Sunday, 27 December 2015

Finally Got A "Round Tuit"

So there was a thing called the Leibster award that went round the outdoor bloggers over a year ago, and it seems that I never posted a response to my nomination because I'm a grumpy git or something along those lines... Anyway, Louise has gone to bed and I'm still working my way through some Christmas ales, having some "Sandy time" and generally just enjoying the stillness of a quiet hoose and came across a half written Blog post response to it that I never ended up finishing.

I know it's late but I thought I should maybe post it anyway...

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1.What was it that first got you into outdoor activities?

I suppose I’ve always been an outdoorsy sort and consider myself lucky to be old enough to have grown up just before the facebook and touch screen revolution that see’s youngsters these days permanently glued to a device of some sort instead of interacting with the world around them.  I grew up in East Kilbride living on the edge of some of South Lanarkshire’s finest scenery. 
Weekends and after school was spent roaming the local woods, building treehouses, catching stickleback in the local pond and exploring for miles over the local hills and fields. Then when I was old enough I joined the scouts which allowed me to learn a lot of the more essential skills for hill walking and camping. I had a brief interlude where I discovered beer, pubs and girls etc before stumbling across outdoorsmagic where  I met a load of likeminded folk and got myself back out there. (I still like beer and pubs mind you, but I'm married so now there's only one girl for me)  I don’t really frequent or contribute much to OM anymore these days but still occasionally lurk. I find it hard enough to find time for writing on here sometimes so there’s no chance of contributing lots to a forum.

2.You’re on a multi-day backpacking trip. Which luxury item do you take?

Does it have to be only one? I find I have many items I’d consider a luxury when backpacking in the hills. My kindle is pretty much a must have luxury especially for those long nights in winter. I’ll often take a little booze of some sort, usually a beer (or 2) or some nice single malt. Something nice for pudding (whatever I fancy from the cake section in the shops before the trip). There’s plenty more but I’ve covered entertainment, food and drink.

3.What’s the most physically challenging trip you’ve ever undertaken?

Hmmm, I’m not sure how best to answer this one but here goes…
Regular readers and those who know me will probably have gathered that I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis in my lungs a while back. Like typical Mr West of Scotland man I have to be practically on my death bed before I’d consider making a doctor's appointment so I ignored my symptoms and just kept putting my failing hill fitness down to a lack of getting up the hills often enough. The few times I did manage to get out, I found myself falling way short of even my own modest expectations but  I didn’t really start to realise that something wasn’t quite right until after a few trips out with others, where frankly I was embarrassed by my performance. Shortly after this I caught a chest infection from Louise and after failing to shift it for several weeks she then nagged me (like all good wives do) into going to see the doctor.
 I won’t go into detail about the Sarcoidosis in this post but to answer the question above, I’d have to say that my most physically challenging trip was my trip to Skye with Kendal mountaineering services. I was physically burst from the exertion and no matter how hard I tried I just could not keep pace with the other folks on the trip. It knocked my confidence somewhat and I found myself more than a little out of my comfort zone at times. To be physically sore is one thing but to be in a place mentally where you start to doubt yourself and your abilities is really not good.
 Hindsight’s wonderful though.  I've come to terms with my physical limitations and learnt to accept them and now that I know now what was causing me to struggle at the time I don't doubt myself anymore. At the time though, I found it really tough.

4.Lager or real ale?

Real ale without a doubt.  My favourites are brewed locally in Strathaven but part of it is tasting the different ales from around the country. I’m no real ale snob though and wouldn’t turn my nose up at a lager…especially if you’re buying ;-)


5.What’s the best thing about camping?

Far too many things to list or talk about here. For me it’s the whole experience and every trip brings something new…although just the act of getting away from it all and escaping whatever stresses you happen to have in life at the time must consistently rank pretty high.

6.What’s the worst thing about camping?

Lying awake being unable to catch some ZZZs for whatever reason (too cold, lumpy ground, noisy tent, etc) and knowing you’re going to suffer for it the next day.  There's not much worse than being tired and crabbit on the hills in adverse conditions. That’s what leads to bad decisions.

7.What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?

"Hike your own hike."

We’ve all heard the saying but it’s taken me many years to properly understand it. Hike your own hike, choose your own route and don’t be afraid to stray from what’s considered to be the correct way.  It applies in so many ways and to so many things. In fact it’s something I’ve been thinking about recently and may expand upon soon in another post.

8.What’s the oldest piece of gear you have? Do you still use it?

An old Vango Tempest 2 tunnel tent. It’s too heavy to carry solo and I’ve got other 2/3 man alternatives that are both bigger and lighter.  I still use it occasionally, though it’s pretty much been relegated to festival camping.

9.Headphones on the hill, yes or no? If yes, what’s playing?

No. I’ve tried but it feels weird and somehow wrong to be out in amongst nature and then drown it out. I like hearing the wind, the rain, the birdsong, the gurgle of a stream or burn, the sound of my own breathing, the crunch and squeak of snow underfoot, etc. It’s all part of the experience for me.

10.If you could only climb one mountain, which one would it be?

That’s a tough question and one I suspect I’d answer differently every time you asked me. The most recent one to shoot to the top of my favourite list is Ben Donich. Can’t I just have the whole Arrochar Alps area?

11.When will be your next big outing?

Hopefully in the next week or two. I’ve been stuck working a lot of overtime recently and I’m starting to get a little stir crazy now. Unfortunately I think my next weekend off might be spent lying underneath the Landy though as it’s overdue a service and needs a few jobs doing.

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Actually the answer to number 11 up there is a lie, or at least things have changed since I wrote it. I've since been back and forth to Malaysia for work for a fair chunk of this year (despite still facing redundancy) which seems to have stolen most of my time available to get outdoors.

My redundancy situation now appears to have an end in sight so I can start making plans (and act upon them) for the future. I don't normally go in for the whole New Years Resolutions thing but having seen the subtle difference in photies on here of my ugly mug on trips a mere 7 months apart (and also seeing my current reflection in the mirror) I'm going back to the running. It hurts and I hate it but as I get older, I've come to realise that sometimes doing the stuff you dislike can be worth the effort. I'm going to try get out on the hills a bit more regularly this year (although January is a non starter as I'll be overseas again for my last trip to Malaysia) and I'm also going to try keep posting in this place a little more regularly too as I like looking back on it. It serves as a place to inspire me (and hopefully others), jot down thoughts and let off a little steam when I rant on about something that's often trivial or simply to just share the joy of being outside. Either way it's a little cathartic and I think it helps me in some way.

If I don't post again this side of Hogmanay then I wish all the best to you and yours.

BTW if anyone wants to continue or start up the Leibster thing again please reply in the comments and I'll think up some suitable questions for you.

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