Thursday, 28 February 2008

Adventure Show: Eastern Theatre

Finally caught last Saturday's Radio Scotland program "The Adventure Show".

Woohoo - the Southern Upland Way is featured. And the cows are in the background. Official site - oh, they have certificates to mark the completion. Now. I got some merks, and badges. I've visited the official site and completed the form, putting a link to my YouTube movie - well, maybe they need the sleep.

Good news on the official site:

In order to continue the legacy of the Waymerks project, SUW Partners; Dumfries and Galloway Council, South Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Borders Council will be continuing the work of the Waymerks project, with funding assistance from Scottish Natural Heritage.

Birdwatching. Diving. Rock pools. Geology. Folding kayak in to a rucksack. Cameron being honest about the weather.

I missed the show on Saturday as I couldn't receive the channel on my radio in my tent.

If my calculations are correct, the jovial folk from "Out of Doors" will be back on Saturday after their 4 weeks off.

Còd Slighean Dùthchail na h-Alba

Campadh air an dùthaich

Tha còraichean-slighe a’ buntainn ri campadh air an dùthaich. Tha an seòrsa seo de champadh aotrom agus cha bhi ach beagan dhaoine ga dhèanamh airson dhà no trì oidhche anns an aon àite. Faodaidh tu campadh ann an dòigh seo àite sam bith far a bheil còraicheanslighe buailteach ach faodaidh tu daoine agus stiùirichean-fearainn ionadail a chuideachadh gus nach èirigh duilgheadasan gun a bhith a’ campadh ann an achadh far a bheil bàrr a’ fàs ann no cluain pàircichte le beathaichean innteagus le bhith a’ cumail astar math air falbh bho thogalaichean, rathaidean no làraichean eachdraidheil. Dèan cinnteach nach cuir thu bacadh air stailceadh fèidh no sealg chearcan-fraoich. Ma tha thu airson campadh faisg air taigh no togalach, faigh cead an t-sealbhadair roimhe. Na fàg lorgan anns na
dòighean seo leanas:

  • thoir air falbh an sgudal gu lèir agad;
  • cuir às do lorg do theanta agus teine fosgailte sam bith (lean an stiùireadh air lasadh theintean);
  • na adhbharaich truailleadh sam bith.

Fios air a’ Chòd mus falbh thu


I loved running some of the words through the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig translator :

  • truaillidh  a. despicable, polluted
  • dùthaich  nf. g. dùthcha; pl. dùthchannan, country, native country

There's a Woody Guthrie song now playing in my head. Says it all really.


ePetition: 675 signatures.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Strathspey Herald Article

There's an article in the Strathspey Herald which I'll reel off parts of ...

THERE is currently a petition on the Prime Minister's website which is calling for wild camping to be made legal in England and Wales, as it is in Scotland.


The new legislation quite clearly states that members of the public can wild camp anywhere there are access rights. And yet, in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, the booklet that offers advice on how to "act responsibly", it clearly says this type of camping should be "lightweight", but doesn't actually define what "lightweight" is.

The Land Reform Act (2003) opened the way for the legalisation of wild camping in Scotland, which came in under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. The history can be found on at - the setting out of the Access Code is in Chapter 3 of the 2003 Act. So the Act and the Code are the legislation.

As to the legislation not defining "lightweight", this is true. For me, going 4 days in the Cairngorms with a 50 litre backpack is easy, but 2 years ago, I was taking a 70 litre pack out for a weekend. For me, the spirit of the law is that you aren't forming a human chain to pass canvas, suitcases, and the like up the hill for a session. Other definitions of lightweight camping are here: or read Ryan Jordan's book or any copy of Scotland's own TGO magazine.

Back to the article ...

I must confess I am concerned about the future of this part of the Scottish legislation, simply because it is so poorly defined in the Act.

I can't help but think that those who park their car on the roadside, then camp only a few feet from the verge, are abusing the new legislation, although I do appreciate there are some areas where this is ignored by the landowner.

Err, the Access Code is clear on this point, stating:

This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply but help to avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures.

See my previous post on the Landward program from June 2007 that the article writer referred to (wild-camping-thoughts).

At the heart of the article is the ePetition, and the writer raises points from the June 2007 episode of Landward that looked at wild camping, but in fact most was dealing with damage caused by people who ignored the Access Code and therefore lost their rights to access under Scots law.

If nothing else, if there was a serious discussion with politicians about the possibility of seeing genuine wild camping made legal in England and Wales then it could also help the situation in Scotland where that part of the Land Reform Act could be under threat because the wording of the law has been so poorly defined.

Sadly, it looks like the serious discussion has already taken place even before the petition is closed. Now, did someone somewhere write that only having 600 signatures was unDemocratic? Means that there's more work to do. In Scotland, over 1500 people were consulted for the Access Code - it would be nice if the same number of signatures were attached to the England & Wales document - then, maybe, just maybe, the democratically elected representatives of the people would at least consider consultations before just waving it aside in to the "too expensive" pile.

Oh, and one more thing, for all these folk who say that Scots law was "different" before the Land Reform Act came in, here's a wee piece of legislation that was amended by the Act - in other words, it was still valid pre 2003.

Trespass (Scotland) Act 1865 Section 3 (which creates the offence of occupying or camping on land without the consent of its owner or occupier) ... source

Sounds similar to the comments in a magazine today "the laws regarding wild camping are a little complicated...". In my opinion, they aren't. The only complication is that people writing in print can't tell readers that what you are doing is against the law, even if the landowner's only redress is minor. Corporate lawyers would have something to say, I'd guess.


More posts at the central site:

ePetition: The Beast has Landed

The ePetition supporting the legalisation of wild camping in England & Wales has now reached 668. The Beast, the 666th person to sign up, was ... Christine.

Robin, of Team Geared Up, missed it it by one.


More posts at the central site:

Wild Camping Economics

Answering a question across on the Legalise Wild Camping site - what do wild campers bring to local communities:

I went to the trailhead (outside Braemar). I have paid my National Trust for Scotland membership, so parking is free. I hike a short distance on Friday night and I wild camp. Hike some more and return to car. In to Braemar. Gear shop and lunch, then back to city.

All in all, my single trip has netted around a tenner from me for a couple of shops in Braemar. Half again on a wee torch in Aberdeen before the trip, plus hiking food in Asda.

I can not afford to pay for brick accommodation, and prefer being out in the wilds. For not using any of their facilities, Braemar has earned a tenner from me.

The only cost to Braemar was those involved in the provision of the services that I paid money for. If I wasn't there, the businesses would still have paid for the staff, heating, etc. I'm passing trade. I'm made to feel welcome, and enticed in by the provision of goods and services (eg another dry-bag and a venison burger & chips).

On the Southern Upland Way, I wild camped, or bothy camped. Twice I paid for brick shelters, and in one of these cases I could have wild camped, but I felt like a change. Again, I was passing trade. I see little difference between vehicular passing trade and this chap trudging across country. Where a car requires roads, and the like, I'll be happy with access, leaving no trace and just the space to pitch a tent out of the way of anyone.

Arriving in a community, I may spend money on goods (postcards home, foods to take, or eat out of way, batteries, replacement kit, etc), or services (cooked foods, refreshments, Internet connection), and I may wish to upgrade to a brick shelter. Just because I am on foot does not make me less of a human being.

Wild camping opens new communities to long-reaching trips. Those on a trailhead are better served to make money from multi-day trekkers, but those in the hinterland may find that they are now getting more people visiting, and taxis being called to run people back to their transport, or busses being used more often.

Wild campers, true wild campers, leave less trace than many. Wild campers are as much part of the tourist industry as any day trippers. Naturally, walking for 2 days from a trailhead rather than just 1 day is better for people's health and maybe even their mental wellbeing.

Wild camping doesn't suit everyone, and not all camping is wild camping. There is still a need for brick shelters and official campsites. The Kings House by Glencoe is a case in point. Their 'wild camping' facilities bring in people as well as those paying for a roof, but people pay for meals and refreshments. It is a business and with business acumen.

Scenario - Jack is determined to wild camp no matter what the weather. He drives to xxxx, arriving late, he hikes past the closed village facilities into the night, wild camps and enjoys a Saturday on the hills, camping again that night, and hikes back to  the car park. Settling the bill for parking, he buys some snacks at the local shop and drives off home contented. Jack tells his friends on the forum about this place, and three of them arrange to head off the following weekend to see what the fuss is. They arrive earlier, buy a pub meal and make to head into the hills. One wants to stay in the pub, so the other two head off to the hills, meeting their pal the next day.

Life isn't black and white. I wild camp. I spend money on kit. Tent, sleeping kit, cookset, etc - I spend more than if I was just day-trekking. Wild camping allows me the opportunity to spend my money in different ways. I'm still a tourist and potential customer - if a shop wishes to treat me as a second class citizen then I simply walk out and take my money elsewhere. I also have the opportunity to mention this treatment to other people. Poor service is poor service, whether wild camping or brick camping.


Wild camping ePetition reached 663 signatures. One-two-Beast!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Fire up the Quattro

George, London BackPackers, is back on Blogger, forgoing A.N. other system. And dealing in pluralisation.

As well as his great outdoor tech reviews, he's an ace with Lego movies.

YouTube channel

You can here what he sounds like on the Outdoor Station

Today. Radio 4

Radio 4 about protecting rural england. Society about 100yrs old. Report countryside in 2026. Ramblers assoc person too. Accessability. Learn. Care. Protect. Listen via Radio 4 website. Time code is approx 0717

Wild Camping - No contest

At peace with the world

Night-time brew

Morning view

Morning after

The Wild Camping Association

Had some thoughts when hiking on Saturday – cleared work from mind (after 2-3hrs of thinking on it), and then moved onto other matters.

Big plan … long term thoughts, not instant action …

I’m not a townie. I was brought up “free range”.  Some, but not all here may be the same, I don’t care, we all have our motivations.

I hate the way that the recent responses include the fact that “ Scotland is different”. We aren’t. Our small communities make money from trade – Lord Smith made that clear in Andy’s podcast. Why shouldn’t the same be true of England & Wales.

Wild camping opens up the country to new routes, new days, new experiences and new vistas.

So, lets change tack.

We start pushing for an “opt in scheme”. Communities and Access Land owners can “opt in” to the wild camping scheme. Like the Mountain Bothies Association, membership for public would be optional, the MBA, membership money would be spent on behalf of the facilities.

Now, I know that’s a big step up from the ePetition, and we all accept that it is early days in getting any changes, but it means that we are serious, and that we don’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers. Strangers who have their own motivations, their own concerns, their own priorities.

The Wild Camping Association


ePetition up to 656 signatories, minus those who don't like some of the talk being bandied around and wish to maintain the status quo. That makes just 10 until "the Beast" signs - I wonder who it'll be? Lord Smith of Finsbury? Brian Blessed? Ben Fogle? Julia Bradbury?

Monday, 25 February 2008

ePetition: Scotland

As the world and it's MPs all seem to think that we in Scotland are a special case, here's what the fuss is all about - the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (PDF link):

Responsible behaviour by the public

Access rights extend to wild camping. This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply but help to avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner’s permission.

Leave no trace by:

  • taking away all your litter;
  • removing all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire (follow the guidance for lighting fires);
  • not causing any pollution

Responsible behaviour by land managers

If you are experiencing large numbers of roadside campers or have well-used wild camping areas, you could work with your local authority and with recreational bodies to assist the management of such camping.

Where and when you can exercise access rights
2.2 Everyone, whatever their age or ability, can exercise access rights over most land and inland water in Scotland, at any time of day or night, providing they do so responsibly. These rights do not extend to all places or to all activities (see paragraphs 2.11 to 2.15). Provided you do so responsibly (see Parts 3 and 5 of the Code), you can exercise access rights in places such as:

  • hills, mountains and moorland;
  • woods and forests;
  • most urban parks, country parks and other managed open spaces;
  • rivers, lochs, canals and reservoirs;
  • riverbanks, loch shores, beaches and the coastline;
  • land in which crops have not been sown;
  • on the margins of fields where crops are growing or have been sown;
  • grassland, including grass being grown for hay or silage (except when it is at such a late stage of growth that it is likely to be damaged);
  • fields where there are horses, cattle and other farm animals;
  • on all core paths agreed by the local authority;
  • on all other paths and tracks where these cross land on which access rights can be exercised;
  • on grass sports or playing fields, when not in use, and on land or inland water developed or set out for a recreational purpose, unless the exercise of access rights would interfere with the carrying on of that recreational use;
  • golf courses, but only for crossing them and providing that you do not take access across greens or interfere with any games of golf;
  • on, through or over bridges, tunnels, causeways, launching sites, groynes, weirs, boulder weirs, embankments of canals and similar waterways, fences, walls or anything designed to facilitate access (such as gates or stiles).

Where do access rights not apply?
2.11 Access rights do not apply in the following places.
...and there's a big long list ... including nearby houses (privacy), sport grounds, land excluded by byelaws

What activities are excluded from access rights?
2.12 Access rights must be exercised in ways that are lawful and reasonable. By definition this excludes any unlawful or criminal activity from the time at which it occurs. Furthermore, being on or crossing land for the purpose of doing anything which is an offence or a breach of an interdict or other order of a court is excluded from access rights. This means that a person intent on such a purpose is excluded from access rights at the time they seek to enter the land. This is also taken to include the carrying of any firearm, except where the person is crossing land or water to immediately access land or water, or return from such, where shooting rights are granted, held or held in trust or by any person authorised to exercise such rights.
2.13 A list of the more obvious statutory offences relating to people’s behaviour is provided at Annex 1. This list includes poaching, vandalism, not clearing up after your dog has fouled in a public place, being responsible for a dog worrying livestock, dropping litter, polluting water, and disturbing wild birds, animals and plants. There are also common law of such as breach of the peace

Look - just go and read it yourself, you'll feel a lot better for it, folks. Then, if you think that a group of economic migrants can use the access code to set up a canvas shanty town on the outskirts of your village, you'll see that it can't. In fact, Annex 1 of the code lists crimes, and remedies for them. Collective trespass; damage/disturbance to animals/wild birds/plants; Dropping of litter; Lighting fires; Polluting water; Vandalism.

Communities makes money from visitors to areas of the country. Wild camping opens up new communities to new people. New ways to make money. Turning away wild campers is cutting the throats of some communities. But, what the heck, I live in a country that has incoming tourists who like our access laws.


BG!'s take on wild camping for England & Wales (link)

BBC Countryfile's forum discussion (link)

ePetition closed the weekend with 639 signatures, and a new centralised website.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

ePetition: State of the Nation

I know nothing of The Ramblers Association.

Why would someone who Rambles be interested in wild camping?

Why would someone who goes out to watch birds and wildlife (eg CountryFile folk) be interested in Wild Camping?

Why would the National Parks be interested in giving access to people who wild-camp?

Why should they bother? People drive from the urban areas to the rural areas and the rural folk have only a few hours to suck as much money out of them as possible. Wild camping stops people paying for hotels, B&B and the like. They can damage the region by lying down on the grass, throwing litter away, setting fires for cooking etc etc.

None of this is the pre-requisite of people camping overnight, let alone the true wild camper. Will the next stage be anti-fishing, anti-mountain-biking, anti-hang-gliding?

So many restrictions in the outdoors, it is much easier to just stay on the sofa and watch tv about the increases in obesity.

Ironic, isn't it.

ePetition: Mr Manning gets a reply

Another update on the wild camping petition comes from John Manning's blog. He writes about the reply that he has received from his local MP, Tony Curry, who had kindly enquired of Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn.

Wild camping – “no way”, says Benn

"I believe in a fairer society. And that practical policies can help us get there." Hillary Benn - website.

So, by strange coincidence, when I looked up "They Work For Us", I noticed that Mr Benn has one registered shareholding: United Business Media.

At UBM, we believe all our businesses have a role to play as a member of the community in which each operates around the world. We recognise the importance of community involvement at all levels throughout the group and are committed to supporting our communities through financial contributions, donations in kind and employee volunteering. (source)

A noble statement. So, I went to a subsidiary to see what they do (CMP Information), and found some new reading material:

Isn't the Web great for throwing up links like that? So, although John received a negative reply, even that hints to positive action.


636 signatories just now. More news on the website. Who'll be "The Beast"?

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Movie night

Watching "a bridge too far" for obvious reasons. Cracking movie

I love it when a plan falls apart

A bridge too far

Video diary

The long walk to Blair Atholl

The numbers must mean something. To me, they mean the start of a short trek to a wild camp. Leaving Aberdeen, i saw 3 emergency vehicles with their blue lights flashing. Leaving Braemar, i saw a hare in its winter coat, an owl and 3 red deer. 2'c, light covering of snow on ground. Looks like the winter skills folk from OM may be lucky this weekend. Huzzah

Friday, 22 February 2008

Dust off

Ugh. Packing sac took about 2 1/2 hrs. Okay, so that did involve scouring the 4 corners of the known universe to reassemble it. I favour the technique of putting everything on top of bed and sorting into piles. Sleep kit. Cook kit. Clothing. Waterproofs etc. Which thin book. Camera gear. Securing tripod. Etc. Whilst fielding texts from folk about weather and survival of old gamer in for heart op. Glen Tilt from Linn of Dee. Watching out for grizzlies, white deer and werewolves. And i think to myself...what a wonderful world.

How To Behave On An Internet Forum

Fun and rude - does what it says on the tin

How To Behave On An Internet Forum

The 600th

The "legalise wild camping" ePetition has reached the 600 mark. Well done to Nicole Morschett.

Darren has set up a stand-alone website called "Legalise Wild Camping" (his post), the address is

Thursday, 21 February 2008

PeerCast: ‘Lord Smith Interview’

The Outdoors Station is hosting Andy Howell's interview with Lord Smith of Finsbury. Amongst many, many other things, Lord Smith is the President of the Ramblers’ Association, and a compleater.

Podzine - Lord Smith Interview

Download MP3 File

He's a great speaker, and it comes across well in Andy's piece. Amongst everything else, a wonderful history of the rights of access in England & Wales and Scotland. The facts he has were educational - estimated that sixty million pounds to the Scottish economy from walking tourism.

If you have signed the wild camping ePetition, or have refused to sign it, or have concerns, listen to this podzine.

Also available on iTunes.

Terms of reference: the late John Smith; Kinder Trespass; Michael Meacher (and his blog)

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

ePetition: When I was out

I turn my back for a day, and look what happens. A slow day, only 3 new signatures. They've obviously read Chris' post - he's right, of course.

BG!'s been out with a handful of posters - a poster that I made - by my own fair hand! Yeah, I know someone with years of design experience could have done better, but there it is, in a shop window. (post with photos)

On a lighter note, Mike Pitt's back from Brasil - with photos to chase away any seasonal disaffections. (blog)


566 signatures

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Scottish Natural Heritage

I'd just like to recommend the Scottish Natural Heritage for an AMmie. I've been playing pine marten snap and reading up on Scottish geology. All for free on their site.

Well done to the SNH.

Woohoo, just found their educational resources - handy for parents taking their kids out.

OMline Voting

Voted in the OM competition. In no order, and not the full list: Cairngorms, wild,, Sir Edmund Hillary, Lord of the Crinkles.

A difficult choice between MK, the rock, or the whole Coire!

Wild Camping on YouTube

From all around the world, there are clips of people wildcamping on YouTube. Click

Monday, 18 February 2008

ePetition nr 561

I wonder if the pro-legal-wild-camping ePetition signatory, nr 561, Tom Hutton is this chap?

The count is up to 563, so I didn't mean to skip Charlotte Gardner and John Burley, it was just that I was sure I'd seen Mr Hutton's name before. Obviously in one of the (ahem) magazines listed. Best keep that on the QT, as we don't want Mr Hutton to lose work, do we.

Google Images: Hilleberg Akto

For a forgotten reason - oh yes, I was comparing weight of the Trig 2 (1.5kg) with the Hilleberg Akto (1.5kg) and ended up using Google Images searches. Running this search, I find that my Akto photo is nr 9 of the 444 returns. Ray Mears is number 19. Ohhh yeah.

Come on, it's just a bit of fun.

Speaking of which, I'd best vent mine before the weekend.

Something wicked this way comes

I was sure i saw a squirrel on they way in to work. I was sure it was grey. I am not sure if i have to report it though, nor who to.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Blessed are the Peaks

What the heck did this video clip come from? John Hee pointed it out: "Brian Blessed Saviour of the Universe".

He just takes the mickey out of himself - hardly pausing for breath.

It is from "Fun at the Funeral Parlour" (IMDB details). There's even an official site. I'd never even heard of the series, and now I have the urge to buy the dvd. Strange the way that the Internet works. Of course, the clip is probably in breach of copyright, but is enough to generate a sale from me.

Cross-referencing the official site finds the clip to be from Series 1 Episode 4 - The Mountains of Doom.

There's even a rude outtake.

Out of stock on Amazon just now, but they have information on the dvd - which contains both series.

TGO March Promo

Downloaded & viewed the TGO video from Cameron McNeish's site - the main man's sat in an Akto (woohoo). Talks about Eddy Meechan starting a regular column (after the last one, great to hear that).

I failed to get the iTunes download to work, so just downloaded the file from the site and played it locally.


 ePetition up to 544 signatures.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

ePetition SitRep

BG! left a pithy comment on the blogger's forum about Darren's pro-Wild Camping ePetition. YouTube link


Life of Darren - yup.
Pontius Pilate: Vewy well! I shall welease... Wodewick the Wild Wamper!

Modified poster made up.
The printing and delivery is being arranged.

The colour version, with border is difficult to mass print. I've put a copy onto my Flickr site, replicated below.

pro-Wild camping poster

As ever, larger sizes are available via the Flickr site free for download and non-commercial reproduction (ding dong).

Pods and Blogs

Pods and Blogs on Radio 5. First time listener. Show link.

Hmm - not sure why an American voice introduces the show.

Film piracy, as the recent mooted desire of the film companies to lock people off the Net for piracy. I wonder if that includes YouTube/Google? No, of course it doesn't - they are trying hard to lock down illegal posts to their site.

Interesting investigative piece by a blogger, who is then interviewed for the radio, which I'm listening to via a podcast. Strangely it is still headed as "Radio 5 Live".

7-year blogger, Neil Gaiman, is giving away a book on his site. Yup, that guy. 2 of his books/graphic novels have been made into movies recently. Interesting thoughts on how people "discover" authors. Discussion what he gets out of blogging: immediacy with readers. 16,000 votes on his site in 24 hours. (Sorry Darren). Great Douglas Adams quote about books and sharks - the reason sharks are still around is that there's nothing as good as being a shark as a shark - the same is true of books. I miss Douglas Adams, he was an inspiration.

Beagle Bloggers - Charles Darwin's 200th next year. Or is it a figment of intelligent design?

Food blogs. football club podcast.

Nipped across to Radio 4's iPM show to see if there were similarities. I'm going to have to listen to the earlier shows.

The Adventure Show: South

Radio Scotland's "The Adventure Show" reaches its tendrils down south to the Galloway Hills. Talking about the differences in plant life, and the evocative names. Red squirrels holding out against the invader (website).

Then on to mountain biking.

Galloway Mountain Rescue Team - underestimating the hills until people come. The MRT runs guided walks in the Newton Stewart Walking Festival in May (link).

A good introduction to bouldering. Don't forget your toothbrushes.

Mave the Rave - long distance cyclist being interviewed (I'm sure the woman appeared on the tv show - I wonder if they've re-used the piece, or if this is a revisit). She loves her little tent ... I wonder what tent she uses?

Catamaran sailing on Loch Ken.

The weekend forecast analysed by Cameron - describes his recent helicopter trip around Ben Nevis. By coincidence, Claire MacLeod was also in a helicopter over the Ben at the same time..neither mentioned each other.

Woo hoo, the show finishes with an intro to the Southern Upland Way - and they'll be at the east end of it next week.


That's Alright

Watched some of the "Elvis: '68 Comeback" dvd from June 1968. (trailer)

Just under 40 years ago. The youngest person in the audience looked to be around 10 years old. Some 50-, 60-, 70- year old folk are walking the streets, being pestered by thieves and wasters because they are old, but they have the knowledge that they experienced something unique. Something that the modern stolen, downloaded, processed music can't reproduce.

So; go and see live music when you can.

Will it be enough to save the Lemon Tree? Who knows, but you'll have the experience in your brain and no-one can take that away from you.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Bastish makes it into Kura

Bastish: blogger, photographer, outdoorsman and hubby of Tomoe made it, made it into the Kura magazine in Japan. Full story.

He is also in the Chunichi paper too, but I'm reading that through Google Translator:

Living in the village is connected to nature. Field, and can not say 100 per cent can live. And the city, the money is gone hopelessly vague anxiety, but I can live right here with confidence.

People are warm ties. Residents feel benevolent watch it. City, the money is not only to protect oneself. That's a really happy life? So I was "happy".

Something lost in translation, but the sentiment is there, I think. Look at his blog, then watch "My Neighbour Totoro" - yup, he lives in Totoro's village.

It's that ePetition again

I was wondering if the reason for the splurge on the wild camping ePetition signatures mentioned earlier was down to Andy Howell talking to the Right Honourable the Lord Smith of Finsbury about it?

Of course, we talked about how the Access Laws might be extended and about the right to wild camping. He was quite thoughtful and interesting on this, making the very valid point that the legal position in Scotland has always been different and comes from a very different legal and law-making tradition. Looking at England and Wales there were other important issues of access that also need to be considered. I won’t spoil it for you - you can judge for yourself in a few days or so.
Full details on Andy's post.

Lord Smith's Biography.

And, before you ask where the heck Finsbury is? Here's the Answer

I await the podcast.

Bob Smith (grough editor), Luke Smith, jeff smith, Richard Smith, William Smith, Rachael K Smith, Heather Thomas-Smith, Roly Smith. No "Chris Smith", "Lord Smith" or "Finsbury" listed.


523 signatures

ePetition update: Week 3

Darren's wild camping ePetition breaks the 500 mark in 3 weeks of being live. It increased from 480 last night to 519 signatures. I'm not sure if this means that the news has reached a magazine, or other forums. Any ideas?

Sadly it means that they are now showing the latest 500 signatures, so us early birds are only visible if you see the full list.


Completed the TGO Magazine survey.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

One Day Removals

Website is now active for Mark and Mike's new movie: "One Day Removals".

Please heed the warning that it contains images of graphic violence and strong language.

This is not because someone says blox and slaps a face or two.


The wild camping ePetition is only 20-short of 500 signatures.

Aberdeen - Bayern Munich 2-2 (BBC)

They're dancing in the streets of Aberdeen tonight

A sea of red and white on King Street tonight as Aberdeen plays Bayern Munchen. Everyone seems happy. Though i didn't see any blue and white. There was a silly question on last night's local news about the last time they met...answer: "yes, there have been a few changes in 25 years." I'd guess that would include the birth of most of the players!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Same day, different atmospherics

Wow. Spooky or what. This time last night it was daylight, today we have a heavy fog. Awoooo!

Another day on the farm

Woohoo, a sunny day and i'm back on the 6th floor.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

ePetition: Signatures

Look, I'm not "outing" anyone, and I hope that TGO writer, Eddy Meechan, didn't feel that I was picking on him in an earlier posting.


ePetition count: 436 Signatures (including Mr M)

First of Many

Today I went to work in daylight, and left 10 hours later in daylight. I am sure that this is a first for 2008.


Sadly, today I also finally bailed out on a winter climb with ALS/Jerry. I just have too much work to do, and, as they say in "Friends": "I'm not in the right place now". Sorry.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Wild Camping Fears Highlighted

Whilst carrying out indepth research about the fears expressed when Darren's Law comes into force dan souff, I find that the (Scottish) Sunday Post also had the same fears in 1992, over a decade before the Access Code legalised the position of wild camping.

Their article highlights the fear some people have of the irresponsible youth being tempted to camp and cause all sorts of mayhem, ruining the reputation of real wild campers.

Article: Wullie's no meant - tae be loiterin' within tent!


ePetition, leaving the weekend at 414 signatures.

ePetition reaches 400

Over 400 names on Darren's pro-wild camping ePetition now.

I'm starting to look at TGO magazine in a new light - seeing if there's any "incitement to cause civil disorder", by mentioning wildcamping without giving the land owner's contact details The only mention that I can infer is in Eddy Meechan's superb article about using a vapour barrier similar to the Inuit's clothing.

As I read the arguments from folks against making wild camping legal, I think on what super-hiker, Andrew Skurka, says "I want to experience the backcountry of the Scottish Highlands and understand that culture a little bit more" (TGO, p74). Culture - people have a different culture up here in the Highlands than down South. As I'm on a downer just now, perhaps we should have a passport system up here - why the heck should we have these whinging NIMBY's up here when you can't be bothered having the same rights in your green and pleasant land. Good enough up in Scotland, but not down in England & Wales. Well, whoop de do.

What's the wild camping equivalent of the Boston Tea Party? Sodding immigrants coming up here and taking up our wild camping spaces. Equal rights for wild campers in the UK. "Don't tread on me", indeed.

Like I said, I'm on a downer just now.

Oh, and there's a new target for the ePetition: 1350 signatures. It was the same number of responses that were received in Scotland before wild camping was introduced legally under the Access Code (source).

Less than a thousand signatures to obtain from somewhere now. Perhaps some from English & Welsh TGO Challengers who are hoping to come and wild camp in Scotland later in the year? But I guess that many will have already been far-thinking enough to have been in the first 400.

Am I picking on TGO? Nope. I just can't be bothered mentioning the so-called populist magazines with their NIMBY attitudes. Life's too short and, quite frankly, I really don't care enough about them. They have their corporate lawyers who must consider everything that they write. In these days of "blame culture" (or more accurately, "excuse culture"), they have to watch what to make sure they don't encourage people to break the law. So they end up being middle of the road. Heck, if it is good enough for Phil Collins, why not the populist press.

I'll wait for the punk magazine, TAC, to release their next edition.

Never mind the blox.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

ePetition Update

At the end of the second week, the pro-legal wild camping ePetition tally stands at just 4 signatures short of 400.

Elsewhere, we're discussing the next stages, so get your thinking hats on and see if there's any better way to get this enacted. I still reckon a modification to the Countryside & Rights of Way Act would make sense. But, heck, when did the world ever make sense?

Campaign central: Darren's blog

The Adventure Show: West

Another good radio prog from the Adventure Show on Radio Scotland. I'll need to catch the first 15mins using the 'on demand' player. This week covered the western theatre of operations. Ardnamurchan et al. Ancient volcanic landscapes, golden eagles and pine martens, hailstones and kayaks. Great idea having Cameron McNeish giving a personalised interpretation of the weather forecast, down to "tea shops in Peebles". He almost gave the old "Hill Street Blues" ending for folk to "be carefull out there", but different words, same sentiment. 

Me? Having had yesterday off ill with a head full of clag, overly photosensitive, i spent the day in darkened rooms avoiding computer screens and caffeine. So i'll be off in to work as soon as it opens to clear as much of my essential paperwork and marking as i can get thru before closing time.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Blogging for Charity

This is a strange one. I picked up from a post from Paul Webster that he was going to blog for charity. "Hmm", I thought, "that's a good idea. Can I adSense and give any pennies raised to charity?" So, I was about to email a certain charity, but searched on Google's adSense site to find out their policy.... here's what they say...

While we do appreciate your charitable efforts, this practice is not permitted by our program policies. We want users to click on ads because they are interested in the products or services offered by the advertiser, not because they are interested in supporting a site or a charity. Using this type of language can draw undue attention to the ads, and we aren't able to verify whether earnings are actually donated to the third-party mentioned on each site. As a result, we don't allow publishers to offer these types of incentives.

But they go on...

However, please know that once you've received your payments, you're still welcome to use them however you wish - whether it's donating them to a charity, paying your hosting bills, or treating yourself to a night out on the town. We just ask that you avoid using any language on your site that would directly or indirectly encourage users to click on your ads. (source)

So, the upshot is...if I put adverts on my blog, I can't say that they are for charity. I can't imply that they are for charity. So, what is the point in me cluttering up my blog with adverts. Readers could accuse me of raising revenue via this site, and I'd be unable to say that it was for charity.

Yet more stress caused by people behind the computer systems. So, finally, the upshot is ... this site is still advert-free. Money I donate via memberships and donations are still my own business, or maybe I'll set up a "justgiving" site for donations instead - but you can do that yourself, so why should I get involved.

Prosperity and long life - it is indeed the year of the rat.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Just add Photons

Yet another corker via Kirou's feed. A torch so hot that it can be used to cook with.

Sadly, I've just bailed on a winter Munro bag, so feel a fake posting about the outdoors. Equally sad that getting out becomes a "stressor". Don't bother telling me that I need a life - I sold my desk on eBay, and the only time anyone'll find out is when I do all my paperwork and filing. I didn't raise enough to buy the three hundred dollar torch though.

Adventure Show: North

The Adventure Show is on Radio Scotland on Saturday morning for 4 weeks. They are cunningly focusing on the compass points, and this first week is "north" (of Scotland).

And Cameron's in it too ("pull duvet up over head and go back to bed...looking pretty grim....").


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Lovely Morning

The benefit of working on the 6th floor of the tower block.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Personal Wind Turbine

This came through on Kirou's newsfeed: the alternative power source HYmini is now available for purchase.

A quick search and there's a longer article on CoolHunting. I'm more interested.

I find the manufacturer's site:

I finally see a photo giving me an idea of scale. I'm impressed. I want to see if I can secure it to a pack during the day and use it to generate and store power. Even tie it between 2 guylines overnight.

YouTube search brings up some good videos, for example, this one:

I want one for the next long hiking session. After 3-days, I get concerned about recharging the mobile phone. And finally, it looks like the output is via USB instead of some proprietary connection.

Monday, 4 February 2008

And The Clocks Were Striking Thirteen

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

And so starts George Orwell's "1984".

On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

Orwell was writing it exactly 60 years ago this year, and it was published in 1949.The book is as apt today as it was when I read it in 1984.

He had been appointed to a sub-committee of a sub-committee which had sprouted from one of the innumerable committees dealing with minor difficulties that arose in the compilation of the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary. They were engaged in producing something called an Interim Report, but what it was that they were reporting on he had never definitely found out. It was something to do with the question of whether commas should be placed inside brackets, or outside.

Following links from Wikipedia, there are copies from Australia and cartoon versions, even a radio play from 1949. I must re-read it before April this year. There was a good series on BBC2 recently about British Science Fiction. I think it came originally from BBC4. I used to read a lot of early sci-fi when I was travelling to/from school on the bus, but I think it was American early and "golden years" stories. Unlike tv programmes and fleeting media, I find that reading things stays more in my brain. But I'm sure that's just a sign of my age. But then again, what's the point in remembering tv programmes if you can't give a copy of the documentary to a mate - but you can point them to a book, or a film. We are losing information into the aether of marginal tv channels where the makers can generate extra revenue in the hope that we, the public, will follow. If the data is out there and we can't find it, then it might as well not exist and we should call the fire brigade.

There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means

If you've never read the book, go to the library and get it. Go to a bookshop and buy it (maybe even from one of these cheap shops or charity shops). Or read the linked file text from Wikipedia. You won't regret it. Or you can get back to your entertainment, being happily advertised as "brain-dead tv".

It's A Family Affair

Despite all the modern games and stuff, some kids just can't help dragging their hands in the water:

Or the old-fashioned, fling yourself down snow-covered hills:

And who could their fun-loving role-model be???

How Many d's in Luddite?

I won't apologise for stating the bleedin' obvious, but computers create as many opportunities for problems as they do solutions. 

There, i've finally said it! And the world hasn't come to an end yet!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

BBC Supports ePetition

George discovers a new format: Lego Weekend News.

The host, Pete Blog, mentions the ePetition too. So, the Brick Broadcasting Corporation supports Darren.

Ahem, what, you thought it was the other BBC. There was never any intention to mislead, so it must be your fault for jumping to conclusions. Heck, if you jumped to the conclusion of the text, you'd have seen what I meant right away. :-)



I noticed with interest that "Live for the outdoors" (Trail/Country Walking) have an advert in a photography magazine (Digital Photo, March 08). It's not great, as it isn't tailored to that market especially, and the graphic used is badly pixilated....but, in the same way that Bob's TOS allowed him to move away from 'just' being sticky content for, so this rebranding allows L4dO them to market their online content to people who are interested in the outdoors, but not the magazines.

As this involves a lot of user-generated content, I wonder how people who participate in it feel about being 'used' in this manner. No doubt, so long as there are still meets and competitions, and a feeling of community, they are happy that the hosting of photos, and cross-fertilisation of ideas and gaining of new ones is worth it. Of course, as magazine sales drop in favour of online content, one also wonders how long it will take before revenue generation becomes a bigger part of online companies. The usual way of doing this is to have basic (free) access, and additional (subscription) content. Just look at for this model.

The fight is on, not for you to buy their magazine, but for them to get you going to their one-stop-shop for all your <insert interest here> needs. If you take photographs of the outdoors, go to <insert name of site> and you'll find content that you can customise to give you the information that you want and need. Of course, there'll be advertising tailored to this, but it will not be spam, because you might find some of it interesting.

The hunt is on. The customer is the prey. You can always switch off, escape from it all, but you'd better not go near a digital media service of any sort. Artificial intelligence and marketing. All for your benefit. Just don't eat the soylent green.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Wild Camping Petition: Commentary

Written in response to Dawn's comment earlier today:


Good one, Dawn. I feel, like so many others, they can't be seen to be encouraging (how do I phrase this without the BBC's lawyer's to hand): the toleration of the unlawful status quo.

Not that it can be anything in comparison with some of the serious and life-threatening unlawful activity that goes on in the UK.

Remember, landowners can give consent to wild camping. They could even put out an 'honesty box'. Heck, one of the main reasons I joined the National Trust for Scotland was the free parking at places like Linn of Dee (access to the Cairngorm Plateau et al). They provide a good service, so I don't object to putting some money their way.

It isn't rocket science! But then, I'm not a townie, so was brought up differently. Free range childhood, slippy rocks as slides, ruined blackhouses as dens, hiding behind wind-blown trees, lambs and goats for pets, and later the same sheep for lunch. I remember one summer, it was so nice that some of us kids stayed out in a home-made tent for over a week, just in the garden.

But, times are different now. Other people are scum, unworthy of our trust, just want to murder us in our beds, set fire to the countryside, and steal our satnavs. Meanwhile, we some people are fighting for this same society, and getting shafted by pen-pushers who see a "covenant" as something to get out of paying if they can. Well, folks, we have a "social contract", we can't just go and decide what laws we will live by and which we don't. And we certainly can't have VAT-registered organisations openly saying that it is okay to break the law, because there is probably a law against that. "Incitement to cause civil disobedience", which, if memory serves me right, carries a statutory fine.

Wild Camping Petition: T+9d pm

From a response I left to John Hee's comment across on Darren's blog:

It gets people thinking too. Which can only be a good thing.

Some people who want to give kids ASBO's for having a kick-around in the street with a hood up. "Fear of crime". Maybe, just maybe, that's why some kids don't leave the sofa. Maybe, just maybe, with more toleration, then obesity levels would drop.

Are we going to be a more tolerant society or less over the coming years? Some people have already described police helicopters being used to monitor unlawful wild camping.  But anecdotes and here-say are useless.

Just look at what Reyaz Limalia (Trail, March 08, p87) was saying about getting "weird looks" from outdoors folk.

Why should mature, sensible wild camping be tolerated when it doesn't hurt the landowner or the environment, and may bring extra revenue to isolated communities.

Life is but a dream, shamoomshaboom.


Signature count: 303.

Wild Camping Petition: T+9d am

Wild camping ePetition signatures reached 300 before noon today. There'll be dancing in the streets of Farnborough tonight.

The guilty couple can be found here. Well done, Linda (300) in letting Colin (299) go first.

Spell checker needed for windows

Oh dear. I hope it wasn't one of my students who wrote this.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Wild Camping Petition: T+8d eve

ePetition at 294 signatures. Just 6 off reaching 300 by the end of the first full week. Ah well.

Wow! I just checked, and it is now at 298 in the 15 minutes this screen's been open.

Wild Camping Petition:

TGO editorial blog by "Scotland's best known hillwalker" (I think that's what the  BBC call him), Cameron McNeish: Wild camping in E&W


Signature count: 289.

Perceptions Change

I get strange looks in my office when the wild weather outside cheers me up instead of gettting me down. Nature in its element. Inhuman. Impersonal. Uncaring. It accepts no blame for your misjudgement. It just is.

Wild Camping Petition: T+8d

In the OutdoorsMagic newsletter/email that arrived this morning, the ePetition and discussion on wild camping on the forum is highlighted by: "                             ". Yup. No mention. Two threads that were mentioned were "Venue to be decided, but may I suggest North Wales?" and "I am looking to buy a new headtorch, any opinions?" - cutting edge stuff.

Just means that Darren's not doing enough to get a mention.

Signature count: 287.


It may not be my choice of abbreviations, but BS08 marks "Breathing Space Day 2008".

Anyone can feel down or depressed from time to time. It helps to get some Breathing Space. You are not alone and talking about how you feel is a positive first step in getting help. So don't let problems get out of hand, phone Breathing Space where experienced advisors will listen and provide information and advice.

Breathing Space Scotland's Home Page

Breathing Space Day aims to encourage people to think about what they can do to take a breathing space from their hectic lives in order to nurture their mental health and well-being.

Tony McLaren, National Coordinator for Breathing Space, said: "This is an exciting initiative, designed to get people talking about how they take care of their own mental well-being in daily life, and in general promoting awareness of positive mental health and challenging stigma in relation to mental health problems.

Who could resist an organisation that uses a photograph like this? My idea of heaven - except I'd be wearing more appropriate gear and heading up that track to see what's on the other side.

For example, Cairn Toul during a 4-day unsupported solo trek to the Cairngorm plateau, Summer 07. It's 1291m/4236ft, and the Lairig Ghru's off to one side. Topped 5 Munros in the circuit. MapLink

There's lots of information on the site: "open up when you're feeling down".


PS: Looking at the photo again, I think the chap may be caught at the bottom of the slope, concerned about it. Aye, here's the same chap again under the "Lonely? Feeling isolated" heading.