Dark materials

Over Christmas I finished Kublai Khan by John Man. Highly recommended, even if you’re not that interested in Chinese history. Man has also written on Ghengis Khan and Attila the Hun, so I’ll probably get those soon. I also finished “The Children of Hurin” by Tolkien. In truth, it’s bit boring and somewhat depressing.

I also read “Northern Lights” by Philip Pullman, partly to acquaint myself before I see “The Golden Compass”. If you like fantasy writing, then it’s certainly worth a read. Like most of these kind of books, it takes a bit of time to orientate yourself, but after about a 100 pages or so it starts to hot up. I’m not sure you can compare it to LOTR or Narnia as they were both trailblazers. LOTR has the greatest depth as Tolkien built a prodigious work of myth behind the story. Narnia, on the other hand, is very much a children’s story, and the style is somewhat dated. The imaginative force behind both LOTR and Narnia is prodigious as they were both very different to literature that had preceded them.

Of the most recent exponents of fantasy I think David Eddings is the best. In particular “The Belgariad” creates a wonderfully colourful “other” world of tremendous imagination and consistency. Perhaps Pullman is more similar to Michael Moorcock who created a number of interlocking universes with similarities and dissimilarities to our own. On the other hand, Pullman has a deeper style than Moorcock, where  action predominates. I’m now on to the second book, “The Subtle Knife”, which has got off to a cracking start.

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No explanation

I have no explanation as to why the traffic suddenly exploded (well that might be over-egging it!) on my blog yesterday to 90 page views. However, if the person who found my blog by asking a search engine (google?) “are winwood outdoor any good” returns, the answer is “yes, they are good”. I’ve ordered quite a few things from them and found their service good (including exchanges of e-mails). Other retailers that merit an honourable mention for service are: Alpkit, Backpackinglight.co.uk and Rock + Run.

Riding the tiger

Writing a blog can be a frightening experience. You’ve got no idea where it’s going and whether you’ll have anything to say after a week or two. The open-ended nature of blogging is a bit daunting, but like doing a long trek, it’s best to take it a day at a time and not think about any destination. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to match John Hee’s  370 posts in 2007. My aim is one a day, but there are bound to be occasional fallow periods.

It is enjoyable to get your opinions “out there” and fun to have feedback from other readers/bloggers. Since I started at the end of November, I’ve had over 2,300 page views. The surge at the beginning has settled down to around 40-60 page views a day. My record was 227 on 28th November. I don’t know how many unique visitors I get a week. As long as a few people look at my blog and get some enjoyment, then it’s worth doing.

For those of you who don’t blog, please don’t underestimate the pleasure for bloggers of receiving comments. So if you can spare a few seconds and have something useful to contribute or some encouragement, it’s always worth leaving a message. If anyone out there is thinking of joining the fraternity, I can thoroughly recommend WordPress. It’s very well thought out and a doddle to use.

Nutters

I came across “grough” a few days ago. It’s quite interesting how many “walkers” are getting into trouble these days. Inadequate preparation and gear appears to be the refrain. How anyone can go up a Munro without a map, compass and torch in winter is beyond me. Then there are the three medical students suffering from hypothermia going up the Pyg track on Snowdon. Extraordinary. There’s an interesting article on the increasing demands on MRT from “walkers” getting lost and ringing the rescue services on their mobile phones. We may laugh (or cry), but there is a danger of this spoiling it for the many who go out on the hills responsibly with the right gear and preparation. I hope the ‘elf and safety apparatchiks don’t get involved. It does remind me of the time, a long, long time ago when I was descending into Wasdale from Sty Head to see a woman in a summer dress walking towards us in……high heels!!! At least she was keeping to the path and no mobile phones those days meant she couldn’t call out Mountain Rescue if she broke a finger nail.

ptc* accelerates

ptc*has upped the game for us gear bloggers by producing two quickfire reviews of the Terra Nova Laser Competition and the OMM Villain 45 + 10L MSC. I bought a Laser Comp back in the autumn (£70 off, can’t resist a bargain) but have not had the opportunity to test yet as my October trip to the Cairngorms had to be pulled. Pop over and have a look. Have a look at his Christmas Eve posting as well, what a cutie!

Computer moans

Every so often something happens to my computer. It starts degrading and it gets so irritating that I have to do a fresh install. I must have done this at least ten times over the past few years. Even if you are diligent about backing up, it takes an age to recreate your system.

Moan number 1: Dell has a great utility which enables you to restore your computer to its original state. As long as you copy all your data to another disk, it’s straightforward. However, Dell shipped the wrong PDF manual and no amount of using <ctrl> F11 would push it into restore mode. Search the Internet, 10 seconds later I find out on Vista it’s F8! Why can’t they ship the right manuals!!!!!

Moan number 2: Reinstalling Tracklogs. What a faff! You have to install version 1 which keeps stopping and starting. After importing all the maps, you have to use the e-mail version to upgrade to version 2. Then you have to use the version 3 upgrade, load the maps and then re-validate them with the old CDs. Why can’t the program just check the permissions from the old program. Talk about Byzantine! All in all it’s taken the best part of three hours. I like Tracklogs but sometimes the thought process behind these programmes is baffling!

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