Monday, May 31, 2004


I was tinkering about putting a few visits into my calender last night when I spotted this.

someone should perhaps tell Apple that this isn't a very polite way of "inviting" people...

Saturday, May 29, 2004


Late last night I pulled the car onto the drive, piled my bags into the house and returned to normal life after an incredibly intense two weeks away. I made notes as and when I could (which wasn't often) and they're being condensed into blog entries this afternoon - to start at the beginning and scroll up through them to the present day click here

Due to the nature of the blog posts are in reverse chronological order which might throw some of you at first, sorry about that, it might help to keep an eye on the little orange 'posted at...' time stamps as you progress up the page

The short version is that my face and forearms have caught the sun, I feel fitter than I have done in months and I'm buzzing with a sense of wellbeing, possibility and life with the volume up... oh that and I still have to unpack.

Friday, May 28, 2004

day 12

After setting in at Canna the Loch Nevis has finally delivered me safely ashore to Mallaig where I'm delighted by the sight of my car snugly waiting in his parking spot. I bundle baggage into the back, feel a whole-body grin as the turbo roars and we hit the A830 Trunk back toward Fort William.

It's going to be a long drive home and I know I'm going to relish every second.
About an hour ago I roused myself from the comfort of the common room at Kinloch and moved myself and my luggage here to the dockside. MV Loch Nevis hauled into view a few moments ago (late as usual, I gather) and soon enough she's gracelessly shuffling her unlovely black and white bulk alongside the jetty. The car ramp ups and downs a few times before settling, partially submerged, and after the outbound passengers have sloshed their way ashore we board. Warbling sirens and a railway-esque anouncement chime sound my departure from Rum.

The passenger lounge faces in toward two (mercifully muted) LCD monitors, both screening News24 (subtitled), I'm not ready for this yet - the flickering intrusions of current events can wait: I'll take off my glasses for now. I'd like to yearn for simply staying, but the change in the weather reminds me how ephemeral the island in the sun I've enjoyed this past week was.
As expected the spell broke last night and weather here has reverted to West Coast standard: blustery and driech. It's wonderful. I've packed, cleared the hostel room, checked the ferry times (2:00pm) and done a trial-run walk to the new pier. I had been planning to rush about Kinloch filling the remaining memory stick space with shots of this incredible place but the light's crap so instead I'm curling up in a squashy leather armchair with Full Circle and a cuppa. Still blissed out.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

day 11

Flaked out in my room for a while, woke to the sound of noisy lancastrian walkers nasally discussing the day's exploits. Enjoy not being responsible for the noise-makers. Make and eat supper chatting a little with some of the other hostellers before retreating to the empty reading room to read before bed. Castle is blissfully quiet.
Make the summit of Barkeval still in full sun having shed my shirt again (shuddup: there's nobody about to be offended by my blinding whiteness and it's too hot) The view (away from me!) is incredible. Unlike Hallival, this peak is too short (591m) to allow me to look over its siblings shoulders, but it's perfectly positioned to see almost the entire island spread out.

Max's mention of yoga this morning comes back to me and I realise that the only assna I know (a seires of stretches called the sun salutation) I've also never done out of doors facing the sun... the summit's largely flat too. Several repetitions later and I'm sitting in a rough approximation of the easy pose (lotus position subsitute for those of us not limber enough to bend like that) watching distant glimmers of sunlight sparkling off the bay at Harris about four miles away and almost six hundred meters down. A faintly wonky cuckoo (every third call comes out as "cuck-aieeu" as if his voice hasn't quite broken) rouses me to put my boots and tee-shirt back on and start to make my way down the hill.

I accidentally climbed Meall Breac (about 440m) easy mistake to make believe me... well OK maybe not if you're paying attention, but the view from up here is nice anyway.

Stop on my 'false peak' to contemplate the steep scree-lined sides of Barkeval and consult the Landranger about the best route up from here. Quietly and goodnaturedly curse self for not nicking one of the kids' Explorer series maps of the island.
Wave goodbye to half the party at the old slipway while the other half receed into the distance on another boat. The morning was a predictable struggle to get the stroppy teenagers organised, fed and down to the boats, the four of us staff each managed to get some down time throughout the morning. Max disapeared for an hour and returned announcing he'd been doing yoga on the freshly mown front lawn, and that he now loved everyone and everything. given the mix of kids on his boat (he's gallantly taking the worst of the bunch) I had to fight the urge to take bets on how many nautical miles that bliss would last.

Retire to the castle to shower before heading out to climb Barkeval. Calves ache like hell from yesterday but I reckon a light walk will smooth 'em out.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

day 10

Woken half an hour ago by our kids running riot in the halls. Regis and I unconsciously adopt a good-cop, bad-cop approach which works well and brings 'em reluctantly back into line and (eventually) to bed. Since I'm awake anyway I settle down to some over-due accounting with Max and end up setting the world to rights down in the reading room for as long as we can each keep our eyes open.
Returned to the castle, plan on falling into bed as soon as possible. Cold is receeding but slowly.
Engineered walking so that I'm bringing up the rear and manage to remain out of earshot of the whinging teenagers almost all the way back. Full sun and a light wind make for a thoroughly pleasent walk even if the last few miles on rough road are heavy going.
Woken by racket from the kids side of the bothy about 7:00am, haven't the enery for them so retreat outside into early morning sunshine, Max and Regis are way ahead of me both having spent most of the night outside, Anne follows suit shortly after me bringing me paracetamol and water - bless her!

Gurdil is almost unearthly beautiful this morning. The sky is cloudless, and Canna looks almost close enough to touch. Being so tangably remote and isolated first thing in the morning feels amazing - even compensates for the gnawing knowledge that I'm going to have to face the long walk back without a coffee.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

day 9

All raport with the kids has gone: I've a full blown flu-ey head-cold and feel awful, they're being harder than ever to deal with, and I just lost my temper with five of them for abusing my iPod which I've now withdrawn completely. Happily I really don't care - they're all now cooped up inside the bothy (by choice) and the four of us adults are sitting out by the fire watching the sun set slowly over Canna. I've taken pictures but I doubt they'll come close to doing it justice. This place is utterly breathtaking.
A worrying couple of hours and some fairly energetic yomping about looking for stray straggling members of the party have passed. Most of us arrived at the bothy mid afternoon and on the whole it's been great. We've now got a fire going and food on the way. For the most part the kids have no interest in the place beyond chasing the deer and throwing stones. *sigh*
Heavy going getting everyone ready for the bothy walk today, gripes and whinges all the way over. The walk is of course stunning - another cloudless day on Rum. Sore throat seems to have developed into a cold - happily I brought plenty of hankies...

Monday, May 24, 2004

day 8

Sat up for a short while after dinner with some great company and the remains of the Macallan. Dog tired but recovered from yesterday - feeling fit and ready for the walk tomorrow apart from a lingering sore throat.
Small groups today, doing short low-level walks. Rum is unbelievably remaining sunny and bright for us which together with the undemanding terrain and broken up groups made for a reasonable day with the kids. Collectively their mood seems to have soured pretty terminally though.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

day 7

Woke up felling very very dead

Today was wiped out completely by exhaustion. Stupid Patrick - tracking it back the last three days or so I've barely eaten, and yet been incredibly energetic, culminating in the Ceilidh last night (and well into this morning!) by 10:00am I was conscious enough to know that there was no way I'd make it to the foot of the stairs let alone up Askival. Idiot.

The worst part is that *everyone* is attributing it to a hangover and I didn't drink that much. honestly I didn't.

Spent pretty much all day in bed, managing around lunch time to fetch food and water upstairs which have brought me back to life somewhat. Note to self - when all day is spent excercising the polite "It's OK, I'll just have the vegetables" option on mealtimes is dumb.
Walked Anne back to the hostel before sprinting back once more to the hall and gassing with locals until sun-up, staggered into the hostel around 6:00am and fell into bed feeling very very alive.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

day 6

Capercaillie's Charlie hasn't weathered all that well. He looks old in that wiry drawn out way you expect to see puffing on a pipe in pub corners. Age might have wrecked his looks, but the guy's still a genius with the fiddle - his playing is unbelievable! I make some very rusty forrays into the world of ceilidh dancing. It turns out to be most unlike riding a bike, and in spite of knowing all the dances from University I botch every one. Then again, that's half the fun.

Later the dancing turns free form and much to the horror of the kids Max, Anne, Fraser and myself make utter spectacles of ourselves... To be fair the sight of Max flinging himself about the dancefloor in a blue tie-dye sarrong is probably more than the fragile teenage psyche was ever meant to bear, and I know that nobody should ever have to see me try to moonwalk (in my defence the floor was just too slippery not to give it a try.)

Sprinting between the hostel and the hall has also become a feature of my night - I've made two circuits already this evening at full tilt, once to herd up some stray kids, then again to grab my camera (pictures in the album - of the ceilidh not of me sprinting!) I'm a bit impatient when I'm enjoying myself...
The Ceilidh is tonight and (too late to keep Fiona from leaving) we've heard that amongst the band will be Charlie McKerron (the fiddler from Capercaillie.) should be a damned good show. Having been reunited with the lost half of his meat order, and Kinloch's wonderful kitchen, Max begins to play chef again (this time ably assisted by Fraser a visiting friend.) - I'd missed that too, though I could do with a veggie ally in the meal planning.
Ashore and unpacked in time to grab a cup of tea before we head out to climb Hallival. On the donkey track assent to Corrie Dubh, Anne and I reaquiant ourselves behaving more like giggling teenagers than the giggling teenagers - I've missed this friend!

Last year Max, Stan and I took two thirds of the group onto this formidable peak in dropping cloud, bringing all of them back down drenched and one idiotic kid (who'd repeatedly refused to don his waterproofs) mildly hypothermic! This year it's shirt-sleeve walking all the way up and while the last 100m or so of the assent is still a pretty heavy scramble (frightening going when the kids refuse to take it seriously) the views from the summit are breathtaking - I've attempted a panorama which should be in the photo album.

Coming down one or two of the most impossibly giggly kids manage to give themselves scares without actually falling - a relief and a half since it makes getting them down in one piece more likely. Anne and I have been behaving ourselves apart from the odd innuendo and our continued enjoyment of the fact that not one of the kids gets my 'Fruit Machine' tee shirt (it's from EuroPride last year, 'fruit' geddit?) which she finds hillarious.
Wake on the boat to discover our wee mutineer has not in fact frozen to death on deck, but all five kids are still determined to reach shore as soon as possible. We breakfast on a fry-up (or in my case a fried egg) and bring Bowen's interior to some semblence of order in time to see the Western Isles entering Loch Scresort with the rest of our party aboard. No chance of getting this lot back out to sea now.

Friday, May 21, 2004

day 5

One of the kids is refusing to come below in an attempt to force us into taking them all ashore, the others have settled down for the night and Charles (who knows this particular lad reasonably well from work anyway) has been up and settled a compromise - he's sleeping under the cockpit hood. I drift off to a fitful sleep woken repeatedly by yacht noises and the gnawing memory that we're due a frosty morning.
What a haul that was! all five of the kids got dreadfully seasick the moment we set out, not remotely aided by something nasty in the bilges causing a sulphurous smell whenever we were thrown about - none of them actually puked which is probably a shame - I gather it helps.

Charles, Charlie and I had a thoroughly enjoyable (if short) sail up the sount of Sleat and then over to Rum but the collective high point was a stop off the Point of Sleat in a remote and beautiful little bay called Camusdarrach (confusingly named the same as a much larger bay I know on the mainland) there are pictures in the album and believe me it was every bit as idylic as it looks - white sand, blue skies and a gently bobbing white yacht moored off the bay... There are times when I can't help laughing at the idea that this is supposed to be work.

We made anchor in Rum late afternoon but aren't taking the kids ashore much to their disapointment - the prospect of trying to separate them from the other group from our school who are currently here is just too daunting, and besides it's still and the midges will be out. Settle them down for dinner insted. Since I forgot to remind either of the Charleses of my diet, my supper is mash and peas, the others are having chicken too.
I've just enjoyed a terribly civilised hour's relaxed chatting with an extremely amiable colleague by the harbourside in sunny Mallaig - this morning I and five of the kids set out from Inverie on the early ferry to meet Charles who's taking us on another ferry over to Skye where our 'Rival 38' (rental) yacht Bowen and her skipper Charlie are waiting for us. The idea is that we take the Project for over-night sails in small groups, exploring the area by sea as the winds permit - Charles tells me that's likely to be Rum today which is a shame since that's where we're supposed to end up tomorrow and being there today limits the sailing we're likely to get in in the morning.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

day 4

Apart from having to wrestle two of the kids off each other today went pretty well. In the afternoon with the weather improving several of the kids asked to go swimming so Regis and I supervised as they dived into a suitable spot along the river from the hostel, cursed the cold, and jumped back out. Cutting a long story short, our sullen chip-toothed friend from yesterday was the only one of the kids not to take a dip and was (understandably, and pretty gently) mocked for this. Somehow that escalated into him laying blows on one of the other lads and me having to escort him back to the hostel.
Max arrived eventually, the rain stopped and all was well with the world. Regis sloped off after lunch for a well earned break while Fiona and I left Max to herd the kids back to the hostel. Walking down a hill with a very large wok on my shoulder in the sunshine is a pretty singular memory, but oddly enough it sums up this point in the project pretty well.
I'm squatting beside a fire in the woods getting smoke blown in my face. Fourteen tired and angry teenagers are grumbling behind me, and I'm cooking burgers that I'm not going to eat while being quietly but steadily rained on - anyone who thought Projects was a skive, these points are the work part.

The kids have spent the morning doing community service with the local forestry fella. This year he's had them pulling up rhododendron seedlings all morning with the promise of lunch over an open fire in the afternoon. One of us was with them at all times of course, the plan being that we'd swap over at intervals. Plans (Max's especially) being inexact things, it ended up that poor old Regis spent all morning with the kids, Fiona and I collectively found them after each making unsucessful attempts (which in my case included an hour spend walking up and down the hill following bad directions) and Max has yet to show up - It's this part that's making the teenagers angry: He has the bread without which these damned burgers are a bit useless.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

day 3

Thoroughly pointless day. One of the kids had a capped front tooth which fractured on the walk yesterday and about which he's made a big fuss. The solution decided upon was for he and I to miss today's walking (which I gather was a washout anyway - it rained a lot and they had to turn back) take the morning ferry to Mallaig, drive down to Fort William an hour away and have some emergency work done by a dentist there. This would have been OK if it weren't for the fact that said dentist took one look at the tooth and announced there wasn't actually anything he could do.

So today I got to spend all day with a stroppy teenager making vain attempts at engaging him in any kind of conversation and getting nowhere... on the bright side I did get to visit Nevis Sport and pick up some decent waterproof trousers, and of course the drive was fun.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

day 2

Wow. We made it, well most of us did... fear not we haven't lost any (yet) but Fiona and about half the kids turned back about lunchtime. Fair enough: the wind was whipping the rain hard at us and all of the heat fast away. However the conditions weren't impossible and with regular breaks in the cloud we decided to press on. I'm glad we did. While in the end we couldn't see more than 10m in any direction from the top, the sense of achievement was incredible and those kids who stuck it out and made it to the top aquitted themselves brilliantly.

Time for dinner and then a sleep - I gather I have a bit of a mad day ahead tomorrow.
First full day on Knoydart and it looks like we're in for a wet one. We're taking the kids up Sgurr Coire Choinnichean, which is a pretty gnarly 779m peak with a precipitous ridge walk. If those clouds keep gathering we might well end up turning back.

Monday, May 17, 2004

day 1

Woke at 4:30, after getting to bed around 2:00am... note to self don't leave packing to the last minute in future. By about 5:30 I was on the road, and by about Aidrie I was actually awake. Amazingly enough I coincided with the coach carrying the kids and most of the rest of the staff in Safeways at Fort William which allowed time for a civilised coffee break.

Rain dogged us up the coast to Mallaig and the scramble to get both groups split and on the right ferries with the right luggage was as expected a bit of a nightmare. Somehow half of our groceries, some of the safety equipment and Max's speciality cheeses and meat went to Rum instead of accompanying us to Knoydart, but I'm sure we'll survive.

Got some light orientation and map reading to sort out for the kids and of course settling in but it feels really good to be up here and 'away from it all', especially in such good company - should be a fun couple of weeks.

Setting the scene


'Projects' is a peculiar thing which has happened in the school I work for at this time every year for about three decades - there's even a book about it. The idea is that while the older kids have exams, the third year (aged 14-15) are taken away in small groups to experience the outside world.

In my case this year (and last) 'Projects' meant two weeks of hillwalking in the north west of Scotland, one week on Knoydart and one on the Island of Rum. My colleage and friend Max runs this project and another group mirror us, spending their first week on Rum and crossing over to Knoydart in the second week.

This year staffing the project together with Max and myself were Regis, Fiona and Anne. Fiona covered the Knoydart leg of the Project while Anne arrived to join us on Rum, the rest of us were there for the whole twelve days. I figure using the staff's first names is OK but obviously wont be making any specific mention of the kids individually, suffice it to say there were fourteen of them and a roughly even mix of boys and girls.

One other note is that I lifted my self imposed abstinence from alcohol for the duration since the reasons for it seemed unlikely to follow me there. Also I found last year that working 24/7 for two weeks is tough going, and a glass of wine at the end of the day really helps keep it from becoming a slog.

All of the entries from here up to Friday 28th were made from a combination of memory and notes, and were entered as back-dated blog posts on Saturday 29th - from Monday 17th I was effectively incommunicado with no access to the internet and barely any other form of commuication with the outside world.

Sunday, May 16, 2004


I'm all packed and ready to go! Where? Knoydart first and then Rum, I'm away for two weeks so check back here in a fortnight or so when (hopefully) I'll have started typing up the notes I plan on taking. until then though things are likely to be pretty quiet around here.

night all.

Friday, May 14, 2004


it seems that all my footering with buttons has broken the page a little bit for people using particular browsers (I forget which, but they're ones that people use) so I'll be trying to fix that but not today because I have things to do. sorry for the inconvenience but at least it's only the archives and button links that are busted so everyone can still read this rambling waffle.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

right up to the naughtiness

'parently I'm really quite a bad boy:

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)High
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)High

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

I don't do meme-ey things much - this one's Ros's fault... and I'm badder than her ;)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


The sun is shining, birds are singing, the Sixth Year are entirely absent (WOOHOO!) and all is well with the world.

Today's also my last day of normal work for a little over two weeks - Half Term started twenty minutes ago, (though I won't actually finish for another hour or so) I have tomorrow and Friday booked off as holiday, then on Monday morning I'm off for two weeks hillwalking on company time, not bad eh? I haven't figured out what happens blogwise with that - I'll probably keep an old fashioned paper journal and update from that when I return to civilisation... probably.

Meanwhile the sun is (as I said) shining and I'm in a really good mood.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

pretty colours!

Blogger very kindly re-vamped their corporate identity to be almost inline with my colour scheme (I still had to tweak the background colour on their button but it now fits right in) and I found a way to add comments and trackback through some very nice people called haloscan (via my mate Pete who's doing a revamp of his own) - the links are a little big just now because I can't remember how to make 'em smaller and bold but I'll get to that... meanwhile you can all now talk back to me, isn't that nice?

edit hm. seems that in some places my shiny new blogger button isn't shiny and new, the old one's persisting instead... also I've made a shiny new CC button that matches the new blogger one (and which seems to be working everywhere)... you're thrilled, I can tell.

Excrement deleted

Last night was shit. Literally.

There was a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms are good (not shit) I like them, but it seems that out where I live (which is the other side of a mountain range from where I work) the storm had been going all day.

Lots of water + tiny drains + house at bottom of hill...

I got home (having had a fab drive through the mountains in the thunderstorm) to find my house smelled of poo... and there was sewage coming in through the back door. Bad.

I opened the back door and discovered that a) my back yard was ankle deep in sewage and b) the dodgy drainpipe that Mr. Gap-toothed-maniac esq. figured would be a good way of removing waste water from my house (it is not, but that's par for the course with his ideas... more on that another time) was sagging off the wall... oh and at this point the heavens were still open so biblical quantities of water were still falling from on high.

I called the insurance company.

About two hours later (the rain had by now stopped) a very nice man arrived and started puzzling out the origins of the sewage - we discovered that it wasn't coming (as I'd assumed) from my partially collapsed drains at all (they're still water tight, they just don't look it) it was actually coming from the rest of the village ("great" I thought, "not only am I standing ankle deep in crap but it's other people's!")

About four hours after that I'd managed to clean the inside of the house and this morning I stayed home to clear the yard. I'm hoping to get a plumber out to quote on some work that should a) replace the stoopid Gap-toothed-maniac drainage with something stable and sane, and b) ensure that the next time the storm drains surcharge there's no way for it to get into my house!

footnote: I made it into work this afternoon to find amongst other things that the delightful Sixth Year had broken a stink bomb onto my desk as a going away present (their exam leave starts tomorrow: 'rah!) and I can't help feeling smug that for starters I wasn't here so they only stank out themselves, but better still it pales into insignificance in comparison to the stench I've been dealing with the past 24 hours! hah, take that stupid wormbabies.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


feeling good again today - the restorative effect of my Friday night wasn't (it seems) completely ruined. Plus I've spent most of it doing really productive little things around the house (like fixing skirting board and redecorating bits that needed it) which always makes me happy.

*Expletive Deleted*

**warning** - this entry is a bit of a rant and I swear in it, if that sort of thing offends then please don't read on

I just had a lovely evening out decompressing from the working week with some of my best friends, we saw a stupid film that I really enjoyed, ate chips from my favorite chipshop, hung out and chatted and then went to see the Improverts who were on blazingly good form... then (because I've been sleeping very little this week and was tired) I cried off from going to the pub and set off back to the car with Anita - two minutes up the road from Bedlam a group of kids from work passed us, one of the more evidently plastered of them "whispering" animatedly to the others "that's Mr. Robertshaw" (yes Moron, I have a life and you will occasionally see me outside school) I carried on walking and talking to Anita unphased until said pisshead brat yelled my name, twice at the top of his lungs in that idiotic teenage taunting tone they do... at that point part of me wanted very much to turn round, walk up to him and just tell him to fuck off because I'm not on the meter and so in theory I could...

Of course I didn't, I kept right on walking and ignored the little wanker but it made me angry (as you might have gathered) not because I dislike having my name yelled in public, though for the record my name is not "Robertshaw!" halfwit it's Patrick and you don't know that because you don't know me, no it made me angry because right at the end of my wonderful Friday night, all the very worst of my job was brought thundering back in on my own time!

little bastard!

I realise this is going to sound like I'm over reacting. Perhaps I am, but for three years almost every working day has been spent putting up with some fairly obnoxious spoiled-brat teenagers and their posturing priveledged little 'rebellions' mostly directed at me - the authority punchbag: my job requires me to be the 'bad guy' to these kids, to "maintain a quiet and studious atmosphere" and you can imagine how that goes down with a bunch of 17 year olds! However I have no real clout and they (being at the end of their schooling) are intent on pushing the boundaries of authority, so they prod me, I'm the point in the system they can push at the boundaries with. The result is that I'm treated by a significant number (not all*) of the sixth form with total and utter disrespect. They're just little things, but they add up and they wear at me because I can't react to them or get away, and very occasionally something like that happens and my least favorite part of my working life invades my private life.

What makes it all the more comical is that I also spend a lot of time at work one way or another arguing for us to treat S6 more like young adults and less like infants, I think much of my job is as stupid as they do but I don't make the rules and it is my job so I do it because that's what grown-ups do kiddies, we suck it up and get on with it...

-- deep breath --

say it with me folks: I need a new job!

*I must in all fairness point out that there are some genuinely lovely kids that I work with who manage to be teenagers and yet still treat me like a fellow human being, they and the rest of my life (which is wonderful) are what keep my head from exploding.

Friday, May 07, 2004


I just waited in a dingy little room for 45 minutes so that I could be stabbed in the arm. :( I hate blood tests.

Nothing serious I just might be anaemic, what I certainly am though is sore, I'm lucky enough not have been stuck by needles very often but when I have it's always been fine so long as I didn't look directly at it (seeing things sticking out of me that aren't supposed to be there makes me a little uncomfortable) this one however really hurt.

boo hiss.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


2 more jobs applied for today, and my next mailing list for the speculative application thing is coming on well - been feeling rather down on the whole job hunt thing recently (mostly I think because I got rather too invested in one particular possibility which went nowhere) but today I feel much better.

I'm also happy because some icky personal-life mess that I created for myself a couple of weeks ago, has finally started to be resolved in terms of my not losing a very dear friend (there's still the small matter of figuring out why I caused the mess in the first place but I'll get there.)

Tomorow I have plans with the Friday gang which involve Hugh Jackman, Chips'n'Cheese from the Clamshell, and the Improverts. Bliss! Then this weekend I have all sorts of energetic house stuff to play at so that should all keep me happy.

Lastly (but not leastly) in eleven days time I get to go hillwalking in two of the best bits of north-west Scotland for a fortnight and I get paid for doing it!

Life is good.

Monday, May 03, 2004

shhh, you'll scare it...

... looks like my email is finally back up and running, but keep it under your hat.

Saturday, May 01, 2004


So this is what my Friday night looked like this week, (thanks to Liz for the picture: she's got lots of them here but be warned they'll take a very long time to load unless you've got a fast connection - I foolishly left my camera in the car) obviously neither of those writhing flame-ey people is me, and I was really only a spectator... though that said the atmosphere meant that it was impossible to be there and not feel like part of the celebration, so 'spectator' doesn't really do it justice.

I was of course at the Beltane fire festival on Calton Hill. Beltane is one of four ancient Celtic/Pagan seasonal celebrations, and probably the biggest of them. Edinburgh has been hosting a big Beltane event for about 15 years now and the Beltane Fire Society's webpages are well worth a look if you'd like to know more. Basically it's a big party with lots of fire and a crazy costumed procession all held to welcome in the spring.

Like I said it was impossible not to feel like part of it. We (myself, Liz, Moya, Austin and Anita) arrived about half past eight and for the first 45min or so it seemed very much like we were just standing about on a cold damp hill in the middle of the city. All that time though more people were arriving, mostly people like us who'd just come to watch, but also an increasing number of marauding Red Men whose role at Beltane is to make mischief, as Moya and Austin found out first hand when they got separated from the herd at one point.

Pretty soon after 9 things started happening up on the Acropolis, three huge *cough* fertility symbols were set alight, and some tremendous drumming ushered in the start of the formal procession. About then I lost all sense of time and became completely immersed in the proceedings, the air positively crackled and sang with the fire, the drums, and what I can only describe as as positive charge.

I'm not really much for mysticism and really I went along to watch the spectacle more than anything. I found myself instead being soaked through with the energy that washed over the hill, and coming away with a bright burning sense of something new having begun.