Well 21.12. 2012 came and went without too much trouble. I was all set for the end to come, but well it just didn't, so life just carried on as normal. On the plus side it meant that my work Christmas party went ahead as scheduled.
I love music. I can not play an instrument or sing in tune and some people may not like the songs I choose to listen to, but I like what I like. Generally I enjoy songs with good lyrics. Lyrics that you can feel, that tell a story, that evoke a memory and if you can dance along with them then all the better.
Despite this I have never been a big concert goer, in fact have been to very few in my lifetime compared to many people. However the last 3 weekends have seen me go to 2 concerts and 1 musical, and it has been great.
Charlie and Craig at their best.
The first concert was the Proclaimers at the Edinburgh Playhouse and they did not disappoint. This was my 3rd time watching them live and they never fail to produce the goods. There is no pomp and ceremony with the Reid brothers, they get on stage and they deliver tune after tune after tune. No chit chat, no banter, no costumes, no dancing just good old fashioned singing, and boy do they do it well. We had excellent seats 4 rows from the stage, which was great as it gave us a little more space when we got up to boogie along to the classics. Their support act, a foot tapping Edinburgh bluegrass band called Blueflint, were also brilliant.
The next musical extravaganza came a week later when we had a wee girlie trip to see 9 to 5 the Dolly Parton musical. It is based on the 1980 film classic of the same name and it did not disappoint. This show was again at the Playhouse but this time we were seated slightly further away from the stage! In fact we were 2 rows from the back this time. Truly in the Gods, but this did not deter from the great singing and dancing and general all round fun times of a cheesy musical. Fantabulous.
Where's the stage?
Dolly even appeared. Yeah.
And this brings up to last night and a little adventure West to the SECC in Glasgow to see the brilliant Black Keys. I often worry that when I do see bands live that they will not live up to their albums, but they were fantastic, again no pomp and ceremony just guitars, drums and vocals, oh and an amazing glitter ball.
It is worth mentioning that this was my first concert at the SECC and I am glad that I chose to buy seats in the stands rather than standing as it seems to be common place for people to throw their beer, thankfully in plastic glasses, into the crowd. Another highlight of the evening, was a half drunk punter shouting up to someone behind us, and I quote "Hey Chris if av telt ya wance av telt ya twice, stay away fae ma pigeons". Awesome. Only in Scotland.
The support act were the Maccabees, also very good and I think I will hunt them out the next time I am CD shopping.
The Black Keys.
Amazing glitter ball.
A very musical 3 weeks but great, must do more of it.
I had the most amazing 3 days in Skye recently. I have only ever been to Skye twice before, a brief and very misty visit in 2003 and in a year I can't remember to run a half marathon. So all in all had not really seen an awful lot of this very beautiful island.
My companion for the weekend was very knowledgeable about the area and loves it so much I think this was visit 7 this year alone.
I was extremely thrilled to be getting away from the city for a few days and spending time walking and scrambling in the hills. I was not disappointed. The weather was incredible, mostly, and we packed in an amazing amount of walking in a short space of time.
I am not going to waste words trying to describe the places we visited, will leave that to the photos.
Heading up towards the ridge.
Spot the deer.
Onwards and upwards.
Always remember to stop and look back.
Blue skies. Yeah.
Looking towards the Bastier tooth.
Sunset at Glenbrittle.
I've been up there!
Moon over the ridge.
Old man of Stor.
So there you go, just a taster of one of the best weekends I have had in a long time. Hopefully it won't be so long till my next return visit.
I can't tell you how thrilled and excited I am to tell you of my friend Hazel's latest addition to the book world. Bree McCready and the Realm of the Lost is finally in print. It has been a long wait for Bree fans but I know it will be worth it.
Please check out Hazel here, and if you have not yet heard of Bree, then it is not too late as you can buy it here, here and here. It would make an excellent Christmas present.
Although I am no longer taking a photo a day, I am still trying to keep the camera clicking. Last week I had a couple of good days out and about.
On Sunday I had a fantastic day walking Mayar and Driesh in Glen Doll. The weather was fantastic, cold but not a breath of wind and only one low cloud moment at the top of Mayar. A truly wonderful day out.
The end of my 40th year has come to pass, which also means so has my photo a day to record the goings on of this "Life begins" year.
I have to say that it has been a very mixed year and not sure that I really enjoyed a great part of it. Life did not begin that is for sure, but thankfully it did not end either. Every cloud and all that jazz!
I have enjoyed trying to do my photo a day. There were a few days over the time where I have not taken a photo, but on the whole I think I have managed quite well. I am not saying that they are all fantastic photos, many are just snap shots of a dull day. I think the beginning of the year I had more time on my hands so there were a few more set up shots, but it has got me into the habit of taking my camera everywhere I go now.
I amassed a total of 2545 photos and seem to have 482 in my "All days" album. So obviously I have more than one a day for some days. The tricky part is now trying to organise them into a book.
It has been a very enjoyable process and very worth while doing as I think it will make a good record of my year. I am not quite sure what my next photo project will entail but will definitely think of things to keep my camera snapping.
Not got many words this week, so going to share a poem I wrote a few years ago. It kind of sums me up this week. I find it strange how some things in life just don't change no matter how hard you try to make it different.
and brooding it waits.
it seeps through breaking down the barriers.
it comes I do not know, those nagging doubts and insecurities escalating into
drip feed soon becomes a flood and thoughts and reason spiral out of control.
I have been poorly again! This is the second time this year which for me is about twice more than my average sick rate. I somehow managed to get another kidney infection, thankfully I realised the symptoms earlier this time and so was not ill for quite as long but it still knocked me for six.
A week past Wednesday I started to feel 'not right' and started to get stomach pains, fevers and chills and back ache. Unfortunately I was driving to and from Inverness on that day, so it made for a very long and uncomfortable journey. When I phoned the Doctor (70 miles form home) she was quick to prescribe me some antibiotics when I explained my circumstance and symptoms. Thankfully my good friend Beth collected them from the chemist for me so they were behind the door when I got home.
The drugs started to kick in quite quickly and after 4 days or so I was recovering, or at least the pain had subsided. It was a ten day course of antibiotics and after a week I started to notice a slight rash appear on the top of my legs. "Not good" I thought, so I checked the side effects of the drug in the mini novel you get with them and sure enough "1 in 10 may suffer from the following; sensitivity to light, feeling sick and itchy red rash". Awesome, I was that 1 in 10.
Thankfully that is also starting to fade now that I have finished the course of tablets. It really was not a pretty sight.
It must be said that possibly part of my recovery was due, when my appetite returned, to being fed some delicious dinners. A very lovely person thought that it might aid my recovery if I ate something more nutritious than tattie waffles. I know I did not think it true either, but apparently even Birdseye potato waffles do not contain all the nutrition you need. Not even if you add tomato ketchup. Shocker!
Thankfully mostly recovered now. Fingers crossed I won't relapse for a 3rd time, at least not this year.
Sunday 9th September, the day finally arrived. It seemed like a long time since we signed up for Pedal for Scotland way back in January, but at the same time it came round kind of fast and I was really worried that I had not trained hard enough.
The day started very early with my alarm going off at 4.45am, which is a bit of a shock to the system on a Sunday morning. First task, open the curtains and check the weather. Pitch black. Oh yeah still night time! It was dry so that was good and I could see the stars, so no cloud, also good. Next task breakfast although I still felt a bit full from my dinner the previous evening.
With all my stuff gathered and Dolly safely ensconced in the boot of the car, I headed to meet the Galls and Catriona for our team trip to Glasgow Green where the race would start. We had to be on the start line between 7.00/7.45am and I think we crossed about 7.20am. Game on!
The weather in the West was also fair but slightly on the chilly side, so was thankful that I had put and extra layer on. The sportive race is a timed race and your time is recorded by chips (not the French fry type) that you attach around your ankle which activate when you cross a magic line. In this race this was activated once we got out of Glasgow city and before we hit Edinburgh city limits, so that the times did not include long traffic light stops.
I was desperately trying not to think of what lay ahead as we pedalled our way out of Glasgow, it only kind of hit me how far I was from home when we cycled past signs saying "Welcome to East Ayrshire".
At the first feed station I was feeling ok, but still in denial as to how far we still had to go. I munched on some of Beth's amazing flap jacks to refuel and we were off again.
The weather was still holding, cloudy but no rain, not too hot either but the wind was gathering. At some points it was in our faces or blowing us sideways which was not so pleasant but thankfully it was a south westerly wind so was going to blow us home in the final stages. Happy days.
At lunch we were over half way, tiredness and a few aches were starting to kick in but spirits were high. After some food and Ibuprofen we were off again.
By this point for me it was all mind over matter, I had already cycled further than I had ever done before so what difference was a few more miles going to make! At some points it was coping with the dreadful road surfaces that was more of a challenge than the actual pedalling. Too many of Scotland's roads are made with the tar and huge chuckie stone combination. This makes for a very bone rattling ride and interferes with the speed and pace of your cycling, or at least it does for me.
At this point I have to mention the fact that the very excellent cyclist that is Beth Gall, aka Victoria Pendleton, managed to complete a fairly long and very steep 1:16 hill without stopping. This hill appeared on the route about the 80 mile mark, so fresh legs we did not have. I was close, but ran out of gears and power, so no cigar for me. Major Kudos to Beth, you are AWESOME!
Last Pit stop at Carnwath and we could smell home, the wind was with us and it was just a matter of keeping the head down and thinking about my dinner, my tin of cold cider in the fridge and my bed.
We all made it to Murrayfield in one piece and in good times, under 8 hours for actual cycling time. We were all very proud, if not slightly aching, but a good day was had. There were no punctures, breakdowns (mental or physical) and thankfully no extra miles due to taking the wrong turn.
I would thoroughly recommend the event to anyone. The organisation, marshalling and signposting was fantastic. I would also like to mention and thank a chap called Kenneth with very lovely orange socks, who I played cat and mouse with for most of the day. Well done to you too. Other mentions must go to my Dad for my supply of Haribo, which along with the flap jacks are the best fuelling system around.