Good Wee Reads.

I haven’t shared much of my library on here. Which is strange because it’s all I have done for a while. So now I figure is a good time to share my reading fancies with you. And it’s something I will probably be doing a lot more frequently on here.

Here are 5 incredible books that have not only inspired me but also helped to bring around changes in my own life. I highly recommend in plunging heed first into these literary dreams. From adventure stories able to drag you out of the slog of the day to political works filled with powerful logic and humbling passion. I hope that you can find yourself a Good Wee Read tailored to your tastes.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac. Buy Here.

on the road

“..the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse. Buy Here.

siddhartha

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”

Che Guevara Talks To Young People. Buy Here.

che guevara

“The walls of the educational system must come down. Education should not be a privilege, so the children of those who have money can study.”

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson. Buy Here.

treasure island

“Sometimes the isle was thick with savages, with whom we fought, sometimes full of dangerous animals that hunted us, but in all my fancies nothing occurred to me so strange as our actual adventures.”

James Connolly: Collected Works. Buy Here.

james-connolly.jpg

“It would be well to realize that the talk of ‘humane methods of warfare’, of the ‘rules of civilized warfare’, and all such homage to the finer sentiments of the race are hypocritical and unreal, and only intended for the consumption of stay-at-homes. There are no humane methods of warfare, there is no such thing as civilized warfare; all warfare is inhuman, all warfare is barbaric; the first blast of the bugles of war ever sounds for the time being the funeral knell of human progress… What lover of humanity can view with anything but horror the prospect of this ruthless destruction of human life. Yet this is war: war for which all the jingoes are howling, war to which all the hopes of the world are being sacrificed, war to which a mad ruling class would plunge a mad world.”

Advertisements

Le Ciel Rose du Soir.

A thought track I wrote at the weekend about reflection. Feel free to share with anyone who this may be of use to, or give your own input in the comment section below. 

P1000441

In a long, drawn-out, thought provoking attempt to piece together my own opinion I’ve sit myself down on a Saturday evening with a pen, paper and the privilege of time. It’s my 24th birthday and for me this one is quite significant. Not for most people. Or maybe it is. Normally it’s the number 18 or 21 that push people into some form of unadulterated frenzy. The landmarks that symbolise the new beginnings, the next steps or the turning of corners. ‘Starting a fresh!’ Naturally turning 24 isn’t one of those. A purgatory of age. Which in fairness is probably why there is a deeper significance than its predecessors. Turning 24 has done exactly what it says on the tin.

It hasn’t been a new beginning. A next step. The turning of a corner. Or a fresh start.

It hasn’t been any of them. And thats where my thoughts begin to rumble.

Every time a birthday came around, or a trivial occasion like new year (mibby even a win for the Scottish national team at the fitbaw) I suddenly became enthused at the thought of an opportunity to redefine myself. Big promises were made and a few prayers were said (depending on whether I believed in the Lord Almighty at the time.. He always seemed to pop up for the big moments.) resulting in sparks of genuine hope to seek out new levels of self-fulfillment. A desperate ploy to make life bearable disguised as renewed ambition. Eventually the fatigue set in. The mask slid off and left me helpless. Stranded. Exposed in the glare of a million spotlights. At least thats what it feels like when the walls are closing in.

This years anniversaire has come and gone without the chance to notice it. It is turning 24 after all. I’m a big boy. Nae presents and parties at this age.

But I don’t have that desire or thirst for radical change. I’m toying with the notions of a challenged contentment and doleful dullness. No complaints of an urgent nature. My position, my direction all seemingly positive. Its the first time in my life I’ve felt responsible and (to a certain extent) capable. I’m growing as a person and I’m enjoying it. And in the grand scheme of things I would say that this is a basic requirement in the quest for accomplishment.

So whats the deal with the doleful dullness?

From a young age I understood what it meant to not have control over dangerous situations that impact greater than what is feasibly contained. Losing that control would be another harsh lesson despite the willing endeavors to avoid and resist. To describe the emotions of revisiting certains memories is a difficult picture to paint. On a personal level, an arduous notion to grasp. How does a 12 year old know how to act in life changing situations that will go on to shape him for the rest of his life? Even with hindsight an answer isn’t clear.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m in a good place right now. And I have been for a while now. But it’s always there. That back-to-earth feeling whenever I go to take those fucking happy pills. Every day I remind myself theres two 50 milligram capsules of Sertraline waiting to align the chemical imbalance in my brain, and one day sooner or later when the time is right I’ll have to restart a battle with an old foe in order to win my freedom again.

Yet how does one approach a battle with himself?

Honestly I take great fear in this. I know what its like to already feel defeated and I know what its like to look up from the pits and not see any lights. I don’t want to go there again. I was afraid of everything. Afraid of myself. Afraid of my surroundings. I didn’t work or go out nor could I bare to eat. I had turned on myself to a point of almost no return. My mind began to run riot and in some cases tricked me. One day at my lowest point I went a walk along the River Clyde with the intent to find some headspace. . I stopped beside the river and looked across the water, gazing intentedly, trying to make sense of it all. My head filled with darkened fear. I was losing control again. My mind drew my eyes into the middle of the water and I felt the river speak to me. There weren’t any voices, just this magnetic-like energy drawing me to the barriers. My entire being locked in for a few minutes and then I pulled myself away. I remember this time as clear as day. Birds flew over the river but they didn’t settle me and the sky was a cruel mixture of very deep, hoar clouds and a bitter, crimson sky.

I know this makes for troublesome reading. Nevertheless it would be easier to pretend this didn’t happen at all. For the sake of comfortability I could swear to never mention it
for as long as I lived. Comfortability for you. Locking it away in a forgotten chamber in my head for it to scream at me sporadically like a damned and caged soul. I’d call that regression. This year alone I’ve achieved too much to start going backwards now. I’ve broken personal barriers! Wandered down unfamiliar roads! Crossed foreign & disputed borders! (due to entering Kosovo while on my Balkan wanders, I’m now very likely to have some issues should I ever visit Serbia. They, along with Russia, don’t recognise Kosovo as an independent nation.. in the eyes of the ruling Governments I entered Serbia illegally. Probably a good thing I don’t plan on going there any time soon then). I urged myself to live in ways I didn’t know I was capable of and still I yearn for more. Despite the trials, troubles and tribulations of it all I am the Wide-Eyed Scotsman and every waking moment is more significant than those before.

So long may it continue…

P1110258

“It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.” 

― Albert Camus, The Stranger

 

The Hidden Life of Trees.

“A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a “wood wide web” of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods.” 

P1010637

“There are more life forms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet. A mere teaspoonful contains many miles of fungal filaments. All these work the soil, transform it, and make it so valuable for the trees.” 

P1010349

“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with larger machines.” 

P1010639

“If we want to use forests as a weapon in the fight against climate change, then we must allow them to grow old, which is exactly what large conservation groups are asking us to do.”

P1010397

My hope is that the wolves’ stewardship of natural processes in Yellowstone will help people appreciate the complex ways that trees interact with their environment, how our interactions with forests affect their success, and the role forests play in making our world the kind of place where we want to live. Apart from that, forests hide wonders that we are only just beginning to explore. I invite you to enter my world.

P1010445

All quotes taken from ‘The Hidden Life of Trees‘ by Peter Wohlleben. Just this week I plunged myself into a new career path. I’ve begun an apprenticeship in landscaping and green space management. l’Aménagement des Espaces Verts.. Paysagers.

It’s a whole new world to me. A path in my life which opened after reading this book. It details a fascinating insight into the lives and communication systems of the forest and trees. I came across it at a time not long after a very upsetting episode where my health took a hit. And the combination of moving to an area of the world with an abundance of ecological wealth and the ‘luck’ to find this book on a spontaneous visit to the Argyle Street Waterstones in Glasgow City Centre, has given me a certain belief that this may just have been meant for me. It’s no surprise to me that the quality of my life has vastly improved since redirecting my focus down this road. And it gives me great motivation to work harder to succeed in these challenges set out for me.

I took these pictures in two separate places. The 2nd, 4th and 5th at the Old Kilpatrick Hills, Scotland. And the 1st and 3rd at the Gorges du Versoud, France.

Crossing Borders. A Three Part Series.

Part 2. Eugene & Monica, Bulgaria.

I shuffled past the various cars and trucks who sat attentively in an orderly fashion at the first border patrol, leaving Romania. The road stretched on for a good while with nothing but green grass and the base of a cemented broken road barrier surrounded by the broken segments of its former upper layer. Wild masses of green bush overflowed and the painted road lines had faded to such an extent it was difficult to tell if they were lines at all. At the end of the road there was a sharp turn where the Bulgarian border patrol lay, rendering it invisible from my current view. I found myself in No Man’s Land. Up until now it was obviously easy to be alone on my journey but now I never had a location to comfort me. I couldn’t say logistically ‘I’m in Romania’ or ‘I’m in Bulgaria’. The history of human behaviour will tell you that not having an answer is enough to turn someones life upside down. We crave answers, thirst for knowledge and push ourselves to unthinkable limits for a whiff of understanding. It’s an absurd assurance like this that calms an anxious mind in unsettling moments and keeps the flightful brain from derailing hopeful ambitions. And yet here I was.. free from security. Utterly bereft of my psychological safety net. Except for the Sertraline which often robs me of my own pride in portraying any glory and ridicules me whenever I begin to believe in myself. Considering the circumstances I’ll give myself this one. The road gave me this one.

I sat for a while at an inning in the wall, protected from sunlight by the adventurous shrubbery. This travelling business had really hit me. Emotions ran high frequently. It’s such a fucking buzz. And the adrenaline of pilgramming in these far and distant lands implored me to bask in my awestruck incandescence and lay my spinning head down on my bag for a short time.

‘I’ve come a long way from Clydebank.’

And it’s true. Looking at a globe I could’ve gone much, much further. To the Western shores of the USA, or the most Eastern point of the Asian
continent.

‘In time. Be Patient.’

Some time had passed and I lifted myself to carry on my merry way into Bulgaria. I stuck the thumb out and a car stopped almost immediately after. Surely hitch-hiking isn’t always this easy? It was a classy Audi brief, real expensive gear. The Romanian couple inside who I came to now as Eugene and Monica were my new guides into another world unknown. I was shitting myself at first in fairness. Aggressive tones, reluctant to crack a smile and despite picking me up they seemed to be stressed out their box. I told them of my plans and they reacted with bemusement.

”Why do you want to travel alone in these countries?”

For the kick I guess. Monica explained that her work took her all across the region and avoiding Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania would be more than wise. These countries were poor and I knew of the risk but I did not feel it would be as bad as what they were telling me then. I believed in trust, and aswell good people. But they spoke positively only of where we just came from, Romania. Everything in Romania is the best in Europe allegedly. The culture, the food, the people. Cluj Napoca has the best nightlife in the world. The women of Romania are the most beautiful you will ever see. I admired their pride. It was quite similar to Mihail. They were driving straight through Bulgaria and onto Thessaloniki in Greece. Very kindly they offered to drop me off in Petric at the Bulgarian/ Greek border. From there I could go straight to Macedonia. This was never my intention but I could sense a great distaste for Bulgaria and so I pondered my options.

We spoke about Romanian history, Dracula and football. A couple of times we stopped at petrol stations and Eugene even bought me some food and beer. ‘Romanian hospitality’ he called it. We even took selfies and sent them to his friend. Monica was driving, and like a maniac too. Dodging and weaving through traffic and overtaking when she had no right. I didn’t think I would see another day. After a while we had already passed Veliko Tarnovo and on the way I decided to get out at Sofia.

They dropped me at a station just outside the city. Bucharest to Sofia in no less than 6 hours. My intention that morning was to simply cross the border and camp  at a river just over the way. I had surpassed that and then some. Spent 0 on expenses, and some memories to boot. Eugene and Monica didn’t believe my decision was the right one to make but I knew that my perspective from the outside would allow me to feel differently on matters like this. The sun shone brightly as if to say I wouldn’t be disappointed. So I grabbed my bag, said my farewell’s and wandered on down the side of the Bulgarian motorway with the city of Sofia clear in my sights..

P1000897

P1000898

P1000899

P1000900

”Sofia.”

Bucharest.

Taken from my journal, 1st June 2018.

Zen Tribe Hostel – Strada Radu de Afumati, Bucharest.

I wouldn’t spend long in the Romanian capital. Last night I stayed at a hotel not far from the Airport. A few locals offered to drop me off in their taxi free of charge. They explained to me that the North of the country was much more beautiful than where I would see and even asked me to join them in another renowned Romanian hotspot, Brasov. However I politely declined as I wanted to focus on my original plan of heading South to Bulgaria.

P1000872

”For a short while I took some time to chill  under a bridge. Trying to figure what the hell I was going to do.”

Yesterday I got up reasonably early and started to hitch-hike into the city centre. A bus driver picked me up fairly swiftly and took me to the outskirts of town. I took a path through a park, next to a river, but the determined heat was arduously difficult. I paused frequently on benches and even lay down on a wall at the edge of the riverbank and used my bag as an effective headrest. The day before had been enduring and left me jaded, somewhat haggard. But the excitement of this whole affair was carrying me and my bags to ceaseless glories and immutable perspicaciousness. A taut adrenaline had gripped me firmly for days leading upto now and I needed the time to gather my thoughts. Questions unravelled one after another and my thought process lost direction so I promised myself to take it one step at a time. It took me two more hours to get to where I was going. Getting lost on the local buses, dozens of eyes staring questionably at the sallow skin and red hair of the foreigner in their midst. We travelled through some local suburbs before taking a turn onto a massive road. I couldn’t believe it. There was a roundabout up ahead as we approached and in the centre an exact replica of the French Arc de Triomphe sat proudly. I didn’t know why this was here but the whole boulevard and its towering centrepiece was identical to the original classic of the city of Paris. Maybe I’m wrong and the French copied the Romanians? It was bizarre nonetheless. Unknown to me of course, it was a local holiday and the buses were crammed with people. Air conditioning was non-existent and some of the passengers were not shy in telling the driver exactly what they thought. I got off the bus while an older gentleman barked complaints with a couple of other disgruntled passengers seeming to agree. I felt sorry for the driver but for the time being I had other things to worry about.

P1000875

”The man on the tram.”

I wandered through some run down streets searching for my hostel and with some luck I found my way without too much difficulty. On the way I walked past a doorway lying wide open to some sort of community hall. A group of men were sat in a circle, listening to very loud traditional music. At the corner of a street a couple of drunks tried to make conversation but I couldn’t understand a word they said. Upon arrival at the hostel I met Alexis, a young Romanian who owned the place with his cousin. He spoke of the city and his experience of previously living in Scotland, in Oban and Glen Affric. He isn’t working today. I plan to head off for Bulgaria and I won’t have a chance to say goodbye. But I have plenty of opportunities to meet other interesting people along the way so I’m not too disheartened.

In the evening I ventured out into the city to get a taste of what Bucharest is like. I planned to get into the Old Town. The public transport was shitty & filled with lonely, abject characters and the buildings accompanying the tracks of the tram where mostly run down and destroyed. It’s a country with issues so I didn’t expect more but its true what they say, you never really know what it’s like ’til you’ve seen it yourself. There was a marked contrast between the affluent areas and the surrounding ghettos, left to rot by a thoughtless society a long time ago in a country aiming to jump up the ladder of desirable destinations. I didn’t see many inhabitants of the buildings themselves to be honest, just some construction workers in amongst the rubble of this abandoned metropolis. Political graffiti condemning anyone who mattered by the forgotten representatives of a forgotten class hoping to make change from the ground. It saddens me to say this but it looks to me that the message will fall on deaf ears.

P1000880

”Exuberant Romanian nightlife. (This picture doesn’t do my point any justice sadly).”

I thought the Old Town might have resembled a bazaar of the East but I was completely wrong. Instead I faced huge buildings of wealth and culture. What once was historically something completely different from the modern day Bucharest, the streets were filled with clubs, pubs, restaurants and eager revellers desperate for good times. Pretty girls stood outside establishments attempting to entice the swathes of young people into their workplace. Outdoor terraces brimmed with drinkers and cigarette smoke. Trashy dance music boomed from soundsystems and bright lights filled the night. At one point I passed a place with an outdoor stage set up and this huge light show spread boldly across a building block. Tourists like me loitered the streets taking in every inch of the Old Town’s liveliness. I had already learned about club culture in Eastern Europe. It exploded suddenly after an amicable peace was resolved in the Balkan region and the disillusioned populations found a new way to escape the horrors of what they had experienced.

P1000881

”The Old Town of Bucharest.”

I’m heading to Bulgaria today. From the hostel it should take around an hour to make it to the edge of the city, to a town called Giurglui, and from there I’ll try to hitchhike across the border into Velika Tarnovo, Plovdiv or Sofia. The hostel has been great and I could’ve probably stayed for longer if I wasn’t ridiculous in my methods of scheduling. I appreciated how much effort the guys were putting in to make it their own and I hope the future brings them the success they are looking for. And as for Romania.. I haven’t afforded myself the time or experience to see much and for that I bow to return again, to see Brasov, the region of Transylvania and the Carpathian Mountains of the Northern reaches. Or to Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara and Craiova. At least I know next time I won’t be in a rush to leave.

P1000889

”One Night in Bucharest.”

Bergamo to Bucharest.

Taken from my journal, 30th May 2018.

Flight W6 3136 – Bergamo > Bucureşti Otopeni.

The gate to Sofia is closed. You must go to the ticket counter. 2nd floor.

I’d never missed a flight before. We left in the morning pretty sharpish, a little later than our scheduled time but with still plenty of room for error. My nerves were further eased thanks to the Italian authorities somewhat relaxed approached to highway speed limits. It’s a business for them with all the tollbooths every few kilometres. Deaths don’t matter.

The route was special. You can look at all the brochures, pictures and YouTube guides you want. Nothing beats being smack bang in the middle of the most beautiful places on Earth. Like an All-You-Can-Eat buffet for dreamers. It’s no wonder three countries have laid claim to a piece of this treasure.

It was my second time in Malpensa Airport. A real nightmare experience. My boarding pass wouldn’t scan upon entry and this little old apathetic & uninterested Italian man stared carefully at nothing while I signalled desperately for help. He didn’t seem to care for my troubles. Eventually (without aid) I passed through. At the security check it was much of the same problem. Prolonged queues, few staff and thick-witted ‘heed the baws’ who wait until their up before delving into their oversized cases to search for any liquids. Thoughtless idiots of the highest order wasting precious valuable time while the rest of us are forced to wait attentively and sweat the last ounces of eager body chemicals from our pores, good to go. I was beginning to grow concerned, but not overly.

Once I was through I started to get a jog on, realising that time was beginning to go against me. I found my gate number. The last f***ing gate in the airport. Speed became my main issue. A man can only run so fast when he’s carrying his house on his back. The sweat was running quicker than me now and my back was aching from the strain of the weight. My hands shuffled additional bags in a valiant attempt to juggle them without error. The gate was closing in. I turned the corner expecting the last of my fellow flyers to be heading out onto the tarmac.

Shit.

I wasn’t to make it to Bulgaria that day. I trudged back into the airport lounge, awaited my partner who hadn’t yet left and began to search for a new flight to the Balkans.

9.55pm. Milan, Bergamo > Bucharest Otopeni.

Romania wasn’t part of the plan. I knew very little of the place itself except for the odd football team, Dracula and the swathes of gypsys who use the country’s identity when begging across Europe. Bergamo Airport was an hour away so I got one more afternoon to spend with my lady in a pleasant Italian city. The roads were typically populated with classy vespas and angry commuters, repeatedly antagonising other drivers with their bellowing horns and their flailing Italian handwaves of disapproval. We took the road upto the city centre, sitting high and mighty in a fortress on a hill. We ate joyously in a little restaurant called Da Mimmo’s. Classy joint with the kind of Pasta you can only find in this corner of the world. Authentic Italia.

It would seem that our enduring morning had been sweetened by an unforgetable dining experience. But the mayhem of mishaps returned almost instantly to fire up the flames of anxiety once more. Parking problems, failing cards, security checks once again causing disruption (they took my tent pegs and pocket knife, my only source of protection.. Graze mille) and the flight company charging me 35 Euros to check in at the desk. My phone had died earlier, what a shitshow. My girlfriend questioned if it was best if I go. The whole day had been a taxing mess. But my luck was going to turn and my dreams soon realised. I couldn’t give up. This was it.

The next few lines come directly from my journal, expressing my feelings as the plane began to land.

”So now I find myself.. starting a descent into Bucharest, Romania. Who knows what may lay ahead. It feels glorious. Whatever happens, it doesn’t matter anymore. Even the bad times will be good. I look out the window and the lightning forks dance feverishly in the sky. The vibrant moon flirts modestly from behind a curtain of clouds. Everything has felt right since boarding the plane.”

 

P1000860

‘Bergamo, Italia.’

 

 

Dipping The Feet.

P1000889

One night in Bucharest.

I’ve been back in France for two weeks now, gently relaxing (and working) after a busy last few months, most notably including my time jaunting and bussing across the southeastern region of the European continent. Like almost always my plans never came to fruition in the way that I expected but still delivered on a big time level. I tested myself, faced my challenge and took in some of the most unknown places this side of the world. I didn’t wander into completely untapped parts of the world. I met many like-minded people from all over (special shoot out to the wandering Americans and Australians. I got the feeling they all left together, they were so many) seeking out new adventures, new memories.. new perspectives.

P1000904

On the oustkirts of Sofia.

I originally planned to start in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. Things went awry when I missed my flight and decided to fly to neighbouring country Romania. So I found myself starting in Bucharest and then made my way down through Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro & Croatia.

For many reasons I didn’t make the route the way I originally planned to. I missed out on going to Albania & Bosnia, two countries very high on my list for visiting. I didn’t spend nearly as much time in Montenegro as I intended and I never camped out as much as I would have liked. I’m not too downhearted though. I realised whilst spending time in many of these countries that it’s a privilege to jump on a plane with a bag and take an extended holiday in some of the poorest areas of Europe. I was aware of that already but being there hit home more than anything else could have. It was never an intention to go and be a tourist but instead learn from others on their way of life and understand what it means to have what they possess. Therefore I would rather label this as a taster of what’s to come. I dipped my toes in a great puddle of fulfilling water and next time I will dive in head first, the lungs loaded with refreshing air, ready for the deeper experiences awaiting underneath.

P1000952

”ЖП линии.”

Now I’m reminiscing, evaluating, learning & preparing for the future. I look fondly back on some thrilling adventures; crossing borders with the help of extremely generous people.. walking through the cities of forgotten countries in the midst of bringing themselves in line with a standard of the capitalist structure of development, in order to compete with the titan nations of our world.. amongst many other beautiful things I hope to share over the coming weeks. Most importantly  for myself I held an unrelenting feeling of melancholy when I returned home. I wasn’t utterly delighted or basking in the glory of my adventures to share as I had previously expected. Instead I just had more questions. A hunger to continue. To garner up as much of this riveting energy as I possibly can. An energy so engrossing, so magically powerful the brain needs rest periods every once in a while just to compute what the hell is going on and why in God’s name did you feel it was necessary to take such a plunge into the unknown. That is where most people find themselves wanting to take on more and go further out into the foreign lives and societies of others. I’m of the opinion that its easy to fall into a trap of believing we know everything already grâce au monde connecté que nous vivons* and yet myself along with many others, desperate to discover what this life has to give us, are striking evidence that our new abilities to interact may not be as connecting as what is generally percieved. But instead it gives us a flavour of the life we strive for and perhaps desire in order to live what we believe to be a fulfilling life.

I look forward to sharing my experiences with you and I hope that you’re all excited to share them too.

Мерси и Поздрави!**

P1000980

”Newborn.”

Languages are amazing. You’ll have to guess the name of the picture, let me know if you find out by posting a comment 🙂

* – ”thanks to the connected world that we live in” (French)
** – ”Thank you and regards!” (Bulgarian)

Winter Season Thought Track.

Throughout the winter season in Les Saisies, I wrote down some notes in various forms. They are mostly trivial, constructs of boredom, and whether they pass as ‘bloggable material’… i’ll leave that to you.

An empty store,
There’s nothing to do,
Except for stare at the walls.

Outside there are few,
And no attention is paid,
For those minds are fixed elsewhere.

Without customers,
And without work to be done..
What can I, the lonely Ski Man, actually do?

The winter snow storm has beaten us all;
The pistes lay empty,
The roads conquered by snow,
While bitter tourists rue the dashed dreams
and retreat to their chalets.

And I, the lonely Ski Man,
Sit here biding time sanguinely
And writes this poem to express..
Just how f***ing bored I am.

P1000355

——————-

He had a dream.
He had many dreams actually.

To see, to hear, to smell. To feel.

He observed videos and pictures online.
He read many books.
He spoke to many people.

It was the beginning of an everlasting adventure.

He was a flower ready to bloom.

P1000529

——————

Clouds fill the sky,
The colour of grief.

Those otherwise boastful mountains,
Have become bashful,
Whilst they hide between deep stretches of fog.

She rains down like a determined soul,
Persistent in disrupting the life underneath.

For her skin is white and glorious,
But should she be disrespected,
Her heart will be black and vengeful.

La neige.

P1000344

—————–

I often fight with myself about the idea of home.
I’ve come to realise that it’s never going to be where I lived all my life.
Ok you can argue that it’s story and mine are forever intertwined,
But should the place you call home endure you a mountain of pain?
Is home really a place at all?

Wonder entrenches my thoughts now I have strayed away.
My brother called it ‘soul searching’.
Perhaps an expected & unsurprising buzz phrase.
Tell me this, does one find home whilst soul searching?
Or is the soul contaminated, poisoned, by the constructs of our day?

For me this is crucial.
I don’t believe in soul searching.
My soul is always here.
It’s the cleansing and the repairing that I believe is pivotal..
In finding my home.

(Note. I am ginger. And I do have a soul.)

P1000314

 

Here’s to My Treasure Island..

It’s a new day tomorrow. Wednesday, 30th of March to be exact. And it marks the beginning of another new expedition to add to the previous escapades on record. An early morning drive to Milan in Italy followed by a fairly short flight to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia and I will be ready to take on the lower half of the Balkans. I have my tent, my hammock, my Jack Kerouac books and lavender spray for the mosquitoes and I am ready to go. I hope to take six or seven weeks and make my way through some of Europe’s poorest and unknown countries by throwing the thumb out and taking a lift with some happy locals willing to share their hidden piece of this world with an enthusiastic, ginger, 20 something from a country they might never have heard of (before anyone contests this I’ve had several conversations with people who don’t know what Scotland is. Or if they do, they think it’s a part of England..).

The majority of the countries I will be going through are not the typical destinations at the top of a European getaway wish list. But after doing some research and targeting some adventurous places I decided to go with my final findings. I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t nervous. It’s a region of Europe which still has various issues mostly linked to the break up of the Yugoslavian Republic and the brutal wars that preceded. This is not my reason for choosing these places and I wouldn’t like to think of myself as some sort of ‘war tourist’ (I don’t know the phrase word for word but I read about some Danish guy being accused of this after visiting Syria.. And after seeing widespread criticism of folk posing emphatically for photos at several commemoration memorials I intend to pay my utmost respect). Most of these countries are trying to move on from the past and bring the benefits of change to help their poor nations. And with the attempts to step away from the limelight for the wrong reasons I hope to embrace the future with the locals in a shared hope of personal wealth and a long-lasting happiness.

I can’t choose a favoured part of the plan I have drawn up for the coming months; I hope to spend time in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, venture through the wilderness of Montenegro, find out more about the Continent’s newest country Kosovo (or South-Western Serbia for when I arrive at the border) and experience the valiant & enigmatic cultures of Albania and Macedonia. Even as I head North to more common-known places like Croatia, Slovenia & Italy, I can’t begin to dream about what is in store for me.

I look forward to the moments that await me and the joy they will bring. In the previous days the thought running through my head has been one of great excitement. Embarking on a trip like this to me is potentially life-defining. Or as we fondly say back home.. ‘One to tell the grandweans‘. Maybe i’m getting carried away and it won’t be anything extraordinary. Or maybe they’ll talk about me in parts of the region as a ‘much loved Scottish explorer’. I don’t expect my name to be up there with Robinson Crusoe after a summer stint in the Balkans, but these are the scope of thoughts that enter play in the preceding moments before an adventure as such. And is it dangerous to aim high? To dream of great happenings and endearing moments? The romantic in me says no. The realist in me says ‘get a f**kin hawd of yersel!‘.

Perhaps striking the balance might be what shapes this chapter as a decorated highlight in the ongoing novel that is my life..


The last few weeks I’ve been exploring various places in La France with my partner. We’ve mainly divided our time between the wonderful city of Lyon and the South of France. Over the coming weeks while i’m away i’ll be sharing various tales from our shenanigans, so keep updated by following the blog at the links provided. Cheers X

Appeasing the Masses.

When I began writing my blog I had a vision of what I wanted it to be. I knew all the things I wanted to discuss and to portray. Now, although I would like to apologise for the lack of content released recently, I must refuse.

You see, I don’t want to write for the sake of satisfying my desire to furiously fire out pages of work. It’s robotic, generic and really not authentic. And with the topics I want to investigate I firmly believe they simply deserve more.

The vision of a Wide-Eyed Scotsman is to focus on two separate wider topics without aggressively dividing the posts as such. For one, I love exploring. I get bored easily. I don’t enjoy staying in one place for too long and I can’t begin to comprehend those who choose not to delve further into anything outside of the world they know.

Of course, I understand it.

Maybe it’s true.. if something is not broken, why change it? If someone is happy, why would they feel it necessary to challenge that? Me being me, I don’t believe that has ever been familiar.

As a family we used to visit the South of Spain one week or two weeks at a time. I have some very fond memories of these trips. Some sadly not so fond but mostly (as the French would say) ils étaient très agréables. These were very typical, working-class, Costa Brava affairs; Causing mayhem at the pool while our easygoing European brethren looked on dismayed. Days at the beach often being ruined the moment someone realises the sand is too warm to set foot on. Excursions to Port Aventura with screaming weans who don’t want to wait two hours in the blistering heat to take on a roller-coaster they told their da’ they didn’t want to go on. Or wandering around the typical towns just far away enough from the bedlam ensuing in the tourist spots to feel like ‘the Real España!’   All in all it makes for a very Scottish holiday abroad.

At home all I knew were my surroundings and these opportunities to explore became special. And with the ho-hum trials and tribulations of everyday life being somewhat difficult to digest, finding that sense of gratification I mentioned earlier was to be more bothersome, wearing and complicated than the young me could have ever known. Which brings us onto the second topic..

I’ve always thought of myself as a heavy thinker. That being I think too much. My mother would often describe me as deep. I liked this to begin with. I had a fruitful imagination and occasionally wondered if I could achieve great feats like others such as J.R.R Tolkien. I wanted to create new worlds. But I never persisted and instead engaged in a lifestyle similar to a youngster in Clydebank. Football, the streets, console games and various other trivial things. Family life was also tough which affected the ability to pursue creative ambitions before plaguing my thoughts with impossible-to-answer questions, needless dilemmas and false scenarios. I was never an outgoing person at a young age, resulting in a habit of generally drifting to the side of any attention. I wasn’t confident and rarely felt good enough. My mates would be plodding along well with girlfriends and sporting achievements while I held on with relative insignificance at the rear.

Eventually confidence came with alcohol. A false bravado soothed by an empty promise of society’s way to a better world. As a result I like many others fell into the distraction trap and began measuring myself against the measures of drink I was consuming.

I wasn’t an alcoholic but I had issues. Anything that hurt me during the week would often unfold to a live audience at the weekend filled with those who had no business. Irrational, senseless and downright foolishness my actions would come to be, I sometimes take time to try understand why I acted this way. In my eyes it felt like life had disregarded me and left me at the bottom of a very big pile. I would react with deep frustration and aggression. The negativity in life made me a negative person. These are still issues I tackle today.  I don’t drink nearly as much anymore because I resent what it can do to me or what I can do to others through it. I don’t take drugs other than the prescribed pills i’m given in order to keep me relatively level-headed although there was a time when other influences fueled this illusion of well-being while plotting against me in the midst of my own skin.

This is what I want to address through my writing. I don’t want to bother my audience with weekly updates of information that would otherwise be simple to find in a holiday  brochure. Personally this is important and possibly life-changing. Travelling to me is much more than a status update or a like. It’s a personal project to help myself and to help others. I hold ambitions for the future to change where I come from for the better while gaining the fulfillment I have admired from afar since a time long gone by. I want to discuss things that others can’t or won’t. Recently there seems to be a recurring trend of ‘raising awareness’ and ‘promoting discussion’ without a genuine attempt being truly undertaken to tackle the dangers of our everyday lives. Why? I honestly do not know. There could be a thousand reasons but in the end life goes on and damage prevails while the preachers preach a ghostly prayer.

It’s not acceptable.

It’s helpful to no-one and dangerous for everyone.

The time to act is now.