Bowery Mural

100: cien, cento… A Hunner!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

I’ve been writing this blog for well over a year and have found myself here... at post number 100!! How did that happen?!

To mark such an occasion I thought it would be a good idea to do a "special edition" post and so planning ahead, I got in touch with someone who’s blog I love reading. Someone who inspires with fantastic accounts of his adventures in the mountains with his mates. He is one of the only people I would ask or indeed let write a guest post here. So, I asked. He delivered. And for that I am really grateful. Readers and listeners, I give you a special edition 100th post by PTC* ...

A Hunner

It was all different in my day, wool socks, hobnail boots, checked shirts and everyone had a beard. It was the law.

Ange popped up on my blog when she was getting ready for her Everest Basecamp trek, there was some gear banter and if I remember rightly some last minute decisions. Sticking your arse on an airplane and heading to the highest of high ground is certainly an interesting way to start your hillwalking life!

Since I’ve been on the internet I’ve been in comms with a whole range of folk, and many are making their first steps onto the hills, or finding their way off the beaten tracks or carrying a tent for the first time.

It keeps dunting my memory back into life, and although my joy at being in the hills has never diminished, there’s no way (without surgery) to relive all those “firsts” again. But, I still remember my first Munro, my first wildcamp, the first time I stuck an ice axe into neve, aw man, that’s the stuff we need. Hearing about folks plans, and their excitement at finding their own firsts is fantastic, to know that our wild places are being found by eager feet and amazed eyes, that they’ll be explored and loved when I’m decrepit and drooling in my bath chair and long beyond, makes me grin all the wider.

Blogs have enabled folk to connect, to inspire and be inspired. I can read and feel my spirits lift as someone has made the most of a day that I had missed and I can write and revel in capturing a recent memory that might lighten the gloom of a Monday morning in an office somewhere, even for a minute.

Photo credit PTC*

I envy Angela in some ways, she’s getting her feet on some great hills and she has a stack of firsts to conquer after she’s done the shopping.

So, let’s list… lightweight tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, stove, ice axe, crampons, down booties and mitts… Your just lucky hobnail boots are out of stock right now.



Well folks, I hope you enjoyed this “special edition” 100th post, I did! Like he said, we exchanged some banter about gear and hills via his blog a few months ago, and I finally met PTC* at Rowardennan a little after 5.30 on a school night in June. This was for my first jaunt up Ben Lomond and it was great! I was nervous. My first proper hill-walk since returning from Nepal and here I was with a new walking buddy. Turns out I had no need to worry at all. For the first time in a long while I rediscovered why I started hill-walking in the first place - with no pressure and not a tick-list in sight! Why I wanted to get out into the mountains, to have new adventures and loads of "firsts". It was brilliant! I learned he wasn’t just a good writer too but has an incredible enthusiasm for the great outdoors and a vast encyclopedic knowledge of the Scottish mountains... oh and kit too! I knew this was someone I would be friends with.

PTC* surveying a new route!

If you haven’t already done so I would recommend you take a wee shifty over to PTC*s blog at and have a read. You’ll like it.

Finally... PTC*, huge thanks for doing this mate, much appreciated, and thanks for inspiring me to get out there... Alright!

Ange :o)

Another day off

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

I had a day off today - yes another one. So after I'd been to the hairdresser I got in the car and drove... North. Where was i going? Who knows. I just headed off and found myself driving through Callander. I'm normally somebody that puts meticulous planning into everything but that wasn't for today. I just headed off with my staple ingredients of money, camera, phone and a wee something else.

The weather wasn't too bad when i left Stirling, it was sunny in fact. But heading through Callander it started to turn and showers were on and off all afternoon. I'd been driving for nearly an hour and found myself just past Crianlarich. I headed on further. Just me, with Edith Bowman crackling away on the radio to keep me company. But i liked it that way. Normally when I'm on this road I'm a passenger in a car heading out or back from a jaunt up a mountain and today the hills were looking like huge mountains. Looming either side of the road all moody and dark blue against the wispy grey-white clouds. Occasionally the sun would break through and the greenery became more obvious at the side of the road. There were great streams falling off the mountains today but i couldn't see where the came from because the cloudy blanket hugging the tops was thick.

Heading out of Crianlarich i passed the car park at Dalrigh I'd been to in May on a not very successful walk up Beinn Dubhcraig. It'd been really claggy and wet that day and I'm not sure the person i was with knew what they were doing with a map! Anyway I'll get back there and climb that mountain one day. It looks like a good one!

Passing by Tyndrum the weather was still pretty rotten and now I was stuck behind a car that was weaving about all over the place... I had to get past it. So i did.. somewhere, and continued on this road to Not-sure-where. It was good though. Bridge of Orchy came and went and still i decided to keep on going. I'd end up in Fort William at this rate! Then i came to that bend in the road that goes up and up on the A82 and there's a snack van at a great viewing spot. (I've checked a map and it's just passed Loch Tulla). Anyway I did swither and want to take a pit stop there but carried on by. Weather was easing a bit but it was still raining. Onwards this road really opens up and you get wonderful views unfolding before your very eyes - today they were a bit muted but you can still get the sense that this is a special place. It's remote yet here i was still only an hour and half away from home - fantastic! What a wonderful playground we have around us - we are lucky indeed!

I finally decided that this was as far as I'd go as further ahead you couldn't see a thing so just after the Kings House Hotel I turned left into the road leading to Glen Etive and parked up. The weather was easing now but the place was covered in that light floaty wispy cloud again and it was all looking very dramatic. Buachaille Etive Mor was looming like a giant beast heaving itself out of the ground taking a look around and hiding again. I love this area. Now I'm going to say something that might disturb a few regulars but... I only ever came this far North and visited this place for the first time in June 2008 - last year! I know, I know I am thoroughly ashamed. But on that day when we set out for my first munro I really think i was spoilt as the weather was fantastic, you couldn't have asked for a clearer blue sky, hardly any wind and the hills.. well they were look resplendent with their vivid budgie green summer lightweight jackets on. Brilliant. Anyway ever since then I have loved even the drive to this place, never mind climbing the mountains here. I want to do more but they ain't going anywhere so there's plenty time for that.

I sat there for a good 15 minutes taking photies and watching the views come and go, watching the cars driving by on the A82 and even catching a glimpse of a few brave souls on their way North on the West Highland Way on the other side of the road.
The sun kept peeking through the clouds every now and again throwing light on the shadowy beasts going high in the sky. Then it was time to head home. Same road but different views cos you always catch something you might have missed on the way up.

I did stop at the viewing spot high on that hilly bit but there were folks about so I couldn't set out to take photies for my side project - ocht! So I headed back down to the 'shire after a good little drive around our lovely countryside. I stopped at Tyndrum for a comfort break and got home about 5.30pm. It was nice to just get in the car and drive. And if you're thinking why didn't i get the walking gear out and get up a mountain? well I'd just been to the hairdresser and my hair is now straight and if it even comes near a hint of water then it goes curly and besides i didn't have my stuff with me. See... planning is needed when you go for a walk up the mountains.

So readers and listeners this is post number 99 on my blog. Can you believe it? I've been writing it for well over a year now and it's become more than just a log of my journey (or not) to Everest Base Camp. It's now become like a diary of my adventures in the mountains with a wee bit of life thrown in too. I hope you are enjoying this journey as much as i am enjoying writing it.
And look out for "Special Edition" post number 100 with a guest writer which will be arriving soon!! It's from someone who never fails to inspire me to get out there into the great outdoors with his tales and photies. So check back soon for post 100... I think you'll like it. But for now I'm off for some Ben n Jerrys ice cream.

Ange xx

Seasons - they're a changing

Thursday, 20 August 2009

It fell to the ground slowly. A leave that still had a bit of colour. But it was looking decidedly tired. I think Autumn's on it's way. And you know what that means? Winter will be here soon too. And I wonder what will that bring?...

I think the seasons are changing. From Summer to Autumn, it's happening pretty quickly this year. The nights are getting darker earlier. The mornings are still a bit light except when it's raining and then I need to put the light on when the curtains are drawn. It's these little things that let us know that times they are a changing. Then there's mum's age old way of scientifically measuring the flow from one season to another. It's the Street-ligh timing method - "that was twenty past nine they lights went on the night Ange" she'll say, to which i'll reply "Was it?", then she'll say "Aye, the dark nights are fairly drawin in". And so it goes on.

Summer. Was it a good one? For me it was a mixed bag. I never did as much as I'd planned to. But plans are made and can also be broken. It just means you can make more plans that are perhaps better than the ones you had in the first place - cool! I did partake in a lot of good things though like my first ever trip to London which by the way was ace! I climbed Ben Lomond - twice! and one of them was at night. Which was also great! This has now become a good hill to do as it's not too far from home but is more of a test than Dumyat is at 430m high.
Photo credit: PTC

I also climbed Ben Starav which was a beast of a day but good all the same. We had a few different weather systems going on that day but ended with blue skies and sunshine and a good wee stop by a fine flowing river then magnificent views of Glencoe area on the journey home. I love that area. I like being a passenger in a car in that area. Can't get enough of those views that change with every cloud shadow. I also had the house to myself for a whole 2 weeks. Which on the face of it may sound good but there were a few days in there that I hadn't spoken to anyone for about 3 days so had to phone Linda for a wee chat! ha ha. Summers end will bring something from nature. I'm not sure about it yet but we'll see...

Autumn... what shall it bring? Well, work is really starting to heat up and the students are back on 15th September so it'll be busy busy busy. Quite stressful but good all the same. You should see some of their scared wee faces when they turn up for first year. Wee shame but we soon help them find their feet. There will be my 5th time seeing Coldplay (with Jay-Z no less). I cannot wait, they are one of my favourites. Excited? Aye! There's my ongoing training regime for my Spring 2010 plan. This will hopefully be a successful regime that will bring a decent amount fitness as well as a release of the pain in the knees. Fingers crossed.

Winter... oooh goodness knows what will happen then? But I'm looking forward to it. Cold winds blowing in your face as you walk along admiring the wonderful scenery that unfolds with every step and with every corner turned. Rain battering off your face and you not caring except you can't see cos your glasses are covered. Walking up a hill and the wind either hindering you or helping you along the way. Nature's helping hand in whatever form it takes. Winter usually goes from October to March and March is meant to be spring time but in recent years there's still been snow on the ground when it's my birthday. I doubt if it'll change next year. And my birthday falls on a Saturday next year - don't you just love it when that happens! Great stuff!

After Winter comes Spring but we won't jump away ahead of ourselves just yet. Let's get this 2009 show rolling to it's next destination first.

Ange xx

Breaking News! Lance Armstrong! Glasgow! Tomorrow!

Monday, 17 August 2009

I did make my way to Glasgow and Paisley albeit it too late!! So I did not catch glimpse of the Lance Armstrong show. However good buddy Andrew made his way there much much earlier and managed to get this great pic of the man himself. I am gutted i missed him but hey there's always the Tour de France next year! If anyone ou there was there and managed to get a pic, get in touch. I'd like to hear your story! :o)

12noon, (today) Tuesday 18th August 2009. Ashtree House Hotel, 9 Orr Square, Paisley. Take your bike!!

Oh my goodness!! Breaking News. Lance Armstrong has just posted a tweet on his Twitter feed saying that he will land in Glasgow tomorrow!! Those who know me will also know that I have followed this guy since forever, he is one of my heroes. I may even have to phone in sick and go searching him out. Plans were afoot to go to see the Tour de France this year but those fell through so this prospect excites me like nothing else could. Who's in?? I'm currently searching the web in the hope I find out where he might be so that I maybe could catch a glimpse.

The Tour of Ireland takes place 21-23 August and Lance is riding in that with Team Astana. Then there's the Livestrong Global Cancer Summit which will take place in Dublin on 24-26 August. If you've seen the "blogs I like" list to the right hand side of this page then you might have read some of the Livestrong blog which gives regular updates on Lance and the global fight against cancer. Why not get yourself a yellow band and show your support? I've worn mine's for well over 4 years now and it only gets removed on special occasions such as weddings when it doesn't exactly match the outfit! Sorry Lance! ha ha.

Anyway to say I would be excited out my nut! to even catch a glimpse of Lance Armstrong on Scottish shores would be a huuuuuge under statement... I'd love it! Wouldn't I Linda?? Anyone got any details let me know. This is a plea! Also if you are around and about Glasgow tomorrow, get me a photie if you see him - pwetty pweese :o) hee hee.

3 of my fav things: Lance, Art and Colours all in this print

Ange xx

What's that on the horizon?...

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Bimbling along on another mid-week walk after work is where I do a lot of thinking. I'm not off-road on this walk but it's a good walk nonetheless. A walk full of traffic buzzing past, aromas of chips from the chippie being fried for the old dears getting their fish teas and the chitter chatter of people sitting outside the cafes in Bridge of Allan. On this very walk I prepared my list for going trekking, I plan my next weeks worth of work and now... I'm planning a new adventure! Well it's more of a challenge really cos adventures are what I have whenever i'm out walking.

It's very early in it's progress and I have been thinking of it for a few months now and I think i'm going to do it. Although I'm a bit doubtful of doing it on my own. I bought a book on it about 2 months ago and have read a few chapters. I've done some web-based research on it but costs can range from £350 - £750. I don't intend on doing it this way. As my new gym programme from new Mr Physio got under way last week I decided that for me to stick it I really do need to have an end goal, a purpose, a reason other than just plain keeping fitness up for going through this regime. And whilst at the gym on Tuesday night I decided that this would be my new challenge. Getting fit for a purpose. Hopefully it works.

I haven't set an unrealistic end goal of before Christmas as time and weather may not be on my side. So at the minute April 2010 looks like a good time. By then I may have all I need in my armour too.

So... Who's in?

Ange xx

Entering the heat chamber

Saturday, 15 August 2009

I enter the heat chamber that is WH Smith in Stirling town centre occasionally. Occasions being to buy a Lotto ticket in the hope that tonight will be my lucky night and everything will be alright, to thumb the pages of Trail magazine before i decide if i'm going to spend £3.90 on it or to buy my car tax as this is now the location for our main post office since the old one was closed in Murray Place. Things happen every time I go into this heat chamber and one time, in the throws of exhaustion, jet lag, broken ribs and probably some sort of stomach bug it was even the place I managed to shame myself in public by fainting in the queue for the post office a few days after returning from Nepal! No-one else in the queue bothered to help me then either!! Miserables...

Anyway, the point of this rant is that another thing that happens without fail whenever I go in to by something is this. It goes 'beep' and it's the girl behind the counter scanning a useless voucher for either £10 off when you spend £50, £5 towards all your school supplies or £20 to spend with your first online order! This kind of annoys me a lot as more often than not she never actually gives me the voucher (which by the way i don't want anyway) or she gives me it and I leave it on the counter in protestation at this repetitive act of no real use. I mean, it's not her fault. She's been told to do it, much like the way she's told to ask if you want half price giant bars of Galaxy that are temptingly put in your eyeline by the tillpoint. In a previous life as a Saturday sales assistant, I too used to have to push useless stuff like american tan tights to old women when they bought £8 pairs of shoes from the Cheapo Shoe Shop I used to work in. It was torture for me as well as them but I knew the ones who would buy, the regulars, and would aim for them when pushing my £2 4-packs or black shoe polish. So I know the girl behind the counter must be forced to do this act of scanning and beeping the vouchers but i sooooo wish she wouldn't. One day I might say, "please young girl, do not scan the voucher, for I do not want it". Perhaps...

Ange xx

Banksy pt III

Monday. Decider Day. When science will dictate or nature will be allowed to take it's course and finally decide when the Banksy can finally be unwrapped from the now-yellowing bubble-wrap.

She has tried. Tried more than she ever has. To follow the advice from the Wise One. But how come she's still the one that feels bad for not unwrapping this Banksy sooner? Why did she have to be the sensible and sensitive one?... Questions. That only she can answer. It's difficult though, she needs some help with this...

Monday. D-day. Will it be Science or Nature that decides?...

We'll see what happens next...


Thursday, 13 August 2009

Having recently installed some cyberspace spies on this blog (or maybe its cos I’m not actually a secretary and I do in fact work for the Secret Government!), I now know that at least 10 folk pop by every now and again to take a wee look at this blog. Hiya to all of you readers / listeners (what should I refer to you as?). It’s funny though as you don’t leave any comments.

Why not settle in, have a read through some postings, and leave me a comment or two? go on, go on. I’m keen to know what people think of this place I call my blog.

Ange xx

PS I don’t work for the Secret Government and there are no spies (well not in this blog), it's a sitemeter counter (see, I can't lie!) :o)

PPS musical update:
A Rush of Blood to the Head album from Coldplay
A Greatest Hits album from The Beatles
Only By The Night album from Kings of Leon
Sunny Side Up album from Paolo Nutini
Bulletproof song by La Roux
Various songs from the man they call Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters

I was just guessing at number and figures...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

... pulling the puzzles apart. Questions of science, science and progress did not speak as loud as my heart. ...I'm going back to the start.

1977 is the year of my birth, it is also the year Chris Martin was born; 5 is the number of years i have worked at the University of Stirling; 32 is the number of minutes when Gary Caldwell got sent off in the Scotland game; 4 is the number of my favourite track, Candy, on Paolo Nutini's album Sunny Side Up; 13 is the number of siblings my mum has; 12 is the number of planes I've been on on 4 different holidays - you do the maths!; 80,000 is the number in pounds i would need to buy a decent place of my own - got a loan?; 21 is the number of beads on my bracelet i bought at the monastery in Tengboche; 60 is the number of pounds I sold some kit for the other day and added it to my "new kit" fund; 3 or 4 is the size of my shoes - depends on the shoe of course; 1504 is the number of photos in my Flickr photostream and 877 is the number of views it's had; 61 is the number of people i follow on Twitter and of those, 2 is the number of people I actually know; 3 is the number of watches I have and 195 is the number of pounds i paid for my most expensive one; 2009 is the current year, the year that was meant to be marked in my life for an amazing thing and is now fast becoming the year that it will have been overshadowed; 4 is the number of body lotions i currently have sitting on a shelf; 2 is the number of legs i have and it's also the number of dodgy knees i have; 10 is the number of Munros I have scaled but in reality I have climbed Munros 13 times including 2 that i never reached the top - it all counts to me!; 1 is the number of times I have appeared in Trail magazine and 249 is the number of times I have picked it up to read and haven't quite got there yet; 2002 is the number of the year that I changed MY life forever but 2005 is the number of the year when it all started to go right; 1.25 is the weight of my sleeping bag - ooft, heavy but cosy; 06042009 is the date I camped outside for the first time in my life and I kinda loved it; 4300 is the altitude i reached on my trek but 5600 was what i wanted to get to; 437 is the number of read emails in my inbox - I'm a hoarder in all aspects of my life; 3 is the number of books on my bedside cabinet and 2 is the number I'm reading at the minute; 4000 is the number of pounds I raised for Marie Curie Cancer Care; 10 is the number of pairs of Bridgedale socks I have - I love them socks; 7 is the number of times Lance Armstrong has won the Tour De France; 1143 is the number of songs in my iTunes library and 6.34 is the number of Gb; 4 is the number of times I've seen Coldplay live and 16092009 is the date I will have seen them 5 times; 45 is the age of Brad Pitt - can you believe it!?; 40 is the number in kilos of the weight I used on the hamstring curl machine and wow can I feel - ouch!; 3 is the number of the month in which I was born and my birthday is on a Saturday in 2010 - yay!; 1756 is the approximate number of pounds I would like just now to buy some kit and 160 is the actual number I have in my fund - it's only just started mind; 398 is the number of calories in a Stoats Hazlenut and White Chocolate Porridge bar and 85 is the number of grams it weighs; 33 is the number of litres my Osprey Talon rucksack holds; 3 is the number of pink OS maps I own and their numbers are 41, 50 and 56 and I own 1 orange OS Explorer map in number 364; 05032009 was the last time I was out in Glasgow at night with 2 friends, we went to Ketchup then a mountain film festival and on return from Nepal I found out I had also been given a parking fine worth 60 pounds - there wasn't a ticket on the car! - honest!; 144816, 182333 & 171350 (combined) are something that cheers me up every day; 94 is the number of posts on this blog and number 100 will be a "special edition" but I will need cooperation?; 9 is the number of emails in my draft folder and 1 in there is still being composed; I have 1 pair of walking boots, 1 waterproof jacket, 4 merino base layers, 3 pairs of trousers of which 2 currently fit ok, 1 windtop, 8 dry bags in 6 different sizes, 1 kitbag and 1 cosy warm down jacket; 7.09 is currently the time on the cooker which is funny cos none of the other clocks in the house read this time; 2 is the number of times I listen to tracks 3, 4 & 5 on Paolo Nutini's new album on the drive to and from work; and finally 114 was the number of days it took me to sort out my kitbag since my return from Nepal.

What are your numbers?

Ange xx

Step back in time

Saturday, 8 August 2009

A text comes through late yesterday afternoon just as i was about to leave work for the weekend. It was from Wee Bri. "you should come up to ours later, we've cleared out the loft and found some of your old toys!" I headed up to my Auntie Tricia's after I got home (it's only about 5 doors away from us). When I got there Ryan, Kelly Anne and Megan were playing on the trampoline and in an old dinghy boat of my Uncle Brian's. A tent was pitched and inside was like a cavalcade of stuff from our childhood. It was wonderful. They'd found my old Jack in the Box (above). Bri was a bit put out to find out that it hadn't been his but was in fact mine! There was also my old boot (the old woman who lived in a shoe!) who's contents were nowhere to be found. It did have furniture and little figures to go with it at one point.

Then there were the Sticklebricks. These were fantastic when we were kiddies. I think it's where I learned to build things and thus my love of architecture came from - weird I know.

Anyway that's how we spent our Friday evening. Reminiscing over the good old days when everything was much more simpler and all you had to think about was whether to play with Sticklebricks or read a book. Speaking of books, Wee Bri had piles and piles of Ladybird books of all flavours: Disney ones, Thomas the Tank Engine (from the first time he came out), Read it Yourself books like Billy Groat's Gruff and various others. Also in his book pile are loads of Dr Who books and magazines. He was a big fan when he was a wee boy. Now that he's nearly 28 he's not such a fan, well he won't admit to it anyway! Amongst other things in the pile to be dumped is an old Commodore C64 computer. Complete with the separate tape device thing that you used to need to use to play games etc. Them were the days right enough...

It all got me thinking about when Ryan turns thi.... well, when Ryan's a big boy what will he be looking back on with fondness about his childhood? I have vowed that he won't be getting a PSP or Playstation or laptop until he is at least 15! No need for kids to be stuck in the house playing 'puters at such a young age. He's 3 just now and plays football, loves bouncing on the trampoline, playing in the dirt and digging, drives his tractor and absolutely loves to pretend he's Bob the Builder fixing things around the house (with me being Wendy!). Thank goodness it looks like he's going to be really practical, a good footballer (left-footer) and play guitar (left-handed) and bagpipes (I know!!). He's walking about with anything from a coat-hanger to a tiny wee stool with 4 legs which he turns upside down and blows in whilst moving his arms in and out like he's blowing real bagpipes. Honestly. It's funny. Anyway yeah I want him to be really active and not a couch potato or worst still, another statistic about obese children. Really is no need.

So that was the start to my weekend. An evening with a lot of the family, Chinese take-away, old records playing on a record-player (yes people it still worked!!), wading through mounds of old toys and bringing back wonderful memories of my childhood. Magic!!

For those listeners, readers, followers (what do you call people who read blogs??) anyway I plan to restore posts on mountain activity soon!! I haven't been out for a few weeks but will hopefully will get out sooner rather than later.

Ange xx

Banksy pt II

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

She senses with some real trepidation that it’s nearly time for the Banksy print to be revealed. It really does seem like forever that it’s been lying there on the floor, in the corner of the dimly lit room, visible to her but never fully acknowledged. She is scared. The little Da Vinci print has pride of place on her wall and is so vibrant and clear and lucid and wonderful and colourful and energetic how on earth can she grow to love this Banksy? Is there enough room?..

Since those first few days after she’d taken delivery of this monstrous print she hasn’t dared to sneak a peek at it again, rather preferring to leave it wrapped in it’s by now yellowing bubble wrap to gather dust and just sit there. Some of those little bubbles have been burst too. She knows that one day, she will have to unwrap the print and put it on display for all to see. She’s not even exactly sure when that day will be but it is looking like soon. On that day she hopes her friends will endeavour to guide her into knowing what to do with it..

It seems that art is playing a huge part in her life just now. Joan Miro, Matisse, Kandinsky, Warhol, Da Vinci, Monet not to mention the Pantone Colour Chart! Now that is ace. All-singing, all-dancing bursts of colour, ideas and energy - wonderful. She likes it.. a lot!


Monday, 3 August 2009

So there I was standing beneath the London Eye on Saturday morning wondering how I find myself here.

So much has happened in the last year that only about 3 years ago i never thought would happen. It's funny how life takes you on paths and journeys you wouldn't have necessarily planned this way but get a wee fuzzy feeling in your belly when they do. This was my much anticipated first trip to London - ever! to meet up with Trek Buddies Ruth and Kate. It was intended as a visit but also happily coincided with Kate's 30th birthday.

I set off on Friday to the train station and if I'm honest with a little bit of nerves and a lot of excitement. Landed in Glasgow with about an hour to spare and had a nice wee cup of tea and some chat with a brown trousered bloke (I'll buy the next one and I might even have cake!) before heading to Central station for my 1.40pm London Euston train. I managed to find my seat and hauled my heavy bag onto the baggage shelf above my head. The train wasn't that busy but i had booked a window seat at a table. The others sat around weren't that chatty but one girl got hiccups halfway through eating so we had a giggle about that.

I arrived at Euston in London rush hour!! Ruth met me there and it was great to see her. Then we headed for the Tube to get to her flat in East Putney. We dropped the bags off and then headed out for a bite to eat. It was a lovely evening and we sat by the River Thames eating a very much needed meal. We chatted for ages as girls do and then headed back round to the flat for sleep.

Saturday morning we were up early and out the door for about 9.30am. It was a nice warm day - there were some clouds but the muggy heat was there. First stop was the south bank and the area around the London Eye. It really is massive!!! I didn't want to take the usual snapshot photo's so that morning we also embarked upon my Irn Bru Adventures project - a must for all Irn Bru lovers! You can see the results here of LDN Photo's. We wandered along the south bank and here were all the sights in front of me - houses of parliament, big ben, St Paul's, Gherkin, Canary Wharf - braw. We headed into the Tate Modern art gallery and i was so glad as i love art. One of the big exhibitions on just now is called Futurism. We browsed the shop for ages and i bought a few little bits of colourful fun art for some folks. We then wondered around this big massive building heading down into the Turbine Hall and then up into some of the free exhibitions on Level 2 gallery. One being a selection of the latest trends in contemporary art. It was good - some weird paintings that aren't A4 sized but are actually huge. Anyways I was pleased we went cos there were some works but Joan Miro (one of my favourite artists) and Henry Matisse. The huge Matisse work was brilliant and i bought a little postcard of it to hang on my walls.

Next we headed across the Millennium Bridge and into St Paul's Cathedral, then we were meeting with Kate for lunch so headed up the Trafalgar Square via Whitehall etc. I don't know if anyone's heard of the Fourth Plinth thing going on just now. It's the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square and you could apply to go on it to become a living piece of art. I did contemplate that a few weeks ago but discovered i was too late as applications closed in June! Anyway we sat for a little while on the steps of the The National Gallery amongst a throng of people of all shapes, sizes and colours. It was busy but i could cope. Kate found us about 10 minutes later and we went for lunch at a nice Italian in Covent Garden. The lunch was braw and very filling. After lunch we were meeting with a few of Kate's friends but first took a detour to Topshop as I needed a new top for the party that night (I chickened out of wearing the yellow dress - it was get an airing another time). Chez Gerard was the venue for a drink but we didn't stay long as we had to get back to the flat and ready for the party. Ruth and I headed back to her flat to get changed and ready for my first night time look at London - north London to be exact. Angel was the tube station we got off at.

Chapel Bar was the venue for Kate's 30th birthday party. It was good to meet all of their friends and people they work with and I was being introduced as Scottish Angela who they trekked in the Himalayas with! (slightly embarrassing but nice all the same). The night was a success and my pink top was smart although the weather had turned to rain and we stood in an outside area most of the night so my jacket never really came off. I was more concerned about the pain that was rising through the soles of my heels to the balls of my feet. They. Were. Absolutely. Killing. Me!!! Why do we have to wear heels?? Blisters on my feet and not a hill climbed - what's up with that?!! Anyway after a very very very tortuous walk back to Angel tube station at midnight we finally got a seat. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH that was better.

Well it was until this vile drunkard came on and started talking to a South African. Their conversation was along the lines of slagging off Barack Obama (I quote drunk man "we'll have one of them in next"), how Hitler should have ruled the world! (I know - arse!), and various other very racist remarks. I had never heard someone talk like this. He was drunk but they do say never a truer word comes from a drunk man. These must have been his actual real thoughts and feelings - weirdo! I mean I do know people still think like that in the dark ages but had never heard that kind of talk in real life. Anyway we hurried along the streets trying not the hurt my already aching feet (the shoes did come off but once you put them back on they sting like hell!). We had a toast and tea and hit the sack around 1am. There was talk of camping this weekend but instead found myself camping out on Ruth living room floor on a blow up bed, it was very comfy though.

Sunday we had a longer lie in and made our way out into London for more sightseeing about 11am. this time we headed to Green Park and Buckingham Palace only to find that i never pt the now fully charged camera battery in the actual camera. I could have kicked myself. What was i to do about my Wee Bru project?!!?! Aaargh.... After some thought we headed back to the flat to collect the battery and then down a nice pub on the River Thames for a Sunday lunch - it was a good afternoon. My feet needed a wee rest, they were now covered thickly in Compeed. We then headed back to Buckingham Palace (from another side) with a fully loaded camera. Then onto Leicester Square, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Soho and by then the shops were closing so we decided to hit the cinema at Marble Arch and seen Pelham 123. It was a good movie - a remake no less. But since I have never seen the original I am saying this one was good. By now I was lagging I think. We must have walked for miles over the course of the weekend but it also seemed to fly by too. I was tucked up in my bed by 11pm as i had an early rise this morning for my train back home.

We set off at 7.45am to head for Kings Cross in the busy Monday morning tube rush. It was pretty fine really but hot hot hot on that Tube. I bid farewell to Ruth on Platform 3 and was soon whizzing up the road to Scotland after a thoroughly enjoyable first visit to London. Thank you Ruth and Kate for having me over, I had a fantastic time!! Now we must plan the return trip for when you guys come up North. We'll get a hill done and drink Irn Bru!!

Ange xx