Saturday, August 30, 2008

There's GOLD in them, thar hills!

What an excellent day. (Overall, bad weather and "christians" aside: more later!)
I went to Cononish, to the disused goldmine there which has never produced a single gram of commercial gold. It is just to the South West of Tyndrum in some very striking and wild countryside. In some ways, it is a bit surprising that the project was allowed to go ahead in the way it did as it is a complete blot on the landscape:

Cononish Gold Mine Visit 27

The big light-coloured scar in the middle of the picture is the workings. They are right next to the Allt Eas Anie waterfall:

Cononish Gold Mine Visit 12

(I've been reading Fay Godwin's book "Our Forbidden Landscape" which is all about the nasty side of the British countryside, about how money lets any industry do exactly as it pleases. I am not against mining for gold, but I am against doing it in a way which wrecks the environment.)

The site itself is fairly interesting:

Cononish Gold Mine Visit 23

and I picked up some samples of rocks and some discarded rusty steel items.

Cononish Gold Mine Visit 1

I went on my favourite mountain-bike, the titanium Rock Lobster (shown above), then went on a hike to Ben Lui to try and find a plane wreck which is supposed to be there. I failed miserably, probably on account of the fact that I was using an old Garmin forerunner to navigate!

The weather was bad but not as bad as it could have been! It mostly rained lightly, though at above 600m, it was permanently damp and murky with drifting low cloud affecting visibility.

A long and tiring day, but I feel great, though I am very aware that I am not "bike fit" anymore. Time to get that back properly.

I don't mind saying that I dread using public transport. Recently, due to the high costs of petrol, I've been travelling by public transport a bit more: against my better judgement, my horror of neds and/or chavs playing bad hip-hop on tinny speakerphones, drunkenness and the danger of physical attack.
Bear that in mind as this story progresses.
The trip to Tyndrum by train is about 2 hours long. It was fairly busy this morning and my spirits sank slightly when two "lads" sat opposite me with a large bottle of vodka. Of course, they proved to be the most pleasant company, engaging everyone in conversation to the point that people moved to the end of the carriage where I was sitting. It made the journey pass really quickly.
The trip back, however, was quite a different matter...
I got onto the train with my bike and put it in the requisite bike rack then went into the fairly busy carriage to find a seat. I sat down next to an elderly, respectable-looking couple (she was wearing a "Pringle" jumper and pearls) and encountered tuts and huffiness. I explained that I wanted to sit there as it meant I could keep an eye on my bike.
The woman went mental. Completely mental. She started shouting and screaming about how there were loads of seats in the carriage and how I should "grow up" and that nobody would steal my "stupid bike".

Then she kicked me.

Like a spoiled, stupid schoolgirl who hasn't got her own way, she kicked me.
I pointed out that she didn't need to kick me and she went off on one again. Eventually I had just had enough and asked her to calm down, "just listen to yourself". She asked me "Who do you think you are, god?" and before I had the time to answer, off she went about how I probably didn't even believe in god and how she was a christian and then started quoting the bible at me.
"This train is full of bampots!" she shouted.
At which I pointed out that she was the biggest bampot of all. That shut her up. Well, I think that maybe her husband kicked her under the table.

At no point was this woman less than perfectly spoken: she may have been screaming like a harpy but she never swore or made a grammatical error, she never stammered or ran out of steam. It was a remarkable performance, a mixture of hysteria and control, the like of which I have never seen before.

What is most remarkable is that on the surface, she looked like a "respectable member of society". In fact, she is a dangerously unhinged lunatic.