffee there, Friday is, well we’ll come back to that.

For now I’ll just lie on the floor until it’s my turn to go out and play. At least the window is nice.

Banter

I was heartened just overhearing a group of chatty women around my age (50s) and older which proved that understanding equality isn’t something new or generational, it’s down to the individual.
In a Glasgow accent of course: “We’re aw the same. Black, white, fat, skinny, gay, aw the same”.

But being Glasgow, within 30 seconds the same voice also said “Ha ha, he’s needin’ a boot in the baws”.

I love this city.

Tomorrow’s Dream Vol 6

I think I’m wearing fleece pants there. Funny that’s the first thing I noticed before I realised that I had hair and that it’s dark brown. When the hell did I take this?

Bein Ime from Beinn Narnain, I can feel my feet there right now. My favourite hill.

That’s it really, no rambling insights, no tortuous ruminations on past deeds or melancholy observations, just an old photie.

Ach, I’ll maybe explain that last bit though. I got some very good advice once by Matt Swaine, the editor of Trail mag back in the day and a man who made a lot of sense, had great imagination and encouraged me a lot.
He told me to put myself in my photies after I submitted some landscapes to go along with something I’d done early on in my time there. He explained his reasons and I agreed once it had been pointed out.
I can easily tune out of looking at landscapes unless they’re unusual and different, but I can flick through my old mountain guide books again and again. That’s because there’s folk in the shots more often than not and I think that shows me subconsciously that I can do that, that I can be there too.

It won’t work for everyone, some folk want that blank canvas. Me, I want to be that figure, so I am. Or was? No, will be.
Also, I’ll admit there’s a certain joy at looking at the younger skinnier me. Oh if only he knew what was ahead.

Take photies, and get yourself in them. Capture yourself in the heart of the moment and give yourself a smile looking back in 20 years time.
Just don’t trip running for the timer.

You can pick your friends, but not your days of the week.

It was a Tuesday and that wasn’t the problem, it was the Monday before it, that was the problem.
Tuesday did everything right, it turned upon time, did a fantastic job, but everyone still talked about Monday.

I can see Tuesday’s point, you are what you are, just like Monday was and you can’t be anything but. And why should you try to be anything other than yourself anyway?
Be a Tuesday, be the best Tuesday you can be, just never mind what Monday id doing.

I’ll tell you though, Wednesday really was rubbish.

Ample Park(ing)

Balloch Park has become a regular leg stretcher. It’s got some height in it so it’s airy and there’s decent views to the Luss Hills and Ben Lomond which are noticeably closer than what we get to see from the crags. I mean, it’s something isn’t it.
The snow on those hills again btw. Good grief.

The Leven had flooded the woodland by the banks giving some nice reflections. A wee bit if fidgeting makes it look a big more heavy metal.

This was on Sunday, Mother’s Day. A wee chat at the door and gifts passed at arms length is what I managed.

Another important mark missed due to factors outwith my control. Aye.

 

Flicking the Vee

We’re being reroofed so I haven’t been opening the bedroom curtains. The steps up through the scaffolding run past the window and it’s not dirty laundry I want them to miss on their way up to painfully slowly and incompetently replace the slates, it’s everything else.

However has made this wee happy accident possible and the sliver of light that was slicing in through the gap in the curtains had to be caught.

I was nearly going to put a rucksack in to catch it, but this was way better. Another of my most favourite things.

Lockdown has kept this out of the studio for what feels like a lifetime.

I miss making music with other people as much as I miss the hills beyond my council border.

 

Football comes to the Lang Craigs

We had some messages from visitors that there were large groups of people drinking and shouting and that there was lots of smoke at the Lang Craigs on Sunday.

Some of the debris was picked up and bagged for pickup this morning before I did a sweep for damage. I found plenty. I could still smell the burning despite the heavy rain early on.

Apparently this was all due to football.

Don’t know quite how that works, but aye, thanks for that.

Monday on my mind.

Maybe this will be my last thought on it, or vaguely related to it. Maybe not.

It’s so grey now, you have to love the contrast. It’s like the bloke that worked on a job we were on for many weeks, I think he was in the ventilation squad.
Anyway, he quite anonymously and quietly worked away doing ducting and whatnot making no real impression or impact until one day at a general informal site meeting where we were standing around chatting about where we all were so were weren’t working over each other or getting too far ahead for each other he started juggling steel pipe fittings like a seasoned circus performer. And with a straight face too. You could have heard a pin drop.

Never underestimate anyone and never assume anything.

Gothika

Either solo or team, most nights are having a good walk with distance and urgency part of the agenda. Well, until it looks rather nice and we stop and get our phones out.
The nearly incessant rain hasn’t been a deterrent, it just means more jackets than ususal are hanging up and drying. It is giving some wonderful light though.
The old railway is mostly in a deep cut lined with tall mature trees, the A82 lights are high on one side and the village is low on the other so at night it really does feel a little like you’re adrift from the rest of the world.

The phone does its best to capture the darkness through shaky hands and repeated screen fumbling and I really like what it comes up with: atmospheric poor quality shots.

When we get back sometimes we find we’ve been out for a couple of hours which is brilliant, it’s hours not spent in front of Netflix. Oh, the new Snowpiercer episode came out last night. Dammit.

It’s a blur of muted tones in a blur of hard to measure time in this endless lockdown limbo state. It really is things like this that are saving the day, time spent not wasted. It’s been too easy to swing the wrong way on that equation but hard not to, and there’s no judging for that for any of us.

But just think, a year ago if we’d shut the borders, strictly adhered to social distancing and not let the stoopids run free would we be where we are now or would we be looking back at recent memories of the best winter for years spent playing in Highland snow with ice axes and the ones we love?

I’m directing blame quite precisely and I think I might have grown a little vein of bitterness to carry forward because of it. I’ve never fueled up on negative energy but you could also say that if you don’t ever get angry you don’t care enough. I do care, and I’m angry. I always have been. But joy motivates me more, it always has done.

There will be no closure for any of us after this has died down, because it will not ever be over, I think we just have to make our peace with the effects on our own lives and those close to us.
That’s going to be the hard part, right now we’re holding on, once we can relax our grip and have time to think, really think. That’s going to be a lot to work through.

Anger and joy, the cocktail of tomorrow.

Border Crossing

I never though Argyle and Bute would feel like a foreign land. With documents and accurate accent in place I headed into the unfamiliar on a solo mission of extreme urgency.
Church heating needed my attention.

It was a glorious day and a joy to be out. The previous perfect white blanket of snow on the hills is now streaks after the thaw but Ben Lomond still looks very fine, and oh so very close to where I was driving.

The church is familiar to me and my toolbox, most of them are around here, and I always try to do maintenance visits in Spring and Autumn because it’s the loveliest graveyard I’ve ever seen.

Colour bursts from the ground (thank you to those pushing it up from below) in Spring and rains down from the trees at the tail of the year, but this year it’s a veritable explosion and a very early one too that I found when I pulled off the road onto the gravel with crocus’ and snowdrops flooding the grass from stone to stone.

The currently rare sunshine has other delights that I was glad too see when I got inside, even my wee pal up the back was getting some warmth on her cheeks.

I was very happy indeed to be at my work and overjoyed to be out and about. It’s such a lovely world waiting for us.