Summer hobbies

1st August 2008 at 01:00

Jim Scott, Perth High, Headteacher

I'm a hillwalker. I'm about two-thirds of the way through climbing all the munros. The last two or three years, we've gone to Switzerland and Austria, climbing 10,000-footers, but very slowly. It tends to be very hot in the valleys, so sometimes we take a cable car out to the cool bit and start from there. Generally there is about 5,000-7,000ft left to climb.

Last year we were in the Interlaken region of the Swiss Alps for about 10 days and took the train up the Eiger - we didn't climb it - to walk out on the glacier. We had no intention of going beyond a certain point. We were just walking a couple of miles out to a hut where you could buy soup.

Unbelievably, we came across a woman wearing high-heeled, open-toed sandals, plodding through the snow. There were lots of people like that there. We took photos to show the people we climb with in Scotland.

Walking and climbing are dangerous sports. Out on Scottish hills we walk with all the gear, prepared for an emergency situation, but still you meet people dressed in sandals and T-shirts at 3,500ft. They don't seem to understand that the weather can change.

The day we visited the Eiger, Swiss mountain troops were out training. One group was on a cornice when it gave way and just dropped thousands of feet. When we left, seven of them were still missing.

Norah Fitzcharles, Newbattle Abbey College, Dalkeith, Depute principal

When my son was living in Japan, he would talk all night about keeping bees, so I decided to take it up. I was absolutely fascinated by the way they organise themselves as a social group.

I started by going to classes held by the Dunblane and Stirling Beekeepers Association, which gave me a mentor. We were on a visit to the association's apiary at Stirling University, so I had got suited up and was walking towards the hives when I saw what I thought was a cow-pat on the grass. It was a swarm. Someone asked: "Who's looking for bees?" and my mentor pointed at me. So that was my first swarm.

I'm on to my second swarm now. I suffered almost total colony collapse when my first swarm was attacked by the Varroa bee mite.

Last summer I got some honey, from the vine trees and the rapeseed. This year I will get clover honey and, if they are fit enough, I'll take them up to the heather on Sheriffmuir.

The bees are in my garden, so I can just visit them. Over the summer I check them and look at the hives once a week. Once the honey starts to flow you have to put on "supers", boxes where the bees store the extra honey for the winter and we steal it. May to October are the worker months; August and September is the harvest.

I like beekeeping for its sustainability.

Liz Kelly, Dalziel High, Motherwell, Depute head and maths teacher

Scuba-diving is my thing. I have done a couple of training dives on the Costa del Sol in Spain and Tenerife - nothing too deep, but just interesting. This summer I'm going to the Cayman Islands. I have done a lot of snorkelling there before, but this will be my first time scuba- diving.

I'm looking forward to seeing exotic fish, but hopefully not too many sharks. I should see lots of rays and eels, and those wee fish like Nemo, in the film, clownfish.

I used to do winter sports but I kept on breaking bones. Water is softer.

I also do a bit of watercolour painting, but I'm not very good. I do it whenever I get the time when we go up to our caravan in Aviemore. It relaxes the mind. I do it just for personal consumption, but if my fellow teachers are really unlucky, they get one.

Ann Laird, Eastwood High, East Renfrewshire, Principal teacher of computing

I get people together to do good things. I'm the convener of the Friends of Glasgow West. We promote West End heritage and put in planning objections when they want to build horrible flats. We are actually just about to publish four West End heritage trails, for Hyndland and Partickhill, Hillhead, Kelvinside and Dowanhill. People love the Victorian and Edwardian buildings and love hearing about the local history of their own area.

This fits well with another interest of mine: the Scottish Tenement Group, which represents private tenement owners. We want the legal framework in Scotland improved so factors can work properly and make owners pay for repairs, but we also want compulsory accreditation of property managers - a GTC for factors.

I started out on this 10 years ago when I wrote a book about Hyndland (Hyndland: Edwardian Glasgow Tenement Suburb) and published it myself. It has since sold 6,000 copies and I have broken even, which was the intention.

Having taken an interest in the past, I wanted to improve the future. If we are interested in tenements still being here in another 100 years, these are big problems.

Liz Smith, Scottish Parliament, Conservative spokeswoman on children, schools and skills

My outdoor hobbies are hillwalking and cricket. I played cricket for Scotland's women's international side from 1999 to 2002 and have been quite involved in trying to develop the girls' game. I still coach the girls' team at George Watson's College in Edinburgh throughout the parliamentary session.

I used to play with the Watsonians' third 11 (not the first 11 because there were rules in league cricket that meant a woman could not play in a men's team). It was interesting, especially when we visited pitches with no women's changing facilities, which meant I had to get changed in the car.

So, this summer I'll be playing cricket, but also hoping to get around to climbing more munros. I'm up to 215 out of 284. As soon as Parliament shut down, I had organised a boat to take me and six friends from my schooldays to some remote munros between Knoydart and Loch Quoich.

On a summer holiday to the Himalayas in 1992 I was able to combine my passions. We were climbing a 1700ft peak across the valley from Nanga Parbat - the ninth highest mountain in the world - and had set up base camp in the wilds of Pakistan, in a place called Tarashing. The sherpas and the people on the climbing trip started to play a cricket match.

Gradually, one by one, the villagers appeared, until there were 70 to 80 people watching. But we had played only 12 or 13 overs when the ball disappeared. It was a good leather cricket ball - a prized possession there - and someone pinched it.

Ronnie Summers, Musselburgh Grammar, Headteacher

I'm a three-dimensional painter: I garden. Unlike conventional painters, my canvas is never finished and never dries out (Scottish rain helps see to that).

I picked my first strawberry today and can see raspberries plumping up and colouring carmine; the veg garden is romping away in the heat and rain.

I love the contrasts of colour, texture, scent, habit, height.

We moved five years ago this week to a half-acre garden with wonderful loamy soil, but it needed a lot of work and now needs a redesign. Some plants sprawl, some plants sulk. Like pupils, they rarely behave as expected.

Gardening is in the genes. I recall my grandfather's blackberry bushes and grandmother's jam, and collecting leaf mould with my father. Tied to a desk, I need that fresh air at weekends. I'm a constant gardener. I live my life by bells when I prefer to measure it by the seasons: daffodils, then tulips, delphiniums, then tamarisk, dahlias then tidying up for the winter.

I'm sorry for the people in flats for whom marigolds mean washing up. They are lighting up the hanging baskets all around the house. Weeding gives me a sore back, but all the better to sit with a cup of coffee and view the panorama I have made over those five years.

John Moar, Firth Primary, Orkney, Headteacher

For the traditional getting-away-from-it-all part of the holiday we have booked a week in Slovenia, where we will be going down its amazing caves. They are deeper down than Ben Nevis is up.

Also on the hit list is seeing the world-famous Lipizzaner horses.

After that, we're visiting the Hot Horse fast food chain in Ljubljana, where those who failed to make it in the world of entertainment get to show what they can do in that of gastronomy.

Back home, indulging my passion for computer games, Lara Croft and I will finally be getting to grips with a Tyrannosaurus: it has been giving us a particularly hard time.

On the work front, Scholastic has asked me to customise its Health amp; Wellbeing series for Scotland - and very good it is, too.

But this holiday I shall be taking up the Celtic harp. Why the harp? Because my wife threatened to leave me if I took up the five-string banjo is the short answer. Colleagues, noting that I am increasingly rich in years, comment that learning the harp is also an excellent development opportunity for a career in the afterlife - always a bonus.

John McKay, Dalziel High, Motherwell, Depute head and geography teacher

This summer I'm going to be doing three or four different things. I have three kids under the age of 5, so, apart from changing nappies, I'll be visiting a number of soft-play emporia.

I live near James Hamilton Heritage Park in East Kilbride and plan to go wind-surfing on the loch, but that will mean trying to squeeze my portly frame into an XXL wetsuit, so I may need to go on a diet first.

As I am walking my kids around the loch, I often see wind-surfers falling in. It looks like good fun. I feel that someone like myself, with no balance and no co-ordination, could do it. It doesn't look as physically exerting as running. At least I know I can float.

The other hobby I'm going to take up again is cycling. I have one of those things you can hook on to the bike to carry the kids - I can get two of them in it - and I fancy following the West Highland Way (going from Milngavie to Fort William) with them.

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