Category Archives: Highland Life

Random maunderings from life off the beaten track.

Evening on the Loch

A solitary canoeist was enjoying himself this evening, powering his way up Loch Voil into a golden sunset.  He rounded a headland, to see a large bloke lying prone on the shore, pointing a camera and long lens across the loch. At the other end of the scene, a Black-Throated Diver is floating serenely on the water.

Now this scenario on its own is not particularly unusual: it’s getting increasingly difficult to move anywhere in the Highlands without either tripping over an Exuberant Packham displaying on a log or flushing a flock of Diminutive Strachans from a stand of reeds. What does make this more worthy of note is that, in this instance, the photographer has a large cat sitting attentively on his head. Friendly “Good evening”s are exchanged and all parties continue on their way.

As a photographer, it’s not often that I want to be photographed. Tonight was one of them.

The Darker Side of Rewilding

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of rewilding: of restoring impoverished habitats and reintroducing species that we’ve intentionally or carelessly wiped out over the millennia. Re-establishing diverse, self-maintaining and resilient ecosystems can only help us weather the storms of anthropogenic climate change as well as reduce our species’ footprint on the planet. So I’m generally pro-Beaver, pro-Lynx, pro-raptor and, lest we forget, pro-random-small-but-useful arthropods. I’ve also previously noted that the re-introduction of wolves and bears would help simultaneously solve multiple local environmental and social issues, which itself is a metric for a successful re-introduction.

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The Whatness of Where

This is for the couriers, media (including the BBC) and assorted others who have no idea what this part of the world is called or where, specifically, Balquhidder is. Although it’s entirely true that they do have no idea, they’re not helped when they do try to find out, thanks to multiple and mutually contradictory databases. So we don’t get so much lost as regularly misplaced. Mis-spelling we take for granted.

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The Bookshelf Constant

It is an invariant law of the universe that books expand to fill the space allocated to them, plus ten percent. I call this The Bookshelf Constant. You can’t outwit this any more than you can gravity and it is entirely independent of how many books and bookshelves you buy.

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Tweedageddon

The Royal Highland Show is the third largest ticketed event in Scotland, after the Edinburgh Festivals and T in the Park. It has been an annual event for nearly two hundred years and now exists as a four-day celebration of the cultural collision between acres of tweed, forests of wellington boots and great steaming piles of manure, all worn or produced by attendees from a wide range of species. It is, definitively and definingly, Country.

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The Great Frozen Pollock Scam

A parable for our times.

I have been rumbled: as of yesterday, the Great Waitrose Frozen Pollock Scam is, officially, over.

It all started out – as such things often do – with the opportunity to get something for nothing, or at least for very little.

Back in the day, life was simple: in our rural economy, the cats would occasionally get a treat, a pack of frozen pollock fillets from Waitrose, at £2.99 a pack. And, whilst that remained a luxury, all was well.

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Spice Miscalculation

It’s the Fourth of July so, to celebrate our independence from those turbulent colonials, I’m making that staple of Imperial India – a Kedgeree – for supper this evening.

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The Coming of the Beavers

Whilst English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage spend large amounts of time and money swithering over the reintroduction of Eurasian Beavers (Castor fiber) to the UK, no-one seems to have bothered to tell the animals themselves that they’re supposed to be a tightly controlled experiment that can be eradicated at any time.

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A Camping Ban, Hoorah!

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is extending the Loch Lomond lochside wild camping ban to the rest of the lochs  in the Park. This is, unequivocally, A Good Thing.

Unfortunately, there’s been  rather a disappointing and unconsidered ‘rent-a-quote’ level response from, amongst others,  Andrea Partridge of The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, something that definitely called for a response…

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Beset by Fools…

So, this evening we were heading home – conditions moderately crappy, but all was well, until we reached the Pass of Leny, where we joined the back of a long and unhappy queue. After half an hour of thumb-twiddling, a stroll to the front revealed that: one articulated lorry had got stuck on the rise to the blind ridge; the following lorry driver (see photo for registration number), rather than thinking, “He’s stuck, I’m driving a similar vehicle, so I’ll wait and see what happens”, thought, “it can’t happen to me” and went to overtake, on the rise to said blind brow. Of course, he a) slid into the vehicle he was overtaking b) got wedged between that and the roadside barrier and c) blocked the road completely. It was just luck that no-one went head-on into him.

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