Monday, July 31, 2006


The 'before' shot:

The Soggy Bottom Boys get down to it:

The power-pop gets to us:

Dance-off 1:

Dance-off 2:

It was all getting emotional:

Gotta keep those tunes coming!

After 9 months of decorating and getting the place sorted, it was time to wreak it all in one night as my official housewarming kicked off! From 7:30pm until 5am there was fine cuisine from canopies and pizza to chocolate mousse, drink from Guinness to Moet and music from The Velvet Underground through Bluegrass to Britney Spears with dancing to match! We watched the reforming of Jim's legendary Pot & Pan band, competed in fierce dance-offs and tried our luck at Champagne Ribble Dibble. Only minor injuries were recorded and moderate memory loss. I'm sure my neighbours love me!! Thanks to all participants!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Funky Lights!

Look what I got! Having a housewarming for the Aberdonian crew this Saturday and got these funky lights for the occasion. Had to be mail order of course as no one would ever need to buy lights at any other time then Christmas, would they?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

All Things Hoff

The man who brought down the Berlin Wall is at it again:

I am a geek, but I am getting help...

In the blue corner, for Earth:

This is going to hurt:

Let the fun begin:

When you need a friend...

The obligatory 'mothership' gets its own hull-breach:

Ah yes, much in the style of the 2003-2004 George-Rullsenberg 'X-Files for Buffy' program, I have myself been donating Buffys and in return receiving Stargates with a colleague at work. As I have never watched it 'in real time', it is all new to me including the season seven finale, 'The Lost City'. All I can say if that we've come a long way since the original Star Trek special effects, and while some might say that we've lost charm and story development as a result, I would retort by saying, 'Shut up'. Enjoy the screen shots then of SG-1 defending Earth from the first direct Goa'uld attack (conveniently over Antartica so the entire stargate thing remains secret to the general population...).

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Life Experiences

150 of them. I got this via Rullsenberg, but it's been doing the rounds lately. As with Lisa I've put in bold mine I've done and added comments to several.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (Well, durh!)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree (and a tree-hugger)
10. Bungee jumped (want to!)
11. Visited Paris (it's neck and neck with Tokyo as my favourite city)
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights (here's hoping, they can be seen up here)
15. Gone to a huge sports game (Barbarian vs Scotland rugby count?)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars (does normal camping count?)
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip on a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower (well, a shooting star)
23. Got drunk on champagne (Viva...)
24. Given more than you can afford to charity (sometimes)
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse (Won money with each way, but never a first place)
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb (chop?)
33. Seen a total eclipse (almost total in 1999 at Barnsley latitude!)
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run (rounders?)
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving (no, but Antony has tried to entice me!)
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken for longer than when you were in love (possibly)
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds (now iTunes does it for me!)
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke

59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers (does a public bath in Tokyo count as posing?)
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married (almost...)
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone (paintballing?)
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over (I had a job waiting, but otherwise yes)
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived.
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone (see below!)
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (yes, and I'm not American!)
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read their work (Is Shakespeare important?)
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair (carboot?)
146: Dyed your hair (ahem...)
147: Been a DJ
148: Shaved your head
149: Caused a car accident
150: Saved someone's life

Colour Coding and Aberdeen Weather

Howdy all. As this is meant to be a hiking blog, but will also feature the odd off-track ramble from time to time, I have come up with a cunning colour-coding plan. That is that each hiking post will keep the nice orange title, while the distracting rambles will go for the tasteful blue featured here. Easy enough?

While I'm here then, I got sent this today from Sonia:

Panic gripped the streets of Aberdeen this morning when patches of sky took on an unusual blue colour and a ball of fire appeared above the city.

The phenomenon, known as 'The Sun', and commonly found in Mediterranean countries such as Greece and England, unleashed a terrifying heat and brightness upon the city, causing many ordinary Aberdonians to tear off their hats and scarves in mid July.

While most of the motorists were able to turn their headlights and wipers fully off, some feared that they would be scalded or blinded by 'The Sun's' intense radiation of heat and light.

Jack McConnell, speaking from a Sun-proof bunker lying deep under Aberdeen's King St. urged people to be calm and return to work as normal, stating: "We've seen this sort of thing before, it happened once In 1945 and we put it down to the war".

Fearing it could lead to a break out of cheerful, happy smiling he said "Don't worry it will never last, it can't. Our natural Siberian climate with its force 9's, ferocious chill factor and horizontal rain will soon put pay to these shenanigans. Aberdeen will soon be freed from this terrifying situation and we can all return to our natural drab, downbeat selves complaining all the time and being suspicious about everything."

No sooner had the apparition occurred, than a large, dark ominous cloud moved in from Ellon, covering the city and efficiently blocking out the horrible, dangerous sun.

The familiar horizontal driving rain made a welcome return and once again the cafe's along the sea front reinstated their usual metal shutters to protect themselves from the pounding they take as the sea crashes down to top of them in summer.

However, it still wasn't as cold, drab or depressing as Peterhead.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Me in a Kilt

Wearing date: 12/07/06

Myself (left) and Stu (left) prepare to invade England:

Sonia's toes remained untouched all night!!

Ah yes, the brother's wedding has finally occurred and I have to say it was all good fun. Especially the dressing up, oh yes!

Beinn Toe (000)

Break date: ~15/06/06

Ow. Munro-bagging has literally taken a knock up here in Aberdeen due to the unfortunate breaking of my right big toe in a crucial and epic pitched squash game at University Court No. 2. Since that faithful moment when I stubbed the said toe into the court wall, my activities have been frustratingly limited (although I did play another game straight after). This has meant no hiking, no running, limited strolling and general griping on my part. Ach well, as they say up this way. At least it has given me chance to write up all my current Munros, meaning this blog is finally 'real-time' and as such, it can 'go live'. Welcome everyone!


Monday, July 10, 2006

The Cairnwell Hills: The Cairnwell (245), Carn a' Gheoidh (180) and Carn Aosda (278)

Walk date: 20/05/06
My Munro #'s: 84, 85 and 86

An attractive cabin on The Cairnwell:

Solidarity on the ugly Carn Aosda:

12:50-16:20. With The Sonia. A late start to this day, but safely in the knowledge that these hills would not present us with much of a problem. This is especially true of The Cairnwell, being the most accessible Munro. A lack of snow on the slopes meant a happy lack of skiers and so we used the piste as our ascent route, finding a watch, money and a car key on the way! The col between The Cairnwell and Carn Aosda is soon reached and the remaining walk to The Cairnwell's summit is straightforward. Sonia dubbed this, 'The most depressing Munro she had seen', and it was hard to counter such a claim; a stony top littered with cabins and scaffold-towers, picturesque it is not.

With no reason to hand around, a quick re-visit of the col is made before a west and then south-west bearing takes you happily away from the skiing development toward the rounded summit of Carn a' Gheoidh. The route skirts some nice southern slopes.

Having taken in this relative beauty spot, the col is visited again and wide tracks are then taken to The Cairnwell's scarred twin, Carn Aosda. Again, we progressed quickly before we got too down about it all. Steep but easy enough routes are all around, take your pick.

Apart from Carn a' Gheoidh, this is a day for the completists only. The weather was low cloud with some rain and a spot of wet snow. The cloud lifted enough to see the summits by the end of the day.

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Glenshee and Lochnagar Hills: Carn an Tuirc (113), Tolmount (202), Tom Buidhe (204) and Cairn of Claise (71)

Walk date: 13/05/06
My Munro #'s: 80, 81, 82 and 83

Sonia asks, 'When will there be some features?'

The exciting summit of Tom Buidhe:

The southern arm of Cairn of Claise and the way home:

10:30-16:30. Hiking with The Sonia. The bright sunshine in Aberdeen was not a taster of things to come, as by the time the car was parked the world of Glenshee had a predominantly grey theme. A short walk from the Sean Spittal bridge alongside the road soon turned ENE but kept on a good path for a while with little climbing. At Old Shielings look out for a subtle swing upwards off this path towards the target target, Carn an Tuirc. Various good routes lead up steep grass slopes which become firm scree/small boulder fields flattening out just short of the summit.

From Carn an Tuirc, the obvious hill you can see is Cairn of Claise, but patience is required. First you need to head east and make your way over grass land and some bog to reach Tolmount. Little further effort from here gets you onto Tarn Buidhe, just 1 km away.

With three down, some more easy walking up grass slopes brings you suddenly onto the rocky summit of Cairn of Claise with good views down into the corrie. From here you can eaither swing north or south of the corrie back to the car. We took the southern route as it is actually featured on the map, but north didn't look to be a problem from my point of view.

Overall a cold day with some light snowfall and patches on the ground. Nothing technically demanding. If anything a little bland and busy, but at the same time a six hour walk taking in four Munros can't be knocked!

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Achnashellach and Torridon Hills: Moruisg (255) and now a non-Munro Sgurr nan Ceannaichean (284)

Walk date: 06/05/06
My Munro #'s: 79

Update: 10/09/09 - gurr nan Ceannaichean has been stripped of its Munro status, all numbers are now out by one!

The sturdy cairn of Moruisg:

East from Sgurr nan Ceannaichean into Gleann Fhiodhaig:

Hiking Expedition 2006! ~3 and a half hours. The route from the car park started straightforward enough, through low level farmland; past the cows, over the bridge and under the railway, but then any distinguishable path disappears as rough grass and bog becomes the norm as you approach the imposing slopes of Moruisg.

There is no easy route up Moruisg's slopes, no secret path. You just have to be patient, but the work required for the quick increase in height is sweetened by the corresponding improving views.

Once on top, Moruisg is very flat and on a pleasant day such as this was, it makes for a nice stroll with tremendous views all around. Moving on to the col is easy enough and the turn to take in Sgurr nan Ceannaichean (the lowest Munro) becomes a little steep but keeps a nice path to the top. I believe the tiny southern cairn is the actual summit and not the trig point so make sure you see the job through!

Rather than returning to the col, keep on down Creag a' Chait to the north, where a path takes you all the way down to a forestry fence. Stay on the right of this (including after the river crossing, ignore the welcoming gate through the fence) and it will take you safely back to the railway crossing and your vehicular transportation.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Achnashellach and Torridon Hills: Bidean a' Choire Sheasgaich (224) and Lurg Mhor (163)

Walk date: 05/05/06
My Munro #'s: 77 and 78

The quite steep climb of 'Sheasgaich, looking up:

And down:

Finally onto the ridge of Bidean a' Choire Sheasgaich:

Loch Monar from Bidean a' Choire Sheasgaich:

Coming up on Lurg Mhor:

Looking over to the Cuillins from Lurg Mhor:

Hiking Expedition 2006! 08:45-17:45. This is a long day out! I recommend that you start early, definitely take your bike and having company would help too as this trek gets quite remote!! My time on it was 9 hours and this was in good weather (plus bike); I imagine it can get pretty miserable with rain/snow and wind.

The route to Bealach Bhearnais was the same as Tuesday, including the pushing of the biked up the forestry road. Once there, there is no avoiding the climb of Beinn Tharsuinn; take it on the chin and get to the crest as soon as possible as the walking is easy on top. In poor visibility the wishful mind keeps imaging that you're about to start the Munro climb, but in reality there's an unmissably large drop in height down to the narrow saddle before 'Sheasgaich.

Do not be intimidated by the seemingly impregnable wall of rock ahead of you that is Bidean a' Choire Sheasgaich as the actual route avoids all of that. Make your way down to the stone wall in the low col and follow the river until you fully round the north-western shoulder of the mountain. Now start to climb up over grass, rock and bog, keeping to the left of Coire Seagach moving in a south-easterly direction. This is slow going, so be prepared for a long haul but you do get there in the end! It is worth finding the lochan as from there the path comes into being (although snow tends to accumulate on its route). Quite soon from the lochan area you're onto a nice stroll along the narrow but flat-topped ridge to the summit. I have to admit after the effort on the climb I almost hugged the small but well-formed summit cairn!

I have read in guide books that Lurg Mhor is a disappointment following the effort of Bidean a' Choire Sheasgaich, but for me it was a welcome change; a nice straightforward peak soon reached by, get this, a path! Also, on a clear day like this day was, you can see from the Cairngorms to the Cuillin ridge, which is rather tremendous.

I retraced my steps back and made good use of my newly repaired back brake on my bike as I made the run down the forestry road back to Craig. Really a damn well excellent day, just prepare yourself for the effort involved!!

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Achnashellach and Torridon Hills: Maol Chean-dearg (247)

Walk date: 04/05/06
My Munro #'s: 76

The first sign of the target, Maol Chean-dearg:

Path remaining obvious for now; the south-west ridge:

Another lost hill, ENE to Beinn Liath Mhor:

Hiking Expedition 2006! 10:15-15:00. The second of my two 'light days' proved to be heavier than expected at almost 5 hours, when my usually conservative guidebook had suggested 3-5! Granted, I was taking my time but 3 hours would be some pace!!

I set off from the car park just before Coulags (coming from Locharron) with sunburn-threatening sunshine and only light winds. The public right of way to Torridon marks the way off the road and a Pathways Trust sign encourages you to skirt a property ahead by veering off to the left beside the river. However these footpath types can't make footpaths very well and the way ahead was soon a large collection of mud. The track through the property is soon picked up after this mud and once re-united the going is good though a little wet at times. This path continues on for a surprisingly long time over the bridge, past the bothy and the old stone of Clach nan Con-Fionn, before a small cairn marks the start of the climbing to your left.

As height is increased the target becomes clearer and clearer up ahead. Ascent routes are obviously visible on the scree slopes just south of Coire Garbh, but I kept to my original plan of going up the south-west ridge. If taking this route, wait for the bealach where the paths are clearly revealed. Unfortunately, I was tempted too early and made slow progress over loose stone, only then to see the paths once the hardest work was done!

From the top of the ridge the path remains obvious for a short spell, but is soon lost amongst more loose stone and plenty of sharp rocks. For the path to the summit, keep to the left (west) of the boulder field; a tiny cairn on top of a large rock marks its start, but this is initially hidden by an annoying hump on the section just before the climb. Indeed my knowledge of the cairn is retrospective as on the way up I made a direct line up the boulder field, which to be honest is a fine route as the boulders are sturdy, only finding the actual path on the return. At the summit you are greeted with a large cairn complete with shelter sections and really spectacular views all round. For the second day in a row, the forecast bad weather only hit once I was safely in the car. Now that's the way it should be!!

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Achnashellach and Torridon Hills: Fionn Bheinn (246)

Walk date: 03/05/06
My Munro #'s: 75

ENE over Loch Fannich from Fionn Bheinn:

Slioch to the north-west:

That's a lot of bog! Gaiters at the ready!

Hiking Expedition 2006! 10:00-12:45. In order to keep danger to a minimum and enjoyment to a maximum, given the inclement weather and my swelling feet, I decided to ditch the planned Beinn Liath Mhor and Sgorr Ruadh day from this week's hiking and have two short 'recovery days'. Thus, the short hike of Fionn Bhein the only target for this day with the next day only taking in Maol Chean-dearg.

The day started a bit later than usual as I was determined to get the maximum benefit from these two lighter days in what was expected to be bad weather. However, my arising was greeted with sunshine and light winds! Keeping a suspicious eye on the conditions I made my way to Achnasheen.

The initial few steps of the walk were uncomfortable for me due to the road and then flat terrain causing a lot of rubbing around the nexk of my boots. This soon passed however as the route moved beyond the rough (& wet) flat grassland of the farm to the rough (& wet) incline of the heathery slopes alongside Allt Achadh na Sine. Keeping to the right bank of the gorge until the incline flattened out again, progress was rapid enough. As the river swept away to the left I made my way to the right across the annoying classic bog terrain of small bog-cliffs, jumps and many a U-turn.

Starting on the ascent, I ignored the satellite top and made a direct approach, keeping myself childishly entertained by pegging my progress against an elderly hiker far off in the distance. Without much problem the rounded top of Fionn Bheinn was reached and the impressive views made up for its own lack of character. By this time, the weather had turned windy and some rain had appeared, but it was nothing to worry about. A quick return saw me lunching in the car ready to rest my feet over the remainder of the day.

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