Sunday, 18 November 2007

Eco-home of curves and tower, cedar and sedum - and indoor well!

Stourbridge Green Network visit to Prickley Top. Very cold and wet Sunday with 8 others. Remarkable tower with fabulous spiral staircase that I have long coveted for my own 'eco-castle'. Actually, Oliver and Sue's is the castle and my abode is the gate house! Grand design of spacious high lounge ceiling taking a 14 feet high panoramic window, overlooked by the master bedroom as part of the balcony. A wood burning stove gives focus in the lounge. Film studio coloured lights must give a warm and delightful effect at night. The lounge and dining hall ceiling slopes down to the kitchen down wooden steps. The kitchen has fetching pink floor, fridge and kitchen table with red seating. The dining hall has stainless steel table on wheels and six transparent plastic seats that are in perfect keeping with the modern design of the whole.

Underfloor Calor gas heating; two solar water heating panels and a sedum (not a grass) roof! The building is encased in cedar that, after two years, has mellowed to the intended grey appearance. The cedar is non maintenance. The spiral staircase comes out to the very private balcony and sun trap.

A further bedroom with en suite is in the main body of the house with two or three further cosy rooms. The office is at the opposite end of the house from the spacious lounge and dining hall. The design of curves in two planes for the lounge and dining hall shows the house up to its very best advantage from the commanding SW aspect. The great lounge window overlooks the beautiful and rolling Worcestershire countryside of orchard, hill and woodland.

With a building like this, compromise is unavoidable. Thus, the solar panels could not be ideally placed to avoid some shadow from the sun at the beginning and end of the day; and, the freezer and condensing boiler are not heating living space.

Yet, easily a home fit for the TV programme, 'Grand Designs' but, Sue and Oliver declined to pursue an initial show of interest by the programme makers.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

British Legion respond to poppycock!

Dear Frances

It seems as though you are growing your business on the US/UK's
longstanding predilection for warfare around the globe. Should you not be
a little more ethical and outspoken about our love for bringing freedom and
democracy down the barrel of a gun and, condemn rather than condone our
crimes of aggression?

All your servicemen have been injured or died on foreign battlefields and
certainly not defending our own homeland, since 1945.

Could you not start talking a little about the innocent blood we are
responsible for?

Tim


From: fhoy@britishlegion.org.uk on 03/11/2006
14:02:32

Afternoon Tim,

Thanks for your message. You absolutely have a right to your opinions, and
it seems you have strong opinions around the idea of what the poppy
represents to you. Thanks again for sending this through.

Frances Hoy, Head of PR and Campaigns
Corporate Communications Department
The Royal British Legion
48 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5JY
Tel: 020 7973 7385 Mob: 07990 774 390

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Weller [mailto:Tim_Weller@birmingham.gov.uk]
Sent: Friday, November 03, 2006 1:49 PM
To: Frances Hoy
Subject: Is this poppycock?

In my lunch hour:

Summary: The red poppy should remember the much innocent blood shed around
the world by our fallen heroes. And, a most unequal volume of blood it is
too!

But, we overlook that on Remembrance Sunday, because we don't like to be
reminded of all our invasions and bombings of other countries since the
2WW.

For me, the red poppy is a symbol of military might is right, where we are
remembering only our war dead of the 20th century and this. Even worse,
remembering our fallen heroes when, in actual fact, in the 2WW and in
everyone of our wars since, our dead soldiers, airman and sailors had
killed many times more of the other side, including women and children than
those who got killed amongst our armed forces and civilians!

The red poppy should be remembering all our war crimes of aggression and
the shocking bloodshed we have inflicted in fighting for our vital
strategic interests around the world - but it does not!

Palestine/Israel War of the 1940s
Korea and other Far Eastern wars in the 40s and 50s Suez War in 1956 that
killed many times more Egyptians than our dead soldiers Vietnam War (and
attacks on Cambodia and Laos) from 1959 to 1975 - 3 to 4 millions
slaughtered by our side and our WMD according to Encarta. UK
continued
arms trading with America
during the Vietnam War; we supported our foremost
ally and failed to express any disapproval for the genocide of the
Vietnamese by our side, apart from refusing to send troops to join in the
killing - only because we were fully engaged elsewhere in SE Asia
fighting
evil, godless Communism. Actually, of course, killing innocent men, women
and children that we labelled as Communists.

Falklands
War in 1982 of mainly Argentineans dead, especially the Belgrano
sailors from our war crime then. Lord Carrington (Foreign Secretary at the
time) said in 2006 on BBC Radio 4: " It was a very chancy business to get
them (the islands) back and now one doesn't realise how chancy it was.
The Chiefs of Staff said that they thought it would be almost impossible to
do."

Gulf War in 1991after we had armed Saddam Hussein for two decades, that
included supplying him with WMD! The highway of death, that was our doing,
showed no mercy on a defeated army of retreating Iraqi conscripts.

War of Terrorism (that includes Israel
's attack on Lebanon in July/August
2006) that started on 7 October 2001
has slaughtered hundreds of thousands
of Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghans and Iraqis - and, 3,000 USA
, UK and
Israeli soldiers and airmen.

Poppycock?
Is the blood of the poppy only the blood of our fallen heroes or, also, the
vastly greater numbers of fallen victims they were responsible for around the world?
Were these men, women and children of foreign lands, with a different
colour skin from us, asked if they wished to perish to leave their land
enjoying the blessing of western democracy, western values and true
civilisation?

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Unusual mix of nuclear and nature in her wildness

Walk with Colin and Ian from CemlynBay, Anglesey. From Bryn Aber Ho to tiny church of St Rhwydrus and we turned back at Hen Borth beach. Very windy; near high tide when we arrived and plenty of white water on the 'flat' rocks. Views of Wylfa Nuclear Power Sta, lagoon, shingle ridge between sea and lagoon, very high brick wall built as a bird refuge round Bryn Aber Ho and massives of sea spray driven inland by the powerful wind with flecks of dirty foam like snow blowing around and on the ground!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Inertia, apathy, in denial ...

... and carry on regardless with your fingers crossed!

"Humankind is having a negative impact on almost every aspect of the earth's environment and is heading towards catastrophe unless urgent action is taken. The Global Environment Outlook has been compiled by hundreds of scientists from around the world. It concludes we are living way beyond our environmental means and if this continues the survival of humankind could be in doubt." Radio 4, 6pm News, 25 October 2007

Has anyone done anything like my quality of life improvements, below to acknowledge the above realities?
  1. Driving a smaller car than you could afford or, limiting yourself to one car per couple or family or, making the motor last longer by repair rather than replacing.
  2. Reducing your hypermobility when it comes to both work and holidays. My holidays are in a 12 year old car that doubles up as my superb hotel on wheels. When it's my five star hotel it is zero fossil fuel use 'cos the central heating comes from my layers of clothing and down filled sleeping bag!
  3. For work, when I thought for so long that, as an essential car user, I could not possibly do without the motor, I have proved that my HPV (human powered vehicle) is just as good, with little or no loss of productivity - and 20p/mile danger money, on official council council business, from all you cycle blind drivers!
  4. Banning the tumble drier and using the fresh air or the warmth of the house.
  5. Giving up the dish washer for manual washing up - that I have now returned to!
  6. Walking or cycling short distances instead of jumping in the carbon polluter.
  7. Only boiling the water needed at any one time.
  8. Reducing the time when the shower is burning up the energy and the planet's wealth.
  9. Spending less - especially at Christmas!
  10. Forgoing electric heating, for gas; forget the plane and use the train.
  11. Condoms to cut your family size and to cut catastrophic climate change, instead of blaming immigration! 3m growth in UK population with zero migration or, 10m growth with immigration over 25 years, said the statisticians this week. Source: Evan Davis on 'Today', 26 Oct 2007
  12. Back all that up by refusing to vote for the political parties that still peddle their live it up now and pay later economics; and, that so love engaging in war fighting on foreign (was Communist but is now Muslim) soil.

Here, we have eleven 'do something' actions; and, one occasional vote (or abstention) to change the politicians and to be part of the solution. Best not to wait for the politicians to act but, to be your own politician and to act yourself!

From alpha to omega for the meaning of life!

Live more simply so that future generations - and poorer nations - can simply live!

Live so that others may live (all religious faiths and political parties could try non-violence as an alternative to their present aggression).

Try leaving the planet in as good a heart as when you were born into it.

Retrench your lifestyle to postpone ecocide!

Economic and population growth means ecological disaster is, in effect, what the UN report, at the top, has stated this week.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

We are the problem, not the solution!

THE ORIGINS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR - the war that started a century of wars by the West

We were talking about the origins of the World War in two halves at Llanrug. Here is a fuller explanation from the history according to me!

The 20th century was the most violent, destructive and horrific in the history of humanity, it seems to me. But we can't blame the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists or the blacks. It has to be us - the Christians and the whites, in my opinion!

It was British imperialist attitudes that led to us joining the other nations of W Europe in 1914.

There was and still is a culture of warfare, after centuries of attacks and invasions by us on our neighbours in Europe and around the world. There were seven wars with France, alone, in 290 years! The 1914-18 war was simply the greatest, the best, the most violent by that time.

A great world power like ourselves can do nothing but go to war to prove its might to all and sundry.

The Great War was about protecting and extending our Empire from more recent upstarts like Germany.

We Brits love our war fighting or hard power (Tony Blair's phrases). We were tripping over each other to get on out there, thinking it would all be over by Christmas, 1914.

That war and its aftermath led, inevitably to dealing with the unfinished business of 1918/19 that brought such injustice that one of our own European men, Hitler came to dominate Germany and, who clearly, had to be dealt with. But we can't blame the foreigner, or even the blacks or the Arabs for Hitler! Hitler was a manifestation of our own violent past - and present.

Then, the second half of the century saw yet more killings by the mighty victors in 1945 - killings of the inhabitants of SE Asia, directly and of the people of the Middle East with our Western manufactured weapons (and the Russians)! Apparently, the USA has bombed nineteen countries since our '45 victory. Our friend and our ally in the Middle East is Israel whom we arm to the teeth to represent our interests against the Arab nations. With her, we are responsible for the wholesale collateral damage in Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and the rich nations induced climate change that brings famine and flood, drought and fire.

I think we slid into the war to end all wars¹ for all the reasons previously mentioned plus, it was due to our re-armament to keep up with German re-armament. There was also a mistaken belief, it seems, that we were obliged to keep to our alliance - one is attacked and the others in the alliance come to that nation's help. In fact, according to my brother in law, Tony Verduyn – the barrister and historian - we could have broken away from the alliance, not declare war and could have been neutral. On the other hand, it seems to me, our ships could have been attacked, anyway until we were forced to retaliate and declare war against the country sinking our shipping. This was how the US was brought into both world wars - in 1917 and 1941or 42, I think were the dates.

It was the mindset of the time (1914) that failed to put the brakes on the slide towards war, once more in W Europe. There was, in no way a sufficient abhorrence of war fighting amongst countries like ourselves. We all too readily took to violence, as in past centuries. This was the mindset in 1914, when war was second nature to both politicians and people - as it still seems to be today if and when it's going to be miles from our shores!

Some weeks went past after the shooting in
Sarajevo before the nations started the warfare. Hence, the slide, the drift, the inevitability of it all, with none of the UK politicians of 1914 realising the horrific consequences of their far too relaxed stance towards launching yet another war! 100 years on, we are still seeing the consequences of how victors in war fighting, like ourselves, have their aggression reinforced to the detriment of countries who are chosen to be our enemies.

NOTES:

¹ Our so sincere and well intentioned phrase, of course, but in reality, more self-delusion and hypocrisy!

Friday, 7 September 2007

The fool has said in his heart ...

... there is no over-consumption, no over-population and no runaway greenhouse effect! There is widespread complacency, scepticism, even denial over all three!

  • The scientific evidence can't possibly be right! We've lived like this for 250 years burning up our finite fossil fuels and, in the process, our quality of life and our length of life have both improved. We have flourished, thanks to fossil fuel exploitation!
  • 2,500 scientists from 130 countries on the United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change are plain wrong! I know best, so there!
  • They can't possibly be right when their reports over the years have consistently maintained their conclusion that the major warming is due to human consumption and, hence, emissions of 200 greenhouse gases.
  • It stands to reason, its obvious, that natural variations over the years in the world's climates and much solar activity are to blame for ice shelves disintegrating, glaciers retreating, and the many extreme weather events and disturbed weather patterns.
  • What I think is right, so there! The scientists have got it wrong! I know best!

In fact, it is highly unlikely that, in the history of the earth, has it ever before seen such an enormous increase in greenhouse gases over such a very short time, relative to the geological time scale. It seems reasonable, therefore to assume that this will have a negative effect on life support systems. We sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. Over habitation makes the planet uninhabitable.

We all live in the rich West so unsustainably; the more extravagantly you live, the more you are taking an unfair share of the earth's resources. Hence, we are all fools - and worse; we are stealing from the rest of the planet's population and our own descendants! Fools and thieves, no less!

Israeli Propaganda!

I don't like this misleading e-mail one little bit. Please do not pass it on!

It was the white, Christian, western Europeans who were responsible for the Jewish holocaust, not the Arab/Muslims. We killed tens, certainly, thousands of Arab/Muslims in the 1991 Gulf War and, again in this latest War of Terrorism since the 7 October 2001 that now amounts to hundreds of thousands of deaths from our (US/UK) unethical and illegal foreign policy.

We used Saddam Hussein as our surrogate to attack Iran from 1980 to 1988 when our Russian and Western weapons slaughtered one million young men in the Iran/Iraq War. Unlike ourselves, the West, Iran has not attacked another country for over 200 years. Yet, here we are having them as our latest enemy that we are planning to attack 'cos we assume that they are building (or just wanting) to build nuclear weapons! No evidence, mind you; just assumptions!

The e-mail is factually wrong. Russia was our ally throughout the 2nd WW. It was not just the "German and Russia (sic) peoples looking the other way!" The former BBC correspondent, Charles Wheeler has shown how Churchill and the War Cabinet were also anti-Semitic and looked the other way. They knew about the industrial killing of the Jews and others in Germany but, very nearly, did absolutely nothing to help. They were not even prepared to bomb the rail lines taking the victims to the concentration camps. We Brits invented the concentration camps, too! This was during the Boer War when over 20,000 women and children died in the appalling conditions that we allowed in those camps.

The Jews in Israel are the most heavily armed and protected nation in the Middle East and the only nation with WMD in the Middle East. Israel is our Western outpost in the Arab/Muslim Middle East. The US gives them $1.5bn of weaponry every year! It is absurd to think that the Jews there are ever going to be wiped off the face of the earth by Muslims. We are wiping the Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and in Palestine and Lebanon off the map! This Jewish propaganda is all cock-eyed.

The Islamic extremists are simply defending their homelands from the United States of Aggression with its best buddy, the UK. We are the occupying force that the extremists/insurgents want shot of - and quite understandably so!

"The conquest of the world and the destruction of anyone who doesn't believe the way they do." For many centuries, the W European powers have been conquering the world and destroying the cultures and religions of the lands they discovered and claimed for their God and King, as well as killing the native populations. The white, Western nations have been supreme on this planet for many centuries. We still hold the upper hand and will never willingly relinquish it, will we? It is plain stupid/mischievous to put it about, as this e-mail does, that we would ever let the Arabs/Muslims conquer Israel or to drive her into the sea, let alone conquer the rest of the world! The rich, Western, white nations are the conquerors of the world and will remain so for as long as we can hang onto our power and wealth.

I think it is more the Chinese than the Arabs that the neo-Cons in the White House are fearful of. The Chinese, they think, might knock them off their powerful, pedagogic pedestal one day! The Muslims/Arabs are under the thumb of imperialistic America and its friends and the Muslim extremists can be imprisoned and tortured and killed, at will, by our forces.

I do commend the writings of blogger, climateextremist.blogspot.com, for sane, common sense on how we can all, as members of the one human family, get on better with each other. Read, 'Harnessing the Power of Belief ', dated October 2006.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Slow Learners - wrong to invade; slow to withdraw!

  1. Our presence, I feel, in Iraq and Afghanistan is an irrelevance at best and a provocation at worst.
  2. There is not nearly enough troops on the ground to stop the violence that, anyway, we initiated on the 19 March 2003. We were the criminal aggressors.
  3. Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan continue our very long history of invading and occupying other countries around the world. The sooner we reverse this unethical foreign policy and get out the better, in my opinion.
  4. 16 years of killing Vietnamese and her neighbours failed to prevent our defeat, then. So far, 6 years in Afghanistan and 4.5 years in Iraq has failed to reverse our failures and defeats in those countries.
  5. Former BBC war correspondent, Martin Bell on Radio 4's, 'BH' on 2.9.07 said that nothing further can be accomplished in Iraq and we should leave. His exact words, "There is nothing left to do there(in Basra) that can be done ... Blame laying is in order in view of the depth of the catastrophe ... The troops cannot be risked anymore than they are being risked. They are merely an occupation force. They are being shot at. There is nothing left they can do."
  6. LibDem foreign policy is for a timetable to be published for a phased withdrawal from Iraq. What do they say about Afghanistan?
  7. "We could have stayed there for another six months ... and killed a lot of people in the process, but what would that have achieved?" Lt Col Patrick Sanders, Commanding Officer, Basra Palace, quoted in 'The Independent', 5 September 2007

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Funky funeral service, plus ...

... karaoke with the lyrics in the hymn book!

Today, excellent funeral/thanksgiving service for Ray Smith (84) with the sound of the Glenn Miller Big Band accompanying the congregation in and out of the cemetery chapel! 'The King of Love' and 'Immortal Invisible God only wise' sung so lustily, too - at least, by me, to the permanent hearing impairment of the poor woman immediately in front of me! Best sing song I've had for a long time! Best Christian funeral I've been to. The best humanist funeral was in 2003 (Andy Verduyn).

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

10-10-20 Vision for green eyes!

I aim for 10/10/20 - no more than 10 units of elecy/day on average over the year for the four of us adults; at least 10 miles/litre for my diesel car (12 year old Astra); and, absolute max of 20C for the rooms we sit in. We all switch the gas heating off at 20C and, then no more fossil fuels until 16C is reached in our well insulated, middle of a block of four, home!

Can anyone else achieve that?

Monday, 27 August 2007

Yet another view of our 20th century history!

Centuries of violence and war fighting in W Europe led to World War, part one. That led to World War, part two that was unfinished business from the the unjust 1919 settlements. The World War, part two led to 60 years of war fighting by the '45 victors. We had our work cut out ousting left wing governments, presidents (even when elected) and, dictators; Communists we happily killed in genocide proportions for decades; and, now we are flexing our muscles in the Middle East to show the Muslims that the Christian West is in charge of the world and they are not going to get a look in! They accept our way of doing things or else! We decide when their dictators are our friends or our enemies!

We Brits always love our wars away from our shores!

THE WEST IS WEDDED AND WELDED TO WAR - led by the might is right US/UK!

Tony Blair is so well meaning in his warlike actions. He greatly respected Mgt Thatcher's premiership and she was a great fan of Churchill who authorised the overthrow of democratically elected Mosadeq in Iran in 1953 and supported our attack on Egypt in 1956 over the Suez Canal. This tradition of 60 years of warfare, of using the military on foreign soil, greatly helped our Anglo Catholic Tony to join conservative evangelical George W in launching the war of terrorism on 10/7 after the criminal act on 9/11! Bouncy, chuckly, irrepressible Tutu said 9/11 was a criminal act rather than an act of war. However, our Tony being well intentioned, charming, nice and such a superb speech maker is not good enough, me thinks. But it is for the Labour Party who adore him!

Tony is simply the latest in a long line of British PMs who love warfare or, war fighting as he prefers to call it. Churchill, even after our very necessary victory in 1945; Eden, with Egypt; Wilson in supporting the USA over Vietnam but without sending troops; Thatcher with the Falklands War and that unlikely victory for us Brits; Major with the 1991 war to oust Iraq from Kuwait; Blair with his wars until he came badly undone with his last attack on an independent, sovereign nation in March 2003.

Centuries of warfare amongst the W European nations and taking their wars abroad to win their empires around the world, culminated in the not so grand climax of the World War in two halves. That finally silenced their guns at each other and the EU was born with the Treaty of Rome.

An Alternative View of the 20th Century! Version 1

Our centuries of violent history in W Europe - we alone had many wars with France, Spain and the Netherlands - culminated in the British concentration camps of the Boer War and deaths of more than 20,000 Boer women and children, alone! If that wasn't enough, we joined in the foolish Great War to end all wars, with our young men rushing to the Front to join in the warring fun. They thought it would all be over by Christmas 1914!

Former Conservative leader, Sir Ian Duncan Smith, has acknowledged that that war led to the 2nd World War. Therefore, I think it is legitimate to say that Hitler was the consequence of centuries of warfare in W Europe. The men of violence and the nations of violence, like our own, were entirely responsible for this monster of our own making, with their predilection for aggression, killing and murder. Therefore, one could further argue, it was only right that they should sort out Hitler, rather than the people of non-violent direct action, like me!

Attack on Egypt over Suez: A disproportionate response by the UK, France and Israel that was such a crime of aggression that it did not even get the approval of the USA! There was deception in the House of Commons and support by Churchill and both main political parties. Many more Egyptians killed than on our side.

Vietnam War: According to Dennis Healey, he dissuaded Harold Wilson from joining the US by saying that we were fully engaged in fighting Communism elsewhere in SE Asia and, therefore, could send no troops. 3-4m men, women and children - and mainly civilians -slaughtered by ourselves in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, alone! In shocking contrast, only 58,000 American soldiers and, virtually no American civilians died. Our side used WMD - "tens of million of gallons of agent orange dioxin was sprayed on Vietnam and babies with hideous deformities are still being born", said Christopher Hitchens on 'Start the Week' on 30.5.05.

Cambodian civil war may have been one unintended consequence of our warring in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. We certainly did not set the Khmer Rouge a good example!


Diego Garcia: We ejected the Chagos Islanders from Diego Garcia to make way for our best buddy's military air base - fully supported by the voters of our two main political parties that always get by far the bulk of the votes!

War on Iran: We used a surrogate, Iraq to attack our old enemy, Iran. 1m young men on both sides died from our weapons between 1980 and 1988. Saddam Hussein, who was "a bitch but he was our son of a bitch", very kindly did our dirty work for us! Unlike ourselves, Iran has not attacked another country for over 200 years!


Falklands War: A war that Argentina should easily have won had General Galteiri been more ruthless and competent and determined to keep the islands. His exocets might have been used to sink the troop carrying 'Canberra' before the soldiers disembarked. Our unlawful sinking of the 'Belgrano' led to over 400 sailors drowning and freezing to death. And, then,we rejoiced at our mighty victory and gave thanks to God, in St Paul's Cathedral, for his help!

There is a widespread complacency that our actions are wholly admirable. When they turn out not to be, we were well intentioned, thoroughly sincere and we only wanted, after all, the very best for the other country. "It wasn't my fault, guv!" Blair said, time and again, "I did what I considered to be right for the country and my party"!

We can do what we like around the world because we are democrats; we know best for other cultures, religions and political systems. After all, they could not possibly refuse our democratic ways and our God, even if it must be forced on them down the barrel of a gun! Paddy Ashdown said, "International law is made by the strong and powerful. It is what they can get away with!"

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Ups and Downs in Walking Scotland's skyline!

I started hill walking, regularly in October 1974 when I sent myself off to Birmingham's Outdoor Pursuits Centre, Ogwen Cottage in Snowdonia. It was for the Mountain Leadership Certificate Introductory course, for one week in my half term holiday. I still use my favourite rucsac from that time, that I bought immediately afterwards. It's a rock climbers' sac (Berghaus 272) used by my instructor, whose name I can still remember - Isobel Rennie! Howard Jones was the Principal Instructor.


Later, out on some hill, I met Geoff Wood of Bolton who talked of the thrill of nearing a summit when the immediate skyline finally falls away all around you! He was using the only available list of hills over 2,000 feet at that time, in 1980, by George Bridge, 'The Mountains of England and Wales'. I, too, bought the book. Those hills I completed in 1990 and I returned to Scotland to work through all the Munros and Tops in earnest. In total, they make for well over 900 summits over 2,000 feet in England and Wales and over 3,000 feet in Scotland. I have three left at the time of writing. (Now, all completed as of 8 June 2008, when I am updating this.)

I have done them singly in less than a day, as well as in great groups taking anything from two to four days of glorious times away from it all - both backpacking and bivying out, even on snow. It is a wonderful undertaking for people like me who love walking, the outdoors, wilderness, exploring and, going to places I would never have thought of visiting. For me, it's not a challenge so much as an excuse, an excellent reason, to use up some of that annual leave, to get away from family, home and civilisation - but for only a relatively short time! Visiting all the 3,000 feet summits is a way to plan and organise and to make it easier to decide which hill to climb next. I was doing them from north to south, reckoning that as the years went by, diesel would become more expensive (and, indeed it has, too) and, therefore, it made sense to do the ones furthest away, first.

FINAL SUMMIT 527 IS A VERY CLOSE SHAVE!
or,
Knight's Peak - on our way to our very last summit - bowled a boulder down on us and Becky dodged death by a hair's breadth!

I was with my daughter, Becky and her boyfriend, Tim on 2 June 2008, having just soloed Bhasteir Tooth via the Lotta Corrie route. We were in the gully between Sgurr nan Gillean and my final Top, Knight's Peak, on Pinnacle Ridge. Tim was leading and stepped off a huge boulder wedged in the gully. That extra little push off sent the boulder but not Tim, thankfully, hurtling down. It missed me on my left side but Becky, who was bringing up the rear, had to step smartly to the left as the thing went thundering down in a cloud of dust down her right side. It missed her by centimetres. It was like something out of an Indiana Jones adventure film. The one with the boulder hurtling down, or rather chasing, Harrison Ford! (Becky's account went, "Tim tried to kill me ... I leapt dramatically out of the way!") From then on, we were rather more zealous in checking for loose rock before using it for a handhold or foothold - for the whole of the rest of the week!

THE BOTHY WITH THE TENT INSIDE!
In March 1992, I had two nights at the Hutchison Memorial Hut in the Cairngorms. Except, such was the filth of the place I actually put the tent up inside the bothy when I was ready to sleep in it! On the second night, I didn't bother and simply slept in the tent outside the bothy, on its lee side.

MOST INCOMPETENTLY TACKLED HILL
I lost my bearings in the cloud, went off course too far left and started to panic on the descent! My excuse: there are lots more ways to come down than to go up, of course!

HILL THAT HAD THE MOST ATTEMPTS TO ACHIEVE THE SUMMIT CAIRN
Beinn Dearg 1084m (Ullapool) in winter. Now superseded by Basteir Tooth (see earlier blog)! Dearg took a second visit, in April 1995 when there was even more snow. On the third day, the weather cleared and, with an early start, a huge round of hills was achieved. By the late evening of that day, I was so tired, I fell off the bike as I approached a gate!

MOST FEEBLE EXCUSE FOR NOT SLEEPING OUT IN MY OWN DUG SNOW HOLE!
I forgot the small wooden spoon that was vital to eat my evening food and breakfast! That was in March 1995 on Beinn Dearg (Ullapool). I had parked the car at Loch Glascarnoch at over 1,000 feet. I remember wearing my 1970s, Point Five Glenmore Jacket that I still have and, occasionally, still use too! The snow was thick but not falling, although visibility was poor. Rather than pressing upward any higher when navigation was going to get increasingly uncertain, I decided to try out the £50 snow shovel. It worked brilliantly. Light, too, from the aluminium shaft and plastic scoop but my snow hole was nothing as ambitious as the one Griff Rhys Jones helped to carve out in this year's TV series!

DESTRUCTION DONE
A shower booth door in Aviemore was completely smashed when I slipped and fell through it. I also hit a deer driving to the next hill but, no pheasants!

WORST ACCIDENT
I was disappearing down the N face of Ben Nevis when I managed to hang on to the rock from which I had just left. I was following the very bad example of two men from the RAF Staffordshire Mountain Rescue Team. They had taken their crampons off after coming out of a snow gully and were stubbing the front of the their boots into the hard packed snow and pulling up on their ice axes. I tried it once too often and it nearly led to my early demise! It was the year (1985) when Linda was carrying Becky. I suffered broken specs and a badly cut nose when I landed on the adze part of the ice axe.

SCENE MOST LIKE ANTARCTICA
On Easter Monday (17.4.06) on the summit plateau of A' Bhuidheanach (936m), just E of the A9 above the Pass of Drumochter. Strong, very cold W wind brought snow showers and sun. Much soft snow. Two other walkers on skis, emerged out of the spin drift all wrapped up with snow goggles who looked like Scott of the Antarctic! A further summit, 2K further on took me to beautiful wind carved snow cliffs and drifts.

SABOTAGE!
SE of Poolewe in Wester Ross, I took the bike and the road that takes the traveller to two of the most remote Munros that, for me, needed a night out to take them both in. I came across a notice that did clearly forbade bikes. However, walkers and cars were allowed and it was so easy to carry on cycling - so, I did. If estate cars were allowed, there was no good reason for bikes, carrying walkers, should not, too. Or, so I thought! I left the bike locked to a tree above the now deteriorated track. On my return, the next day, I found the front wheel had been taken out of their forks but my cable lock had prevented it from being taken! Was it the act of the local laird, upset at my ignoring his notice?

MOST UNUSUAL, FINAL APPROACH TO THE SUMMIT
One winter, I was confronted with a wind created low snow cliff that barred my way. It was great fun to pull up on my ice axe to get up and over it.

MOST BIZARRE ITEM, UNINTENTIONALLY CARRIED IN MY RUCSAC
This was a pillow that was in my bivy/sleeping bag when I hurriedly rolled it up from sleeping in the car the previous night. A quick, and late, decision to go led to an inadequate lunch. Later, I felt really weak and unwell until I realised I needed more food and finally stopped! Then, that evening, in the dark, at the summit of some 3,000 footer I couldn't get the tent pole through the sleeve. I finally managed it when I put my back to the wind that had been keeping the sleeve so tightly shut the pole could not be pushed through.

NEAREST I CAME TO CALAMITY AT THE END OF A VERY LONG, HARD DAY IN THE HILLS!
I failed to zip up the inner door, that gave rigidity to the pole, of my Phoenix Phreerunner single skin, Goretex tent. Constant flexing in the moderate to strong E wind, on a ridge at 2,000 feet, eventually broke the pole. The wind had already sucked out my bivy bag cover and Karrimat and the sleeping bag was half out from under the outer door when, in the distance, I saw that the tent had collapsed. I charged down the slope and rescued it! The hill was Ben Lui (1130m), above Tyndrum. This was on a quite crazy day when I was wearing fell running shoes even when there was snow on the tops. I was full of more stamina than sense and took off on an enormous diversion to take in Beinn Bhuidhe miles away to the S that should have been left for another day. Then, arriving on the summit ridge, I was so cold after my exertions on the steep slope out of the wind, that I only went to the first of the triple summit cairns instead of all three. On looking back, I could see that there was another but I had so little on and time was so short that I never went back! Now, that one will be my very last Munro before the last two Tops! On this same crazy day, I reached the summit of Ben Lui after the long return run from Beinn Bhuidhe and saw two more summits (Ben Oss was one) in the distance that looked so close and I was so revved up, I thought I still had time to take them in, too! If I had, I would have lost the sleeping bag, for sure and then I would have been really up against it - even if I had been able to get back to the tent.

WETTEST INTERRUPTION TO MY PROGRESS
18 hours cosy and comfortable in my blue coffin tent as the rain descended; only to find, on my re-appearance in the outside world, that the swollen stream had come perilously close to the tent!

THE MOST COMFORTABLE LUNCH STOP EVER!
This was above Bridge of Orchy high on a steep slope where I found rocks and soft grass that beautifully cradled me as I lay back munching my lunch - and there was a view, too!

QUICKEST SUMMIT EVER
Ben Lomond, after I had given my son Jonathan my rucsac that slowed him down sufficiently and speeded me up, to make a lightening ascent in 1 hr 38 mins on a very good stone path in good weather. It was also a pleasure to have the company of Joseph Clayton. We were running at times and overtook almost all the other walkers out earlier than us!

MOST EXTRAORDINARY RANGE OF MOUNTAINS
I was taken by surprise, as I walked in to the Black Cuillin on a glorious May day in 1992, by the sharp, prickly, pointy peaks. I wrote, in May 1994:
"Walking in on the path from Sligachan to Loch Coruisk, more of this prickly and peculiar looking ridge appeared in close up on my right. The mountains looked just like those you see illustrated in a children's fairy story. It was as though they were the haunt of foul fiends and hobgoblins. Impressive but, certainly, very strange looking things. As usual, I hadn't thought to read up anything at all about these hills beforehand and quite expected to find that there would be a walkers' route round any difficulty. Roger Haworth, at Sligachan, had told me of some of the problems I could expect and how to avoid them but, my whole attitude was, I think, too laid back. He told me that he thought that I hadn't sufficiently taken on board the seriousness of the undertaking. I had blithely talked of soloing the whole ridge - of what Roger called the Greater Cuillin Traverse! In the end, he was quite right, of course but, I had an exhilarating, satisfying and quite unforgettable 3 nights bivying and 4 days walking in these remote and prickly peaks in quite perfect weather."

WITHOUT A DOUBT, THE MOST STUNNING, EXHILARATING DAY OF MY LIFE!
This was on the 26 March 1994 on Ben More Assynt and Conival, E of Inchnadamph. My entry in my copy of Munro's Tables records:
"An exhilarating day in the hills with the ridge in Alpine condition demanding crampons rather than ice axe for progress to be made. I've never before had a day like it for the clear weather and stunning, snow plastered rocky ridges and steep snow slopes. Camped on Conival. Narrow gorge widened out, weather improved and it turned out to be a magical day of true mountain top experiences. Unfortunately, ran out of film and took only one or two shots."
What made it such an unusual day was the sheer volume of snow and its perfect condition for crampons to be needed for most of the whole, long day. Ice axe was superfluous, although I carried it. I neither met nor saw a single other person and I was climbing on my own. Near the end, I noticed that the small, self-fitted, piece of metal coat hanger at the heel of one of my boots had come loose. By then, it was not critical. Crampons don't need the customer to fit a piece of metal today!

THE EXPEDITION WITH A STING IN ITS TAIL
Day One was the Five Sisters of Kintail from west to east after a midge bitten bivy on a warm summer’s night on the side of a hill above where I had parked the car. The next two days were straight-forward ridge walking, including the first two thirds of day four, too. Then, bump! Just as I was expecting a quick return and a plane ride out, came one difficulty after another as I had to get to grip with rock and, work out the least steep route. It was a challenging climax to a great four days out in the big hills.

THE EXPEDITION THAT ENDED WITH A PURR (of a car's engine)!
In Knoydart, I kept on meeting up with the same four guys but, I always got to the first summit of the day before them! Thereafter, they soon pulled ahead and were always far ahead of me for the rest of the day. For three mornings that happened. The reason was that although we were all going in the same direction, they had to peel off from the ridge to get to their bothy for the night. I put the tent up exactly where I had reached by the end of the day, with no diversion! On the final morning, I followed them back to their bothy where one of them took pity on my diet of sandwiches and cereal with dried milk and gave me my first hot food (of soup) for four days. Far better, they kindly gave me a lift back to where I had left my car by the dam and where they had left their second car. Otherwise, I would have been out for a fifth day and night just to do the long road walk back. A coincidence was that all four men came from either my home town or near abouts and I met two of them again at a quarterly meeting of the Halesowen Wildlife Group! On this expedition, I lost my rucsac for a few minutes as I hunted round rocks to find it on returning from doing the Munro that looks like a stuck up thumb and far too steep to climb.

DRIVING NAKED THROUGH THE SCOTTISH NIGHT!
Off the A74 in the Southern Uplands, my night's sleep was disturbed by a whirring sound just as I was getting back into my sleeping bag. I thought it was some engine that had started up in the nearby compound. I got into the driving seat and found a quieter spot to park up and sleep. Except, when I switched the engine off, I still had the whirring. I discovered that it was my electric toothbrush that I had put my hand on squeezing back into the sleeping bag! (I no longer bother with such excesses - the elecy toothbrush; not the sleeping bag!)

SAVED BY AN ICE AXE
This was on the N ridge ascending Ben Hope, many winters ago. There was a steep section in the way. Realising that I might slip, I had the ice axe ready to arrest my fall. Just as well I did because I did slip and the ice axe definitely saved me. I was shocked and shaken but soon recovered sufficiently to climb away onto safer ground where I thankfully collapsed into the snow to eat my lunch. I then retreated back to the car that was my base camp. The next day, I climbed Ben Hope successfully from the south in cloud and snow.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Stage managed, controlled and spiritual spinning!

This was a Terry Law organised meeting, on the 3 April 2007, where the notices made it clear that Georges Sada was to be the main speaker. In fact, he was the big draw to get the people in, like our friends and me, to hear Terry speak and evangelise. Poor old Georges was confined to answering questions and very much taking the back seat to the even greater man. This was most misleading, in my opinion and not good enough.

Soon, Terry and Georges came striding onto the platform after the warm up man had done his job and introduced them. At the end of the meeting, both men marched off, never to be seen again. They disappeared into a back room and never met their supporters and their most generous donors who had dug deep into their pockets only a few minutes earlier! No personal thanks from Terry who is directly funded by the gifts of the faithful, like those in the packed meeting tonight. I did track the men down and gave Georges the following question:

“Caiphas believed, ‘It is expedient for one man to die for the people.’ You believe it is expedient for 655,000 Iraqis to be slaughtered in less than 4 years, a million severely wounded, over 2m who have fled Iraq and nearly 2m Iraqis displaced within their country. All that was to enable our one time good friend and arms customer to be removed from power. Is that really what Jesus would have done? Don’t you want morality rather than expediency?”

I did not think that Terry was being sincere when he apologised that there was no time for audience questions to either Georges or himself. He stage managed the meeting from beginning to end and the spinning could not allow any risk of an awkward question! From the outset, he had no intention of allowing questions, it seemed to me.

Terry and Georges enthusiastic supporters were loud in their acclamation of Georges' work and for standing up to Saddam Hussein. He was given a standing ovation at one point. Yet, if he knew that there were WMD (actually, chemical weapons) why did he not tell the weapons inspectors and, single-handedly, stop the war? Was it not because he strongly wanted the war to oust his former President - and our one time friend and good arms purchaser? Georges was desperate for the overthrowing of the tyrant. The Bible believing Christians in the meeting were desperate to be reassured that there were WMD, for they had so strongly supported the 19 March 2003 attack!

This great gathering of true Christian believers, believe in evil to overthrow evil; that the ends justify the means but, for me, this is the antithesis of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is far from paradise.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Crabs, scuba diving and the West End!

At the harbour wall at Tefor, Llyn Peninsula rain and drizzle failed to dampen the enthusiasm of two mums with their children catching crabs to dump in a bucket to be later released. One mum showed us the crafty crab eating the bait after the hook had been removed! We then spotted huge bubbles by the higgledy-piggledy timbers of the wooden pier. We soon distinguished the scuba divers as they slowly swum back to the concrete steps of the harbour wall and surfaced in their suits, flippers and wet suits. They had been out for 29 mins the man said and, perhaps, it had been the first dive for the woman.

Great coastal walk and views of sea stacks and a fourth that was being formed. We found a private beach that could, perhaps be carefully descended down a very steep grass gully to the pebbly beach. Safe in the dry with the studs of fell running shoes, certainly! Then a rock scramble up a ridge of cliff would be an alternative way out.

We came across the white house, with its blue, red and yellow doors. It was called the West End, on National Trust land. There was a superb photo for the taking if the sun had been shining, the blue door closed and if we had our cameras! A gentle curve of quarriers' cottages high above our footpath was also a sight to behold. Outside the village, as we walked through a field, a car driver with dog stopped and asked, "Can I help you?" He sounded and looked somewhat inebriated but was in charge of both dog and car for a dog walk when the car might have been left behind on the village side of the gate! Here, I discovered Colin's bottle of squash had leaked in my rucsac and, thereafter he had the two poly bags to carry himself!

We enjoyed watching the local lads playing football in Tefor. Colin's TV viewing of the professionals at work every week, for him, showed the chasm in performance between the amateurs and professionals.

In the evening, the superb entertainment of Tim Emmett and Julia Bradbury doing Commando Ridge, Crackstone Rib and the Old Man of Storr. Tim jumped into quarry lake, swam with a rope across open sea to the Storr and performed his party trick balancing on a tightrope with a climbing rope slung between car wheel and rock!

Menai Strait, express river, rail cycleway

2 hr 15 min cycle ride from Colin's house in Llanrug (approx pron: flanreeg) via rough bridleway and single stone pillar on hummock to the right; then, Caernarfon and S along superb empty and fast tarmac road next to Menai Strait with a line of white waves out to sea that looked like an impending tsunami! Soon an empty lane alongside a river that was moving like an express train and in full spate to Bontnewydd (app pron:bont-new-ith) but diversion for NCR 8 on tarmac to Dinas rail station. I turned back at Glan Ryd to gain the lane that comes out opp Colin's house. On this road, my second stone pillar on a hummock on the left. Weather dry, apart from early on v brief shower and NW wind. White cloud, higher and slowly brightening, with cloud off Moel Eilio by 2pm. Sunday 19 August 2007.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Final two Tops on Skye are 'buggers'!

'Buggers' was used by a guy who, with his companion, had just completed the traverse of the Black Cuillins, to describe the SMC for making Knights Peak a Top in their last revision! They had left their heavy rucsacs at Bealach a' Bhasteir while they more easily did the E ridge of Am Basteir and the W ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean. I met them as they returned for the sacs. I sat by them eating my lunch on Monday 30 July 2007 having still not found the route to Bhasteir Tooth! One of the guys showed me 'Skye Scrambles' and I saw that I had, in fact, found the start of the gully/ledge route earlier in the morning and even started up it before traversing round the base of Am Basteir to the bealach.
On Mon 30 July, I climbed Sgurr a Bhasteir (898), stumbled across the start of the scramble up to the Tooth and looked down on the bad step that bars the way, on the E ridge to the summit of Am Basteir. Although I recorded, at the time, this Munro as having being climbed on the 25 May 1994, I cannot remember anything about the climb and find it difficult to believe that I did it then! I can remember I was getting help from other climbers, at times, but I don't remember anything about this Munro from May 1994. I can recall that, with this last Top (Tooth) I was not wanting to push my luck and I did not ask the two guys that I was with to take me up this Top. And they did not offer! So it was left until my first attempt in May of this year. I've now had 3.5 days getting nearer, on each visit, to the summit of Bhasteir Tooth - and, by now, I'm pretty familiar with the area!
I also discovered that Knight's Peak is the 4th on Pinnacle Ridge looking from the W, from Coire a' Bhasteir. The 4K march in from Sligachan takes two hours from sea level to 450m.
On Tuesday, 31 July 2007 I got within about 15m or 50 feet of the summit, I guess but did not drop down to the nick that I later read is what I had to do. The weather was worsening with more rain and the thick cloud made route finding without the guide - human or book - uncertain! I was satisfied with what I had achieved in getting so far up the gullies, ramp and chimneys in those conditions. By the evening, I heard that at least one tent had blown down at the camp site and when I drove past in the morning, there were a good fewer tents! My short walk back from Sligachan Inn to the car was the windiest I have ever had at sea level and the battering the car took was the worst! Such was the wind rocketing through the ventilation ducts that the inside of the windscreen did not get steamed up!