Autumn 2019

Autumn saw us meeting up with Cal Major as she cycled northwards promoting the film of her epic paddle board trip in 2017. https://www.calmajor.com/films This time we also got to meet James Appleton (photograher/film maker and no bad fell runner) on his way back to Keswick. http://www.jamesappleton.co.uk/ A protest about a planned fish farm off Glen Sannox on Arran even saw the kayaks making an outing.

Our enthusiasm for mountain marathons saw Emily and myself in Durisdeer in the Lowther Hills at the end of September. The area was new to us and the courses a good bit longer than we are used to. (25k both days) but we managed to tough it out. Although there were no screes, we still managed to find a “Ravine of Terror” towards the end of Day 1. I think we’ll go for the short score course in future so that we can do distances better matched to our levels of fitness. Still we both seemed to enjoy it despite the pain!

Kathleen and David popped up for a quick visit. We did the usual amount of walking with a pleasant trip to “Beaver Land” However, the “Game of Thrones” Monopoly game was a hightlight especially for Kathleen who wiped the floor with everybody.

The news from Oz has been of Johnny’s goal keeping exploits that resulted in a fractured finger which was a bit more serious than first thought. Hopefully, all on the mend now.

Summer 2019

After several false starts, we finally met up with Kathleen and David in Ferbane in County Offaly. We had originally thought about teaming up in Spain to walk some of the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago which Kathleen had done some years ago. The on off Brexit negotiations kept getting in the way and in the end, we decided that a trip to Ferbane to do a spot of family research would be a most acceptable alternative especially if it helped to establish if there was any chance of an Irish passport should Brexit finally happen.

We took pot luck with a cottage north of Ferbane and althought it was a bit off the beaten track it was very comfortable and scenic. To cut a long story short, we confirmed Kathleen’s original finding that there is no birth certificate in the Irish records system for my grandfather, Kieran and unfortunately, parish records show his birth but the page of the actual register is “missing”. Given the terrible ordeals that families endured in the late C19th century, it really is surprising how well some of us have done. You really have to be be grateful for the opportunities that other people created for you to take.

At the end of the visit we spent some time in Dublin and even took in the inevitable Parkrun before we flew back to Glasgow.

On our way back from Ireland, we called into Stonehouse to pick up Caitlin so that we could take her back to Larick House. We had a great time, baking, hot tubbing and roasting marshmallows. We went took the campervan to Clonaigh and stayed overnight after a fire on the beach.

Emily and I made our regular trip to the Lake District to take part in the Saunders Mountain Marathon in the Howgills. Definitely cooler than last year and with a route choice through the “Scree of Death” that even now gives me the creeps.

We teamed up again with the Birches in August to attend the Scottish 6 Days Orienteering event in Pertshire. They had booked a static caravan and we had a nearby space for the campervan and all in all things seemed to work out very well. We all did colour coded courses and Caitlin and Roslyn looked the part in their official event “O” tops. Emily did the same course as me and well ahead in the overall rankings!

Winter 2018/19

The winter started with something different. We were invited to Katie Evamy’s (our next door neighbour’s daughter) wedding to her long time boyfriend Tom. The venue was in in rural Perthshire at the beginning of December and we even squeezed in a Perth Parkrun.

It was a most pleasant surprise when we discovered that the Birches intended to spend Christmas at Larick House. We had a very traditional family Christmas with plenty of excellent food Emily and I ran my 100th Spion Kop 5k.

Over Christmas, Emily and Richard indicated that they would like to grow some vegetables at Larick House so that they could have some fresh veg and help with the veg plot. It was clear that the existing soil was not really responding to the “improvements” which had been carried out since Concrete Ali ran his pough over it 10 years ago. Initially, raised beds were on the agenda but after some further thought we decided that they wouldn’t be enough on their own and that another polytunnel was the only sensible thing to do. We got cracking and after a few near misses with the weather got the new tunnel up for the forthcoming growing season.

Suse and I volunteered at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and although it was a big learning curve, we both enjoyed ourselves and will probably do it again. However, the main event in February was a trip to Lanzarote with the Birches for the first week (on the beach) and Kathleen for the second week (walking ). No major dramas inspite of extensive use of the local buses.

In March, Suse went to China and I stayed at home where I did battle with OFGEM who insisted that we install a meter on the pellet boiler. I lost.

Autumn 2018

Fired by our outing earlier in the year in the Lake District, Emily and I took flight to Northern Ireland for the Mourne Mountain Marathon. We both liked the area and the courses and once we’d recovered from the overnight squall we really enjoyed ourselves.

Hot foot from the MMM, Suse and I met up with Kathleen and David for a series of walks along the St. Cuthbert’s Way in the Borders. All the arrangements worked very well especially having David’s services as chauffeur. It really made a big difference.

The school half term holiday saw us joining up with The Birches in Aviemore principally for Emily and me to do the Aviemore Half Marathon. We both managed to finish and were cheered to the finish line by Richard, Caitlin, Roslyn and Suse. We were lucky with the weather and spent a great day at the Museum of Country Life with Caitlin and Roslyn

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Later in October we popped across to Edinburgh to see Ned Boulting’s “Tour de Ned” show about this year’s Tour de France. Needless to say, we enjoyed Ned’s scatterbrained stories especially when he spills the beans about David Millar.

Meanwhile Jo has been regaling us with stories of Johnny’s footballing prowess and is quite the proud “Soccer Mum”

Summer 2018

Early in June there was long overdue kayak trip to Gigha with the McBrides followed by a visit from Kathleen who brought good weather with her and who did a serious amount of walking along the Kintyre Way and later in Knapdale. A new pizza oven was fabricated and did actually produce edible pizzas! In Glasgow, we finally arranged for a new front door for the flat together with some secondary glazing. We even insulated the suspended ceiling so things should be warmer.

In July, Emily and I did a ridiculously hot Saunders Lakeland Marathon near Grasmere. We cut Day 1 short but toughed out Day 2 and were pretty pleased with ourselves. There is information about the event here

Later in the month we met up with Ogilvies on Arran in the Lochranza distillery and caught up with the news from Broughty Ferry and OZ.

The European Games in Glasgow finally appeared on the calendar. Suse was in the Velodrome helping with media duties. I “marshalled” pedestrian crossings in central Glasgow for the road cyclists. I still shake when I pass the junction of Buchanan Street and West George Street. It was memorable mainly for the pandemonium and the near misses! Still it whetted our appetites for volunteering in Glasgow so we will be doing more!

Spring 2018

We made our way back from Oz only to encounter The Beast from the East. I think we caught the last 926 out of Glasgow before everything ground to a halt.

Things weren’t too bad in Kintyre and we even managed a sneaky trip to London to see Daniel Fooks’s exhibition of drawings of his Dad Chris. Have a look on his website www.danielfooks.co.uk/

Somewhere in the mix, Suse had also volunteered to participate in “Memory Clinic” trials in Glasgow. After a really thorough physical and mental examination and a trip to Preston by train and despite being exactly the type of person they were looking for, the trial was abandoned because of some adverse reactions to the drugs they were testing. Interesting………

The trip to London also resulted in us re-connecting with Elizabeth and John (some long lost friends from West Lothian) who reminded us that we used to play canasta! We also had visits from Caitlin and Roslyn who presented us with garden gnomes, the female of which has an uncanny similarity to Suse (or so I think). In OZ, Johnny was wowing his school with stories and old photographs from Suse and myself.

The Kintyre Way Ultra took place with son-in-law, Richard, running the 33 miles from Tayinloan to Campbeltown in preparation for a 69 mile event in June. His Facebook video is worth watching if only for the the beard:} https://www.facebook.com/richard.birch.524/videos/10155286480101034/

Winter 2017/18

Christmas with The Birches was followed by a Boxing Day flight to Joburg and a reasonable enough drive northwards towards the Transvaal for 5 days of orienteering. In the New Year, we took the hire car back to Joburg and then picked up a flight to Cape Town which we both liked a lot.

We left Cape Town for Melbourne where our principal responsibility was to do a spot of baby sitting for Johnny but we also managed a very pleasant trip to Halls Gap in the Grampian Mountains. It was great to meet up with relations who also entertained us royally.

As it turned out, we also had just enough time after Johnny went back to school to squeeze in a trip to New Zealand. In hindsight, viewing both North and South Islands was a bit ambitious and we both felt that we drove through wonderful areas that deserved a bit more attention. Next time…..

After New Zealand, we returned to Melbourne to take part in Johnny’s 7th birthday party which took place in Pirate Park around the corner from his house. Jo had organised an obstacle course for the kids and we all enjoyed ourselves.

Summer 2017

The main event for us in early June was a trip to the Eden Festival in the south west of Scotland with Emily, Richard, Caitlin and Roslyn. Not a mainstream festival and definitely not blessed with the best of weather. Nonetheless, well worth the visit. The camping site was very pleasant but the campervans were packed like sardines. We had to leave before Boney M played on the Sunday night but we did get to see Mr Motivator on Saturday afternoon. I guess some people are born lucky.