17 March 2013

Why am I here?

...Several reasons but particularly because of...


Gent on the right is a work colleague.  This visit has gone into the local folklore.  When I mentioned the reason for my visit to the guide for a group of Spanish visitors he replied "I was telling them about it on the bus".

Anyway the weather was better for my visit:

Looking good but still I have packed a satellite beacon, two phones and 2 SIMs, emergency shelter and a sleeping bag - enough to survive a night out with a twisted ankle etc.

I have seen no other cars - in fact no other people since I left Portree
It looks formidable

But I needn't have have worried - because the Sky tourist season has begun and there were several coach loads of (mostly young, mostly Spanish) tourists

It was still a bit of scramble - I am not sure I have found the best way

Did they really get table and all up here,  I was told to look for a cleft in the rocks...


The Table... all explained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiraing

16 March 2013

It's two hundred and sixty two miles to Portree...

It's two hundred and sixty two miles to Portree, I've got a full tank of gas, a pack and a half of Tunnocks, its snowing and I'm not wearing sunglasses*

Ohh - the A86 and the A87 - what joy, and all the little white tourist minibuses seemed to be going other way

The Fuzz arrive at Holiday Inn Express, Strathclyde Park - time to make a hasty exit

The hotel is yards from the parkrun course - but things are getting too hot to return for a shower

262 miles - not the shortest but taking in orienteering at Kincardine Bridge and the wonderful A86-A87
Wonderful is not entirely safe according to EuroRAP - A86, A87

Essential supplies - all eaten before I crossed the Caledonian Canal - but when in Scotland do as the Scots

Predication was for 5 to 10cm of snow - settling above 200m.  This was taken at 14:20

And this 10 minutes later - 5km along the road and only 50m higher - too late to turn back as I would never make it up the steep incline

This is Loch Laggan- we studied this and the Loch Tummel hydro schemes in geography

But they didn't mention Cpl. Hendry - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hendry_%28GC%29

Something tells me that we are no longer in Kansas

The straight bits are wonderful, the twisty ones are better - my big diesel tank, usually stuck at 55mph on midlands motorways and highways has more than enough torque for the Highlands

The new (and still controversial) bridge to Skye
While taking the above photos I suddenly felt something cold, clammy and very wet around my ankles...

The tide comes in fast in Loch Alsh

"Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye."

only now there is a bridge and it takes about 25 seconds by car

The Red Cuillan - looking menacing - no way will I be attempting these


Getting too cold for photography - even the Polish-girl-tourists have given up (they said they already should have left the island but the sunset was so beautiful they had to stay another hour) - so off to the hotel...
A toasty warm room at Marmalade, in Portree - the restaurant was heaving, the bar was full - so I had my onion soup and haddock and local Skye Beer (very good, very viscous, rather strange) in my room


Elwood: It's a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it.

Saturday 10K - a tale of two halves

Strathclyde parkrun - a very flat and fast course... a new PB is in order...

I tried really hard - no PB but at least I am consistent - exactly the same time as last year

40 miles drive North and we are now at the UK O-League Race 3 - it is a bit wet
A tricky course and I am out of practice as middle distance racing - my speed reduced to ~half that in the morning - it was a rough forest with lost of windblown trees.  I have known 5 of the above runners since I was 13 years old... nice to beat a couple of ex-internationals

A really nice course - I can't remember having so much fun in years - we should have more middle races in the West Midlands - if only we had suitable terrain

15 March 2013

Friday M6 - No Better No Worse

I am so glad my job involves zero business time driving... because the M6 on a Friday reminds me just how bad it was before I gave up commuting - its not the volume or density of traffic - it is the standard of driving - and you, Mr-Mondeo-with-the-back-windows-blacked-out-and-personalised-numberplate on the N-bound carriageway of the  Thelwall Viaduct - yes you know who you are - I hope you have a very nasty solo crash that stops you driving on our public roads - its only a matter of time.

Ready for the big drive - it is going to be about 600 miles to Stornoway

The friendly services at Tebay - normally this is under three hours (or one-bladder-from-Birmingham) - this evening it was nearer four.  At least the traffic has cleared

Excellent nosh - as usual - from the only locally owned services on the UK Motorway Network

10 March 2013

What is living in my header tank?

Mechanical engineers, though often dull and boring, do have their uses - Mr Peter Hill tells me I should treat my system with...

Sentinel X400 - because a) it works and b) it is less harmful than some of the traditional products when (eventually) tipped down the drain
Result - within half an hour my central heating, including boiler is silenced and all my radiators are toasty warm... but what is this living in my header tank...

This is just the filler/expansion tank - I guess water flows in and out as the central heating warms/cools, generates gas and flows in from the mains as water evaporates from the surface.  Something seems to have been metabolising the iron in the system and depositing it in the header tank.

A lump of jelly.  At first I suspected a mouse or similar had fallen in (I did find a desiccated slug trapped int he rock wool loft insulation and I have had wasps nests)

Another lump of jelly

This one seems to have grown filaments 
Hmmmm - is it living or is it the Fernox I put in some years ago?

Goglled Magnetig 2007

Six border crossings in one race
According to Google maps and my GPS track that is - I wonder if event levies should be split between the Welsh and West Midlands (of England) Orienteering Associations.

Nash woods is a lovely area and the planner made the very best of it - it was like orienteering in the old days - sadly only 35 of us turned up for the race (chilly weather forecast with snow) and there was only one competitor in the 18 to 44 year age groups.  Should the top three runners on the longest course really be over 50 and under 18?  Shame on those who stayed in bed.

I travelled over in my 35 year old SAAB 99 Turbo - toasty warm inside and great fun on the twisty country roads.  As usual encountered stupid unthinking misbehaviour from a several Audi-Drivers - why does it have to be so?