Tuesday, 28 February 2017

the highlands

wow. wow wow wow wow wow. i was prepared to be impressed but wow. neal's cousin lives an hours drive north of inverness. it's not in the middle of nowhere, because we drove to the middle of nowhere and it took about twenty minutes, but it's close. they live in the most charming, cosiest house i have ever seen. it is heated with a wood stove and a rayburn (a sort of wood stove/boiler/magician combo), stacked with books, and "guarded" by brodie, a rescue german shepard who is my new best friend.

i am brodie, and these ears do not scratch themselves, you know!
outside the house is a whole bunch of this:

on sunday we went on a road trip further north. we made a big loop through unapool and kylesku, around scourie and down past loch shin, through laird and back to ardgay. mostly i was too busy rhapsodising about the colours and the light and the moss and the heather and the light - did i mention the light? and i didn't take very good pictures but this gives you an idea.

that night we sat up in the "summer house" drinking whiskey and talking - they were such fantastic company and great story tellers. hearing about the characters they've met and how things work in this environment - it was a fascinating window into another world and the hours flew by. we braved the cold (although we did have a fairly good whiskey insulation!) and looked out at the stars - no light pollution there - just bright bright stars as far as you could see.

on monday we woke up to this:

and after a few walks in the woods we went up to the beach at dornoch - all soft sand and gentle dunes and a sky that went straight to the arctic circle!

i had no idea there was that much space in the uk. we really are all crammed in down here. coming back to the south was a bit of a shock - gatwick being rather horrid at the best of times. luckily our friend picked us up from the airport and drove us home so we didn't have to face london after our weekend of serene calm.

it feels like we've been away for a week. i'm so glad we finally made it up for a visit - i have a feeling this will be the first trip of many. i hope so. there's a lot of exploring to be done.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017


my cold is still little (yay!). it is just enough to drag me down a bit - not enough to be actually sick. at work today, brooke and christina diagnosed this as classic man-flu which at least made us all laugh. i have to be up early tomorrow - i have a safe cracker coming to one of our sites to bust into 5 safes for which we have no keys. surprisingly few questions have been raised about this entire escapade - not from the company who supplies the safe-man nor from anyone who has signed off the purchase orders. i asked if it would be noisy and they said "not if he can pick them - otherwise he'll have to drill." i admit, i am curious.

in light of this i have declined to join n who has gone off to hear some of our friends playing in a pub tonight. the amazing terry, in fact, who did our kitchen. small town england is a small world. i have to run tomorrow as well - and since i need to be on an early train and i'm meeting a friend for a drink after work - that means hauling my running gear into work and running at lunch. phhhttttpt. i shouldn't complain - i work close enough to regent's park to run there and down the regent's canal - past london zoo and camden market. it's a run many people would dream of - but i hate getting all sweaty and the showers at work are cold and you have to stretch on the bare (dirty) lino floor. but, as per yesterday's post, not running is no longer an option.

i am more excited because we are going to inverness on saturday for a long weekend. how thrilling is that? i've never been north of edinburgh or glasgow in the uk and n's cousin, whom we are going to see, lives some way north of inverness. we bought cheap easyjet tickets ages ago but - as the last 6 weeks have disappeared into the ether - suddenly it is upon us.

i am determined to be healthy and have a very good time indeed. so early to bed for me, and running at lunch time. at least "man-flu" doesn't slow you down too much!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


so that 10k race i signed up for in the autumn is in four weeks. with the best intentions in the world, and with all the optimism i can muster, even i can see that this is going to make it difficult to start and complete my eight week training programme. i have been running, and even some long(ish) runs, but they've been sporadic - one week loads next week not so much. so i have devised a new plan - it is part get-your-sorry-arse-out-of-the-door-and-run-no-run-further-than-that and part lowering of expectations. i mean i could run 10k now, it just wouldn't be much fun for the last few ks. so, if i have to walk on the race that's fine, and if i'm really slow that's fine too. i'll try to build up my long runs by a k a week for the next month and i won't be far off. still have no idea how the last 6 weeks have just evaporated though.

i did get in 6k this morning. spring is in the air. i ran by crocuses (crocii?) and daffodils, and the willow trees have sprouted bright green catkins. no new leaves yet but - there was just a hint of the smell of spring - green and fresh. yesterday was freakishly warm (that won't last) and the sheer delight in being outside in just a cardigan was wondrous.

it's tuesday so it's brass band practice tonight i have a bit of a cold which is going to make playing my trombone somewhat challenging tonight. we have a concert in a few weeks so our bandmaster is working us hard. luckily "all by myself" has not made a reappearance for this concert. one of the pieces we are doing is a selection of tom jones songs - the bass trombone part in "delilah" is so much fun to play!
da da DA DAAAAA!!!!!

but before that there's supper and getting ready for tomorrow and n should be home from work soon. and the beat goes on...