The Down Side of Up

Feb 2015

There is nothing worse on a train journey than finding yourself sitting next to the drunk; even the amiable, hopelessly grinning, variety. The disappointment on finding yourself in such a position after what has been a most pleasant evening in the city is nigh on overwhelming. One quick glance down the aisle is all it takes to pick up on the looks of smug pity from your fellow passengers who are by now near ecstatic at having been passed over by their decidedly unsteady fellow traveller. Your happiness quotient plummets alarmingly at the realisation that your glorious day is now petering out to a dismal end. But what can you do about it?

I was a bit puzzled when the woman I had sat down beside suddenly shot up out of her window seat and leapt off down the train like a scalded cat and dived into another some 5m away. Odd, I thought. It had been a most enjoyable “Stag-do” and I had managed to stay relatively sober (imho) – a relative state achieved by leaving a good few hours before the others. I felt as the groom’s father I should uphold as much dignity as possible under such testing circumstances. Ah yes…father of the groom. At long last my erstwhile hillwalking companion, “Cap’n Jack” of the “Fatdog” days was to marry Fiona, his partner of some 12(?) years.

As I snuggled into the now handily vacant window seat I burped happily and, as I stared out into the dark passing night, my mind drifted back to the previous October – the last time Cap’n Jack and I were to take on one of Scotland’s iconic mountains…Ben Lomond. Continue reading

“You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.”

Er…hello again!

Right!

Um…so…where to begin…ok…
…after about five wet and soggy winter/spring months of wandering around two empty fields (for reasons I won’t go into at the minute) the “pups” and I emerged, near brain dead, desperate to experience life in the outside world. This idealistic notion did not last very long.
Early March found us in the snow with the inestimable Mr.P on the Corbett, Meall na Fearna.

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With two “pups” on leads this proved to be such an interesting experience I vowed never to repeat it and so…

…I ditched the doggies in favour of solo walking and had a rather enjoyable outing to the Marilyn, Bishop Hill, in central Fife.

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I should point out at this juncture that to interact with the “great outdoors” in such a carefree and abandoned manner I was loaded to the gills with a combo of paracetamol and ibuprofen to counteract what one might call the less than carefree effects of my ever encroaching sciatica.
This short programme of Spring trials would determine whether or not my vision of full blown Munro bashing would begin in earnest come September, when the pups would be developed sufficiently to take on the big mountains on a regular basis. One thing I hadn’t considered when this forthcoming adventure was initiated (nearly two years ago now) was the fact that I might not be up to the task. The next hill on the list was to reveal my shortcomings.

On the 8th April 2014 I gulped down my pills, packed my rucksack, and headed for The Stob, a wee Graham near Balquidder. By all accounts an easy wee hill, a half day amble at most.
All it took was one very short, steep, section off-track at the corrie end to reveal an underlying problem…a chink in the armour of my great plan. Minutes into the climb the back rebelled. I made it onto the ridge but the problem was pretty apparent…I was not going to be able to manage any further steep-ish ascent. I had one short haul left to the summit – which I dutifully ignored and wandered round the back of the remaining section of hill to find a shallower amble to the top. The descent followed a similar pattern as I eased my way, rather carefully, back down the slope into the glen beyond. My final route plot is a homage to the artist, Jackson Pollock. Not even he could have imagined such a random splattering of lines on a page.

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Crackin’ route plot eh! Can’t tell the difference between it and a Jackson Pollock? Told you it was all over the place.

Only a few days later my back demanded further recognition of its declining state and not even my overdosing on non-prescribed drugs could entice it in the direction of anything vaguely uphill. That was a couple of months ago now and the head scratching still continues as to a new direction for myself and my two thugs.

But, as ever, there are always things about which the odd word can be written and the odd photo taken. And so “Reservoir Dugz” will be creaking into life once more over the next month or so. By the end of the summer I hope to have devised a new series of adventures for me and at least one of the wee monsters…fingers crossed.

(title quotation – from A Knight’s Tale, 2001)

Promenade

What image first springs to mind when you think of a holiday cruise?

For me it’s the gentle stroll around around the promenade deck nodding politely to immaculately dressed ladies sporting frilly white parasols; conversing  with Lady Wasername and her dowdy companion while ignoring the bounder in his garishly striped blazer.  I expect to be sleuthing with Miss Marple, complete with her knitting and to round off the walk bumping into a dapper Hercule Poirot then, much to his obvious annoyance, mispronouncing his name and referring to him as French.

2013-11-12 12.15.07Taking “a turn” around the promenade deck these days involves far greater dangers than the odd knife or bullet seemingly ever present in the 1930’s of Agatha Christie.  Firstly there are the hordes of keep-fit fanatics.  Banned from running elsewhere on the ship they are to be found on the promenade deck going round and round like hamsters in a wheel.  Like the bell-less cyclists on the streets…sorry pavements…back home there is no warning of their approach, just the print of their soles on the back of your shirt to mark their passing.  But even they have to contend with the starboard side puffers.

Around each starboard side door lurks a huddle of desperate smokers.  Driven outdoors by the civilised world they mutter, plot and dream of the post WWII era where their vice was glamour incarnate.  These days they spitefully haul chairs onto the centre of the walkway and raise their feet onto the handrails to create as big a barrier as possible, no doubt blaming the speeding fitness fanatics for their plight.

Having had a most enjoyable amble around most of the deck, notwithstanding the fact that we’ve yet to encounter anybody resembling either of Ms Christie’s great characters (or minor characters for that matter), it’s time to brave the starboard side smoker’s smog.  We steadily increase our pace until we are within 10m, then turn on the afterburners and blast past before the fug can reach our noses never mind enter our lungs.  Danger past we ease off and drop back to an amble, returning to our contemplation of our view of the…um…sea.  A quick check of the stopwatch tells me that I have now notched up a qualifying time for the 100m hurdles for the Rio Olympics.  Unfortunately there would appear to be a host of qualifying times set today as, behind us, the keep fit fanatics fly across the lounging smokers with far greater speed and panache than I was able to achieve.

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But look, at last we have a view on our horizon!  Soon we will be arriving at the home of the apes, internet gambling and thumbing a nose at Spain…all with a bit of colonial jingoism thrown in for good measure.  Next it’s Gibraltar!

The Lisbon Whirlwind

Some time ago I promised I would put up an Iberian post…well this is it, probably the closest we’ll come to a travelogue in the series of posts under the category “A Home on the Rolling Sea”

Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, was to be our first port of call on this year’s cruise.  The itinerary suggested that we might be short of time for a full blown exploration of the city not to mention the fact that we would be arriving on a Sunday.  We wanted a quick peek at as much as possible to judge if we might go back at a later date for a more relaxed visit.  We planned, we executed, we collapsed in a soggy heap back on the boat afterwards.  Lisbon…oh yes!   Continue reading

Never Again!

As the blogging transition continues from the heady mountain days of early “Where The Fatdog Walks” to the more laid back domain of “Reservoir Dugz”, I’m enjoying taking a look back at some of the more “interesting” moments captured in the posts of the original blog.  These are generally moments I have no intention of ever repeating! Continue reading