Bowery Mural

Do Fun Stuff!! - Charity album launch

Monday, 30 August 2010

I don't ask much of my readers except to read (and perhaps comment) but today i'm asking you to read this special post carefully and spread the word.

This post is not about me.  This post is about a little guy called LB who features in one of my favourite blogs ever, Pacing the Panic Room.  LB was diagnosed with a condition called SMS (Smith Magenis Syndrome), yes I'd never heard of it either.  LB's mum, Cole and her husband Ryan have put together a cool album called Do Fun Stuff - A Kids Record for Parents (see below).  It's available to buy NOW on iTunes and 100% of the proceeds from the sales of this album goes to a grant fund Ryan established with PRISMS.  So what is SMS?  Please read more on the PRISMS link or here or go to the wonderful blog that is Pacing the Panic Room and read what this is all about.  I think you will fall in love with the blog like i did just over a year ago.  I recommend you begin with THIS POST cos that is adorable LB... followed by THIS POST with all of the important information you will need.

Or you could click on the fun guy below to here songs from this unique album and indeed to purchase the album.  There's also and option to click below to donate to the fund.  You can also grab the code for the cool guy below by clicking on a link too.  It's easy peasy.  You know you want this guy on your blog.

Ryan who writes the Pacing the Panic Room blog can be found on Twitter under @ThePanicRoom please help spread the word and use the hashtag #dofunstuff  Lots of people will be!

Ryan and all of the 'Rainmakers' as he called us tweetbombed The Ellen Show in the USA so that perhaps she could highlight this cause or even mention the album.  So far it never worked but there is hope that on launch day today (Monday 30th August) that she or someone who knows her will listen.  If you happen to know her please mention this!!  Thanks!

Thanks a million everyone.  I know Ryan, Cole, LB and Tessa would thank you too.
Ange x

Marshmallows, Bonfires, Friends... and a Vango Tent

Friday, 27 August 2010

Last Saturday was to be the first night I'd spend in a tent since I left Namche Bazaar high in the Himalayas over a year ago.  Petesy had very kindly loaned me a Vango Force10 Nitro 200 for the occasion.  Find out more about it here.  Despite my questioning i was assured that it would not be coffin-like and that although small i would fit in it.  I hoped so...

Mark and Fiona had kindly invited us over to theirs.  I set off at about 5.30pm from Stirling and drove to Glasgow to pick up Ross and his lovely better half Rosie.  I managed to find his place fine and arrived earlier than i thought i would.  I'd like to point out that I left Stirling with sunshine and hitting Glasgow there were some clouds.  We packed their stuff in the boot of my car and headed out of Glasgow after a few detours.  Ross' navigation skills were great!  The sky was getting heavier and the blue started to make way for blanket greyness then heavy rain showers.  We headed down the M77 and I took the wrong early cut off to where we were supposed to be going so another detour and we eventually arrived at Mark and Fiona's about 10 minutes after 7.  The rain had followed us all the way.  (Google maps on iPhone said 22 minutes and 9 miles, more like 32 minutes and 15 miles).

Once inside we were greeted by Rex, the dog.  He was full of energy but not as scary as i thought.  After a little while we decided to put the tents up before it got too dark so supplies were gathered and we made our way to the make-shift campsite that Mark and Neil (well probably Neil mostly) had constructed earlier in the day.  Nestled underneath a few trees were two tents already and close-by was an awesome square fire pit with a huge pile of twigs and kindling for later on.

Now me being me i like to look at instructions get my bearings and then start on something (it's the same when i build flat pack book shelves from Ikea!).  But Mark very kindly waded in and before I knew it the Vango tent was laid out in my prime position, somewhere between Ross and Rosie's tent and a tree.  I had a quick shifty at the instructions which were handily on the inside of the tent bag.  Got my bearings and we started to feed the poles through the sleeve.  Pretty easy really as they too were colour coordinated, black and silver, to match little patches on the sleeves.  Now for those who are into camping you might not think much of these little details but to me who has never put up a tent before they were very useful.  Once the poles were in it was time to push them up and into place to erect the tent.  Next it was onto the tent pegs.  Quite a straightforward affair although the pegs looked like they had never been used.  I was scared in case they got bent!  I put them in the holes and after debate i decided it was quite windy and that i would peg down the guy lines too.  I did feel a sense of guilt though as I swear these brightly colour orange lines hadn't been pulled out before?  Have the Petesy?  Anyway it was starting to rain and the wind was picking up but my home for the night was out the bag and in place in about 10 minutes.  Easy peasy.  I had a peek inside and hey, this was a roomy tent.  A huge porch for my 100L North Face kit bag and my rucksack (yes i was camping for 1 night and i took both bags...).  Anyway they fitted in the porch perfectly with room to spare for a pair of boots and a stove - if i had one.  Inside the tent I unpacked my Thermarest mat and laid it on the diagonal.  Somewhere in the setting up of the tent the back of the inner wasn't up right or tight but it was too windy to try fixing it and there was plenty of room so i left it as it was.  I sat for a minute and felt at home.  It was cosy and there was no flapping noisy material, quite tight really.

I got out and helped Ross and Rosie with their tent then we headed inside for some tasty barbecue food.  Yes we ate it in the living room, the rain had come on heavy now.  Mark and Neil had cooked some burgers, sausages and Fiona had laid on a spread fit for kings.  Kings who like barbecue food.  More than enough to go around.  There was music, chatter, laughs and then the time had come for the bonfire.

Thinking on it I've not been to an outside bonfire for aaaages. We settled ourselves in around the fire and it was cosy. There was a wind blowing but when that close to the fire you didn't really feel it. A few extra inches closer made all the difference. There was chat and music all the while the constant buzz of the motorway just over the field. But it wasn't intrusive. Time was getting on and something was needed... Mars Bar cake!! I'd made some and brought it, along with some other sweeties. The box was passed around and everyone liked it. Pretty simple to make too. Then out came the marshmallows and Rosie showed us the double skin technique - you heat the mallow til the outer skin crisps, carefully peel it off and then heat the gooey layer until crisp again, peel that off and then heat the final part. It was tasty but i was rubbish so i just stuck mine in on the end of a branch freshly cut from a nearby tree by Neil. The sky was clear, the moon was out but it was not a full one, still lit up the night sky though. Time went on and before long it was a little after 3am and time for me to head to my little home for the night.

I headed to my wee house and got into my Icebreaker thermal tights, opened up my PHD Minim 500 sleeping and got settled.  Unfortunately I managed to perch myself on an ever so slight slope so i felt like i would slide off the mat.  My feet were freezing but luckily i still have some hand warmer sachets in the big yellow kit bag from my trek to Nepal.  First things first.  I'd forgotten the Minim 500 sleeping bag only had a half zip (I'd got it in one of PHD's sales).  Once I got over that fact i maneuvered myself inside it and got comfy on the mat.  I had my head torch, iPhone and glasses inside and there was room.  I was cosy inside my tent.  There was plenty of room for two, i had my rucksack inside the inner with me and the kit bag in the porch. The buzz of the traffic could still be heard but not loudly, the wind got up but again i felt secure inside.  I'm not sure how windy it was, probably not as windy as if I was up top on a hill somewhere but windy enough all the same.  I think i finally fell asleep about 4am after i sorted the draft that was coming in.  Turns out I also forgot i had a pull cord on the sleeping bag hood but once i realised i pulled it tight and was curled up in a cocoon inside.  Cosy, toasty.

A couple of times I woke briefly to turn over but other than that i got a decent nights sleep.  My feet did feel chilly at points but that's because they were hanging off the end of the mat.  I woke feeling comfortable, not sweaty like I was inside my beloved Rab Atlas 1000 bag.  But it was too big and heavy and had to be sold (reluctantly).  I'm not sure how this sleeping bag would fare in worse weather.  I'm not that knowledgeable on the ratings on bags and downfill but i think I've got a pretty decent one.  Incidentally there's a good PHD factory visit story over on PTC's blog.  I'd set my watch alarm for 8.45 (I didn't want to be last up!).  I didn't realise it was daylight outside as i was still inside the sleeping bag but once i got out of it the tent was letting in enough light.  It wasn't dark at all (the outer is green and the inner orange).  I sent a tweet out with my view and got one back from Mark to say that breakfast was served but no rush.

 I sorted myself and headed inside for a nice cup of tea, or two.  I wasn't last up as it goes.  A wee while later the other campers came inside and we were fed like kings again, tea, coffee, bacon, eggs, rolls, cereals, fruit, yogurt, juice.  Yum, my usual start to a Sunday morning.  Once we were suitably fed and watered we headed out to pack up the tents and gather the stuff from the night before.  My tent was down in a few minutes although at one point I thought I'd lost a peg in the tufty grass.  I was playing out the conversation I'd have but luckily they are all there.  I rolled and packed the tent into the bag, a tight squeeze, and packed it into my kit bag.  Good effort Ange.

We headed back to the house and before long we were headed home after a thoroughly enjoyable night camping.  Driving around another detour off the motorway which took us back to where we came from we eventually got back to Ross and Rosie's house in a much more respectable time.  We said our goodbyes and i headed on my way.  I got caught in traffic from the the SkyRide which was taking place around Glasgow Green and then there was the traffic and crowds heading into Parkhead but i arrived home happy I'd survived my first nights camping in a ling while.

Huge thanks to Mark and Fiona for inviting us, your hospitality and company was great!  It was great to meet everyone else there too.  Thanks Neil for keeping the fire burning and thanks to Ross and Rosie for being my car companions.  Hope my navigation improves next time.  Thanks also to Petesy for the tent loan.  It was ace, this'll be mine! :o)

A good night out with friends.  Magic.

Ange x            

#themeet140Glasgow II - a journey continues

Monday, 23 August 2010

Thursday I got up after the previous nights bike ride and was tired.  Tired beyond belief and my scratchy throat had turned into a barking cough along with runny nose and those heavy eyes you get when you have a cold.  Lucky then that I had got my bag of stuff for Thursday nights #themeet140 at the Lansdowne Bar in Glasgow sorted on Tuesday night.

I set off after work and drove along the motorway in eagerness about seeing old familiar faces and also excitement about meeting new 'familiar' faces.  Familiar in the way that via Twitter you 'meet' people online and seem to connect but the real test is real life meetings and so far i haven't been disappointed.  Tonight was the second #themeet140 Glasgow hosted by Mark ( @markofrespect ) and Allan ( @allanbarr ) and if that last one was was anything to go by I would enjoy it very much.  I have to admit, there were over 100 people who RSVP'd YES to the Twtvite and this made me slightly nervous about going.  I did wonder if it would be too big, would you get a chance to meet new people?

I arrived earlier than i thought and wandered into the Lansdowne Bar about 6.25pm.  There was a small gathering of folk inside already and the first one i met was Ali McGill ( @ali_mcgill ).  I was delighted to meet him as we've been tweeting back and forth for a little while now and he's a good guy.  I wandered through and met a few familiar faces and it started to get busy.  Then another person whom I've wanted to meet for a long time came in.  The wonderful Brian ( @BriTimeAssist ).  He's been someone who I instantly warmed to over Twitter.  Isn't it strange when you just get these connections?  Personally I love it.  There was a proper chat with lovely @AllanBarr  a bit of a gossip with ladies @JulieBee and @LadyMiller (when are you changing that picture?) a sit down with the now familiar Ross ( @Thirdsectorlab) and a chance to meet Rosie.  A good catch up with Nicola ( @LilacSwizzle ). A chat about the pictures I post with @FissionCreative.  A chat with @GlasgowOsteo about those initial hellos - are they awkward?  A great chat with Elizabeth ( @Holistic_tweet ) about everything from IT bands to college to t-shirts and grey suits!!  and then there was @GeeeBeee - who I've been tweeting for ages, it was only by chance that he happened to pop into the Lansdowne.  Great to finally meet him!  Plus loads more new meetings (really sorry not to mention everyone!!)...

Faces appeared that I recognised from avatars and faces I didn't (I didn't see that Dave @social_penguin  though!...).  And you know what, once upon a time I would NOT have been comfortable in this situation.  I mean me walking into a bar on my own in a city that is not mine.  Talking to people I've only met in real life once or twice (others I've met lots).  Then meeting new people that perhaps I've only just started to tweet with.  A few months ago this was not something I'd have been comfortable with at all.  But I think Twitter is a conduit that allows us to connect with people no matter who they are.  As someone who has no real connection with social media other than being a huge fan of Twitter and blogging and the like then I think it's fantastic.  I've connected with the most unlikeliest of folks.  I've mentioned all of this before in a previous post here.

There were people I wanted to meet but unfortunately never got around to *sad face* and there were brief and fleeting hello and goodbyes with folk I wanted to have a proper real life chat with but didn't... (@Pavedwithgold1)  Judging by the growing popularity in #themeet140 then I'm sure there's plenty of opportunities for these chats.  I for one am looking forward to them all.  So if we didn't meet then I'm really sorry and let's sort that out and if we did meet then I was very pleased to meet you *happy face*.

I'm going to give a special mention to @StuGlen as we've met twice but never get the chance for a proper chat.  Stuart, definitely at the next one!  You can find more blogs and takes on the night here by Allan Barr

Overall it was another good night that allowed me the chance to meet more good people.  It also allows us to communicate in more than 140 characters!  Although I do need something to introduce myself as?  I mean I'm no guru, I'm not a marketer nor do i work in social media, I don't have my own business (yet!!) and I'm not really great at bigging myself up.  So if you've got any suggestions drop them in a comment below :-)

Thanks again to Mark and Allan for organising.  Oh and also to Chris Hall for the inception of it all. Good stuff guys!
Ange x

I have no photos (and we all know i like to take a photo) but you can find some here.

Chasing the Sunset

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The week started off ok but with me having a bit of a scratchy throat.  I never bothered as i'm not one for getting ill really.  I needed a tent for a weekend camping expedition (to someone's back garden - more in another post) and there was only one person i knew who may be able to help.  After much deliberation i finally plucked up the courage to ask PTC for a loan of a tent to which her replied "Come on get one, and bring your bike".

Wednesday was the night and a fine night it was too.  I set off from work early again along the usual route but no sooner had i left work when i met a diversion and (horror of horrors) lots of police and a white tent in the middle of the road just at McDonalds drive-thru in Stirling.  This didn't look good.  I later discovered a man had been knocked down and killed by a lorry not 15 minutes before i got there.  Shame.  Makes you realise how short life is...

Anyway i made my was to meet up point and i was surprisingly early but Phil wasn't far behind me.  We got the bikes ready and then I went to collect a tent.  They decided i should take the Vango F10 Nitro 200.  I'd heard about this one before - hhmmm!!  I was assured it was would be fine and that although small it was in no way coffin-like.  In front of my eyes in the gear emporium was all manner of things.  But I was more distracted by the machines and various equipment and tools that lined shelves on the walls.  In so many ways it reminded of my Pappy's hut in Law.  Was there a lathe in there PTC?  Anyway after a bit of chatter we were soon on our way.

Headed the usual route with a few secret diversions thrown in before we headed up the hill.  The first bit of road is always good but tiring at the same time.  My legs were ok but by Wednesday my sore throat had gotten worse and a cough was developing.  We made a leisurely pace up the hill but the evening was nice.  The sun was still out, the rain that had threatened earlier in the day never appeared and i seem to get lucky when i go on this bike ride.  I took a few pics of the view as i never tire of it.  After pushing the bikes we got up to a gate on a steep section and there was more chat.  The custom is me getting grilled about various things!  A guy came pedalling up behind us.  It looked he hadn't stopped pedalling from the bottom all the way up which is some feat.  However he stopped and chatted for a wee while.

After about 10, well maybe 15 minutes (this was a relaxed mtb ride) we set off again up more gravelly section but we were on the bikes again.  I of course was lagging behind but going at my steady pace got me up to the guys at the next gate.  Then it was downhill.  Round the corner and across a grassy section, which was also boggy and i got covered.  Although it only seemed to cover my left shoe.  The muck was all over my bike.  I thought to myself that i'd keep this muck seeing as EVERYONE seems to slag me off about how clean it is, hehe.  We were into the forest section now and I was pretty good i have to say.  Hardly any stopping.  But by now you could see a lovely pinky orange colour through the trees and I knew we had to get out of the woods to see this magnificent sunset go down.  I remember thinking i always go on about chasing sunsets (much like people chase Twisters) but i was litterally pedalling and chasing a sunset that night.  If only you could have seen to face i was making, gritted teeth and a smile.  It was great.  We made it out just in time and although not it's best lightshow it was still awesome...

Next was the grassy track section (Would you guys say this was single-track?).  Anyway it was the last big downhill push.  "Are we stopping or going to the bottom?"  "To the bottom" i said (brave!).  And we did.  Only one stop in the middle after a wee tricksy drop bit.  It was quite hairy at times but I done well.  I think I'm getting my MTB mojo one bit at a time.  And i like it.  Once we were at the gate at Overtoun House we turned left and flew down the road and into the BP garage.

Tea, coffee, custard slices (not for me!) and chat.  Was a great nights biking.  I'd forgotten my lights... OK I haven't got lights yet so i was directed to the middle whilst i got blinded from behind by Phil's lights that looked as strong as car lights.  No matter, I always feel looked after when out with these people.  I drove home and decided to go over the Erskine Bridge for the first time since the back roads would be quite dark now.  I was home in an hour happy, muddy and thoroughly tired.  Good job.

Thank you again for another good night on the bikes.

Ange xx

More on the tent in a later post, i'll link to later on.

Friday Five: Things on my Christmas List

Friday, 13 August 2010

It's been a while and i want to start posting here regularly so to try and jolt myself I'm starting with a Friday Five!  I don't know who came up with this Friday Five idea but i like it.  I've been following a few blogs of some great girls (Kat and Holly) who post Friday Five posts and I wanted to get involved so here are my Friday Five: Things on my Christmas List.  

1) - Calvin Klein Eternity Perfume

This is always the first thing on my list each year.  I adore this perfume and has been my signature scent since my teenage years (and after I got rid of that Benetton perfume in the hexagonal shaped bottle!)

2) - A Necklace from SupermarketHQ website

I've been lusting after a necklace or a piece of jewellery from the SupermarketHQ website since i discovered it a few months ago.  The one above is by Vannesa Grade and as soon as i saw it i loved it.  Although if you take a trip over to that site you're sure to find loads of blingy treats to suit all purses.

3) - A MacBook

Yip this is the present i am never going to get as well as Christmas present.  Instead i may treat myself to this after Christmas.  I might also by then get a student discount!

4) - City Sport Camel Windowpane Flat Cap

 Someone!! has been going to buy me a hat for years and years and i've found one that i truly like.  It's kinda girly light colours but it'll also go with most things.  I heart hats.

5) - A huge big cuddle

Yes there's no picture for this one.  That's all i'd like.  A big cuddle from you.  Yes YOU!!

Hope you like my Friday Five.  I'm going to try to update my here little blog more often and hopefully this Friday thing will spur me on.

Ange xx