Out to Play

I went out in the cold sunshine of the Kilpatricks to take some shoe shots, but that really didn’t go so well. Instead I found myself jogging around the trails, gearless and grinning. I ended up tearing along the edge of Lang Craigs as the sun slipped down, arms waving in the air as I skittered down the rocks then across the field to arrive back at the motor, breathless and chuckling.
Somtimes it’s good when it all goes horribly wrong.

Meteor Girl

I pulled the jacket flat to take a couple of shots to do a first-look of it. I turned round to get the camera, and by the time I turned back Holly had decided that she liked the shiny red seat and sat there laughing at me.
Is daddy not taking any photies then?
“Ah, no no””
I guess she’s geared-out. Wise beyond her years that girl.

Banana Cake Mix

The forecast looked less than perfect for getting photies of Creag Meagaidh over the weekend, so I spent Friday night singing songs with Holly, making up stories and generally keeping her up way past her bedtime instead of packing for an overnighter. 
Joycee got out to play with her pals last night too, and a long lie for us all made it happy times this morning.
We decided to just hang out today and spent the day around the Trossachs, lunch in Callander, a wander here, a shufty there and later on we watched the sun set over Loch Venacher as we skipped stones across the water towards it. Then we drove home to the Flash Gordon (Ah-Ah!) soundtrack which Holly loves as it’s her favourite film…
Magic.

That’s That

I had to stop at the usual spot and take a photie, just in case this ghost of winters past disappears when it realises it’s years too late and goes back to 1947.
Loch Ba was solid, the sky had a few holes of pale blue but the snow was coming back and filling them in as it sprinkled the land in a rather relaxed fashion.
Glen Coe was marvellous, me and the girls had lunch, a wander, we chatted to Australians, bought socks and returned home in good spirits with even the traffic failing to be bad enough to burst our bubble. It’s beautiful out there, just like the old days. This was a lovely day to finish the holidays on.

I never regard this place as an information centre, Press Releases just get read and filed, but the one that was waiting for me when I came back was different.
I’ve known for a long time that this was coming, but it’s still a rather melancholy moment to see it in print. Mike Parsons, who regular readers will have seen on here often, the inventor of milestones like the Karrimor Alpiniste packs and Alpiniste Fleece, and more recently brought us the brilliant range of OMM kit has parted company with OMM.
As a member of the OMM Lead User Group it’s been a joy and a privilege to be involved with Mike and the rest of the team over the past few years. To see gear go from an idea, to a discussion, to a drawing, to a sample, to a product in a shop was a fantastic experience. I’ve learned a lot, not just about process of design and production, but about the possibilities that lie within an apparently disparate bunch of folk given the right catalyst, or should that be the right ringmaster?!
I wish Mike all the best for the future, and for the OMM logo to continue to grace kit that’s at the front of the curve.

Mike’s blog post is here, as you’ll see he’s not putting his feet up.

From the mouths of children…

“Tiso rubbish. Transport Museum, Edie McCredie’s bus, okay thanks you”. Holly said it, not me. Not even the waterfall in the Tiso GOE held her interest today.
We slipped and slid our way back to the motor and headed to Glasgow’s rapidly emptying Transport Museum. There’s a new one being built by the Clyde and a lot of exhibits are in a limbo of transition and storage. Plenty people still in there, and the cafe was great. Well, you know me and food.
But, the original museum in the old tram depot on Albert Drive on the south side was still better. They had a huge train set, the cafe was decorated with wooden panels from First Class Victorian railway carriages, and the carpet had Caledonian Railway locomotives on it. I notice that some of that carpet got saved and made it into some of the current museum offices, nice to see there’s a soul in there somewhere and it’s not all just people doing a job.
Holly loves it in there and was distraught when we left. So the next plan was to get a wee sledge instead of dad’s improvised versions (the details of which shall remain a mystery), so we went to Cotswolds in Partick. No sledges and Holly got into a tent upstairs, made soup with a pot and a spork and refused to come out until “Granny phoned” and invited us over for tea. Extra bribery was provided in the form of a wind-up torch in the shape of a ladybird. A magic wee thing, and she spent the journey home shining it on the roof above her.
Great inversion today, I could tell from underneath it. I looked at some web and traffic-cams, the sun was shining on the snow covered mountains.
You know what? I have neither the energy or the motivation to pack and go and see it up close. It’s been nice this past week just doing nothing. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do something. Or the day after that.

Christmas

The girls were unpacking from their trip up north, I was up to my knees in bags, clothes and Christmas parcels. I was also in the way.
I peered out through the fog at the frozen village. I packed a few bits and pieces, dressed for the weather and headed off to look for some sunshine.
It wasn’t far away. As I pulled into the Overtoun House car park the edge of the fog swirled around me and after a couple of minutes I was climbing high above it. The cloud hugged the shape of the Clyde, and everything else was gleaming white and bathed in winter light.
It was a glorious wander though deep powder snow. And absolutely bloody freezing.

I made it back to my folks for lunch and the girls arrived just after me. There has since been much snacking, cuppas and listening for Santa. He’s in for a treat this year, flapjack, tea and apple juice in the Peppa Pig bottle, and of course a carrot for Rudolf are all sitting ready.
Holly is having such a great time this Christmas, she’s so excited, and it’s just a joy to watch. 

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, at this time of year where the highs find new heights and the lows can find new depths, with all my heart and soul, I wish you well.

XLI

The streets were deserted and silent. From struggling through nose to tail traffic in heavy snow at 20mph on the way home, to cIear skies and the village all to myself on the way home from a visit to my folks house for dinner.

Winter walks at night in the snow are pure magic. The snow takes the light and plays with it, everything seems new and clean, the hardest edges are softened, it’s like a sleeping powder has been sprinkled on the land and I missed it and stayed awake because I was in the cellar changing the cheese in the mousetraps.

The girls are stuck up north in the snowdrift that is Joycee’s folks place. It’s getting helluva close to Christmas, lets hope for better roads up there tomorrow.

Auntie Cake Lady

The sun sets across from the window again. It’s nearly as far left as it’s going to go.
I love the feel of December. Whatever the global weather situation, the last couple of years it’s really felt like the year has been drawing to an end at this time of year, the energy was all gone and only the strongest weather elves were still pounding out a tune on the weather organ (made by Moog in 1978). They would be Curtis Cold and Sydney Sunset. Cyril Cloud comes and goes, he’s a game-show fan and his hours an unpredictable.
What will Friday night bring to the mountains? I don’t know, but I’ll be putting in a few miles to find out.

Wheels of Steel

Aye, this week is like an episode of Quantum Leap. Or maybe Stargate Universe, but nobody’s watching that as it sends you into a coma, so that’s a rubbish reference point.
Some rather wacky test kit is appearing, Minim Down Pants and Boots from PHD and Trango boots from LaSportiva. Help ma Boab.

Went to see Gary Numan last night at the ABC with my mate Craig (the drummer one, not the angry looking bald one, although he is bald as well, as are we all), it was outstanding. He was touring his ’79 album “The Pleasure Principle” and played it with great care and maybe even affection for the material, apart from Cars which was played way too fast. Daft bugger.
Four keyboard players of stage creates a huge sound using those 70’s synth tones. Metal bands should be jealous of the heaviness.
It was nice to come out into clear skies and crisp air, the rain is gone for the time being. Still is, we have mist out there just now, the trees now over the river are just starting to poke through. After the gig we headed to the west end for cuppas and a snack, and it was like a fair. Christmas has started early, the alleys where the wine bars and restaurants are are full of revelers and fairylights, street vendors and buskers. There was even happy smiley faces in their best outfits, still just a little merry rather than wellied.
Maybe Quantum Leap isn’t far enough for me, maybe it’s more like Lost in Space? Whatever it’s nice to visit another planet now and again.

Now, my dilemma is the weather forecast and it’s effect on what happens to me over the next few days. There’s a window there, but whether I can get through it, or I’ll just get one arm and my head in and get stuck, only a man with a packed rucksack will be able talk about after the attempt.

7″, 12″ and Limited Edition Shaped Picture Disc.

I haven’t been out the door this weekend. The world outside looked like a helluva place to be altogether, so I sat inside with my cough and tried to exorcise it with snacking and telly.
Interestingly this seems to have had some effect. I shall therefore increase my snacking and telly intake as it obviously has previously undiscovered health benefits. I reckon a week of such therapy would transformeven the poorliest of specimens into a sparkling athlete, positively bursting with hootspa, possibly gusto, and to a lesser degree glee.

I caught up on some writing stuff which I had badly screwed up on. Losing the computer was just inconvenient for most stuff, this one item was a nightmare to put back together. Lesson learned. Maybe.

This will be an interesting week ahead as I’m so behind with work. I have to run around all day tomorrow and placate customers face to face (always better that way) so I can disappear again on Tuesday as I’ve got Holly all day, Alright!
I’m supposed to have ordered kit to fit at various places as well, exactly what and where escapes for the moment, so searching for clues is ahead. Customers don’t like when you don’t know what you’re meant to be doing for them, it unnerves them for some reason, so I’ll be tentatively fishing for some reminders during the conversations. Ah, this is going to be awfully tiring.

Still, apart from Holly-day, there are Alice Cooper and Gary Numan gigs this week which I’m looking forward to. Then there’s the snow which will be falling up high all the while this rain is causing such difficulties for us all down below.
In some ways I feel like I’m coming out of a very long tunnel. Where the hell have I been and what have I been doing there?

And now, once again I turn to the backlog, die you bastard, die.

Bastard Inconvenience featuring Feeble (courtesy of Atco Records)

I just knew the week was cooked on Monday when I went up the hills. I’ve spend every night since on the couch, wrapped in thedog blanket (that’s what I call the “guest duvet”, is that wrong?) coughing unabated along to garbage telly until 0400 where I pass out for a couple of blissful hours and gradually choke of snotters.

I’ve had a rucksack packed for days to no avail, and I am now totally stir crazy. I’ve been out, met up with Bobinson for lunch (which included an interesting proposition from an older lady, ask me later), and met up with the spark who does my panels and controls to give him some overdue payments. See, it’s a domino effect when you don’t get paid by a customers right away or contracts run askew due to ” a reason”. You have to pass on the misfortune down the line which affects other jobs, trade accounts, goodwill is eroded and the spindly scaffold which holds up the apparently innocently smiley advertising hoarding of daily life that motorists absent-mindedly gaze at while planning to beat the other guy away from the lights, but which actually covers the precariously worn gear wheels of society, takes another hit at its wee flat feet.
I don’t bring the banks into my worry bubble of payments here, they deserve all they get for preying on people’s weaknesses. They’re drug dealers selling credit hits, and damn the consequences because it’s all legal.

Joycee is away with the camera, so I am mercifully spared the option of photographing more unused gear indoors. I have been wearing the Chocolate Fish merino hoody every day though, it’s bloody marvellous. It’s not going on a hill though, the hood’s definitely casual in it’s approach, even a little Emperor Palpatine you might say. Cool.

So Monday’s imminent again. Will it be new opportunities with new energy? New ailments and new excuses? Will I get my thumb out of mY ass and get on with stuff?
Whatever, lets hope for a dismal day tomorrow so the week starts the right way up.

My Inner Sanctum, R-I-P, Uh!

Celtic Frost lyrics as a post title, I’ve waited two years to get some of that stuff in.

The computer is dead. Completely dead, as pronounced by computer doctors in the computer hospital.
I have most stuff backed up on the wee ootside box, so all I’m missing are some annoying inconveniences, some work stuff an’ that. All the photies are safe, as is my iTunes library. I just hope I don’t get audited by the VAT people or something, because I’ve got heehaw left for the last two quarters now.

So, I’m working off of Joycee’s old ex-work laptop (It’s Bontempi or Mattel, the label’s worn off…) for the foreseeable future. At first I was horrified, now I quite like it. It’s wee, sociably quiet, in fact the keyboard is nearly silent, the only problem is the slightly odd screen colouring that I can’t quite get right. Photies don’t look right, so editing down to blog size and shape is going to a minefield of potentialy amusing explosions of colour. Ah what the hell.
The laptop had some old photies on it, one below of a high camp above Loch Trieg from years back, and above that’s Skye from Gairich, and it’s so nice to see some of the stuff again. Even me and Joycee as a carefree young couple in the Cairgorms, jeez!

New computer? Aye, soon. Now that I know that it’s not coming back, I don’t feel the pressure that I did at first when there was an unfamiliar gap under the table.
Stuff is good, stuff is handy, but you don’t really need stuff after all.

Monday Morning Blues

I went back to work this morning. Well, I switched my phone on anyway and sat with a cuppa feeling thoroughly fed up thinking about it. I had to spend the day kneeling in front of two old boilers in a boiler house that’s basically outside. It was icy, the snotters are still dripping out of my nose, so I cancelled ’til later in the week. Sorry, health first, customers later.
I sat with a second cuppa and looked out at the fog. When you go to the hills, you know that fog is just a sham, it’s not really “weather” and you can work around it. As the morning wore on I realised there was a wee chance here that might be too good to miss. So I dressed, grabbed the camera and headed out.

That was a good plan. It’s not often you get a cloud inversion and a Brocken Spectre a few hundred metres from your front door on a Monday morning.
If this week ahead gets any better than this I will be very much surprised. It really shouldn’t have opened the gig with its best song.

I have a feeling when I see the photies below on a real computer screen (still on the Bontempi laptop here) they’ll be a psychedelic kaleidoscope of otherworldly colours. Especially that Brocken Spectre one.
Ach, I’ll sort it all later. Maybe.

Monday morning joy. The blue was the sky.

Weekend

It was Holly’s second birthday on Saturday. She’s recovering from the same bug I eventually got (and Granny, Mum…), but she still loved her presents, cake and candles.
I can’t believe it’s been two years. It feels like two minutes, but we feel like we’ve always been a team of three.
There really is no greater joy in life than watching your little one learn and grow. As much as I sometimes would happily sell my soul for an undisturbed nights sleep, I am a lucky, lucky man.

We went for a little galavant today to show Holly the snow on the tops and have a wander and a picnic in the winter sunshine. Everyone else seemed to have the same idea, and the roads were mobbed. Good to see folk off the couch.
We came home to a subdued winter sunset across the Clyde. I miss that during the dull months in the middle of the year, the sun hits the horizon out of sight of the living room window.
Tired but happy.

I’ve got mixed emotions about tomorrow. Monday means I have to switch my phone on and deal with stuff and things as I’m fully mobile again.
But, last week some money came in and the cheques should be cleared (self-employed remember, no wages) so I’ll probably buy some ammo with that and shoot at the vultures circling above me while I eat a festive bake from Greggs at lunchtime. I won’t get them all, but enough to keep the group circling higher until they re-group later on.
Lets see what karma hits me with to redress the balance with that slight swing towards optimism.

More Stickers?!

It’s not all been gear and bikes, I’ve been grafting all the hours available as well to try and catch up with work so I can go to Ft Bill next week with the reassurance of invoices submitted and warm pipes where once there were cold pipes.
It’s getting there thank Jimmy.

As I was making my way back to the boilerhouse from Greggs (they know me in the Dumbarton Greggs now, help ma’ boab) with my lunch today, yes Saturday, a bloke in a boilersuit approached me from the roadworks on the other side of the street “D’ye no remember me?”. With some prompting I did, he worked for me over the summer, ten years ago. We used to take on school leavers as temporary labour on maintenance contracts to give them work experience and of course to lend some much needed extra hands. It worked well for years, the Careers Office were delighted and the youngsters got something on their C.V. and a referee.
A combination of contract changes and increasingly difficulty in getting the right people meant that we haven’t done this for a few years now, and I always did wonder how a lot of the boys did after their time with us. Some showed a real interest in learning the tools, some wanted to know if they still got paid when they went off sick tomorrow (which would be their second day with us…), some you wished well on their last day and some stole your Stanley knife out of your toolbox.
However, the chance meeting today was good news, after moving through a few jobs over the years he’d started on his own and was building his own business up. Magic.

I had a wee revelation earlier on his week too. I’m sometimes very surprised by the people around me. You think you know yourself well, but then what initially seemed like a strange gesture or an odd gift, later turns out to be a stunning piece of insight. Never underestimate the powers of those close to you.