It's incredible, but culturally important, that there still exist shops like Tam Shepherds in the centre of town. It's mis-placed sense of being from another era is only briefly brought into the Amercianised 21st century with the inclusion of a card payment system. An eighties carbon shuttle would have been perfect. And if I'd given them an 'Access' credit card.
The woman who runs the shop is balanced. She has a kind smile but quieter and more business like than you'd expect from someone who owns a trick shop. She plays her own music - an un-placeable 70's band. Despite it being less than a week to Christmas, there is little hint of festive cheer. It's refreshing. A dip into independent retail which has almost vanished from the city centre.
The layout of the shop is how it has always been - long cabinets with an oak frame and glass top and front to see the dirty soap, fake poo, whoopee cushions, blood capsules. There is low-level grey-patterened gingham formica which goes largely unseen amidst the colourful masks and tricks sitting below fluorescent tube lighting. Just as the owner is in a middle aged cardigan, unremarkable hair and a indistinctive dark blouse. She's well aware that you cannot compete with the madness they have on sale.
Posted by stupot at 10:44 AM Monday 22 Dec
The sound of the enemy can be heard in the distance, muffled but unmistakable, breaking rest. Explosions and shouts. The sound becomes clearer and closer. Hand to hand combat ensues. Screams are let out, eyes full. The smell of fear. Wrestling on the ground: uniforms torn and messy. The struggle continues. The shouting lessens. Quiet eventually has the upper hand. Upright again. The opposition sedated and weary.
The lone piper paces, focussed and steady, considerate and measured with his breathing. The battle is won for now, the victory rewarded by sleep.
Posted by stupot at 06:57 PM Sunday 14 Dec
Mr Third started this blog for me ten years ago. In December 2004, being social on the internet was quite a scary thing. Going into the foyer of 'Habbo Hotel' (think you directed me there too, Chris) and entering into a conversation with a stranger was enough to make me close the computer down, shut the curtains and rock myself to sleep in a dark room. Psychotic people with anger management problems would populate online forums. Then facebook emerged as the home of the lazy narcissist, the ready meal of the internet: fleeting and insubstantial, complete with layers of plastic packaging destined for the landfill. And twitter - a kind of poverty Haiku for the masses.
A more closed tool (latterly without a comment function), the blog has been a useful platform to decant head-stuff, the writing helping to untangle the brain muddle. You dissect. You put away in a box in a slightly neater bundle than you started with. For someone with a bad memory it has become a more concise catalogue of places, rides, holidays, tastes, experiences, as well as a handy reference tool to point others to. It's certainly an enjoyable pastime and encourages a commitment to writing - a subject I've always struggled with since school. Just as my sketches are a fun way of documenting life in a visual way, the words add a bit more depth. There's less preciousness when you write online - you can tweak, alter, change, refine - I can't help thinking a piece of paper charting those edits would be a far more interesting document to look at though.
Posted by stupot at 06:17 PM Saturday 6 Dec
We went to an industrial estate in Livingston the other day: it's unglamorous but there are some proper cool businesses knocking about. Click Netherfield supply museum cases (OK - cool in my book) to institutions all around the world, Endura supply kit to cycling's Spanish Movistar team. We were dropping in on the small team at Shand Cycles with a view to finding out how they work and maybe buying a local, solid, lovingly built bike. Steven shows us the process with a cheery welcome - the welding happens not far from CAD, the CAD guy is at a bench not far from the admin and the admin is spitting distance from the spray booth. It's a tight wee operation - Chris Hoy just had a track bike from there I notice from rummaging through their flickr account. It's tailored stuff. The all-round 'Stoater' has many components that are new and fascinating to me - Rohloff concealed hub gears, carbon drive chain, a split frame (for goodness sake), disc brakes, plenty of lugs. Not light but in line with how I ride. Bike weight keeps you fit. Might be a long term addition to the family, post-crash trauma.
Posted by stupot at 05:50 PM Saturday 6 Dec
There was no understanding of what was going to occur when it happened so it was always going to come as a surprise. The only thing we could be certain of was that it wouldn't happen on the due date. And that was all the tempting that fate needed. Almost at the stroke of midnight on the red-circled Friday of the 42nd week, the cramps came.
Posted by stupot at 10:52 PM Saturday 29 Nov
The predictive text on my phone was really struggling with the Scots Language. I turned it off but then you just realise how bad your writing is with 2cm digits trying to strike 5mm keys. Like an elephant playing piano. It was frustrating me but I realise that it is learning. It's a slow learned but it's mastered quite a few of the basics. Amongst the learned words are wee, whit, cannae, dae, pish, loch, acht… I'm not going to go on: my phone might have learned them but that last sentence was written three times. Maybe the laptop will learn sometime as well.
Posted by stupot at 04:33 PM Tuesday 11 Nov
The two comfiest pair of trousers I own are well over 10 years old. One set are brown checked X-Large slacks which are a bit thinner than they were but are apparently still dapper enough to gain complements. They're loose and cool - I love wearing them in summer. The other pair are Rohan Bags - Amazingly comfy. I wear them in the office as much as I would in the hills. They're dead breathable, dry out in no time and have a double layer in the arse and knee. I got a new set recently as the old ones are a bit frayed but I'm having to push myself to wear them, because the old ones still work fine, are 'worn-comfy' and I don't have the preciousness you get with new stuff.Continue reading "Something old, Something new, Something simple "
Posted by stupot at 06:56 PM Monday 10 Nov
Posted by stupot at 07:23 PM Sunday 9 Nov
Lismore ended up being nothing like I thought it was going to be. Mainly because I had no idea of what to expect. Appin was one corner of the west coast I hadn't quite ventured to. It's an unassuming island I had passed on the Craignure ferry and more of a low lying rock, even if impressively stretched out, from South to North. The backdrop is bold and impressive, accentuated by the crisp autumn light which is fleeting but powerful at this time of year. As you stand on the pier at Port Appin the land mass of Morvern, both laterally and in elevation, is majestic.
We didn't really see the granite super quarry of Glensanda but the kind of added to the intrigue - it felt like it should be in a Christopher Brookmyre book. Meall na h-Easaiche mountain is certainly visible though and evidence of its existence is seen with boats carrying staff and fuel around the head of the island, behind the chef of the hotel who occasionally goes to check the creels at the end of the pier.
Laura is a relatively immobile 40 weeks pregnant and I've got a fresh gash on my left arm with 12 stitches and a gamy ankle. It's safe to say we're not here for the white water rafting. With no mobile reception, we get a telephone call through the bar - which is pleasantly at odds with city life - and arrange to get picked up by Marlene - a family friend of Laura's - the other side of the short ferry crossing.
We meet an interesting chap in oil skins and end up visiting his new build, turf-roofed home. He knows our connection and we realise that everybody know everybody - literally. We're entrenched in detail during our tour of the island which is satisfyingly rural: the tiny boat the Oban dentist commutes on in all weathers, a poster drop-off for the cinema club they have, we hear about the local politics, of land ownership, of the hardships of island life. We look south to Mull and over to Oban, east toward Glen Etive and the wee surrounding islands. North, as we turn around, to the Nevis Range and finally Morvern, the rock I am so in awe of, to the west. We're deeply content and would be happy to stay for a time. Our last wee foray before we start our new jobs as night-watchmen.
Posted by stupot at 11:07 AM Sunday 9 Nov
When you go to Skye you don't even need to take a ferry these days - for the other larger islands you take the big ferries - the Island Class ferries. You can get some space to yourself, some decent food and you're generally very comfortable: especially if you have been at the mercy of the weather during your visit. They even have blow up ferries you can buy. Which is quite cool. Dependent on the direction of the wind and the experience of the captain, these ferries can go out in pretty rough weather. On the final leg of our day to get to Jura we were definitely not on one of these. It was a tiny shelf of a thing and there was no hiding from the elements other than an out of place, urban bus shelter bolted to the deck. I thought about the daily school run heading to Islay where we'd left: how well the kids would get to know these stirring currents in a strait just south of the worlds 3rd largest whirlpool, the Corryvreckan. We were on a loch class vessel: which despite its small size, is a favourable sign of approaching an area sparsely populated with humans.Continue reading "Loch Class"
Posted by stupot at 05:58 PM Wednesday 22 Oct