Saturday, June 30, 2007

It Can't Happen Here ...

Well, folks, it just did happen here. I won't give you a full run down on the terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport this afternoon.

That's what Google's for.

This afternoon the official opening of the Scottish Parliament took place. One of the pundits, a guy called Dominic Diamond, was asked if he thought the security was a bit 'over the top'.

Dominic thought it was. 'Everyone likes us,' he said. No one would ever launch an attack against the Scottish.

I can see how he could be so complacent. During all of the Irish troubles and the bombing outrages on the UK mainland, Scotland remained untouched. But there were good reasons for that.

And again, I'm not going to go into that here.

Dominic's point of view - to be rendered absurd within hours, as it turned out - probably reflected the pop vox of the Scottish people. We felt safe. We felt secure. All the bad stuff happened in London.


And you know, I'll bet you the two guys involved in tonight's attack are Scottish.

It is happening here, my friends. Probably it happened at Glasgow Airport because it couldn't happen at Edinburgh. The Queen was at the opening. Security was extra tight.

But it is happening here. Be vigilant. And don't, for a moment, stop to think about how we became the target for these terrorists in the first place. That will really screw up your mind.

I found Gordon Brown's statement tonight refreshing. It was short and it was short on the dramatics we've come to expect from his predecessor.

I leave you with this thought: don't you think that the appointment of Tony Blair as the UN envoy to the Middle East is the most bizarre thing you've heard in many a day?

How Many Duckies?

Something I left out of my earlier blog was the number of duckies that went overboard. There were 29,000 of them. So the chance of finding one is quite high, I would have thought. My fascination with this story probably says a lot about me. There are only two places in the world I ever wanted to stay in. One was Tiree, the other was Sesame Street. The latter features a very big yellow bird. And please don't tell me there isn't any such place. My wife has tried that one and I didn't fall for it.

Rubber Duckies and Eating Worms

When I first read this on the 'net I thought it must be a hoax. But no: it is all true.

Back in 1992 a consignment of bathtub toys like ducks, beavers, turtles and frogs - fell overboard from a container ship en route from China to Seattle during a storm.

And oceanographers now predict that the duckies will wash up on the shores of southwest England, Ireland and western Scotland in the summer of 2007.

The duckies have been on an incredible journey having 17,000 miles, floating over the site where the Titanic sank, landing in Hawaii and even spending years frozen in an Arctic ice pack.

The toys have now faded to white so don't just be looking out for yellow duckies or green froggies.

So keep your eyes peeled the next time you take a walk on one of our lovely Tiree beaches.

And if you do find yourself tramping through a mass of washed up rubber duckies? Don’t worry: you don’t need psychiatric help.

Well, not necessarily, at least.

I forgot to mention that while I was away on my Inverness trip with Joanne I scored a lifetime first.

I ate a worm.

Well, it wasn’t really a worm. It was in fact a moth larva.

Mescal is a Mexican spirit. Very nice it is too.

What a lot of people in this part of the world find incomprehensible – even a little repulsive – is that this fine liquid comes complete with one of these larvae floating at the bottom of the bottle.

On my way back to Tiree we stopped into Shenanigans, the Tex-Mex restaurant in Oban. We had a fine meal and after it was over someone asked me if I wanted a drink to round things off.

I asked for Tequila. Well, I’d just had a Mexican dish so it seemed sensible. Then the manager of the place asked if I’d like to try her Mescal. And if I did, would I like the worm as well?

How could I resist?

Joanne couldn’t look. Some of the others in our party squealed. My mate Iain took a picture on his phone (which I still haven’t got).

To tell you the truth, it didn’t taste of anything. A bit chewy, actually.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

New Song: Canada


Today I have posted my new song, 'Canada'.

This song hangs on a running metaphor. The first verse is about me wanting to go to Ontario and see my running buddy, Scott Cameron. Then in the second verse the song recalls the people who were run off Tiree in the 19th Century.

It only lasts about two and a half minutes so why not give it a listen?

Click on the 'listen to my music' link, right opposite, near the top.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

SLIDE SHOW: Inverness June 2007 and Culloden Moor

Hello folks. Here I am back on Tiree after a quick visit to Inveness. The weather was mixed but by and large we really enjoyed ourselves.

I thought I'd try something new tonight. You should be seeing a slide show above, a short series of pictures I took while we were away. If you hover your mouse over the presentation you can see play/pause controls. If you double-click on the slide show you can enlarge the photographs to full size.

What you'll get it a series of random photographs I took while I was away.

Unexpectedly I took a trip to Culloden Moor, a few miles out of Inverness itself. I've never been a sympathiser of the Jacobite 'cause'. Like all the Royal Stuart family, Prince Charles Edward Stuart - 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' - was spectacularly bad at listening to good advice.

This family trait ultimately led to the slaughter - some would say execution - of thousands of clansmen on Culloden Moor on 16th April 1746.

As a recent song has it:

Oh tell me will we never hear the end
Of poor bloody Charlie at Culloden once again
He ran like a rabbit down the Glen
Leaving better men than him to be butchered

Culloden is an eerie and sad place, a testament to the abrupt termination of the Highlanders' tribal way of life. On the day I visited it was raining hard, somehow fitting.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Tiree 'Three Peaks Challenge' Team Update #3: FINAL

Message in from Will via text at 23:44:10 Sunday 17 June 2007:

Down and in sleeping bag. All done, no problem. Fantastic weather and amazing views. Plenty of pictures to show you, see you later.

Many congratulations to Will, Derek and all the guys from Tiree High School who took part in this great challenge.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Video Blog: Crossapol Beach 17th June 2007

Today has been a really good day. I got up early, run 7.6 miles. Then later on Joanne and I went for a walk in the surf down at Crossapol Beach. This is another beach on which I occasionally run but this afternoon we were intent on simply walking along in our bare feet, the sand between our toes, the water sometimes up to our knees. CLICK HERE.

Tiree 'Three Peaks Challenge' Team Update #2

10.50: The boys are motoring through Callendar in Perthshire on their way to Fort William. They are on schedule to begin climbing Ben Nevis this afternoon.

"The boys are back on home turf, let's finish this thing" - Will Wright.

Tiree 'Three Peaks Challenge' Team Update

My mates Will and Derek and a bunch of young people from Tiree High School are currently on the mainland undertaking a real test of endurance. They are taking on the Three Peaks Challenge.

The highest peaks in England (Scafell - 978m), Scotland (Ben Nevis - 1344m) and Wales (Snowdon - 1085m) pose a great challenge for anyone wishing to climb them in succession.

I contacted Will by text yesterday. At that time - 19.45 - the team had just arrived at a campsite near Carlisle. Scarfell and Snowden had been conquered. Today the team head back up the road to Scotland where Ben Nevis awaits them.

I'll give you more feedback as I get it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What's a few miles among friends?

Second blog of the day. I thought some of you might be interested to hear that I occasionally contribute to another blog. The title of this post is the title of the blog and you can find it at My contribution today is entitled Angels and Devils.

Monkey Mind

An overcast and colder morning here on Tiree. The weather is expected to get warmer in the afternoon, which is good. Joanne and I need to get out to the car and give it a clean out and freshen up in anticipation of our trip to Inverness on Monday.

I went for a run this morning on Gott Bay. There was a small plane parked on the beach almost opposite the Lodge Hotel. I've heard about small planes landing there in the past but this is the first time I've seen one there with my own eyes.

I'm really looking forward to this short break on the mainland. You may have sensed from my last blog that I'm a little 'skunnered' at the moment. Work was challenging this week but things ended on a high. That's great because now I can really enjoy myself next week with a clean conscience.

Inverness, Joanne and I go back a long way. We first visited there a year or so before we were married. Health and fitness wasn't on our minds then so much as hard partying and blowing the money I'd made in the summer vacation.

I was playing in a pop-funk band at the time and trying hard to be cool. One of my discoveries on that first visit was a little junk shop. In it I found a second hand copy of Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits, the double album with the white gatefold sleeve. When I took that back home and played it to my trendy friends most of them just didn't get it. At that time Roy was definitely not 'cool' and they couldn't figure out where I was coming from.

I still have that album somewhere. Long ago I bought the CD version and every now and again it gets played.

For the rest of this morning the plan is to go to the Post Office and then go for something to eat. Maybe at An Talla. A nice couple we know, Mark and Fiona, have established a cafe at the hall and they serve some tasty food. I've mentioned this before, haven't I?

When I am away in Inverness I will make some videos and post them when I get back.

Because it wasn't such a great week for me I've fallen behind in my training schedule. I should have run 14 miles up to and including tomorrow, Sunday. So far I've managed to put it 3.8. That's still 10.2 to go, isn't it? I always was hopeless at mental arithmetic.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mary Stewart (among other things)

A couple of days back there was a posting in 'comments' asking if the rotting ship in Scarinish was still there. At the time I couldn't remember the name of ship. It came back to me in a flash last night as I was driving towards Scarinish - it's The Mary Stewart, of course. Thanks to Janis who also posted the name in 'comments' and also reminded me of Jim Murdoch's brilliant Tiree site, Not only can you see a photograph of what remains of The Mary Stewart many other great pics from the 'sunshine isle'.

Sunny it certainly has been this week. This morning as I write it's a little more overcast. But the weather has been wonderful.

I know I'm getting on a bit: when talking about the weather I have actually started saying to people, "this is the kind of summer we used to get when I was a child".

Next week I am on holiday. I am heading up to Inverness with Joanne. Joanne is really enjoying her new job and she has to go up to Inverness for training. I thought to myself, what the heck, I'll come with you.

I haven't been in Inverness for a few years. It's a great place and I'm looking forward to having a bit of a wander about, take in a few sights, do a little running. I may be able to blog if I get to an Internet cafe (do they still call them that? And while we're on the subject of the current name for a similar thing, what's the difference between a 'disco' and a 'club'?)

It's always the same when a holiday beckons: the days at work beforehand drag and you'd rather be anywhere else.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Niall and Beth

Niall MacLeod (son of Ian and Fiona MacLeod who own the store in Crossapol) and his new wife Beth at the Winnock Hotel, Drymen, Scotland, 1st June 2007.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Where I Run

Good morning from the beautiful Isle of Tiree. Here's a short video I made at about 07:00 this morning. Courtesy of Phedippidations I have running buddies all over the world. I thought they might be interested to see my 'running track' - or at least the one I ran on today. The birds were singing, the seals were talking to each other, the sea was a flat calm ... yes, it doesn't get any better than this. CLICK HERE,
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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Been there, got the t-shirt.

Sorry - did I forget to mention my participation in the 2007 Boston Marathon? How could I forget? I've had so much on my mind lately ...

As my niece, Rachel, recently said to me, 'Aye, right!'

Last week I got a load of stuff in the post from my friend, Scott Cameron, over there in Guelph, Ontario. Scott did run in the Boston Marathon and, in horrible conditions weather-wise, he put in a stunning time. Before the race I cracked a deal with him: if he sent me a t-shirt from the 111th Boston Marathon I would send him a t-shirt from the 2nd Annual Tiree 10k.

Well, I got my t-shirt ... and more! Going through that package felt like Christmas had come early. There was the t-shirt but there was also an enamel pin bearing the BM logo, a Canadian flag pin, an official program, a media guide, notebook, editions of the Boston and Guelph papers that had reported the race and other bits and pieces too numerous to mention.

What a great guy!

Unfortunately, there's a slight delay in getting the 10k t-shirt back to him (and to another friend, Janis, who lives in California): the number participating this year far exceeded last year and Will simply ran out of shirts (as well as medals!). So, a new batch is being prepared and should be here soon. Thanks for your patience, Scott and Janis.

Still on the subject of running, the Coll Half Marathon is going ahead this year. The event takes place on 25th August. A 10k and a 5k are being run on the same day and I'm going for the 10k this time around. The way my training schedule is working out I won't be ready to run a half marathon until October - the 2nd Annual World Wide Half Marathon. I was delighted, therefore, to see that there are shorter races.

Also in October I'm taking part in the Baxter's Loch Ness Marathon but again I'll be taking part in the subsidiary 10k race.

What a glorious day on Tiree. The temperature is somewhere between 14.5 - 15 degrees centigrade, there's a slight northerly breeze, not a cloud in the sky ... anyone would think it's summer!

I am working from home today and went for a run on Balephetrish beach at lunch time. Just marvelous.
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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Up The Elelphant's End

Last night we were in the Elephant's End (a local eating establishment, I should point out). This is me. Joanne and the 'guys' from work. Who's a lucky boy, then?

Airman's Blog

Here's an interesting Tiree-related newspaper story, featured in today's Sydney Morning Herald - CLICK HERE.