The Angry Corrie 16: Dec 1993-Jan 1994
OUTDOOR TYPES No. 10: Foreign Visitor
You can tell right away he's not local. Not local at all. It's the fact that he's lying in the middle of the path to Derry Lodge, taking a spectacular low-angle photograph of a thistle growing by the roadside, that gives the game away. Light-weight brown and blue rucksack, light-weight brown and blue boots. Baggy shorts, two pairs of colour-coordinated socks (the outer pair rolled down over his boot-tops). A loose top with lots of zips, a scarf tied dashingly around his neck. The whole ensemble has a subliminal air of having been bought in a oner - it is an outfit, not the usual knocked-together pile of gear favoured by the average Brit.
You stride past, vaguely disapproving, unable to justify the feeling.
Later, on Derry Caimgorm, he catches up with you. You hear him coming from far off - a tiny bell ringing in the silence. What on earth? It is, it transpires, intended to warn bears of his approach. Black bears, brown bears, grizzly bears - it doesn't matter, they all apparently decamp if given adequate warning.
Seems sensible, really, except ...
Yes, he knows that. He's so used to the bell he forgot all about it. He apologizes, takes the thing off his rucksack. Expresses the hope that he'll remember to put it on again when he gets back to the Rockies ... At the end of the day, you meet again, in the sunshine outside Derry Lodge. He asks where the bathroom is. Hm. You have a vague memory of finding a toilet around here somewhere, sometime ... No, haven't a clue, now. Sorry. Somewhere to get a drink? You laugh at the soft foreigner. Sorry, he'll need to walk three miles back to the road, and then make his way to Braemar.
After he's gone, you think about it. Why not? Any civilized nation in the world would have a wee cafe here - crisps, chocolate, tea, beer. A bit of cheer and solace before the last, interminable trek back to the road. There's probably enough walking traffic to support something like that. Given that there's a camp-site here already, where would be the harm? Instead, there's a boarded-up shell that does no-one any good.
You sit grumpily in the sun. You could just go a beer at the moment, too. Bloody foreigners ...