Lochaber's a pretty good place to pass the darkest days of the year. Though not if you have influenza A or pneumonia. Nowhere is a good place to be with that. On the other hand, the support from NHS 24, the Belford Hospital A&E, Out of Hours Service and GP's has been phenomenal for my Horizontal Boy who is now horizontal out of necessity rather than laid back nature. (Not to mention the out of hours service provided by friends on their day off.) Maybe Lochaber really is the place to be in your darkest days.
But the fun stuff that one gets dragged into whether one wanted to or not, has made mid winter a blast.
Manic Mondays have continued unabated and Christmas day fell on a Monday, so it was a wee party on the water. I never go for my dip with enthusiasm, but I always leave the apres breakfast with a positive outlook for the week. It's about the buzz and not the exercise as the most energy is expended in putting on and taking off our wetsuits (and all the other stuff that I put on to cover every piece of skin possible.) The only sign of the true swimmers is usually a couple of pairs of crocs by the sea side (the footwear - not the man-eating type) and sometimes a head torch in the distance as Mairi, Ed and sometimes Emma, get their mile in (I've even seen paddles attached to hands and this is a daily routine for them - not once a week.)
On the last day of the year we got an invite to cross the border into Speyside from Linda Lu and Dashing Dave. A bike ride was suggested to balance the excesses of the festive period. I've known Linda Lu a long time but I was still surprised at the contents of her cycling rucksack - apart from the whisky liqueur - that wasn't a surprise at all.
The roads and tracks were so icy that we only made it to the top of Kingussie golf course. Dashing Dave didn't even get that far as he was called out by the fire service. We weren't sure if this created the correct balance but we thought we should toast Spook, the sober driver anyway.
Spook has a reputation to upkeep in Kingussie where he as recently been re-named as H20 Munro.
If only he could bring that reputation back to Lochaber. He did well on Hogmany but that was only because he had the promise of a night at the B'Dass's on the 1st. Meanwhile, the first day of the year was a Monday, but we decided to go up a wee hill instead of a swim. We'd missed the deadline to enter the Aonach Mhor Uphill race so decided to go up Melantee which is the nobbly bit in front of Ben Nevis.
Running Girl took her 21st wee dram to bring in the new year, which is the last one as she doesn't intend to do any more Ben Nevis Races. (you always get a miniature Ben Nevis Whisky with your entry to the race.) She doesn't like whisky, but gave it a fair go. Then we raised the bottle to the runners over at Nevis Range.
Curly issued her yearly challenge of 100 miles for January and only this counted for a paltry 2.5. I had to run round the car park and get out of the van at the bottom of the road to run up the canal. It's going to be a long month. It's a challenge just to run at all, so I'm keeping it to little and often so as not to build an impossible deficit as the month goes on. we ran up the red route at Nevis Range to see what was going on up the there and to offer a bit of variety. Spook and Running Girl got up there way ahead of me and I puffed my heart out trying to catch them.
Kimages takes a great photo.
It took me 1hr and 17mins to get to the targeted hot chocolate.
it was a guy wee cup for sic an effort but apparently it was so busy they'd run out of mugs.
The next day, we'd heard that there were cute babies up there and Meg and her pals were going up sledging, so we decided to walk up and rest our legs from the effort of running. (this is a 3 mile uphill effort.) RG started a long time ahead of me and arranged to see me there. I enjoyed a pleasant walk and had every intention of claiming the 3 miles for the challenge even tho I didn't even attempt a run.
Endomondo which is recording my miles and lap times, confirmed that it had taken 1hr and 17mins to walk up the hill. Exactly the same time as my run the day before. Who am I kidding with this hill running lark?
Fun in every direction. Thanks for these 3 photo's Amy Cameron.
Campaign K, who lives next door, invited me out on her wee routine cycle round the forest on our side of the glen. I'm up for a jaunt but hate having to change outfits for work, shopping, running or cycling. So I just went as I was - straight from some stick cutting on the croft.
I had hoped the oily boiler suit would be water resistant but it wasn't, so I had to get changed afterwards, anyway.
My daily run took me past Torcastle at sunset. There are many benefits from the challenge like running past old castles at sunset and despite the tender knees and now almost half way through the challenge, I'm already feeling more energetic. No one needs to run every day, but something that makes you go out that door, even after a long working day to get some fresh air in any weather, has to be a good thing. Thanks Curly.
Fun comes at a price and I have done quite a bit of work over the festive period. I insisted on new dungarees to inspire my clients that I was a true professional. Meg said that they needed to know I was a professional cleaner and not a professional plumber. She has taken to calling me Luigi. I like a lot of pockets but even these didn't have enough for my dusters. I stuck a couple inside my bib. When I called into Running Girl's for a cuppa after work, she thought my knickers were falling out my trouser leg when she saw the pink material nestling on my foot. I'd hunted all over for that bloomin' duster.
The weather has continued to be better and brighter than it was in summer. Perhaps a little colder. I'll end with James Crightons photos from his snowboarding day up Nevis Range yesterday. Thanks James - don't know which this is the best advert for - Nevis Range, your new Google phone with camera, or your photography. But it certainly helps make the point about Lochaber.