Monday, 12 March 2018
A beautiful afternoon one weekend in autumn just gone (early November 2017) enticed me out after a morning of dull conditions and light drizzle. With only a few hours to play with I picked the easy option of Beinn Dubh, 643 metres, above the village of Luss, as this hill has unrivaled views over Loch Lomond's Islands.
For those interested in a more in depth exploration of Loch Lomond's islands in detail my book Autohighography has a full chapter on them during an action packed weekend camping trip visiting them by small boat, water wings, and kayak with a host of unsavory characters. It also has another chapter detailing an equally exciting and hopefully humorous backpacking trip over the high Pyrenees in summer weaving a delicate high level line between France and Spain, taking in several notable mountain summits and dimly lit booze boutiques on the way. This journey ended by traversing the magnificent Ordesa canyon, one of Europe's deepest gorges, then a climb up the slopes of Monte Perdido ( the lost mountain) 3,355 metres or 11,007 feet, during a memorable continental romp of scorching sunshine and violent thunderstorms, climaxing spectacularly on one of the limestone giants of Spain before returning to France over a high mountain pass.
Simply click Autohighography: 'A Tale of Summits and Sinners' book link on side bar of this blog for the usual free fun filled first chapters intro.
Which is where this stunning video comes in. A magnificent winter ascent of the same area/gorge/mountain giant and well worth a look full screen. Breathtaking scenery, frozen waterfalls and world class summit views that really deserves an audience and much more acclaim. Only eight minutes long but skillfully edited and far better than most things on TV recently.
Monday, 5 March 2018
Over the past week much of the UK has been experiencing Arctic/ Siberian weather conditions. In previous Scottish winters I can remember lower temperatures- down to minus 20+ below- when the River Clyde froze solid right into the heart of the city centre but I'd have to go right back to the 1970s and 1980s to recall the last time we have had such intense prolonged snowfalls in the Central Belt that lasted so long on the low level roads and pavements
This is around Pitt Street/ Bath Street district. With much of this area built over drumlins (small glacial moraine hill deposits) any cars brave enough to tackle these conditions were having a hard time and I gave several drivers a helping hand to get home with a push. Although it was forecast in the news to occur many workers felt compelled to show up and brave the elements to get into work or face disciplinary measures in some cases only to find (in the case of shops) that few other people were around to serve.
We do not get this much snow very often in the UK, being a thin country surrounded by water, so it was a very memorable and exciting outing.
As was this. Runaway by Peter May. I bought this best selling book at a book sale recently and devoured it within a few days. Many books I read- best sellers or not- I might enjoy or find interesting at the time but fail to remember a month or two later, but a rare few make a real lasting impression. Before The Poison by Peter Robinson. A Place Called Freedom by Ken Follett. Edge of Dark Water by Joe R Lansdale all fall into this limited category of books I'll remember many decades later and that most readers will enjoy. Maybe not the authors name or even the title but the general story will remain in my mind, even 50 years later. I know this as I still remember a few from 50 odd years ago in primary school- even the titles like The Green Bunyip by Judith Whitlock from the early 1960s. I read it that one time only and it stuck with me forever, for some reason, despite never hearing or seeing it again. Couldn't tell you if it's aged well or if it's still a classic- or not. Runaway is in that same class of stickability for certain reasons I'll keep to myself and I enjoyed it vividly. Either due to the skill of the writer to tell a believable compelling story with great characters (his own largely autobiographical account of a journey set in Glasgow, Leeds and London in the mid 1960s with a group of teenage friends) or even as a result of my own life story uncannily mirroring aspects of the book in several key places... but I found myself on an uncharacteristic roller-coaster of conflicting and different emotions all the way through with never a dull page encountered. Few books have moved me as emotionally or as intensely as this one. Like the author (and many of that era, 1960s to 1980s ) I often felt an overwhelming and almost primitive compulsion to fly the nest and head off down to London during my teenage years, despite coming from a large city myself.
London was where all my favourite bands, music artists, painters, writers, etc seemed to hail from and I apparently had a lemming like inbuilt desire to make that journey myself when I reached a certain age, almost instinctively, like so many others throughout the UK, without any knowledge of what I would do or where I would stay once I got there. I wasn't unhappy at home but for several generations in Britain it seemed to be almost programmed into the youth mentality of that period that it was the right thing to do and the place to be. I don't think it's as strong as that now as a collective urge affecting young people in the UK today but for me, very fortunately as it happened, on my own tentative solo visits in the 1970s, the streets were paved with gold, yielding a precious lone gift/ nugget to take back over the border, like an old time raiding party.
'Most reviews I've read praise this book highly but a few (there's always a few no matter how good) said it was 'cliched and predictable with convenient coincidences.' Which is true- it is in certain places- but cliches in general can also be universal truths pertinent to any culture or time reguarding humanity and I was immediately sucked into this book from the first page to the last. Landscapes and urban settings I was very familiar with on a daily basis mixed in with interesting social history I could also research/check easily enough online where required, youthful excitement, on the road adventures, romance and a strong feeling of loss and melancholy surged up in several places/ chapters so it was certainly never dull. A book I'll remember and cherish in my bookcase for what remains of my life and well worth a read. I've also read countless clever, intellectual, critically acclaimed books over the years that proved a real struggle to get through and finish yet faded from memory almost overnight after all the effort. This was very easy to read, understand, like, and identify with. A modern classic.
And an appropriate video for the weather.
Saturday, 24 February 2018
A welcome day out with company for a change as I received an invite from my friends John and Gail to join their geocaching circle for a walk up Stronend. This is the village of Fintry, above, a nice little place completely surrounded by hills with the Campsie Fells on one side and the Fintry Hills on the other.
The Voice is a programme I never watch but stumbled across this recently looking for new music.
This is the French version and the five acts featured here are outstanding, each in their own way, especially the final two artists. Unusual instruments and song choices make this worth a watch. If it was this extraordinary every week I'd be a convert.
PS. I seem to have altered my computer somehow by unloading a lot of older day trip photo files onto an external hard drive to free up space as it was getting full. It was running very slow and this has fixed that but its harder to comment on other blogs now in the meantime until I figure out what add on I've unintentionally taken out of service- hence the different ID tags instead of the usual Google Blogger I used to comment/ reply with. Not letting me do that option for some reason.A total scunner but at least I can still post the same way.
Best or most surprising five voices and instruments here in this You Tube link.