Saturday, 31 March 2007

SUW 1.1130

Tabbed about 16 clicks from Portpatrick. One blister on pad of left foot.

SUW 1.1935

Lambs. Sun setting. Calves. Sounds. Smells. Sights. Whoever came up with the waymerk scheme should be commended. I'm looking out to the hedgerows and field boundaries keenly.

SUW 1.1856

The sounds of Stranraer mingle with sounds from the nature reserve and farmland. Police siren, cattle, motorbike, grouse, and a heron screeches part. A good sign as it is my totem. Perhaps someone will take pity on me and let me watch Who? New series just started

SUW 1.1808

Overshot the corner and have to go back. Took opportunity for snack.

SUW 1.9

North of Portpatrick. Chatted with some nice people along the path. The only boorish people were the football fans f'ing, b'ing and c'ing on the train to Glasgow. The parents of the kids beside them did nothing, so wasn't going to get upset on their behalf. Wind getting up, blowing in off the Irish Sea as sun loses it's power.

SUW 1.5

On the west coast. Strange hearing Irish accents. Hadn't realised how long it had been (excluding media). Train is hoaching. Lots of holiday makers (including me). Treated myself to a suunto vector from tiso's. I think i'll tear out the foreign language instructions from the manual instead of carrying them across country. Got the MCoS discount. They still had some half-price katy'n water filters, but i resisted. The aqua mira drops should be enough until later trails. Ayr now.

SUW 1.2

The day starts well. I wake with the alarm. Breakfast. Even see Gerard's photo of a merino wool station. Cheery taxi driver drops me at train station 30 mins before the train is due to depart. I join the queue me people for the Glasgow. Once it opens its doors, i find a seat where i can watch my pack. As i prepare to wait 30mins before leaving, the train seems busy. It'll be crowded by the time it leaves. The train departs. It is a Glasgow train. Not my Glasgow train, but the previous one.
:) hey, took me to Perth to sort email problem. Listening to ghost in the shell on mp3 player obviously helped me get in the zone. Aah, Major Kusinagi :-)

SUW 1.1

Just past Arbroath. Problems this morning: caught wrong train; email to blog failing. No worries. Train is earlier one that i boarded in error. Photoblog works until i can get to a computer. Carnoustie. Lovely day.

Friday, 30 March 2007


Well. This afternoon flew by. Helped by some half-price chocs from the Whittard's sale. The SCW exhibition has given me things to think about on the trail. My futile attempts at painting some 15mm figures can still be seen online.

I can see the bed in my spare room for the first time in ages. The main bedroom is now gear-strew, and the living room strewn with food - and not in a too-many-beer-and-pizza way either. Searched the flat and emptied bags for my Aqua Mira water purification liquids, eventually finding them under a fleece cap.

I'm thinking of getting some Paramo Cascada trousers. Hmm...wonder if I can hit some gear shops in Glasgow tomorrow? Tiso's is on the way from one train station to the other, but I can't see any on their site, just jackets. Good excuse to call in anyway.


Hmm, I'm definitely avoiding packing.

Found this for Sheila, who's son and partner recently lost one of there cats in an RTA. no-one will mess with that cat.

23.20pm Food divided into ziplock bags for storage. Packing 10 days worth to see how far I can go without resupplying. Answer: until the first chippy.

Taking a plastic bag of things for the train journey, juice, pasties, crisps that I can eat without delving into rucksack. I tell you, I'm more paranoid about thieving paws on the train, than anything on the trail. I reckon I'm crossing the line between realism and cynicism there.

I've kept a gear list. If I'm not too tired, I'll post it, for what it's worth.

A Greater Tomorrow

Had an early lunch, and went to the art gallery to see the exhibition "A Greater Tomorrow - Aberdonians in the Spanish Civil War" (link). Nineteen people from Aberdeen joined the International Brigade to fight the fascists in 1930's Spain. Five died over there: one at Gandesa, and four on the Ebro.

There was a good audio interview with John Londragan, who served on an anti-tank gun. He was at the battle of Jarama (recalled in the Woody Guthrie song), and talked about being up on Mosquito Ridge.

The full poem by volunteer Bob Cooney is reprinted on the wall by the blood-soaked Republican flag (link):

Seven and twenty years? That long?
It seems but yesterday
We left that war torn hill above Gandesa.
Is it perhaps because I'm growing old
That thought now skips so lightly down the years?
And the travail of a quarter century
Melts in the vision of those great days
Those days we lived and knew that we were living

We also say
Hasta La Vista - Madrid!

There is so much we want to see once more
We will stroll in the Puerto del Sol
And the Ramblas of Barcelona
We will cross the Ebro and drink with our friends in Mora
Friends who will be free!
We will look at them and at each other
And each of us will think
"This is why we came in '36"
And if we live to be a hundred
We'll have this to be glad about
We went to Spain!
Because of that great yesterday
We are part of the greater tomorrow

A Good Friday

Alarm set for tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 29 March 2007


Tabbed it up Bennachie today, ordered taxi for Saturday morning. Washing kit just now - or rather the machine is.

Program on BBC Alba visited a bothy near An Teallach, and a tale of tourist-baiting was told. I must agree with them, that I never liked to idea of telling lies to tourists. Maybe some don't know about the true nature of the haggis, and believe the tripe told them.

Rest of evening sorting out gps information, as I seem to have ended up with duplicate 'marks' in Memory Map. too many imports from backup, I suppose. Then a few things to print out, ready for an evening of packing tomorrow.

As the pie of inevitability settles in my stomach.


Only shelter is back against trig point. Never mind. Got to top in 50mins. Low cloud being carried on wind, so not much sounds either. Hill fort below looked very atmospheric. I'll snack there, then back to car.

MIA Bennachie

There is a hill somewhere out there. It was there for the last 3 out of 4 weeks, but not today. 2 youngsters ahead in jeans, carrying bag of alcohol.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007


Dropped in to PC World at lunchtime to see about USB connectors for the mobile phone, as I have a couple of mobile phone chargers that are miniUSB out, but I need to convert them to accept the normal USB in. They suggested Maplins, so I'll drop in there on the way out to the Benn' tomorrow (in my B-kit).

Went to the oriental supermarket for some seaweed cakes. I read that they are good as trailfood, as they contain vitamins and suchlike. I don't know for sure, but a few won't do me any harm. Tried them before with riceballs - tastes like I imagine seagull vomit does, but has that exotic kick to it. Went in with my scavenger eyes in, and came out with a couple of packs of pickled vegetables, some more noodles, and a strip of "Hello Kitty" sweets.

Saw the photo of the aircrew holding a Garmin eTrex out of the door of his hello, and I thought - you want to have a lanyard on that, as they're slippery wee things.

Signed up for the UK Outdoor Bloggers Forum.

Got the charity page up and running at:

Mike came round after work, and we watched Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" about Timothy Treadwell. A thought-provoking movie. Most of my thoughts were "no - don't do that, these are wild animals". An example of the movie can be found here. It was a good movie, leaving me with questions and thoughts about reality and sanity, but I definitely felt more sorry for his companion, Amie Huguenard, who died with him. She does not get a wiki entry.

Alan Sloman has beaten 25% of the UK on his (truly) big walk. 423 miles in 28 days.

There's an exhibition about Aberdonian volunteers in the Spanish Civil War at the art gallery - I must get to see it. When I was looking in to the conflict, I found this page of Spanish children's drawings from 1938. A photo-diary of the war can be found here.

On a cheerier note, Simon's photos of Beinn Dearg and An Teallach can be found here.

Update: WD has some good tarp pictures and advice here.

Umm Naser Tragedy

I missed this story yesterday: "Sewage 'tsunami' kills five in Gaza" (Source). I was looking on Al Jazeera for a different perspective on the news of our sailors being held in Iran.

As it was yesterday's news on the BBC site, I had to go looking for it: "Sewage flood causes Gaza deaths". (Source)

I don't know why I was drawn to this article, but I think it is the empathy. I can't empathise, only sympathise, with the gun fights and physical violence of the civil strife that some people live with in their daily life. But I can empathise when the world goes wrong on this level.

Look back kindly upon their lives and upon the difference they made to yours.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007


I hope the police catch the person/people involved in this story from Robert Scoble. The victim, Kathy Sierra, blogs about her threats - here: warning, strong language.

At the back of my brain, there is a nagging feeling that this is yet another issue of the real world-virtual world overlap, discussed recently. If the politicians and police just want to control things, rather than protect people, who is left to help? Where are the Net marshals? In the USA, will the FBI be going after these scum?

The Net allows the good and the bad. Will goodness make the badness go away, or will the true evil of human nature triumph as we slide down the toilet to the end of days?

Windturbines - epetition reply

Ooh, a letter from 10 Downing Street to AktoMan. Details here.

Summary: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to withdraw all subsidies and support to on-shore wind farms in valued landscapes."

Answer: "all proposed wind developments must take place within the formal planning procedure, which allows all relevant stakeholders to have their view and assess all relevant impacts on the environment, local community etc."

The rest is economic waffle that I, frankly, amn't interested in. The industrialisation of the landscape disappoints me. But, what the heck, there are elections coming up soon, as well as the tourist season. And what's the point in getting flustered, when there is sod all we voters can do about it anyway except put a cross in a box against some person/party that serves our own feeble interests best.


Is it? I've lost track. Am I supposed to be counting to Friday midnight, or Saturday (SUW d1)?

Went to Boots at lunchtime, and got some batteries. The ones the e-Lite use (CR2032's are on 3-for-2 just now), also some steri-strips for the first aid kit, and some more AAA's for the gps and phone. Stopped off in the Polish deli to get some traditional sausages for the backpack. I couldn't see the ones I liked from last week - I reckon I must have finished the off. Oops.

After work, I mainly went to the supermarket in "hunter/gatherer" mode. As well as rice, beanfeast and cous-cous, I got some stock cubes, chocolate, coconut milk, chocolate, peanuts, chocolate, health bars, chocolate and syrupy porridge for breakfasts. Also some healthy drinks and fruits for the rest of this week, as I must get the dregs of this cold shifted.

My PC's been processing cd tracks down to a manageable size for the 2gig player. I'm using an old version of dBpowerAMP music convertor, and knocking tracks down to 12kHz mono at 24Kbps sample rate. To give you an idea, Sam & Dave's album on the iPod weighs in at 47.9MB (from the CD). The same album is only 7.21MB on the wee mp3 player. Quality is lost, but what the heck, I've only a wee cheapo pair of headphones anyway. That's about 30 albums and podcast folders, and I've still about a 800MB left. That'll be enough for photo-storage if I can get to a Net cafe.

Off to get some Wildebeat (ooh, a new TWiT is out). Shame that Andy's blogger-interview isn't up yet, as I'd love to hear that.

Clarkie, the Boy Wonder

Mike, the designer of the AktoMan logo, writes about the process on his blog.

Is this the sort of sign you were waiting for, Mike?

aktosignaktosign Hosted on Zooomr

Monday, 26 March 2007

TarpTime pt3

As i was on own and too self-conscious to crawl inside with people around in a public park, here's a photo of tarp with bivvy bag inside it. Hmm, that pole looks like it could be an issue.

TarpTime pt2

A bit cheap n cheerful, but that's because it's cheap and i was cheerfully happy in the cold.

TarpTime pt1

Twilight found me lurking in Duthie Park with a backpack of items. 18m of cheap strong string, 2 walking poles and some tent pegs. Oh, and the car boot liner from Woolworths. After no experimenting at all, here's what i got.


The Prologue

I was driving across town on Sunday. Radio is dull, so I go to put on a CD, but remember that they are back in the flat being added to my iPod. I recall what Michael Kickingbear (1) said about listening to podcasts in the car instead of radio stations.


Instead of listening to the radio, I would have preferred to listen to something I wanted to hear. Instead of watching a television programme, I channel-hop, or switch off. Instead of reading a newspaper, I skim through data sources more relevant and entertaining (2).

Why is it important that I only receive information that I perceive to be relevant to me just now?

I like the irrelevant, I aim to be a renaissance man, having breadth of knowledge and skills rather than depth of knowledge. (3)

I don’t think it is age-related, more related to the strength of character. If the character is weak, then choosing relevant information falls into the laziness category ("I’ll do the minimum to get by", and so some information fails to 'stick'). If the character is strong, then the person might find that they can focus in on main projects and still have enough energy (physical/mental) left to deal with the minor tasks.

How do people learn about strength of character any more? (4) We sit and watch “Friends” and see that as society’s guidelines. I see children being pulled along the streets on their ‘heelies’ and maybe that is why it annoys me - is that my poor strength of character or their laziness? Maybe that is why people who struggle in their normal life have the animal cunning to push on through other challenges. Maybe that is why we huff and puff when the lights change and we have to wait a few extra minutes to get to our destination. For some people, the world really was against them, and they had to rage against it; for others, getting up in the morning is the biggest struggle we have to face, and so that is our yardstick. And if something is more difficult than that, well, we can turn on the iPod or change channels, and tune out the things you think are irrelevant.

Heck, it is a blame culture, and all we need to do is make up an excuse for why the task hadn’t been done on time. (5)

If the bailiffs are kicking in the door, the poorhouse turns you away, and the rain doesn’t stop falling and you forgot the waterproofs: who are you going to blame? What does not kill me, makes me stronger? (6) But people use that as an excuse for lots of poor behaviour these days. Or for making challenges more difficult (eg crossing the Andes by frog (7)).

Maybe that’s why I’m nervous about the imminent 212 mile trek.


It is all writ large best here, I think, by Mr Thomas. We ‘did it’ in school, and the work stays with me, resurfacing in so many different ways. Strange that it was irrelevant back then, when I might have nicked myself shaving, or had to recover some escaping sheep from the croft, or a goat ate some birthday cake.

Country Walking Website

It is my loss that I don't frequent the Country Walking site more often, and must confess never to having bought a copy of the magazine. Things I noted on the site:

  • Walking Festivals Directory 2007 (link)
  • download a free routecard (link)
I'll continue keeping an eye on the magazine cover in the shops for information that's useful to me.
Bought some thin cord and some reflec tape in Square One (a real hardware shop). Going to tie off lengths of stuff on to the boot liner in an attempt to make it tarp-like. The reflec tape is going on to tent peg cordage, with a stitch to keep it in place. This should make the pegs easier to find in the moorland. I reckon 6 tent pegs and I'll give it a try on the trail.

Warm mid-day here. If too clammy in the woods next week, and if it is quiet, would I have the nerve to try skinny-trekking? No chance. For one thing, I'd attract all the midges from 5 counties. Not a nice thought at all.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Another Month Gone

The ClustrMap went up a month ago. According to it, AktoMan has received 3,503 visits since 25 February 2007. For the same period, Google Analysis notes 2,249 visitors (hello La Habana, Alcorcón and Lisbao).

The interactive FrapprMap is up to 175 members, of which 11 readers have added photos. Newbies of note: Paris, Vienna, Inverness, Calgary, Wichita, Nanuet (NY), Cardiff, Preston, Norwich (Hi Sally), Ipswich, Cambridge (Hi Geoff).

Site changes over the past month:

  1. I've upgraded to templates in Blogger, making it easier for me to add features to the sidebar. I'd still like to organise in a better way.
  2. I've added a diary of forthcoming events. I'll add in links to earlier events, allowing easy access to media by date, for example, visiting the 23-24th September 2006 gives access to Flickr photos. Sadly, I haven't yet found a way to link straight to pages on the Kiko diary.
  3. AktoMan logos were added to the page and the icon file.
  4. The Odiogo syndication came through. I have no control over the chosen voice, but it has allowed people to multitask (I am told).

For better or worse, time marches on.


Been in a basement wargaming for 7 1/2 hours today. Summer's here, sun's out, and a pile of us hide from it rolling dice and arguing about rules and having a fine time. Life is what you make of it. Ate gorp and used new multitool to fashion a die-rolling cup out of a chocolate box. Not that the victor let it go to his head, but well done to Ian's side.

As I was packing boxes of figures into my car I noticed the Woolworths car boot liner. Something grabbed my attention, and I finally opened it out. It is a 5'x5' square of plastic. It has 8 eyelets and carrying handles on each corner. "Tarpaulin?" thinks I. Not as light as nysil, but a good temporary shelter if raining or when I get the urge to try out the bivvy bag. Tentpegs in the corner, walking poles and paracord. Or as a tent footprint. For the weight, I think I'll add it to the pack.

Only other prep work was resizing some more mp3 tracks.

Waste of Space

Ah well, the anti-spam filter goes back on here folks. Some div of a porn site sent the following comment in to an earlier post today:

Nice blog. Keep it up!
I have a new webcam site /blog.
Its mostly live webcam shows and stuff.
Have a look if you get time :-)

In the message was a link to a commercial porn site. As the illegal trade in sex slaves, mainly drugged up by their pimps, is not something I can condone, I removed the comment. Instead why not watch a programme about the anniversary of the end of (part) of the UK's involvement in the trading of African slaves and think on the similarities. But life goes on, and you make of it what you will.

Virtue is the foremost provision,
Virtue is food for the journey,
Virtue is the best vehicle
For going in any direction. ' '

Summertime Starts

Saturday saw a few extra bits and pieces for the trek. One the way back from the post office, I stopped in Tkmaxx and found a triple DVD set entitled "Literary Britain" for £7. Betjeman, Hardy's Wessex and the Lake Poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey). I'll need to watch the latter before I go.

Bought some dehydrated food, a gas canister, and a Gerber Shortcut multitool. Decided to stick with the scissors instead of the pliers that Clutch comes with. Tiso's had a bigger stock in than last week.

Added towns on the Southern Upland Way to Memory Map, and copied some more music to the mp3 player, dropping the quality down along the way (instead of the higher quality of the iPod).

Folding spork fits in to my cookset quite nicely.

Boots cleaned and Nikwaxed - overkill, but what the heck.

As Weird Darren wonders about an Summer Camp - if it is somewhere close to the Wainwright Coast-to-Coast then I'm game. It gave me the idea, just an inkling of an idea. What if... I complete the Southern Upland Way at Easter, the Wainwright C2C in Summer, that would just leave a Welsh coast-to-coast to complete a hat trick! The only Welsh C2C I know is Offa's Dyke, but I may be wrong in that. A totally silly idea, and will be knocked out of me by the cold light of days hiking, but that's the inkle.

Clocks to move forward. I wonder which one I'll miss this time round. I wonder where I'll be sleeping this time next week?

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Folding spork

One trip to sorting office to collect tuesday's recorded delivery that royal mail failed to redeliver this morning. Still, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. The spork fits nicely into palm of hand in a wolverine-esque manner. Or is it nakade? Memory fails me.



This time next week, I'll be travelling South. For some reason it makes me more nervous.

Caught the later half of "Out of Doors" live this morning. I'll catch the rest on the 'listen again' feature.

The happy, cheery postman brings a free TGO re-subscription gift of a Colin Prior 220' panorama of Torridon. I'll see if I can get a frame in town that is 3 foot long and 7 inches tall.

Also arriving, my trail-book for the Southern Upland Way, "The New Penguin Book of Scottish Short Stories", ordered second hand for a penny from Silver Sporran Books via Amazon (plus postage and package).

Furthermore, a big box from Expedition Foods, which I had ordered on Monday. The Drytech food feels weird in its figure-hugging packaging. No wasted volume there. The Pemmikan is from a German company called Cathay. I look forward to tasting it on the trail, "für trekking" as the label says. No pre-trek nibbles to try out the delights.

And some birthday cake from my Dad. Which will be eaten today.

Flat currently smells of Nikwax. It smells like .. preparation.

Off to clean boots. Yup, I'll be wearing boots on the SUW, leaving my Terrocs at home. Choose your own reason from last night's poem.

My Way

Extracts from Liz Lochhead's poem "My Way", from the book of poems "The Colour of Black and White". This is because Darren's not well, and he may have caught the cold from me. I can be infectious.

Now - if you want to lie back and relax, WD, you'll find the audio version here:

I only did it for a laugh
I did it because I'm a fool for love
I did it because push had come to shove
I did it because - my age - I've nothing to prove

But I did it
I did it
I did it
Yes I did it

I did it to go out in a blaze of glory
I did it to make them listen to my side of the story
I only did it to get attention
I did it to get an honourable mention
I did it to put an end to it all
I did it for no reason at all

But I did it
I did it
I did it
Yes I did

Friday, 23 March 2007

Royal Mail - alpha

I have had an email from a trader I bought an item from on eBay have the package returned to sender as it was not 'called for'. I have never received a card to collect an item. When a similar problem occurred recently due to the ineptitude of the "Royal" Mail, the woman on the desk of the sorting office refused to go and look as I did not have a card. Can you please tell me WHY in your so-called Customer Service policies, no-one has the brains to ask WHY mail has to be returned to the sender? Or is this some conspiracy to get people to pay twice?

As I am refusing to pay for YOUR problem, please send a small supply of claims forms to the above address, so that I can have some to hand, as I am awaiting a delivery from a company in England, and you have already 'lost' his previous order.

Considering the problem is only intermittent, perhaps you would look into your staffing, as there are a number of streets, places and closes with similar names - but one would think that that would be taken into consideration before the management returned uncollected packages willy-nilly without considering the complete picture (tired postman, poor training, rushed jobs, unfamiliar route, lack of community spirit, etc).

I look forward to some sort of improvement in service from the "Royal" Mail, and you can keep track with further developments online at - as the item purchased was to accompany me on my charity trek across Scotland on the Southern Upland Way, but your people have just ruined that.


Sent via the Royal Mail website >> "Customer Service/ How can we help?/ I've got another problem which isn't shown here ".

I do love the terminology. "Service", "How can we help?" about a problem "you" have. Well, my problem is that someone at the post office failed to do their job, and I am out of pocket, so exactly how are you going to help me? Perhaps you can go back to making deliveries when people are home from work? Or by not introducing 1-week turnarounds when you fail to deliver the packages in the first place.

I couldn't help but notice how many packets were waiting to be delivered when I called in to the sorting office a few Saturdays ago. Something in the Royal Mail system ain't working, and needs to be fixed. May I suggest that if the core business is delivering the mail, you start with that.

So, at the moment, I've an unhappy trader who has received their packet back (Hi, Jim), a customer who has paid for delivery with nothing to show for it, and a post office 'service' who appear on TV and talk about percentages of correct deliveries, etc.

I have 3 packets await redelivery tomorrow, all requested through the Royal Mail website. Hopefully it all goes well, as I hate dealing with this Corporation

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Bennachie 22/03

Sun sharp behind me. Sounds of the digger being carried clearly on the wind.

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Shades of BennachieShades of Bennachie Hosted on Zooomr

Benn' 2203

I can't do it justice. Spring is springing, for sure.

Bennachie 2203

Long shadows but still some snow clinging to unlife in the nooks and crannies.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

SUW T-10

Picked up some Polish sausages to try on the trek. I had Bohan's for tea, and a nice snack. The Uhlan's I'd had before, but preferred the type that was new to me. The woman in the shop said it was dryer, and she was right. Also pulled me up for calling them 'salami'. That's me told.


Added a diary to the sidebar.


I normally collect the "sorry, you were out" cards from the Post Office and drive to their sorting office to reclaim my property. I cringe when I have to deal with these guys. For one thing, they aren't "sorry" as the post used to be delivered when people hadn't gone out to work. So scrub the "sorry" comment and change it to:

"it is cheaper for us if you collect your own mail, which I'm sure you appreciate as it means stamps are a bit cheaper; but we don't care if you don't cos there's nothing you can do about it"

Just off to try there redelivery website for the first time. Well, they spent a lot of government money on it, so it must be worthwhile.


I've started a kit list of things to get after the SUW (thanks, Stef/BG, for item one on the list).


In a reminiscence of EdTV, there is Justin.TV. The lead, Justin Kan is wearing a headcam to videoblog his life. Having just seen his live chat window being hit with a pile of abuse, it just shows the downside of Web 2.0 - just proves how many ignorant prats there are all around the world. Watching someone broadcasting his 'normal' life and then sending abuse from your own 'normal' life and complaining that "this is lame"?

Compelling. Real "Big Brother", without the wannabe celebs bickering about nonsense.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

SUW T-11

Snow came (yippeeee) and went (oh, now I have to walk home in Scarpas as they won't fit in briefcase). Definitely in a countdown to Easter mood. I can't help but think "in two weeks time how will I cope with this weather". So far the answer has always been - better than in my work suit and overcoat.


Got a call from Ian at Expedition Foods. He called to make sure the pemmican wasn't a wrong order as it's normally for colder climes. I explained my situation, and I'd have liked to have chatted for longer, but I was in a cupboard at work (doubles as a telephone booth) and had to nip off.


One of my colleagues at work remembers eating dehydrated baby food when inter-railing it round Europe in her younger days. May be a line of investigation.


Post Office delivered my wee mp3 player from eBuyer. So, in answer to the guy from Comet who said "if you can find a player with 1-2gig storage and and mp3 player for under 80 quid, let me know". Job done. With 60quid spare.


Card from the Post Office. I'll go and collect it. Either the multitool (still no sign), or the folding spork. If there is no sign of the multitool by the weekend, I'm reckoning on canceling the order and going with one from the shop. The eBayer can then take it up with the Post Office complaints at the loss of trade. It's not the first time the PO has screwed things up, and the lack of customer-centred ethos from their senior management stinks.


John Hee's been writing up his reports from The Outdoorzzz Showzzz at Walkabout in the UK.


Cameron's site is still dead due to bandwidth issues. Across on iTunes, no-one has written a review yet. I'm sure some blogger elsewhere will rectify that omission.


I'm off back to my secret project. That's not the same secret work project. Listening to the new TWiT podcast. I still reckon that there is a niche for a 'round table' outdoors podcast of a similar format. news roundup, and generally chewing the fat - something that Andy Howell was getting accidentally with his "interview the bloggers".

Interesting talks about conferences - "constructive rather than instructive". New tech to me: Talkshoe (live and recorded interactive podcasts).

March snow

Walked in to work in the snow this morning.

Monday, 19 March 2007

SUW Planning 4

Ordered in some Drytech meals from Expedition Foods. Plus some Pemmikan, which I've never tried.

Did some work on some cunning background ideas.

OutdoorPreview 2007

3rd-5th July, Harrogate International Centre, trade show. (Link)

Focused exhibitions, such as outdoorpreview, really do provide a showcase that gives the UK outdoor trade an important 'leg-up' when looking to rationalise brand choices, what will sell-through, what is new and how best to plan for the coming seasons. Knowledge is power and attending outdoorpreview ensures a constant information flow aimed at helping you run a more profitable business. (1)

On the site, if you go to the Outdoor Enthusiast section, there's information on camping, walking and equipment care.

SUW T-12

Someone asked me what the total ascent of the Southern Upland Way was? I didn't know offhand, so had to check in Ronald Turnbull's "Across Scotland on Foot". After checking the number by adding up the ascents listed in Roger Smith's official SUW guidebook, the graphical answer is:

A couple of Munros short of Everest.


West to East that is 6,980m/22,900 feet. At least it is spread over 212 miles/340km.

Waiting for Godot

Nothing much happened today.

I stopped off in WH Smiths and noticed they had "Free Today" marked on some books. When I read the small print, there was some free nonsense if you spent money on other things. Same sort of chickanery that was in the adverts in Harpers Weekly in 1862 - SPLENDID GOLD WATCH. 145 years and a different era, oh how we have advanced.

There is a good selection of maps, and was tempted to get a spare OS map for the SUW, Tour or Travel, one had the Way marked. But I resisted as I've the guidebook and maps too.

I had a look at a book on the British Citizenship Test, and was astonished to learn a couple of new facts:

  • Gaelic is the native language of Scotland.
  • A Levels are studied in Secondary School. (note - not mentioned "except in most of Scotland")

If you spot the errors, please don't tell me. I'm not trying the mock test, as I'll be deported from the mainland, but here's the link.

No sign of the book I was after.

Some new faces on the Frappr map, and 169 members.

George (the real one) got his picture uploaded, and BG/Steff is present (looks like his breachclout is on too tight). Chasrle's is sporting his name-badge, which is sweet. A new addition from Nanuet, NY state. In England, new APs in Preston and Exeter, down on the south coast.

Still not completely tying in with the automatic system on ClustrMap.
Zooomr is still offline, being upgraded. Bit of a nuisance, but I think the PhotoStory of the trek down the beach worked out okay.

Useful site:

Discovered whilst looking up to put a face to the voice Kirsten O'Brien who appeared on the Steve Merchant show; which I listened to to hear I'm So Dave's update.


I'll need to spend some time at - to see about...well, I'm sure you can figure out what I'm looking at. Also see what the delivery time is on


By the way. I think I've figured out what the 'format' of this blog is. I'm probably stating the bleedin' obvious, but I reckon it is a visual radio show about an apprentice hiker. Any thoughts?

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Dave's Made It

Dave has made it to John o'Groats (earlier in week). It was closed, so Steve Merchant didn't believe him. The local who they asked to confirm where he was seemed in a hurry to get about her business. The TIC was closed too, and he didn't know how to get back.

Steve lost the bet, and will pay his show fee to Comic Relief.

Dave's closing song: Primal Scream "I'm losing more than I’ll ever have" (couldn't find on YT, alternative)

I look forward to Dave's blog catching up.

The Links Effect

Went for a walk on a cold and windy, but sunny Sunday afternoon. Tried out the 3MP camera on the phone to capture these images of Aberdeen, starting from the beach and going back up to the town.

Links: Links, Beach Ballroom in the 1960's (site), Transition Extreme, The Lemon Tree, Provost Skene's House

Scottish Writers (1)

Picked up a book in the library the other day "Discovering Scottish Writers" (ed Alan Reid & Brian Osborne). I've split the long list into sections, and this is the first, pre-Walter Scott list, in chronological order.

I hope to get some culture along the Southern Upland Way. There's a deep heritage before Scott and Burns.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Where are the AktoPals?

So far, the 150 listed folks on the Frappr map reside:

  • Canada
    • Ontario: Toronto.
  • USA
    • Washington: Ferndale; Seattle.
    • Nevada: Las Vegas.
    • Colorado: Arvada.
    • Minnesota: Rochester.
    • Kansas: Wichita.
    • Texas: Plano; Athens; Dallas.
    • Vermont: Burlington.
    • New York: Manhattan Island - one AP on 6th Avenue, and another on Broadway (I didn't realise how accurate the maps were).
    • New Jersey: Morristown.
  • Europe
    • United Kingdom
      • Scotland: Aberdeen x 2 (Hi FJ); Edinburgh; Glasgow (hi "Big Galloot").
      • England: North Shields; Gateshead; Harrogate; Leeds x 2; Manchester x 2; Sheffield x 4; Derby (Hi Simon); Shepshed; Hinckley; Telford; Birmingham x 5; Newmarket; Cambridge x 2; Milton Keynes x 6; Stevenage x 2; St Albans; Watford x 2; Aylesbury; Stoke Mandeville; Oxford; Gloucester x 2; Brentford; Epsom; Brighton; Cosham; Fareham; Exeter; London x 12 (Hi George).
      • Okay, so, who placed a London pin on the MI5 building, own up, I can wait all night!!! I thought the name 'Millbank' was familiar.
      • Wales: Swansea (Hi Chris).
      • Irish Sea: two folk in the water south of the Isle of Man.
    • Spain: Madrid.
    • Switzerland: Pieterlen.
    • Belgium: Diegem.
    • The Netherlands: Nieuwerkerk Aan Den Ijssel; Amsterdam.
    • Germany: Bonn (Hi Frank).
    • Poland: Lublin.
  • Far and Away
    • China: 6 folk (see previous comments as to why I'd rather not list locations).
    • South Korea: Seoul.
    • Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur.
    • New Zealand: Auckland.

Is that 150? If not, then sorry for missing out people.

Music on the radio: Little Richard "Tutti Frutti". Hum that and grab yourself an AktoCard.

TOS Day 2.3

To recreate the thrill of Birmingham, I forced myself out round 4 outdoors shops in Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon, to see what they had in the sales.

Tisos. There's an Osprey 50 litre pack for sale for £90 (reduced from £120). Looked like an Atmos to me, but didn't take a written record. MH Trek pants down by 15 quid, for the normal and the zip-offs. They had the Gerber Shortcut multitool for £20.

Now, I have a Leatherman Squirt on order - once the Post Office get back to their core business and deliver the package to me, posted 10 days ago, recorded delivery, so someone will get there @rse chewed out since they have failed to deliver to package. But the Gerber is new, and there in front of me. But I know nothing about it. How does the weight compare to the Leatherman (which they have on show), what are the tools like. "We don't have an open one." "There is a picture of it". "I can show you a bigger Gerber so you can see".

Now, I'll point you here, dearest passenger, to my recent ramblings about the Real World/Virtual World interface, and cite this Saturday afternoon as a case in point.

Needless to say that there was no sale, as the impulse to buy was broken.

Waterstones. Not an outdoors shop, but I was after a book, and since it assimilated Ottakars, it is the nearest big bookshop on my route. I won't say what the book was I was after, as all will become clear later. There used to be a section on local writings, and the Scottish authors. Now it is 'adult/erotic' books in that prime slot. JockJottings (my term) are hidden by the kiddies section out the back of the shop. I couldn't tell if there was anything upstairs, as half of the upper floor is now a coffee shop, where you'd have to push past folk to get to the core business products. Once more I left empty handed.

Blacks. Big winter sale on. Some major discounts. They've also got the oval Sigg with a cup. Great design and I would be tempted but I have an oval Sigg already, sans cup. Package said it was based on a 1941 Swiss Army design. Picked up a Cyba-Lite for 2 quid, and "Don't Forget the Duct Tape" for 3 quid. They have some gorillapods in stock - I might give one a try when my beanbag dies on me.

It was the first time I came across kids wearing those wheel-heel things. Outdoors, no problem. But indoors, up and down the shop's timber floor? Here's a YT link - and someone will get hurt, if it hasn't happened already.

Craigdon's. Sale on (I didn't buy the pink fluffy boots in the window). About £10-£15 quid off lots of products. Saw the Osprey 22L pack in the flesh. Nice. Heard that the tent show is again in 5/6 May (link). Despite nice kit, there was nothing I was after. Nice to get space to wander.

Nevisport. And finally. In the door, looking at the sales items, I was greeted by ... "how'd the winter skills training go?" Not "what can I sell you?" or "do you need help?" I recounted some of the self-arrests and left the gent with an AktoCard so he could see the photos (unsigned card, but nr 8 - he looked bemused). Thought about a 3 litre Camelbak, but I've the 2 litre one already plus the oval Sigg, so resisted the impulse buy. Also resisted the Great Glen Way Harveys map until a later date (for another grand plan).

The surprise shop of the day was a bargain book shop. The Scottish section was well-stocked, with a book on Corbetts, and 2 editions of Cameron McNeish's "The Munros" book, Scots poetry and even some local interest books. Nothing I was after though.

TOS Day 2.2

Well, George, BG and Dave Mycroft are back from Birmingham. But pipped, I think I can say, by Cameron McNeish's podcast from the show - now, that's a media scoop for Mr McNeish.

And there in one of Dave Mycroft's photos is John's Hat of Doom! One brim to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them.

TOS Day 2

Second day of me not being at The Outdoorsssss Showssss, though Cameron and WD are making up for that. Other bloggers are available, and will no doubt be posting soon.

Off to the shops to see what's in the sales. There's also an errand I must run in a non-gear shop. More later.


And in the real world, Alan Sloman's reached 15% of the walk. Well done sir.

"I'm So Dave" is at Wick, having walked 1168 miles over the last 59 days. To paraphrase Bill Bryson's AT book, it isn't just the walking, it is the getting up each day and walking, and the next day and the next day. As a new discovery (empathy?), I am in awe at the mental, as well as physical, fortitude of people like Dave and Alan.

Please accept these very limited edition GoldAktoCards as some small token of the amazing effort that you have shown.

"Out of Doors" 17.03

Radio Scotland's outdoors program (link) discussed the North Sea path meet has been talked about at the. Interesting that the Scottish Exec didn't send a representative. Still, I suppose it was too far to travel out of the Central Belt (twinned with London). Snarl.

129 miles. Hmmmm.

I've been driving regularly to Peterhead over about 7 years now, and when I get to the coast near Stirling Village, the view is always different. From the time of day to the weather, to the nautical traffic - it is always a unique view (which the old phone camera doesn't do any justice).


By coincidence, the "Munro virgin/novice" slot talks about socks, then rucksacks, and hydration systems.


AktoCard winners go to the people at Aberdeenshire Council for their hard work on the trail sections, and Martin & Euan at Radio Scotland. Take a copy with pride chaps and chapesses, you've done good.

SUW - T-14

Two weeks today! Gulp.


Pacerpole section came back today - I only posted it on Wednesday lunchtime. Delivered lengthwise through the letterbox (at least the postie is smart enough not to say it was too wide to fit).

Email yesterday from Heather (link from Heather about Mr Townsend's recent Stateside trip). The advice is:

When locking, try steady and firm turns so you can almost feel the nylon-plastic part of the bolt pressing against the inside of the shaft wall.....this allows time for it to fully engage.

I'll look at how I'm holding them, as I let them go into a naturalistic position, pushing myself along - I'll see what bad habits I've let myself get into. I'm probably guilty of overlocking with a rapid twist instead. Hence one section getting locked too tight. (YT link)

Still, it solves the issue of which charity to focus on for the SUW. I've decided to put links to both "Comic Relief" and the "Gurkha Welfare Trust" (for reasons mentioned before). People can then decide that if they want to use the walk as a focus, to donate money that way.

I was sickened to hear that the UK Government "planned to transfer £425 million from the Big Lottery Fund and £250 million from other good causes after 2009." (Source: BBC News). I don't know how this theft will affect real, honest good causes - not only from the government stealing from money 'donated' by the public through the national lottery, but by the expected drop in people actually doing the lottery because of this. With less money coming in, and more money going out to fund the British hosting of the Olympics in 2012, charities (honest to goodness goodness) will lose out. Or will they? Will people just give money directly to charity, thereby bypassing the lottery 'system'. In which case, I think that some low-key community projects will then be affected.

Ach well, we get the politicians that reflect society. People blag towels from hotel rooms, or break the speed limit on regular basis, justifying with excuses. Be a better society, and we'd get better politicians.

2 weeks today. Yaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh. I need to get away from 'civilisation' and out into the real world.


PS: link from Heather about Mr Townsend's recent Stateside trip. Chris' own blog has his comments. New word of the week 'pulk'. Chris comments that:

In six days in the Yellowstone backcountry we saw no people or even any trails. We did see bison and elk and the tracks of many animals and birds.

All I can say is 'wow'.

The longest I've gone, so far, is one day, when I only saw one person (and I said 'hi' as he cycled past). No, I tell a lie, I'd forgotten that a couple of days later there was one day when the only human contact was seeing 2 people in the distance (link).


AktoCards list this week:

  • Nr 1: Cameron McNeish (in with my TGO subscription)
  • Nr 2: Heather & Alan @ Pacerpole Ltd
  • Nr 3: Doreen at work
  • Nr 4: Paul at work
  • Nr 5: Fiona-Jane
  • Nr 6: Parents (one each would have just been too much of an ego-trip)
  • Nr 7: Mike


...and the raves...

Listening to This Week in Tech podcast, episode 90 "Idiocracy" in the background. Good weekly roundup of tech-related news...and then off topic down 'rat-holes' on the "content free podcast". If you want to singalong, here's the song. Film being mention "Idiocracy" on, and looks good - It is by Mike "King of the Hill" Judge. (YT link, warning: adult language).

BTW: Andy, Bob & WD,if you haven't heard TWiT's podcast yet maybe the format gives you the same ideas it gives me. They did some video in the past too.


Watched "Macross Plus" film last night. Number 8 in the SFX magazine top 25 anime. Not having seen the original tv series (YT link) I will now have to go and get it. I'm not surprised that "Anonymous"'s step-niece watched it a lot. The spiky-noses were strange, but a great indepth storyline. 13 years old, but the high-quality work that was put in back in 1994 means that the animation hasn't dated that much.

We watched it in the subtitled versions, voices:
Details from


After that, we watched "Syriana", with George Clooney looking like John Cleese (sources 1,2,3).

Do not watch the trailer - the movie is not an action film, it is better than that. The trailer put me off the movie, which is an intelligent political drama. Watch out for lots of familiar faces - none more so that Doc Bashir himself. Hmm...I can't help but notice that he only appears on the 'extended' cast list on the IMDB page: alphabetical listing problem, or maltreatment of "Johnny Foreigner"? (oops, best not end on a rant).


Just catching up with comms from the last few days.

Maverickapollo's blog "Just Rants and Raves" noted the scum (my words) that are now using blogs to pass on damaging computer code to the reader. I call these people scum, and hope that they get the sack from their jobs, catch nasty diseases and otherwise have their karma screwed with for the evil scum that they are.

Every part of the Internet gets vandalised by these scum for their own waste of time scummy damaging scummy stuff. All that will happen is that people will complain to the politicians that nothing is being done, and something must be done. The authorities do do some things, but obviously not enough. It is another issue with the interface between the real and virtual worlds.

When the scum get caught, the sentence must take into account all the damage that they and their scripts have done worldwide.

...enough of my ranting...

Some Meter on Feet

American Bushman asked what my thoughts were on foot care. Although not an expert, here's what works for me:

Naked feet: keep toenails clipped and hard skin smoothed. I use a rubbing device from the supermarket as they didn't have any pumice stones. I get dry, hard skin on my right outer heal, and so would tend to get blisters there.

Socks: chose carefully. I use a mix of different brands. If using "Sealskinz" waterproof socks, I'd recommend liner socks. Choose your socks with the same care that you chose your boots or shoes.

Footwear: the Inov-8 Terrocs have never given me blisters, however those were not the pair that I wore on the WHW (where I did end up with blisters). I've reverted to boots, and have had no problems with the Scarpa ZG65's. I think the most important advice is to get a proper boot fitting. Even after you have researched the products available, and what you want from the footwear (rather than what the seller thinks you want).

Care and attention: dry your feet regularly. If you feel a blister start to develop, stop and treat it. I'm too much of a wimp to use the hot pin method, and go for the clean scissors and snip. Germolene is my antiseptic cream of choice, but I'm not a trained medic, so won't give out advice here (not with the current 'blame culture'). Keep your first aid kit sorted, replacing used supplies. I use a waterproof first aid bag, mine came from - I know that any old drysack would have done, but I always tell trail-mates where they will find my first aid kit in my pack. Just in case.

Pre-treatment: I put vaseline on my feet if I'm going out for a trek, then pull on my socks. Normally because my 'official' creams are stowed in my back the night before. I have a drybag with my 'remedies' - foot creams, lip balm, sunlotion, jungle juice. The Gehwol foot creams from are the pre-treatment and the post-treatment "refreshing balm" - in all honesty, I use the latter more often (unless I'm on a multiday hike, the vaseline lasts long enough so I don't use the footcream). As I suffer from migraines, I found that the refreshing menthol balm works well on my forehead and helps ease away pains, in the same way as products like 4head. Again, I'm no expert, but it works for me when the weather makes me feel tingly.

Proper Planning Prevents P...poor Performance.

Any athletes foot will get treated before I go out. I did once carry some talc for it, but these days I just leave it in my car kit (when I remember).

Another thing that might help is hydration. I use a Camelbak system and make sure I drink regularly. I'm not sure if that makes a difference.

I also use the 'smart foot' moulded insoles in my boots (but not my Terrocs)

With Eagle Eyes

Woawwww, was it only me that spotted something strange in Weird Darren's press pack for the Outdoorsss Showssss:


Starts with "B" and ends in "uff" ????? Is this the real reason "Weird Darren - the Buff Slaying Peacock" wanted a press pack? I think the world should be told.

We are at the back of your headz making your eyez swivel ' '

Friday, 16 March 2007

TOS Day 1

Well, no matter how high up in the building I go, I can't see Birmingham from here. Other people who are at The Outdoors Show are, or will be:

There will be lots of people who will not be at the Show (or the BlogCon). Some may be sulking about the hosting in Birmingham. But I am just jealous. Never mind, I will make up for it by visiting the sales on in the gear shops in town, and by ordering a folding spork from Bob.

How many 'outdoors' can you have? Magic, Great, Show, Channel.

Also, why is it 'outside' (singular), but 'outdoors' (plural) when a man can only exit through one door at a time?

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Filial Duties

AktoMum and AktoDad visiting. Abnormal service will be resumed later.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Bob & Andy's Big Day Out

Just caught the podcast over tea, and very good it was too. Not just Bob Cartwright and Andy Howell

Link to podcast page on TheOutdoorsStation

I was surprised that the podcast covered not only the wood-burning stove and bacon sarnie making (even though I was tucking into my tea, I was getting hungry again listening to that) - very good podcast, as ever, but I wasn't expecting the 'new media' discussion in there. Food for the ears and the imagination.

I do hope it'll be part of a series: "Bimbles with Bob", "Ramblings with Robert", "Aurally Active Andy". Or when the two chaps head out again:

  • "Bob and Andy's Wrong Trousers" - how choosing the wrong trousers can result in chaffing of the nether regions, and what creams can be applied (obviously an XXX rating there folks),
  • "A Close Shave" - using shaving oils and packable razors on treks
  • then the full-feature film version "Bob and Andy's Curse of the WereTarpKit". ' '

Link to Andy's blog of the pod for a picture of the bacon being cooked, the stove being used, and the foldable spork.

Oh, I've taken the executive decision to not copy-and-paste the player in, so that Bob gets the audience passing through his site instead. More work for readers (point, click, scroll, click), but you need the exercise, and you'll see his shiny new site.


Speaking of laziness. Can people start making an effort and rating podcasts where you've got the chance. I notice that iTunes does things differently now, but if you notice the chance to rate Internet media that you enjoy, then please do so. It advertises your happiness to people around the world and the podcasters have a chance of reaching new people who may ignore 'unpopular' feeds.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

End of Month Report 1

Well, it has been the first month of Google Analysis reporting who in the big wide world actually reads my postings. For me, it is a journal of my experiences and hiking-related happenings. Whether discounted shaving oil in Asda or seeing reindeer in the Cairngorms, I'm recording what I find to be important. If you observers of this transient life find some trigger or common emotion, then great. Otherwise, it is just me and a blank page, but that's great too, as it allows me to focus my thoughts on things. (Some of that comes from the conversation with Andy earlier today, so may be in the blog-pod-cast, 'blogcast').

Visitors from 14 February: 1,956. (ClustrMap's stats started later, but are about 200 extra for the same period when analysed with Google's data).

February's returning readers: 68%

Average time spent reading: 3 minutes 46 seconds.

Frappr map has stabilised at 39 people.

ClustrMap may be more accurate than the Google Map, as nodes appear and disappear on Google Analysis, but stay on ClustrMap, and are noted by visitors themselves on the Frappr map.

Areas for expansion: Greenland, Antarctica, Pacific Islands (other than NZ, "hello NZ"), and the Russian subcontinent. Oh, Alaska too. But at the moment, I'd be happy if someone from the Hebrides dropped by. Or France, Italy, Turkey, Subsaharan Africa. I'm not fussy, it just gives me an excuse to look places up on the map.

To the visitors, wherever you are in the world, if you want to grab yourself a AktoCard, you've earned it.

Oh, and the real world AktoCard #2 is in with my PacerPole being sent to the, I did that one earlier. Like Blue Peter badges, they'll be on eBay next.

SUW Planning 3

Dash it. Why is getting to the trail-head such a battle? I've site open, as well as, and the map of the western SUW, and the guidebook, and Memory Maps! I'm looking at getting to Portpatrick about 2.30pm, so realistically, not starting to trek until 3pm after "feet wet". That'll mean I either camp west of Stranraer or, east of Stranraer, which would mean clearing Castle Kennedy.

Advantage of latter: gets me away from the urbanites.

Disadvantage of latter: a long day travelling.

Fallback position: I fall back on the ground and crawl into tent in the first best pitch I can find as the sun starts to set.

Driving Andy Barmy

Technology letting us down, as I'm being interviewed by Andy Howell for the podcast on bloggers. Between the connection crashing, a foreign lad going door-to-door selling sketches (sorry, are we in 19th Century Paris?) , and me coughing and wheezing and losing the train of thought, it's all well. Poor Andy's got all that to edit to get something worth listening to. It'll be worth listening to, and I can't wait for the finished product.

Andy's side of the conversation can be read here.

Phone test 5

You have received a Media Message
This Media Message has been sent using an O2 camera phone.

Click here to view this message online



well, that didn't work, so I'll kill the link. It was an attempt at using a native AMR file via the MMS system in O2 on the QT. TTFN


Ordered OL42 Kielder Water & Forest (Bellingham & Simonside Hills), from - the pound off was charged in postage and package. Even my cold/flu addled brain can figure out that that means it is post free. Woohoo (cough/splutter).


Nifty feature on the Ordnance Survey site, where you can zoom to an area, and it shows you what maps cover that area.

-- - they have some mp3s to legally download too. Including a Norman MacLean sketch. If you like his style, try this on YouTube too; and this. yes, mentioned him before, but he is funny, and I need cheering up.


I don't speak German, but has some great video podcasts. Thanks to Chasrle at OM for finding it.


Ooh, email from Andy Howell for the great blogger podcast. Will someone be podding the blogs of the podcast? And which category will that appear in WD's weekly round-up. It can't be an exclusive scoop if he reports it in both podcast and blog. I obviously work with Excel too much, when I keep on waiting for a blue dot to appear.


SUW planning - copy of GMF's "The Steel Bonnets" dug out (just seen the price on Amazon, wow, it is 400 pages long and only £8.57 plus pnp), also the Osprey book "The Border Reivers". Must get an appropriate book for the journey. Maybe some Burns? Rabbie, not George. Boom tish.

Also, thinking last night that a cheap wee mp3 player with radio for the train journey, or if I get rained in to the tent. Now that this just subliminal advertising from Amazon, as they sent me a message about cheap mp3 players yesterday. Gads, the power of advertising, eh?



Alan Reaches 10% of Britain

Well done, Alan. He's broken 10% of his walk (10.1% actually). If anyone thinks Britain is a small island, it has taken him 12 days to walk the 168.3 miles. Donations are at £2,675.

And with his usual understatement, writes about the lack of a decent pub in Crediton.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Rathad Iericho

If I haven't said it before, I'll say it here, "Scrubs" is a great TV series. I've never seen a programme do comedy and pathos so brilliantly. I can't think of a series that can slip into despair as well. Great writing, direction and acting. Tonight had the transplant episode. I won't spoil it by giving things away.


And then there was "Castaway". It lasted maybe 6 minutes. 4 of them was when I was in the kitchen catching some of it as the kettle boiled. 2 minutes of people voting on who was the laziest, and that had something to do with the issue of toilet rolls.


Discovered, Backpacker magazine editor, Steve Howe's, phone-reports on the Sierra High Route as he looks back on the day's hike. The first one I caught, about day 10, he had feasted on crisps and beer. My sort of hiker. Available through iTunes under "Backpacker Trail Tours".


Looked in to some things for the SUW, batted some ideas off Simon. Laminating some AktoCards and noting things to take on trip.


Sheila at work suggested I do the SUW as a charity trek. I wasn't going to as people already sponsored me on the WHW. Thoughts so far, and in order of my mangled thoughts:

Any other suggestions, or preferences folks?


Last of lucozade gone. Toddy and tabs to get a good night's sleep (hopefully), see what tomorrow brings.

An Teid Thu Leam a Mhairi?

10th Annual Web Awards Finalists listed here.

A couple of BBC programs in there, so not all US-centred.

I couldn't find much to write home about, but did find this shocking news. Why? Bcz ur wrth it.

I thought it was a joke, but here's the NY Times article.

Link to the CK online community, WhatAreYouIn2, going active on the 21st. Gosh, can't wait (yawn). Anyway, shouldn't that be WotRUn2, or it that too minimalist?

Once that had died down (or it could just have been the flu drugs kicking in or sugar rush from the Lucozade, dude), I was left with

"Show your friends videos you like. See what your friends are watching".

Don't get me wrong, but, someone must make the video content in the first place, so is this just rehashing things rather than promoting new content. Ah, no, they have new content too, as well as linking in from vids from other sources.

Well, the quality looks better than YouTube, for example, this one on GeoCaching.


BBC tech blog using Google Maps.


Dug out the BMC insurance, and it was annual rather than seasonal. So my cover's up-to-date.


Geoff's comment on an earlier question looks to be solving my irks about comments, the solution being As well as pointing out the Thoreau Blog.


Added blog to the blog directory site. Ranks are based on the technoranki service. Well done to Walkabout in the UK as the only hiking blog listed in the top 300 chart.


Look, yes, Teine is the name of the band, not the track title. But even "Sam Ceilidh/Basil the Retriever" is too obscure even for me. They'll be playing the Hebridean Celtic Festival.


Keeping to a musical theme, ever wondered what happened to ZZ Top? Well, click here.


Lighthiker asks: Should blogger limit themselves to two or three entries a week? Any thoughts?

My reply:

Personally, I open the Windows Live Writer after work as I'm working on the PC doing personal paperwork or projects.

I use Google Reader to keep tabs on blogs rather than my blogroll. They are (almost) identical anyway, plus a few non-outdoors blogs. As a browser, FireFox seems to hold all the tabs quite well, and I rarely need to open extra tabs. My thoughts are picking up about the up-and-coming SUW trek, and I'm starting to get nervous about it. When I get nervous, I talk more, or talk less. I find the blog helps me concentrate and focus on outdoors things, as I only (normally) write about outdoors-related matters. The fact that I don't get out for overnight trips as often as I want probably takes me into the majority of trekkers, rather than the minority.

Blogs as a media format can be used in many different ways and to do many different things. Some people create product reports, or old-media tie-ins, or keep a diary. I see my usage as a journal rather than a daily diary.

Listing what I did, or have to do, or what I found. A scrap-book, if you will. If I have nothing to say, I say nothing.


Sad news from Norway. (BBC News)
-- - I like the windchimes. But the GoogleEarth 1790 edition just looks sooooooo pretty. Yup, I'm a cartophile, and I don't care.

Most are eyecandy, but the North America 1733 map has lots of detail.

The England/Wales map of 1790 is in the style of John Speed. You know, I haven’t coughed/wheezed in 5 minutes now.


Stuart's Munro listings, his index to some great photos. He also has an interactive map, where you can click to view photos (where available).


The astute amongst you will have noticed the change in track titles. I've swapped albums to "B2B: Isles FM", by Isles FM to raise money so that they could improve their transmission range to cover the whole of the Western Isles, from the Butt of Lewis down to Barra. (if, like me, you don't have The Gaelic, you may find this helpful)


AktoCard - accepted in no good shops on the high-street or Web.


The first real world one went in with my TGO subscription, a poor exchange for a Colin Prior print.

I've a few printed for real world meets. Eventually they will replace money.


The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the Walker,—not the Knight, but Walker, Errant. He is a sort of fourth estate, outside of Church and State and People.

Whilst looking for his essay "Walking", I found this gem on the WGBH website. A 41 minute video programme with Richard Smith as Thoreau, including readings from "Walking". I love the Internet!

Kettle's boiled, off to get my medicine.

Oh, if you want a cross-over, "The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson Podcast" can be found, free, at

Sunday, 11 March 2007

End of an Era

Bob Cartwright's latest podcast is entitled "The End of Our Podcast Series". The king is dead, long live the king.

He discusses new media with Cameron McNeish, and the use of technology by the outdoors market.


Found the Southern Upland Way Accommodation Guide pdf free here. It's a bit out of date.


Off to dope myself up to try and get some sleep tonight.