Category Archives: RLS

…on my head

being the second chapter dedicated to Capileira

It’s almost bed time on 1st March, so here’s an update on what I did since my earlier post.

I eventually ‘Adopted a Pioneering Spirit’ – another extract from ‘Morrison Family Book of Clichés’ – and walked to Bubion, about 25 minutes and then came back. The waterproof trousers seem fine though the pockets leak. It rained steadily there and back and wasn’t great fun, though it was beneficial to get out.

The restaurant is pretty poor, to tell the truth: I had a plate of cold meats and cheese followed by some unspecified ‘carne’ with chips in an almond sauce (oh, yeah?) and then I finished off with an orange as the only option for postre.

The tv was on, though I had my back to it and almost missed a few shots of Scotland in the snow. More of concern to me was the reference to storms in this neck of the woods. The wind has certainly got up to quite a force here and cars have been blown off the road on the south coast. I located a ‘severe weather for Spain’ website and there’s quite a bit of red where I am.

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Three Young’uns and an Oldster

So – don’t you just hate that? It’s actually literally more than I can bear, honestly – Joanna and Ben were up in Inverness at the weekend and suggested I might like to accompany them for a walk up a hill. On a previous visit I had failed to join them in their ascent of Sgor Gaoith on the western edge of the Cairngorms so I suggested that we tackle Mullach Clach a Bhlair, the other Munro readily accessible from Glen Feshie.

In an atypical spirit of tact, I forbore mentioning to the rest of the group that less than a week previously there had been a major Mountain Rescue on Carn Ban Mor, a lump of a hill lying between Sgor Gaoith and our current target. It seemed the rescued party had become disoriented, worried about his feet freezing – so cut his laces – and required a nine-hour sortie by a team of four as the helicopter couldn’t fly in such appalling conditions. To avoid temptation, I decided to leave my Swiss Army Knife at home.

Our party consisted of first-born Joanna, her hubby Ben and their friend Tuesday. An early start was called for and we left home, and Sonia still tucked up in bed, just before 7:30am. The journey down the A9 was fine, though we missed a turning on the Glen Feshie road and had to double back a little bit. It was at this point we noticed Ben had not got round to filling the car up with diesel and we only had thirty miles’ worth left. I added to the feeling of alarm by mentioning that any time I’d been up and down the A9 recently there had been signs saying “No fuel at Aviemore” as the service station had closed. I also helpfully pointed out that the distance from Aviemore to Inverness is 30.5 miles, never mind the extra section up the glen.

By the time we reached the car park to the North of Achlean it was clear there was no benefit in going to look for fuel now so we set off walking down the road.

More by accident than conscious decision we started off doing the route anti-clockwise. It transpired that though Tuesday is fit – both she and Joanna are keen runners – she wasn’t a greatly experienced hillwalker and it hadn’t occurred to her that we’d be walking in snow. And not long after leaving the road we were definitely in it, frequently up to our knees and well beyond, which made it hard going.

One advantage of being in a group is that we could take it in turns to lead, by far the hardest part of walking in the snow and adding a whole layer of meaning to the “Good King Wenceslas” carol.

Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed

Though I think there was a shortage of heated sod where we were and the ascent of the outlying and relatively diminutive Meall nan Sleac was a sair fecht at times: never knowing whether the slight crust would hold your weight (it generally didn’t), having to extricate a leg invisible from the thigh down without sinking the other leg in instead and puffing all the while.

If I make it sound unpleasant, it wasn’t really, just damned hard work. I did find myself regretting not having brought my snowshoes, which I had deliberately left at home as no-one else had any. Ditto my crampons. I was, however, grateful for my walking poles.

Cameron McNeish says “Despite its 1019m elevation, Mullach Clach a Bhlair is a mere swell in the rolling terrain” and that’s a fair description. I had been up there some years ago in more summery conditions, but I must admit that I easily confuse the various hills I’ve “done” and this one didn’t stand out in any particular way. A few winters ago, Dave Smith and I made an attempt on the “mere swell”, but conditions closed in to such an extent we could hardly see ourselves, let alone each other, and we beat a well-advised retreat, promising to have a go some other time.

Mere swell or not, access from Meall nan Sleac involves the loss of a hard-won 50 metres’ altitude before the further ascent of 269 metres – I counted them! – to our goal. This section would be easy in summer: there is a clearly visible Land Rover track for much of the way. In winter, though easily seen as a smooth white motorway over the land, every step was a bit of an effort. And the section after the false summit seemed even less welcome.

We were rewarded with some excellent views from the top of the hill. The sky was blue, the sun shone a bit and gliders from the Glen Feshie Gliding Strip sailed past us almost within touching distance, it seemed. It was bitterly cold on the top but we were warm – at least to start with – after our exertions: what the temperature must have been like for the glider pilots cooped up and unable to move in their draughty cockpits, heaven only knows but it was a magnificent show which the one shot can’t do justice to.

Spot the glider.

Minutes after we left the top the weather closed in considerably, the sun disappeared, the sky disappeared, terrestrial distinguishing features disappeared and all we could see was the start of the line of footprints we had made on our way up. Given the effort we’d expended so far and the deteriorated conditions, we quickly decided to retrace our steps, rather than head North towards Carn Ban Mor.

Going back down the “motorway” was much faster than the ascent and we soon stopped for lunch in a burst of sunshine before the short, but rather unwelcome re-ascent of Meall an Sleac.

Having reached its rounded summit, the “young folk” had fun glissading (sliding on one’s bum) down the other side: I restricted myself to envying a guy who shot past us at speed on his snowshoes whilst I tried to avoid sinking too deep into the snow.

The return to the car was uneventful, but I suspect we all had the fuel shortage at the back of our minds. However, a phone call to the Aviemore tourist information centre was immediately reassuring: there is now a Marks & Spencer food store with service station, so all was well. We celebrated with wine gums.

Ben

Jo

Tuesday

Jo says I look like something from the front of a National Geographic magazine. When questioned, she clarified that she meant “someone”

I did feel a bit stiff the next day, but a visit to the gym helped to loosen me up. All in all,  I was quite pleased with my progress, which is just as well as a week today – Tuesday 27th – I’m off on a walking trip to the Alpujarras, near Granada. No doubt I’ll be waffling on about that.

 

 

 

Peaks and Troughs (mostly the former)

It’s a couple of days since I resuscitated the blog and quite a bit has happened, nearly all of it good.

Sonia gave Laurie and me a lift to the bus station and the trip began on a Megabus to Edinburgh Airport. The journey was mostly uneventful, but we both enjoyed crossing the Firth of Forth via the new Queensferry Crossing: it is a truly beautiful structure, the Moire patterns made by the cables changing as our viewing angle did. Halbeath Park and Ride / coach junction is – to be honest – somewhat less visually appealing but our half hour there passed reasonably well and we sped to the airport (the driver was running late) as if the future of mankind hung in the balance and the bus was in reality the 747 its route number suggested.

Baggage drop and security went smoothly, then we sat down to fish pie in Weatherspoons.

The flight to Bilbao was also uneventful, followed by a smooth transfer to the Holiday Inn Express where I had booked to spend the night. These places are much of a muchness, but the room was comfortable with air conditioning Laurie was able to switch off. We landed at 22:20, so it was after eleven before we were in our room.

Thursday started early – as Laurie is learning to say, ‘earlier than was strictly necessary’. There were a number of connections we had to make to reach our destination and some of them were going to be a bit tight unless everything fell into place…

Breakfast started at 5am and we tucked into coffee, croissants etc., then got the hotel’s shuttle service back to the airport to take the bus /into town. Despite some angst over times, the purchase of tickets and the like, we eventually got a bus to the Bilbao bus station, where we had a short time to find the coach to Santander.

Coach found – not a simple task due to the way Spaniards point when giving directions – we were told by the driver that we couldn’t buy a ticket on board and had to remove our luggage from the hold and then go to the ticket office. He added by way of encouragement that he’d be away by the time we got back. So we hurried. When we got back to the coach triumphantly waving our tickets he took one look at them and refused us entry on the basis the ticket said the 7:30 bus. This seemed to be a serious problem, as we needed to get this bus to make our next connection which would lead to the Picos. Tears didn’t seem to work, so we sat down and waited. Laurie fiddled with his phone and then announced triumphantly that there was another connection at 10:15 (he later pointed out I’d known this all along), so spirits rose again.

Eventually we arrived in Santander’s underground bus station and, after a wait, were transferred to Aliezo. Aliezo is a little one-man-and-his-dog sort of village a few hundred yards off the main road, though none the less pretty for that. Steeply up the hill from there is Casa Gustavo, the home of Mike and Lisa who are organising the day to day details of accommodation etc.

(Four years ago, I spent 10 days or so walking in the area with another friend – Brian Macgill – and we had used Mike & Lisa for their services then.)

It turned out that Lisa was in the UK on family business and Mike was alone looking after Lisa’s mum, who suffers from dementia. It was interesting to note that she could speak a few words of Spanish to the local cook and played a tolerable game of Scrabble, but asked every five minutes where Lisa was, was surprised and concerned when told she was in England, then repeated the process a few minutes later.

The house Mike and Lisa have is a charming old building with beams, squint floors and quirky doors. After a cup of tea, we took a wander into Potes, which is a nice wee town, and had a beer. Whilst indulging in Bacchus’initiation rites, we watched a Spanish News channel and they are certainly getting their bragas in a twist over the Catalonia Independence question: it will be interesting to see how this develops: Mike says the Spanish Government have sent naval vessels to Catalonian ports and there certainly seems to be a standoff at the moment.

I had been to Potes before, and was naturally hoping Laurie would like it, which he seemed to do. Back at Casa Gustavo, we had a separate room each and an evening meal which put me in mind of a week of chicken-related meals from ‘The Pauper’s Cookbook’ when Sonia and I were first married and finding life expensive. Funnily enough, I’ve not been a great fan of boiled hen ever since.

After a good night’s sleep and breakfast, L and I started our first day’s walking.

The total distance we walked was 16km, not a lot, as Laurie says, but steep at times with about 1100m of ascent. This latter number is due to a misjudgement on my part. Mr C. has been muttering on and off about having been feeling under the weather and not being very fit. So when, in this safe and secure knowledge, I suggested nipping up a nearby peak I felt on fairly safe ground. Blow me, did he not only agree but enthuse and we toiled up Pico Agero, adding 300m onto our daily climb. To be fair to L and me, I did enjoy the climb and the satisfaction of reaching the top at 1352m. After that, it was a steep descent from the col, most of it on ridged concrete, to the village of Bejes. Mike takes a rather relaxed view of information provision and we had some difficulty locating the albergue we are staying in. This is a Youth Hostel type place: we’re in a dormitory and expecting another seven Spaniards (4 in our dorm) who will be here to look at the wildlife.

Anyway that’s us about up to date. The weather has been warm (not to say hot) and dry, but we expect rain and thunder tomorrow. C’est la vie, as they say a bit North of here.

Just one more sleep…

I’ve been looking forward to tomorrow, Wed 27th, since it was months away and now it is – indeed – tomorrow. It seems a long time ago since Laurie and I first settled on the idea of the Picos de Europa as a destination for a walking trip. I do know it was me who suggested it: it will be my third trip to the area and I love it. So it’s particularly important to me that we get a good trip weatherwise so  Laurie doesn’t sigh resignedly every few minutes as we trudge through low cloud in the rain; or even round on me for suggesting it in the first place. My opportunity for come-back will be limited to pointing out that if it wasn’t for the golf we could have come earlier in the year.

Our journey starts on the 11:10 coach from Inverness to Edinburgh Airport and then the great leap forward by Easyjet to Bilbao lands at 22:20. We will be spending Wednesday night in an hotel near the airport and aim for a quick getaway on Thursday morning.

The next part of the journey involves a hotel transfer back to the airport, followed by a shuttle bus into Bilbao, transfer by coach to Santander, then bus into the Picos ending our journey at Aliezo, a few kilometres short of the local small town, Potes.

Sorry this table is so clumsy: it looked lovely in Word and I can’t see how to change it inWordpress.

Day Date Route Accomm
Wed 27-Sep Inverness – EDI – BIO Holiday Inn Express
Thu 28-Sep BIO-Santander – Aliezo Casa Gustavo
Fri 29-Sep Aliezo – Bejes Hotel
Sat 30-Sep Bejes – Sotres Hotel
Sun 01-Oct Sotres – Urrielu Refuge
Mon 02-Oct Urrielu – Poncebos Hotel
Tue 03-Oct Poncebos – Pos de Vald Hotel
Wed 04-Oct Pos de Vald – Col Jerm Refuge
Thu 05-Oct Col Jerm – Espinama Hotel
Fri 06-Oct Espinama – Mogrovejo Hotel
Sat 07-Oct Mogrovejo – Unquera – BIO Holiday Inn Express
Sun 08-Oct BIO – EDI – Inverness Home

 

As you’ll see, we have eight days’ walking, with two of the nights spent in mountain refuges, the rest in small local hotels, generally family-run. The refuges are quite a bit more sophisticated than the term implies: we should have a twin bedded-room, there will be a bar and meals. If the weather is good, we should get some superb views.

If you want to know more about the area, there is a good article in Wikipedia and you can never beat Google Earth can you?

I hope to knock out a few words over the next fortnight so you can keep up to date if you wish.

 

Pleasure Seeking

I’ve not been out on the hills since 21st June when – as my many fans will recall – Dave Smith and I “enjoyed” three seasons in one day. I have a number of pathetic excuses: summer holidays with Sonia, poor weather and fence maintenance being three, not counting laziness, apathy and inertia.

As I have a walking holiday coming up and the fence is finished, I felt emboldened to ignore the weather and go out today. Given the meteorological conditions and the not entirely dissipated inertia, I chose to go to Glen More and Meall a Bhuachaille, a tiddler of just over 800m with a starting point of 400m for the admittedly steepish ascent.

The best laid plans…

It took a considerable amount of willpower even to get out of bed this morning, so I was quite pleased with myself for starting walking from the Reindeer Centre at a couple of minutes before ten. For the first twenty minutes or so it was dry, then the rain started and I wisely opted to put the full waterproof gear on as it was clear this would be the order of the day from then on.

In many places the track was flooded either by standing water or rapid surges of overspill from hillside streams. The normally pretty Lochan Uaine, verdant and nestling between wooded slopes, struggled to look even vaguely attractive and the higher reaches of the surrounding hills were invisible in the lowering cloud. At Ryvoan bothy there was a small herd of reindeer nibbling the grass round a Quechua tent:  the latter a sure sign, I thought, of French campers. I was chuffed that I had seen the reindeer without having to visit the Reindeer Centre and buy a ticket in order to see some in a paddock.

It’s the rain, dear

At this point the path veers off to the left and starts to climb, at times steeply, to the summit. There has been some good path-making work done on the ascent and what might otherwise have been a muddy river cum quagmire was fairly dry underfoot, if not overhead. It wasn’t dry in my waterproofs either as, however much one spends on Goretex™ or similar materials, perspiration is trapped to compensate for the rain being kept out.

I coped better with the ascent than I had feared I might and kept up a good pace, which was encouraging. Another small source of satisfaction was that my phone, with geo-location and mapping software, served very well for route finding. My GPS unit, whilst working adequately, has been charging unreliably so I wanted to try out the phone which also has a larger screen.

As I approached the summit, the rain stopped coming down vertically and moved into the horizontal, driven by an increasingly disagreeable wind which nevertheless failed to dispel the low cloud. My plan had been to walk along the top of the wide ridge and drop down in a SW direction from the top of Craiggowrie, but I’m afraid I wimped out, turned round and came down the way I’d gone up. My concept of pleasure didn’t include trudging damply through boggy ground whilst being lashed by windswept rain in a bank of all-encompassing cloud.

Another superb view

The descent back to the bothy was very much faster than the outward route and I nipped inside to get out of the rain whilst I ate a sandwich. Two Belgians and a Glaswegian were inside and apparently there had also been four Poles, a couple of English and a Scot or two overnight. Along with quite a lot of whisky by the sound of it. I wasn’t quite right about the French campers, but the Belgians did admit they’d bought the tent in France. Given that one of the Belgian lads was – according to him, and I can quite believe it – 2 metres tall, he must have slept in the foetal position.

Sandwich and Mars bar finished, I headed back out and walked – as fast as I could, for the exercise – back to the car. I needed all the blowers on full belt to stop steaming up all the windows.

At the end of this month, Laurie Chancellor and I are going out to the Picos de Europa for a walking holiday. This will be my third visit to the area, which is full of dramatic limestone peaks: my first was in 2001, when I hit a half century, then Brian Macgill and I had ten days walking in 2013. The latter trip was good – organised by a small company based in the area and owned by two Brits – but we tended to walk round, rather than through, the mountains. This trip should help to rectify that by including two nights in mountain refuges. It’s a bit later in the year than I’m used to (one of us – it’s not me – is a golfing fanatic), but I can’t imagine the weather will be anywhere near as bad as today’s! I’ll try to keep you informed.

On the right track…

Some folk have shown an interest in what I’m doing with my model railway, so here’s a bit of information.

Last year, probably in November, I must have reminisced to Sonia about having a clockwork train set as a kid: fast forward to Christmas and I was given two Hornby electric starter kits, a selection of carriages and a few other bits and bobs. I enjoyed playing with it on the living room floor, but my knees were less than happy and it did rather take over the whole room. I suppose running the trains appealed to my inner megalomaniac.

On this basis, and with daughter number one safely married off, I decided to create a permanent layout in her bedroom upstairs and to make a platform or table for it. Note: although I have dismantled her bed to give space during construction, it will be reinstated and both she and Ben are always welcome and I’ve no plans to hijack Sarah’s room: at least, not so far!

As this was going to be a long-term project, I researched model railway layouts at http://www.freetrackplans.com/ and settled on a 6ft by 6ft design apparently based on Ayr station: to my mind the similarity is faint and irrelevant but it suited my purpose.

In the diagram, the shaded areas relate to phase 2 and are not currently being implemented: they may well be varied in the meantime. The left hand of the board will house the “town” and its station whilst on the right, but not shown in the diagram, will be a small rural station. I’m currently thinking of setting the whole thing in Scotland in the latter part of the 20th century. More specifically, I think it’ll be spring, with Highlands type scenery, particularly in the top right quadrant. The access hole, necessary during construction and for rescuing derailments etc. may well have its cover re-inserted as a removable item.

Phase 1 layout nailed down – I forgot to include the level crossing Sonia gave me. Phase 2 perhaps?

The base is made of three sheets of 9mm ply, reinforced underneath with battens. My original plan to make legs seemed like too much trouble, so the whole thing is supported by two pairs of trestles / sawhorses from B&Q.

The track – based on what was in the two starter kits, but significantly augmented – was carefully loose-laid to check the position of the access hole and then nailed down.

If you had a model electric railway as a kid, you’ll know the power to the engines is transmitted via the rails. With “permanent” layouts it’s normal not to rely on the metal “fish plates” (which link the rails) to make a good connection, but to solder each rail of each piece of track to a circuit underneath the table. Thus – even with not linking in some of the shortest pieces – I had about a hundred joints to solder and connect to “chocolate blocks” linked in to the main circuit. It is this stage I am finishing now.

Note the soldered joints: these should more or less disappear once the ballast is laid.

A small section with ballast and a few trees etc. Just for fun!

Linking the rails to a “ring main” (only low voltage!) with “chocolate blocks”

Once this job, which involves a lot of lying on the floor and working above my head, is finished and tested, all engines on the track will either be powered or not, all at the same time. In other words, it will not be possible to start one engine whilst another is stopped.

This is an obviously serious flaw which I may get round by temporarily disconnecting one or two of the chocolate blocks or by adding a non-wired siding. However, it will disappear once I make the leap to a digital system. In this brave new non-analogue world, each engine – plus points – can be controlled individually with commands which in effect say things like “engine number 3 move forward at half speed”. The commands are sent to the various engines as a digital signal “on top” of the power transmitted through the track / wiring circuit: hence my current task. As indicated above, points can be switched remotely in a similar way. If I get sufficiently carried away, I will also be able to control lights on engines, carriages, stations etc., as well as all the sound effects of a railway engine on the move.

I have been looking at ways of making scenery: whilst it is possible to buy almost anything recreated to OO scale (1:76) there will be plenty to create from scratch, the only restriction being my limited creative talents.

I’m not planning on including a nudist beach, nor these interchangeable toilet users, but you can buy almost anything to add life and detail!

So far it’s fun, despite a lot of lying on the laminate floor.

 

 

 

 

Down South

Dateline Tangalle 23rd Feb.

I’d really appreciate being able to have a long lie. I never seem tired in the evening and end up going to bed about midnight, but I still wake up about 5:30. I planned a leisurely start today, but was still on the go by 6. I must have a guilty conscience, but I wish I could remember what I did!

I meant to mention that some thieving b@stard pinched my breakfast cereal: the theft was discovered by me yesterday when I went to have my daily dose of iron shakti, mango pulp and – for all I know – genetically modified maize flakes. I have been keeping it in the fridge so the ants can’t carry it off, so that removes several million suspects in one go. On top of that, my latest carton of UHT milk has lumps in it: it’s not off, but the lumps of cream make my coffee less than appealing,

But let’s put my troubles to one side, or at least leave them until later.

After a non-breakfast consisting of flecked coffee, I pottered around as I didn’t want to start my trip too early.

About 10am, I began the first of three bus journeys – just to the bus station this time. A brief stop to stock up on the readies and then the second  bus: an hour and half to do the 45km to Matara. I think the laws of mathematics – and possibly physics – are suspended in SL as I can’t see how a bus that travels at such breakneck speed can only average 30kph. Anyway, I got a seat for the whole journey, I was next to a breeze-providing window and rarely had anyone sitting next to me, so I had no complaints. Now, I’m not slow in moaning if I feel the need but I really think the SL bus service is pretty good, if one ignores the execrable driving standards, which are not much worse than the rest of SL road users. You can get anywhere in SL by bus: every single village, hamlet or steading seems to be served and my journey to Matara cost about 40p. Matara is a main transport hub for the Southern Province of SL and has its very own Fort area, which I didn’t visit: maybe on the way back…

Not only is it possible to go anywhere cheaply, you can also do it frequently. I had hardly finished the Galle-Matara leg and hopped on to the Matara-Tangalle bus (40km, about 90mins) than we lurched off. Once again a seat, but as primary schools seem to finish out here about midday, there were lots of mums collecting their kids and just going a few stops, before being replaced by their counterparts in the next village.

I felt it was time for some music to drown out the horn section from the front of the bus, so on with the earphones and Pink Floyd. In my experience, Pink Floyd (and specifically Dark Side of the Moon) is the right music for any journey: I’ve lost count of the number of bus trips, flights, airport delays and so forth that have been ameliorated by the album.

Having done this journey last year, I remembered the bus station in Tangalle pretty well, also the two or three kilometre walk to the Ibis, so it was ‘No thank you’ to the importuning tuk-tuk drivers and I strode out.

Attentive readers will have noticed a lack of food so far and I admit to having been hungry by the time I’d left Tangalle town behind me. Having passed both Seanic Villa and Wavy Ocean Restaurent, I stopped at a beach-side place and succumbed to a very acceptable seafood-based lunch before continuing to the Ibis, my final destination. Well, I suppose death is the final destination, but I hope I’m speaking shorter term than that.

I won’t repeat lots of stuff about the Ibis as a quick search (see the “search” link on the right) will give you the background. Ranjith recognised me (good people skills but not a very clever trick, as he knew a repeat customer was coming) and I found my room.

SLankans seem to favour dark wood furniture. I see the benefit of rattan in this climate and I suppose the dark wood is local but, along with the mosquito nets, there is a tendency for the whole place to take on a Dickensian feel: think Miss Havisham. I almost feel the lack of antimacassars. That aside, my room is adequate, the shower has water – sometimes warm – and the beer is cold, so I’ve little to complain about.

Angelika, Ranjith’s wife and prime mover in the Ibis / Orphanage setup, is German, which explains the ‘Swiss Roesti’ on the menu; an option I was glad to take at my evening meal, followed by distinctly disappointing Pineapple Pancakes and Honey. The pineapple had either been forgotten or specially selected so as to be devoid of flavour. The honey is nice, but – unless this is different from previous experiences – does not involve bees; instead it is the sweet sap of a tree, but none the worse for that.

There’s a constant – and very welcome – breeze here, but you can just feel the humidity: bedding, towels, cushions etc. are all damp. In the UK ‘damp’ implies ‘cold’ but not here: damp is just damp. I slept on my my damp mattress and under my damp sheet like a damp log.

Despite there not being a Fur Elise-playing tuk-tuk in the vicinity, I still awoke at just before 6am, though I lay in bed and finished the latest ‘Rebus’ novel which I downloaded a day or two back.

A day or two back, possibly whilst eating Nasi Goreng in the Fort, I must have been aattacked by some malevolent blood-sucking insects. Less ‘artistic’ than the attack a few weeks back, these show in the form of blisters on my legs, clustered round where my shorts stop. Needless to say, they are itchy to the point of distraction, but my antihistamine is coming into its own again and everything is under control.

Anyway, that’s it for now: it’s Friday about 1:30pm and, having tucked into ‘toast’ (the peely-wally kind) and tea, I’m giving lunch a miss, but am already looking forforward to my evening meal. Ciao for now.