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More famous than Susan Boyle!


Monday, June 30, 2008


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I'M SITTING IN A RAILWAY STATION...

. . . Got a ticket for my destination . . .

Days these days are filled with things I absolutely must blog about the moment I get a minute - but neither the minute nor the moment ever seems to show up.

Last Monday was Ben Ledi near Callander, Stirling - at 879m simply the highest I've been alone. Still adventurous after Saturday's lairig!

At the summit I met a guy sheltering from the June hailstones in a tiny bothy. We chatted, as he showed me the various descents. His name was Bill, and he was 72. Bill and Ben. Hardly make it up.

So here we are again, in a rocky reprise. So wish I could send pics from this phone. Have a nice Monday! P x .


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Monday, June 23, 2008

TICK, DONE IT, GOT THE LAIRIG

Oh it was quite splendid, although very tiring. Hence yesterday's silence. Zombied.

Story later,such as it is, but the pics are already on Flickr on the sidebar. I need to go back to the Cairngorms and embrace them, make them my own.

This post en route to Callander, where I might climb Ben Ledi (850m). Or not. P x


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Friday, June 20, 2008

HAPPY SOLSTICE!

That's right. On the twentieth of June this year, but only for readers west of Greenwich. Because it's at 23.29. One minute later and we'd be talking 21st. So zoe and Daffers will get it on the usual day.

This time tomorrow I'll still be only part way along the Lairig Ghru. Can't remember when I last was so excited. Seriously. Wednesday I completed my stamina training in the Pentlands in horizontal sleet, and since then it's been R and R - mostly for the feet. Plates of meat.

I got gel plasters, gel footpads and gel cushion insoles. Any more gel and I'd be auditioning for Grease.

Several people have told me the Lairig is on their 'must do before I die' lists. So exciting. Still off the booze. Next and final thing must be coffee. So intoxicating.

Wish me luck. P x

LATER, BACK HOME

This is a strange thing to write, as dissatisfaction seems to be a human necessity - but I think I've got everything I want.

Everything. I. Want.

These last few days have been as close to perfection as any man has a right to expect. How odd. Must be the solstice - all that light stuff in the sky.

OK. It's after ten now, and I must to bed, then rise with the pussy at 4.30. Sandwiches to make and pack. Food for a whole long day. Water. Grapes. Muesli Bars - so much more stylish than Mars.

GPS is primed, feet rested, bumped into Chav Gav and L in Ocean Terminal this pm. I've been going to the Starbucks there quite a bit since quitting pubs, mas o menos. Pisspot full of coffee for 2 pounds 5p. HMV are doing All About Eve for seven quid, reduced from eighteen. Lidl are doing delicious smoothies (assorted) for 69p the quarter litre. Scrumptious. I got six for the Lairig tomorrow, but they all went double quick. So I got eight more today.

Bread will be Kingsmill Oats and Seeds. So excited! Did I say that? It's 22.24 now - twenty after the sunset, but there's still not a cloud in the sky. Solstice in hour and a half - you can almost feel it. Yesterday in the Botanic Gardens I watched as a bird banged a snail out of its shell then ate it alive. Pulled its wee alimentary canal out. Beak and claw. I made the movie, but only of the eating part. Nokia has a movie editing suite. Is there anything it doesn't do? I was in the Glasshouses. Free after 4.30. Bunch of Triffids. There's a lichen exhibition on til July 6th. Nice. You get to use real microscopes. Free.

Oh. Nearly forgot. I got to put the sun photo every six months or the world might end. Like in LOST.

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.



As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.





HERE'S SOME PRETTY...

...pics from Edinburgh Botanic Garden today.







SPRINGWATCH

And here's that bird eating a snail alive. Don't look: it's too awful.

You can see the empty and essentially useless shell to the left of the bird. Then it blows away. Fat lot of good, if you think about it. I'm starting to think live Newsblogging. (There is NO SPEECH in this movie for obvious reasons.)


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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ALL ABOUT SPOILERS

Dismayed last night, on switching on All About Eve, to see some young man with bad hair and even worse teeth, telling me all the plot. By the time I found a mute button the movie was materially spoiled.

Radio Times magazine is as bad. Every damn film is laid bare before you even start. Must write to the editor..

On Pentland bus for the final training for Lairig Ghru this weekend. So exciting! P x


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

TEST-ICLE


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SUMMER HEIGHTS HIGH

Interesting and unusual Aussie comedy show on BBC3 last night, which you can (and should) catch on its first repeat this evening. It's wonderful that nowadays you can see just about everything just about three times in the same week.

This all comes about because of my continuing flirtation with sobriety - ten days and counting. Interesting and unusual times. And which all go to show the silliness of the government's booze guidelines. Twenty four units a week will get you quite rip-roaring drunk on two separate days. Quite. 'Nuff said. And being quite rip-roaring drunk twice a week is not good. Cannot be good, physically or emotionally. Bad Tennents.

Anyway - Summer Heights High. It's a "mockumentary" of life in an Australian High School, written, produced by, and starring in three roles a guy called Chris Lilley. Who is very funny indeed. (Ignore the Radio Times, who simply don't get it.)
Repeated tonight on BBC 3. Miss it at your peril.

NOT WATCHING YOU

Something I am cheerfully missing is Big Brother - with its usual mix of trailertrash wannabees. Quite ghastly. I had it on for ten minutes, nine of those without sound as I can't abide those Northern English accents. One guy appears to be blind, and another fat twat looks like a cross between Dean Martin and Sylvester Stallone, both gone badly to seed. The shades on top of his head say all.

Real outdoors people never use sunglasses, you know. They are yet another example of a complete waste of money. Huge money in some cases. Like hair products, and oh I could go on all day, in the absence of anything actually happening in my life.

Well, not strictly true. On Sunday I walked along two canals with the walking group. At Falkirk the Union Canal meets the Forth and Clyde Canal, except due to an apparent ghastly mismanagement of geography, it's hundreds of feet higher up. Quite a sight - a canal coming to an abrupt end, hundreds of feet in the air.



So they built a huge contraption to raise and lower the boats from one canal to another. You couldn't make it up. It's called the Falkirk Wheel.



HEEL THYSELF

Just when I should be training for Lairig Ghru, my new Raichle boots have made a callus on my left heel. This is due to bad construction of the footbed, which has a ridge where there should be smoothness. You just can't get quality these days, for love nor money. I've attacked it with scissors. Plus spent fortunes on foot preparations. Cinderella shall walk the Lairig Ghru.

Work now. Pics and links later. I even took a video of the Falkirk Wheel in action, but it goes on for five minutes and is mega boring. Mebbe speed it up.

Update: Due to Blogger's indisposition, this post was very late in appearing, so you might miss tonight's repeat of SHH. However, the good news is that Summer Heights High is available on iPlayer


Video

Falkirk Wheel in action (5 mins)

What you see is one floating boat being lowered from the Union Canal to the Forth and Clyde Canal, and another one raised vice versa. Because of Archimedes principle, the weights of the two gondolas are identical. So the process takes no more power than that of three electric kettles and the electricity for the entire day costs around ten pounds.

You still get the feeling there must be an easier way...


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Friday, June 06, 2008

SPRINGWATCH!



You know the tourist season has arrived when you see these yellow-jacketed creatures prowling the streets. OK, it was Rose Street, Edinburgh in the middle of the afternoon, arguably the least likely place in the discovered universe for any crime to happen, but still they thanklessly pound the beat so that the tourists might sleep sound in their hotel beds.

Try to find one in any Leith streets however, and you might as well stab yourself in the back to save your assailant the bother.

As a cynical PR exercise this would be hard to beat.



Will and Grace are on cracking laugh-out-loud form just now.

Have great weekends all... and watch for PC Plod.


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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

ALIEN V PREDATOR

You wait all week for one, and then two come along at once...

Might be more understandable if you do in fact read Tuesday (below) first...

Yesterday was notable for its very bad weather forecast. All were united... metoffice, metcheck, BBC, ITV, you name it. Each one had the dreaded black cloud and two raindrops - for the entire livelong day. Metoffice even had a Severe Weather Warning for my region set at 60 percent probability. All were agreed - a really fucked up soaking wet day.

All except one, that is.

Por qua?

My humble Lidl weather station stuck to its guns and forecast cloud yes, but not one drop of aitch two oh. Not one. And apart from the lightest of sprinkles at around eleven, that was exactly what happened.

So:
Met Office supercomputer array (3.2 billion pounds): nul points

Lidl Weather Station (14 pounds 99p): dix points
You pays yer money...

PAINT YER WAGON

Celebrated my new life as an ex-drinker yesterday by splashing out a little, both on calories and goods, the main being a nice linen-look suit from BHS. Just 60 quid for the jacket, and 29 for the trousers. I love it when they sell them separately. Makes for a much easier fitting. The trousers are just a touch snug, but then non-drinkers get slim quite quickly.

The man from Del Monte says Yes!

More prosaically, it'll distract my bingo ladies' attention away from the midge bites still adorning my forehead. To which end I bought piriton tablets but they make you all trippy. Nevertheless, after two of them I could see they do what it says on the box. Good night's sleep all round then, and today is glorious, just glorious. Not yet seven of the am, and those Salisbury Crags look so damn inviting. Trouble is - once I got up there it would take some willpower to come back down to earth and work with its windowless gloom. (Gambling emporia rarely have windows or clocks. Nothing must remind the punters that they have other things to do.)

In a couple of weeks I'm on an expedition doing Lairig Ghru, the highest pass in the Cairngorms. Twenty miles, some of it over boulders. Very exciting!



I think my hair has stopped growing again. Send follicle prayers to Kunta Kinte the hair-god.


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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

MANEATER!!

The midges are back, and they're badder than ever!

Sunday, you might recall, was my most recent attempt at group leadership in the West of Scotland, near the famed Loch Lomond. All was going quite well till we sat down for elevenses on the shore of Loch Goil, a lesser but still quite attractive body of water.

"What are those tiny flies?" I asked Bob. "Not midges I hope."

"They're midges," replied Bob.

"Holy shit."

HILLS ARE ALIVE

So we set off again, leaving sea level and heading man and womanfully into the hills. All was going well at the gentle pace I set, until the very last gasp when I clocked a woman in the group falling seriously behind. Another of our party, a retired nurse, was helping her out.

So I shimmied my way back down thirty metres or so, manfully in charge you see, to check out what was going on. And the poor woman was knackered. And covered in midges. Her brown arms were rapidly going black. The midges had found their prey.

Which immediately began to include moi and all the others who were waiting at the top. Darlings, it was all too much for television, but one had to cope. This was the first serious test of my leadership to date.

RESCUE ME

Then a guy offered to take the stricken hiker back down to safety so that the group might progress. I accepted his offer with more gratitude than I can recently remember. After that, things became less eventful, except it rained around teatime and the midges got more mental and so on.

Here's the dramatic evidence. My left elbow. (It looks like an amputated stump in the closer pic, so I put in the other for completeness.) I have 72 visible bites, and probably twenty more on the back of my head and neck. Not sure if you get a prize for the ton.

The tiny holes in my t-shirt are not hashburns (so nineties), but rather claw holes from darling zoe when she's doing that kneading thing they do. Meditative clawing. The focus is soft because it's not the correct year for cleaning the mirror.





HOW BROAD IS YOUR BAND?

Check out your connection speed here. Mine worked out at 3.8Mbps. Which you might think would be plenty, except the service I pay top dollar for from Virgin is trumpeted at twenty, yes twenty, Mbps. Thieving gets, I say.

PAINT YOUR WAGON

Decided to stop drinking for a while. Recently there's been far too much time (and money) spent with fucking posh-voiced halfwits. Maybe I'll tackle some of the things I've been putting off for forty years.

BREAKFAST AT LIDLS

Just dined exquisitely on Pomme marniere. (Tin of Lidl herring followed by an apple.) It's a great life if you don't weaken.

Right. Off to da chemists to buy a tablet for these ghastly bites. Breaking my strict "no drug" policy. I think piriton should help.

Now that I no longer drink, I doubt if there'll be any more material for this blog. Shame. But let's not have the ale wagging the blog, as it were. What's happening in politics? Is Brown still PM?


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