Friday, 19 February 2010

Hares ,mice and MOT’S

Waking up today in the mountains ,it is clear day with sunshine streaming across the mountains and filling our we retreat with energy and life.
After the last couple of weeks of being covered in oil muck and rust and having to deal with rules and authority the old truck now has her fresh new mot till the end of Feb 2011 ,so at last it is time to relax and with nothing to think about till august i can now get back to blogging ,filming and my photography.
The eve of the mot we were hit with a massive snow storm once again over a foot in an hour and with the temperature plummeting so i made the decision to get to my friend Roy’s yard in case i was unable to get out in the morning and then having to wave goodbye to the £75 i had paid for the mot.
So at midnight i fired up the truck cleared the snow and ice and with a wee wave and kiss to Mel  i hit the road and slipped and slid my way down from the mountains
just as Corrieshalloch dam loomed into view i was plunged into complete darkness  every single light had fused and travelling at 50mph with not even the moon for light i was lucky to have my torch at hand and quickly shone the light outside and was able to see the lines in the middle of the road and slowly i managed to bring the truck to a standstill perfectly parked at the side of the road and with the hazards on i quickly replaced the fuses  which had blown only to have them blow again 

but after a bit of fumbling in torch light i managed to get main beam on so headed of to the nearest layby where i was able to get the lights going again ,i knew i would have no choice now other than split the wiring loom and find the fault all on the day of the mot
Pulling onto the road i crossed my fingers and headed of to the sanctuary of my friends yard when the radio came on full belt quickly followed by the horn so if anyone heard an idiot going through Garve village in the early hours music and horn blaring sorry ..
I pulled in once again and after disabling the horn etc and thought what else could go wrong but with a fag in gob i tried again then from the left side of the road a hare ran out and started to dart in all directions after quickly swerving to avoid him i slowed down and watched as the hare seem to lead me down the road then with a single leap from his powerful rear legs  he cleared the hedge at the verge and was gone ,wonderful.
Again i put my foot down i knew this was going to be some journey and all to get a bit of paper to tell me my vehicle is roadworthy at a cost of £75.
As i smiled to myself at the wee journey i had just had with the hare a mouse ran out onto the road and dashed to the middle of the road then as he tried to stop an exhibition in how not to skate began with its wee legs going in all directions at once, he glanced up at this huge object bearing down on him and with a look of fear in his eyes , once again i was  sent into a swerve first this way then that to avoid the wee ball of fur but he to was safe and after a quick dance he headed back the way he had come .
The rest of the journey to the yard went without a hitch and at 4.00 am i pulled into the yard .
Ullapool 056
 After a cup of coffee from the flak Mel had made i huddled under the quilt to try and get a wee bit of kip before the day really began at 6.30am i woke to see the lights from the workshop on Hamish must be in already and after climbing into my trusted wellies i headed to the oil burner which was already well alight to get some heat to the old bones
the rest of the day was spent splitting the wiring loom and re-splicing the wires till at 1.00pm all was done and the truck was ready to head to Inverness for her test

Roy and Hamish met me at the yard to take the truck through and after 1/2hr of prodding and banging she failed
The guys had failed her on one faulty tyre ,i tried to explain i had a new one inside but they would not listen i was told i would have to go and change the wheel and report back to get my ticket and the price another £37 ( robbing gits) no wonder our Transport companies are in so much trouble with all this red tape and expense

a quick dash back to Muir and with Hamish to help the tyre was on and i dashed to get back before the mot yard closed for the day
I paid for the re-test ???? and waited in my truck as i was told until they were able to look at the wheel and after 20mins or so a guy came out and waved me to the lane as i was on the phone to Mel i said i have to go and put the truck into gear and was just turning when mister red tape shouted to me to get off the phone
I was just about to stop the truck and wander over to the little bloody Hitler and ask him politely ,who the hell do you think you are shouting at ? but my old legs were Knackered so i let it go and pulled in to get the tyre checked after 30 seconds he wandered in to get my test ticket
30 seconds at a cost of  £37 robbing bloody gits and rude
I was sure i could see rules and regs stamped on his head ,i could imagine him at home trying to have a bath markings on the floor to say:
1 …possible slide hazard
2 …water must be checked by gauge before entering
3 ….doctor and first aid must be alerted before entering the water
4… maximum time allowed in the bath 3.46 mins any longer and a fine will be imposed and i could imagine the idiot even giving himself a ticket
5 foot must be placed at 45 degrees to the bath while the other is lifted no faster than 0.5 miles and hour
6 a visible yellow jacket must be worn at all times failure to comply will result in a £29 fine 
7 life jacket and flare must be within arms reach at all times failure to comply will result in a £29 fine 
8 a direct line to the coast guard must be open at all times failure to comply will result in a £29 fine 
9 all permits and tickets must be displayed at all times failure to comply will result in a £29 fine 
10 life guard must be present and again displaying all his wards to confirm he is up to standard failure to comply will result in a £29 fine 
11 no splashing as this could result in a bubble popping in your eyes casing temp blindness failure to comply will result in a £29 fine 
12 NO FUN TO BE HAD failure to comply will result in a £129 fine 

anyway i drift as usual and now i have a year away from the likes of the wee red tape man

peace and light the dafthermit

just thought i would say i agree with the test but they are the ones who say we should be tested and i reckon a wee bit of humanity would go a long way
Talking to some truckers at the yard i know i am not alone in this thought ..
I now have my DVD almost finished and my book will be done in a couple of weeks so exciting and on that note
my first story to be published will be The final leap it will be in the local paper for the march copy
and a newspaper in London is after some of my pictures
so all in all it has been an incredible couple of weeks in the wonderful highlands . 

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A wee film about us on STVs the HOUR SHOW click on STV logo to see the film

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Andy the Daft Hermit lives 45 minutes outside Inverness with his wife Mel in an old bus parked in a layby. This current home of theirs is the longest they have ever stayed in one spot. “I’ve been travelling now 25 years,” said Andy Lowe. “Mel’s been travelling 15. One of the reasons we’ve come and stayed up here is because of Mel’s health. I wanted to bring her to the mountains for fresh air and clean water and just a slower pace of life.” Mel has had breast cancer twice, skin cancer once, and for three years believed she had bone cancer after being wrongly diagnosed. Andy’s belief in the restorative powers of the north made them pack up ‘The Black Bus’ that they live in and cross the border into Scotland. New Highland home for hermit couple Andy and Mel “I think we both believe in trying to get to a more simple way of life,” said Andy, “but it’s strange for us because we are sort of hermits, or we like to live separate, but it’s not being anti-social… it’s just the way we are that allows us to be creative.” Andy first began travelling when he left the army. Fed up with bureaucracy he packed a rucksack and left for France and has been travelling ever since. By investing any money the couple have earned into solar panels and wind generators they now live a self-sustaining existence, without electric bills, and collect rain water “straight from Heaven”. “It’s not easy,” said Mel. “There might be time when there might not be enough facilities around, but you always find a way, you know?” Rather than rejecting technology, Andy blogs about his travels online and collaborates with artists from around the world via his ‘Scratchy Heid Film Studio’, which he runs from a static trailer next to the couple’s bus. He explained his philosophy: “My belief is that if you can go through life and you drop dead and you’ve got a balance there that slightly outweighs the good than the bad, you’ve done alright. “Yesterday, with what Mel’s been through with the cancer and all that, I had a woman on one of my sites there that thanked me for the writing, for the positive things, and to me that’s worth everything. You can keep your millions, we’re not interested. That is what we do.” To check out Andy’s artwork and video projects check out his website. MORE FROM THE NORTH

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