The Taking of Tea, Scones and Strawberry Jam

The camera never lies (or so they say).  It maybe never lies but with a moderate touch of editing you can bend the truth just a wee bit.  In my last post “The Weather Thieves” I alluded to the fact that I could be somewhat prone to exaggerating the difficulty and indeed the jeopardy involved in our walks aided by a careful piece of photo editing.  I think the greatest photographic liberties were taken after a little stroll on a clear November day in 2009 when FD and I tackled the Munro Binnein Mor in the Mamore Range.  I don’t recall any particular “squeaky bum” situations although the summit itself was a bit small and what you might describe as “sharp”.  In reality I was in greater danger from the Fatdog’s obsession with my fruit scone/strawberry jam combo than I was from the mountain itself.

Anyhow, in keeping with my original theme of misleading photographs and exaggerated storylines I have revisited an extract from the original “tail” and edited it to include even greater photographic shenanigans and a now almost unbelievable storyline. Ironically it now more accurately describes the actual events of a thirty minute period in that six hour walking day.  As we join the hike FD and I are about three hours into the walk and are about to begin the final part of the ascent.  The route ahead looks…educational!

“…our intrepid duo are nearing the summit of Binnein Mor”

As the years pass by I have become increasingly wary when I find I’ve led The Fatdog into an exposed situation.  Narrow summit approach ridges are a source of edginess and narrow summit approach ridges covered in snow promote me to a superior league of “edginess” altogether.   As we neared the final push up the white covered ridge to the summit of Binnein Mor I was feeling very edgy indeed.

I looked at the approach for a wee while trying to anticipate any problems for  FD, but it looked a straight run in with only a couple of places nearer the top where things would narrow a bit.  On went Maisie’s lead and off along the ridge we tramped.  I realise that the lead won’t stop a fall (which I really don’t anticipate) but it does at least stop her casually wandering too near the edge or rushing off to the summit cairn in search of discarded food.

Please remember to click on the photos for full screen

The final push went pretty much as expected with no real dodgy bits other than at the very top but it did narrow “interestingly” a couple of times.  I imagine it would feel like nothing very much on a sunny summer’s day but with a little snow on the ground there is always that wee bit of doubt at the back of the mind that the wheels could come off at any moment.

We reached the summit without mishap.  Well it appeared to be the summit.  Now, could I be sure that the point at which we were uncomfortably perched was the summit or was it at that small pile of rocks 20m away at the far end of that rocky arête?   I looked closer.  It didn’t matter.  If the actual summit was 20m away there was no way I was taking The Fatdog across that snow covered knife edge of jaggy boulders.  As it was both feet and paws were jammed together as we shuffled around on a summit some 600mm square with what I would class as “significant droppy-off bits” to either side.  I checked my watch 12.45pm, time for nibbles.

I scraped the snow from a flattish rock to make way for my foam mat and began removing various items from the pack.  Flask, lunch box, choccy bar, Labrador head…  I retrieved both FD’s head and goody bag from the bottom of the pack and gave her a chew to keep her occupied whilst I sorted out my snack.  Maisie was trying to stare me out.  I glared back, my fruit scone with strawberry jam wedged firmly in my gob.  

Then, from somewhere behind us, there came a determined scraping noise.  Now, I don’t know about you but when you’re miles from anywhere on top of a mountain peak of limited size the last thing you want to hear is “a determined scraping sound” coming from behind (unless it is an MRT coming to take you home).  Eyes widening to saucer size I slowly turned round to discover a lone figure clambering off the arête and making his way down to where we sitting.

“What a great day!” the stranger exclaimed.  “Absullty fashntshc!” I spluttered, my mouth crammed full of scone and jam.  “Houw, Houw, Hou-uwww!” added The Fatdog, totally ignoring our new acquaintance her eyes firmly fixed on the remains of Asda’s finest home baking crumbling in my hand.  “Shshshoo!!!” I waved frantically at FD, fragments of semi-chewed scone spraying into the chill mountain air.”  “Houw, Houw, Hou-uwww!” insisted The Fatdog completely ignoring my unintelligible command.

With no discernible hesitation the new arrival continued to pretend he was talking to a normal human being and continued the conversation as if I hadn’t covered the summit in a fine layer of scone crumb residue.   I swallowed a big mouthful of tea to clear the last of the bun from my throat and made a stab at coherent conversation.  The Fatdog, persistent as ever, continued the demanding “Houw, Houw, Hou-uwww!” until she was firmly in possession of the last drop of strawberry jam from the last crumb of scone. Having decided that intelligent conversation was increasingly unlikely,  our “Man from Greenock” bade us farewell and headed off west to Na Gruagaichean clearly hoping he wouldn’t find anything quite so odd on the next mountain. 

As he strode off into the distance I took a few photographs. With a wee bit of “subtle” editing they should make the Fatdog and I appear to be fearless mountaineers on a most dangerous ascent. Clearly we were not.

Please click the photos below for full screen

Just to show what the day really looked like – sunny, clear slopes with a dusting of snow on top. Left – The Mamores Right – Ben Nevis

To add to the overall effect I have included an OS extract showing Binnein Mor – only to show how close together the contour lines are so as to further emphasise the overwhelming jeopardy into which the Fatdog and I had ambled. (sniggers into hand and presses Publish)

“And today’s blast from the past is…”

Given the sunshine – Given it was November – Given our overexaggerated sense of achievement

I give you The Levellers – “What a Beautiful Day”