Lang Time Away

It’s been quite a while since I posted. An event happened that has thrown me for a while. I’ve also been away to weddings, visits, swimming with newts, cycling etc.

The event that upset me was the death of a former colleague and sometime partner in skiing, mountaineering, climbing, canoeing etc. over the years.

He fell off a descending a 4,000 metre peak in the Alps, which I had also climbed some years back.  He was a well respected mountaineer, known over the world and was usually a very safe pair of hands in the hills. We taught Outdoor Education in similar schools in Edinburgh in areas of multiple deprivation so had much in common in our outlook on life and education.

His commemoration was packed, with folk outside, me included, listening on a loudspeaker relay.  It was very, very moving.

There was an irony which he would have loved. Des was a keen cyclist and the family had asked for a cortège to accompany him on his final journey. About 40 of us gathered at the undertakers, along with a police escort. The wickerwork coffin was to be carried on a cycle tandem with a side car type arrangement. When it was placed on top the tyre was flat. The undertakers didn’t have a pump. They asked us for one and out of all of us only two of us had one. As the undertakers finished pumping up the tyre, one of Edinburgh’s tourist buses stopped opposite with the banner Majestic Tours on the side. All in all a real send-off which Des would have really chuckled at.

I was very much affected by his death and miss seeing his posts of adventures round the world, online banter and very occasional meetings.

Life goes on – I think I’m getting to the age where folk will pass away more often but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Coming up at the weekend is the Tour of Tweeddale sportive. This is a lovely, laid back event in the Scottish Borders which I’ve taken part in for the last 5 years. The long route, which I’m doing is just over 100 miles this year, the forecast so far is reasonable, there are some some good hills and I’ll be together with some good companions. It looks like the usual superb day out, if a longish one.

Finally, as usual, some recent pics from our part of the country.


Harvest time around the village


The London train passes the former station


Up in the hills, the coos & sheep


One of our rougher hill roads, this is one of the better sections


Up high in the Scottish Borders


After the deluge – heading for Sunny Dunny (Dunbar)


A wee coo at peace with the world, ignoring the cyclist passing


On a local walk


Fa’side Castle, a great sight on a ride


Mending our old bridge, been there several hundred years already

11 thoughts on “Lang Time Away

  1. Mountainstroh (Tony)

    Sorry pal! I knew something had to be up since I hadn’t seen you post or comment in quite a while.

    I remember in my dads funeral, my nephew was going to play the trumpet. His dad, my kid brother, tried to ‘help’ get him set up which resulted in the stand, falling,. the music sheets flying, and my brother turning beet red! My sons and I were all laughing in back. When we talked afterwards, we all knew that my dad was watching all this and laughing hard! He had our sense of humor.

    I can see your friend doing the same. The man, I am sure was prepared for anything in his travels, and to have his last trip almost not happen for want of a pump, had to strike a cord with him.

    My condolences sir!


  2. mdilthey

    Sorry to hear about your friend. He sounds like he never let the inherent danger of our types of active lifestyles deter him from experiencing life to the fullest, so I would definitely say there is solace there. Too soon, but at least he made the absolute most of the time he had – that’s inspiring for me.


  3. Gail Rehbein

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss Alistair. It sounds like you shared some really good times together over the years. May those memories stay close to your heart. Best wishes, Gail.



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