Outside the window I’m watching occasional flurries of snow build, then vanish as if they’d never happened.  We had a “dump” of the white stuff overnight but luckily it only built up to about 150mm max.  It’s a novelty in this part of Scotland so anarchy reigns here every time it appears in any quantity.  With snow very much in mind I thought I would once again dig into the back catalogue and rework another of my favourite hill days – the day myself, Cap’n Jack and the Fatdog tackled the Corbett, Mam na Gualainn, above Loch Leven.  Snow, sunshine and amazing views – what could be better.  It was February 2010 – it was bloody cold!

Some days hill walking plans change.  It can be as simple as not being able to park the car; maybe a road being blocked or, as happens (a lot) in Scotland, the weather being not quite what was anticipated.  The upshot is that it is better to have a backup plan – just in case.  In this particular “tail” the “just in case” became the “hmm, what if…”.

For myself, Cap’n Jack and the Fatdog this hike would likely be the last of the year.  I had marked out a couple of possible hills that were a relatively short drive apart so that if the first didn’t suit then we could swap over to the other without a huge loss of time.  It is mid-November 2008 and we are heading back to a hill I’d climbed in snow two years before and which you may have read about in the recent post ‘A “tail” of Snow, Snakes and Something Special’.   We were headed back to Ben Vrackie – for what turned out to be merely a warm up to the main event.

Today the unexpected happened, my Blue Envelope arrived in the post.  Now, those of you living in the UK will understand the significance of this major event but for those of you who live elsewhere I will explain.  The Blue Envelope contains your invitation from the National Health Service to attend for a Covid vaccination.  My appointment is for Sunday 7th Feb. “Good for you!” you think, “…but why unexpected?”

Well, if you were to believe stories you read in the press you would think Scotland was centuries behind in its vaccination programme but here am I, a mere youngster by current priority standards, being summoned for the “Jag”.  Looking at the categories above me I hadn’t expected to be called until possibly late March.  So…do the NHS think I am a lot older than I actually am or, more worryingly, do they know something about me that they haven’t mentioned in the past sixty six years?  Hmm, admittedly I am getting older so it is possible I have dementia and have forgotten both my age and my (near non-existent) medical history.  I am confused.  I think I will write a blog post instead.  Ah, I just have…


As usual I have digressed.  What I had intended to write about today was something I discovered lurking in the early posts of the first (now redundant) blog as I learned how to put together the various styles of on screen presentation.  In those days I was flinging all sorts of ideas into the mix to see how they would work.  As the bloggers among you know the early days of a blog can be lonely affairs before you start to trawl around the blogosphere meeting like-minded souls as you go. As a result most of those early posts were seen by less than a handful of visitors.  On what is a sodding miserable (or as we say here “dreich”) Scottish February morning I thought I would cheer myself up by looking back to an unforgettable part of our (again – unforgettable) 2005 trip to Canada.

I’ll start by stating I do not like flying.  I hate turbulence. I positively hate airports.  I hate the unsmiling, sometimes close to hostile, airport bureaucracy.  I hate the “don’t care” attitude that airlines take with their customers.  In fact there is almost nothing I like about the whole experience.

So why…