They're filming a zombie blockbuster in Glasgow just now - it's good fun. 'American' Cops queue in the local bakery for their lunch and street signs have been changed to names like 'J F Kennedy Boulevard'. The traffic lights have even become yellow to mimic Philly. Reputedly, the joke in nearby Edinburgh is that there's little difference between the zombies having temporarily taken over and normal life here. There's a good vibe about 'George Square' and locals and tourists alike try to get a glimpse of Brad Pitt, the star in World War Z. I was meeting my Dad for lunch at Jamie Oliver's place so squeezed out a quick drawing of the 'Snappers' as I waited who seemed, like meerkats up their ladders, to be equally vying for his mugshot.
Posted by stupot at 01:01 PM Friday 26 Aug
The TV I was in custody of has been taken away. It was really big - a real luxury - but I'm happy that it's been taken away. I'm not saying "that's it" but I'm enjoying relative tranquility and I'm reading more. The news on TV was killing me - the BBC have gone off the rails and even C4 had someone outside the family home of last weeks Shark victim. It doesn't get much more tragic than that (and I'm not talking about the shark). I read news both from a laptop and from my mobile but neither are quite the experience of a newspaper. Plus the fact you can't take a laptop into the bath (you still have to be careful you don't end up with papiér-maché from the newspaper). In the same way FaceTime and Skype are fantastic, they don't substitute for the intricacies involved in human contact.
At the moment I read a lot of the Independent which I find less like a send-up of what the Modern Parents in the Viz would read than the Guardian. I actually like the writing in the Times. Shame it's not owned by Arseholes. My parents were habitual Herald readers until, like most people, they realised it was shit. I used to browse it, none-the-less, as a teenager when I used to also do a paper round and got to know the other papers too. My round was in a pretty well-off part of town so it was mainly Times, Guardian, Herald but a few Scotsmans, Mails and even a Sun made its way in. As a teenager, and on the move, page three and sport was probably about all I had time to read in between snacking, running away from dogs and falling on my arse from black ice.
I go in and out of reading the news (it gets too depressing) but, when we look back, 2011 has had a lot of catalysts for positive change - be it the obvious Arab Spring or the less obvious London Riots. I know that whatever is happening, I'd rather absorb it through paper than perspex.
Posted by stupot at 11:58 AM Wednesday 24 Aug
After a spot of work in Aberfeldy I drove to nearby Kenmore and, as surreptitiously as possibly, changed in the car before heading out for a few miles on the pusher. I reckon it's hard to find a bad road in Perthshire but against my usual instinct I asked a local about the best ones. The Glen Quaich road was suggested and duly sampled - I'd been aware of it signposted on the drive from Crieff so I knew two thirds of the route already. It was a peach - although with climbs not for the faint hearted. Literally. I think it could bring on a coronary if not lung collapse. The only problem I encountered was the lack of warm-up, going straight up intensely steep stretches which were so steep the front wheel was lifting if I remained seated. The plus-side was that I knew it would top-out soon and that it was relative flat or downhill left. It really drops off hard down to the glen floor with one or two extremely tight hairpins (with much rubber visible on the tarmac). There was more 'flat' than I had anticipated on the way to Aberfeldy on the A822 but it's a fun descent and bonny ride back to Kenmore. Must spend more time up there.......
Posted by stupot at 01:20 PM Thursday 18 Aug
I had taken the train to Edinburgh, as I always do, earlier in the week but had then decided to take the bus after flooding had reduced the Scotrail timetable. The bus is novel for me, and it has an added bonus of being a cheaper option. Obviously you get what you pay for in terms of space and promptness. With Saturday going nowhere I decided this time to take my own wheels to the capital. I had woken to the blood curdling sound of the sash and was put in a bad mood immediately. On the way through town I had to bunny hop my way around several Marches which were draining the emergency services but amusing tourists. Ross' brunch was a good start and my carbohydrate juice I glugged prior to departure set me up for the first hour.
The overcast, human-occupied, central belt of Scotland is a fairly unappealing place: the countryside is readily available and calming but the old mill, mine and lace towns, their cottages now converted to mind-numbing establishments with growling, red-faced and pot bellied males standing outside smoking do little to endear you to them. After a traditional pie and yum yum in Bathgate, I put the head down and rolled into Edinburgh in 2 hours and 16 minutes, dripping with sweat in an average speed of 20mph. Edinburgh was sunny and throbbing with smiling activity - I was glad that I had changed the outlook of my day. Two protein bars and a shower and I was back to normal.
Posted by stupot at 09:44 AM Tuesday 16 Aug
Out with the old
There's quite a lot of change in the air. It seems to be happening more and more often. On a local level, the Royal Museum has just opened in Edinburgh, as has the Riverside Museum on the Clyde. These follow on from The Burns Museum opening earlier in the year in Alloway and precede the National Portrait Gallery opening in November. On a micro-local level, Watkins Jones appear to be rebuilding Kelvinhaugh through Student digs, Sainsbury are building a convenience empire on the old Blythswood Motors site on Argyle Street and at least four new food related businesses have opened on Old Dumbarton Road in the past 6 months. The picture above is of the new site of Buchanan Quarter, a Land Securities venture to piggy back Buchanan Galleries Shopping Centre. It's very much old Glasgow - the glazed white tiles, the (hidden) central courtyard, chimney pots and aerials. Prepare to be dazzled, quite literally, by Glass and Steel.
A FARMERS TAN
TOBERMORY - ARISAIG
So the sun finally put on a good show - there had been a suggestion on Monday night that shepherd's were to be delighted on Tuesday but things stayed decidedly average on for our mountain goat trials. Chris had gotten up first and went for a wander shortly followed by me with the SLR - the light and strength of blue in the sky was phenomenal. We bought plentiful supplies for breakfast and had three courses - porridge with strawberries, bacon rolls and pastries with a cafetiere of coffee. I'm sure hostelling didn't used to be like this: it used to be a lot worse.
BACK IN TIME FOR TEA
CRAIGNURE - TOBERMORY
The day ended up being a bit more epic, if rewarding, than we'd envisioned. After a full Scottish at the Pennygate lodge we made good progress to Salen before climbing from there to Tobermory. I'd forgotten the steep descent into the main street where we pedaled to the far end and dropped most of our belongings. We made time for a coffee and chill before buying sausages and rolls, foraging a newspaper for kindling and heading west toward Calgary Bay. I'd remembered it as being a relatively short hop but whatever the mileage (25 miles there and back) it didn't equate to the ascending we did - out of Tobermory, over to Dervaig, on to Calgary as well as repeating the memorable hairpins.
TWO ISLANDS AND A SUNSET
LOCHRANZA - CRAIGNURE
The guy we shared a room with insisted on sharing his Nescafe with us and couldn't understand why we were packing so early to get our ferry. Thankfully the coffee stop we had planned (less than half a mile away) coincided with the ferry leaving 35 minutes before we thought it would leave and, forcing the gangway back down, we managed to hop aboard. Already we had reached a part of the country where common decency and courtesy prevails over timetables. The moral of the story (aside checking your timetable properly) is being a coffee snob pays off in more ways than the obvious.
FLAT OUT AND THE BOUGILLIE
YORKHILL - LOCHRANZA
It had been a hectic end to the week which sprawled into Saturday and it's afternoon. The relaxed and satisfying meticulous checks were swapped with a frantic and sweaty dash to the bike shop to rake through old metal jars full of components that had been put into a coma. I resurrected a few and the bike was operational, if not quite finely tuned. Packing is always easy for these trips - the panniers only allow a certain amount and weight or lack of weight is the guiding rule. In retrospect I didn't use my gilet, arm warmers and lock but they aren't heavy and could have been invaluable - infact it's unusual not to need a gilet in Scotland no matter what the season.