Sunday, 24 October 2010

To Walk With Heroes

I am no hero, but some would say I am.
I have been to places beautiful and others full of intimidation and troubles, but life in the Armed Forces is never dull.
It is full of promise with a belief we are doing the right thing and protecting those more vulnerable than ourselves.
With rememberance sunday not far away, I think it poigniant to reflect on my own past and how it has been brought to the future, though not with the pride and passion I once had, but with a sadness and a vulnerability I could not have foreseen. 
I am proud to have served and been part of a unique and brave group of people, who have stories of their own to tell, but continue to be the true heroes continuing in places where I can no longer tread, although I am with them in heart
and mind.
The Forces help you learn a trade and a life skill unlike any other.
Pride and a sense of duty.
You learn about friendship and loyalty, trust....

International relationships and their way of life, even their language and cultures.

It also teaches you about play and fun.....

Doing something different....

Daring to venture to places cold and distant but a huge adventure!

To partake in sports that few will do and achieve and follow in the footsteps of Commonwealth or Olympic Champions.

To see and go to war zones Past....

And Present, learning.....

It doesn`t teach you about loss, feeling afraid or vulnerable, these you learn along the way.

It does teach you about never forgetting and a hope one day wars will not be fought out of anger or hate or religion and that compassion and an understanding will overcome all fears.

There are many memorials throughout the world, There are many names on them that we do not know but many more we do and we will remember and honour them on the 11th November.....

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Train and Edinburgh

With glorious sunshine we boarded the train, only to be informed it would be delayed.
It was the 07:55, but ended up being the 09:10! 
Well we waited and then slowly moved out of Inverness and then hurried along the track!
With hastened speed we did go, with the train tilting this way and that.
We passed beautiful surroundings that had been enveloped by bad weather coming up, but now showed true rugged Scotland form.
And with the station names also in Gaelic, it showed true character and a willingness to learn more.

Onwards we travelled at great speed, passing through Dunblane, Gleneagles, Perth, Pitlochry, Kinguisse and Aviemore.
We were told that there was snow on Ben Nevis, the first time in 50 years, some were saying!
We made Edinburgh in good time, only an hour and 30 mins late! But well worth the long wait.

Edinburgh is a lovely and huge city and the old parts of it are over 500 years old and still standing (more than can be said for the new buildings!)

With famous statues tall and elegant.

To a green and pleasant park in the centre.

The famous Blackwatch remembered in conflicts past.

To tales of folk adorning the walls

To public houses being named after famous people, this one was called The Ensign Ewart.
A lovely old styled inn that has been an inn since the 1600`s.
They do excellent meals and help raise money to buy Guide Dogs for the blind. The money raised here has helped pay for 3 dogs.
Ensign Ewart.

Part of the old high street.

The Witchery and Scots Whiskey centre, where you can take a tour and sample the local dram!

Meet "William Wallace" actually his name is Adam Watters and he has own website: informing you of the history of the Legend and Hero William Wallace.

I popped in and visited the Edinburgh old town weaving company and this was one section of the building.

Then another showing the workings of the weaving and making of the Kilts.

How the kilts were made centuries ago.

And todays modern technology.
You can buy allsorts of items from here from glass trinkets, to coat of arms and scarves, kilts etc.

Then onto Edinburgh Castle itself, a huge fort that has been added on, but it is in pristine condition and busy all year round.
I spent 3hrs walking round, you actually need longer, next time I will.

The view from the gatehouse, I couldn`t believe the space!

The view from the top of the castle!
I Could tell you alot more about the castle, but that would spoil anyone`s visit, but go along and visit Edinburgh and if you can go for Hogmany You`ll be pleasantly surprised and a warm welcome awaits......

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Train and Inverness

It was another year and time for the Loch Ness Marathon again.
The journey on the train was first class and took the strain.
The weather was miserable and one to forget.
With sleepy eyed passengers, we boarded the train.
From Wolverhampton to Warrington, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Carlisle and Edinburgh, the journey was pleasant and one to enjoy.
The carraige was spacious and one I had longed to partake, first class for me and all for £46! A bargain I enjoyed and one to be proud.
From Edinburgh the scenery changed and so did the weather, although we couldn`t see the surrounding mountains and its heather.
The cloud stretched and unfolded itself to the ground, enveloping the mountains, the lowlands and surrounds.
With the plains saturated and flooded, relentless rain lashes down.
We bade Edinburgh goodbye and passed through Dunblane, Gleneagles, Perth, Pitlochry, Kinguisse, Aviemore and reached Inverness in all good time.
It was time to rest before the big day and enjoy Inverness, its market and its atmosphere.
The next day was bright and the sun shone through.

The Indoor Market is 100 years old, and has little "quirky" shops and bargains to behold.

 The view from the castle was astounding with Flora Macdonald and her faithful dog standing tall and watchful, for she helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after he took refuge after the battle of Culloden in 1746.

The registration for the marathon, 10k, 5k and wee runners began in earnest.
Nearly 9000 runners would be put to the test.

 With an army of fine chefs and organisers and Baxters crew, the pasta party welcomed one and all and the queues just grew!

With thousands of water bottles to be handed out, these two gentlemen gave a joke or two and were happy to be photographed with a bottle - or few!

With soup and a roll for starters.
It was cheese pasta, jacket potato, salad and coleslaw after
Followed by chocolate cake and custard or carrot cake - if preferred
And Highland water to drink, cold and refreshing, getting ready for the big day ahead was awaiting and testing.

The very next day, we all got up early and made our way to the coaches and Nessie, only you couldn`t tell which one was the monster!

 We all lept aboard.
All 54 laden with people, following a huge courtege of excitement and apprehension.
Though the day was cloudy, it was full of promise of times and hearts to be broken.
The course would be testament to the strong and sturdy, though sadly a few would not complete this particular journey.

My own quest I had fulfilled, 6hrs 10mins of up and down gruelling hills.
I had achieved the ultimate goal, knocking 20minutes of my previous time, though sore legs and feet a challenge complete til next time, when I aim to complete the marathon in under 5hrs, well thats the theory!

Well done to everyone who had completed a great day of runs and those who stayed on to cheer us all to the last, from the first that finished in over 2hrs, to the proud and last in an epic 8hrs.
Thanks to all those who organised the event and the volunteers and crowds that cheered and gave us drinks and jellybabies too!

I look forward to the Loch Ness Marathon next year, but now is the time to put my feet up in the B&B I call home here.

Touchwood House is enigmatic and cheering, its warmth radiating and endearing.
It is a place that has a womans touch, for many a lady has owned the place, it has also been a childrens home and is filled with laughter.
Your guaranteed a friendly welcome by the lady who now owns it and I look forward to my stay here again next year...