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An account of our life once we moved to live in Edinburgh now becomes difficult. Although we can each remember certain events, pinning them down to exactly when they happened is sometimes impossible so the exact date order of the events that follow can not be taken for granted.
Certain events can be defined precisely so I will deal with those first.
Sue and I were married on 24th November 1975 at Queen Street register office in Edinburgh. John and Jill Manchip were our witnesses.
My divorce from Nicky had become absolute and we had by then been living in sin long enough to be certain that our feelings for each other were permanent so I proposed we get married and Sue accepted.
Sue being a Kiwi was resident in the UK by virtue of her Grandmother Blanche who was from Wigan but it was also much better if Sue had a British passport to avoid possible future changes in immigration law and to avoid continual renewal of her visa.
We parked in Herriot Row and walked round to the registry office. While we waited to get wed Sue picked up a pamphlet and began reading about retirement pensions for widows so I did wonder if she might have ulterior motives!
Withe the formalities over and the register signed it was time for our wedding breakfast. We walked round with John and Jill to a little Spanish restaurant in Rose Street, just around the corner from my office in George Street and therefore had become a place we often dined at. I remember the pincho moruno was very good and the four of us demolished a few bottles of Freixenet Cava before they eventually asked us to leave mid afternoon as they closed for a siesta.
We all had a glass of Spanish brandy to fortify us for the arduous 100 yard walk to my office to be greeted by my secretary Jeanette who broke into the spirits cupboard and we proceeded to get even drunker. Jeanette eventually kicked us out and I drove back home illegally but we used to do silly things like that then!
Back home John and I decided we were a bit thirsty so we popped down the pub for a couple of pints. On our return we found our wives asleep in bed together who we awoke and demanded food. Sue had cooked a beef casserole for just such an eventuality so she warmed it up and popped in some dumplings. The stew was fine but I almost broke a tooth on a dumpling!
We had arranged to meet all our friends in the Golf Tavern that evening so had quite a heavy session there before driving all of us to our respective homes completely and utterly rat arsed. We did do some daft things in those days. It is my pride and joy that I then consummated the marriage just to make it legal but Sue couldn't remember the act so maybe I dreamt it?.
It was during this time I think that one of my old caving mates, Martin Mills (named by me as Milch as he was always chewing the cud much like a milk cow!), of the Shepton Mallet Caving Club (SMCC) and Somerset Scout Caving Group but since then having moved to Scotland where he met his future wife Kirsty, both of whom were and probably still are members of the Grampian Speleological Group (GSG).
Martin first took me and my Senior Scout Group caving on the Mendip Hills in Somerset and you can see a photograph of Milch, the scouts and me on my family history page here.
They were married in a little church over in the kingdom of Fife and I was privileged to be their best man.
Meanwhile Sue had befriended two Scottish ladies; the lovely Anna and the lovely Angela who met a guy called Robin Hendry who was a cousin of Steven Hendry the snooker champion who has nothing to do with this story but I thought I would throw it in.
Anyway, Angela and Robin were eventually married and Sue wore her best rabbit fur coat to the wedding. This photo is still my favourite of Sue.
Those three ladies made a bit of a name for themselves around the fleshpots of Edinburgh and Anna reminded me that Sue was one of only two people ever to be asked to leave Madogs. The other was Princess Margaret!
Caves and Mountains.
During my previous time living in Edinburgh I became a member of the GSG and so had a ready made circle of friends. My time was precious trying to build up Ulstein UK but at the weekends I was usually off caving with the GSG or walking and climbing in the mountains. The main area of caves in Scotland was in the far North West in the county of Sutherland and it was here that the GSG had their first caving hut which was an old loom shed at Knockan, now replaced by a new one with all the mod cons that the snowflake generation require!
The parish of Assynt in the South West of the county was where most of the caves were and none of them were particularly long due to the nature of the Cambrian limestone rather than the Carboniferous limestone where most caves are found. Much exploration looking for new caves and digging to extend known caves were carried out during our weekends spent there and it was something to boast about if you managed to extend or find a cave of a few metres.
Although the caves were generally uninspiring the area boasts some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in Scotland. The view of Cul Mor from the GSG hut was awesome especially in winter. We nicknamed it Twin Titties and one look will tell you why. Foinavon, Arkle and Ben More Assynt are spectacular as is the spikey little Stac Pollaidh, but the queen of them all is Suilven.
The hardest part of climbing Suilven is getting to it and from the GSG hut you have to cross miles of peat hags with no paths just to get to its base. Then there is a short steep climb to the saddle between its twin summits from where all the Assynt tops are displayed before you.
A few miles North of Knockan is the Traligill valley where most of the larger caves are located and strategically sited at the entrance to the valley is the Inchnadamph Hotel. This convenient watering hole was a blessing when one emerged from caving wet and muddy or descended from Conival after a day on the mountain. It was also used for GSG club dinners and Mr Morrison who owned it seemed not to mind the mucky songs that cavers often sang at these occasions.
Tony Jarrett better known as 'J rat' lived for a long time in the old GSG Hut and became a regular at the 'Inch'. He once took one of the locals down Glenbain Hole not far from the 'Inch'. They were ill prepared as it is only a short easy little cave of just over 100 metres in length but both their carbide lamps failed and they could not find their way out. When J rat failed to turn up that later for a pint at the Inch the police were alerted who called Scottish Cave rescue in Edinburgh which effectively meant Alan Jeffreys (Goon) and those GSG member he could find at short notice.
After the long drive from Edinburgh and the short walk up the Traligill valley the two very cold miscreants were extracted from the cave. Back at the Inch in front of the fire Mr Morrison brought them bowls of hot soup for which J rat proffered his grateful thanks to which Mr Morrison replied; "aye, that'll be 50 pence"! A proper Scot!
Sutherland is one of the few places in Scotland where you can find the wildcat. It was once common throughout Britain but is now on the verge of extinction estimated to number a few thousand at most. I have seen one only once when early one morning I stepped out of the GSG hut to obey the call of nature and a wildcat appeared and snarled at me. As it did not run away I assumed it had kittens nearby so left it in peace.
This is where the sequence of events may be wrong. At some time then, but it might not have been in 1975, John Manchip, Brian-Brian, Murdo McCleod, Taffy and me decided we would have a boys weekend to walk the Cuillin Hills of Rhum. The island is owned by the National Trust for Scotland who run Kinloch Castle as a sort of hostel so we caught the NT boat over from Mallaig.
The ridge walk is long and arduous and about 7 miles across the island but at the end of the ridge you have to walk all the way back. Each mountain top was named by the Vikings who used them to aid navigation when on rape and pillage voyages. You begin by climbing Barkeval, Hallival then Askival which is the highest at 2663ft. Trollaval, Ainshval and finally Ruinsval follow before the long walk back and I remember we was knackered.
Murdo McCleod, who I will refer to as 'Uncle Murder' or 'Murdo' in future, suffers from vertigo and so is unsuited to exposure on mountain ridges. Uncle Murder hails of course from the Isle of Skye where we spent many happy days and well remember his sisters hens eggs which we used to beg him to bring back to Edinburgh when he visited her on Skye.
We once climbed Bruach na Frithe with Murdo in tow which towards the summit gets a bit airy so Murdo elected not to go on and said he would wait for us there. On our return he told us a group of climbers had asked him if he was alright and he told them he didn't like heights at which point they all collapsed laughing!
One spring weekend on Skye we decided to go horse riding. This was the first time in the year they had any riders so the horses had a mind of their own. John Manchip was frightened to death and just sat on the horse and let him take charge. I think we were on the Ullinish peninsula and the horses were determined to follow a vertiginous path along the top of the cliffs until eventually Johns horse decided that was enough exercise for one day and turned back. We all shouted for John to take charge but he was too frightened so we all followed him back.
One of our companions who thought he knew something about horses helped John off the horse and told him that you have to show the horse who is boss, climbed into the saddle when the horse decided he was boss and promptly threw his rider off much to everyone's delight!
On the same weekend John and I decided to do the round of Coire Lagan on Skye. Jill and Sue came with us up nearly to the top of Sgurr Alasdair but then decided they'd had enough and turned back while John and I continued. We followed the ridge round to Sgurr Dearg the back down to where we started but there was no sign of the girls so we headed up the hill again to try and find them. We eventually found them and queried what took them so long. Now you know how women can talk to the exclusion of all else and they had strayed off the ridge, finally realising their mistake when the landscape became vertical!
That's enough of caving and climbing for one page but I will return to the subject on later pages.
On a visit to Norway I was asked if we would like to take on an agency for Tenfjord steering gear. I was well aware that Tenfjord steering gear was almost standard for Scottish fishing vessels so this was an opportunity not to be missed. I met with Jens Tenfjord, the owner, and it appeared that Ulstein had put some pressure on him to let us have the business which he was not very happy about as his current agent was performing well.
Jens insisted that we had to provide a service engineer and stock a complete range of spares which I agreed to do. Once these were in place we would have the agency.
I recruited a marine electrical engineer called Dave Borthwick for the task. We bought a new diesel van which we stocked with spares and the larger items were kept in Dave's garage.
It was not long before Dave was unable to cope with demand as sales for Ulstein Propeller equipment took off and sophisticated electronic remote control systems were developed for our transverse thruster and controllable pitch propellers so Dave's Electrical background stood him in good stead.
We expanded sales of Tenfjord steering gear and I frequently took potential shipowners and customers over to Norway on sales promotion trips. On the first visit to Tenfjord we were given a lunch of baked salmon followed by fresh strawberries and cream. Both typical Norwegian meals using produce from the surrounding area which we all enjoyed. Only problem was that when we reached Ulstinvik they gave us exactly the same fare and wondered why we had trouble finishing it.
The Tenfjord steering gear was a rotary ram design used a square section yoke which was very reliable but had limits to the size of ships rudder that could be managed due to oil pressure limitations and therefore the physical size and weight of the gear itself. Jens designed a clever circular piston yoke. It could therefore operate at much higher oil pressures and could be used in bigger ships. The new design also incorporated the rudder carrier which made it easier to install for the shipyard. Sales increased as a direct result.
We were getting so much service work that Dave was struggling to cope. I decided we needed to employ a second engineer but Idar Ulstein accused me of trying to build an empire and took some persuading. He finally relented so we now had two service engineers out on the road plus Sales engineer Jim (can't remember his second name) and my secretary Jeanette of course. We were also already making a profit.
We decided to take a holiday in the USA so I asked Jim to hold the fort while we were away and he house sat our home.
Sue had formed a business partnership with the lovely Angela called 'Professional Secretaries' and it was going well so she could take the time off whenever she liked. We bought return tickets from Prestwick to Boston and set off.
We also purchased a fly drive holiday in the USA including flights from Boston to Las Vegas, Los Angeles to New Orleans, New Orleans to New York and then back to Boston.
We arrived in Boston late afternoon and booked into a central hotel. Over pre-prandial drinks at the bar the barman asked "where are you guys from". We told him we lived in Edinburgh and he asked if that was in Europe!! Most Americans never move out of their own back yard and their geography needed some attention.
Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the oldest US cities and was founded by the Puritan immigrants from England in 1630 who named it after Boston in Lincolnshire, England.
Notable events in its history include events from the American revolution and of course th Boston Tea Party when patriots boarded a British ship and threw it's cargo of tea overboard in protest of laws involving its sale. This eventually led to the American revolution and independence from Britain.
Because of its age and architecture it seemed more English than American and we spent a couple of days here prior to boarding a Delta Airlines flight to Las Vegas. I remember it was Delta as they were in the news having just landed a plane at the wrong airport by mistake so our flight was half empty as Americans chose a different airline.
Las Vegas was not of any great interest to us apart from a cheap place to sleep in a nice hotel. The hotel prices are sudsidised by the gambling so you can eat and sleep well by virtue of the mugs wasting their money on the slotties. After a good meal and a nights sleep our hire car was delivered and we hit the road towards Utah.
Utah & Bryce Canyon.
As we approached the state border a sign prononed 'Eat, drink and be merry for you are approaching Utah' and right on the border was a bottle shop! The state is the home of the
Morons Mormons who don't mind you having a few wives but draw the line at drinking alcohol and meat eating is to be done sparingly. Utah does have some fantastic scenery and we were heading first to Bryce Canyon.
We stayed at the Lodge inside the national park. We sat down to dinner and ordered a bottle of wine whereon we were given a slip of paper and told we could collect the wine from a hatch. I then had to carry my wine back to the table trying to hide my shame at not being a
Morons Mormon, but as you can see from the above slide show the scenery made up for the indignity.
The oldest living tree in the world is the Bristlecone Pine and in Bryce canyon they have one documented to be at least 1500 years old. Some are estimated to have lived for 5000 years. The oldest documented tree is known as Methuselah is located between 2,900 and 3,000 m (9,500 and 9,800 ft) above sea level in the "Methuselah Grove" in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest within the Inyo National Forest. Its exact location has not been publicly disclosed.
Next we headed for Zion National Park stopping at a motel which boasted it's own 9 hole golf course. I borrowed a set of clubs and with Sue as my caddy played myself reasonably well until the automatic sprinkler system turned on half way round and we had to abandon.
The park covers an area of canyons and massive sandstone cliffs and waterfalls and when we visited you could roam around freely without payment and you hardly saw anyone else. Nowadays they have a visitor centre where you park your car and then use shuttle buses to see the sights.
The Grand Canyon is on most peoples bucket list but we had over 330 miles to get there from Zion. We crossed the Utah state border into Arizona and followed a long dead straight road along line of cliffs to where you cross the Colarado River at Marble Canyon.
You will have seen pictures of the Grand Canyon but nothing can really prepare you for the real thing which no camera can capture.
Bright Angel Trail leads to a hut and camp site at the bottom of the canyon and it is the possible to follow another trail to the Northern side. An idea for a future expedition began to form in my mind. Why not bottom the Grand Canyon and climb Mount Whitney on another USA trip?
We visited the Hualapai Indian Reservation on our way West and found little of interest, eventually reaching Henderson where we booked into one of those casino hotels. We enjoyed a very nice steak dinner then asked for the bill. Our waiter enquired if we had enjoyed the meal and we told him we had, thereupon he announced "in that case sir I shall request the maitre d' to begin the processing of your cheque".
Sue decided she would have a try on the pokies, put a few coins in to one and pulled out $100. As she pocketed the loot a woman complained that she was working that line of machines but said she would let her off on this occasion. A little later that day we stopped for lunch and Sue locked the car keys in the car. It cost us $100 for the locksmith!
We left Henderson early as we intended to travel the 250 odd miles to Lone Pine in Calafornia across the Mohave Desert and Death Valley. Just as we were leaving the city limits a Puma jumped into the road and loped along in front of us before disappearing into the desert scrub. We were continually amazed at the abundance of wildlife we saw on this trip.
There is more of our life in 1975 here.