Archive for the ‘mountains’ Category

Typing practise – travel vs anchored to a home

August 26, 2014 2 comments

Where do I live? Where is home? What do I want and need from a home? What is Glasgow to me?

I feel increasingly cut free from an earthly anchor. I’ve been fairly happily living in Glasgow for ten years. I love this city, and the life it offers me suits me well. At a basic level, I can cover my survival needs without too much time and effort. I love that I can quickly get into the wilds of the highlands and islands, lochs and rivers and moorland and coastline, whilst also living in a city. The latter is important to me as I like to fill my time with talks, museums, coffee with interesting and intelligent people, variety of places to eat etc.

Travelling in India was every bit as incredible as I’d hoped. Every bit as fulfilling. My brain was nourished as delectably as my stomach. My eyes feasted. My ears savoured. Conversations, feeling the freedom of a 30 hour train journey, the landscape passing by, walking in the mountains and discovering precipaces beyond which the clouds partially veil miles of hills, forest, village, fields and yet more glorious mountains. And the food. Oh gods (every last minor village idol) the food. And whilst we’re on it, the temples. The melange of deities and spiritualities and ways of being. So each encounter was unpredictable and my universe was almost overwhelmingly rich with the colour of it all.

Could I live there? Probably not. There was plenty to frustrate and exhaust and drive my crazy. Travelling for 4 months in a place is one experience, but the delightful whirlwind would not be so great once the mundanity sets in and my brain isn’t eating so much, but the irritations have rubbed raw. But here’s the thing, I don’t think I could “live” anywhere anymore. I don’t want to settle. I don’t want to let an anchor hold me fixed. I need a certain amount of “home” – a place I have some sense of community and continuity. Where its easy for me to get together a road stake for my next adventure. Where I can reconnect with people and projects and possessions. And a washing machine! I love Glasgow for that. I love how good it is to return here and regroup. I love the people I have here. And the stability which gives my brain a chance to process and reintegrate and build from all that it has consumed. Home is now the novel, and so there is pleasure to be had from as minor a delight as hot showers on tap, and listening to my own music, and not having to repack my bag every few days. Wearing clothes other than the limited wardrobe of that which I could carry and was culturally acceptable. Hugs. Familiar foods. Ok, that last was not as great ;)

So what seems to be something that would work for me is to remain with Glasgow as my base, but to not be too bound to here. For Glasgow to be the place I am most, yet, not where I spend most of my time. I have been mostly here since April, but am about to go to London for 5 months. After that? I quite fancy India again for February, as a reward for completing my tropical nursing diploma and because I don’t need a justification for leaving the UK in the winter… I really want to travel back from India overland, via Nepal, China and Russia, but not sure if that will be viable. I definitely want to return to Gaza. Remote nursing in Canada for 4-6 months one summer appeals, and would be an amazing adventure, a heap of fresh nursing challenges, and a good way to earn money for other adventures.

As I approach 40 – and I’m still trying to deal with how that affects my identity and how I, and others, see myself – I’m suddenly feeling time pressures. There’s so much I want to see and do. This past year the boundaries of my world have opened up. I feel the call of the road as acutely as ever, but have taken off the muffles that for years I tried to mute it with. Now, music from Armenia comes on the radio and I ache to be there. I taste Persian food, and without conscious thought start googling the price of flights. I don’t know if its the same, having never felt it, but I’m reminded of how broody friends describe wanting to have kids. This is what I want for my life. This brings me fulfillment and meaning. To be unrooted, without anchor, free from fixed abode is what I feel I need.

Cairngorms Sept 2011 – Glenmore, ryvoan bothy, bynack more and strathnethy

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Arrived in Glenmore on Wednesday and bumped into Rona, who I know from anarchist circles. :) Paolo and I then walked to Ryvoan bothy, our home for the next 4 nights. We had the bothy to ourselves, built a small fire and chilled out.

Thurs we climbed Bynack More. Fun climb and beautiful rock formations and view at the top. Paolo had to stop just 40 metres from the top due to vertigo and a sore back so I was alone on the actual summit. My knees started hurting on the way down so limped home. Bothy to ourselves again. :)

Tools on side of Bynach More

Tools on side of Bynack More

Paolo descending Bynach More

Paolo descending Bynack More

Friday Paolo wanted a more relaxing day, and we were meeting Maria off the bus at Glenmore anyway later in the afternoon, so we decided to go in early and get the fried food and rest day that Paolo was craving!  We were disappointed to discover that the touristy but fun red squirrel cafe was closed for staff training, though that led to a discovery of a more delicious nature – fab food, though not cheap, at cafe mor just along the road at the glenmore visitors centre. After a yummy lunch of soup with homemade seeded wholemeal bread and roasted beetroot with goats cheese, he stayed there for coffee and to read while I popped round loch morlich – very beautiful. Native woodland thriving with new growth. Lots of mushrooms. Wood ant nest. Views over to mountains. Met Maria off the bus and took her back to the bothy.

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake in Mor Cafe

Loch Morlich

Loch Morlich

That night we def did not have the bothy to ourselves – in all 15 of us shared the bothy fire and cooked on the tiny table, though 9 of them slept in tents outside. Amongst the crowd were a fascinating and inspiring family from Germany, inc 2 adolescents, who were on a 6 month cycling trip! I also bumped into the second person this trip who I’d interacted with before as the MBA regional organiser for the area turned up with a couple of other members to finish the rebuild of the fords of avon refuge: I’d been emailing with him about coming up for it a couple weeks ago but wasn’t able to in the end. When he said where he was going and I’d said I’d nearly come for the rebuild he asked me straight off if I were Alice! Turned out they’d had to evacuate out due to a gale halfway through the work party … glad I missed it! The mountain bothies association is a fabulous organisation of volunteers who upkeep and build bothies throughout Britain for the free use of “all who love wild and lonely places”.

Saturday Paolo wanted to chill at the bothy, and the cairngorms challenge meant cyclists were streaming through the forest I’d wanted to walk in so Maria and I decided to check out the path along strathnethy … turned out to take us through a bog! An hour of fun but slow going jumping from rock to rock we decided to retrace our steps. Back at the footbridge Maria suggested we check out a patch of trees in the other direction along the river – a 5 min scramble through heather took us to a stunning gorge. The river rushed and jumped and swirled while clinging onto the rocky sides were old and young Scots pine, birch and of course heather.

River Nethy

Paolo had a good fire going – he offered us tea as soon as we walked back into the bothy, ti amo! We had a quiet rest of the day reading, fetching water, and Paolo cooked a scrummy last supper on the fire. Bothy to ourselves again. :)

Ryvoan Bothy Toilet

Ryvoan Bothy Toilet

Sunday Maria and I popped up meall a bhuachaille as the bothy is on its slopes. It was very very blowey and quite steep but not high. The wind was exhilaratingly swaying between fun and slightly dangerous – I was blown over but just onto the soft vegetation mattress you get on top of hills.

Maria on meall a bhuachaille

Maria on meall a bhuachaille

Then down, to pack up, clean the bothy and walk to glenmore. The red squirrel cafe was open, so we ate fried food and watched the birds and squirrels raiding the feeders a couple of metres away.

Red Squirrel at cafe in Glenmore

Red Squirrel at cafe in Glenmore

A gale is supposed to be hitting the area today, so it is probably better that we had to leave yesterday anyway. Probably. Though there is still so much of the cairngorms to explore, and snug in a bothy with plenty of firewood is not such a terrible place to ride out a storm, let alone spend a birthday trip in the mountains.

Ryvoan Bothy from Meall a Bhuachaille

St Blane’s, bute

June 28, 2011 Leave a comment

At st blane’s church on bute overlooking arran, where I was 2 weeks ago with v&a. This is why I am in Glasgow. Here is an easy day trip from my flat and I’m surrounded by nourishing mountains, the coast, birdsong, trees, a gentle wind and history.

The folk that dug the graves here 1000 years ago are long forgotten. What were their lives like? Did they use their time to its full? Do I?

Categories: mountains