Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Huntly Castle

Huntly, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

From my limited history, this was the seat of the Gordon Clan, the so called 'Cock of the North'. The castle now in ruins the current head of the Gordon, The Marquis of Huntly resides at Aboyne Castle, Deeside. But how did that switch of homes come about?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Scotland - England - Wales - Scotland

I made my first ever visit to Wales last weekend, friends wedding took me there. What a great place, when I first found out where I was going I looking up their website and when I saw a picture of the scenery I commented, looks like home from home. And so it proved to be, we arrived in darkness that hide Wales but when I woke up, the Valley shone bright and I even managed to scale a local hill that opened up the whole of the Brecon area.

Wales Wedding Walk

I then crossed the border to England before heading home to Aberdeenshire.

Measuring guide

Following on from my last post on my made to measure trousers I am getting made by my local outdoor clothing manufacturer Hilltrek. I am lucky in that I am a 10 minute walk from their store but I did use their website to place the order. Their website has a form to input your personalized measurements on and this comes with instructions on taking those sizes but nothing beats learning from doing, so I volunteered myself as a 'model' in a video entitled, The HILLTREK Made to Measure Guide. Hopefully this will make it clearer and easier for inputting those personalized measurements.

Friday, October 30, 2009

hilltrek - made to measure hiking trousers

I started the process of buying a new pair of hiking trousers today from Hilltrek, the local outdoor manufacturer and retailer in Aboyne.

The specific trouser is the Cabrach Ventile® Trousers - Double - Made to Measure . My last pair were purchased from Hilltrek but they were not made to measure, but after years spent in the hills walking to free skiing they have seen better days.

I am a big fan of product personalization so I am real excited to be purchasing a made to measure trouser this time around. In the past I have purchased a few made to measure items, water proof over trousers, mainly used in my student days and back then I did more biking so I asked Hilltrek to add reflectors and Velcro to keep the trousers tight to my legs. You just cannot do that on an item purchased from the peg.

A fleece and a long time ago I got my first ski jacket made. I recall getting to visit the store to select the colours and to get sided-up. This was a long time ago but the jacket is still great, it has picked up a couple of repairs but it still does the business at Glenshee, even on the wildest of days.

We are going to document the whole process of making my new hiking trousers on this and the hilltrek blog. The first stage was to enter my leg size, leg length, waits and knee level on this webpage. We will next pick up the story at the Hilltrek store to see how the information from the website turns into a real personalized product.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fungle burn alternations again

Autumn Settled In, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

In the summer the fungle burn took a pounding with flood water and I was in shock to see parts of the burn re-configured. I had been just a couple of weeks since I had passed the burn but yet again I was surprised to see a new look fungle burn. This time man-made. A narrowing of the weir, I expect it will allow the wee trouts easier access up the burn.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brave Butterworth @ Autumn

The Butterworth Gallery hosted the opening of the Autumn Collection of paintings at the weekend. The headline painting is this one by Howard.

A brave use of colour that illuminates the Aberdeenshire country side in harvest. The darkness in the sky holding an insight into the shorter days ahead. The painting looks even better when you see it in the Gallery.

Mary also brought a standout painting to the exhibition. This time the subject was more personal, a character filled portrait of her niece complete with pink party dress. If you are in Deeside, take the turn at Potarch and head for Ballogie to give you eyes some autumn cheer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Aboyne Spring - a poem

Green greets the eye
A celebration of vert
New neon tips prick forth
Bursts of brightest green

The theatre of the valley
An audience of dressed trees
Needles new pristine
A patchwork quilt land

Scenery sets the picture
Green tints exhaust
The artists pallet
Buds break and bloom

Broom bristles tickle
Then shoot golden drops
Rhodies blossom bold
Pink, magenta colors glow

Evening light sets low
Bark lit amber
The greens grow up
Days lengthen
Spring smiles at summer

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ben MacDhui & Back

Friday 11 September started in the dark but soon it was crisp blue skies, perfect for the day I had chosen to head to the summit of Ben MacDhui, highest peak in the Cairngorms and second highest peak in the island we call Great Britain. Unlike my usual walks, this one required a drive to Breamar and onwards to the Linn O'Dee for parking. Once there the walking legs would get warmed up (after a trip to the compost toilet, OK too much info.) as I headed toward Derry Lodge. The walk was soft undulations on a good track and meandered along with a young river. Driving up you get to see into the heart of the Cairngorms, the first rays of morning where lighting up the corrie faces with cracked lines of granite. Out from behind the shoulder of a hill, the first view from two feet into the Gorm's. Derry Cairngorm, smooth feminine top with an aggressive corrie lurking in the background. Even though the hills were miles in the distance I was surprised how small they looked (I felt I was sure to reget that thought later). All my life I have looked across to the Gorms from near my home in Aboyne, Carnferg Hill, the roof of mid Deeside walk or on trips to Morven or Mount Keen. Views to a mass of mountains as a whole, often wearing the white crown of Scotland, now I was in amongst them.

Ben <span class=MacDhui Walk

At Derry Lodge (boarded up unfortunately) you cross a wooden bridge and from there on danger was a constant companion. While stopping for second breakfast a fellow walker past by and as we skipped and hopped across bogs, we struck up conversation. A magical morning and enriched by sharing the experiences of times in the hills. But we had different routes planned so with a right turn the first gradients of the day guided me upwards.

The narrow path rose up the valley until a sudden roar filled my ears. I first looked to the sky to see if a jet was passing but in a few more steps a buoyant stream was thundering away. The path fragmented as many walkers before decided where best to cross? There did not seem to be an easy stepping stone combination on offer so a decision had to be made, off with the boots and into the cold (freezing) waters or as I chose, a couple of large strides to get half way across to take stock again. One leap was required but the landing looked slippy and one slip would mean a broken ankle. I untether my rucksack and threw it across. The jump was too marginal so I opted for a human bridge sort of, you know where you fall straight forward and catch yourself on the suspension of your arms. It worked my hands were across, the legs did their best splits and they too were over, just skimming the burn.

Steep slopes were now the order of the day. I got into a brisk rhythm and got stuck into the hill. By now the sun was higher in the sky and well it was hot, real summer hot, frequent outings for the water bottle were in order until it was time for lunch, 10.30am. I needed re fulling and it looked crazy steep ahead and sure enough it was. Very steep and grassy gravel soon became a boulder field acting like a drunken staircase. I couple of descending walkers passed by, happy chappies I thought, blue sky sun, already been at the summit. Employing a zig-zag technique I drove up and up, large chunks of black granite passed by and then to my surprise I was on the platau. With fresh enthusiasm in the legs, skipping through the smoother boulders I was on my way to the Ben MacDhui summit. The summit trig point was not alone, I was greeted with a hand shake from a fellow hiker, a German hiker at that.

The blue sky was now milky and looking north, grey was soon to approach too. It was quiet, the immediate views around felt prehistoric, dangerous and uninviting. I soaked it all in, photos to be taken and the views to all parts of Scotland, you did feel like you were in the middle of the middle of Scotland.

The blue sky was gone now, streaking darker and the atmosphere was less bright too. Time to head for home. I decided to follow the loop walk on the map rather than go back the way I came up, I did not fancy the steep boulders in reverse, but there was to plenty more boulders waiting for me. There are paths worn into the hills, but there was no guiding path waiting for me on the way down initially. You had to trust your map and yourself. A turn right had to be made but too soon the crags for the corrie would call you in, but too far a new corrie awaited. Gingerly I climbed up a smooth sloped hill eager to view over it and bingo, I was in the saddle between the two corries, Derry Caringorm ahead, while conical in shape, no smoothness, just big boulders, and it was steep too. But they were navigated through, not without a couple of wobbles that got the heart fluttering. Back high up the view to the car park could be seen and also the realization that another 2 lower summits had to be reached and it looked like boulders all the way and it was, I kicked about half a dozen of them, my black and blue toes tips collected as souvenirs. I met quite a few walkers in this stretch, mainly older folks, we all had time for a good chat, they were on they way up but as so was their enthusiasm for being out in the hills. I walk a lot and rarely see another person but today I met people all along the way, maybe an hour at most between chats, I enjoyed that.

I kept forgetting how high up I was. A lot of descending had taken place but one more thigh burning section was head before the tree line and valley floor. Before then a 'Lord of the rings' styled ledge had to be passed, it was the closest I had been to the edge of a steep plummet I had been all day, I wasn't enjoying it. I kept thinking - add a bit of snow and ice and death is ready for you. Un-at-ease I completed the ridge.

The softer woodland path brought me to the Derry Lodge bridge, I crossed and sat down on the safe side, danger was now over. I shared a tree trunk with a couple, I was raiding my rucksack for food, still lots to eat but they offered their crisps, nice and salty, hmm. We had a pleasant chat but I still had an hour of walking to complete the trek. While only 2.30, the day now felt long, I was tired, the crisp blue valley on the way up was cool but calm. My first trip to the Ben MacDhui was now over, it was 3.30pm.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Silver Darlings HTM Aberdeen

I splashed through the puddles and rain to arrive at HMT to meet-up with my parents and auntie to watch the Show, The Silver Darlings . First I had to skin myself of my waterproofs, an action the fishermen of the north sea no doubt do daily. The Silver Darlings is a novel written by Neil Gunn based on the backdrop of the Highland Clearances, formation of the herring industry in the north of Scotland and central to this performance a story of love.

Heartache starts as our companion as the uncomfortably harsh tone pregnant lass's love leaves for the sea. A son is soon born and it was real clever the fast forwarding in time as a baby became a jacket adorned by young loon, Fin. We were then reminded of the harsh and strict rule the Kirk exercised over communities in those times. But optimism and enthusiasm was in the air for the enterprising as silver herring prices boomed, more boats took to the seas. Plenty of water around, including from a leak in the theatre roof. A real life prop and this was complemented by the digital background scenery, that worked real well for me.

The sea continued to provide danger for those in boats and worry for those onshore but worse was ahead, the Plague . Lives were lost. Journeys into the unknown taken to find medicines, new languages to be learnt and with nothing, food and directions appeared from the kindness of strangers. Disease passed, time passed, the seas remained dangerous. Not just from the forces of nature but of those of man, the exciseman's (taxman) soldiers of the sea that took life enforcing the 'law'. Time was passing and the patience of a 'all comes to he of waits' love of a skippers moment arrives. Marriage and new life is born again, and boats are again set sail for the sea. The cast skillfully narrated the story, often playing a couple of parts. It all worked a treat and while it was a tough story, it was an excellent performance to watch. Well done to them all.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Lochnagar Collection - Paul Anderson

Last night Paul Anderson launch his second book of Scots Fiddle tunes, The Lochnagar Collection. Paul invited family and friends to gather at the MacRobert's Hall, the Square, Tarland. The evening started with the finest Piping from Jimmy, heart warming bothy ballad singing by Shona and the evening concluded with dazzling fiddle playing from Paul.

The Lochnagar Collection, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

The book contains 308 Scots fiddle tunes all bar two composed by Paul, his brother David Anderson adding those (page 43 he pointed that out out for me). In addition to the many cracking tunes the book includes many photos and stories about the tunes that brings extra character to the publication. Paul also includes an informative introduction including 'A rough guide to the Scots fiddle' which I have just started to read.

Many hours (years!) of fiddle practice ahead for me as I fiddle my way through the pages. A CD entitled, 'Home and Beauty' was also released with the book. The Press and Journal also has a piece on the book release today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Classical Violin - Aboyne

I was lucky enough to be invited to listen to Leland Chen at Aboyne Theatre on Saturday evening. Solo violin with piano accompaniment, Chen played in a mainly aggressive style but with mastery throughout. The event was hosted by the Strathdee Music Club.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mary Louise Butterworth - Artist

The Modern Reflective era is how I describe the art produced by my friend Mary Butterworth .
On her site Mary gives a fuller description of her style. Some of the earliest pictures I saw from Mary where from places I know real well, Glen Tanner bridge for example. This painting did not include the bridge but by capturing just the Tanner burn, trees and glossy reflective water I knew where she was standing. And it has been this early reflective style that has been combined with night City scenes to produce Art like the picture of HMT Aberdeen, included in this post. There are new pictures from Edinburgh coming and I am looking forward to seeing those.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

flocklocal.net activity no.1

The Flocklocal @sicamp team discovered and flash mob-ed Glasgow Wood Recycling this morning. Peter Lavelle welcomed us to his recycling center where we helped with with weeding inside and outside the area, painting and then a load of recycled wood was unloaded. 60 minutes of volunteering to make a positive impact to their centre, many hands make light work. Photo of the event here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

flash mob group live blogging

@sicamp twitter

Build a ________ that will match volunteer + resources


People volunteer
short term
no commitment

needs something done what tools dv???

project manager

volunteer = individuals

community / individuals

How do people want to volunteer location, type, time length

Diff. Technique

sell $



Past Activity

online community
event-y site
maps pins
pledge banks

sicamp live blogging

Intro. morning talk

5 things need to happen

1. have chat
2. hack together software
3. think, stain idea, business model
4. name, people use it branding etc???
5. what going to do, to take forward

Up to teams to do that rest.

Open Space
Law of two feet, feel free to move to different groups

Ask for help
SIcamp team / twitter to at any time

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ballater Kirk Stainglass window

I met up with the Butterworth Clan and friends on Sunday to attend the service to commit the new Ballater Kirk stainglass window in legacy of Mike Sheridan the late local butcher. Howard Butterworth designed the stainglass window. The window is best viewed from inside the kirk but the spring sunshine shows some of its magic from outside. The van is on the window too if you look closely. Later in the day I visited the Butterworth Gallery to see the Spring collection by Howard and Mary. Howards Daffodils were my favorite, reminded me of this photo I took recently.

Ballater Kirk Stainglass window, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

BarCampScotland 2009

Barcamp Scotland comes around again, in Edinburgh, full details on wiki.