Category Archives: bike

Fast (for me) riding, Portugal and back again

I’m not usually a quick rider, except downhill, but one evening just under a month ago, I just felt great and pushed up the heart rate.

It was misty but I kept pushing those pedals and just whistled along. Just over 25 miles and with 1000 feet of climbing  and lots of twists, turns and road junctions I managed just over 17 mph with an average heart rate of 145 bpm.

So, well chuffed and I felt good at the end.

But enough of stats!

Four days later I was in Portugal. I had arranged bike hire with from the same hirer I had used last year. There was a bit of a hitch that time, and another this time. The hirer had not read my email properly with my change of mobile number, so at the prearranged time at 9 am, no call, no bike. I managed to finally get in touch and the bike eventually got to me at 3 pm. Being from northern climes it was still way too hot to contemplate going out. Later that evening the temperature had cooled down a bit and it was time to go. A short 15 mile ride, with temperature averaging 23º. I went up into the local town of Alvor.

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Trying to get up the High Street, Alvor

I managed to get a bit(?) mislaid, but landed up down at the sea front.

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Alvor – at the lagoon

I decided to head back along the boardwalk, an interesting choice rattling and bumping along on 23mm tyres, so a wee bit of an adventure for several miles.

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The boardwalk

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Under the boardwalk, still a bit of a way to the cliffs

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Rock Coves, Prianhia

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Beaches at Prianhia

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Algarve sunset

I tootled around, on the back roads as much as I could, doing around 30 miles a day for the next 7 days. It was my sister’s 70th and the family had gathered to celebrate so I could only get out early in the morning. Reasonably cool first thing but the temperatures rose later in the morning, reaching 33º on my last ride.

The riding was very varied, the main roads, when I couldn’t avoid them, were busy but the drivers were mostly good though there were one or two hairy moments. The country roads were brilliant, mostly well surfaced with a couple of exceptions. Down by the coast it was very dry & dusty, quite a parched landscape. In the foothills there were orange groves then higher up eucalyptus plantations and some native woodlands, much cooler to cycle through out of the blaze of the sun.

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A colourful water tower, well lit at night

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Mont Fóia creating its own weather

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I manage to get mislaid in Portamao, my track looking like a heap of spaghetti, but the next day I managed to thread my way through more successfully.

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Portimao

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Portimao marina

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Them be pirates, argh

The ride to Silves was a bit hurried, but some of the wee hills on the route were good fun, despite problems with the lower gears. I adjusted them later and all was OK after that.

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Up above Silves

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Silver castle and cathedral

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The white bridge at Silves

The last day of cycling  was the best. Up to the top of the highest hill in the Algarve, Mont Fóia. I had been up here last year and was looking forward to renewing the acquaintance. The summit is at 902 metres (2,959 ft) and you climb up from the sea to the top, with little respite. The time before it was happed (shrouded) in mist and I didn’t see much. This time it was clear, but that meant hot, hot, hot by the time I got up there. The main climb of over 2,500 feet  is 12.5 miles long at an average gradient of 4% average, but with steep ramps up to 14%. The views got better and better as I climbed, with Storks & their young perched on telegraph poles, snakes roadkill beneath my tyres but very few riders, mainly folk going to work or shopping on their ‘sit up and beg’ bikes.

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One of the many storks, with young

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Snake road kill

So I climbed to Monchique, the village below the mountain. I didn’t stop there but carried on up the final 4.5 mile summit climb. It had steepened up too. Then I heard a puffing sound & a creaking gradually getting nearer. It was a young English guy on a slightly battered mountain bike. We eventually seemed to be going at a similar speed so teamed up and worked our way up the hill, mainly into the wind. At the top the view was spectacular in every direction, apart from the mess of masts and military establishments on the summit as well as a grotty looking cafe.

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A well earned summit rest

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My companion up the final slopes

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South to the Atlantic

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Military occupation of Mont Fóia

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Coming down off Mont Fóia looking north

My companion on the last bit of the climb had descended before me, so after a wee break for water and a bite it was time to go. Except for a brief time in Monchique I didn’t go under 20 mph all the way down, reaching almost 40 mph at one point. It was so exhilarating. By the time I reached Portamao the temperature had rocketed and the traffic increased so I made my way circumspectly back to base. An excellent 47 miles of riding with just that short break up high.

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The road to Mont Fóia (kms)

So a good 8 days of riding, despite the unwelcome (for me) heat.

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I thought this tree was wonderful

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Sunset by the sea

After much merriment, good company, food and drink it was back home to 10º average for the next ride, but it was welcome. At least I could dress up for it and not have to smother myself with factor 50 and be laden with water bottles. The next biggish ride was a 60 miler down into the Scottish borders. Still coldish, and it totally poured down at Duns, but warmed up a tiny bit on the way back. A strange thing happened, the Garmin stopped recording the height gain, while still totting up the mileage. At the end of the ride my Garmin had read just over 4,000 feet of ascent while the other saw over 5,400. One of my pals said he had read that there’s a wee hole in the bottom of the Garmin that allows the barometer to sense the pressure. When it is such wet weather this can block and stops the sensor from registering the height properly. Sure enough, when I got home & took the cover off a stream of water poured out from it – problem solved. Strava kindly corrected the data for me at the click of a button and it went up to over 5,400. My Garmin has been fine since.

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Back home to the mist & murk

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A wet Duns – Statue commemorating Wojtek the bear https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wojtek_(bear)

Since then it has warmed up to a reasonable 16º C so shorts again and some varied riding, with a 50 miler two days ago with the older yoofs retiree gang.

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Our local volcanic hill, Traprain Law (Law is Scots for hill)

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Faside Castle, yet another one visited by Mary Queen of Scots

And I thought that I wrote I would hold back on the stats!! I hope the pics make up for it!

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The 30 minute job and smelly me

The cranks felt like they had a bit of a clunk on the downstroke, just not quite right. Had a check, yes the bottom bracket was on the way out. No problem- order a new one, undo the cranks, then unscrew the old one, reassemble with the new one and go, go, go.
That was the theory anyway.

So waited for the order to arrive, meantime hoping the old one wouldn’t disintegrate. It didn’t. Next free day, down to work. Out with the allen keys, pop off the first crank. Unscrew the second, but no go, bit more force – still no, gentle taps with soft mallet. Then !?{}#%!#%{[}¥, the allen key was just turning round. So off to Chris at the garage, an amazing cyclist, after messing around with various cludges a nicely hammered in tork did the trick. Back home, screw out one side of the bottom bracket, then screw out the other – oh no, more !?{}#%!#%{[}¥. The whole casing, with the bottom bracket part firmly inside, came away from the frame. Not good, to say the least!

So, tried to unscrew it, no go. Needed a bit more oomph. Time to phone a friend. Eventually got hold of pal Gus, popped over and with a mole wrench, bench vice and metre long metal pipe somehow got the thing apart, without damaging the casing.

Back home, lots of reassembling with adhesive and grease, each in the right areas and wait till morning to see if it all worked. Unfortunately the floating screw holding the cable guides in place had gone as well, so a bit more adhesive there as well.

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Underneath my poor muddy bike, showing the relevant bits

So wheeled the bike out for riding with the team, no problem. Smooth again, just have to check that everything stays firm. So that 30 minute job, which took 3 hours seems to have done the trick.

Next job, cassette and chain – now that should only take me . . . . . . . ?

Now for the smelly bit. Riding along yesterday was lovely as ever. Past the bluebell woods with a good wind pushing me on.

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Bluebell woods with late daffodils clinging on

A newly surfaced road up in the nearby foothills was an absolute joy. Then a bit later on going past Frizells Wood I smelt a strong odour. I’m usually pretty good at keeping clean and using antioderant, but this was pervasive. Then it hit me, the wild garlic flowers were out with their pungent scent, not altogether unpleasant. By the way, who was Frizell? No idea, and I haven’t been able to find out.

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Wild garlic (ramsons), pretty but pungent

ps. Chain broke at the end of a ride today, luckily near the top of the hill beside the village. New chain & cassette went on a treat.

And a final recent photo

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The Flying Scotsman steams through the village past the old station on its way to Edinburgh

Squeaks, creaks, tweaks and Tweeddale

Beware, acute visual boredom may result from this post if you follow the links.

First – the squeaks and creaks – apart from me bones. I noticed a sort of squeaky, creaky sound whenever I changed the rear gear. It was hard to locate  the source while out, so I thought the noise was coming from the rear and the derailleur and cable needed some lubrication. A dose of white lightning later on and I was on my way again on the next ride. Goodness me, it was still there. I tried just pushing the lever without changing gear and sure enough the creak and squeak was still the same, though possibly louder. Got back, put the bike on the stand and pushed gently on the lever again. Aha, found it – seemed to come from near the gear lever. So – it must be the cable going – so obvious. Slipped the cable out of the adjusters and then the frame brackets, no problem, just a quick look at the cable end. Pushed the lever to the side – nothing obvious, pushed the cable nipple through so I could see it, nothing. So, one more thing eliminated. Everything put back together and no noise. Aha!! Sorted!!

Out on the bike next time and back it came again – this was not good, as well as being irritating. After the ride I was determined. My ear travelled up and down the frame as I carefully tweaked the gear lever. This time, this time!!

It appeared to come from the bottom bracket, what? Then it struck me, I  turned the bike over and yes – the noise was coming from the cable guides at the bottom of the frame. Right then, I was going to be that squeak’s nemesis. The tweak was set in motion. First clean out the guides from whatever gunk was there, didn’t appear to be hardly any. Next white lightning oil liberally applied over the cable and guides. Next turn bike over and cross fingers. The evil seemed to be gone, so turn over and repeat process to be sure.

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First check out the rear deraillier

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Second look for a cable breaking up

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Finally – the cable guides – the culprit!

Next day out again and a quiet gentle gear change, but something felt not right with the pedal action. A sort of gentle clunk on the downstroke. I guessed what this one might be.

Back home, up on the stand, rock the pedal – yes, right this time, the bottom bracket bearings were away. So a quick order in for a replacement and I await the posties knock at the door, while hoping the one in the frame lasts for another couple of days. Fingers crossed again. It seems there’s always something.

Meantime, I did a Sportive down in the Scottish Borders last September, with some pals. I took my sportscam along and managed to get some not-too-bad footage and have finally finished editing. The Sportive is The Tour of Tweeddale, a superb event which I have done since it started 4 years ago. Last year it was 82 miles this year it’s 102 so should be interesting(?). I discovered that the Garmin VIRB app for the mac will allow me to superimpose stats onto the video so for a stats freak like me that’s no’ bad as we say. So for your delight if you wish you can follow the link, to get to the slightly better bits skip to 0:25 and 5:30

Tweeddale and The Wall of Talla: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dow_0wd58zs

Funny old Spring and bum cream

It’s been a pretty weird Spring this year, hot, cold, windy, still, rain, sun, snow. As I tap the rain is pelting down outside, but the sun is due late on today.

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Hairy gorse out for Spring

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Tulips in the sun

I was cycling up on the hills two days ago with snow around and the week before I was back in shorts a few times. But then variety is the spice of life?

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A 50 miler 2 weeks ago

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Johnny trying not to run me over (me lying on the road!)

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Climbing up Redstone Rigg 2 days ago

My ribs have mostly healed but a couple of weeks ago I forgot I was recovering. I’m involved with the local community cinema (Pix in the Stix). We were putting on ‘Bill’ for the kids film, a comedy about William Shakespeare – great if you haven’t seen it. The adult film was ‘The Lady in the Van’, another terrific one. While setting up for the shows I lifted over the speakers, fairly light and easy. Then I hoiked up the amp in its flight case. Big mistake, I felt something in my ribcage tug and knew I should not have done that! So I was set back a wee bit, but still out on the bike. It was the 25th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, so we decided to put on the film of Roger Waters, from the band, reflecting on this. He visited his grandfather’s grave from the first world war, and his father’s grave from the second world war, as well as giving a huge performance of The Wall. We also had a band playing, a younger member of Pix played some background music and I sang some old blues numbers. A brilliant night indeed, held in the old village hall at Tyninghame, which at one time was a bakehouse.

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Sound checks

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Setting up Pix in the Stix

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The band before ‘The Wall’

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Special cakes for the Pink Floyd night

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Aghghghghgh

I’ve had some good rides, as usual. I’m lucky as I relish variety in conditions. I’ve been up and down our local hills quite a bit. As regular followers know it’s steep round here, so I’ve needed to take it easyish as standing up peddling has caused discomfort or pain, till the last week or so. I look forward to going out with the groups I ride with, keeps me going pushing with folk a few decades younger than me. And there is good banter along the way or at the cafe too.

One of my favourite cafés is re-opening soon under new management. It’s going to be called The Lanterne Rouge, so it’s obviously going to give a huge welcome to cyclists. For those who are not into racing, the Lanterne Rouge was awarded to the rider who finishes the Tour de France in last place.

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Un Lanterne Rouge

Now the final bit, bum cream. As with all cycling things, eating, drinking, equipment, training etc. there are masses of opinions on what we should be doing and how, where, why etc. One of these is the more delicate parts of our anatomy which connect with the saddle. I am fairly scrupulous about spreading ‘chamois cream’ on my susceptable parts before a longer ride, but recently I forgot (or couldn’t be bothered – for want of a more appropriate word). One of these was an 85 mile jaunt to test bikes. Surprisingly I find few bad effects, so I’ve been experimenting a bit and it sometimes it makes a difference, others not. So I’ve reached totally no conclusion, not for the first time either.

So as ever a few extra pics for your delectation or otherwise:

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Up by the monument looking north to N Berwick Law and the Paps o’ Fife

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Subtle overshoes?

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Deep Spring ploughing locally

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Spring snow in the hills

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The climb ahead up to the tops, a mere 17%er

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At the top of ‘The Rigg’, warmer than it looks!

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Looking back over the Firth of Forth and the hills up north

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The Bass Rock below with the northern mountains behind

Nothing Much

Just felt like writing a bit. So here goes.

“Spring is sprung, the grass is riz” in the words of E.E. Cummings. So the weather has gone crazee, as ever. Mid April and snow, though just wee suggestions of it, but a dusting higher up. Before that I was down to 2 layers and hoping for shorts, that’s on the back burner again. Managing to get in the miles though, some warm, some cold, some dry, some wet and some very, very wet.

The first ride after the longish one was out with the Sunday crew, 51 miles in a whole slew of weather, but at least coffee & cake was on the menu.

After that it was much better, grinning like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, warm & dry once I’d climbed up into an inversion above the murk with lambs in the fields & skylarks yelling from above.

Then came our usual Tuesday ride  with the gang of FOSSILs (Fine Old Senior Souls In Lycra)  I ride with every week. Coffee stops and scones are just about compulsory. Forecast was not fine, but some were better than others. Half way round we were nearing the cafe, but cold & drouchit we passed on the stop and headed for home. So 32 wet, wet and chilly miles that took my gear a long while to dry out.

The last one was just gorgeous with the compensation of a glorious sunset, pheasants dotting about the place and a hare bounding up the road in front of me. If I wanted variety then living here gives it all.

Today was a wee bit different, nearby is a wake boarding centre, so we pottered down for a wee wander. As a bonus the local primroses were out in the woods and the bluebells just showing the mass of blue that is to come.

As ever a few pics:

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A steep hairpin

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Round & down

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Topping out

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Looking north, better get hame before the light goes

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Sunset with no rain or snow

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Cherry blossom in the sunset

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Fun at Foxlake

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Wakeboarding the jumps

 

A wee Contretemps or not?

A lovely day for a ride? It was, went over my little local hill, my ‘personal challenge’, then was going to head east for. 20 – 25 mile loop. Coming back down to the main road you go under the by-pass road through a wide bridge that feels like a tunnel.

  
The route shown actually goes under the road, not over it.

I signalled that I was going to turn right and started to move out when the ‘Chelsea Tractor’ behind me pulled out and started overtaking. Muttering somewhat I pulled back in and waited till it was clear before signalling clearly again and moving out. Ahead of me the offending car pulled over to the left and signalled a left turn. As he/ she/ it swung to the left I slowed right down and moved to the centre of the road. I drew forward to get a clearer view before turning right, but went slightly over the white line ahead of me at the junction.

  

As I slowed (doing less than 4 mph) I saw this red car, cutting the corner towards me. I instinctively veered left away from it, but was caught by the wing mirror and flung to the ground. I felt a huge blow to my chest and lay there for a wee bit gasping for breath. Eventually I calmed down and started getting up. The bike was a mess, I think the back wheel had been run over and was certainly a curious shape. The front wheel was turning, but rubbing and the handlebars and levers twisted round, plus the a pain in my chest. Ah well!

Folk came running up and a woman from the car behind me kept saying “you were over the white line. Then an older lady, who it turned out had been driving the car that hit me, came back and was asking worriedly how I was. There were offers to run me home, but as it was just at the end of the village I told them I was OK to get myself back, loosened off the brakes and set off home, drama over.

The damage? A suspected broken rib, the back wheel needed rebuilding, the front wheel straightening, new handlebars and pride mending. And I’ll not be riding till things clear up a bit.

So, who’s to blame I keep getting asked, or did you ask for her insurance etc. Well I think it was a bit of fault on both sides, I was too far over or out, she was clipping the turn. Both of us should hopefully learn from it. Ah well again!!

  
May be a while before I’m up here again.

   
A happier ride the day before

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A sunset ride the day before

 

Lethargy and other musings

Some days I’m just content to do very little. Reading, messing around on my iPad or computer or just day dreaming. This morning has been one of those times.
In my early mountaineering days (now over half a century away) we called it festering. Sitting in or out of the tent or bothy, chatting, reading or just absorbing things around us. Sometimes because of the snow, winds or rain, sometimes just too knackered to be bothered.

It’s nowadays a time to contemplate. Think over things that have been, cook up plans for the future that may or may not happen or just meander through my mind, hopefully the better bits of it!

It’s also sometimes good to look over the huge amount of photographs I’ve accumulated, some scanned in, others taken digitally. It’s always good for a giggle or a memory or a touch of sadness.

This afternoon I’ll be busy again. Our community cinema is on so I’ve been tweeting it and will go down to help set up in a wee while.

So where has it all got me? No idea, except for this blog!!

But here’s a few of my memories to invade your life with.
   
Yesterday, cycling below the snowline 

 

The sheep say hi, lined up for my inspection 
  
Near the top of the road

   
Started young! No beard either.


Only 16, just before the beard growth 

    
Winter mountaineering in the Cairngorms- 1970s

 
Soloing Mont Blanc

   
Blasting in blo-karts

  Festering in the French Alps

  
Trapezing on the Forth

 
Dame Rosy Glow – aren’t pantomimes wonderful (oh yes they are, oh no they’re not etc)

   
A wee rescue on the River Tay

 

In the Falls at the Linn of Tummel



   

Telemarking, Glenshee



 

Swiss Alps, Lagginhorn I think

   

Rescue duty, the chimneys were blown up last year

 Local winter cycling 
   

Climbing in Yosemite, a small route, only 600 feet high


  Festering in my bivvied bag on the glacier 

More adventures to come I hope, and lethargy!