Amazing weekend was had with Justin and Ivan.
Not sure how it's happening - since my conscious efforts to improve my fitness always seem to fall on their face - but I think I'm fitter than I was. The steep ascent of Lochnagar with ice axes was definitely challenging (really Patrick, don't look down!) but I wasn't wiped out afterward, and I had to use my arms! (if you've seen my arms you'll understand why that's astonishing). Fun to find you can do more than you thought you could, especially when it feels like you've been a lazy slug all winter.
Also fun to find my malfunctioning digestive system doesn't ruin the weekend for me. When I'm careful. And medicated. Not going into grizzly details, but the past few months have had plenty of days/weeks when the idea of being out of the house all day (let alone up a hill!) was unthinkable thanks to what we'll gloss over by calling a grumpy gut. Thanks to the efforts of the NHS on that front I was fine all weekend which also felt like a triumph.
Revisiting Aberdeen with Justin was fun, Ivan's patience with our nostalgia trip was admirable, and even though they've changed things [mutters darkly about car parks and the A90] there's a deep fondness for the place which came back in spades from being there. Must visit properly some time.
As I said, Just has put loads of pictures up so you can see more there but my favourite from the weekend is probably this one, taken from the summit after the whiteout cleared and we could see the Cairngorms (and beyond) spread out in all their snowy splendour.
More of that.