Thursday, 31 December 2009

Hogmanay!

One of the first things I learnt when I moved to Scotland (15th October, 1993) was that Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve to some, is bigger here than Christmas. They really go to town on it and sure know how to throw a party!

I’ve got a bottle of Glenmorangie at the ready and some shortbread fingers stashed in a safe place, lest they be found and nibbled in advance, but I’ll giving the lump of coal a miss. (Would be a waste without a real fire to burn it in.) My Tattinger has been chilling for a couple of weeks, so should be perfect tonight.

Unfortunately, the weather isn’t playing ball. We had some lovely snow overnight Monday, so sledging was a priority on Tuesday. David and the children sledged, Rhiannon and I watched. Yesterday, we’d had a little more snow, but it was obviously on it’s way out, so a little more sledging was done as Rhiannon and I braved a trolley dash at Tesco.

I seem to miss the point, everyone else is piling their trolleys high with goodies, nibbles and enough alcohol to comatose an entire country, whilst I was stocking up on the essentials, flour, milk, fruit and a box of Stella (?!? Wasn’t me!) David collected us, dropped me off to walk home and collected children and sledges before beeping his horn on the way past.

Only two and a half miles to home, but through snow of varying depth, so a good work out I thought and I got home between sleet showers. It’s been snowing, sleeting, hailing and raining on and off ever since, so we’re now mid thaw and at that miserable wet, dirty grey stage. Not a nice way to bring in the New Year. Hey ho.

Anyway, Happy New Year to everyone/anyone out there and wish you all the very best in 2010!

SlĂ inte Mhath!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

According to the forecast

Yesterday, we were forecast blazing sunshine and subzero temperatures, with possible light snow showers from 3 am this morning.

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Culbin Forest peeping out on the left, Ben Wyvis with snow and seals on the spit of land inbetween

seal zoom

Came to say ‘hello’

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Along Findhorn from the harbour

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Ice along the beach

So, it started snowing around 3 pm yesterday afternoon, paused during the evening and appears to have started again with some determination during the night. Hey ho, at least we had a stroll on a frozen beach yesterday and I’ve enough food and wine in to avoid a trip to Tesco with all the mad trolley people.

I did have a stroll last Tuesday, my regular weekly walk during term time  with Angela or Louise or both, if I’m lucky! Usually about 6 miles long around our local area, but last Tuesday, it had been snowing. I had taken my little daypack instead of my bigger daypack and that was a mistake. Gaitors proved to be a good idea and I paused to put mine on just before we set off, but the timing was poor. After successfully fitting one, my fingers were too numb to put on the other, so Angela stepped into the breach whilst I put Merino *flappy mitts and ski mitts on and Ailsa whined (six month old beagle pup, quite a cutey if a tad untrained…)

Off we set and my fingers became less numb and then more and more painful. After about, ooo, I don’t know, half a bloomin’ mile, it became obvious I was going to have to stop before I fell down, my body had gone into shock with the pain. Stupid and pathetic, I hate it! So, there’s me, crouched down by the side of a busy road, feeling a complete plank. Luckily, Angela has some idea what it’s like, she also suffers from Raynaud’s but she doesn’t go into shock, clever girl. She was very encouraging and practical and incredibly sympathetic.

We decided to head back to Louise’s, which took a while with stops, so that I could recover and then try again, after a cup of tea and a biscuit. We were able to have a quick walk before lunch which was through a lovely winter wonderland. If I’d had my bigger day pack, my hand warmers were languishing in the bottom. Pah!

What a plank.

*I have a pair of fingerless gloves with a flap to make them into mitts that I’ve knitted in Merino wool. I’m going to knit some more because they are incredibly useful and I’m wearing them out!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Trying

Very trying.

The weather, that is.

Not a bad Christmas in itself though. Back to our usual, totally selfish, ‘just us’, none of this faffing about with visitors, or trying to get somewhere else despite weather and strikes. We tried having a visitor last year, it was okay, just not as relaxed as usual.  We had good reason to invite mum, it was her first Christmas since dad died unexpectedly four days before Christmas the year before, so we thought the children would be an excellent distraction for her and it was.

But, never again. I like Christmas this way.

The weather is trying, however. We had snow, as previously mentioned, the weekend before Christmas. This meant the girly walk was cancelled due to common sense prevailing. We had a huge thunder storm, with rain and everything, on the 23rd, but then it froze. And I mean froze. It’s not been above freezing for more than a couple of hours since and has been into minus double figures at night. There’s sheet ice from the doorstep and beyond and so I’ve been trapped. For a girl who can fall over fresh air, ice is not good.

Today, we’re going to try. If I can make it to the car, (sounds like madness to me!) we can troll down to the beach at Findhorn and it’ll either be frozen solid, therefore walkable, or not frozen at all, therefore walkable, just! We’ll soon see.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Snow

We have a few inches of snow now and I was all poised for some fun in the snow wearing a cosy combo of bamboo, merino, Montane and Peter Storm, but my sensible head told me to speak to to Angela first, as they live in them there hills.

Unfortunately, as anticipated, they have much more snow than the coast dwellers down here so, unless I wanted to walk alone, the dawdle is postponed.

And I've got all those Puddini Truffles to put myself on the outside of. They've as much chance of getting through Christmas as a turkey, (courtesy Kirsty, again).

Shame.

Perhaps we won't pop down to Glenmore tomorrow either, conditions might further hamper our already restricted time. Pants.

Or, worse still, the schools might be shut. Quelle horreur! That would be a huge cat amongst the pigeons, I've presents to wrap.

Ho ho indeed.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Nine out of ten

…people love chocolate. And the other one is lying.

(Kirsty Allsop said so, before anyone notices I nicked it.)

Anyway, we’ve got a pre-Christmas dawdle tomorrow and I’ve made some of Nigella’s Christmas Puddini Truffles as a Christmas treat for my bestest friends, (I’m known as the gourmet foodie and wine expert. No idea why.) We normally walk on the last weekend of the month, but figured next weekend we might not feel like it, what with one thing or another.

So I’ve been having a laugh at everyone's expense down south of the border as one snowflake sends the media into a frenzy and here in the north of Scotland, not a single one was to be had. Snowed a fair bit this morning, but it was too wet to settle, ah ha! Then, the temperature dropped like a stone and we had ice like sheet glass everywhere and not a gritter in sight.

Now, it’s snowing.

Maybe, tomorrow we’ll be ice skating, not walking!

Although Angela has an excellent sledging hill in her back garden…

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Friendship…

…is like wetting your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you know how warm it is.

I was out with my walking girlies last night. We had a ball, no rain filled, raging streams, boggy footpaths or gales, just good food, a little gin and lots of dancing.

Friends are good to have.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A good start

My busy morning has been disturbed.

I’ve been good today and it’s only 11.20am. I’ve started the washing in the washing machine, just got to remember to get it out again. Soon. I’ve washed up, which is always a good thing. After running out of excuses, I bit the bullet and submitted my ECA for my photography course. It’s nine days early, so if I have too many nightmares I can still make changes and re-submit. Up to 99 times, apparently…

I was congratulating myself whilst putting up the ironing board, (a day for chores today) when I was disturbed by a commotion outside. Peering out of the front window, I could see dozens of seagulls, rooks and jackdaws swooping manically at something out of my vision, round the corner of the house. They were making a dreadful racket and obviously mobbing something, then there was a dull thud from the side of the house near the a gate and our local overweight wood pigeon joined the throng.

I’m a big, brave girl, so I decided to investigate, (it’s daylight, after all). There were lots of feathers in the back garden and at first I wondered if the sparrowhawk had been lucky. I crept round the corner of the house to find more feathers and a fat, grey cat, under siege from the mobbing birds. He hadn’t noticed me and I gave him an enormous fright, bet it stung a bit, clawing his way up the fence! There were plenty of feathers about the place but no dead or dying bird, I reckon it was the wood pigeon who’s got to live another day. He’ll be easy spot, the one with half a pillow missing from his backside!

Can’t beat a bit of drama, early in the morning.

Onwards, ever onwards. Just about time for a little something.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Soggy skip skippers

Monthly girly walk yesterday and I became the designated driver for six girlies to walk the Six Harbours walk, a coastal walk along the cliffs and beaches from Portsoy to Buckie. Except we did it back to front because we’re awkward.

I was to drop the main group of walkers at Buckie, drive Jo to Portsoy to her in-laws, who’d kindly agreed to allow us to leave a car at their house and drive us back to  the caravan site at Findochty, (pronounced Finechty!?!) to meet up with the walkers.

Sounded like a plan. I’d always been a little concerned that we were going to be a little short of daylight hours at this time of year for this 14 mile yomp, but was assured we’d be fine. Alarm bells started to tinkle when we arrived in Buckie and Angela and Jo ducked into the sports shop for waterproof trousers whilst Alison went off to find a map…

Jo and I eventually arrived at the campsite and walked back about quarter of a mile towards Buckie to meet up. There were varying opinions as to the weather forecast, some thought windy, dry but cold, others windy, cold, showery, heavy at times and possibly wintry. As it turned out, it wasn’t windy or cold. Started out showery though and by lunch, becoming increasingly heavy and persistent.

By the time we reached Cullen, after about 7.5 miles, it was time for lunch and we needed shelter. We hoped for an overhanging roof,  a bus stop, phone box and were getting pretty desperate when we happened upon a recycling centre behind some disused buildings. There were a couple of open ended skips, one for paper, one cardboard. We chose paper and I immediately whipped off my lined trousers and popped on my leggings and waterproofs. I wasn’t feeling cold, but thought I would eventually now the rain was just varying in intensity rather than stopping at all.

We had obviously stumbled across a regular haunt for the local yooves, as a couple of skaterboys came round the corner and were obviously quite put out that half a dozen bag ladies had taken up residence. Thank goodness I’d got my trousers on in time!

After a good break, we continued. There was not much excitement for most of the walk, except for Angela sliding gracefully to the ground on a number of occasions. I was becoming a little concerned by the amount of water accumulating on the path. It seemed to be joining up with the burn running alongside. At Crathie Point we realised we were going to run out of daylight and rather than continue on an unlit, slippery, boggy cliff edge, we decided to head inland from Sandend and bypass the last headland by road, preferably the B road in the hope it would be quieter. Trouble was, getting to it.

I was bringing up the rear of the walking party and when I caught up with them a decision had been made to backtrack slightly to cross the burn as it emptied onto the beach. It was in spate with all the rain run off, so we had to paddle, the water slopping over the top of my boots. Cold water. We carried on and needed to cross the burn a little further up as it had looped around in our path. This time, there was to be no paddling, it was way too deep and fast. The only option was to return to where the path had disappeared.

We paddled back across the burn and up the path. I was bringing up the rear again and watched with just a hint of panic as they began to clamber along the bank of the burn below a fence. One slip and I would have been in the burn. So Angela and I went to the top where the path disappeared, climbed the barbed wire fence, (why is it always barbed wire?)  and snagged my waterproofs. However, we were aware of the curious bullocks fifty yards to our right as we moved briskly along the fence thirty yards to our left towards a gate. We made the gate and climbed it with the curious bullocks a shade closer than they had been, but not too close.

I wish I’d been in on the decision making in the first place, then we wouldn’t have had wet feet…

We soon met the road, but it was the main road with no apparent path, getting dark, raining heavily and some very big puddles. We crossed and as we walked down the track to investigate a disused rail line (in hope) a small white van approached us. Jo leapt in front and and when it stopped, asked if there was access.

“No.”

“Oh. Are you going to Portsoy?”

“Yes.”

“Louise, would you be able to get back to my in-laws and collect your car?”

“Er, with directions.”

And I found myself being driven away by a complete stranger in the direction of Portsoy!

I found the in-laws and got my car, then realised I hadn’t noted any landmarks, I managed to find my friends by guesswork, huddled in a bus shelter.

We covered 11.5 miles with 1637 feet of ascent in 6 hours including breaks in miserable weather, but we had an absolute ball! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, to laugh so much one day a month is a huge tonic. The others were wet and getting cold in the end, but the combination of my bamboo tops and merino wool socks, mitts and hat kept me cosy despite my waterproof jacket letting in copious amounts of water. I love my magic socks, no cold feet or blisters for my, no matter how wet. My Achilles was ok, although the ankle around the inside bone a little sore at times. My left knee was giving me grief and driving home was agony, but painkillers and a bath made a huge difference and this morning I felt pretty good.

Next month, I’m hoping for something drier.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Good spot

Well, would you believe it.

When David and I went on our little jaunt around Dunphail the other day, we spotted an unusual bird. I’m normally pretty good at identifying wildlife, if I don’t know what it is immediately, I will have a book somewhere to help me.

This is the bird.

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Yes, I know, a distant shot and, trust me, zooming in is not helpful, but I guessed this might be a great white egret. I had no idea they travelled this far north, so I was a shade sceptical, but I’ve just read in the local paper that we do indeed have just such an egret in the locality. And we saw it!

Well, I’ll be.

I should have more faith in myself.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Conspiracy

It’s a conspiracy, I’m sure of it.

David took a few days leave to cover the inset days the children had off school and a couple extra so that we could do a couple of walks. We don’t get to walk much just the two of us, so it’s nice to take the opportunity to do something the little legs and grumpy teenager might not want to.

We managed the sixteen miler last Thursday, which was fun, and were planning to do a shorter walk in the Cairngorms today. There’s a low ridge that runs between Meall a Bhuachaille (810m), Creagan Gorm (732m) and Craiggowrie (687m), so it’s certainly nothing major, but you do get some nice views.

The plan was to start the route from Glenmore where we usually finish coming off Meall a Bhuachaille and turn left at the top, walk along to Craiggowrie and down, wandering through the woods at the Badaguish Outdoor Centre back to Glenmore, around seven and half miles. We should hopefully have time to get there, do the walk, grab lunch in Aviemore, (our favourite tends to be the Cairngorm Hotel, it’s busy but quite reliable) and motor back in time for little treasures getting back from school.

I was not impressed with my Achilles over the weekend, it has been a little sore, but I was prepared to put on a tubi-grip and ignore it. Not wise perhaps, but I’m getting a little reckless in my old age. I was even less impressed when I started coughing on Monday and this morning it showed no sign of  easing.  A nuisance because I know I would huff and puff my way up the uppy bits, which would make me cough and aggravate my asthma, making me wheeze and onward with a viscous circle. Add to that another minor inconvenience, (especially on a hill) and the sensible decision was made.

I’m dosed with paracetamol, hot honey and lemon, David is decorating the bathroom. Pah! What a waste of a day’s leave. Not a happy bunny. Sensible, but grumpy. Very, very grumpy. If I hadn’t have hidden it for Christmas, there’d be a dram in that there honey and lemon!

Pencilled it in for a day in December, but then it becomes more weather reliant.

Friday, 13 November 2009

A little adventure!

Well, that was a giggle. David and I went for a walk yesterday. A little stroll, sixteen odd miles through forest and across the moors around Dunphail. Lovely.

It was actually a little project I’ve had for a while, to submit a walk to a walking website I’m a member of. A little ambitious perhaps, but it kind of makes me practice my map reading and grid references in a more exciting way than actually getting lost and trying to find my way home. Although, I’m sure that would be considered fun by some. Especially  if I didn’t  find my way home!

We had time constraints, as usual, and managed to set off a little late, as usual, so it was a bit of a route march, but it was perfect walking weather and we trotted off happily. We were trying out food at the same time, so had something hot to look forward to at lunch time.

We walked, I took pictures, we paused and read the map, got back on track, (bodes well…) we walked, waded through bog, climbed over fallen trees, walked some more,  and at the half way mark stopped off for a hot lunch in a handy hut. Couldn’t be classed as a bothy, there is grouse food stored in there, but there was a large table and benches. Would’ve been more attractive without the guano from roosting birds at regular intervals , but we found clean bits and ate lunch. It was yum!

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We set off at a good pace, mostly downhill now and with wonderful views over the Moray Firth towards the Black Isle. At around the three quarter mark, disaster. There’d been a landslide and about five metres of the path had been swept away towards the river below. Ahhh! It must have happened during the floods in July, or maybe a couple of weeks ago when we had torrential rain again.

We had no time to turn around, the ‘shortcut’ we’d passed was about nine miles behind us, we only had four to go and were running late as it was, we had to scramble. I’m not good at scrambling, but this wasn’t actually too bad and I didn’t complain, slip, slide, swear or whinge once. I was a good girl. And we made it!

We trotted on and made it back to the car just  at dusk, a tad later than intended, but safe and sound. Today, I don’t hurt. This has got to be good. (Achilles was sore  and inflamed last night though, which has got to be pants!)

Now of course, I’ve got to see if the walking website want my now truncated route.

I did say it was a little adventure. It was good fun though.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Goodies

Backpackinglight, living up to their excellent reputation, have delivered my new gear and I’ve got a packet of sweeties (Rowntree’s Randoms. New to me!) to hide from the children so I can snaffle them up a hill somewhere in peace!

I now have no excuse for my kit being wet as it will all be double waterproof wrapped for protection in liners and a rain cover for good measure. We have a new Primus Eta Power Pot to boil enough water, quickly and efficiently, for both meals in one go. We have waterproof glasses carriers, although I have yet to ascertain if my glasses will fit. We have a Travel Tap water filter for my peace of mind, a trowel which is obviously essential and midge head nets because, at times, they_are_hideous.

Now we have our stand-by numbers, I’m a bit dubious if we’ll use them next spring, but they’ll still be serviceable in 2011…

Hey ho.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Cheating

To avoid becoming absorbed in my disappointment, I’m employing two means of distraction.

a) Making like an ostrich.

b) Retail therapy.

So I’ve been walking, just very short local walks. I’ve still got nearly a stone to lose regardless, so I might as well get on with it. Six miles to Tesco and back for one of those odd assortments in the basket. Two and a half hours including 20 minutes shopping and 10 minutes to chat to two old friends (There were two friends, I’ve known both for a while, individually.)

I don’t mind this route, it has a lot of the same views as the one earlier in the week, plus a lot of rural farm land, but it’s a cycle path by a busy road that I’ve had previous bad experience of here and it still makes me a little anxious when the traffic’s heavy. And it rained on the way back, but I don’t mind getting wet on the way home, it’s on the way to somewhere it’s a nuisance. Views were a bit obscured though.

As to the retail therapy, well, that was Shirley’s fault. She mentioned backpackinglight.co.uk over at her place and I remembered the gear I wanted to order, so off I went and had a splurge! Forgot something important that wasn’t on the list, so important I didn’t think I’d forget it, so I’ll have to go back another day and order some more. Shame…

So, as you can see, I’m feeling much better.

PS. Would appear the retail therapy isn't limited to kit. Just ordered the Christmas wine and Champagne from Tesco using my vouchers. An extra little Christmas pressie to myself. I deserve it! (And Tattinger is my fave...)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Searching for Sero

That would be serotonin.

Darren mentioned over on his blog that we should  take more notice of our local environment. I actually do most of my walking locally. And alone, but that’s ok.

I needed a lift today, mental, not physical, so I went for a local walk so that I could at least see the hills and here are some photographs of the hills I could see.

 

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The hills, anti-clockwise from the North Easterly view down to the Southerly view. On a good day.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Nothing to say

I suspect this blog may go quiet for an extended period until I have something relevant or interesting to say.

I may change my mind, it is my prerogative.

Just now, I really couldn’t say.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

A little learning

I was watching BBC Breakfast yesterday and there was a very nice lady telling me that my fear of spiders is a learned behaviour, the only true fears that babies are born with are fear of loud noises, (I seem to have got over that one, in a household with four children) and fear of falling. So, I know now that it’s perfectly rational for me to be convinced that I’m going to fall off a steep slope when I’m wearing a huge pack, but not to be absolutely terrified of spiders.

Feels the same to me though, the palpitations, the sweating palms, the shear and utter terror… Still, it’s good to know that it’s all in my mind and that I can unlearn the spider thing. Stuck with the fear of falling though…

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The four little treasures and me, convinced I’m about to slide off the slope near Leathad Buide

The natural history expert sitting next to the nice lady went on to say that the season for spiders in the house was nearly over now (he wants to get himself to my place, I’ll show him a spider or two!) and that most of them were males anyway, on a kind of spider rut, their only interest being in the opposite sex, not me. Rationally, I’m sure he’s right. But if anyone were to buy me one of those spider catchers, a lidded box on a long pole, I know, in my heart of hearts, that any spider I tried to catch would vault the box, sprint up the pole and disappear up my sleeve whilst I have an apoplectic fit.

Funny thing though. I have, on occasion, woken in a tent, to find a spider peering in at me from the other side of the mesh, but I can cope. I know the big-enuff-to-see-um spider is too big to get through the no-see-um.

I still prefer them to tootle off though.

As to the whole falling off the hillside thing, David’s going to have a ball laughing at me. I might need to carry more than one spare pair of pants…

Saturday, 31 October 2009

We’re not in

We’re out.

I don't do Hallowe'en, at least, not in what appears to be the popular way, because I'm not American. I don't mean to be controversial, but there it is. We don't do 'Trick or Treat'. My children have never dressed up and knocked on doors, I never did as a child, (long time ago, I know) and I put a polite but to the point sign on the door saying we don't.

Somehow, I always get persuaded by my girls for them to have friends round, dress up, bob for apples and have slightly odd food. Nobody needs to know what goes on behind closed doors...10 31 09_0351_copy-1Brain Balls and Witches Fingers

I prefer something a little more up market myself and a nice G & T with ice and lime to start. Ahh, must be a Saturday.

Friday, 30 October 2009

I’m not lost…

I have absolutely no good excuse for my disappearance, to be honest, I don’t suppose I thought anyone would notice, but just in case you did, I’m still here. Sorry to disappoint!

I’ve been doing bits and pieces over the last month I s’pose. Took three of the little treasures for a stroll on my own over their ‘Tattie Holidays’ mid October. Rhiannon was too busy with her nose in a book to join us. David had the pleasure of dropping Aedan, Conall, Ciara and I at Roseisle, just up the coast a bit, and we walked home along the coast path. It’s quite a nice 7 mile stroll, but it’s always windy and that Sunday it was blustery, showery and a little chilly, but we made it home safely. I’m not used to taking sole responsibility for our offspring in the great outdoors, but apparently I’m quite capable. Shall do it more often now. Maybe.

Had another girly walk last weekend. Yet again, we were a good few short of a full house. We started with seven, but by the time we finished, we were four and a little damp round the edges. It was only a local circuit around Forres, about fifteen miles, but it was actually quite a nice, varied route and the promised rain didn’t start till we’d dropped down the other side of Califer hill, so the wind and rain were at our backs and we barely noticed it. No, really, the damp creeping up my trouser legs, the droplets dripping off my nose were the least of my worries, but we won’t go there. Suffice it to say, I was glad to reach civilisation when we did. Even if the shortcut, at half a mile longer, was strictly speaking more scenic than short. What’s half a mile between friends? Depends…

Now is the time to add a map, but I’m still working on that. I’ll get there, I’m just a bit slow. Sounds like a good name for this blog.

So, that was last weekend, since then I’ve walked a usual six mile Monday route with my friend, the Other Louise, five miles into town and back to bank a birthday cheque, (not mine, sadly, another seven months yet) and five miles to the hairdresser and back to be well and truly scalped. It’ll grow back.

The Achilles? Ah. Now then. I really ought to have done something about that before. Now I have a lump on my heel which isn’t shifting but isn’t really causing any grief. Until I walk  a fair distance in my boots, then it might be a little inflamed but not really painful, just a little. I’m making like an ostrich, it’ll sort itself out in time.

David says he’s doing  the Challenge with or without me. Bloomin’ cheek! He wouldn’t have known about it without me. Humph.

Ploughing on with the photography course. In fact, I’m well ahead with the course, so I’m entitled to ignore it for a day or two while I get the camera surgically removed from my face. Not attractive.10 26 09_0237_copy-1 Blair’s Loch

10 26 09_0240 Nibbled Fly Agaric

Any road up, best be off. The little treasures are just getting in from school and I’m sure I ought to be doing something more constructive. I just don’t know what off hand.

 

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Plan B required

Plan A was to carry my camera whilst out walking to kill two birds, so to speak. It would appear, however, that I'm going to have to find a plan B. I managed to squeeze a 45 minute walk into, er, 2 hours this morning. This doesn't bode well for my fitness, but I might get some nice photographs for my assignments. Ankle was fine though, which is good news.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Little hill revisited

I went on the monthly girly walk yesterday, back to Ben Rinnes which I did earlier in the year with David. It was a bit silly really, so soon after an injury, but Alison wanted my company to bring up the rear, (we're both slow coaches!) and as there was only five in the group in total, I didn't think I would feel too bad about holding folk up. We are a particularly well gelled group.

We went up a different route, leaving from the Ben Rinnes distillery at Edinvillie. It's a long, gradual incline, a total of 2018ft over about 3.28 miles to the trig. After about one and a half miles, the track ends and we did a spot of heather bashing before we joined another track for the last mile.

We found a fabulous spot for lunch, under the crags to the south of the trig, well out of the wind, which was windy, again, but the skies were clear and the views to the west, the Grampians and south, to the Cairngorms, were tremendous.
A chap and his eight year old daughter joined us and we had a natter, whilst the rest of the traffic plodded past to the top and back down again. Turned out, we got a bit carried away and took a whole hour for lunch! The chap and his daughter left and went to the top and returned a while later, "I can see ladies really do know how to lunch!" he commented. Cheek.

We left the top and slipped and slithered our way down the path I'd used before. It's a purpose built path to save erosion, but the slippy gravel is dreadful. We took our time, particularly those who didn't want further injury! At the bottom, we took a left along the quiet road back to the distillery, but three of us decided to take a track that contoured along the bottom of the hill. I wasn't keen, the track was rough, very rutted, boggy and slightly uphill, which was beginning to pull my tendon. Alison happily joined me back on the road and we strolled back to the car, beating the trio by about ten minutes.

Despite the concern for my tendon and the exertion, (blimey, it's uphill alright!) we had an absolute ball. I haven't laughed so much in ages and was so pleased I changed my mind and joined them. My heel is tender today, but no more inflamed than it has been for the last week or so, so maybe I've been lucky and done no more damage, ahem. I have taken some photos, (of the views, not my ankle!) and I'll upload some to the post when I get round to downloading them, the camera is on the other side of the room, seems a long way away to me at the moment.

Next month, we're doing the Five Harbours walk, from Buckie to Portsoy. I don't do a lot of coastal walks, so this is a new one on me. I just hope we're not too close to the cliff edge. I'm not good with heights...
(Photographs added)

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Happy bunny!


Isn't this is fabulous fungi? I will get around to identifying it, the Collins Gem is poised, but first, I'm so happy!
It has to be said, it is quite easy to make me happy. If it's chocolate, make it 70%, if it's whisky, make it malt, if it's perfume, make it No 5 and if it's champagne, make it Tattinger. I said it was easy, not cheap! But it was none of these that made me such a happy bunny, oh no. Today's happiness was cheap, cheap, cheap!
I went for a walk on Monday, the first for a couple of weeks and the usual 6 miles with my pals, wearing my Merrells. Excellent. Today, I went for a short stroll to the marshes, wearing my Brashers and there was no pain. Yes! The girl is back in business and next week I can get back to the walking in earnest. Only now, I really mustn't forget the camera, I need photographs for my course. What a nice time of year for it too.
Happy, happy, happy!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The trouble with Roast Beef

The trouble with Roast Beef is that, eventually, you have to clean the (supposedly self- cleaning) oven. Luckily, David bought me a newspaper on Sunday to receive my free copy of The Shawshank Redemption, so the oven shelves are covered in gloop, on newspaper, on the kitchen floor. Gloop that promises "No nasty acrid smells, no scrubbing and biodegradable". The newspaper would have been completely wasted otherwise, 'cos I never read them. The oven is also liberally smeared in said gloop, only I mustn't forget to rinse it off before dinner, or the soft flour tortillas will be a shade stiff for folding.


And all because I'm running out of housework that I'll do willingly and I have lots of time on my hands with this pathetic injury! Stir crazy doesn't come close, I'm truely fed up. I did mention, I think, that patience is not my strong point. I am inherently lazy when it comes to housework, but I'm even considering washing the walls, chronologically sorting my old photographs and decluttering the bookshelves. I hoovered under the settees on Friday. Now that's desperate.


Apparently, a bridge that was included on my route at Glen Feshie has been swept away at the beginning of the month. It did rain a bit. Luckily, there are another couple of footbridges marked further north, so let's hope they are still in servicable order. Mind you, might be glad of a foot bath by then. I've had time to research possible transport getting to the start and home again, might aswell make myself useful. Worryingly, it looks quite straightforward, but I've had dealings with Scottish public transport before and I know it has it's own quirkiness at times.
Here's a nice picture.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A pint?

"That's very nearly an armful!"

Another first for me, but free orange squash and a biccy makes it all worth while.

Know what he meant though.

Eeek!

Posted.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Getting lost

According to The One Show, men use their 'hippocampus' to navigate.

I've always found a map and compass more useful.

But with true grit and determination

I am now enrolled on the course.

And I've written my Challenge entry. It was a little long winded in rough, unusual for me, now it's succinct and to the point, my inexperience exposed in all it's nakedness. If I can just nag, I mean, persuade David to give me his details, (I know the important bits, it's his tall tales of hillwalking without me I'm after!) I can get this entry posted.

By the beginning of November, we'll all know. This bit has got to be worse than the walking!

Boring nothingness

After a much closer inspection (a little tricky in the current state of curvaceousness) I have discovered the back of my ankle does indeed have some swelling and inflamation. Looks like it might be bursitis or similar. Pants! On with the tubigrip and more resting. As if I haven't done enough of that lately! My sister was in touch yesterday, apparently she too has an injury to the achilles on her right ankle. Spooky.

After all that ridiculous rain last week, yesterday we had gale force winds. Had to get David home from work in the afternoon for damage limitation, turn the trampoline over and nail bits of the shed back together, but it was too late for the bird table, it was already destroyed by this time.

I was making bread this morning and as I'd boiled the kettle already, decided to make a cup of tea to brew at the same time. I rescued the tea bag from the jug of warm water for the bread just in time.

I've also spent the last 20 minutes trying to register on my next OU course, but I've been sent round in circles from switchboards to recorded messages to English registrations (no good when you live in Scotland...) and back again. Pah! Try again tomorrow maybe.

Maybe someone is trying to tell me something...

Monday, 7 September 2009

Every cloud

I was having an off day today, but I persuaded myself to go for a stroll to the marshes. Considering the amount of rain that had fallen at the end of last week, common sense told me my Merrells were not the best option, so on went the Brashers. I hadn't even got to the end of the drive and an acute pain in my heel had me retying my laces. And again before I'd left the street. Then I just got grumpy and carried on.

I made it to the marshes and they were living up to their name, so from that point of view the boots were the right choice, but my knee was complaining a little too now.
It was worth the pain. If I hadn't perservered, I wouldn't have seen the big bird that flew up from one of the burns that feeds into the Findhorn, but it wasn't a heron. And as I looked closer, I realised it wasn't a buzzard either. It was an osprey! I watched it fight against the gusty wind with it's catch and land on the mudflats a little off shore. I hurried on my path and then carefully made my way, from tussock to tussock in the marshiness, to a rather handy log upon which to rest my behind as I peered through the binos.

Wrong binos and no camera, but a reasonable view nevertheless as the osprey, I presume to be a late leaving juvenile, tore into it's meal, watched very closely by a common gull, just incase it left a crumb. All rather pleasing to see, but I have my concerns about that osprey. I know that the parents and juveniles have all left Boat of Garten and started their migration, so one would think this one should have too. I'll maybe pop down that way later in the week and see if there's still any sign of it. I've never seen osprey quite so often in the bay as I have this year. They've been around for years, I'm just not usually that good at being in the right place at the right time. The day after the Dava Way walk, we were watching four fishing in the bay at the same time. Fabulous!

As to the heel, I'm going to have it amputated. It's a really pathetic, frustrating injury. There's nothing to see, no bruising or swelling, it doesn't hurt if I'm barefoot around the house, in trainers at the gym or at Tesco in my Merrells but the Brashers are a no go. I can only assume they put my foot into the position it was in when the dog took my feet out from under me.

I don't do patience. Ask the children.

What a groan!

Friday, 4 September 2009

And the rain rain rain came down down down

The rain has been wet.

The senior school shut early today because of the rain, after it had stopped raining, but I suppose there could be staff from outlieing areas and there is still hill run off to take into account on already swollen streams and rivers.

(Did I get out for a walk? Er, no.)

I currently have the two older children hiding from the two younger children in the garage. The two younger children have since returned from school and decided to hide from the two older children in Ciara's bedroom. The older two don't know the younger two are hiding. The younger two don't the older two are home.

All I have to do now is wait for someone to realise there's something odd going on.

Wonder if I could leave home in the meantime?

And yes, I think I'm finding this far more amusing than any of them will.

I need to get out more.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Niggles

I hate going to the gym. Really, really hate going to the gym, (even with a discount and much cheapness. One trip makes it worth while) but today, the BBC weather boy got it right. Rain? Understatement. Really, really wet stuff. I'd have to be some kind of serious masochist to be out there today and I really, really needed to know how my minor injuries are doing. Nothing to do with being bored brainless. No, no, not me.

So, I bit the bullet and went to the gym. The door wouldn't open when I swiped my card. This isn't too practical. I eventually pressed the button with the sign reading "Press here if you can't gain entry" and decided to pop by the office and find out why my card wasn't working.

"Were you having trouble?"

Stupid question.

"Yes, I've renewed my membership, in May as it happens. No, my husband didn't just say he had and gone to the bookies! Yes, it is your mistake" and I off I go with my sorted card to torture myself for 21 minutes on the eliptical trainer, followed by 26 minutes walking on the treadmill with a serious incline. Just for fun. Odd times I know, it's the cool down that always catches me out with timing.

It's not so much torture because it's hard, I don't tax myself unnecessarily, it is after all just to replace not being able to enjoy the great outdoors. It's torture because of all the fanatics I have to train with, although there were only about half a dozen other mad people there. Relief.

I beat a hasty retreat home to my kitchen to make potato and sweetcorn chowder for lunch. Can't beat a good soup on a day like to day and boy do I make good soup.

Oh, and the injuries? Seem to be doing ok. If the rain lets up tomorrow, I'm going for a walk!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Memory lapse

Just occured to me, I didn't mention my new kit. Nothing exciting though.

The rain wasn't wet enough yesterday for me to don my new Paclite trousers, but they are nice and light to carry, taking up no space at all. Jolly dee.

We both needed new poles and I needed ones that were suitable for a bear of little brain. I really fancied Pacer Poles and have seen many a recommendation for them, but I am somewhat, how shall I say, completely useless with this twisting mechanism thing. I either can't undo them, can't do them up, or inadvertently pull them apart. My bottom bit has also been sucked off in a bog on atleast two occasions.

So, we went for the easy option and both have nice new, shiny pairs of Black Diamond Alpine CF poles which have FlickLocks. Light, oh yes, very. Easy, oh so easy peasy! I can adjust my poles on the move, all by my little old self, no help required. Yey! David will be happy.

I am too.

Bowled over!

The reason I originally planned to post today was just a catch up for the last two weeks, the healthy 'plop' on the doormat threw me completely until I realised the date... And I should have been merrily wending my way around the shelves at Tesco, if only number three child, Ciara, hadn't been off school with Laryngitis today. My children are never ill, what's happening!

Anyway, it's been a case of ups and downs over the last fortnight. Haven't had a lot of success on the walking front. Last week my foot was sore. It was the large joint on the ball of my foot below my big toe. I remembered having trouble in this area a couple of years ago and at that time I was convinced I had the beginnings of a bunion or gout! (I can be a little, er dramatic?) It took me about two weeks to decide it was an impact injury, not caused by a trip or bump, just through walking over particularly stoney ground. Soft feet or what!

This time, it took me a few hours to work it out. I'd been in Elgin, walking over the cobbled area in the High Street and I hadn't had my walking shoes on. I usually live in them, but I'd worn my thin canvas trainers because we were only strolling around the town centre. Shan't do that again. I decided to stay off my foot as much as possible because I was due to walk along the Isla Way on Sunday with the girls.

In the mean time, I won a competition over on Martin's blog! I never win prizes, I was a little over-excited, but the prize of a drink in the Park Hotel, Montrose the day after my birthday gives a good incentive to make it across Scotland. If my name comes out of the hat. That's the biggest hurdle at the moment. Thanks again Martin, made my day!

On Friday I walked the three miles home from town to test my progress and it was fine. Number two child, Aedan, started secondary school on 18th August and has really settled well. Considering the misery he suffered at primary, I'm relieved. That morning, he'd forgotten his gym kit, through no fault of his own. It was there ready, but he'd put it down to help Rhiannon look for her umbrella. He didn't pick it up again and I didn't notice in time. I had expected him to come home with a logging, but it turned out Rhiannon had volunteered her own gym kit, (which is blue, not pink, luckily...) so he hadn't been punished. Wow! If only you knew, that was stunning and I actually cried.

Another quiet day Saturday and I was ready on Sunday to put my best foot forward. This turned out to be an interesting day.

Usually someone knows the chosen route, although like all good walkers, there is always at least one map amongst us. Turns out, that doesn't always help. The Isla Way travels by the side of and along part of the old railway between Dufftown and Keith. We were planning to start the walk in Keith and catch the train back from Dufftown, but this section of the walk is, to say the very least, unclear. We faffed about for about an hour before we admitted defeat, returned to the cars and drove to Drummuir. After a minor detour, we found the station , parked, kitted up and had lunch. Everything stops for food and pee stops.

We set off and about 25 yards later, Alison's dog, Alfie, literally bowled me over! I found myself taking an unexpected lie down in a muddy puddle. Me, being me, I was laughing too much to speak or move. There was a horrified silence before Sally offered me a hand a heaved me to my feet. I still couldn't speak as my fellow walkers looked on, thinking I was crying with pain.

I am a giggler.

Good job I have a sense of humour. I had to do the rest of the walk with a muddy bum and wet pants! It was a lovely day, including drinks of cold traditional lemonade and ginger beer at a dinky little coffee shop in Dufftown, but I didn't fully dry out until we caught the train back from Dufftown. What should have been about thirteen miles was whittled down to nearer seven and a half, with the extra three miles faffing in Keith on top. We spoke to a lady at the station who told us the part of the walk we couldn't find is along the main road and she felt too dangerous to recommend, especially as we had two doggy companions, so I suppose it was a good job we never found it.

Yesterday, David and I had planned to do the sixteen mile circular route at Dunphail that I'd done in April with the girls. We set off, fully kitted with waterproofs and gaitors, after a supply stop at Tesco. Ofcourse, in England it was bank holiday, so Tesco opened late (in Scotland!?) and we were late getting started. And it started to rain as soon as we left the car park, but it wasn't heavy.

Not far down the road, I was beginning to think my heel wasn't going to loosen off after all. I must have twisted my lower leg slightly when Alfie swept me off my feet, but it hadn't hurt at the time. Now, it was sore. As I perservered, I obviously walked awkwardly and started a hotspot on my other heel. So after 3 miles, we decided on an escape route and shortened the walk to about six and three quarter miles. This was really disappointing although the most sensible option. We don't get to walk together often and I was gutted, but we have at least proved to me that we can make these decisions and my map reading is good enough to get me out of situations. As long as it's never anything more serious than a tight tendon and blister!

Another quiet couple of days and I'll venture forth. Again.

This new term hasn't got off to the flying start I'd imagined...

Onwards, ever onwards.

OMG!

It's 1st September.

Guess what just landed on my doormat....

Approximately another two months and I'll know.

Oh my.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Therapy

After our little wild camp, the main thing we agreed on was that we should get new waterproof trousers. Our current ones are Peter Storm and have served well over quite a few years now, but I wanted something lighter. And waterproof. (I am a little dubious about mine in extremely wet conditions.) So when I spotted Berghaus Paclite trousers for less than £70 at Gaynors, I caved.

That's not quite fair, it took me at least four days to cave. My excuse being the £60 saved (on two pairs) will go towards new walking poles. Mine keep coming apart and David's were my dad's and since mum's have now fallen to pieces, he's given them back. So we both need new ones. That was bad planning. Although I've spied some at backpackinglight that will fit the bill, along with one or two other useful items I've got my little beadies on. I'm being patient...

Didn't walk into town today as I'd planned. I took one look at the weather forecast/warning and the black clouds approaching and took the easy, and dry, option. Glad I did in the end, it would've take a month to dry out!! Mind you, even that might have been preferable to the mountain of ironing I persuaded myself into doing. Still, I'm going to have so much time on my hands from next week. Ciara and Conall are going to be walking to and from school without me, so I can leave earlier, go further and return later from any little walking adventures I have.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Back on track

Ah, what a relief. The little treasures went back to school today. I now have two at secondary school, leaving two at primary. I finally have enough hands per child when we walk to school, hoorah!

The other upside is I escaped for a walk with Angela and Lyn today. Around 7.5 miles of varied landscape, but nothing taxing, just Angela pace which is taxing enough for some of us! Now Angela's youngest is at school, we no longer have to rush back, although she's starting college in two weeks time, so I may be back to walking alone. Which I shall be doing on Thursday as I will stroll into town to fetch my prescription. Seems silly to take the car on a 6 mile round trip when I have no other shopping to do and all this time on my hands, especially now Conall finishes later with Ciara now.

David and I are planning a little jaunt on Bank Holiday Monday. Only a little jaunt, because we need to be back for the children coming out of school ofcourse. It's a walk I've done with the girls near Dunphail and he's making me write a route plan. With GRs to boot. Good practice I'm sure.

I think this will be the way of things, lots of short walks, interspersed with occasionally more challenging routes, when time allows.

Excellent stuff.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Here again!

Well, we've been home since Saturday lunch and the first thing I did Sunday morning was catch up on a few blogs. This left me thinking our few walks somewhat paled into insignificance as some people have been up to some terrific things! However, considering our handicaps, (four children between ages 8 and 13 years and my mother, whom I'd better not age!) we did okay.


Our first mini-adventure was a 4 mile walk we know at Flowerdale Falls. A lovely little walk with a tiny bit of a climb up to waterfalls and a view over Gairloch out to the isles. It was here three years ago we saw our first golden eagle. Half an hour into the walk, David said,
"Wouldn't it be good if we saw a golden eagle now."
And there it was! Wasn't quick enough to get the camera out, but it was mum's first, so that was a hit.

We did another 3 mile walk north of Ullapool, at Braebag. There are caves here. We saw a merlin and a few deer quite close across the river, so that was rather a treat.


The children.

Mum.

The way up.

A few days later, we had the opportunity to take the boys out on their own, so we did another little walk! This time, the lure was a plane crash site, at the Fairy Lochs at Badachro, above Gairloch, but it's only 3.5 miles, if a little uphill and boggy for the first half. There's a glorious sandy beach by one of the lochans over the top, about a mile and a half from the sea. Bizarre, but a nice picnic stop. T'was a little showery that day, but hey ho, the boys are good, they don't mind weather.

We got to have a little adventure on our own too. We just happened to have packed our rucksacks, two man tent and a little camping gear, just incase such an occasion arose. We set off on the Fairy Lochs walk in reverse. At the beach we'd previously lunched at, it started to rain in earnest, so we donned the waterproofs and had some relief from the blessed midges. Oh my, they were out in force this year! We left the Lochs path here and struck out on the path to Torridon, I suspect quite a picturesque route, had it not been so damp. Saw a lot of bright orange frogs, think they were enjoying the weather. At roughly NG 818 690, we peeled off this path or what was left of it, and struck off 'off piste', as David had put it in the planning stages.

"We'll climb this little slope up to a perfect pitch," he said.
"I don't like the look of that slope, it's too steep for me with a big pack."
"It'll be fine!"


He thinks I can't read a map.

I was right, I didn't like it much, he was well cursed and the air was a subtle shade of blue when we got up there. But then, I am a wimp. This is his idea of therapy to cure my vertigo. Didn't work.

However, his idea of a des res isn't the same as mine either. T'was a little boggy to say the least. When his best option was to pitch on a flat rock bed, I thought he was barking mad. As it turned out, it worked, didn't notice the hard surface at all through my prolite 3, but did notice the slope and that I was the only one sliding down it. Typical! Luckily, there was no wind that night, so the rocks on the guys held the tent down easily, but David got eaten alive by the midgies while he cooked dinner and made hot chocolate. I had added protein in mine, apparently...

Next morning, I decided on an escape route as I didn't fancy the route back down the slope and carrying on round the hill through the heather and bog. It worked quite well, as the trig point hove into view that we pass below at the site of the plane crash, so we knew exactly where we were and navigated to join the path down to Badachro steading.


It was a relatively short walk, about 8 miles in total and I haven't calculated the ascent, but it wasn't much. The idea was to navigate a route rather than using a known route, wild camp and navigate back. Added to that, we implemented an escape route, which we planned and navigated enroute. On the whole, I was pleased with the way it all went and have a few ideas of what I might change or leave out of my kit, so a success, if only a small one. Saw another merlin, which made three including the one we saw up the hill behind the house on an evening stroll with the boys.


The view from our des res.


We all survived the holiday, it wasn't what we'd normally do, but we did have a couple of boat trips with Ian and Sam French at the Gairloch Marine Life Centre, which is always a highlight.







View from the boat.
Bananaring common seal.
Porpoise.
Fishing on the pier.
We'll be back next year, because we love it!

Monday, 22 June 2009

A walk through the night

Ok, so Saturday, 20th June saw 107 people gathering in Grantown on Spey at 10pm to walk along the Dava Way to Forres.



Sunday, 21st June saw Angela, Jo, Nicky, Sally, Babs, Louise and Cathy wearily arriving at Delilah's house at 6.57am.

So, in just less than 9 hours, we covered 24 miles with numerous food, drink and pee stops and a bacon buttie at Dunphail. The first 14 miles were hard going, a steady uphill path that is the bed of a disused railway. You know what's at the bottom of a rail track? I do. It's lumpy, to say the very least. Jo called them chuckies. But in the dark on an overcast night, even with torches, it was a little tricky placing one's feet, so when we finished, the soles of mine felt bruised, although no blisters. (Boots Peppermint foot gel with Arnica is the business, by yesterday afternoon, my feet were completely pain free, yey!)



As we left Dunphail, refreshed and revitalised (I had been dreading this stop, I thought it would be hard to get going again and face another 10 miles) the sun rose and it turned into the most glorious morning, clear blue skies, birds giving it laldy in the trees and sky. It was absolutely beautiful and it was definitely the best part of the walk. Apart from the end. The weather throughout had been near perfect, just warm enough that we weren't sweltering but didn't chill on our frequent breaks. There were a few midgies around, but they only become annoying when we stopped for more than a minute and between us we had gallons of Avon's Skin So Soft, which does appear to be quite effective.

There's no denying it was hard going at times. I had inadvertantly been up since 4.17 am on the Saturday and didn't get to my bed again till around 8.45 am on the Sunday, but I didn't feel exhausted or particularly sore, considering the chuckies. No blisters, so the Brashers are performing well and stand a real chance of getting worn in, at last. Carried my pack and tried to take enough so that the weight would carry it down onto my hips comfortably without taking a heap of stuff I didn't need. Tried.

On the whole, we did all enjoy the experience, even with the tricky bits, (Linda had some cracking blisters by the end, if not half way point) in the end we settled into several smaller groups, spread amongst the 107 starters, so we all walked at a pace we were happy with, which wasn't slow by anyone's standards, but some were pushing on more than others wanted. It all worked out and we had regular regrouping before we all met up again to do the last few miles into Forres. There were 75 finishers in total, so it does feel good to have been one of them.

Well done to all of us!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Extreme!

"The Other" Louise has resorted to extreme tactics. Having invited everyone to her house after the Dava Way for coffee, croissant and Cava, she's thrown herself down the stairs and is in hospital having an operation to set it. Ouch.

This means I am an honorary Brownie leader tonight to help out, my name is Osprey. Don't_say_a_word.

Mind you, David did point out she could still do the walk, her legs are fine...

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Ahem

For a girl that hates shopping, I may have got a little carried away.

It's the internet that's done it, it's led me astray...

Any road up, had two parcels yesterday. One was from outdoorsgrub.co.uk with food I'm trialing on our wild camp in a couple of weeks, Drytech and Mountain House, just for comparison. They sent a chocolate Club biscuit to say thank you! I was chuffed, haven't had one of those since I was a teen. The other was from ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk, a mouthpiece cover for my platty and little bits and bobs. Today I got the tech wash/proofer (that can be a little tricky to get hold of up here) and a pouch to fit onto the front of my pack to carry my camera, otherwise, by the time I get the pack off and the camera out, the moment will have passed. I know what I'm like and I refuse to carry the darn thing around and never use it, as I have been doing.

The other week I had ordered some tops. They are a little different from the mainstream. I've been hunting a tech top that actually does what it promises and have been extremely disappointed. At around £25 a throw, I thought I'd give bamboo a whirl from bambooclothing.co.uk. It's a revelation! I love it! I can wear it several days in a row, just pottering around or out on walks and it's as fresh as a daisy! Love, love, love.

I have had a couple of jaunts with the girls. Sunday was a 10 mile round trip from Angela's, to Sally's and back again, pausing briefly at Sally's for tea and cake. It would have been rude not to! Ofcourse, when we got back to Angela's we found she'd been slaving over a hot stove at 5am, making fruit scones, so had to force a few down with butter and jam, washed down with tea, just to keep her happy...

Yesterday, Angela, Judith and I did our regular 5 mile stroll, so nothing spectacular, but very pleasant all the same and got a glimpse of the osprey too.

Saturday is the 'Ghost Train', the sponsored walk along the Dava Way, all 23 miles of it, overnight. The overnight bit is a little odd, but I'm sure it'll be fun. My sister is joining our little group, so there'll be about a dozen of us, joined by about 85 others, so don't think it's going to be much of a quiet stroll! Bacon butties will be supplied at Dunphail and "The Other" Louise has invited us all in to her's at the end for coffee, croissant and Cava.

My champagne is already chilling in my fridge. It'll help me sleep...

PS. The delivery I didn't mention.

First, I should explain my sister and b-in-L, Ian, are coming up for the weekend so that Cathy can join me on the Ghost Train. I recieved my order of 36 bottles of wine yesterday and when I told Cathy, her response was "Oh, well that should last us a couple of days."

Don't know what she meant.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Really nothing exciting

Had to take David and the boys to see the eyrie (from a good distance!) and couldn't resist adding a few pretty pictures here.The Gut
My boys and part of a dolphin skeleton

Bee on the rhododendron
Mum, Dad and babies
Osprey!
Proud parents.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Wait a tick

Hmm, yesterdays excitement over the osprey was tempered last night when I found a stow away. I was a bit miffed 'cos I had checked carefully, or so I thought. I whipped off what I thought was a small scab, hanging by a thread, on my leg, as I thought "Odd, I don't remember nipping myself there...?" and on closer inspection, realised the scab had legs. Classic, what a muppet! However, it seemed to be intact, (until I mutilated it before flushing it!) and I couldn't see any remnants in my leg. It came off so easily I don't think it could have attached itself, so I was blooming lucky! Might never have found it, euw. Doesn't bear thinking about!

Anyway, I needed cheering up after a long, restless night dreaming about giant ticks, so I've indulged in a little retail therapy. It's something I've heard and read about, but not through outdoor sites or magazines, so I shall try it out in private before I report back as to how successful it's been. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Another Angela special

I have a weekly walk with Angela and we are often joined by Lyn, Alison, Alfie the retriever and Judith. We have two regular routes, one of about 5 miles, the other just over 6.5 miles, which I suppose could be thought of as being a little dull, but the walks are really pretty and we are chatting whilst walking briskly, so it's just a pleasant, weekly trundle.

Of late, Angela has been taking us on little adventures. These tend to be longer, very pretty and at a very brisk pace because Angela has to be at work at 11.30am. It sometimes involves a little nettle bashing, (thoroughly tick checked today, I can tell you!) we did 7.5 miles today, but today we had an added delight. Osprey!

We came by a ruined church that Angela, Lyn and I visited during the winter, (less undergrowth, two barbed wire fences.) I hadn't realised today's route would take us by the same ruin, so whilst they explored the inside, I gazed at the sky.

I heard alarm calls. They were not buzzard like, mournful and plaintive. Could it really be? No, surely not, but yes! A pair of osprey! I felt so bad, we'd obviously stumbled too close for comfort for them and whilst the girls were oohhing and ahhhing, I was urging them to move on. It was only for a minute or two and we stumbled off again through the undergrowth, skirting the barbed wire this time, but the undergrowth was over everything. We made it back to the main path (we were following a path marked on the map which is obviously not often used...) which is metalled and sped away. We eventually came to a clearing where we could look back towards the osprey eyrie. One of the birds was perched high in a neighbouring tree, once again looking happy and relaxed.

Now that was a good walk.

PS. The Brashers with the merino socks and zinc oxide tape performed well again, I'm gaining confidence!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Training section one complete

I'll have to add one pair Marigolds to my kit list.

Did it though.

Now, where did I stash that Talisker...