Thursday, 25 April 2019

In A Garden.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
                                         In the beginning, 'I' was born within a garden.
                                                 other people lived in it back then.
                                                   and one of them was Lilith
                                                             no longer first wife...
                                         she had been thrown away and much neglected...
                                                           like dropped rubbish....
                                                        for being uncontrollable
                                                          and as yet untamed...
                                                               frequently willful
                                                                   too stubborn
                                                         and dangerous to manage
                                                               spiky and proud
                                                     'she' walked her own path in life
                                not biddable in any fashion. So a threat to the order of things.
                                some even called her 'that demon' and 'an unholy succreant.'
                                                     but 'I' knew her only as my friend.
as instinctive and life-giving as any nature drawn towards water... or sunlight feeding on stars.
                                              even, on occasion, as a playful companion...
                                                                as a mother...
                                                                and a teacher...
                                                       as wisdom personified....
                                 because she possessed all the hidden secrets of the garden...
                                                     and those who lived within it....
                                                      she knew every spider spy...
                                                            every observant bird...
                                                     every clever helpful serpent...

                            every sweet enchanted apple...a chosen few filled with venom inside
                                                          every fairy... every fawn...
                                                      every 'Eden' and every 'Adam'

                                         every compliant, complicit, self deceiving 'Eve'.
                                       'she' was not what they claimed her to be though...
                                         'Wicked'.             'An enchantress'.
                         they only said that as 'she' had defied them too often in the past....
                                picking the garden over their own interests wherever necessary....
                                               and for that they would despise her....
                                                      blacken her name and image....
                                 try to erase her thoughts and deeds from history altogether...
                                                   but we of the deep undergrowth....
                                                we creatures of 'the guardian spirit'.
                                                    we always knew 'the final truth'.

After hearing a well known Abba song on the car radio for the 1000th time it stuck me as very odd how little new, equally good, material gets frequent airplay these days and how often the same old familiar standards get trotted out every year. The song after that was Joan Baez- Diamonds and Rust, another oldie, but this was my first hearing of it and it was a real breath of fresh air, wondering who it was for several verses before working it out eventually. I do like Abba, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, etc but other more modern artists also exist and great music and classic ballads still arrive regularly post millennium. But they only become family standards if they get well known and played to a larger audience over time. Great music didn't end in the 1990s. Indie bands make a living touring live but the bland fluff that seems to dominate TV screens and radio airways over the last decade would be an affront to the experimental, constantly evolving, dynamic, radical 1960s. Everyone has different tastes in music and visual compilations of course but in my own small way I'll try to highlight classic songs and videos you may have missed first time around. Here's one.

































Monday, 15 April 2019

The New Kingshouse Hotel.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
On the road back from the overnight bothy we stopped off at Morrisons in Fort William, seen here. While we were there we looked across at Nevisport and Gavin remarked that he'd not been in it for ages. Just shows you how things change as Nevisport, in my active climbing/hill-walking days in the 1980s and 1990s, early 2000s was always our main port of call on any trip up to Fort William. It was the place to visit. To buy outdoor gear, to visit the pub downstairs, to eat in the restaurant upstairs. A large part of most hill-walkers/rock climbers outdoor life. Must be five years since I've been in for a brief look yet that fact only registered now at this time with something of a jolt. Like a glimpse of an old, sadly neglected, girlfriend from the past where you just drift apart slowly then bump into each other again many years later in the street.
The reasons are :- Nevisport was always an expensive shop for gear when it had a monopoly of the outdoor market. I visit Go Outdoors now if I need anything as its handy- five min drive away in a retail park instead of city centre hard to park locations- and cheaper. Same as we always go to Morrisons now in F.W. as that is also handy and fast to get in and out of with sandwiches and a soft drink/newspaper/carry out all in one place. And a free car park. The other reason being we are all older, have different tastes, and visiting Fort William is a rarer experience now whereas we used to be up here at least a dozen times a year as a club. Plus pub nights and a few pints each evening made up the main Highland entertainment back then. But it just shows how you can change your habits and years pass by without even realizing it.
On the way back down the road, more surprises, when we stopped off at the new Kingshouse Hotel on the edge of Rannoch Moor just before it snakes down into the stone trench of Glencoe. I didn't even know it had upgraded so this was my first look at it, roughly on the same spot where James Bond's fictional ancestral mansion in Skyfall resided before it was blown up. Watching that film as someone who knows the area well was funny as most of the lochans are at most waist deep so crashing through ice and fighting under deep water would be hard to achieve in this shallow puddle landscape. As would the usual film cliche that any bog in a movie means sinking chest deep into the mire- at most knee deep here and only if you are really determined or stupid... to sink. You have to really work at it.
I didn't bother going inside but Gavin and John went in while I wandered around the outside. The main thing I noticed was that it was very busy. A huge number of cars filling the large car park, some staying overnight presumably but many arriving and leaving after a drink and a curiosity visit. Just like us. This is looking one way.
And this is looking the other. The white building is part of the original pub/hotel- the wooden extension is the new part.
The back view. Nice wood paneling but it resembles a new Scottish distillery here I thought from this angle. If I didn't know what it was I might guess that option. Slightly industrial in scale and appearance. Hides the mountains. Separate bunkhouse accommodation available from £35 a night. I'd imagine the extra size and facilities here have created a few additional local jobs in the service and retail sector.
The front view. I found myself thinking that the best views would be inside the building itself looking out at the surroundings rather than looking at the building from outside which did seem to dominate and even detract from the scale of the moor and mountains it sits in. Handy though as it rains a lot here year round so a large indoor area to stay dry and warm in is a bonus. The majority of tourists travelling around the Highlands are not serious walkers anyway, many like their comforts, and its only ever been a minority that wild camp nearby. This group do not spend a lot of money either, except in the bar.
There are magnificent views looking out the windows.  Buachaille Etive Mor here.
And plenty of fine rock peaks surrounding this hotel...
But although the peaks are rugged and dramatic they are only 1000 metres high (3,400feet) not 12,000 feet so its easy to diminish them in size by architecture that's even slightly out of scale. Maybe I just have to get used to it but the old modest white painted hotel seemed to get it right- size wise... making the surrounding moor seem vast and the habitation small and insignificant- a white dot from afar....whereas the new structure feels too large a footprint somehow- shouts in your face- I'm over here!- and introduces a city type development and supermarket style traffic comings and goings into the wilderness. Maybe this is what modern travellers want and expect though and it needs to be big to capture the extra folk visiting Scotland then motoring up for the 500 tour around the popular north coast route. According to the guys it was ok inside but a bit bland and corporate, hotel chain feel, lacking the down at heel spit and sawdust character of the old climbers bar, which was rustic and basic admittedly, but then again the old Kingshouse was never my favourite pub anyway although I've had many memorable nights there camping beside the river... hill-walking and rock climbing- but only in the past...20 to 40 years ago. My favourite memories centre around wild camping on the nearby island in the middle of the river and the strategy involved getting back onto it if ....A. drunk and unsteady, performing half seen boulder jumps in pitch black conditions , B. raining hard and river swollen double sized after a night in the pub. C. replicating the sheer perfection of waking up in a tent with a crystal clear day ahead, no hangover, and great mountains to climb. It was not indoor memories at all, but the general surroundings that made it special.. Some of my favourite pubs in this area have shut anyway so you have to evolve to survive.
Scrambles on the nearest peak to the Kingshouse. Buachaille routes. A rough line only- consult a proper guidebook if attempting them.
Red deer sheltering in the woods near the hotel. If only they knew what was happening inside.
Hinds. Plate them up I'll have them on a sandwich.
John on Crowberry Tower in the 1980s.
Where the tower is on the mountain.
A winter view of the scrambles and rock climbs.
High on Curved Ridge in Summer 1980s.
Alex in Glencoe.
The 5 star Glencoe House Hotel above Glencoe Village. This building is much higher than the new Kingshouse yet it fits in better with the surroundings I think. Several large ponds and forest trails with a car park lie behind this building. One of the few low level sheltered walks in the area so good to remember for a wet day. It's probably because it's so flat and empty at the Kingshouse it stands out more as the dominant feature in that desolate landscape. No woodlands to soften the profile of the building, just surrounding moor.
Or maybe I have too many memories of youthful times invested here around the Kingshouse to give an unbiased opinion and if I had no memory of anything else existing beforehand I might think it was fine as a building in this situation. The curse of age perhaps is falling into the trap of viewing the world as it used to be ( in simpler, more basic, times) and not how it currently is. Younger folk coming up today will probably view this building as perfectly normal for its setting and size to cater for an increase in tourist numbers and greater expectations as to where to stay.. You decide if it fits in.  Link below.
https://www.kingshousehotel.co.uk/

Funnily enough the other Kingshouse Hotel at Balquhiddder has also gone upmarket as the Mhor 84. Popped in for a drink there a couple of years ago. Not my kind of pub and well out of my price range for meals or to stay in. Mind you, I'm perfectly happy in a shed overnight in my sleeping bag with a tin of meat for dinner so my standards and expectations aren't high.

Whenever I have a strong vocal opinion on something in general my friend Anne says I should take heed of the words of this song. Always!   Play it every day on a loop before I open my mouth each morning.
So here it is. Cheers for that advice :o)
But she is right, as usual. Being young should be an adventure,  and any era you grow up in and live through is that golden age for you... or should be.