That’s not too much of a bad thing though.
I have now finished my first novel, a contemporary fantasy set in London and Scotland called The Sleeping Warrior, and have sent it off to a publisher on a wing and a prayer.
I also suddenly decided to give up a lifetime of habitual cigarette smoking and have managed to go for two weeks without killing anyone or, at least, hurting them a lot.
I have almost quit and now it’s time to get fit and the great outdoors of Southern Scotland provide the perfect training ground for that marathon task of re-shaping a body and purging the lungs – even flesh and organs like mine.
My aim is to visit Inverie, a small village on Loch Nevis at the edge of Britain’s last wilderness – the Knoydart Peninsula – where the only way to get there is by a 20-minute boat ride from Mallaig; catapulting from an enormous mangonel from the mainland; or hoofing it for 16 miles from Kinloch Hourn over what the Gaels call na Garbh-Chrìochan (the Rough Bounds). The first option is for Jessies; the second may end in tears; and the third may well end like the second, but is probably less perilous.
Now I’m more of a Munro Flagger than a Bagger and, if I set off now, it would probably take me most of the year to tramp the path to Inverie, boots and weather willing, complaining bitterly all the way and demanding an emergency airlift by the local mountain rescue team after 50 paces.
So, like all great achievements, I must prepare both my spirit and body for it.
There are no Munroes in southern Scotland but there are plenty vertical ascents with varying degrees of difficulty depending on what angle you choose to tackle them.
There is also some beautiful scenery to keep the mind off the task, like Loch Mackie, Auchencairn, in the picture. Recently I hiked from Balcary to Rascarrel Bay. The walk takes you around the headland with some stunning sea views – including the wind farm in the Solway Firth. By the time I had staggered home to Balcary, chest heaving and lathering with sweat, I thought I must have covered at least 30 miles. I had completed 4.5 in total.
Think I’ve got a long way to go before I tackle 16 but I’m on the case at least.