Thursday, 31 January 2013

McGonks and Fabulous February


What an exciting start to the new year we  have had - it threw all sorts of weather our way, from bright sunshine to rain, hail, sleat and even snow in this little corner of southwest Scotland where it seldom usually ventures. But mostly it has been raining... gallons and gallons of the stuff falling incessantly, to the extent that the surrounding land has been flooded on numerous occasions, to date. Getting out and about hasn't been easy, but McGonks are resilient little critturs and soon find a way.

As you already know, some of the McGonks are going to be heading to Fort Willliam, where they will be attempting to climb Ben Nevis. But let's not forget that there are many more McGonks who won't be making that trip.

Indeed, several others have already set off on their great adventures, including Duncan McGonk, who seems to be spending his time lapping up the sunshine while climbing olive trees in Egypt - what a lucky McGonk he is! I'm told his Arabic is coming along slowly, albeit with a Scottish accent.

Never mind, back here in Frugaldom we have plenty going on and there's always someone or some place new to see.

The arrival of the snow for a few days brought great excitement to Clan McGonk, as this was the first they had ever experienced it, since settling into Thrift Cottage. A few fluttering flakes had passed in the pas,t but none had stuck around long enough to cover the ground, far less enough of the stuff for building a snowman! Beag McGonk was the first to venture out - I knew he was an adventurous wee chappie as soon as I laid eyes on him! Here he is, proudly showing off his first attempt at building a snowman.

Now we need to fit in some serious training for the climb up Ben Nevis in May, so some of the McGonks decided that they would try a bit of snowy hill climbing.

This corner of Scotland isn't renowned for its hills, although we do live within 25 miles of the Galloway Hills. Here in the Machars area we have a few fells and the occasional 'trig' point.

Trig points are triangulation points, usually marked by pillars of some description, set at the top of hills and used in the Ordnance Survey. Did you know that the "roots of Ordnance Survey go back to 1747, when Lieutenant-Colonel David Watson proposed the compilation of a map of the Scottish Highlands to facilitate the subjugation of the clans following the Jacobite rising of 1745"? (You can read more about it here.) Our photo shows Ruaidhri McGonk along with Beag and one of the hairy Haggis McGonks sitting atop their first ever trig point, surveying the white surroundings that are seldom seen in these parts. What an exciting day that was!

On 25th January each year, many of us celebrate Robert Burns' birthday here in Scotland. In fact, it's celebrated by Scots the world over - he as quite a famous poet by anyone's standards!

Traditionally, we eat haggis with tatties and neeps - a frugal dish if ever there was one, as the haggis is 'offal' bulked out with oatmeal and served with potatoes and swede. To celebrate the event this year, we invited the Haggis McGonks to join our happy clan by taking up residence in Thrift Cottage while preparing for future travels.

This is one of the Haggis McGonks, the self-same one spotted atop the trig point on top of East Barr, in Wigtownshire. He's a happy wee haggis chappie who'll be staying with us for a while, as he has volunteered his services to go up the mountain in May.

Today, the Haggis McGonks have won a runners up prize in a competition! They can't decide if it's a good thing (winning) or a bad thing (the competition). You might ask why this could possibly be? Surely it has to be fun receiving free gifts through the post? Well, I'll leave it for you to decide!

The accompanying letter requested that we upload a photo onto a website to enter into a prize draw, so here is our entry... in case you can't see what the label or the wording on their prize badges say, it's 'Eat Haggis'.

You'll have to find them and catch them first!

Don't forget that if you spot a McGonk anywhere, get a photograph and add it to the gallery on our McGonks page at Share your McGonk tales with the world as our Scottish furry friends multiply and spread out throughout the world.

Mad March isn't so far away and that's when we shall see off our first high flying McGonk, as he takes off with the skydivers! More on that, soon. In the meantime, you can help McGonks support their local charity, the Port William Lifeboat, by visiting and following the progress of their Port to Fort Challenge to get to the top of Ben Nevis. Likewise, you can gift donations through Paypal by emailing it directly to where funds can be transferred to the charity. Event details are included on Facebook and on website.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Beag McGonk's Port to Fort Challenge

Beag's Big World

Isn't it funny that 'Beag', which is pronounced in similar way to 'bug', is Gaelic for small?
I love the name, it's so apt for the tiny Beag McGonk! He's only about 6cm tall, so there's no problem in taking him anywhere he wants to go...
The trouble is, he wants to go here - Cafe Beag . It's a very long way for a very small McGonk, as Port William is over 200 miles from Fort William. In fact, I'm sure he's mixed up his ports with his forts, hence the reason he discovered it in the first place. So, to satisfy his tiny need for huge adventure, we have promised Beag the trip of his lifetime - a trip to Cafe Beag for the holiday weekend in May.
BUT there are conditions to be met!
Can you guess what they might be?
  1. Beag must be fit enough to make the trip
  2. The trip must be frugal - there's a budget of only £150
  3. Once there, Beag must make it to the top of the hill behind Cafe Beag, and it's a big one!

Ben Nevis
Foter / CC BY-SA
This is what towers above the tiny Cafe Beag... it's not only the highest mountain in Scotland, but the highest mountain in the United Kingdom. If Beag wants his cuppa in Cafe Beag, he's going to have to climb that mountain and fly the flag for Frugaldom!

It's going to be a huge adventure, so the Challenge began yesterday, on January 7th 2013 - 140 days to the day that Beag should be homeward bound after his enormous challenge.

Meanwhile, we're eagerly awaiting news of his fellow clan member who took off from Gatwick Airport (London) yesterday and was making his way to Egypt.

2013 is shaping up to be a rather exciting year for McGonks, so there may be quite a few tales to tell as Beag and his buddies prepare for their adventures. I hope you will join us and follow their exploits.

If you happen to be lucky enough to adopt a McGonk that you'll share your photos on our Facebook page and join us on Twitter

The website is being developed at where you will find links to all of the above along with any important updates.

We'll be back soon to bring you more news of McGonks' 'Port William to Fort Wiliam' preparations challenge, now dubbed our 'Port to Fort Challenge'.