Friday, 19 September 2014

Scottish Holiday – Day Seven - Tuesday

I'm posting this as the results of the Referendum are coming in.  

Tuesday was another wet day and one on which I was not in the best of health.  Our first stop was Arisaig Tourist Information Office which also housed a wonderful display about their Post Office.  I shall do a separate post on that subject – perhaps on my Postal blog.   Also there was a stone incised with Neolithic (4000 – 2500 BC) carving that was found on the Rhu Peninsula, Arisaig. 

The Centre was built on the site of the old smithy and still contains the forge and other bits and pieces.

We carried on up the old Road to the Isles but the rain and mist meant that the usual view of the Inner Hebrides was non-existent.  

We parked up in Mallaig – the end of the Road and also of the railway line that runs from Fort William over the viaduct at Glenfinnan.  The viaduct which appears in the Harry Potter film.

Because I wasn’t well we headed back to the Lochailort Inn for me to have a lie down.  But the idea or a sleep was soon upset by the fact that there were Red Deer in the Inn’s garden.

Deer fences are OK until the deer get the wrong side of them and can’t get back! 

This was Mum (on the correct side of the fence) keeping an eye on what her son or daughter was up to.

After taking a few slow speed photos in the midday dark of a rainy day I headed for bed.   But my sleep was soon interrupted by Partner-who-loves-tea telling me of the arrival of a number of Red Deer under the bedroom window.

When a deer moves fast and it’s dark outside the best a chap can do is click through the rain-soaked window and hope for the best.

Each of the deer was easily recognisable.   This one was darker than the first one we saw.

 This one had little antlers growing.

Then this one turned up and the first one we had seen took one look at him/her and fled across the road.

After a sleep we went downstairs for dinner which was excellent.  And so to bed – properly this time.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Feathers and Leaves

My latest book

William Brodrick – The Discourtesy of Death (2013).  It is probably unfair to describe this as cosy crime because it ventures beyond the fun of ‘guess the murderer’ and enters the deep moral question of assisted suicide and the sanctity of life.  This is the fifth book featuring Father Anselm.  British born William Brodrick (1960), in a career change that reverses Father Anselm's, was an Augustinian friar before leaving in order to become a practising barrister. I shall certainly be seeking out ‘The Sixth Lamentation’, the first Father Anselm book, and following the series through.

These quotes may seem like spoilers but they aren’t -

“I cannot walk.  I have cancer.  I am going to die.
I’ve decided to stay at home.
I won’t have all those tubes and medicines.
I won’t have different nurses holding my hand.
I won’t be on the agenda when the night shift go home and the day shift turn up.
I might be alone.
It could be painful.
I’ll be very frightened. I’m frightened already.
I might hang around on the edge of living, held down by this body of mine that doesn’t work.
Things couldn’t be much worse.
You gave me the strength to write those words. You taught me not to be ashamed of saying that things are bad and awful, when they are. You said there’s a liberty in all honesty. You said, by the same token, that I should never give up on surprises. Well, as the end nears, I thought we might talk about that.”

“I don’t think anyone murdered Jenny – in the sense of killed her against her will.  If it wasn’t X then it was someone who loved her. They’d faced the one fact that you can’t face – that sometimes life is hopeless. That too often there are no last minute surprises. This is the real world, Anselm.”

A rich, heavy smell that could only be called brown.

(And finally some words that are truly meaningful for anyone who has lost a child – of whatever age) -

Anselm thought that the glory of life – even brief and trimmed down to the point of seeming insignificance – remained utterly breath-taking.  That death, with all its power, would always be the one who came afterwards. The latecomer who’d missed the party.
‘You came and you went so quickly,” he said.  “But I saw your flight and I’ll remember you.”

 A Blue Tit pays a visit
On Wednesday Partner-who-loves-tea and I got home from having a coffee at Aroma in Irby and as I walked upstairs I heard a fluttering noise – like a Hawkmoth trying to get out of the window.  But it wasn’t a Hawkmoth – it was a Blue Tit. The window he was fluttering against is on the half-landing of the stairs and reaches to the top of the house – it’s about fifteen feet tall.  I had a brief vision of combining ladders and footstools and Heaven knows what.  Fortunately the Blue Tit had other ideas and stayed fluttering against the bottom pane and was relatively easy to catch.  A tiny head poking out of my not-too-clenched fists and taking occasional pecks at my finger.  P-w-l-t opened the front door and then reached for the camera but the Blue Tit decided the smell of green freedom was too string and began struggling so much I had to let him go, zipping across the garden and into the hedge like a bullet. We still haven’t fathomed which window the silly creature decided to investigate – there were none open more than an inch or so.  It seemed a lovely story with a happy ending until I woke up in the middle of the night with inflamed fingers.  Surely a Blue Tit’s tiny peck couldn't have done that.  No.  When I investigated I realised that in the capturing the bird in the corner of the window I had brushed against the cacti.  I’m still picking out almost invisible thorns but it was worth it to hold that tiny life in my hands, however briefly.

I decided to put one of my Blue Tit pictures in this post but when I put Tit into my computer’s ‘Search’ facility in the bottom left corner instead of looking for the word Tit it opened Chess Titans and asked me what level I wanted to play at?  There should be a special exclamation mark to follow the word Computers!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Scottish Holiday – Day Six – Monday

We all took our leave of the bride and groom on the Monday morning and left Achnagairn House and its wedding trimmings.

It continued to rain as P-w-l-t and I made our way South to the Lochailort Inn on the Road to the Isles. 

In view of the rain some of the time was spent indoors exploring the marvels of Treasures of the Earth.  It is a rock, mineral and crystal museum and shop near Fort William.  

This was a rather nice little crystal on display in the museum.

Well, actually, not exactly little!!!

These aren’t small either.




Yellow Fluorite from Cumbria

P-w-l-t and I should not be allowed near crystals.  As usual we came out with a large bag and lighter wallets.  Still, that's a couple of Christmas presents sorted.  A little wander around in the rain took us back to the Lochailort Inn where we were to stay for the next two nights.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Odds and Ends

Lost for Words

Most of the fiction I have been reading recently has been easy-to-read cosy crime and the like.  However, P-w-l-t and I were in the library the other day and Edward St Aubyn’s ‘Lost for Words’ (2014) caught my eye on the new books display shelf.   

For a moment I thought it might be non-fiction and when I realised it was fiction I almost put it down.  But this review caught my eye on the back – “The wit of Wilde, the lightness of Wodehouse, the waspishness of Waugh.”  I couldn’t resist an author like that so I took it out on loan.  I would add some more ‘W’s – Wonderful whimsical writing; well worth reading. 


Divorced Hollywood star Sandra Bullock (49) has mocked gossip journalists who say she is now canoodling with actor Chris Evans (32), saying on TV – “You guys are a little behind.  We’ve since married and it started breaking apart.  So we separated, filed for divorce. And I hope everyone can respect our privacy…”

I thought that was an amusing take on the gossip columns and it also gave me an excuse to put a picture of Sandra Bullock on my blog!

Robin Redbreast
Why is the English Robin called Robin Redbreast when its breast is orange?   

The answer lies deep in history.  It has been called ‘Redbreast’ since at least 1425.  But the word orange has only been used to describe a colour since 1557.   

The word red was originally used to include shades of purple, pink and orange.  All those names came later.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Scottish Holiday – Day Five – Archery and Rain

Most of Sunday was spent by the wedding party discussing how lucky we had been to have had such a sunny day for the wedding itself. 

Today there was a sunny start – missed by most people who were still in bed – and then it rained (and rained, and rained, and rained….). 

Partner-who-loves-tea and I went into Beauly first thing and got some shopping for Louisa, our wonderful chef) to make dinner for everyone. 

Gaz and Louisa

While there we took a look at the Priory Church.  Like so many similar ecclesiastical buildings it was partially demolished during the Protestant Reformation of the 1560s.  The rest of the priory was stripped of its stone in 1653 for Oliver Cromwell’s fort at Inverness.   

 And still it rained, but the downpour didn’t stop some hardy folk from taking part in an archery contest. 

I never did hear who won but I know Partner-who-loves-tea beat the Groom and got the same score as Brother-who-blogs!   Not bad going for a first attempt.

Being taught how to shoot.

 Everyone looks impressed!

P-w-l-t looks happy with that shot.

This was not hers!

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