Bowery Mural

Guess Who's Back?

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Yeah "The Boy" has arrived back from his holidays with his Ganny, Ganda and Mummy. He's all pink skin and freckles but just as cute. And I swear he's grown a few inches too! He's already run riot, ate some Strawbies from the plant out the back garden and secretly told me few new "words"... ahem, cough cough, he's learned on holiday! I told him off for it and I know you're not meant to but I did have a wee laugh to myself. Anyway here he is... all glowing and cheeky faced.
It was good to see him today as I'm now off for my much anticipated first visit to London this weekend. I can't wait. The occasion is Kate's 30th birthday party on Saturday night with a great dose of catching up, visit to tourist attractions and much fun in between all that. I've not seen Kate since we parted at Heathrow airport after the trek so it will be great. I'll be lodging with Ruth in Putney (I think?) and can't wait for that too. I managed to grab a wee hour with Ruth about a month ago when she was up North for a wedding. We met on the banks of Loch Lomond just before she drove back to Glasgow airport. It'll be great and we'll do what girls do best, catch up chit chat gossip about life and how it's all going since our epic trip to the Himalayas (did I mention how I love saying that?! ha ha).

Anyway that's my weekend sorted. There was talk of a camping trip this weekend and I'm annoyed I'll miss it but I'm sure there'll be others, guys keep me updated of plans for the next one!!

Happy weekend people,
Ange xx

Kit... and how it worked out for me - 2

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Having tried to drastically reduce the contents of my over-bulky pack I decided to take note of the things I carry when going out for a walk. Here’s what kit & gear I had with me on my solo jaunt up Ben Lomond on Saturday 25 July 2009.

Icebreaker hipster briefs; Icebreaker 140 base layer top; Mountain Equipment Chamois trousers; Bridgedale light hiker socks; Bridgedale comfort socks – spare; Haglofs Kaza pullover – new!!; North Face Stratosphere Waterproof jacket; Berghaus Paclite waterproof trousers; Rab Aeon base layer –spare; Buff headband and a Buff; Mountain Hardwear gloves; First Ascent beanie hat; Oakley minute 2.0 prescription sunglasses; Scarpa ZG10 walking boots; 2 x Leki Carbonlite poles

Osprey talon 33l pack; Exped rucksack liner & dry bags; 2L platypus; 750ml Camelbak Better bottle; Sea to summit dry bag – carries food; Silva compass; map and map case; Petzl Tikka plus head torch; Panasonic DMC-TZ7 digital camera; Lowepro Apex 20 camera case; Nivea factor 30 sun cream (50ml kids size); Antibac hand gel; Antiseptic hand wipes; first aid kit; Purse, keys, phone, lip balm

Stoats hazelnut and white chocolate porridge bar; Honey roast ham roll; mini bottle Irn Bru; Pack of chocolate covered American peanuts; Pack of jelly chews; Apple

Now for an in-depth look at some of these items. There will be no technical speak from me on these items but merely my thoughts and feelings on items that I choose to wear on my adventures.

It was quite a hot day but still I wasn’t to wear my new Montane Terra Stretch walking shorts. Thought better to stick to the familiar plus it might rain later on! So I wore my comfy Mountain Equipment Chamois pants. I got these for the trek and although they are quite a warm trouser (suitable for winter) they’re also quite a light and stretchy fabric – MTN Lite fabric apparently which also has “a tough mini rip-stop face and DWR treatment to repel wind, rain and snow”. They are a four-way stretch and have articulated knees which help when I’m hauling myself up some rocks. Another plus point is they came in the short leg – result! They have an “active alpine cut” which doesn’t really mean much to me but in my terms I’d say they’re not hipsters rather they’re a bit high-waisted which can make you look like you come from the 1980’s but a nice long top will soon cover that up! I’ve had them for a few months now and noticed that on the back just below the waist probably where my rucksack sits, there is some of that poolly wool fluff thing happening on them. This is a tad annoying as it takes away the look of them I feel. Overall they are a nice pair of trousers. Very comfortable and generally the ones I turn to for most walks. I don’t have many other options right enough but they’ll do just now.

Briefs: this is a tad embarrassing but they are an essential piece of equipment for everyone and so it is important to get it right or you could end with a freezing cold bum or a .. Well you get the drift – weather dependant of course! I have to say my Icebreaker hipsters are the pant of choice for me. Again they were bought for the trek but have become the must have for warm or cold days on the hills. It was a rather hot day on Saturday and all i will say is that they performed very well. I’m going to stop talking about these items now!

My newest piece of kit is a Haglofs Kaza pullover. I didn’t think I was going to get a chance to try it out but the stiff breeze as I scaled the mountain soon had me reaching for it from the top pocket of my pack when I stopped for my snack break. First thing I noticed is that it is slim fit but glad to say it fitted nicely over my Icebreaker base layer top. I hardly noticed I was wearing it. It kept the wind out but I was still quite cool in it. As I warmed up again I took it off and it was a bit damp on the inside. Probably cos my t-shirt was soaking at the back (beginning to think the airscape on my pack doesn’t actually work that well either!). Anyway it was pretty good at its business of keeping the wind out but also keeping you cool at the same time. It’s light as a feather (not actually but its light) so it wasn’t a burden in my pack or on my back (oaft that was a wee rhyme!). The arm length was good on me, not too long but still enough give that I could easily use the thumb loops if I’d wanted to. From a pure vanity perspective I like that it’s not pink or ocean green or some other hideous colour that women’s gear tends to be made in. I like that its charcoal grey with a hint of colour – everyone knows black/grey are easy to coordinate with! Is short I was pleased with this latest purchase. It will be a welcome addition to my ever-growing-lighter-backpack – hopefully!

Dry bags – I love the Exped ones as they come in lots of different sizes and even better, wonderfully bright primary colours. I use these to store clothes, camera, gloves buffs etc and I have a very light Sea to Summit bag that I use to carry food. Nothing really much to say except they’re ace.

I found a little 50ml bottle of Nivea sun cream that is from the kids range – SPF30 also comes in SPF50. This will likely stay in my bag as I used to carry a huuuuuuge 200ml spray bottle!! I know, I know...

Well I always take a couple of seeded rolls with honey roast ham on them and an apple. Then another essential for me seems to be M&S American peanuts covered in chocolate. Strangely I didn’t eat any of these on Saturday though having become a recent convert I did dig into the Stoats porridge bar – in yummy hazelnut and white chocolate – tasty, tasty, very very tasty, it’s very tasty! I’m not really a fan of dried fruit so will stay away from the other flavours.

Finally yes I had a wee bottle of Irn Bru with me (250ml). It’s not necessarily for drinking but for my new “project” – Irn Bru Adventures... see here!

So that was a wee insight into some of the things I took with me. I will over my next few trips give my thoughts on other kit I take with me and of course any new stuff I might be buying.

I'm off on another adventure this weekend... for my first taste of the big bad city that is London!! I am excited to be meeting up with Kate 'fernicus' Fernie and Ruth 'Roofus' Roberts who have become great friends since we trekked the Himalayas together! (I loves saying that ha).

But normal service resumes tomorrow. The parents are home from their holibobs with “The Boy” and “the sister” and all that comes along with that. The next few months are going to be rollercoasterish in the way they unfurl but I hope to seek serenity where the sun shines, where the rain falls, where the wind blows in my face, where the smiles happen, where the vistas unfold and maybe even where the sun sets in such a glorious fashion that it will take my breath away... until then...

Ange xx

Long overdue update on music i've been listening to recently:-
Kings of Leon - Only by the Night (album) still a favourite
Paolo Nutini - Sunnyside Up (album) another one
La Roux - Bulletproof
Foo Fighters - Times Like These
Snow Patrol - Open Your Eyes
Max Richter - On the Nature of Daylight

PS the moon is out tonight looking all moody and pale orangey yellow, its also a perfect half shape and sits low on the horizon. I can just see it out of the kitchen window. Hello mr moon!

Jaunting Solo... a testing time

Sunday, 26 July 2009

I've been on holiday and was dying to get out walking and so that's what i did. I'd been checking the weather all week and there were showers, 30% chance of a clear munro top, slight chance of thunder/lightning all week and so Saturdays forecast looked best.

Friday night was spent getting my bag ready but still it managed to look bulky and heavy. It wasn't that heavy but no matter what i do i still can't get it down. The equipment must be wrong...

anyhoo here's what was in it this time.. along with 1.5 litres water in a platypus and 2 Leki walking poles.
I set off from home a bit later than I'd wanted but got to the car park at Rowardennen around 9.55am. The car park was mobbed and I was lucky to get a space. After getting my stuff ready I set off about 10.10am and headed along towards the youth hostel. I headed up the path through the wooded area and steadily up the slopes. It's only been about 5 weeks since I was here with PTC* but I wanted to go out walking by myself to gauge my own pace and I'm not brave enough to go it alone on new ground so the familiar seemed the best idea. I mean I fly solo up Dumyat most weekends but it only takes about 40 minutes and is not a real test.

I heard a few voices up ahead of me. It was a family group and grandad, 2 sons and 2 s grandsons. I'd be yoyoing with them up and down Ben Lomond all day. They were a nice bunch of folks. We were the only ones going up this way and i liked it that way. The crowds that were at the car park must have gone the other way - the easy way! Yes! As i headed up i had a wee break took some pics. It was a clear day right enough, the sun was hot but the clouds gave some respite. The wee breeze was also welcome. I tied my hair back as it's soon becomes a distraction so better to have it off the face when your internal heating system goes up a degree or two. I set off again up and was recognising areas and features from my previous hike up here. It seemed just as nice in the daytime but I'll bet the sunset would be braw tonight. A funny thing happened though, at one point i looked up and saw some smoke billowing up. I was curious. As I got closer i could hear voices coming from the bushes. Turns out it was a young couple having an early morning barbecue breakfast. We exchanged pleasantries and I walked on. I couldn't see a tent so not sure if they camped or had walked up early on. It looked like romance was in there. Perhaps he was proposing to her! Ah see that's my girly romantic side coming out.

After walking a bit further I caught sight of the rock where we'd had our dinner that night and I made that as my next target. I was sat there having a wee snack of an apple at about 11.30am so it'd took me about an hour and a half to get there - not bad I think. Now you know I'm not into book times or anything like that but this was a personal test to see if this 'slow' thing i have in my head is in fact all in my head or am i indeed really slow. Judging by this i don't think i am. I'd stopped a couple of times for a drink, a comfort break and to take some pics so this was alright - great! After 10 minutes here and a chat with the family group I set off again with the summit in my sights. I aimed to get there by 1.30pm.

As I walked along I decided I like this hill, a lot. It's a good one. Many great features like the wee path leading from the Ptarmigan ridge up to the rocky outcrop just before the summit, the views are stunning all around and there's even a bit of a scramble near the top.

Further on and I now had a view of the masses making their way up and congregating at the summit and was glad I came up this way. I wondered if this is what the Hilary Step on Everest might look like! (except it would be much colder - maybe). The day was clear and you could see for miles. I tried to remember all that encyclopedic knowledge PTC had bestowed upon me but couldn't, however, I did pick out Ben Nevis peeking between two shadowy peaks in the distance. (What are those ones called again PTC?). It was cool! I was soon at the start of the scrambly rocky part and took a few minutes to have a drink and take a few more photies.

As I set off up you could begin to hear the voices of people coming down. There were a few by now - they'd had their pieces on the summit! The family had headed up a few minutes before me, I let them go. The groups coming down were varied in their makeup. There was the really old seasoned hill-walker (you can just tell), the ones who're working off a hangover ("Murphy have you heard fae Davie?", "Naw, how?", "Ah sent him a text sayin ah wis gon hill-walking and ah've no heard fae him since") and the super group of about 12 members trying to outdo each other (lots of army talk from them!). Anyway I was kinda secretly smiling when I heard a few of the super group army guys talking about how steep this side was and " 'magine comin up this way!". I could almost hear them gasp when I popped up from the rocks. "I'll let you by hen". Aye cos you're shittin yourself coming down these steep rocks I thought. Ha.

You're not long here and then you're on the summit. I could smell the cheese sandwiches a mile away. It was mobbed - absolutely mobbed. I took a photie. I'd reached it about 5 past 1pm - not too bad at all. That means 3 hours up with a few breaks for photies, drinks and comfort in between. This was alright! I never hung around for long. I listened to a few conversations going on - take my pictures at the summit, Bobby was up 4th in another large group, there was a dog called Pebble and a wee boy was with his Aunty Claudia. I wasn't sure what to make of it all. It's the first time I've been on a hill and there was this many people around. Must've been at least 30 at a time up there on the summit - between people coming up and people heading back down again. Plus there were a good few on either side who were making their way up the tourist path and down the Ptarmigan route. I don't think I liked it this busy but i suppose at least they're out here. It was better after hours when there were few out. Anyway after my smoked ham piece and half a porridge bar I took another glug of water and headed down.

I got the poles ready, I would need them! I set off at about 1.35pm. I was like Jenson Button trying to wait for a break in the traffic coming out of the pit lane. As I headed down I looked east (i think) and wondered if I could maybe see Dumyat (cos I can see Ben Lomond when I'm up there on a clear day). It was a nice wee donner down except for the dreaded knee pain. The poles were helping (though I'd had a sore head nearly all day!). I stopped a few times for a stretch out and this seemed to help. There were still folk aplenty heading up the way including a strange girl with a giant teddy bear in her rucksack! Takes all kinds I suppose. There were young families heading up to and it got me thinking about taking Ryan one day. Maybe he's a wee bit too young (and hyperactive) just now. I'd need eyes on the back of my head! I got lower towards the treeline and I was thankful. It had been a good day going solo but I decided that I did indeed like company when walking. I'd forgot to charge my iPod so left that at home. Apart from the wee chats with the Family group and the hiya's to some passers by (of the non-miserable type!) I missed some chat and indeed some cajoling on towards the summit or towards the car. I did have fun with "wee Bru" though. It's my new project - Adventures with Irn Bru! Join in... You can see more photies here.

After a final few pics and a strange encounter near the wee toilet block with about 10 guys dressed in full black and orange American football outfits!! i was back at the car just after 3.30pm. 5hrs 29 minutes were on my watch - not bad!! I'd passed my own test. I would not now label myself as "slow".

I was knackered, my feet were roasting hot, my face was a bit stingy with sunburn and my head was sore. Apart from that I was totally happy that I'd set myself and completed this wee personal challenge. Now for the next one... I wonder where that will be... we'll see...

Ange xx

(Kit will be reported in a new post, this one is a bit long already! :o) )

Adventures with The Boy

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Yeah, ok, so I'll admit it... I'm missing him - lots. I've seen him nearly everyday for the past 3 and a bit years and i miss him after a few days of not seeing him. I can't wait 'til he gets home from his holidays and he makes me laugh again. We have good wee adventures and photo sessions - he's such a poser! But it's those wee cheeky sly looks or things he comes out with that I like the best. He's such a happy wee guy too. Never cries until he's hurt... or when he's taking the piss out of his mummy - which happens a lot and i can't help but laugh. He's kinda like a best friend and although only 3 years you can hold a good conversation with him. He loves playing football, driving his tractor, pretending to play drums with his knife and fork on a dinner plate (gets that from his Granda!) and playing guitar with a pen! He's funny...

In saying all of that i do fear for him sometimes. He's a little red-head you see and to boot he's got gorgeous curls (ok as a curly-head I'm biased!) and we all know that children can be cruel to each other. He'll soon be going to nursery and who knows what that holds. He's into his books too as long as they've got Bob the Builder or Peppa Pig in them. With a great imagination he started asking me 'How's your work Angie?' to which i replied 'Oh not so good, how was yours?'. His reply? 'It was good, I finised 'at wee job'. 'What was that?' I questioned. 'I painted Ganny's wall'. Then he started calling me Wendy and I had to hammer a pretend nail into a pretend bit of wood!! Anyway yeah he's got a great imagination.

He's dying to 'go up the big moutains wi Angie' and one day he will, just as soon as he gets his trail shoes sorted :o) Never mind. He'll be back soon enough. He'll be making me laugh. He'll be shouting up the stairs to me 'Angie, gie me kiss!, gie me cuddle'. Cannae wait!

Ange xx

Kit... and how its worked out for me

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Firstly apologies for the lack of mountain / outdoor related posts on here. I haven’t been out of late but hope to remedy that in the next few days.

So it occurred to me as I sat here reading my daily dose of blog updates and witty comments, watching the Tour de France live in which I hope Bradley Wiggins does it (that’s if Lance Armstrong doesn’t mind you) and lusting over gear websites that there aren’t so many women’s opinions and reviews out there on gear/kit/apparel. I mean we girls do have money to buy and we do like decent stuff other than the usual mundane kit in shades of pink or ocean blue! I’ve not come across any websites/blogs that talk solely about women’s stuff. Sure there are the odd mentions of gear (this one being my first port of call for info) and its good and then there’s the comments from guys who’d ‘tried to get our lass a pair of them there fancy troosers in short versions’ etc etc but i don’t think I have come across any kit advice/news from women. (if there are please let me know). So... Why not write something I thought, so I am. And here it is. My take on the kit I use and wear for my hill adventures. I’ll start at the beginning (as you normally do).

Now I'm not going to go into every detail of every piece of kit i own but will try and give my view on it and how it worked out for me.

Some back story (for those who don’t read this blog regularly). I’m fairly new to this outdoor life having come at it a bit later than most. But now i’m here i wonder why i never did it sooner... ach that’s a whole other story that will be written in my book! (NOT appearing in a good book shop near you soon!). Anyway it all began with the preparations for my infamous trek to Mt Everest Base Camp in April 2009. But my whole hill-walking kit buying spree began in April 2008. I can't quite remember but i think my first ever piece of kit was a pair of North Face Meridian zip off trousers (ooh the shame!). See at the time i just knew i didn’t want Berghaus as it always seemed like the stuff your mam or dad would wear to go to the annual Glamis Castle motor show thing or that your neighbour would wear to walk the dog, feed the horses or some other task like that (A point to note: my neighbours neither walk their dogs nor have been near a horse but you get what I’m saying eh). Anyway I knew i didn’t want Berghaus it just seemed... old-fashioned? (sorry Berghaus people). So I went to Tiso, the only gear shop within spitting distance from my house and bought the NF Meridians. I hate the colour (Asphalt Grey) but it was all that was available and i’ve slowly gotten use to it (better than the beige option). The material is light so these aren’t winter troos. The zip off legs are handy but have never been ‘zipped off’. The fit! Now, all women will know that you may be, for example, a size 10 in some makes of clothes but a size 12 in another – a very annoying thing about women’s clothes and i don’t think that will ever change. I’ve found that North Face trousers tend to be ‘wee made’ a bit neater on the hips and thighs for someone that isn’t stick thin. In their favour is that they do come in short, regular and long leg lengths. Tick! For those of us who don’t even hit 5’3” this is good news. They were ok for a first buy.

My next bit of kit were the boots (above). I have funny feet. Inherited from my Dad i think. I’m between sizes 3 and 4, depends what shoe and what make really. I need to try all shoes on, both feet, before i even contemplate buying. So again it was a trip to Tiso (I was becoming a regular in there). The guy was very helpful but came out with this line that i totally and wholeheartedly don’t agree with – you should buy a size up from your normal shoe size!! What?? I’ve never really had blisters before but this was ringing in my head. My little delicate feet would be a mess if i got shoes that are way too big. After much mooching about the shop, having previously taken advice from people who were meant to be in the know and trying on different boots i settled for the Scarpa SL M3 leather boots (on checking the website today i noticed they’ve gone up by £20!!! Shocking!). Heavy as anything and i wasn’t entirely happy that they started at a size 5. However i gave into the pressure of being in the shop for nearly 40 minutes and having to buy something. I bought them, took them home, walked up and down the stairs a few times and felt like i had done a lower leg workout they were that heavy. I decided right there and then they were going back for a refund and i would seek advice elsewhere.

A few days later i headed to Ellis Brigham’s at Braehead as i’d seen another pair of Scarpa boots that came in half sizes and were much more what i was looking for. Lighter too. I tried them on walked about and bought them. A pair of Scarpa ZG10 boots in a size 4! I wasn’t conforming to this 'get a size bigger' rule. I don’t believe in it. The boots got their first test in early May 2008 up Dumyat. They worked well but i got the most almighty of blisters, probably to be expected as my feet were used to trainers or work shoes for years. Since then these boots have been my trusty companions on all of my mountain adventures so far and i don’t see that being anything different in the future (unless i buy trail shoes!). Their only black mark was about 2 months ago on a jaunt up the hills near Tyndrum one very wet Saturday morning, they got totally soaked. My feet were splunging. It was probably due to the fact we were trudging through very boggy ground and had to cross a raging river at one point near the bottom so by then i wasn’t caring about foot placement and just wanted to be back at the car. I'm not going to come down too heavy on my wee boots just yet. They did take me to 4,367m in the Himalayas after all.

Anyway i kinda started panic buying kit as there was the works annual hill walk looming on Saturday 7th June 2008 and I had a trek to buy for. I had no kit whatsoever before this and thought that the old pink Karrimor rucksack that i used for the gym would suffice in the hills. Mistake. After a few practice jaunts up Dumyat i realised this rucksack was not made for me on the hills. Plus it was old and the straps are ripped a bit and i’m not really a pink kinda girl anyway – more on this later! I started searching shops and the web for some kit basics: waterproof jacket and trousers; socks; fleece; tops; water bottles and other bits and bobs. Got a few bargains too but probably spent too much on the wrong stuff and i’m paying for that now!

On the eve of the annual DASS hill walk i headed off to Cotswold Outdoor at Springburn and bought one of the only things I have ever bought without anything less than a 2 week ‘humming and hawing’ period. I had been looking at rucksacks. The EBC trek kit list said I needed a 30-40l daypack for the trek. All the 30-40l daypacks i’d seen (usually in Tiso’s) were big dumb ass heavy Berghaus things that just did not feel right on me. The straps were thick. The material seemed sturdy which equates to heavy and the colours were truly uninspiring. Others i tried were Lowe Alpine and Deuter which were not too bad but when on me i felt i couldn’t move freely, my head was being knocked at from the obviously over-stuffed top pocket, this wasn’t right.

Then i seen it! The Spicy Chili Osprey Talon... hanging just above the eye line amongst the otherwise darker colours of its neighbours. I asked the guy to get it down for me so that i could try it on. Instantly it felt right. You just now these things eh. What surprised me was how light it was and it was packed to the gunnels with lots of packaging to make it look ‘packed’. I slipped it on and it was my friend almost immediately, we had a connection like no other. It was mines and I bought it. Am i really spending £70 on a bag?! I thought to myself but somehow i knew it would be worth it. I was chuffed and took it home to get packed for the next days adventure. I should point out it was at this point too that I found another friend - the Exped dry bags – in a rainbow of colours – braw!! I can tell you the Osprey Talon 33L performed very well and has done so ever since. It fits me like a glove now that I've had it over a year. It's still pretty clean (I use a damp cloth to wipe off any dirt). I love the harness straps which are mesh and let you breath. The pockets on the hip belt are handy for storing things like lip balm, hankies, phone or even a wee cheeky pack of Haribo jellies for when no-one's looking! It takes my 2L Platypus as it has an easy access hydration sleeve on the back. The back panel is size adjustable and has an 'airscape' panel but admittedly i do still get a bit damp on the back if its a scorcher. The only slight niggle i have is that recently I've been carrying water bottles too and store one in the stretchy side pockets. This means contorting your arm to get the water bottle out, getting a friend to help or to take the pack off for a drink - very time consuming. I think the pockets are at a funny angle (well for me they are). This is only a slight pain and other than that this has been one of the best things I have bought. Although recently after being out and it not being full but still looking full I've decided i maybe need (read want) a smaller pack for walks? Another decision...

So after all of that this is what I took on my first walk up the hills (Bidean nam Bian & Stob Coire Sgreamhach - Glencoe):

Osprey Talon 33L pack; Sigg water bottle; Exped rucksack liner; Berghaus Paclite waterproof trousers; Bridgedale comfort summit socks plus spares; North Face beanie hat; Marmot iGloves (great but I've lost them - boo!); Adidas long-sleeve base layer; North Face Stratosphere waterproof jacket (got it cheap but now want a new waterproof jacket); North Face fleece; Boots SPF25 suncream; Olympus mju digital camera; food; a glass bottle of Irn Bru (ha just kidding, checking you were still paying attention!) plus lots and lots and lots of other stuff that i never needed since it was a scorching hot day! Pack weight – very heavy. Legs – totally gone after 10 hours walking. Me – emotionally and physically drained but looking forward to this new life.

Ange xx

Ice Cold Irn-Bru

Sunday, 19 July 2009

I like...
Ice cold Irn Bru; You; Philosophy senorita margarita shower gel; salt’n’vinegar KP Mini Chips; Prison Break; laughing til you cry; reading blogs; my red Rab down jacket – cosy warm; taking pictures with my new camera – loves it; Mark Beaumont; walking up the hills, day or night; midweek cinema trips – need to do this more often; listening to the sound of a heavy rainfall on the windows; hot pancakes with strawberries and ice cream; the Tour de France; Havaianas flip flops; Coldplay; Anthony Hopkins in the Sky advert; discovering new places I’ve never been before; the drive to work as it changes every day; the font Calibri; the light on the Ochils in a mid-winter sunset; Joan Miro artwork; Barcelona; my Pantone stripey mug, its lovely; the movie The Departed; Burt's Bees lip balm; sitting in the dark at night watching telly; my iPod; playing hide and seek with “The Boy” on the top landing; Dairy Fudge sweets in a tin of Quality Street; my Suunto Core alitmeter/watch - is fancy!; Jennifer Aniston’s hair; CK Eternity my scent of choice; Moleskine and Ciak notebooks; cheeky Friday scones; random chit chat in the office with Linda (oh if only you knew what we talk about!!); Antoni Gaudi buildings; happy endings; my walking boots; getting your feet wet when wearing flip flops on a balmy rainy summer evening; a good session at the gym; my pink and white checked Converse trainers; Flickr; solo shopping in Glasgow; Paolo Nutini’s new album – brilliant!; watching snow fall from the comfort of the couch; my red tartan jammie’s; VW Golf GTI’s & Audi A3’s in white; the drive to Glencoe; Lance Armstrong; the effects of CMS (ha ha); Thorntons chocolate covered fudge; bacon roll on a Sunday morning; great architecture; all this creativity that’s been swirling round my head the past few months – don’t know where it’s come from!; Bidean nam Bian – the beast, a good munro, my first; David Millar; home-made macaroni cheese, I make a mean one; that i look younger than i am; the movie Once; Kings of Leon – ace!; jaunts up the hills after work on school nights; buying kit; “The Boy” when he makes me laugh which is at least 10 times a day; writing my blog and hopefully getting better at it; colour – all colour, anything colourful; walking along with the wind blowing in your face – maybe even a wee drizzle, lost in your own thoughts. This list is extensive and maybe will even be added to occasionally as there are many things I LIKE!

I don’t like...

Lumpy mash potato; bad drivers at roundabouts; coffee of any kind; being shy; that I eat too much chocolate; Twitter spammers & junk mail; compare the Meerkat adverts; liars; people trying to sell you home insurance when you’ve just bought car insurance; garlic; when people are extremely late, not like 5-10 minutes late but half an hour late!; when your Goretex walking boots let in water; having no confidence; when people phone at the most crucial of points in the middle of a good programme; Roger Federer or rather the way the BBC tennis folk sook up to him; knee pain; tomato sauce; road works, way too much around here just now; the drive to Edinburgh; girls wearing way too much make-up; cereal bars; people driving with their iPod in, yes I have seen this!; stubbing your toe off something; bananas with black bits on them; when no-one texts you for ages and then you get one and it’s only a service message from O2 – crap; that i’m on holiday and everyone else is working – doh!!; that i never pursued my dream of becoming an architect...

Ange xx

One Day Like This

Friday, 17 July 2009

6:52am my alarm goes. It's the theme from The Exorcist (I've had this one for years). I snooze it. Then every 8 minutes it goes off again until i know that after the sixth round of it going off and me snoozing it it's now time to get up and have a shower to get ready for the day ahead.

7:40am I check Twitter via my phone. Not because I am interested but rather this seems to have become my new habit... that I must get out of.

8:25am I leave the house after a round of 'see you later alligator'... 'in a while crocodile' with "The Boy" in my life.

8.50am I arrive at the car park in work which is deserted during the summer and i head to the cafe for a fruit scone.

9.05am the computer is switched on and I proceed to open MS Outlook with no intention of fulfilling any actual work duties or reply to any work emails until I have had my daily "first thing in the morning" fix of various social networking and personal email sites.

9.10am No-one has really tweeted anything that interesting yet. But the day has just begun and there's a long way to go. I would tweet more. But I don't tend to tweet unless I feel I have something useful to say. Or unless someone asks me something then I tweet a reply. I'm always greatly amused when people can come up with great proclamations or very amusing little quirky sayings or even better some cryptic sentence that has me guessing for a few hours what they mean. I go back and re-read it and try to decipher what this coded statement means... hhmmmm I loves it!

9.25am I check work emails. Nothing new except I could buy a degree for $125 from some obscure Canadian University. I might try this...

9.35am First cup of tea of the day together with the lovely fruit scone.

10.10am Someone pops in for a chat. We chat - about boys! Mostly her though.

10.40am Check emails. No new ones. I'm waiting on a reply from someone but nothing comes in. I do a few emails to people. Type a few letters. Then start on updating some student handbooks...

11.05am Sold!! Camera sold for a good stack of cash. Celebrate by tweeting the cakes are on me!

12.30pm Lunch time. I'm hungry. Walk over to the shops and buy can of juice and a Cadbury's Caramel.

2pm Starting to really flag now and get bored as in office by myself. This of course means i have to order some stationary - one of my favourite things. Don't get too excited it's only some paper for the printers this time.

2.30pm I'm getting some really good ideas about writing stuff but don't know where to begin. It's confusing me where all this creativity is coming from.

3.15pm Tea time. I go for another cuppa and settle in to eat the Caramel that's been sitting patiently waiting on my desk to be eaten since lunch time.

4.45pm I decide it's far too quiet in work and finally time for me to begin my holidays.

5pm I'm at Tesco trying to buy something for dinner's when the 'rents are away on their hols. I buy salad, 5 apples, strawberries, Trail magazine, a bar of tablet, 2 cartons of orange juice, 1 carton of cranberry and blackcurrant juice, 6 rolls, 1 pack of smoked bacon, 1 pack of cheese. I think that's it. Not much dinner out of that eh!

5.55pm After stopping off to fill up on petrol, I am home and eating my dinner of steak pie, chips and garden peas - yummy. I play with 'The Boy'. He's pretending to cry on the floor at my feet. I rest my feet on his knees and jiggle them about until he starts to laugh. It's funny. I read some Trail magazine. I'm not feeling that great so head upstairs to watch some telly in peace.

6.50pm Log onto big communication device. Charge the wee communication device.

7pm Catch up on Tour de France highlights. I've already found out who won the stage as folk keep tweeting about it on Twitter!! Stop with the spoilers.

8pm Head upstairs again. Log in. A few amusing tweets. Decide to write this blog. But don't begin it until later. Feel a bit shitty really. Things are coming to a head I think. I talk to someone about it and they set me straight "you need to think about yourself, do things for you and no-one else". This is of course correct but I'm not good at that.

9pm Watch Big Brother. Yes ok I watch it. Don't judge me for it.

9.15pm Start typing up this blog post. My eyes are stinging today. Spending too much time in front of a screen methinks.

10.10pm Email comes in. I read and reply - takes me ages. I always write too much in replies. Don't I?

11.25pm Finishing this posting. I'm quite tired. Eyes are still nipping. Think I'll head to bed. That's it. One Day in the Life of Me. Nothing out of the ordinary really. Hopefully my holidays will bring some relaxing me time. Some exciting times. And some time in the great outdoors.

Ange xx

Workin' on a dream

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

I'm the tiredest girl in the world tonight. And I've got a sore heed. The tiredness stems from having been to see Bruce Springsteen last night with my Dad in Glasgow. We didn't get in until about 1am due to Mr Springsteen playing from 8pm till 11pm (yeah people 3 hours!!!, now that's entertainment), trying to get out of a car park (a football field!) for half an hour and then getting stuck in a traffic jam on the A80 (40 mile an hour limit!!). Anyway yeah it was a late one last night. And I was the driver! Dad doesn't like driving in the big cities.

The sore heed comes from I don't know what - maybe the tiredness? maybe other stuff? I do get a lot. Some painkillers should do the trick. Maybe it's the excitement of trying to sell something on eBay that ends tomorrow morning and having 15 'watchers'!! Yikes... hope it sells. Or perhaps it's the prospect of having the house to myself for a whole two weeks on Friday. Yay... peace and quiet.

My plans last weekend were scuppered as I was ready to set off on Sunday morning for a solo jaunt up the hills. But my weather detection skills were rubbish and had I planned further ahead I'd have realised that in fact Saturday would have been the better day to set off on my own. I didn't fancy getting lost so I decided to stay put. I got all my stuff ready on Saturday night too and since that say had been a scorcher I'd decided to unzip the legs off my trousers and wear shorts! eek. But lo and behold never needed to use them. On Sunday I did set out on a mission to find some stuff on the web though and purchased a couple of items. One being a pair of shorts - in case summer is still here! They arrived today and after having tried them on I'm not entirely sure... I still may yet send them back for a refund. They are nice, black, stretchy material that is light, water repellent (apparently), breathable but I'd say about half an inch too short. I'll decide later and see. Problem is I'll likely only get a few wears out of them in a year and knowing me I'd probably carry a pair of trousers with me anyway (just in case) so are they worth it? Not sure yet.

The second item I ordered on the other hand is not going anywhere. I loves it! It's a nice new shiny top. For the wind. Or to keep it off rather. Will it work? I think so and who knows but it's pretty cool.

All I need now is somewhere to store all of my kit cos yes, shamefully, it's still all laying in the top landing in the big yellow bag since I came back from Nepal. I just don't have any room. The Thermarest is wedged down the side of my wardrobe. The down jacket has only this week been shoved into the wardrobe after i had another mini clear out of old clothes. The boots go between my car boot and the lobby cupboard. The water bottles live on a shelf. The rucksack hangs from a hook where a couple of hats once were. Everything else is at hand in the kit bag. I can find everything when I need it to go out for the day but ideally I'd like it all sorted out. The spare room has no storage space whatsoever but hopefully some new cupboards from Ikea will allow me to have a Kit Store in there. Maybe if I wasn't such a hoarder I'd have plenty of room.

Anyways... we'll see...

"I'm working on a dream
Though sometimes it feels so far away
I'm working on a dream
And I know it will be mine someday"
(Bruce 'the Boss' Springsteen)

Ange xx

We'll see where the wind takes me

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Out my usual midweek walk tonight and thankfully the rain stayed off. There are some sights you see on the road walking past minding your own business. Take the well over middle aged lady with her lycra outfit and coordinating red trainers and sunglasses combo. That would be fine but in women of a certain age lycra is not a good look. Don't get me wrong she looks good for her age (I imagine late 40's, early 50's) but the bleach blonde hair doesn't suit her. Then there's the pensioners in the Allan Water Cafe getting their fish tea's. 5.30pm on the dot. I bet they've been doing that for years. There's the commuters getting off the train at Bridge of Allan not giving you a second glance because aye what's on their iPod's is much more interesting than being friendly and saying hi! Don't bother then.

Aye I like wandering along watching the people and the world go by - people watching. It's the me time where I get away from the usual surroundings of work, home and even friends and family. Company would be good but you know what sometimes it's just nice to be out, on your own, with your own company and your own thoughts. You get the peace to think things through, and it's where I get some inspiration for certain things. And also I love taking pictures of things but since I've taken a lot quite recently of this same walk there's nothing really fresh or new to take so I'm leaving it for a week and I'll see if there's any new flowers blooming to capture or if the view changes next week.

Not sure if I should be admitting this too but... I find myself wandering along writing new blog posts or cool wee stories in my head, then when I get home I try to remember them so I can reproduce them with the same vibrancy and clarity that they came to me in. I must get inspiration from being outdoors. I've a fair few wee bits and bobs of half finished tales stored here on the 'puter but they'll likely never see the light of day - one has though! However the blog posts often appear here. I decided a few weeks ago that I'd buy a new wee notebook to take outdoors with me, whether it be visiting new places or walking on the hills. I found a couple of leather CIAK & Cartesio notebooks online here and chose the yellow and blue ones. They're small enough to take with me on the hills (and not that heavy either!) so that I can jot down my thoughts, wee stories or even draw nice pictures of the scenery that might inspire me. I got a plain notebook and a couple of lined ones. I was going to stick with the Moleskine notebooks but opted for the more colourful ones that were on offer.

I still have my large Moleksine book I took on the trek and it now holds all of the little mementos I picked up on that journey - Yeti airlines sweet wrappers & boarding passes, Gulf Air baggage tickets and not forgetting the little cards and notes that Linda made me for each day of the trek, numbered days 1 to 17. Oh it was so hard opening these each day as she had written things according to the itinerary which by that time had quickly went out the window after the weather delays. One day I just sat in the tent and opened them all up. And yes the tears were flowing but you know what? it was great that she'd gone to all that effort to prepare them and I'd rather have that kind of memento to cherish forever than a huge grand gesture present. Oh... that was a rather large tangent there - sorry!

Back to the notebooks, yeah I hope to record some writings in them. Perhaps they won't be any good because I do tend to go on and on but conceivably they could be worth reading! Well, whatever, it'll be for my eyes only.. just now anyways. First outing will be this weekend, not sure where the destination is yet but I'm going to just get in the car and drive. Have you ever done that? I quite fancy doing that, see where the wind takes me... we'll see...
Ange xx

It's a colourful life!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Why do you blog? It's a question I've asked a few folks recently and there are different answers from each. Mostly though the reply is because it's like a diary. A diary, a record, a log. Of events that are perhaps more signifcant to the writer than the reader. Or perhaps the reader quite enjoys the insights the writer gives them into their lives.

For me this blog started off as an account of the journey of the biggest and bestest thing I had done in my life up to that point. The EBC trek of course. With a few snippets of other events thrown in for good measure. I wanted it to be recorded and for it always to be there so that i or others can go and read it in their own time. On return from the trek it has turned into what I suppose you might call a diary - without the personal stuff of course!! I mean I could never let you into the deepest thoughts I have hidden away in some corner of my imagination that only ever come out to play occassionally, could I?...

There are a few clandestine stories in posts here somewhere. Some may have read them and thought "what?!" with a confused look, others may have read them, nodded and said "ah yes!".

So here's what i'll write about today...
Dad started his new job today with a local company
Recyke-a-bike. It's a community run project where they fix and repair/recycle old bikes. I say old bikes but he's assured me there a good few Trek bikes in stock just now, waiting for a new home!! Get in! This is his second job since being made redundant after 35 service!! Luckily he can turn his hand to pretty much anything. A timed-served mechanic to trade he worked as a maintenance engineer in the local tile factory for 35 years then they decided they needed someone 'more experienced in electrics' to do both jobs. He graciously accepted their word and has not looked back to be honest. He's one of those people who just can't bear to sit and do nothing and all credit to him for that. He's been biding his time with a part-time delivery drivers job for Brammer engineering and he quite enjoyed that. It got him out of the house for half the day at least and now he's got this full-time job. I am quite proud actually. There are people half his age living around about us and there's a warrant out for their working jaickets!! Lazy so and so's... Anyway I'm searching the web for a decent bike and he's going to keep an eye for me at anything that comes in. There are apparently thousands of bikes in their main storage shop and his job will be to fix them up/repair them and get them ready for selling again. So in a few weeks, if anyone wants their bike serviced, he's the man!

I've been to the gym a few times over the week and tonight's session was pretty good. I tried a different running program and it was fun and felt great. Knees still got sore but i've been stretching it all out regularly and i hope that gets better soon. Tips anyone??

Work is.... well work. Same old problem of being too quiet without all the fab students so motivation and focus just now is not quite 100%. Tasks and work is still being done but with a little less enthusiasm. It will be rememdied soon though as I'll be off on hols and 2 weeks time. Bliss!!! Cannot wait. That's all the motivation i need really to get the job done.

Oh, oh, another thing I can't wait for... Bruce 'the Boss' Springsteen at Hampden Park next Tuesday night!!! Don't know what to expect really but i did eventually watch his Glastonbury performance and man he gives it his all for nearly 3 hours! Apparently the set list changes when they go on stage at each gig so i'm hoping a few of my favs will be played next week. I have a spare ticket if anyone fancies it?? Let me know. :o)

Got a new camera the other day and it's really great. I'm loving the pictures it's giving me already (below) and can't wait to get out into the hills with it. I've even managed a pretty good panorama shot of Stiring with it. It's well cool!!

Ok that's all the non personal stuff sorted, now for the personal things...
Aye right, you didn't honestly think i'd write that down here did you??...

Ange xx

Musical update: (cool tunes I quite like indeed)
Stornoway - Zorbing
Fleet foxes - White Winter Hymnal
Bruce Springsteen - Jacobs Ladder
Paolo Nutini - Candy (love, love, love this still)
Ray Lamontagne - Burn
Blur - Tender
Kings of Leon - Use Somebody
Coldplay - Life in Technicolour ii
The Jam - Town called malice
Arcade Fire - Keep the cars running
The Killers - All these things I've done