link to

My company teaches English face-to-face or over Skype. See my website:

Saturday, 30 December 2017

394: Fetch me my crampons

This morning I decided it was time for my last walk of 2017 up to Ben Bhraggie (397 metres above sea level). It was really misty in the village of Golspie but I very soon climbed out of the mist into a bright, sunny but cold, Winter's day.
There were some lovely views because of the bright day. What looks like cloud that has fallen out of the sky is actually mist that has rolled in from the sea. It was blanketing the village but as I climbed it moved off to the North. Conditions underfoot ranged from 'normal' to muddy, to icy, to snowy.  I decided to return by the longer path round behind the monument. There was still ice in places but the path is less steep. Endomondo suggests I had completed 5.5 miles (8 km) before I returned home, tired out and more than ready for some lunch. I only fell once, when I got back to a tarmacked road and there was some sheet ice on it.  Oh, sheet, I said, as I fell. No permanent damage done.

Today's video has to be "Mull of Kintyre" with "mist rolling in from the sea"

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

393: Auld Reekie

Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is known by a number of nicknames and colloquial names. It is commonly known as "Auld Reekie", a name thought to originate from a distinctive mix of sewage stench and smoke/smog in the Old Town of Edinburgh.
I'm here for a couple of days to apply for a visa to allow me to visit my old friend Bob McGarry, who lives in Krasnodar in the South of Russia. I've paid an absolute arm and a leg for express processing of the visa and I will know within the next two hours whether I have been successful or not. If I am denied the visa, for any reason, then the cost of applying for the visa, the cost of the flights, and the cost of the hotel will all go down the tubes. All my fingers are crossed for a successful outcome.
In between submitting the paperwork and collecting my passport, hopefully with a visa in it, we have had quite some time to explore Edinburgh. Yesterday we 'did' Princes Street and I was able to collect my pre-ordered Turkish Lira as I plan to visit Istanbul on the way to Russia. In the evening we enjoyed some tacos and tequila in a Mexican restaurant, Diablo Loco, which we chanced upon on our way back to the guest house. The old adage that you get what you pay for became evident when I took a shower this morning in the guest house where we had decided to lay our heads for the two nights. It was one of those cubicle things and when I tried to slide the door closed it fell off! I duly reported it and, to their credit, it has been fixed. I must try and be a bit more gentle with it tomorrow. Breakfast was advertised as 0800-1000 Alisdair and I turned up for 8 o'clock and the waitress/hostess/person i/c breakfast turned up at about 8.30. By which time we had helped ourselves to cereal and toast. She very quickly prepared bacon and eggs for those fat boys amongst us.  
Today, despite the bitterly cold wind, we had a wander around Arthur's Seat. I was amazed by the number of people, walkers and runners of all ages and both sexes, who were on the hills, blowing away the cobwebs from the Christmas excesses.  (question to self: are there still only 2 sexes theses days or have a couple more crept in?).
A couple of pictures, to prove we were there. 

Waverley station, from above

Swan Lake

I'll drink anything!

STOP PRESS: Visa granted. Krasnodar here we come...

Sunday, 3 December 2017

392: Montblanc

Yesterday I went to Mont Blanc. Not THE Mont Blanc in the Alps but Montblanc, Tarragona, 30 minutes from Reus by train, Reus being 20 minutes from Salou by bus. It is a medieval walled town. I only had a couple of hours there between trains but that was enough to get an impression of the place and some nice, warming, soup in a local hostelry "Quatre Taules" or, translated from the Catalan to English, "Four tables". The day was cold and windy and I hadn't really dressed well enough - serves me right!

A few political observations on the way back to the station: Power to the People and Free the Political Prisoners (probably incarcerated on sedition charges after the recent Unilateral Declaration of Independence ).

 A few days earlier I had spent some time in Reus.It's a lovely town. I passed the church named after John the Baptist. I first read it as Joan (of Arc) but then looked more closely at the depiction. Then a wander around the market where somebody has been busy arranging various scenes at one of the unused stalls.

To finish, since it is December, and I need to start getting into the Christmas mood, here is the one-hit wonder from Jona Lewie. I never start thinking about Christmas until I've heard this.