Wednesday, December 14, 2005

No.1 on

Since launching in September I have been after the goal of making it appear as the no.1 search result on Google for the words, James Littlejohn. This week, I realized my goal.

About 10 years ago I opened my first ISP account, 56k modem days with CompuServe. Paying £15.00 a month. This included your own webspace. Using Microsoft Word I built my first ever webpages and posted them up. Altavista was the main search engine or at least my preferred search service in those days and after a while, I realized myCompuServe homepage was no.1 for my name. When cheaper and free ISP's came along I changed my loyalty and closed the increasingly expensive CompuServe and left its propriety usability behind. However, they kept my home page live for at least 4 years. I had moved and updated my website to other hosting locations but my Compsure listing still sat top of the search results until a clear out session must have taken place.

By now my web skills had advanced a great deal and why use someone else's webspace when you can own your own directly at a low price? So, was purchased and populated with a far greater breadth of content than my first Word html pages. I tell this story to reflect on the vast improvements made on the WWW over the last 10 years, I am sure the next 10 years will produce even more. And I am sure I will see an exponential difference in the look and feel of my home website by then too.

David Cameron it is

As per my posting on the Conservative Party leadership race, the winner as predicted was David Cameron. It is too early to make a prediction on whether he will lead the Conservative Party to win the next general election but I see the bookies make him favorite already.


For the first time in over 22 years I got disqualified in a swimming race. A false start. Not only that they waited 6 mins 05 seconds to tell me, that is I had completed a 400IM. Same time as in a previous gala so I was relatively happy with that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

1/3 UDASC Challenge

The UDASC Challenge meet was at the weekend, it was also my last competitive meet of the year so I was looking forward to it. I had entered the Breast Stroke Challenge which is the best time over a 50m, 100m and 200m added together. We started with the 100m, I just kept in the one twenty three's with a time of 1.23.97. And that was as far as my challenge went. An neck injury from earlier in the year flared up so though it best to quit and limit the damage.

Well done to the UDASC team that record a score of PB's which included a challenge medal winner.

Monday, November 28, 2005

28 November snowing in Aboyne

originally uploaded by ecotorch.
The white stuff returns after a couple of days of thaw conditions in the village.

The Eastern Ski resort are open with Glenshee and the Lecth having great cover espicially on south facing slopes sheltered from the northerly winds.

Friday, November 25, 2005

24-25 November 2005

originally uploaded by ecotorch.
A full cycle of winter weather in the last two days, rain showers to snow showers to prolonged snow to sleet to rain, rain to sleet to snow to rain. Higher up the valley and in the hill and mountains a good covering of snow should be lying. Large wind blown patches will have been created from the northerly blast. Will the ski resorts get a run or two open?

Consumer Thoughts Blog

I also write a blog entitled Consumer Thoughts . Here I look specifically at search services from a consumers perspective, espically in the areas of shopping, comparision shopping and research that helps support the self education of the consumer during a search.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Due to kind friendship I was able to spend a weekend in London for the first time in years. It reminds me of the big contrast in lifestyles between us remote village communities and the non stop buzz of urbanite dwellers.

I think travel is good for opening you up to different experiences but I am happy to be home in rural Aberdeenshire again.

Uncle James

I became an uncle last week when my brother and his wife's daughter arrived into the world. Congratulations to them.

I can hear her voice now, Uncle James .. . . . .

Monday, November 14, 2005


UpperDeeside amateur Swimming club set the challenge for the club to 'Swim the Channel in 3 hours' on Friday 11 Nov. Well, by the time 1h 45mins had passed the 32km or 1280 lengths of a 25m metre swimming pool had been completed, we had arrived in France!

I hadn't even swum a length to be honest by then so we set the challenge in the last hour to swim back across. And we did and more, we got 70% of the way across back to France again. Well, done to all swimmers for a total of 2.7 times across the channel or some 86.5km.

My contribution was 3550 metres or 142 lengths. I had set the goal of getting nearer to 4000m than 3000m so I just achieved my goal. But I had to move some in the last 8 minutes, recording 1min 20seconds for 100m. Before getting to the last 500m, we as a team set out on the following schedule, 550m a rest, 500m a rest, 10*100m with 10 second rest between 100's and then 5*200m. The third1000 metres was the most challenging, tiredness was kicking in and technique was starting to go. With around 8minutes left on the clock, I set out with renewed energy and a stretched out stroke, that took me to 300m. Then it was time to call on the legs to kick in to up the pace. They responded, the lengths look less time to complete but the lungs started to demand more O2 and my energy tank slipped into the red and by the last 6 lengths I was running on a rush of adrenaline. A sprint finish to 3550m.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

White Crown on the Gorms

No zoom on the camera today so you will need to look closely at the photo to see the Gorms. Today, I was out in Glen Tanner and the Cairngorms were wearing the white crown of Scotland today. The snow was lying to just under 3000ft.

The sun was hitting the front of the corries and ridges and they were piercing white again the grey of an incoming weather front. Which will no doubt melt the cover again but there is no better start to the day than a wintry view of Upper Deeside.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Walking in the wind

Friday night saw some wild winds in Aboyne and by Saturday morning they had abated but they were still brisk. I headed up the fungle with Bella dog, my aunties dog. The great thing about the Fungle is that it is sheltered. Hardly any wind direction will get through to the Fungle path.

The Fungle walk was just the start of the walk as Bella was heading for her first walk up Carnferg and boy was it windy up there. With the wind at your back, it is you friend. But a poor friend. As soon as you turn into it, it rips into you, tugging, tugging, annoyed that you are in its way. All you can do is keep the head down and hood zipped tight around the face. By the time you reach the bottom the wind is light and friendly again. Carnferg is not the heighest of hills but still the wind and cold can combine even here to test life.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Scottish Winter Forecast 2005/06

The weather, forecasting and long range weather forecasting is one of my interests. I have my links to the radar, Aboyne webcam and long range forecasting websites etc. Long range forecasting is a low success game but here is my understanding and take on the Scottish winter ahead:

An early call was made for a colder winter, lead by the UK Met Office. As I understand, this would be because winds from Siberia would be pulled in. This results in cold and snow showers from the East but mainly dry due to the limited moisture being picked up due to the limited time over the North Sea, don't get me wrong living on the east coast e.g. Aberdeen a foot or more snow can add up. However, I have been watching how early in the season the cold air has been over Iceland, I'm told this is a lot colder than recent years. This is my prediction . ....

We will see two or three significant encroachments of this cold air over Scotland, bring heavy snow falls to the North and West, Glenshee will be a bit sheltered but should still get a good covering. The spanner in the works for me is that I still think we will get mild or extremely mild interludes. This is what has really hurt skiing over the last few years. We get a cold spell followed by warm topical air filled winds that knock the cover back to near nil. If we can get an early substantial fall of snow to set up a good base for the season then we maybe in better shape to ride out the thaws days. But I feel the mild spells will just out number the cold plunges.

The ideal situation would be for polar lows to be followed by the predicted highs pressures that will drag the cold air in from Siberia. That would be too good to be true from a skiing perspective, good snow, blue skies and no wind. A dream, and like most Scottish skiers that is what I will be praying to the snow gods for.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Birsemore sunshine walk

I forgot to take my camera out with me on this walks so no pics today. I did however have my aunties dog Bella with me. Biresemore Hill walk starts with a climb up the Fungle and of the three options at the top, you take a left turn to head east. The first task on this walk is to cross the Fungle Burn. Now this used to be a straight forward leap across, skipping off one stone. But a heavy period of rain a couple years back washed away the bank to double the distance of the leap. So, when the burn is following high you need to wander down the hill to find a more management, yet still energetic one leap crossing. Bella chose to dive straight in and crossed it that way.

For the first time in weeks I scored a sunny day. While we are in November the day had a spring like warmthl to it. The pleasant wind was tugging at the trees and the Spruce needles were gently raining down, the brown needles spiraling there aim on a downwards angle.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Piano Concerto

Russia came to Aberdeen last Friday as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra hosted a concert at Aberdeens Music Hall. The night opened with challenging listening, (as I describe it), as the Orchestra played Lindbergs Arena. I think us humans are naturally tuned to regular rhythm and smooth continuous vibrations of sound. Arena challenges that and gives joy in technical skill and the tuneful clashing of instruments, tempo and rhythm. The audience gave a polite applause.

An anticipatory quiet filled the hall as we awaited Nikolai Lugansky to take to the stage. The Grand piano was placed center stage. Nikolai entered and with nonchalant strides took to his seat where he adjusted it up, up, down, up, down, up before composing himself and nodding his readiness to the conductor.
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.4 the piece waiting to be expressed. The first notes were played and the audience was captured. A good balance between the piano and orchestra was established as the Conerto's continuous beats, runs and scales blended together. As the tempo quickened, Nikolai bounced more frantically on his seat as he rattled up the keys before gently finishing of a section. Center stage, soloist have no where to hid as they reveal their naked self in the notes. I admire their courage and showmanship.

The Concerto rallied to its close, all musicians on stage intensely involved and all under the control of the Conductor, Roberto Spano. So much energy, so much emotion filled the stage and Nikolai was completely adsorb, the final chord. The applause mirrored the intensity that had just been heard and after three ovations, Nikolai treated us to solo performance. Delicate, light, beautiful notes floated through the quietest of silences. It was like the music was leading you to the land of dreams and that all dreams had landed in the Music Hall at that moment such was the atmosphere.

As the final note slipped away the applause gathered. There was a buzz during the interval. The Orchestra regrouped to finish with Sibelius, Symphony No.2. Where Arena sounded disjointed Sibelius flowed majestically throughout, lots of variety and each section of the orchestra got its turn to lead before uniting to give a classical finale. An evening of entertainment that surpassed all my expectations.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

River Dee Walk at Aboyne

A bit out of order but before heading up Mortlich Hill, see previous post I warmed up the legs the day before on the flat as I walk a few miles along the banks of the River Dee from the West of Aboyne to the most Eastern side. Dampness was hanging around but the banks where brighten by some warming autumn colors.

The river had been near bursting its bank point earlier in the week as the drift wood was lying high on the river bank. On the way back I walk through the heart of the village where the village Green was fenced in my a ring of autumn colors. View pictures from the walk here.

Mortlich Walk

originally uploaded by

The second of my weekend walks was a rare visit to the North side of the Aboyne to Mortlich Hill. This picture shows Mortlich from Aboyne Golf club with the 17th hole lined by Autumn colors in the fore ground. Walking on the north side of the river Dee valley is a completely different experience from walking on the Fungle side. Mortlich does not reach the same altitude at a mere 1000ft but the walk packs in a lot of variety.

A flat walk through Aboyne takes you to Aboyne Golf club along side Aboyne Loch. Catch the Loch on a calm day and you will find a liquid Mortlich reflecting on its waters. The first, steepish climb takes you through bracken clad hillside with silver brich trees. As the ground flattens out modern fir plantation darkens the path in shade, all year round but this soon opens into a plateau of old birch, long grasses and ferns tracking burns and boggy areas. Just at the base of the next climb an old farm or bothy ruin lies tangled in bushes and vines. The trees disappear as the path inclines into the hill. At this time of the year the hill is rusty dressed in bracken ferns. A fence gives the opportunity to rest and to look across Aboyne to the magical fungle and to be honest you see Deeside more or less completely from east to west (on a clear day). Next is one of the steepest climbs I know of and funnily enough trees reappear, old and new Scot's Pine standing in a carpet of heather. Bright purple in late summer. A cairn adorns the summit, amongst the granite an old metal crest weathered and broken lies. Today the view was hugged in mist but the odd ray of sun shine pierced through.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Conservative Party Leader

The Conservative Party used lasts week conference to give their 5, now 4 leadership contenders a platform to make their pitch to members and the viewing public. While I don't have a vote this time, I predict David Cameron will win.

There has been a big debate in the Conservative Party about whether the members or MP's should get the final say in selecting the leader. This is due to three thumping defeats at General Elections that some put down to the election of, as they see it weak leaders in the past by the members. However, members keep the final say but I would remind MP's they will draw up the short list, so it's really a shared process.

One final prediction. One of the key Conservative themes will be Tax Simplification at the next General Election. Looking far into the future this will give a platform to change the tax system from an Income tax based system to an Expenditure tax based economy. This will be a global trend driven by globalization and environmental issues.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Roof of Mid Deeside

I got out in to the hills yesterday, the first lengthy walk (3 hours) I've undertaken for a few weeks. The choice of walk was The Roof of Mid Deeside, use this link to view a slide show of the walk.

The walk starts by heading up the
Fungle and then you follow the southern rim of the Dee valley westward. Below a patchwork quit patterns the land with glimpses of the river as it snakes across the land. The walks has many endings but I chose to head down quickly into Glentanner with scenic views of Morven with Loch Kinnord at its base. The wind dropped later to leave a sunny October afternoon that warmed the spirit as well as the heart.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Aboyne Walks

originally uploaded by

The gateway to all my walks on the south side of the Dee Valley start with a walk up the Fungle. It's a great word Fungle, replace the F with a J, and you get Jungle and the walks itself has a Jungle feel. The burn tumbles over waterfalls and rocks to produce constant sound and the water encourages a range of broad leaf ferns in the shade of old birch, oak, maple trees lower down with plantation style firs higher up.

And your legs will know you are heading higher. There are two notable, leg burning, steep sections that quickly elevate you from the flat valley floor to the moor and heath land plateaus. By good fortune a local forebairn of Aboyne invested his wealth in the appropriately named, Rest & be Thankful resting spot, complete with scenic views of Aboyne Village.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fiddle Tunes

Scottish Country Dance Tunes is what I mainly play on my fiddle. I've posted some recordings on my website. My Granda, John Littlejohn started me off playing at the age of 11. He was a founding player at Banchory Strathspey & Reel Society and when aged around 13 I also joined. I don't make many practice sessions these days but I always enjoy the practice when I do.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I have eventually gotten round to publishing my own website at So, no more cyber squatting at my parents website, . Please up date your book marks.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Carnferg Summit, Aboyne, Scotland, UK

The reason for the name of my blog, Aboyne Village, in the heart of Royal Deeside, Scotland, UK.

Conference season in UK

All the political parties in the UK are hosting their annual conferences around now. Yesterday, Labour, New Labour had center stage with Tony Blair, Prime Minister giving a stern, aggressive and demanding speech to his party. He was saying he is here to stay for a full term of government, he has lots to do, a self declared 'change maker'.

I didn't hear the whole speech but the most significant words I heard was his statement that in the UK the most important factor to affect your opportunities in life is still the wealth of your parents. Therefore, I assume his whole political agenda is to change this? And if I understand right, this means Education, Education, Education? No doubt education is crucial but our economy is a mixed one. Not far off, 50% State, 50% Government. Is this too much crowding out of opportunity? I would like to know what the number one opportunity factor in the US is? My guess it is the culture of its society.

Changing a culture would be my goal and with that, the level of government spending percentage will head south regardless of your economic school of thought.

Should just say that the Liberal democrats had their conference last week. If their has been a silent master plan (or brain) behind their positioning that has given them many new seats in parliament then I feel we can expect a good tussle in future elections. However, if they are getting votes just due to circumstances in the current political landscape then their meandering through political wilderness is set to continue. Next week has the Conservative Party taking to the stage.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Gala results

My times from the 15th Silver City Blues swimming gala: 200m Freestyle 2.25, 400m IM 6.05, 50m Freestyle 29.55 and finally 100m IM 1.17. Personal best times across the board. Also, swam in a couple of relays for Silver City 160+ team.

200m Freestyle was a classic race, my training mate Chris and I were neck and neck until the last length when my extra kick practice enabled me to edge ahead. Thanks for a great race Chris. I made my debut at the 400m Individual medley (IM) event. In a 25m pool that is 4 lengths of Butterfly followed by 4 lengths of back crawl, breast stroke and freestyle. I put in a good fly leg but paid for it on the back crawl leg, I only realized how tired I was when I flipped round on my front for the first brack crawl turn, the wall wasn't there! I some how managed to flip into the wall and make the turn. From then on, I felt I swam well. It's definitely a lung buster of an event but one I want to stick at.

A big thank you to Silver City and all officials, helpers and swimmers for putting on a great event.

Friday, September 23, 2005


It's the eve of the Silver City Blues Master Swim Meet . Got a few races, including my first 400IM. Preparation has not been ideal with injury but it is exciting to see what times can be posted. Results will follow.