All Pictures Click Full SizeWe parked near Tulloch where a small car park and forestry road leads up towards the Stob. Although they may be called the Braes of Balquhidder that usually denotes rough but easy hills, usually near a population centre. Braes are trustworthy hills with a friendly,grassy feel to the name normally, whereas these have a more dramatic edge with numerous large cliffs, gullies and a bleak, remote atmosphere to them. In mid winter conditions they do not feel forgiving in any way and we never spotted any other humans on our walk over the hills...or deer or sheep....just two ravens.
It was a good way up and not too hard on the body as wading through deep soft snow right from the off is very draining.
One zoom of another peak in the district just glimpsed soaring upwards in a moment of bright sunshine before it disappeared again under dark clouds. Conditions underfoot were starting to get tricky here. No need for crampons as the snow was soft --- knee to waist deep in places. Several times we fell down a hole into an invisible burn running below as the snow was so deep you couldn't tell where they were half the time.
Maybe it's just me that thinks a slice of home made cake for £8 and a miniature glass coke bottle for £2 is a bit steep yet it's listed here as a good budget hotel. I can buy an entire and very tasty cherry cake or large apple pie out of my local supermarket for £1 .. and often have. Also four litres of coke for £2 (on offer every few weeks) which would have filled that miniature bottle 20 times over at least so I didn't buy the cake obviously. Mhor 84 seems to be trying to cater for a variety of customers- from hill walkers, to passing motorists to upmarket clientele but the place just left me feeling despondent. The old hotel was never a favourite spot anyway but is this high end establishment the only way forward for pubs and restaurants these days? Someone must think £8 is good value for a portion or else they wouldn't sell it.
I also read an interesting article recently from America describing the changing trends in retail business patterns published by companies selling products to the general public which may be relevant here. It would seem there is no such thing as the middle class or average earners nowadays in America and most companies have adapted to sell either cheap or high end products. The middle range customer seems to have evaporated from the industry. It's probably much the same here as we now have thriving new classes or subgroups of individuals appearing in the landscape -The Food Bank poor who seem to be an accepted part of everyday life now in Britain as they often get portrayed in TV soaps these days ...in the UK...the 7th richest country in the world... or so we are told by the privileged minority that have access to this wealth of nations and who often laugh at food banks as a myth created by the opposition. (Edwina Currie and various others recently on TV suggested there wasn't any genuine need for them in Britain.) Then we have the new working poor on low paid, zero hour, or part time contacts who have to watch what they spend with more than a few looking down enviously on the unemployed as thieving lazy spongers. ( Less than 1 % of the actual benefits bill comes from fraud as most people on the bottom rungs are still annoyingly honest which only shows up the ones at the top even more. (The Poor. Damn their outdated moral code which they still cling to like a comfort blanket!). I wonder if it's less than 1% with their hand caught in the cookie jar on the highest rungs too? Didn't think so somehow-besides they'd just call it creative management skills.... or loophole benefits, legitimate expenses and tax avoidance perks. - The unlucky, disabled or vulnerable in our society who have been sanctioned and are free of the luxury of money until they get reinstated at some future date- that's another growing group-The folk who have done really well out of the recession and think nothing of paying over the odds as the good times only got better for them. Yet another subculture of our times.
Atos Healthcare recently announced they would like to end their W and P contract in the UK due to increasing levels of bad publicity over some of their decisions. They are a massive company and supply IT and Office Solutions plus other equipment worldwide so they do not want their reputation tarnished by holding onto one poisoned chalice past its sell by date. Will our own government follow suit though or will it just be business as usual under a different hired gun and company? Believe it or not I do attempt to keep politics out of hillwalking posts normally but sometimes you have to stand up and be counted when few others seem bothered if they are not immediately affected by any changes. My sense of fair play kicks in and I have to say something if I see someone getting punched repeatedly without any obvious reason behind it. It's human nature to want to get involved to balance things up but it's more a hatred of bullying and intimidation in general than any class warfare on my part. Money always seems to flow out the treasury in abundance for certain favoured key projects yet the pot is eternally empty for many others looking inside. It appears to only flow out in certain directions so I suppose it depends who is looking into it at the time. Horn of Plenty scenario for the right fingers dipping in but rows of sharp teeth for others. A bit like North Sea Oil when it was first discovered and that, (according to many in Westminster at that time) would only last Britain a few short years and so wasn't worth arguing over who actually owned the rights to the full barrels being sold every minute. Same old story for North Britain then. If we are all so lazy, untruthful, and workshy in Scotland and Anti Tory to boot why do they want to keep us so badly? You would think they would be eager to offload us as a liability. Interesting article here.
I've suspected for some time now that all recessions work very nicely if you are in charge of the lifeboats and the safe deposit boxes and that any austerity drive is merely a convenient way for the few to race ahead of the many yet again.... while the vast majority stand dumb, silent and cold, enduring a life spent up to their arse in mud and shit that someone else has produced then buggered off to leave us standing in the mire.... Ah! That must be "the big society" I've heard so much about then? How do I join and trouser my share of the winnings now that "we are all in it together"?
On a completely different subject this influential cult film has cheered me up on several occasions over the years since it first came out. It is only a fantasy, but somehow it inspires and brightens up the darkest of days for me. Do not try this at home children. Playing with fireworks can be dangerous unless it's at a carefully supervised event with the right level of adult participation. :o)
and then the main meal is served. My kind of restaurant and value for money service. This is a film based on a imagined dystopian right wing totalitarian society of course but the words somehow ring true and who knows what the next 30 to 40 years have in store for us all. Life can be full of surprises at times :o)