Waistline – December

Fruit Scone

The days are flying by now, with not much daylight to soak up. Calories seem to be double their normal value and the waistline is feeling it. As if there’s a symbiotic link between winter and summer. I find myself craving them more, with temptation around every corner. The daily chocolate treat from the advent calendar isn’t helping. Comfort eating!

Today’s coffee comes to you from the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow, served with a fruit scone. Interestingly, there’s a whole bunch of mixed peel thrown in, giving them a Christmas feel. Rain Town doesn’t disappoint, with its full-on downpour making our Byers Road visit a little miserable.

Despite our son due home in the next week or so, we’ve come through to mark another year. Lunch at the Bothy, a lovely restaurant hidden away up a side street. We arrive just before 1 pm, and it’s still quiet. We are attended to quickly as a consequence, which is fine—I’m hungry. A nut roast, a feather blade, and two fish and chips. Not all for me! The blade is succulent and served with a robust gravy, a marked improvement over the Christmas lunch I had with my team the other day. It seems to be the time of year when mental notes are made, another here, not to do the conveyor belt meal again.

For dessert, we decide to go to the café across the road where we can never get a seat, Kember and Jones. They offer an excellent selection of cakes. It is a birthday, after all. Two Double chocolate cakes, a lemon and almond and a pistachio and rose water. Served with a cup of tea and presents back at his flat.

I’m starting to get the feeling there are only really two weeks left of the year—a sinking feeling, a reminder of all those things I wanted to get done. I need to look over the photographs and remind myself of the positives. I need to forgive myself for the things I didn’t manage and celebrate the things I did.

In the last few months, I haven’t been around much; weekend writing just hasn’t been an option. My father-in-law moved into a care home, and as a consequence, at his request, we’ve been closing down his home, moving furniture, and decorating. Along with the day job, I’ve been writing in the background, trying to organize myself. There has been the odd posting on Substack, a daily picture on instagram for advent. Alongside navigating my way around better systems, all under the guise of slow productivity.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Carn Dearg and Sgor Ghaibhre!

A wake when we wake kind of morning, but knowing we need to get on the road. Surfaced around 5.45 bleary eyed, a few aches and pains from not being in our own bed and in the camper van. A cold September night needing more clothing than needed during the day.

We camped at Blair Atholl Castle, a place to rest our heads and mainly to save us the long drive. Yet we still had an hour drive to go, single lane, winding roads that follow the loch. We see a heard of deer and startle a stag. Both majestic and very scary especially if we’d come across them in the middle of the road.

We make it to the crossroads I was aiming for around 7.30ish. There’s one guy and another couple setting off. The couple setting off are down the road already heading to the station. The single guy, has a Brompton bike, in his shorts very light rucksack and wafer thin cagoule. Also looks like he’s slept in his car. He’s away already, a quick hello. We feel well and truly late to the party despite the early start. I wonder one day if I’ll be the guy who sleeps in the car park without amenities, good to go at first light.

We stick to our routine, our muesli, coffee, boots….sky check, rucksack load. Check the van, and start. My wife gets a good head start on me as I faff with the Garmin that sits on my bike. There is a good 7 miles to go and last thing I want to do is make a fatal wrong term. Eventually I get the thing to work and I catch her up. The cycle a great track…definitely not suitable for a Brompton bike….but he’s made it to the first ford well before us. We see it stowed behind a rock.

Leaving the bikes at this point isn’t our route and I do a double check on the map….hmmm. Straight up from here which makes sense and fair play to him in terms of steepness. My route though is the one that got away, the one from Corrour station, more a gradual hike up. We want something from the well trodden path. We hit a couple more Fords, thankfully nothing like the first where I had to jump and lift the bikes.

We make the connection with the original route for 10, 10:30.

It’s boggy, I feel my boots are already laden with water within the first 15 minutes. The small path is more a little stream with little avoidance of any damp by having bog either side. It’s part of the walking, I get on with it and breathe. The mist is swirling and it’s going to be one of those days where it’s unlikely to lift. Another day of not seeing the tops. We stop for our first roll just after 11, a rock of requirement presents itself. We are close to the top, and can feel the wind getting stronger. The egg and smoked salmon roll in the dry is a both a spirit and energy booster that we needed.

The first Munro, Càrn Dearg is in the bag around 11:30 and it’s a great top. Folk have a made a real effort with the cairn! There is no view to stick around for and we crack on. A mentle nod to myself that if we make it for 2 at the next one, we will be winning the day.

It’s a gentle walk down to the 750m above sea level mark, before the climb starts again. We get moments of visibility. A glimpse of what we could of won. A pocket of space in the clouds. There’s a call for another roll about 100m from the top. I suggest another 20 mins before we do and we carry on making it to top for what feels like 1.30pm. We finish our rolls, pleased with progress.

Amazed to hear voices coming up the way from the opposite direction. It feels like they are more amazed to see us, than us them. They haven’t seen a soul all day. We exchange stories for a couple of minutes and then leave them to top.

Our pain starts there, quickly we discover the route down is pathless. Either lots of heather or boggyness. I try to shave off the route, cutting corners here and there, my watch getting grumpy with me. There is no path anyway so taking an as the crow flies kind of approach. Fortunately the river we have to cross has enough boulders above the water to hop across. The short cut could have been costly! Then a long flat walk before finding a path that takes us back to the bikes.

Amazingly we meet the party we saw on the 2nd top. A slight hobble on one of the walkers and I feel for her as my knees are twinging away. Ten miles uneven mountain walking can do that to you. They still have a good forty minutes and we have a good fifty minutes of cycle along with 3 fords and the hours drive.

Dinner isn’t booked, but we hit the Athol arms around 18:30. It’s busy and we are just grateful there is someone to take care of us. The menu feels a little large, a jokey vernacular that supposed to appeal to the tourists. I take the special, Venison burger which fills a hole.

A good day out, despite the weather.

These Munro’s are in the middle of Rannoch Moor, and as there are no roads in the normal starting point is Corrour station. Which we attempted in April. Blue sky one day, only to be thwarted by snow the next! We got them this time though.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Dovecot – Art Perception

Dovecot Studio
Dovecot Studio – Edinburgh

A little culture this weekend, my mum is in town, and has finally made it since the pandemic. Beating the lottery of rail strikes and our hectic weekends.

There’s an exhibition down at the dovecot studio, an amazing place of both history and creativity. Once a place of exercise and well being, the first public baths to be built in Edinburgh back In 1885 and in use for approximately 100 years. Fated for demolition the dovecot foundation took the building into its concern and opened in 2008 as Dovecot Studies a working venue and events space. Today we are here for the exhibition exploring Scottish Women Artists: 250 years of challenging perception. I’m here as much for the building, the architecture, the working nature of the building as much as the outcome of the art. I get lost in a seven minute film about the Dovecot and how it’s collaborated with some of the artists on show today. I’m able to get up close to the tapestries and just amazed at the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the use of colours.

In other news I’ve been dabbling with substack notes as a way to just write up a few things, a practice/daily habit around writing and posting something that might peak an interest. The freedom of it being a note opens up the ability to just get on and post something.

The main newsletter hasn’t been touched since August and I know I need to tend to it…..first job to tackle for the week coming. Thanks for reading and thanks for coffee.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.


L-Plates on the Fridge

The magnetic L plates arrived yesterday and in an effort of comedy we put them on the fridge!

It’s 6:15pm in the kitchen as I’m making dinner. Excitement bursts through the front door, I’ve got about 5 seconds before the kitchen feels a fire ball of energy, a seventeen year old with more energy than Tigger from Winnie The Pooh. I can’t quite match the enthusiasm, it’s there, I’m committed, I was seventeen once. Deep down though I’m scared, an hour and half of scary moments, tense and a loss of control. This is a big moment so I don’t want to dampen the mood, it’s almost like he’s been counting the seconds to the day.

Dinner is a gathering of left overs, the left over curry sauce from the takeaway that we froze for an easy mid week . Quick and simple stir fry kind of fayre. A small onion diced, softened in oil. chicken breast chopped into chunky bite sized pieces. Mushrooms, sliced. Half courgette that was rolling around in the fridge (don’t ask). They all go in the sauté pan, and just a case of building up the dish. Then a tin of chickpeas and the curry sauce gently bubbling away whilst we get the rice cooked through. The boys get a full on carb hit, whilst we have Cauliflower rice.

So the table is bouncing as we eat, bants thrown across the table. Mamma trying to instill some calm and collected advice. Listen to your dad, remember this is a killing machine. There is a field of energy that this kind of talk just bounces off. As we walk down the road to my brother in laws to pick up the keys. The guard is let down, and he gives me the pep talk! A pause and then I sense this is my moment to reciprocate. It’s received, the acknowledgement between coach and coachee.

We agree that I will drive off first, and take us to a safe place. The car alien to me, it’s probably never had a valet in 10 years. PaPa never seeing the need for such a thing and although the mileage is low it’s been well used. I accelerate too loudly, the brakes are spongy compared to what I’m used to and the clutch interchange very light. The transition between a VW van and a fiesta needs to take place quickly as I hit the main road.

We make it to the university car park and started with the basics, clutch, break, accelerator. This I hear had all been watched through on YouTube previously so the theory only need to be light. The reality though is a little different, pulling off gently, the kangaroo hops and then coming to a stop albeit at 5-10 miles an hour a little different. The sensation of being put through the windscreen as the brakes were applied made it all real. His palms are sweaty, the windows need to go down so he doesn’t get too hot. The lessons have started.

In other news, the sun has really turned on it’s charm this week. I need to get my wife to put the winter duvet on more often! As we were heading into colder climes, it was like someone flicked a switch and said hang on there! There is a little more warmth to be had out of the days. Despite opening the curtains to mist and fog, it’s usually burnt off during the day and it’s been welcome to be out in shorts and t-shirt whereas last week I was starting to think about the gloves.

As a result each morning we’ve been greeted with a humid mist that tends to lift around early morning. An eerie spell cast over the city. An early walk into work and I pass through the old town and I can feel what it must have felt like back in the day.

On my cooking journey I expanded out my digital garden, I’m creating a few anchor points to hang my content from. The library, the books I’m going to dip into as I cook over the next few months. The Shed, the base of operations, a bit of a log, the things that will get me through.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Aches and UPFs

Aches and UPFs

Words have been elusive for weeks, I’ve been on a bit of hiatus. Trying to learn more about process, Obsidian and templates. More a huge snake pit of discovery rather than a bunch of rabbit holes.

So I find myself back, Monday morning, 6:20am typing with the aches and pains of a weekend well used. Two Munros on Saturday, a rough 18 miles (Beinn a Chaorainn and & Beinn Bhreac) followed by a cheeky one on the Sunday just under 10 miles (An Socach). On my own I’m afforded the chance of digging into an audible book and some tunes. Which may feel like defeating the purpose of being one with nature.

Believe me when I tell you soaked through to the skin with bubbles forming in my water proof trousers. Boots that had formed their own water ecosystem. I saw enough nature and the point was more my own company, sense of achievement and a chance to dig into something.

The walking guide….from (Beinn a’ Chaorainn & Beinn Bhreac (Walkhighlands)) gives a nod to stage 5 as the vast tablelands of the Moine Bhealaidh which stretch ahead for several kilometres, with Beinn a’Chaorainn visible in the distance.

At no point does this suggest…a scene out of the gloomiest parts of Lord of the rings or the nothing in Neverending Story. A place that goes on forever, with drudgery! I found a river that couldn’t quite decide which direction it was going in. Just bog and wet for miles with nothing to keep me company but my hand and my poles. I could just about see them in front of me. The book to it’s credit does suggest that it might be difficult to navigate in poor visibility. An understatement! Armed with two garmins and an OS map, I ploughed through it!

It didn’t help having the thought of the only guy I passed telling me the weather was going to get really bad and he was going to head to the pub, watch the football with the option of coming back Monday. One there is no pub for miles, two I’ll be back at the grindstone on Monday, so this is it this is my day to conquer these hills.

There is a sense of deep achievement though as I head down the home straight, along the track and back through pine trees of old. Breathing in deep and soaking up the air filtered by the trees. Despite the damp, greens and purples fill the sights with a feeling of things being alive.

It takes me a good half hour back at the van to peel away the waterproofs, ring out my socks, and get some normality back into my fingers and toes. The sun comes out just as I leave the car park! A rainbow and some warmth. A blessing for drying out, that cold beer with fish and chips back at the campsite as I stare into space.

The next day, it’s a different story, almost t-shirt and shorts worthy in comparison! I hear the call of the deer and more importantly I get my egg sandwich in the dry and with a view!

Back to what I was listening to, a little music, some beats interspersed with chapters from:

Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert a repeat listen, and for any writer or creative person there are so many pearls of wisdom.

Ultra Processed People: Why do we all eat stuff that isn’t food. Five chapters in I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. An exploration of food and the industrialisation and processing of what we eat and what it means. Really accessible and thought provoking.

A couple of take away points:

  • Whole foods are so important to health, the extraction of the good things combined with all manner of science and industrialisation of meals isn’t progress.
  • Modern foods are designed to make us want and eat more. I give you Pringles, once I start I can’t stop!

A small slice of the topic covered here, with a 6 minute take on UPFs:

I feel like I need to double down on my efforts around cooking and sharing those recipes that are easy to make!

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

That feeling – memento mori

M.C. Escher, Eye (seventh and definitive state), mezzotint, October 1946

M.C. Escher, Eye (seventh and definitive state), mezzotint, October 1946

I know for some of my readers, I’m just a boy and the logic inside me tells me to keep going your doing OK.

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln

Yesterday however I got a real sense of feeling that I’m getting old as I spent the day in the office. It didn’t help that someone in passing said to me you won’t have long to go now. He was talking about early retirement, part of the conversation of him turning 40 the day before, and then weeks earlier having his first child. The person next to him, his manager also within a few weeks of turning 40 and part of my managers leadership team. I looked around in those milliseconds where a response in jest is required. I was the oldest by a good 10 years, motivation shot to pieces and had just been reading about the latest organisation restructures. It included someone I went to lunch with a rough 25 years ago. They were moving on to take a break or so the rhetoric implied.

I responded with some glib remark about having a while yet and that I still need to get the boys off the books and how I’ve still got the mortgage. He was envious that I might escape and he didn’t know I’d be writing about the encounter today. For me I wasn’t sure how I’d be feeling about seeing myself in the organisation, the pang of regret that I was stagnating again. It was more the 40 year old beside him, I didn’t know how old he was until then, it didn’t matter until he put a number on it and I’d just seen him as a peer someone who I go into battle with to get things done.

There are more and more moments like this, watching Indiana Jones and the lost ark with my son at the weekend. Harrison Ford was 38 when he made it! Flipping heck, I was barely 10 years old when I saw it and Mr Ford I thought was an old swashbuckler, a professor no less.

With each passing obituary on the news, Sinead O’Connor (56) and the popular British journalist George Alagiah (67) just this week I’m reminded of the seconds counting down. My dad passing at 64 and then my grandad at 98. It’s mind boggling the difference, the lottery and I hope I’m somewhere in the middle.

We have my father-in-law (87) coming over tomorrow, looking for a flat nearby, there has been mention of the big C, possibly manageable. All I can do is provide that shoulder of support to my wife.

It’s not a great post in terms of mood, my thoughts need reframing. 7am, I look out the window, the rain is on…..it’s time to decide, to run or not to run.

An image of a running route

So I did run, and the sun came out, I took in the smells, and breathed deeply as the tunes bouncing around from my watch to the headphones (isn’t Bluetooth amazing). I noticed the blackberries are on the way. The elderberries camouflaged in green, fully formed and not quite turned. I wonder could I come back nearer the time with my Tupperware box. I take a different turn than normal for this route. It’s painful there is a dip an up hill, another up hill, it’s my walking route in reverse. A metaphor for rewinding my thinking. To face into the challenge and defy the resistance, to change the route means to change the direction I’m going in and be better. I can run up this hill and I can take on the next challenge, there is time.

The weekend has arrived and we are taking the opportunity to try out a fish restaurant, Fin and Grape (that is new to us) this evening, and a way to close the week. 77 reviews and 5 stars, that is something to get excited about. Will let you know how we get on.

For the cookbook lovers out there I thought I’d share a picture of their cookbook shelves from instagram. Loving the sound of the ‘A very serious cookbook’! I spend the next five minutes looking it up and find it’s the story of some of some of the recipes from Contra and Wildair, Lower East Side tasting restaurant in New York. Something for the bucket list!

I’ve worked through some new recipes to keep the boys happy, taken from a fitness magazine and a library book, needed a little reworking for me, my kitchen. I’ll get them up on Cook One Thing soon:

If you cook one thing then it has to be the Tuscan Style Chicken dish, really worked a treat and kept my seventeen year old you busy for a half hour or so!

Underrated and a 12 Week Year!

As a four we struggle to find something we can all watch, last night however we hit a sweet spot with the latest basketball related documentary.

Bit of a tear jerker for me at the end, but nothing from the rest of the crew. Heartless!! Full of inspiration, hard work and determination. A nice take on the game and what feels like a really humble guy compared to the the other star studied documentaries we’ve watched (not that I didn’t enjoy them as well!). The last dance is definitely a must watch if you are into that thing.

Determined to get a coffee share up this week, it’s been a while and I think I’ve mentioned before that summer takes me away from the desktop. There just feels so much to do. This morning the boss is out for a run and I feel I’ve put my strides in so taking a few minutes to check in and say hello.

If we were having coffee I’d let you know that last week was more of a transition week, back into work after a few weeks away camping. Which provided quite a tonic for the mind and soul. I wrote daily with the theory that I could share the journey. It helped with the practice of writing, kept the muscle going. Editing I think is another muscle that needs to be worked on. Facing into that might be hard when the priorities come on thick and fast.

So, back on the grid this week after three weeks away. Monday, getting ready was tough. I was all out of kilter, my memory of things that needed to go in the pannier, what I had in my locker and pulling my lunch together was not very slick! I need to do better 🤪

With being away, my brain was free to think and became full to bursting of things that I wanted to do around creativity, side line activities and distractions.

I’d gone down a rabbit hole of sketch noting the week before we’d left. Sketchnotes at their heart are simply a way of note taking with a flair of creative expression.

My ideas of grandeur, just grew and grew as the days in the mountains peeled back the layers of being stuck at the PC. Either side of the mountains we visited both Strasbourg and the Hague, and I dropped in on a couple of art shops. Wow, like being a child in a candy store. Needless to say I came away with a new journal (because I haven’t got enough of them on the go!) and a few pens that would revolutionise my new ability!

So Monday morning, first thing I unwrapped the new journal, and like a rabbit in headlights wondered where and how to start! The blank page creating a feeling of electricity that just numbs the brain into blankness.

It wasn’t cheap and so along side on a cheapo dot grid I made a rough plan of a plan and then …just bit the bullet and started thinking about the next 12 weeks, treating as a year and what would I like to achieve.

At the same time I attended a webinar for the 12 week year approach. Full of good food for thought. A little disappointed that it was full of upsell on further ways of spending money to make my life great. Key takeaway for me was the concept of my execution system and my brain jumps to the quote:

You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems

James Clear

So this week I’ve been running with the idea on how to bring my culinary thoughts together, push through the resistance and get back into the rhythm of working on the book. I now have a working title ‘Cook One Thing’. It feels like a gift, as suggested by Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert). I find the URL hasn’t been taken, a further sign that this is mine and something to get behind.

I also recently came across the concept of a Digital Garden, and been wondering how I can manage my eco system. I’ve been quiet for a few days, trying to get my head around the best approach to doing this from self hosting through to just pushing the button through Obsidian Publish. I tried the self hosting hosting route using GitHub and Netifly. It worked, and then I felt myself drifting away into the technology side for technology sake. I really need to focus on the content, the book and pushing that forward rather than an endless loop of looking for the best tools for the job. So I pushed the button on Obsidian Publish, at 8$ a month it just cut through a lot of nonsense. I had a post up within 15 mins. The custom domain took a little longer, the instructions are fairly straight forward, I bit that bullet as well and just accepted that Obsidian Publish works with Cloudflare. The cost seemed reasonable at about 9$. Just left me to get my head around the publish interface in Obsidian. A breeze and honestly works really well.

New domain name….CookOneThing, is up and running, I’m keen to set myself a goal around a weekly ship, an update through substack Scribble and Scran (something else that feels like a blank journal on opening!)

The dailies and photo’s from the break are on my mind, as is a new 12 week year and focus.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

BBQ Season and Ben Lui

Monday Morning and the body is sore, evidence of a full weekend. It feels like I should be going into work for a rest!

Out for dinner with friends on Friday, a celebration of them being married for 25 years and our long friendship throughout. We catchup up on the kids, their successes and next steps. We talk through our plans, our holidays our dreams our woes, putting the various wrongs to rights. . It’s a late one, and despite needing the sleep, the natural body clock kicks in and we wake at 6 as per usual!

Saturday and it’s sunny again, the run of good weather is un-heard of. The garden is parched, we’ve not had rain for what feels like weeks and last weekend saw me bring the BBQ back to life. I know I’d put it to bed in a clean state….but after a winter out in the yard it felt like it needed another going over. I hate cleaning the BBQ!

It will be put to good use today, my son has his got his pals coming round at four for a BBQ. Not sure what the lure is over cooking outside, when we’ve got our kitchen right beside us! Maybe it’s a strange primal instinct, perhaps where man needs fire! Something about bellowing smoke and the abandon in which you can cook lots of things at once.

Before that though the messages need to be done, and I need to think of something for my wife and I that isn’t just meat on top of meat. I offer up the Portobello loop, our Saturday cycle, errands included (the butchers and fishmonger on the high street). This time with a flask, a takeaway scone from the beach house. Amazingly the benches are free, the wind is our friend in that moment no one wants to hang about. We watch the waves and the world go by.


We are back for lunch, armed with an Arbroath smokie, which takes me a good 10 mins to remove any trace of bones despite a clean removal of the back spine, a little butter in a pan, a couple of eggs and then the broken fish. Heaven.

The BBQ goes well, I start before they arrive, aubergine, peppers, courgettes, A little mint, honey and goats cheese. I didn’t need to know about that winning combination! I do a little extra for the salads during the week.

I get the boys out the way first, sausages, chicken thighs that have been marinated in a little curry paste and Greek yoghurt. A burger, some sliced cheese. We leave them to it, sit at the bottom of the garden, something cold in hand and a few nuts. The sun is not to be wasted.

A piece of Tuna and a decent Steak which is shared between us. Combined with the grilled veggies, a lemon and herby chermoula. Followed by a bowl of fresh strawberries, we feel blessed for a Saturday evening.

Sunday and we are up early and out the door by 6am. We are hitting the mountains in the hope the dry weather means the river is low. The Munro we’d marked down for bagging has mention of the river that needs to be forded and something that should not be done in spate. The irony of the motorway signs on the way up mentioning a yellow warning, with heavy rain being due is not lost on us!

We arrive in the carpark around 8.30, there are spare boots left here and there, a sign of previous fording perhaps. The road had followed the river up valley and my mind is in the space that it can’t be that bad. Fortunately it’s about 100m from the car par and although we’ve brought our wellies, a five minute check, the river is clearly parched and an easy call to make that we don’t need the extra footwear. Breakfast done, it’s time to get going. The crossing was a breeze, and the tunnel aside for needing to get low for my rucksack also not a problem. A steady climb from then on in. Through the trees, the air full of fresh pine and bright green new shoots.

Ben Lui, from the River Crossing

It feels a little odd to drive 2 hours and then to put oneself through such physical hard ship, the climb, the screaming on the muscles due to the steepness. It’s here though where I realise, I put demons to bed and square off that we are not here long, the mountains have been here a while and will be for a little longer.

Ben Lui – Climb
Compulsory Selfie in the Clouds – Made it
It’s neighbor Beinn a Chleibh – Lunch awaits at the top

It’s not too sunny, with lots of cloud and although not a great view, it’s atmospheric and perhaps a good thing we can’t see the drop. Add to that it’s not too hot. As we come down the other side we catch people sweating buckets, as the cloud cover disappears. The cost of starting late, and getting the views. Just one of those typical weather days in the Scottish Mountains. We got our picnic on the 2nd summit dry and in good spirits. Another two in the bag.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Coffee Menorca

Ensaimada with Nutella

Cuatro Por favor, is how the day has started over the last few days. Followed by a becoming arm that says no problem, follow me, promptly leading us to a free table. This guys job is solely to get folk seated, returning to the door promptly for the next set of guests. It’s a conveyor belt!

The coffee is strong and viscose, the first thing to be put on the table as we arrive into the dining hall. A mark of territory to the busy staff, someone has claimed table, don’t sit anyone else there given the guests the opportunity to hunt down the killer breakfast from the buffet. Thank fully there is a tea pot with just hot water, supposedly for those who want tea. In this case for me it’s a chance to bring the coffee up to something more than tepid at the same time as watering down the treacle like substance. It becomes reasonably drinkable and is welcome to go along side today’s offering of a freshly cooked omelette.

This week my coffee share is from an island in the Balearic sea, Menorca. The first couple of days the weather is changeable, warm rain, a little breeze, enough to give us some blue skies. Despite the cloud cover, my eldest caught the sun and a warning for the rest of the week as the cloud disappeared to constant blue skies.

A change of scene. No talk of databases, build cycles or deadlines. It’s there at the back of the mind, however it gradually dissipates. I’ve left a great team to push on, to keep going. I feel bad for leaving in a peak of craziness. There is never a good time though, the world of IT keeps giving! A chance to escape and a chance to de-stress.

I’ve wrestled the American gods by Neil Gaiman into submission and enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve succumbed to afternoon naps, an ice cream and a beer in the sun. Even a dip in the sea. I’ve kept the running up, more to keep the all you can eat buffets at bay. For someone who likes their food a battle of wills at every sitting. Trying to stay away from the carbs (apart form the desserts), and the ensaimada with Nutella. I’ve stuck to the proteins, taking that chance to try different sea foods although I’m sure they are a little overcooked as the resort caters for the masses rather than quality.

We explored a tiny bit of the southern tip of the island, running together. I’d got several routes in mind from google maps, however we were thwarted by the rocky terrain of the paths. No problem for hikers walking the cami de cavalls trail around the island or trail runners who never cease to amaze me. I however like a sure footing and definitely not keen to twist an ankle! So we kept to the streets and explored the other direction.

We did walk a tiny bit of the trail, and found a lovely cove that beckoned me back for another trip, this time with my trunks and a towel. I leave with the memory of the turquoise blue sea, our family in harmony as we came and went with the flow of the day and a break from the norm.

It’s our last full day as I type this up and I’ll be glad to get to our own menu’s, our own coffee. It’s possible we’ll be returning to warm weather and the start of summer. Three weeks to go for the 10k and a whole bunch of project work waiting for me.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Munro Kershaw

Heading into NoWhere, tunes in my head

Last weekend I was taken back, what feels like yesterday to me, maybe forty years on paper.

Originally it was meant to be a small village in the highlands just minutes from my fravourite campsite. The chip shop that owns a marquee at the back, hosting events, local gigs for the surrounding scottish bands. In this case, I’m not sure how I first heard, it might have been the flyer in the chip shop. It might have been the feed in facebook, and at first I couldn’t believe it. An 80’s pop icon, not just any though, he was my 80’s pop icon. My first album on cassette, maybe even my 2nd album on vinyl. I couldn’t believe it, Nik Kershaw, with his band an intimate gig At Blair Athol.

Oddly enough I couldn’t get anyone else interested! So I came up with my own plan, I’d camp literally 5 minutes away, enjoy the evening and then bag a couple of Munro’s by myself. This feels like 3 years ago. The whole pandemic thing kicked in and played it’s part. Then it was supposed to be last year. I still followed through on the camping and got the Munro’s in. Amazingly though, it still stayed postponed, a new date arranged and then disaster the venue changed. No longer a 5 minute walk from the campsite, a different place some 20 minutes down the road. The Pitlochry town hall. On the plus side, still going ahead on the downside new accommodation plans required. Pitlochry full of guest houses, B&Bs and hotels not a problem. Even a YHA which I opted for in order to keep the price down. Option of taking my own food, great kitchen a dining area. An 8 minute walk to the town hall. In the end no biggy.

So in the end in the strangest of places, I got to a concert for an artist whose album I purchased some forty years ago using a record token my uncle had given me for my 11th birthday. An amazing couple of hours, a remarkable experience that bridged the passage of time, connecting me with my cherished musical memories. Even playing the song that started off that first album, transporting me back to that long since gone record store in Kendal high street where you could listen to an album before you bought it.

I hung around for little bit and even got to meet him, he could have been any guy, but having seen him perform some of those cherished songs for 2 hours it was a night to remember.

The day after I was up bright an early in order to tackle the 2 out of the six Munro’s I couldn’t quite face after completing 4 from the year before. I’m glad I hadn’t tackled them, bit of a beast of a day. A quintessential day in the mountains, starting all moody and misty where it gradually disappeared and I was rewarded with a mixture of wind and sun. A 15k cycle in, followed by a 16k hike that took in the mighty Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil.

Food wise, I was armed with mackerel sandwiches, all kinds of mountain bars and a soup for good measure. I made it back to the campsite, that id originally booked for the weekend and made a really simple beef bourguignon with rice from one of those pre-cooked pouches.

I did have big plans for the write up of this adventure, and I don’t feel I’ve done it justice. I came back with so many aches and pains. A week at work, that saw 10+ hour days as we brought a project close to fruition, and with that we are already on to the next weekend adventure…….

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.