Thursday, December 25, 2008
Unusually for me I've not been very keen on going near the computer lately for anything other than catching up with the latest edition of Apparitions on BBC iPlayer. As a rule, my laptop is always within easy reach but not for the past couple of weeks. Maybe there's just too many other things on my mind at the moment: the upcoming Defenders gig, Everest Base Camp, all that kind of stuff. Or maybe I've hit the wall when it comes to writing blog posts.
I think in 2009 I'm going to try for a change in format. For one thing, I'm thinking of putting together a podcast about my running, preparation for the Trek and just generally about life on my life on Tiree. I also plan to put a lot more videos online.
I hope Santa was good to you all. My main two presents were a new pair of Saucony Progrid Triumph 5 running shoes and a new Shure SM58 microphone to be used on stage and in my home studio). Santa baby, you are one cool dude.
So have a great day, folks, and I hope to be in touch soon with news of the format changes.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Today I had intended to put up posters for The Defenders gig but that's not going to happen.
But I can announce that that the gig will be on 2nd January at An Talla. Further details when I have them.
I suppose it's better to have been ill now rather than a couple of weeks down the line when the gig is approaching. At the moment I am aiming my sights on being ready for our first full-scale rehearsal on Sunday night. Andy, our drummer, is back with us and the four of us are really looking forward to making some real noise together.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Anyway, this is a map of the route my Everest Base Camp trek will be taking in April. Looks fairly simple, doesn't it? It's described in the KE Adventure Travel website as 'medium difficulty'. The real challenge, as I see it, is altitude. By the time we climb to Kala Patthar for the best view of Everest the group will be at 18,192 feet, or thereabouts.
Training on an island nicknamed 'the land below the waves' for the effects of altitude is, of course, impossible. The way I understand it we will be acclimatising gradually so that hopefully no one will suffer from altitude sickness (also know as acute mountain sickness). I need to study up on this so that at least I'll know what's happening to me if and when I am affected.
Talking of adventure travel, I was sorry to hear poor old Ben Fogle had been so ill. I like his Extreme Destinations show. Apparently it was while recording the latest series that he got bitten by some flesh eating bug. Glad to report that he seems to be on the mend now.
In other news: it looks like The Defenders comeback gig will be on January 2nd, 2009. At least I think this is what Bruce told me. We all want it to be so right. Rehearsing without Andy, our drummer, who is at university in Glasgow, is difficult. He should be home soon for the holidays, though, and we hope to get intensive rehearsals underway.
I'm excited and challenged by the fact that I will be playing guitar through the entire gig. Like most electric guitarists, I just can't seem to get the 'right' sound out of my amplifier just at the moment but I'm working on it. Of course, I just can't wait to strap on my new telecaster and play it in front of a live audience.
It's very difficult to get your sound together in a domestic dwelling. You never really know how things are going to sound until you are in the venue and you really crank up the volume and make some noise.
Friday, December 05, 2008
An early morning call from Fifi this morning to ask if I wouldn't mind giving her a hand to muck out the byre. No problem. I know this stuff is really a bit of a chore to the crofting folks on Tiree, a way of life, nothing special; but to me it's all a bit of an adventure. Fifi was going to be late arriving so I went in, moved the calf from one pen to another and got on with it. By the time Fifi got there I had nearly finished.
I may have said this before but I feel like I've finally discovered my vocation in life and it's shovelling s***! I really seem to have a knack for it.
Thereafter I came back home and installed a new light fitting in the living room without electrocuting myself or setting fire to the house. Seriously, it was one of those fiddly jobs but I got there in the end. More of this type of job tomorrow.
You may be surprised to hear that I still haven't finished off the new drive. There isn't all that much to do. We were going well until the guys came to put in the new kitchen. We kind of stalled after that and there's no excuse for not getting it done other than that the weather hasn't been all that great recently. But we have couple of days of grace, weather-wise, so ...
We brought a lovely Christmas tree back from the mainland. Really, I'd say it's the nicest real tree we've ever had. We put it up in the stand today and Joanne has begun the work of decoration. I usually leave all that to Jenny and Joanne. I just don't have the eye for it. When it's finished I'll post a photograph.
Anyway ... 'Celebrity' has started. Got to go!
Gordon D. W. Scott
Twitter ID: gdwscott
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Oddly enough I didn't have to scrape the windscreen this morning even though I was up and out the door at 05.25. The weather was strangely mild and the temperature was up. I had expected to spend at least 15 minutes getting the car ready to move but it just wasn't the case and we got down to the pier in good time for the boat.
I was glad to see my cat, Connie. She was glad to see me too. Well, I suppose she was glad to see the others too. She had missed us so much, it was easy to see. She has done nothing apart from crave our attention all afternoon.
Yesterday morning I went for a walk while Jo was at the hairdressers. I took the picture of that vessel and Oban Cathedral at about 11 in the morning. It was a lovely crisp day. I was surprised to see so many tourists still in town. Hardy souls, they were out walking the esplanade and enjoying the views in the harbour and of the snow capped hills on Mull.
I got a 'tweet' the other day from a lady who lives in France by the name of Lesley Graham. She tells me that she went to Cornaigmore School until she was ten years of age. Lesley gave me the name of some of her childhood friends and I'll be looking them up for her and saying 'hello'. Talk about 'a small world'!
Monday, December 01, 2008
I've spent the morning buying some kit for Nepal. Gaiters, extra laces, thermal long-johns, this and that. Reality is starting to bite. Even today, here, on holiday, I must try to get some training of some kind in. Oban has not one but two excellent sports facilities so one of them be visited by yours truly in the course of the day.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I have promised myself this year - again - to try not to be such a scrooge and get some kind of enthusiasm for the impending season of goodwill. Like many people I know deep down within myself that this whole Christmas malarkey has turned into an orgy of greed and spending. As much as I enjoy getting presents there is definitely something very unsettling about one feels one has to rather than one really wants to.
While in the Co-op yesterday I spotted a Christmas wreath. I thought to myself 'well, we've never had one of them before' so I bought it and stuck it on the front door. Yes, I know, it's not even December. My daughter has already pointed that out to me. But at least I'm trying.
It's good to get verbal communication with my daughter, Jenny. Although we live in the same house we seem to spend a disproptionate part of our time communicating with each other via the internet. It's true. Only two days ago I emailed her to pass on that he dinner was ready. On the downside, Jenny only found out I was going to the Himalyas when she saw me talk about it on the social networking site Twitter.
And so we look forward to a few days away. A change is as good as a rest, as they say. And it will be nice to see the Christmas displays in the shops and the streets.
On this note I was saddened to hear about the demise of Woolworths. I remember as a kid in Wishaw looking forward to going to Woolworths to check out the latest plastic and tin tat from Japan, ie., the toy section. In fact I can't understand why Woolworths do so badly: for the past ten to fifteen years they have been selling excellent products. Problem is, I suppose, you can get all their stuff plus the groceries in the likes of Tesco, etc.
A pox on homogeneous high streets. I shall no doubt come back from this trip a poorer and no wiser man.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Disappointment of the week is not to have been able to be in Wishaw tonight for the reuinion of my nursing class. Things just didn't work out, the Scott family diaries couldn't be made to coordinate so I've had to forego seeing all my old buddies again. I've sent them a message by text tonight to say that although I cannot be with them I am with them in spirit.
We can't get off the island until Sunday. Time to do some serious Christmas shopping. Well, at least that's how Jo and Jenny will look at it. I've nearly done all my seasonal shopping online. God bless Amazon.co.uk.
Tonight Jo is out with friends. Jenny is upstairs. To all intents and purposes it's just me, the cat and the TV.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I thought you might like a look at this video. When I go to Nepal in April I will initially land at Khatmandu. The next day I have to take an internal flight to Lukla, where the trek really begins. But hold on - this is one of the most mental aiports in the world. Count how many plans come and go in the space of four minutes on a single airstrip measuring about 500 metres in length. Should be quite a ride!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Boy, was it cold as we made our way up to Ben Hough and scrambled around looking for paths and tracks to take us on to Hough Beach and back to our cars at Balevullin. I'd decided to turn up in running slacks and thought I'd made a serious mistake until we got going. But running shoes and pebble strewn beaches do not mix, take it from me.
We were scheduled to walk for an hour but it actually took as an hour and a half to get back to the cars. Thankfully, it stayed dry.
That's the way to start a Saturday morning. Good company, good craic and a bit of a healthy trek. Looking forward to the next outing already.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
My reunion with my old nursing pals is scheduled for sometime at the end of the this month. My old mate Davy emailed me with all the details tonight, minus the date when the great event is due to take place. Urgent emails have been sent off.
Very much on the plus side is the news that I have decided - finally - to trek of Everest Base Camp sometime in April 2009. I'll tell you all about this later. I think it will be the main focus of my blogs for the months to come.
Rehearsals with The Defenders are going well. As well as they can go when you consider our drummer is at University in Glasgow. We're getting it together though and really enjoying being back together again. I'm much more into playing guitar this time and I think this incarnation of The Defenders - a four piece this time - will be strong and powerful. Anyway, we hope to play our comeback gig early - very early - in 2009.
Yesterday, Andy Next Door came over and laid our new kitchen floor. What a heroic effort he put in! Honestly, if I'd worked as hard as Andy did yesterday I'd take the rest of the week off doing anything. The new floor looks fantastic. Andy put in a twelve hour shift in our house and he's the kind of guy you can't offer money to. We'll think of something..
Today I got up early and re-installed the washing machine, dishwasher and tumble dryer. After I dropped Jenny and Jo off to work I met up with my running buddy Fifi for a three mile walk. Then it was back to the house to put everything else back into place, dust up yesterday's stoor and get on with the general housework. A busy and yet a fulfilling day.
Sometimes it's enough just to have enough to do.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Actually, I managed to rescue my documents, music and videos by transferring what I could on to my iPod and other removable storage devices. But what to do about the laptop? I put off phoning Dell for a couple of days while I pondered the dilemma.
Then it came to me: why not install an open source operating system?
You see, many people believe that if you run a PC it has to run on Windows but it's not true. There's a completely free open source operating system out there called Ubuntu. I went to their site, downloaded the operating system (about a quarter of the size of Vista), installed it and - Bob's your Uncle.
The only gripe with Ubuntu so far is that the procedure for downloading software is incredibly complicated compared to Windows. But then, I have resolved to do as much 'cloud computing' as possible - use online applications rather than downloading them to my computer. I also intend to become better at backing up purchases and other important stuff. And what have I got to complain about? This stuff is free and it works!
Monday, November 03, 2008
HMS Sturdy was wrecked during a severe gale on the coast of Tiree on the night of 30th October 1940. Sixty-eight years later to the day, Lt. Cdr. Michael. J. Gibson RN RD (Retired), whose father, E. J. A. Gibson, was the Engineer Officer of Sturdy, revisited the site of the disaster.
HMS Sturdy was on passage on the night of the 30th October 1940 to meet an incoming convoy, when she ran into severe gale force conditions that drove her several miles off course and onto the west coast of Tiree.
During the gale Michael’s father was caught by a wave that smashed him against one of the engine room ventilators, breaking his knee.
The ship was driven onto the rocks and broke in two. An attempt to launch the sea boat was made. This resulted in its immediate destruction, sadly with the loss of its crew who were drowned.
On shore the event was noted and a Merchant Navy Captain, on leave and living nearby, managed to communicate with the ship by Morse light advising the crew not to attempt to leave the ship until daylight. This advice was followed.
Michael understands that another destroyer, leaving behind a salvage party, picked up the crew of Sturdy. Meanwhile his father was taken to Oban cottage hospital from where he and his mother received word of what had happened. They set off for Scotland as soon as they could. Apart from a fractured kneecap, his father was in good order.
Michael was dispatched to Tiree to see if I could recover any of my father’s belongings.
“I remember the hospitality and consideration that I received. I was treated as a guest, put up at the local hotel and transported out to the wreck site.”
An indication of the force of the gale was that the bows of the front section of the ship were actually in the grass on the shore. The stern section was about 40 yards off shore and only accessible by breeches buoy.
Through his father, Michael was well known to the crew of HMS Sturdy.
“The salvage party were pleased to see me and looked after me well. I recall some people who lived in a nearby cottage who had collected all the personal belongings that they could find and were holding them carefully against collection by the owners. I did collect some bits from them. I left Tiree with a great deal of respect for the considerate and concerned hosts and pleasant memories after an otherwise sombre visit.”
The survivors and relatives of the crew of HMS Sturdy still remaining would like to place on record their gratitude and thanks to the people of Tiree for the help, assistance and compassion shown and given to them in their hour of need. To this end, a memorial plaque is planned, perhaps as part of a small cairn.
But where should the memorial be located? At Sandaig, where the Sturdy ran aground? If so, should it be near the beach or by the roadside? Or should it be established in Scarinish? Michael is anxious to hear what the people think about the appropriate location for the memorial. Please contact him at email@example.comHMS Sturdy was an Admiralty “S” Design destroyer completed in 1919. She was 1,075 tons displacement and armed with 3 x 4 inch guns and 4 x 21 inch torpedo tubes. At the time of her running aground, she was on the way to escort Halifax/UK convoy SC8. The five men who died were Leading Stoker A. Trahearn, Able Seaman P. R. Cornford, Stoker 1st Class T. W. Cowler, Able Seaman F. Greenshields and Ordinary Seaman J. H. Rivett.)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Another surprise email last week, this time from my old friend Davy. Davy and I attended Nursing college together and he wrote to tell me that it was now 25 years later. He and some other folks from our class were talking about a reunion, and would I be interested in coming 'down' to Lanarkshire for it?
It took me about three seconds to decide. Of course I would! I am so looking forward to seeing everyone. Nursing is one of the most challenging disciplines there is to work in and, as student nurses, we all went through a lot together. Our experiences were exhilarating, heartbreaking in some cases and personality building. We all went into that job as who we were and came out the other end someone else. Hopefully, we all emerged better people.
Having said that I eventually switched from working in the NHS over to Social Work and I think it was the right decision. Social Work suited me better and I eventually built myself a reasonable career. And, of course, it was through working with the Social Work Department that I came to be on Tiree.
Things have a habit of working out. As the old Scottish saying goes, Whit's fur ye will no go by ye.
The reunion is scheduled for sometime in late November.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I received a nice email last weekend. It was from a chap in Maine, in the US.
In 1974 I was a bartender at the Ceilidh Grille somewhere near Cornaigmore. The owners were Flloyd and Donniel Kennedy. Unfortunately after I left for school in late August the place burned down. Flloyd and Donniel moved to Langbank but I heard that Donniel later moved back to Tiree, where I believe he died, perhaps during your time there. Anyway, I was wondering if you knew Donniel, if you know the old Celildh Grille building (or ruins) and if you can fill me in on any other missing things I should know about. I enjoyed my time on Tiree and would come back if it weren't so darn far away from Maine (a direct flight would be nice). Bruce
The bizarre thing about this is that I have lived on the site of the 'Grille' since 1994. The rebuilt house bears no resemblance to that in which Bruce worked, it's true. But I have it on good authority that my living room is where the dining room was situated. I replied to Bruce immediately and boy, was he surprised when he realised that I was writing to him from the very site!
We've since had a very interesting email correspondence. Bruce has enjoyed catching up on what's happening on Tiree and I've enjoyed his reminiscences of what Tiree was like, some 20 years before I arrived here.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
When I finished the Loch Ness Marathon recently I took a seat on a bench while one of the volunteers removed the timing chip from my right running shoe. Obviously, I am no spring chicken and when she found out it was my first marathon she said, "So, was this one to tick off the box before - " There she halted, knowing she was about to put her foot in it. I laughed. "Well," I replied, "I haven't got any ideas to die any time in the near future but yes, you're right, it's something I've wanted to do for a long time."
Today I drew up a list of things I'd like to do before I die. Probably, some of you will suggest adding 'see a psychiatrist'. I don't know where this late-in-the-day notion for adventure has come from. I think it's definitely got something to do with the realisation that I am, in fact, mortal and that it's time to get my skates on.
Skates. Now there's an idea. I never did try skating ...
Here's my list:
- Trek to Everest
- Tour Europe in a camper van
- Walk to the top of Aonoch Mor
- Another Marathon or an Ultra-marathon (that’s anything over marathon distance, usually a minimum of 30 miles)
- Cycle 100 miles in a day
- Rock Climb
- Sky Dive
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Once again it's blowing an absolute hoolie outside. How long has this been going on? Days and days of it. My new drive is still unfinished but I can't bring myself to go out there and start shovelling gravel. I foresee a day in front of the telly, watching repeats on the Discovery channel, or pottering about in the kitchen.
'Where does he get all the leisure time?' I hear you ask. Well, fact is, since last I wrote to you, I have taken early retirement and so now my days are my own. I'm almost 53 and I'll never be rich but you know what? Money isn't everything.
Jo soldiers on. She's had a really bad knee for months now. We were down in Glasgow on Monday so she could get the thing x-rayed. Turns out she has osteo-arthritis. In a weird way my physical fitness is improving all the time while hers gets worse. At least now we know what is wrong with her something can get done about it.
The island is returning to some kind of normality now that the Wave Classic has come and gone. Maybe it's just me but this event seems to get better with every year. Using An Talla as the event HQ is an inspired idea. I find most of these guys really nice and up for a good time. Of course, you meet the occasional prat but that's life.
The big talking point in An Tirisdeach just now is beach access. A lot of the crofters are upset about the damage done to the machair by tourists' vehicles trying to get as close to the shore as possible. It's a real dilemma because the beaches here are such a tourist draw. More later.
I recently fulfilled a long term wish and finally bought myself a Fender Telecaster. For the uninitiated, this is an electric guitar made by the Fender company. This particular model has been in constant production since 1950. It's white and a delight to play. I've been jamming with Bruce, Iain and Andy and it looks like there will be a Defendersgig before the end of the year. In this manifestation we will be a four-piece band.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
As of tonight, my blog is back online. We have a lot of catching up to do! Over the next few days I'll fill you in on what I've been up to since my 'Leave of Absence' post. In the meantime I thought I'd let you know that on October 5th 2008 I took part in and finished the Loch Ness Marathon. I covered the 26.2 miles in a net time of 5 hours 26 minutes and 31 seconds. Here's a video with my finish appearing towards the end. Dig those crazy compression socks!
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Hi folks. Well, at last I have my laptop back but unfortunately it's still not working so great. But in any case, I've decided to take a little leave of absence from blogging. To be honest, I don't know blog about right just now. Also, there are some other life issues I'm working out at the moment and really that's what's taking up my full attention. (I hope that didn't sound too mysterious!) I will be blogging some time, though, so keep those 'Google Alerts' registered. In the meantime, if you are reading this for the first time and don't live here on Tiree but have question you'd like to ask, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to answer - either that, or put you in touch with someone who can. Cheers for now.