Sunday, June 29, 2014

Old Friends

Time for some more nostalgia. In 1980 my good friend John McFadzean suggested that we go and see Mount Everest. Well, it was to take a few years before we realised that goal, but in the interim we walked the West Highland Way, and continued to get out on the hills whenever we could. I discovered a few photos recently of one trip. That's John above. Must have been 1981, or maybe 1982.

This is where we were headed - Kinbreak bothy in Glen Kingie. I note that it still is in the care of the Mountain Bothies Association, see here.

We were with another friend, Davie Cameron. I'm not sure just what we're on top of but that is Sgurr na Ciche in the distance.

Davie took this photo of Johnnie and me at the bothy door.

And here I am with Johnnie last Monday, some thirty-four years on, the photo taken this time by May McFadzean. Less hair these days.

It was great to see old friends again!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I had to be in Carlisle this morning by the back of eight o'clock, and with the car left at the dealership for its annual MOT test, I resolved to do some exploring. Hard to believe I'm in the centre of a city. This is where the River Caldew meets the Eden.

I found myself walking along the banks of the River Eden, on the line of the Hadrian's Wall long distance path, which crosses the country, see here.

I was excited to find that the Way goes under the old Eden Viaduct which carries the West Coast Main Line from the north into Carlisle - my usual mode of transport into the centre of Carlisle. I'd not seen it from this angle before!

Indeed, Carlisle's Citadel Station was my destination by lunch time. And it was a colourful scene today!

It's World Cup time of course, and the murals were all very jolly! A touch of Rio welcoming visitors to Carlise, see here.

My reason for being at the station was to see what was pulling the Fellsman today. This regular mid week steam charter (here) is a sellout all summer.

Galatea was looking splendid. Its history is here.

Ready to park the coaches, as a First Transpennine Express service to Manchester Airport arrives on the left.

Here Galatea and support coach head back through the station to turn round using the Upperby triangle. This was my signal to get back to pick up the car and head home. Too much excitement in any one day is not a good thing!

With a clean bill of health, my wee Mazda 2 seemed almost to be smiling when we got back to Skip. Four years old already!

The hostas in the containers reminded me that I haven't talked much about the garden recently. It's not been neglected!

The growth recently is best described as 'lush'. I don't actually remember planting these poppies in this bed though!

This Sambucus racemosa 'Plumosa Aurea' is a real star! It was 'rescued' from a sale table at a garden centre in a pretty sorry state in a tiny pot. It repays me every year.

These Livingstone Daisies only open up in full sun. Some summers it hardly seems worth planting any. They make me smile though, so last weekend I bought a tray. Hopefully this won't be the first time that they will see the sun this year!

The two big containers are coming on well. Here's one. The surfinias always do well, with the geraniums still some ways to go.

I've had the use of a friend's greenhouse this year. Mostly tomato plants, although I ate the first of my courgettes, from plants grown from seed, the other evening. Is it all worth the effort? Time will tell.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Monday, June 09, 2014

Nostalgia on Gumball Sunday

Standing on the bridge which goes over the M74 and down into Wamphray is not usually what passes for entertainment on a Sunday! Yesterday was an exception.

And I was not alone. Every vantage point along the motorway had people watching the road.

It was the Gumball 3000! This sees a variety of unusual cars, and drivers, set off from Miami Beach, destination Ibiza. Yesterday's stage was from Edinburgh to Manchester and on to London.

You don't need to be short of a bob or two to take part, and I think it helps to be completely bonkers! Lots of celebrities driving rare cars down the M74 doesn't happen every day.

Did I say interesting cars? This is a 2013 Jaguar F-type, entered by Karl and Helen Hartey.

You can read about all the entrants here.

One thing for sure was that most of the foreign participants seemed to be enjoying the support of those on the bridges, and acknowledged that accordingly, in a variety of ways! Great fun.

Standing watching the traffic hurtling down the road, brought back memories of travel south from Scotland in the 1950s. Yes, that's me above, wearing my kilt, and standing in front of my dad's Austin Devon. I'm thinking this will be around 1952.

Our annual family holiday was usually to Morecambe, and I looked forward to it immensely. We left home as early as possible on the Saturday to head south on the A74. No motorways back then. The main road went through the centre of Lockerbie, and that was often our first break. 

The biggest hurdle was getting over Shap, and if successfully accomplished without the radiator boiling over, then Kendal was usually the next stop. If we were lucky, we were driving along the front at Morecambe by late afternoon or early evening, after at least eight hours on the road. It was a major trip.

I don't remember the Devon, but I do remember my father's next car, an Austin Somerset. My box of old family photos does not have a photo of this car, but I always look out for one when I visit classic car shows.

I have a memory of seeing the sign to 'Newton Wamphray' as we passed through Annandale on the A74, along what is now the B7076, the service road for the motorway. "Strange name", I thought, "I wonder who lives there?" Its been home to me now for a while, twelve years!

I recall that we stayed at the Maxwell Hotel on Sea View Parade. As we always went on the same fortnight every year, we often met the same people. One of the traditions was to have a group photo taken of the guests. That's Mr Maxwell, the hotel proprietor, right at the back. In case of doubt, that is me, front row, third from the left, sporting a tartan tie! My mother is the middle of the row behind, and my dad is on the far right of row three.

These were happy times. This must have been a some years later. Here we are on the promenade, mum and dad on the left. Is that really a cricket bat I'm carrying!

Nostalgia over for today.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Friday, June 06, 2014

Edinburgh Thrills

I had two reasons to go up to Edinburgh yesterday. The first was to see Charles Lees's painting of the Grand Match at Linlithgow on display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The painting, which has been beautifully restored, is the centrepiece of the 'Playing for Scotland: The Making of Modern Sport' exhibit, and is on indefinite loan to the National Galleries. It gave me immeasurable pleasure to see the painting on the wall. It was back in 2006 that I revealed in the Scottish Curler that the painting was likely to go for auction, without the members of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club being properly consulted. To cut a long story short, the painting was saved, money was raised for its restoration, and now it is available for all to see.

What was the Linlithgow Grand Match? Read about it here.

Talking of long running sagas, I was pleased to see Edinburgh's trams finally in operation. If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I'm somewhat of a train and tram fan. So I made my way to York Place, and took my first hurl along the whole route to the airport.

Inside, the trams are comfortable, and I quite enjoyed my first experience. They fair nip along once they get onto their dedicated tracks out of the city centre.

Lots of room for luggage.

Unfortunately, the tram I was on got stuck at the Gyle. 'Temperamental doors' was given by the driver as the reason he could not get going again. Here he is with the customer service person trying to find the problem.

After some minutes, the problem was rectified. However, the incident took the gloss off what I had hoped would be an enjoyable experience.

We eventually reached the end of the line at Edinburgh Airport.

Photos © Skip Cottage, with thanks to a member of staff at the NPG who took the top photo for me!