Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The upside of down

I had noticed that the current living arrangements were beginning to get to me. I wasn’t feeling the usual benefits of my daily walks (my self-medication) and whilst I couldn’t term myself as stressed, I knew things were getting grim. My eczema had flared up, as usual in lots of odd places including around  my eyes, which are inflamed, itchy and very sore, adding to my distress. All because TTS is not here.
Luckily, things are looking up.
There are signs spring is on its way. Last Friday, I saw my first skylark of the year and each day there are more and more birds in the trees, giving their spring songs laldy. Chaffinch, robins, dunnock, great, blue and coal tits (I typed that very carefully…) are all there, brightening my day and putting the bounce back into my stride. Yesterday, whilst I was out enjoying a stroll with a friend and her two dogs, we saw a water vole. I couldn’t believe it, what a treat!
Then there were slight alterations to the travel arrangements for the start of my Challenge. I knew there would be plenty of good company to enjoy, but now I know I’ll have extra special company, from door to door. That put a big grin on my face.
On Sunday, I ordered my main meals from Fuizion and they arrived yesterday morning (free p & p) and I haven’t even received an email to say they are dispatched, delighted!
Last year I had started my Challenge with a hipflask containing Tamdhu, my favourite dram. The flask itself only weighs a reasonable 80g, but with contents is a whole lot more! I had taken so little from it (just not in the mood, for some odd reason) that when David met me at Laggan to swap my rucksack, I sent the hipflask home. I saw it again briefly at Braemar,  but decided not to carry it. This year I thought I might like to carry whisky but in smaller, more attractive quantities so decided to try miniatures.  This led to some further thought, I could sample drams that took me from west to east, loosely speaking. Yesterday, I found something useful in Tesco.
So, here we are, feeling much brighter and with almost everything ready to prepare my re-supply parcels. I do like to support the local economy, I’m using accommodation, buying supplies and eating out where I can, but there are a few staples that I know I prefer and obviously my maps, so I don’t carry them all in one go.
SDC12370 Two days of staples, to be supplemented with fresh as I go
SDC12372 Ooo, clever Tesco!
Starting from the left, that’s Talisker from the Isle of Skye, to represent the west (I’m starting at Strathcarron, so not too far. And I’m rather fond of it anyway!) Next is Dalwhinnie. I’ll actually be further north of here, Tomatin would have been more appropriate and if I happen across one, I’ll have it. Third is The Singleton, a Dufftown malt and I’ll be roughly 35 miles south east, but it’s one I haven’t tried. Lastly I have Glenkinchie. Another I haven’t tried, this one is from Edinburgh and struck me as close enough, if I make it to Montrose!
Two accommodations to book, a train ticket home and that’s me. All I’ve got to do is walk it…

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Silk purse out of a sow’s ear

I couldn’t go all that way and not go for a walk, but I had a map and no compass. I decided to go for another walk from Revack Lodge as I wouldn’t even need the map.

This time, I decided to make my way up to the view point before continuing with the rest of the route as I’d missed it the last twice I’d been there.

SDC12350 Looking a bit grim over the Monadliath

SDC12352 And a bit further north

SDC12353 I crossed this sweet little bridge

SDC12354 And by this time, the sky towards the east was looking a little better

SDC12356 My lunch time perch

I took a slight diversion before joining The Way, to avoid going through the friendly farmer’s farm yard and I ended up going passed the Abernethy Trust Outdoor Centre and behind the village school before plodding up a track to join The Way at NJ 003 213, a much better route. Especially as it meant I got to chat to this little chap and his companion, who he wouldn’t let say hello to me!

SDC12364Donkey and little friend

I didn’t see anyone until I joined The Way where I met a couple of chaps with binoculars, a father and two children coughed politely to attract my attention as they cycled up behind me (I jumped out of my skin…) and a couple were leaving the car park as I returned. Oh, and this chap, but I didn’t speak to him.

SDC12366I think he was fishing

SDC12367The weather had improved vastly by the end of the day and it was very warm

Due to the detours, 15.7km, 357m and 5hrs including stops, but that’s all a rough guide as the GPS is currently down south.

Actually, I quite enjoyed myself in the end.

What a numpty

To make up for the lack of a bit of hill walking at the weekend, I decided to treat myself to a day out, especially as David said perhaps the car needs a ‘good run’ every now and again. Did I need more encouragement?

I decided I would do the Corbett I had been planning to do with David, Geal Charn (Cairngorm). Sadly, on Wednesday evening, TTS had seemed surprised by my decision and questioned my planning. I went to bed unsure I’d chosen the right route and woke during the night in a panic. To save fretting and lack of sleep, I made the decision not to chance it until I’d thoroughly planned it and nodded off again. In the morning I was decidedly grumpy and having completed my early morning chores and whilst scooping down my porridge, I changed my mind. How very dare he! The walk was on and much rushing around ensued, I managed to leave the house before 9 o’clock.

It wasn’t until I reached Nethybridge that I remembered I had thought of but hadn’t picked up my compass. Pants! What to do? There’s an outdoor shop at Boat of Garten that is occasionally open, so as it was close by, I went off to see if I could purchase yet another compass.

It was shut.

I returned to Nethybridge and decided to make my way to Dorback Lodge, the start of the walk to assess the weather.

It wasn’t looking good.

SDC12348 Geal Charn (Cairngorm) with it’s head in the clouds

If I’d had a compass, this would have been a perfect navigational exercise. It would have been daft with out one.



I walked into town on Tuesday to catch the train to Inverness and pick up the car. Apparently, a misfire on the third cylinder had been recorded on the computer, but they couldn’t find a problem at the time. I’m to drive the car ‘normally’ and if it happens again, return the car immediately to the garage. That should be easy then. However, I have a theory.

When I learnt to drive, quite a while ago now, I drove a little mini 850. Marvellous car it was, with the old style, stir around gear stick and a choke that had to be held out with peg because it no longer locked. I learnt to check the oil, refill the water reservoir, put air in the tyres, check the tread, dry off the distributor cap and my brother taught me to double declutch in it too, yey! The most useful thing though (other than the distributor knowledge, priceless in an old mini) was not to run too low on fuel or all the sludge at the bottom of the tank would get into the system and reek havoc.

Now, that’s what I think happens with this car, rather surprisingly, so the moral of the story is, keep it above a quarter tank or pay £60 plus rail fare to be told NFF!

Friday, 10 February 2012

A glitch, a small fly, a pain in the neck!

Nothing major, but it does put a stop to my plans for tomorrow, so anyone expecting a report about a Corbett will have to wait a while.

As I drove Aedan to his shooting lesson this morning, I had a warning light on the dashboard flash at me intermittently. We had a problem with this at New Year and a nice man came to rescue us at Tesco. When he attached his electrical gadgetry, he was able to diagnose the problem and also clear the message, so we were able to drive home to see if there was a repeat.

This is obviously it.

This time however, a rescue would have been a little more complicated. David is covered, not the car or me. I would have to use the other rescue service cover provided by my bank account (I like a round about route…) but didn’t have the details on me (doh!). The light hadn’t been on permanently as last time, so I risked a cautious drive home and there was no repeat. This just makes for a dilemma but it’s a no for a proper walk tomorrow now, pants. The bus service has been dramatically cut since we last lived without a car, so there will be much more walking locally in the short term and maybe a few less activity nights for a week or so until we get things sorted.