Dont buy the Sun.

Dont buy the Sun.
Hillsborough Justice campaign - Remember the 96.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Glen Esk

First of all the photos of our hike to Glen Esk during our recent visit to Chez MacKlug. I used to use Picassa for photos and that was coll. But it has become so linked with Google + and everything and is now so user friendly, with so many options for sharing and linking that I find the whole conflation almost unusable. Which is why I posted the previous photos singly. However, today I am pushed for time so I will make this one last attempt at uploading an album. Here the pictures can be found:

I will also try this . You should be able to find the album at one of these.

At you can find great links, photos and and OS map of what we intended to hike.

The walk was a great and terrible becuase we got completely lost because I claimed I remembered a route from 1988 which was the last time we were in Glen Esk. So we took no map, compass or GPS and relied on memory for the hike. Consequenly we did about 22kms in the afternoon, mostly over very tough terrain which was 'unpathed' and boggy. ANd I know, mea culpa, that this is a dangerous way of approaching the Scottish Highlands even in summer, because although not very high, they are one of Europe's largest expanses of 'wilderness' and the weather systems that sweep across can be sudden, vicious and disorienting.
I was going to add that levels of fitness and good clothing provide us with a suitable defence, but they dont really - we took a risk that we would not have done 99 times out of a hundred and this time we were fortunate. The risks in going off path in the Socttish Highlands are generally exposure through getting lost (its amazing how similar everyhting looks once the mist comes in) but in the terrian we found oursleves in, ankle twists, sprains and break would be the biggest immediate problem.

We talked about this as we hiked and constantly assessed the situation as we walked and we realised through chatting that after we had finished the climb that took us South looking down on Loch Lee we should have just gone straight back down again. We would have been on boring twin track pathway, but it woulld have been the correct thing to do . Instead, if you consult the map ( ), what we did was somewhere on the Burn of Inchgrundle, we headed towards Muckle Cairn instead of Craig Damff. We peaked Muckle Cairn then headed to East Carin, Burnt Hill, Criag of Duone and scrambled back down Glen Effrock before joining back the road and back to the world's ugliest car.

I promised I would discuss the Trump golf course up the coast from Aberdeen. In truth, I cannot face doing this this fine morning as it will put me in a very bad mood.So I will briefly note some other stuff, in relation to some of the events I hinted at in my first post re this Scottish minivacation. First up is that our friends Amelia and Brad, who live near Joe and Anna, and are also know to them, are to have their first baby very soon (within the next two weeks). And it came out, during a fantastic beach picnic with A&B and J&A that Amelia (who is 'due' about one week from now) had been climbing until last week, using a specially designed maternity climbing harness. Of course, having written tales of our derring do in the Scottish Highlands, it should be noted that Brad and Amelia make our adventures look like coach potatoism. Second up is that the phrase "We are all capitalism" (AK 2012) has been voted the best phrase of the year in Large MAnsions Annual Best Phrase of the Year competition. Third is that we are now triple glazing our house in a DIY fashion and the results are amazing. A brief tutorial will probablky be posted at some point.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Hike of Duality - beauty or the beast?

Its hard to know where to start - the urban fox, a rubber ducky, Russian colds, expensive cars, grey greyness, getting lost, pregnancy, dolphins, a beautiful beach, or the world's ugliest cars. So I'll start with juxtaposition and Donald Trump's recent attempts to build a golf course and resort north of Aberdeen. Aberdeen of course, being the locale Chez MacKrug AKA Joey Mac and Anna's current residence . Last week, self and RHB headed up North to Scotland for our only vacation of this year, as we have decided to FINISH the house before Christmas, mainly so we can spend more time away from it on vacation. It was a split journey - train to Edinburgh then a three hour drive in a rented car to Aberdeen. Train journey uneventful apart from the wistful reflection on my part that we, the people, used to own this railway. In Aberdeen "This is the ugliest car you will ever see" said the assistantat the car rental, "But I guarantee you will fall in love with it at the end of your week". It was, and we didnt. (BTW the car is called a Nissan Juke).
Driving toward Aberdeen, close to and through the Cairngorms, familiarity came surging back: we'd vacationed here for about eight consecutive years, concentrating our efforts on a small area in the Eastern Cairngorms south of Deeside. It was here that a conversion from decadent rock and rollers began. Unfortunately, as I have no idea what the end point of that conversion might eventually be, all I can say is that somewhere in Scotland, we were captured by the Trossachs. [ I should immediatley apologise, fulsomely and sincerely for the previous sentences in this paragraph. Such an enforced faux double entendre is entirely unjustifiable unless I trundle out the old English cultural affinity for this type of humour, and as I spend most of my life trying to be as un-English as possible, it is impossible to proceed further as this paragraph leaves me with yet another unresolved juxtaposition. ]

Anon and anon, there was a Canadian by birth , a Russian (presumably a Canadian by marriage), a Canadian by citizenship and a Scouser (a Canadian by aspiration) and two cats (both Canadian barn cats) in Joe and Anna's crib. I hope its obvious that we had some great conversations but I am not Beckett and I dont capture the detail of conversations well. Suffice to say that we all agreed about some things, and disagreed about others, but by and large we agree about more things than we disagree. We agreed, especially, that the car was very ugly. We may disagree somewhat the exact location to tickle Chupra the cat, or whether to swim in the North Sea but on the whole we agreed about mosyt things. In that tradition, a walk was proposed, which we all agreed upon, and so we set off to do a small hike from Cove (South of Aberdeen) to Aberdeen - approximately 9-9.5 kms along the cliffs.

[Incidentally, it may seem ludicrous to have to state that when visiting friends you should generally agree about things and not hate eachother - even if you argue a lot about sport or philosophy, you have essentially agreed what to talk about and presumably enjoy the cut and thrust of a good old intellectual joust. This implies that when visiting people, you approach the event with a degree of positivity, conviviality even, as it seems ludicrous to travel long distances to see people you dislike, or to recieve visitors from afar who you dont approve of in any way, shape or form. Given the ubiquity of Facebook, it would seem easier to me to 'Private Message' someone you dont like, with a detailed list of their faults (if you consider such teenage fetishism for lists and tallies necessary) and just tell them not to come to visit anymore. In this new era of branding and relabelling you could call it an un-invitation. But it has been surprising recently how someone invited a great friend of mine for weekend with the apparent premeditation to verbally attack the person who had made a substantial journey to visit. That to me is not friendship, that is arseholeship. And it really screws with language as well, because you cant really 'invite' anyone to an event where you want to do terrible things to them: I suppose you can grammatically, but only by effectively substituting 'invitation' for 'kidnap'. Its not even really another juxtaposition because juxtapods make sense, whereas being an arsehole doesnt. ]

So, on our pleasant hike we walked, and sometimes talked, and we did discover a physical juxtaposition, which was that the hike started off in vey attractive - pretty rather than rugged - countryside and wound north in a similar fashion for about 8kms. There was a washed up rusted container on the beach in one small cove, but that wasnt really juxtaposed as it had rusted beautifully and was now part of the landscape. No the juxtaposition came at the end of the hike when you are suddenly just dumped into urban Aberdeen in the middle of its poorest housing estate. Its very wierd - sea,sand, sea eagles, seals and dolphins on one side of the road and needles, beer cans, grey industrial slums and kids with thousand-year-old eyes on the other side of the road. Later in the vacation I found out another possible juxtaposition , althjough I will be telling it in terms of opposition, in the form of a golf course and the USA's most well known 'entrepreneur'.

In very short news, the time in Aberdeen was great fun. I will write more about the other hike we went on and the beach picnic, but right now renovation beckons. All todays photos are from the hike Cave to Aberdeen.

Monday, 20 August 2012

A Preliminary Report

A preliminary report from Aberdeen can conclude that self and RHB satill have it, if "if" is the ability to get hopelesslessy lost among Scotland's vast landscapes, decide to take a short cut and thus turn a quick 10K hike into a 20 Km epic. All of which is by introduction to our very recent visit to Joe and Anna in Aberdeen, a visit which included cats, some food, an unexpected beach, a surprise pregnancy and no dolphins. It was a great "mini-break@ until almost ruined on our return leg by the UK's privatised rail system (so much more efficient than if it had remained nationalised! _ NOT) but overall a great time.

The attached photo is the only one I have had a chance to down load ths far. It shows the site of our epic hike yesterday.i SHOULD ADD THAT YOU SHOULD CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO SEE ITS DETAILS. More will follow tomoz..........

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Ride of Hope III

This year, the Ride of Hope was endangered, mostly through bad planning, inattention, sloth and laziness. But both principle riders, as we sat in the pub early one Monday morning, decided that it was time to act. We have therefore mapped out a possible venue where we can bring our message of Hope - namely Scotland. And this year, we have determined that we will not go off message (as we did last year) by forgetting to articulate, in advance, exactly what our message is. Admittedly, we have not yet agreed between ourselves what Hope is, or does, or how we carry it (Skarra suggested small pieces of cake) but I have appointed Skarra as Ride of Hope Organiser and Brand Identity Manager, whose job is to flesh out the detail of these things. My job is Thought Leader, which I have found taxing becuase I am currently (for health reasons) on a 'thought restricted' diet and am limiting myself to five thoughts per day. If during the course of a day I think "get up" then later  "eat" (x3),  I find that by evening I only have one thought left to think out of my daily allowance. This causes a problem because often I want to think "drink" but obviously I need to think "sleep" as science has proved long periods without sleep is delerious to health.

A cautious whiff of optimism IV (or V?)

I believe this is the fourth or fifth time I have posted this particular post. As the blindness that accompanies it is perennial, I see no reason to amend it form the original posting: 

"I have never posted on the beautiful game before on this blog, perhaps because the most succesful club in the history of English football have been rather disappointing over the last few years (apart from a fifth European Championship in 05 and runners-up in 06).

But watching the magnificent progess through pre-season , I think every English, and European club should be very afraid of Liverpool Football Club this season.

There, I've done it, I've made a prediction. Now all I need to do is persuade Nel to let me gamble the proceeds from our house sale on Liverpool success this year. It's a sure bet, a dead cert..."