Wester Ross

670 miles from London is a little village called Poolewe. After a roundabout route via Cath in Bromsgrove, Murrayfield in Edinburgh (the Boks winning convincingly 27-3) and then up the A9 to Inverness, we turned left and drive 75 miles into a mountain wilderness. After the flatness of London the lumps and ridges on the landscape are so good to look at. There is a particular quality in the light that makes the slopes of heather come alive. Red, oranges, greens and purples. I suspect it has something to do with the lack of diesel fumes in the air. Alas though, the crystal views were not to last and were soon replaced by low grey clouds scudding in off the North Atlantic. The Gulf Stream rushing up the NW coast doesn’t help things either and feeds in loads of warm moisture laden air that obscures the Munro tops. Inverewe Gardens makes the most of though and there is a profusion in plants from all over the world on display.


Amy has a new mountain bike and was itching to get out and go off-road and so we headed out along forestry tracks and estate roads to the back of beyond.

463WildWestTopos provided us with some great detail on the profusion of climbing routes available in the area and we spend the one sunny afternoon at the Tollaidh Crags climbing some great lines on excellent rock. Thankfully there was a breeze blowing otherwise I wouldn’t have had a belayer willing to endure the billions of midges. In the Pink (HVS 5a) is a fantastic route and it would be good to get back and sample some of the other 300-odd routes.


The remaining windy, cloudy damp days were spent trudging along the low level paths around the peaks. We were turned back on Slioch by thick cloud and no view and the view of Triple Buttress in Torridon was obscured by horizontal rain and cloud. Still, it is nice to be out in the hills and have the place to yourselves.

469 (btw there are more photos in the gallery)

Heading North

At last the summer holiday is here! It’s the start of the August bank holiday and that time of year when everybody decides to go somewhere else at the same time. We have decided to head north to Birmingham and from there to Edinburgh to see South Africa take on Scotland at Murrayfield. After that we’ll be heading further north to Inverness and then turning west and driving 75 miles into the heart of the Highlands to Poolewe. The climbing gear is packed. The bikes are prepped and ready to roll. Walking boots are oiled and raingear is definitely packed. The cottage is booked and it is time to get out of the office!

Oh no, it’s actually only 13h20 and before I can leave I have to endure an audit…

No builders required

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.

So opens Psalm 127. In the last few months since Easter this verse has been reinforced time and again. It was a huge relief the first time we read it together and we realised that the stress of renovating the flat was becoming worse as we tried to do more and more to bear up under the load. And it didn’t just apply to re-tiling the bathroom and getting the kitchen walls straight but also decisions about taking over the leadership of the fellowship group and trying to decide on the direction the Christian Union at work should be going in. Unless we acknowledge God in everything we do we will not receive his blessing on our endeavours. Even our best laid plans fail unless he crowns them with success. What a gift! And it’s there for the asking…

Touch of class

The Annual All Souls Touch Rugby Tournament happened this last weekend.  Teams from all over the capital met at Dulwich College to go head to head.  16 teams in two pools – Elite and Social – fought it out through the round robin and then into the plate and final rounds.  Big up to Nick, Andy, Verity and all the others for putting it together and running a very slick tournament.  Pictures of some of the games can be seen here.


Try this for taste

Bean salad

  • 1 x tin Heinz baked beans
  • several spoons mayonnaise (Cross and Blackwell preferably)
  • 2 x sliced bananas

Empty the beans into a suitable bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise. Add the sliced banana. Chill in the fridge until ready to eat. Serve with a lekker braai.

Now, some of you might think a suitable bowl would be the toilet bowl. Others might disagree about the mayonnaise. Still other might get so far as to chilling the salad in the fridge until ready to eat. And then never quite getting around to it. I can’t understand the objection to such an essential item on the table at any braai. Bruce swears by it. I would be interested to hear your point of view.

40 days of rain…

It was Gran’s birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday, Gran. 85 not out. It was also St. Swithin’s day and it rained. According to local tradition it is now going to rain for the next 40 days and nights as a reminder not needlessly spend money and time on displays of wealth and ostentation when it could be better spent on serving the needs of the poor. Check here for more history. The BBC forecast for the week seems to support it as well as we will be having sunny intervals between heavy showers and heavy rain through to Friday. Summer really did happen this weekend. Saturday, in fact.

Esmerelda the Valiant

Well, she is valiant but she is not a Valiant.  She’s a Vauxhall Astra 1.4i (hi-torque model) and her alternator has stopped working.  But she is a real little trooper and thankfully her battery is new and fully charged as I have done about 10 miles in her since the light came on.  The manual said to stop driving immediately but I only read that after the 10 miles.  So, she is going in for some minor surgery on Tuesday to get her running again.  We’ll let you know how well she recovers.

I’m on a training course

Editing in ArcGIS 9.2  Right now we are about to create a personal geodatabase as I right a personal note to myself on my blog.  Personally I think we should be moving towards file geodatabases but there are issues with interoperability as feature classes would have to be converted to shapefile before sharing the information.  Unless other users are also using ESRI’s file geodatabase.  Better get back to doing some work…