Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mean Streets/Calm Seas/Hugh MacDiarmid

I was away this week, just over in Oban. I was summoned there by my employer so that I could begin an Scottish Vocational Qualification for Registered Managers. I've been trying to avoid this thing like the plague. When I actually sat down with my new Tutor and got to grips with it I found out it wasn't so daunting as I had imagined.

I get bored when I'm away on business. The picture above was taken on Wednesday night. I'm not really posing. Remember I got a new digital camera for my Christmas? Well, I still haven't worked out half of the functions in it. Here I am trying out the long-exposure setting, to compensate for the low light. If you look to the left of the picture you'll see a blurred shape - that's actually a car which is travelling to fast for the exposure setting to capture properly. Luckily, the streets of Oban were relatively quiet and I didn't get too many strange looks as I made my way about town, taking experimental photographs of myself.

Training wise, it's been another tough week. I've had to resort to training at night. I put new lights on Bikey - I think I mentioned that before - and I've been out a couple of times in the darkness, even when it's been raining. While in Oban I went out pounding the streets. It was the first time I'd ever gone running on pavements and it was strangely exhilarating.

Coming back on the Lord of the Isles on Thursday morning, I grabbed another few photo opportunities. I'm quite pleased about the way the new camera is working out. Good old Santa!

The only thing that marred the return journey was that somehow the vehicles were loaded wrongly on the car deck and they all had to be discharged back on to dry land so that they could loaded all over again. All the delays meant that the LOTI was about two hours late getting back to Tiree.

I haven't been to the school yet to check up on how they're tracking the Island Inspiration participants but I hear that they are following it closely and have made 'backed' certain of us to do better than others. I may have that all wrong - I'll check with Coach Will soon.

There's an interesting comment in the entry The Mystery of the Missing Blog. Do you remember back in June (was it June?) of last year I played the part of Hugh MacDiarmid, one of the Factors who testified at the Napier Enquiry? Well, Mr MacDiarmid's great grandson has been in touch!

Hi Gordon: Well I may not be Hugh MacDiarmid's lawyer, but I am his great grandson, so I was intrigued to find reference to him in a casual search of the web. Can you tell me anything about him? Is there some history about him? His daughter Meta was my grandmother - I understand they lived in Island House, where my father was brought up. I have never been to Tiree and would love to come. Is Island house still there? Regards - James Dunford Wood

In the original blog I expressed the feeling that I had been a little sorry to have had to play Mr MacDiarmid as a bit of a rascal, a sleazy rascal at that. It turns out he was one of the 'good guys'. Just shows you what you can do with words. Although I was directed to play him in this manner I daresay I could have played him as exactly the opposite. I said in the blog that I didn't think Mr MacDiarmid's lawyers would be in touch - hence James' comment.

Anyway, I've put James in touch with An Iodhlann. James: thanks for getting in touch. I was really pleased to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wobbly Man

Ah, look at that smiling face. Doesn't he look happy, with his new 'Jog Scotland' t-shirt, presented to him just a short time before by coach Will Wright on the completion of his first set of resistance exercises?

What's not evident in this picture, taken late on Monday evening, is that my knees still had the wobbles after the workout. It's amazing what a break of two months will do to you.

There was nothing terribly difficult about Will was doing with me: lunges, press-ups, shoulder presses, that kind of stuff. But it really knocked the stuffing out of me. True, I'd come out of the bath something like 40 minutes before and that was possibly a big mistake. And true again, I hadn't had much to eat beforehand.

I was really surprised just how whacked I became half way through the session.

As everyone around here knows, however, I'd do anything for a t-shirt, even half-kill myself, all to add another to my inexhaustible supply of casual wear.

Only this piece of kit is not a cotton 't', it's made of fast-drying material, meant to be used in anger while training.

So I need to do these resistance exercises maybe three/four times a week for the next two weeks and then my young coach will check out my progress.

I'll be ready for him next time.

You may remember I told you also that Will had a look at my diet. So here's a summary of his recommendations based on my diet of the last seven days:
  • Go for wholemeal options

  • Increase carbohydrate content as you increase your training

  • You need a variety of protein sources. Increasingly important as training volume increases

  • Sparing consumption of saturated fatty foods. Swap for healthy essential fat options

  • Introduce more fruit and veg to your daily intake. Fresh and raw is the best. Think of ways to do this e.g. sandwich fillers, snacks, bowl of nuts, side portions, etc.

  • 2 litres of water per day - check you are drinking enough

I need to give this a lot of thought and a lot of planning.

The next day, Tuesday, was probably the most pleasant weather we've seen on Tiree in two months. The day was crisp and bright. So at lunchtime I took myself down to Crossapol beach for a 20 minute non-stop jog. It went very well. I kept to a very slow pace and purposely kept myself well within my former capabilities with the help of my heart rate monitor.

Of course today, Wednesday, I could hardly walk. In fact I had difficult coming down the stairs this morning. And this on the day when I was receiving several VIPs from my Council department.

Somehow I got through today and hopefully tomorrow I'll feel strong enough to really get in to my resistance exercises. impossible today.

Will tells me that it won't take me long to get back in shape. It certainly won't be a case of 'starting all over again'. And I'm actually enjoying investigating all the dietary advice he's given me.

Tonight it is rainy and windy again. I bought some new lights for Bikey. Bikey, modelled for you above by Joanne, is Brigitte's cousin. He's bigger and heavier and just the thing for winter riding. The front light has 5 LEDs and will scorch the eyes out of your head if you try looking directly into it.

I couldn't get the rear red light to work so decided to get out the screwdriver and use a little of the old Scott ingenuity to get it working. And broke it of course.

Another intense day at work coming up tomorrow. Please, please, let the weather clear a little soon. I've resigned myself to the idea that I have to go out and do some night riding but I need this weather to improve a little first of all.

By the way, Will has given me permission to reprint the 'Island Inspirations' articles here on the blog. Hopefully I will have this next time. Also I'll be telling you how the kids at Tiree High School will be monitoring.

That's going to make you laugh.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Hi folks. In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been and why I haven’t been blogging – well, to be honest, I don’t have a good excuse. I really a little weird just after the New Year. I can’t really explain it. Increasingly, I find December a bit tiresome. I know I keep on saying this but I hate all the over indulgence and I hate myself for giving in to it so easily.

Into the bargain I think that Stewart’s sudden death really shocked me and made me want to ‘shut down’ last week. So it was really just a case of going through the motions last week.

Apart that is from the day I went over to the surgery to get my medical before I start the ‘Island Inspirations’ programme.

The Doc and Will have something like six volunteers of different ages who will adopt a healthy eating and exercise regime. At various times our progress (or otherwise) will be noted and published in An Tirisdeach.

According to the computer-monitored breath test I have the lungs of a 31 year old. Shame about the rest of me, isn’t it? Seriously though, my results weren’t too bad. My cholesterol is a little high and my Body Mass Index – the amount of fat I’m lugging about with me – is way out of order. (I haven’t done any real exercise since completing the Half Marathon in October and that’s what I think is responsible for my weight gain.) My resting heart beat of 57 made me very happy and I did something like 100 step-ups in about three minutes and fifteen seconds, recovering well from the exertion. The Doc says my blood pressure is ok for my age but I’d like to see that down a bit as well.

So tomorrow I go across to Will’s house where he will present me with the programme he has made up for me. He will also take me through some of the exercises he wants me to do.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to reproduce the articles that appear in An Tirisdeach here on the blog. Stay tuned for that.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Stewart McLean

Stewart McLean, IT teacher at Tiree High School, died suddenly on Sunday morning.

Stewart, aged 49, was a great guy, a good friend and a generous soul.

The heartfelt sympathy of this entire island goes out to Stewart's wife, Les, and their children Dawn, Martin and Rowan.

Goodbye, mate. I'll miss you.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Adventure Show 6pm BBC2

FROM TODAY'S GLASGOW HERALD: Tiree is reputed to be the windiest place in the UK. As such, it has become to windsurfers what St Andrews is to golfers: every year, the Tiree Wave Classic sees the country's top competitors battle it out for supremacy. This show follows them through their crests and troughs.