I gave that one above some serious consideration, but I keep wanting to fall sideways off my chair when I look at it, so I don’t think it’ll do at all.
The one below is much more sensible, and possibly more believeable.

In the olden days wizened auld wifies of the Hebrides would hunch over their weaving doodahs and do technical things (look, it’s 2am, I’m not researching this to get the right words, so hush now) with thread in the hope of making a pleasing sample of new tartan for the evil clan chieftan to hopefully approve of, or it was back to the cliffs to look for puffin eggs with nothing but a pair of clogs as protection for her and her family.
These days, you can just click on here or here and you’re a virtual weaver, just without the physical hardship and constant threat of violence or eviction. Or cattle rustling, well, I am a Macfarlane after all.

Anyway, I’m thinking of redecorating the place with one of these lovely purpley tartans that i spent simply ages designing.
Must be easier on the eye that all that orange.

Flush the Fashion

I found a big file of photies from one of my old phones tonight. It’s all from years ago, and there’s a bunch of great stuff on there, there’s sad, there’s happy, bizarre, and stuff I just don’t remember anything about at all. Just what a pile of old photies should be really.

I now remember being stuck in an abandoned office block testing pipework with nothing but an almost-finished flip board and some pens to play with as we waited for something (or nothing) to happen. The results of which were clicked upon by whatever annoyingly unreliable Sony Ericsson I had at the time.
Not only had I forgotten all about the day in question, but also all about the original inspiration for the drawing below. It’s nice to have a wee reminder of both.

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.

Blue Moon

When one door sticks, another one opens.
Our business in this world is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.
Ne’er cast a clout till May be oot.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.
Be happy yer living, for yer a lang time deid.
A misty morning might be a clear day yet.
A good tale never tires in the telling.
Plaister thick an some will stick.
Better speak bauldly out than aye be grumphin’.

Start as you mean to go on.

The Bedford Level Experiment

Christmas is the end of the year for me. It’s the bullet hitting the target, the week that follows is just the old year falling to the ground. I get my thoughtful moments and reflection out of the way, and by the time Hogmanay is here I’m thinking “new and next”.
But, I was just flicking through my old photies after posting some stuff on Scottish Hills and there were some that made me frown and smile at the memories, and there’s some of these again below. It was a year of stuff and things, victories and defeats, happy accidents and big mistakes.
This place has trundled on quite happily and has helped my memory no end, for the first time in my life I can actually see where I was and what I was doing. The other previous 39 years are a haze of faces, places and ducking to avoid incoming fire.

One last moment of reflection before the lights go out. For those kind messages sent that I couldn’t find the right words to reply to, thank you.

What’s new and next I wonder… ?

Running Bear Loves Little White Dove

Three equally wonderful things have I before me.

The 1 litre Sigg bottle with the nice textured masonry paint from Holly brings me much joy. The standard (or is that “classic” in today’s world?) Sigg narrow-necked bottles are so impractical when you’ve used wide-mouth types, but they are somehow reassuring, dependable and any shortcomings are forgiven unconditionally. The screw tops are still the easiest types to open when frozen I think.
The Sigg KIng of Skulls retro thing is tiny, heavy and brilliant. The stainless steel used for this and the other oval types do have a bit of a metallic taste to them I think, but what the hell, after drinking what tastes like liquefied paddling pool from a Camelbak bladder everything after tastes like dew drops from the petals of flowers in the garden of Mount Olympus. Or Babylon, they had nice gardens apparently. Big hanging baskets they say. Must have been a bugger to water.
The vintage reissue Irn Bru can as seen in my childhood? Words cannot express my emotion at grasping it in my mitts. Drinking it will be like the first breath of fresh air after being stuck in Skylab for six months documenting mice struggling in zero gravity while watching out the porthole for that big satellite stealer spaceship from Moonraker. Hey, you never know.


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.


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.


I’ve opened the last wee envelope on the laptop and there’s stacks of stuff I haven’t seen for ages on here.
Disturbingly I’m very young in a lot of it. It’s all scans too, so more ropey than normal, but it’s nice to see once again where I’ve been and why growing old isn’t better or worse, it’s just different.

That was a cracking day Joycee and I had above with an inversion on Loch Tay behind, rolling up Glen Lochay below us. We were climbing Meall Ghaordaidh, and it looks like I’m wearing a cape for some reason.

Mind you, I’m more oddly dressed on Schiehallion below. Help ma’ Boab.

That one is really going back, maybe as far as the one below.
No it’s not a big bouffant hairdo I’ve got (I’m on the move), it’s an authentically 70’s centre parting affair. If you look at my right arm you’ll see the strand of hair sticking to the sweat and ending in a wee clump on my forearm. At this stage in my life where all the hair is on my face or somewhat alarmingly, my shoulders, it’s important to get such details correct.


Life on the laptop continues, and tonight I found some thumbnails of our wedding photies.
One wonderful comment we got was “That’s a nice painting you’re in front of”. Idiot.
We were married at the Kings House at Glen Coe. Well, outside of it in the sunshine actually, and as it was the first of March it was bloody freezing. The assembled family and guests were on the verge of hypothermia by the time we went inside for dinner (where there were plates of donuts along the tables, yes, we did all the arrangements ourselves), which was all stuff folk actually liked and the wedding cake was chocolate with white icing.
There was other family baiting tomfoolery throughout proceedings from the ceremony music (Duane Eddy’s Rebel Rouser played by me and Jimmy, and the theme from The Dambusters too) to the flowers which were thistles, purple feathers, orchids and pussy willow. It was entirely stress free, before and during.
Happy days indeed.


I have long campaigned for more skulls to be applied to outdoor gear. And stars.
If we can’t have proper colours, them we should at least have decorations that look good.

The first step in the right direction has come from Sigg, and they have with one stroke hit all my personal markers with this one product. It’s a variation of their brilliant oval shaped bottle, it’s retro, you can’t lose the lid, and not only does it have a skull on it, it’s the “King of Skulls”.

Santa has been informed that if I don’t find one of these under the tree on Christmas morning (or on my birthday just before, but the 25th’s a deadline) it won’t be Turkey we’ll be still eating on Boxing Day, it’ll be Donner and Blitzen. And Rudolf.

Walk like a duck

I remember my first crampons. Purple Stubai’s, ten points with about ten feet of straps which always came undone and trailed about me until I tripped on them and tried to hide them inside my gaiters.
My first axe was a Stubai as well, a metallic blue thing with a welded-on adze and no teeth on the pick.
I felt like I was a mountaineer.
My instruction in their use was very much the application of a trial and error technique followed by looking at “action” line drawings of men in breeches in an old book when I got home. But learning what doesn’t work is as important as what does, like self arresting with a 70cm axe. I bought a 55cm Mountain Technology the following Sunday afternoon.
I’ve stuck with 55cm or 60cm since. 57.5cm would be perfect, but you can’t have it all.
Winter kit has so many memories tied to it.