Monday, 30 January 2012


I’ve lifted this comment from my local newspaper. The subject is a serious one (although, actually, in this case the full story is a strange one) but sadly I found my self giggling my way through this comment.

Escapee apostrophes all over the place, amongst other things.

“I saw one so many occasions teacher's shouting at children for petty issue's with no regard that parent's were in full view and just to observe the body language of the kids when this yelling was going on was so sad. I think the aggresive ,dimissive behaviour of the teaching staff should be ashamed of themselves but then again this is a behaviour learn't. the phrase children should be seen and not heard springs to mind. As mentioned does'nt surprise me with this school”

Too much time on my hands

Laura posted a question a while ago and my answer to it made me think. She was asking about camping pillows and people’s solutions. I usually have two Buffs with me, a winter and a summer and I stuff them both with my spare clothing and use one for my head and one for my knee, shoulder or hip, depending on how I’m lying and how I feel. It then occured to me that I had had a problem during last year’s Challenge when I’d needed to wear my winter Buff as a hat in my sleeping bag.
Whilst I was rooting around in my t-shirt drawer yesterday I found some fabric that I’d forgotten I had. It’s an extremely lightweight, fine fabric but very soft. A light bulb flashed on in my head, cartoon stylee. A lightweight pillowcase! As I am still recovering from tonsillitis, I’m keeping myself occupied with gentle activities to ensure I don’t go walking again too soon, so out came the sewing machine and this is the result.
SG103327 Empty
SG103326 Stuffed, with my size 5 Brasher Hillmaster alongside for a bit of scale.
I have stuffed it with my Montane down jacket and as it is quite a snug fit, it makes quite a firm pillow. It measures 35 x 28 cm and weighs in at a mighty 18g.
I don’t think it will be overly robust, but I have plenty more of the same fabric, so could easily knock up another if need be. I’m not sure if I’ll carry it in May or not, but as  it weighs next to nothing and takes up no real space, so it would provide a solution with little inconvenience, it’s a real possibility.
My first (and probably only!) MYOG!
Now, just to get rid of these white spots and nasty cough.
(“What happened to the nice cough you used to have?!)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

It’s that time of year again when we are all asked by the RSPB to spend an hour watching and counting the birds in your garden and then submit the results via the website or snail mail.

I feed the birds year round and am often rewarded with a wide variety of visitors. Long-tailed tits, Black Cap, Chiffchaff, Pheasant, Moorhen, Yellow Hammer and Sparrowhawk are the more unusual ones.

Every year on the last weekend of January, I make sure the feeders are full to overflowing with seeds and peanuts, sultanas are scattered and a fat cake is in the feeding cage, then, I wait.

And wait.

Usually, my regular visitors disappear off the face of the planet, just for the weekend that I’m trying to count them, but this year they were more cooperative and I can submit a count far more representative of my normal garden bird activity.

Don’t forget to do yours!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A walk, at last

I haven’t been doing much other than my regular walks since New Year, but David and I decided we should make more of an effort when he comes home for the weekend. In order to get up early on the Saturday and  head off into the hills, our bags must be packed and no wine consumed on the Friday night. Mind you, if like this week the weather forecast is a little grim, the bags can wait till the morning, wine may be consumed and a closer, more low level walk will be enjoyed. Hence, yesterday, we found ourselves parking the car at Revack Lodge near Grantown-on-Spey just before lunch . This was basically a rerun (or re-walk…) of the route Laura and I took in December, but with a couple of minor alterations.

It was quite windy and gusty and there were varying amounts of precipitation, so I was quite glad I’d voiced my doubts of a high route this time! The path was mostly good but at times very wet and muddy and in some places there was lying, slippery snow. Last time, Laura and I found that the stile we had been expecting had been removed, but as we’d backtracked to use a gate we’d just parked, we found a friendly fellow who explained the new fencing and that alternative access was soon to be in place.

SDC12346 Shame about the state of the track at the new signpost

Well, we found a new signpost this time, at said gate, that was not locked. Of course, as soon as we had to make a break into the open here, we were caught in a heavy shower, but we were soon back into the shelter of the forestry, making our way up the steepest (and least used) part of our route. The path here goes alongside an old dyke (stonewall, in English) and at the top, I decided to seek shelter behind it to have my smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches. A good move.

SDC12347 Looking back

At the top of the hill, the track eventually joins a forestry road and then another, slippery, muddy path downhill through the trees to join another obviously more popular route.

Before reaching Castle Roy, this path was wet, snowy and slippery. I found myself  lying on my side in the mud and snow. With a sore bum. Still, a walk with me would not be a walk if this didn’t happen at some point…

Last time, where the track meets the road, Laura and I toddled carefully along the road a way before lunching in the church yard at the castle. This time, we took the Bacharn Trail towards Nethy Bridge. This kept us away from the roads and nicely sheltered. After a while wandering along quiet forestry tracks,  we found ourselves joining the road at the castle, just a few yards from our intended track to join the Speyside Way.

This was a bit more interesting than last time. David and I were walking along, discussing the rights of access at this particular point, as the track takes you between some farm buildings before reaching the (new) gate giving access to the Way. A tractor was driven through the yard ahead of us, as if to prove a point, and at the gate, the farmer got out. He hailed us and asked after our day and then asked where we had got the information from to say that we could use that track for access. He’d often seen walkers using it but not had an opportunity to ask before and was concerned for their safety in what is a busy, working environment. I had in fact downloaded this route from a site I often use, which I explained, but as we had been questioning the use of this particular stretch I sympathised with his concerns and offered to contact the site on his behalf. (It is perfectly feasible to access the Way just over a kilometre further on, by the Youth Hostel, so that was the suggestion I gave in my email.) He was most grateful and we went on our way.

It is an easy walk back alongside the River Spey towards Revack Estate from here, but as we cut back up to the road near Auchernack, we took another slight detour. Laura and I had walked a short way along the road and then up the winding drive way to the car park. This time, David and I took a punt that the track leading from the road at roughly NJ 028 456 would take is to, or at least close to our intended destination, so off we went. It was a bit muddy and wet in places and there was a small fence to climb, but we soon found ourselves standing by the side of the car, stripping off waterproofs and wet boots.

It may not have been the day in the hills that David was after, but it was a nice walk and great fun. Roughly 14.2km, 305m ascent taking 3 hrs and 58 minutes (including rests). This is even more of a rough guestimate than usual as the batteries in the GPS ran out part way round the walk. There are only two pictures because the batteries ran out part way around the walk!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Planning update

Why? To let you know I’m still here, but not much has been going on!

Not much walking was done over the Festive break, partly due to the weather being slightly grim and partly due to the family of frogs that have moved in since my slight cold. (I’ve learnt through bitter experience that if not enough rest is taken during a cold, the resulting illness lasts much longer to recover from!). We had hoped to take a stroll up Bynack More on New Years Eve, but I muttered concerns over the high winds forecast and my frogs and the walk was cancelled before we even set foot out of the door. I then sulked for a couple of days. Very constructive.

So, not having done much for nearly two weeks, I’m taking it gently. I’ll be doing my daily, short, brisk walk for a week or so, gradually adding in the odd slightly longer but equally gentle (boring) walk until the end of the month, by which time I should be fit enough for something more strenuous. David will be home for a weekend soon and if the forecast is good, we’ll make an early start and head out into the hills, somewhere.

The planning? Well, accommodations for the start and finish of the TGO are booked. I’ve also booked a couple of nights in hostels, just for that hint of comfort. All the food and meals that I intend to buy in advance are listed and sourced, although not bought. I don’t really need anymore gear now (need?), especially as a very kind Santa gave me the overmitts I had my eye on for Christmas, extremities Tuff Bag. I may, however, invest in a new dry bag for my beautiful sleeping bag. I’ve even printed off my route, which is perhaps a shade keen. All that’s left is to book the campsite which opens at Easter, contact a friendly steading and book my train tickets and send off one or two parcels. OCD has a lot to answer for.

So does not having gainful employment…

SDC10468View from Sgor Gaoith

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


Well, it’s not very often things work in our favour, but if you take a look out of your window, it probably looks pretty grim. So grim up here in fact, that there are no trains or alternative transport south of Perth.


David will just have to stay home another day.

Gutted. Not!