Tuesday, 18 December 2007


The first Monday morning of Alien Wally’s holiday dawned clear and frosty. It being the first Monday morning of Alien Wally’s holiday, he and Mags slept through it. Luckily for them, the winter sun, so weak that it only manages to raise itself just above the horizon at midday before giving up and sinking back down in the mid-afternoon, was also too weak to exert any sort of melting power and so the frost was still there to greet Alien Wally and Mags when they eventually got themselves up and out into the world. In an effort to remedy their laziness, the two decided to make their way to the Pentland Hills just outside Edinburgh for a bit of a walkies.

The two started by taking a bus to Bonaly, the plan being to walk from there to Flotterstone on the other side of the Pentland Reserve, a distance of some 4.24 miles (about 6.8 kms), enjoy some well-deserved refreshment at the Flotterstone Inn, strategically placed at the entrance to the reserve, and then catch a bus home from there.

The walk started out a bit chilly through the forest, but the exertion up the hill combined with being slightly closer to the sun at the top allowed Alien Wally and Mags to remove their beanies, gloves and the top layer of their fleeces. The reservoir at the top of the hill remained frozen, however, allowing Alien Wally to walk on water before settling down to a spot of lunch.

After seeing signs dotted around the reserve proclaiming “Sheep Worrying” and asking hikers to please alert the farmer if they noticed any such worrying going on, Alien Wally and Mags were concerned at the apparent anxious nature of these creatures. Was it the state of the world today that had got these woolly ones so worried? The reports of island cousins rolling down hills? Perhaps the ewes were nervously looking over their shoulders, wondering when, in the spirit of the current tupping (mating) season, a, um, horny ram would be sneaking up behind them?

By the time Alien Wally and Mags reached Flotterstone, the sun was beginning to go to bed and things were getting decidedly chilly again.

By the time they reached the Inn itself, thoughts of ice cold pints had long since been replaced by thoughts of hot coffee. The brew worked its defrosting magic, and the tired hikers ventured back out, only to discover that they needed to be on the A701, and not on the parallel A702, if they had any hope of catching a bus back home. Thankfully, their legs managed to carry them the unplanned extra mile or so eastwards to the comforting sight and seat of a Lothian Number 37 which bore them back to their flat and the MacNoodle, who looked suspiciously like she hadn’t gotten out of bed the whole day….

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Full House? Crowded House!

Way back in the mists of Mags’ youth, so way back that she couldn’t remember exactly when and had to resort to the power of The Internet to remind her (answer: August 1993), she saw a splendiferous band called Crowded House perform at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town. South Africa had yet to experience its first democratic elections, Paul Hester was alive, and Alien Wally didn’t yet exist (well, of course technically he did exist in the world at large, just not in Mags’ own little slice of it).

Fast forward 14 years… South Africa is free, Paul Hester is no longer on the physical plane, and Alien Wally and Mags found each other, formed their own private universe, and moved to Scotland, where they went along to see the newly reformed and still just as splendiferous Crowded House perform at the SECC.

The place was packed, with fans old and new. The band was happy to be back together after about ten years apart, and their fans were happy to see them back. As you can tell, much happiness abounded. It was a happy night. A two-encore happy night! Even so, the band didn’t get to cover all their songs, but it was still all good. Very good. Two-encore very good! And thanks to the miracle of modern technology, Alien Wally got to take home an official live recording of the show not ten minutes after it had all finished! How cool is that?!