Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Will and Doc Holliday are thinking about running a serial in An Tirisdeach and on the web where they take someone who is not completely fit and make them - well, fit. They're asking me to take part.
And of course I will do it. I need that target, that goal, that challenge, to know that people are wanting me to succeed/fail and that they're watching and waiting. So yes, I will do it.
I thought I was supposed to mellow out when I became 50?
Saturday, October 28, 2006
There was a good turn out. I saw my mate Ronnie at the Co-op before this morning’s session and asked him if he wanted to come along. Ronnie is a real runner, about my age but very dedicated and very good at long distances. He actually RAN to the hall this morning and then took part in the session.
The circuit comprised left and right-leg lunges, crunches, shoulder presses, press-ups, step exercises, star jumps, upright squats, triceps lifts and shuttle running. We did the course three times. My first run through was a bit of a disaster but the second was much better. Everyone found this, in fact. In the second run through I really tried to go for it. The result was that come the third run through I had as much energy as a wet rag.
But Joanne and I really enjoyed it. It’s a great feeling when you get through something really difficult, something that really causes you to extend your limits and, yes, to go through that personal endurance boundary.
Our coach, Will, took a note of all our performances and will work out a schedule for us based on these.
After the circuit training we did a simple pilates session. Some of these exercises are really tough. Joanne and I are really in awe of our friend Bella. Bella is a little bit older than I am and she has been doing pilates for years. As a result she has a great figure and she is very physically fit.
This afternoon we’ve been chilling out a little bit. I had hoped to go for a bike ride this afternoon but those hamstrings are yelping.
Tonight we are having some friends from the drama class over for wine and nibbles. We’re trying to get ideas together for a presentation we have to make in front of some kind from Argyll College in about a week or so. No one is really prepared for this so we’d better get our skates on.
3.30pm – I think a bath to soothe those aching muscles would be a good idea.
And that’s the problem. All week – well, at least since we got back from Oban last on Tuesday – it seems to have been raining non-stop. Of course a bit of rain never hurt anyone but there’s also been a bit of a strong wind blowing throughout the course of the days.
I’m not so bothered about missing out on my running at the moment. To be honest with you my knee is seriously aching at the moment. I really blame it all on that fall I took while over gigging with the band in Coll, way back in August. This injury is taking a long time to heal.
But there’s poor Brigitte (my Giant Road Bike) who seems to have been stuck in the shed for the longest time.
So it is with some relief that I tell you the Saturday morning circuit training resumes in An Talla this morning. I notice with some interest that what was a one hour session at the start of the year has now become a two hour session. I have no idea why, unless our coach, Will, is going to include Pilates as part of the work out.
Will is talking about some kind of project where he takes me – a fairly fit guy for my age (50) – and helps me achieve all I can without (hopefully) actually killing me. I’ll get some feedback from him this morning.
As I mentioned a few days back I am certainly overweight for all the things I want to achieve next year – things like a couple of half marathons and a few other sporting challenges. I also need to discipline myself a little more when it comes to workouts, training and cycling. I can’t afford to just train when I feel like it.
So here’s the low-down: I weighed myself this morning and I weigh 186 lbs. I’m about 5’ 8” tall – but that’s just a guess. As you can see if I want to keep running without causing my knee joints to fuse up I have to reduce the impact in some way.
Losing some of that weight would help.
And that brings me back to the rain. Both Joanne and I were stuck in the house yesterday so we ate. And ate. In other words we were a little depressed at not being able to get out. That’s one of the penalties of living on a small, remote island. I mean, you’re not going to pop out to the theatre, club or cinema on days like that, not on Tiree at any rate.
To our credit, though, both of us have been eating a lot of white meats and we’ve been trying to cut out bread and potatoes and all that stuff and replacing it with rice or salad.
So it’s off to An Talla in about half an hour from now. Actually, Joanne was there last night, at a ‘ladies night’ organised by Norma and Fifi. Virgin Vie and Party Light products. I don’t think the balance to our bank balance is in any way substantial.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
But we can't make up our mind about the mountain featured in yesterday's photographs, away in the distance. We think perhaps it's Ben Ghlas but we're not absolutely sure. Anyone know?
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Well, folks, we had a nice few days in Oban. By the time we got over there on Saturday there wasn’t much else to do other than settle in to our B & B and then head out for something to eat. Whenever we are in Oban and we’re thinking of going to a restaurant first thoughts are of ‘The Light of India’. For my money LOI serves the best Indian food in town.
Next day, Sunday, and the highlight of our weekend. We walked a short but lovely route called – we think – the Argyll Coastal Route (North). This is the road which goes past the golf course, past the Rare Breeds Park and comes out at Connel.
It was a lovely morning and I was so glad I took my camera with me. We set out on this walk just after nine in the morning. What a beautiful day, a day when Joanne and I felt completely chilled. One of those days when you’re out and about and you don’t have to say all that much to each other. One of those days when every now and again you sigh with contentment without realising you’re doing it.
Anyway, the pictures should speak for themselves. This is the second time I’ve been on that road, actually. The first time was last year and on that occasion I was cycling.
When we got to Connel we didn’t have the heart for walking on the busy main road so the nice man at ‘The Glue Pot’ (that’s the pub adjacent to ‘The Oyster Inn’ phoned us a taxi.
That night we ate Chinese.
Monday was mainly shopping. And eating. At lunch time we had soup and sandwiches in ‘Mondo’s’. This cost about £5.50 and it was worth every penny.
In the evening we went to ‘Piazza’. That’s right: Monday night was Italian night. REAL pizza, this, with freshly cooked base. I had hot and spicy while Joanne had regular. With a nice little bottle of Spanish white to go with it! A lovely meal. And then out and about for a couple of refreshments.
On Tuesday we came back to Tiree. Last night it was our drama class. We have a presentation to do in a couple of weeks so things are getting a little more serious. No, I take that back. We had a great laugh last night while, at the same time, actually learning something.
I had the rest of the week off now and I intend to do some cycling and other exercise. I am overweight for the challenges I have set myself for the coming few months and I intend to shame myself into losing a few pounds by recording my progress – or lack of it – here in this blog. More of this later.
Friday, October 20, 2006
For the past few days my laptop had been getting slower and slower. I began to suspect a bug. But my virus scanner showed up nothing. I tried defragmenting and I tried cleaning the disk. I tried launching my spy-ware. And of course I tried a full system scan with my virus scanner. Nothing. But still the laptop got weaker and weaker.
I am not given to violence but at several points today I felt like just picking the damn thing up and smashing it off the floor.
But hey, wait a minute: a good part of 'my life' is in there. I use my laptop to communicate with people all over the world, to download podcasts, to keep my music in, to surf the net.
The I remembered that feature of Windows XP: the System Restore. I decided to go back quite a few weeks to get back to where I was before the problems started.
Half way through the System Restore - while I was not in the room - the laptop powered down. Now I have half a 'restored' computer. Some things on it work. Unfortunately the things I care most about - like internet access - don't. I can't even 'undo' my last System Restore because that program doesn't work anymore!
So I have to get myself an up to date disk which will allow me to reinstall XP.
What a drag.
Any suggestions what I can do?
On a brighter note I really enjoyed this week's Tiree Wave Classic. As I was explaining to my friend Doc Holliday earlier tonight I know absolutely nothing about wind surfing. But I know a good atmosphere when I feel it. Everything on Tiree this week was perfect apart from the fact that there was no wind.
On Wednesday the T15 (kids) competition was held here in Cornaigmore. It was great. Even if there was no wind out there on the loch everyone was hollering, the burger van was there, the sound system was blasting out Pink Floyd ... we had a 'wail' of a time.
Congratulations to the organisers, both local and from the mainland, who make this wonderful event such a success.
Joanne and I are off to Oban tomorrow for a few days rest and recreation. Joanne hasn't been feeling too well of late so this is a timely visit. Some 'retail therapy' will do her good, I am sure.
If I find an Internet cafe (do they still call them that?) I will log on and give you and update.
In the meantime, goodnight from a very PC user. Maybe I should get a Mac ... ?
Monday, October 16, 2006
I've been meaning to tell you for days now about Hands Up for Trad. 'Trad' in this case refers to traditional music. There's an award being set up and I think we should all vote for A' Bhuain. There are probably two categories you can vote for the Homecoming under: best community project and best event of the year. At least I think that's the categories ... Och, you'll work it out when you get there.
Here's the link: http://www.handsupfortrad.co.uk/tradmusicawards/index.htm
The way this works is that we nominate A' Bhuain first of all using this online form. (Only one set of nominations is allowed from a single computer thus there can be no multiple voting.) If A' Bhuain gets enough votes it goes on to stage 2 which, presumably, involves judging.
I took the picture above this afternoon when Joanne and I went over to Gott Bay for a cheeseburger. How healthy! Still a great buzz surrounding the whole Wave Classic thing.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Then again I was dog tired up until I had my afternoon nap. Let me re-phrase that in the current politically correct parlance: I had a power nap. I'm a great believer in power napping. I have been ever since I was about seventeen.
This is probably the reason why I am such a poor sleeper. I seem to spend hours awake every night, just staring at the ceiling, making my plans for the day ahead. But when it comes time to get up I'm so tired I don't have the energy to do any of them!
If I had the luxury of not having to work for a living I reckon I would sleep when I was tired and do stuff when I felt like it, whatever of the time.
I mention this because an elderly friend always asks me - as she did today - how well I am sleeping. She sleeps remarkably well and is rather bemused when I tell her how I lie awake half the night listening to Radio Five Live.
Enough of that. I eventually pulled myself out of the house at about five o'clock and took myself over to Gott Bay, where most of today's action - in the competition at least - appeared to be taking place. Of course by the time I got there things were winding down. I tried to take a couple of pictures but my little digital camera is woefully inadequate for the kind of pictures I want to take.
Maybe I'll ask Santa for a new camera.
Joanne, Jennifer and I have established a new method for working out what to buy each other for Christmas. What we do is we make a 'wish list' and email it to ... Santa. But we make sure we copy each other in to the email.
I know, I know.
I was going to tell you how to vote for A' Bhuain in the Hands up for Trad awards but I think that deserves a post of it's own.
Tonight I am recording. Tomorrow - apart from a couple of quick little tasks - I have the day off. Hopefully I will get on my bike and go check out the surfing scene. I am no surfer, I just want to make that plain. But I always find the folks who come to the island at this time of year a really good bunch of people and I like to enjoy the vibe. I will take my woefully inadequate camera with me (please take note, Santa) just in case.
Have a nice night, everyone,
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Here we are again, first day of the Tiree Wave Classic. This world famous week-long windsurfing competition never fails to attract many competitors and perhaps many more who just enjoy being part of the scene.
I've put a link to a dedicated website, top right. The website is updated daily so check it out to keep a tab on how the competitions are going and great photographs.
The organisers have produced a really helpful little booklet. It describes the competition rules in a few simple sentences (they must have had me in mind!) and there are also thumbnail photographs of the main seeds. A great little innovation, this, and I hope we'll see this booklet being updated every year.
On a completely different subject, later on I'll be telling you how you can nominate A' Bhuain for a couple of awards. More later.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Joanne and I had intended to go out along with our daughter Jenny to celebrate my running of the WWH on Saturday evening. However the gale that blew during my run got worse that night and we just didn't feel like going anywhere.
Instead, Joanne and I flopped down on the carpet with a refreshment or two and listened to music from way back when. Mostly it was stuff that was going around when we started going out with each other, back in 1978.
Oh - and Joanne rubbed my aching tootsies for me. What a gal! What a Kodak Moment!
Now in those days, kiddies, we listened to our favourite bands and artistes via records and cassette tapes. If you young readers look up Wikepidia all will be revealed.
Saturday evening, Joanne and I were listening to all our favourite 'oldies' courtesy of the laptop inked up to our stereo amplifier.
We couldn't even have begun to imagine such a thing would exist when we started going out with each other, lo, those 28 years ago!
I'm not one of those people who thinks things were necessarily better in 'the old days'. And I certainly don't think there are no good bands about anymore. Quite the reverse. There are excellent rock bands out there, more so than ever.
Even politicians on the world stage have become BETTER at making VERY BAD decisions.
When I was a little boy an American president named John Fitzgerald Kennedy rein in his Chiefs of Staff during the Cuba Missile crisis. If he had not managed to do this it is unlikely any of us would be here at the moment. He remains the hero of my lifetime. A man with many faults but I think that when you balance these against saving the world from nuclear destruction they don't amount to much.
I despair as I witness the antics of Bush and Blair. I just don't know how much worse things have to get before they start to get better. Perhaps they never will.
It's good, then, to be able to remember that life has purpose, that we can set our own goals, that we can make things meaningful. People like you and I don't get their names written down in the history books and when we're gone we'll probably be soon forgotten.
That's why the NOW is the most important thing. And how we treat each other.
(How did I get from Joanne rubbing my toes to President Kennedy saving the world?)
I'm a 50 year old guy making new discoveries about myself on a daily basis. I see the guy in pictures and I think 'he looks like he's getting on a bit' but that's not how I feel inside. Inside I feel alive, fit and ready, willing and able to be excited by new stuff.
The world is what we make it folks. Why not make it a nice one?
Saturday, October 07, 2006
The omens were not good this morning. Never mind that vicious wind coming out of the north-west first thing this morning. WE HAD NO POWER. Cornaigmore seemed to be the only place affected. BUT I NEED MY STRONG COFFEE BEFORE I RUN, I thought. So it was out with the camping stove and on with the little kettle which whistles when it's ready.
Breakfast was an energy gel-pack, a bagel and some energy drink. And then it was out and on with it.
Now let me tell you, if I could only have run due east for 13.1 miles I would have logged a personal best. Well, actually, any time I logged would be a personal best because I haven't run a half marathon before. So let me put it this way: if I could have benefited from that tail wind for the entire run I would have put in an impressive run.
Part of my route meant going down the pier road and turning around and heading back to Scarinish once I went round the tear-drop island. As soon as I did that, boy, what a difference. From there on in, it was tough.
Going over the reef took ages but by this time the wind had swopped round to a south-westerly so I had a little help going up Kenovay. By the time I turned left to head back to Cornaigmore it wasn't so much the wind as the inevitable fatigue I was battling.
But I got there. It was weird stopping moving. And boy, were my legs protesting. I went upstairs to run a bath and it was like climbing Everest. Some stretching has alleviated the discomfort and my legs don't feel too bad tonight.
One scare along the way was when I was just past Parkhouse and suddenly there was an almighty pain in my left calf. I had to pull up sharp. I thought I had pulled a muscle but I guess it was only cramp. I've never had trouble in this calf muscle before so I was completely surprised. I stopped another couple of times to stretch it out and although it was tight and sore for the rest of the run it was bearable.
My co-timer, Joanne, was waiting for me with a hug and a kiss and she took a photo of me crossing my imaginary finish line. Unfortunately, Blogger does not want me to upload pictures tonight for some reason but I'm sure you will not be too disappointed that you can't immediately see a picture of a worn out me arriving back home after running the half marathon.
Tonight I will relax, watch other results coming in at Phedippidations.
I am a tired but a happy man. I am now a half-marathon runner. Who'd have thunk it?
Friday, October 06, 2006
So the running gear is all looked out and the energy drink is mixed and in the fridge and I'm 'good for go'.
On a completely different theme, Bev, Tony and Harry Richmond have been in touch to tell me about Seamus Heaney, a bona fide northern Irish poet. Of course. I had him at the back of my mind but to be honest I haven't read much of his stuff. But here's an example kindly sent to me by the Richmonds.
More about Tiree Coconuts in this week's edition of An Tirisdeach. I must get on to the editor and make her aware of Charles Nelson's recent communication with this blog.
Once again another week has not gone past without Tiree being featured on the BBC radio news. This time it's those beautiful creatures, Basking Sharks. Apparently the stretch of water between Tiree and Coll is one of the 'hot spots' for observing them. In all the years I've now lived here I've yet to see one. One day soon, I hope. Anyway, here's a link to the story.
And finally, I recorded a new song this morning and it's available for listening online. If you thought 'Buddha Bill' was an aberration this new offering should convince you that I have a rather odd style of song writing. This song is called 'Family Demands' and is a breezy little tune ... about an unhappy childhood. Honest, I just pick up the guitar, I start singing and what comes out is what comes out. Click on the link near the top right column to hear 'Family Demands' - if you dare!
Hey folks, I'll see you on the other side of the finishing line.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
This picture was sent to me by our friend in Bedfordshire, Fran Andel. Sunset over Balephetrish, she calls it. It’s lovely. If you click on it you will see the full size image, one worth saving I would imagine. I don’t think Fran will mind at all.
Another drama class last night. I must say I wish I had taken this up earlier in life. I said this to one of the younger participants last night. She said ‘why? You’re doing it now, aren’t you?’
This year I’ve achieved the two goals that I set out with: I wanted to act (somehow) and I wanted to run. I’ve achieved both of these goals, what with the Napier Commission play and the Tiree 10k but I’m now a little greedy for more.
Talking of the Napier Commission I heard it mentioned on the Radio Scotland news this morning. Many people in the crofting universe are suggesting that there be another Napier Commission-style investigation into the state of crofting in Scotland.
The man I was listening to reminded the listeners that most of the recommendations of the Napier Commission were ignored.
Today I had to good fortune to spend lunchtime with the good folks of the lunch club organised and run by the Better Neighbourhoods Scheme. We were over at the Lodge Hotel.
Gott Bay looked wonderful in the early afternoon sunlight. The sea was flat calm and there wasn’t a single soul to be seen on the beach. That situation is about to change of course. In a couple of weeks it will be Wave Classic time again and wind surfers from all over the world will come to compete in this world-famous event.
I was sitting next to Duncan Gillespie in the dining room. Before he retired Duncan was a journalist – an agricultural journalist, if memory serves – and I believe he still writes a column for Scottish Farmer. Although Duncan does not enjoy the best of health he has, just last week, completed a novel. He’s an interesting and intelligent man and I always enjoy talking with him.
At one point two of our party gave us a rousing version of The Lord of Cockpen. Until recently I had not heard this song. One of our party told me she had learned this song when she was a child in school. She’s now 91 years of age and remembers every word.
I can’t remember any poems I learned at school. In fact I don’t remember the Scottish tongue being encouraged back where I grew up in Lanarkshire.
Last night at the drama class I – among others – was performing an excerpt from a play called Miss Julie. I played a Frenchman named Jean. I performed his dialogue in broad Scottish. Somehow it seemed quite legitimate.
It seems to be very much en vogue to be Scottish. The present Prime Minister is Scottish (not a lot of people realise that!) and his predecessor as his leader of the Labour party was a Scotsman. The next Prime Minister is likely to be a Scotsman.
My mate, John Andel – husband of Fran, my friend who sent today’s picture – a Czech by birth but very much an Englishman – is very much ‘into’ Scottish and Gaelic culture. But he was amazed when I told him earlier this year that I couldn’t stand Runrig.
And I might as well confess that I prefer Shakespeare to Burns.
I am very proud of being Scottish. I feel myself to be Scottish through and through. But I am also proud of the fact that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. I feel like I can share in being proud of – for instance - Shakespeare, an Englishman, or Dylan Thomas, another poet and a Welshman.
(Oddly enough, although I can think of lots of Irish artists, offhand I can’t think of any who are definitely northern Irish and thus part of what we call the UK. Please feel free to remind me!)
Monday, October 02, 2006
Doctor Nelson writes,
Tropical seeds - variously called Mollucca beans, Caribbean beans, Mary's beans, sea beans, horse-eye beans, suil an asail, and nickar nuts - have been reported from the region since the late 1600s. FamousScottish authors like Martin Martin have written about them, and theywere illustrated as early as 1693, in James Wallace’s Description of theisles of Orkney.
Coconuts, in fact, are regularly washed ashore onbeaches in Cornwall, western Ireland, Scotland and even in Norway atlocalities well beyond the Arctic Circle. Alas they are usuallyoverlooked and very rarely reported to botanical authorities who collect data about these seeds.
Thus the most remarkable thing about the Tiree coconuts is fact they have generated so much interest - one might say"heat" but not "light" - and for completely the wrong reason. In short, tropical seeds washing ashore is nothing new! In the past theywere used as snuff boxes, charms, talismans, vesta cases, and evenornamental jewellery; there are examples in several Scottish museums. And some, especially Mary’s beans, were highly prized by Hebridean midwives.
Dr William Baker's careful explanation of the Tiree coconut records, illustrated with photographs of one of the Tiree nuts, is to be found in Palms 49 (4): 195-198 (2005).
Anyone interested in more informationabout tropical seeds stranded on beaches in western Europe is welcome to consult my book Sea beans and nickar nuts (published by the BotanicalSociety of the British Isles - see www.summerfieldbooks.com) or to contact me directly.
For contact details see www.tippitiwitchet.co.uk
Sunday, October 01, 2006
The big thing this weekend has been training. Next weekend it’s the World Wide Half Marathon so the big things for me over the past couple of days have been running and cycling.
Yesterday, Saturday, I ran/walked from Cornaigmore to Scarinish and back, a distance of 10.8 miles all round. I’ll not tell you how long it took me to do this – it’s just too embarrassing. But then again I mustn’t lose sight of the fact that I am a 50 year old ‘newbie’. I hadn’t run at all until I started getting in to shape for Tiree 10k.
While I was out on the road yesterday a very nice lady stopped in her car to ask me if I was Gordon Scott and when I said yes she went on to tell me how much she liked reading this blog and how much she’d enjoyed the old Isle of Tiree Online News site I used to run. In fact she went on to say that she thought it was me when she saw I was sporting a knee support! Her kind remarks made me very happy.
(By the way, I’ve decided to run/walk the half marathon due to the problems with the old knee and in any case it’s a recognised and legitimate way for an amateur to undertake a distance event. I think my ratio of running to walking will be something like running 9 minutes and walking 1.)
This afternoon I went for a cycle on Brigitte. Once again it was a case of going over to Scarinish and coming back, mainly to keep those muscles loose after yesterday’s long run. But today it was colder, windier, and when I got back I found it hard to get warmed up. In fact, I’m writing this huddled next to one of the radiators in the living room!
So, not much in the way of ‘creativity’ this weekend either. I’ve got a couple of songs on the go at the moment, trying to get them recorded and mixed but not much is going to happen this week I don’t think.
That wacky little song, ‘Buddha Bill’, has now been heard online by hundreds – if not thousands – of people. This week it’s going out on the very popular ‘Zen and Art of Triathlon’ podcast. I’ll provide a link for that when the show airs. It’s pleasing to me that the people picking up on the song are health and fitness shows.