Highland Life and the Coronavirus
What a difference a week and a half makes.
I went to the supermarket a week past Thursday, and everything looked normal. Shelves were stocked and there were lots of customers. I went again last night. This time the place was deserted and the shelves were empty. Panic has set in.
The usual Lidl slogan used to promote special deals suddenly took on a whole other meaning: "When it's gone... it's gone".
I went for a walk along the Caledonian Canal this afternoon. It was lovely, but I still couldn't escape from warnings about the corona virus. The note in the attached photo was pinned to one of the canal buildings.
A large share of the economy of the Highlands is dependent on tourism. The CV19 outbreak will devastate the season this year.
Although I have seen an increase in the number of campervans for this time of year. The "exodus" has begun.
This is a photo of Andrew Watson (back row, centre), who was the first black player to play association football at international level. He debuted, as captain, for Scotland in 1881, in a game against England. Scotland defeated the home team by six goals to one (a record home defeat for England).
Watson also played for Queen's Park FC, which at the time was Scotland's preeminent club side.
on the site of Culloden Battlefield,
The cottage was built in 1760, 14 years after the battle. A previous cottage existed at the same location, and was probably used as a rudimentary field hospital during the military engagement.
The Gondolier paddle steamer was built especially (in 1866) to operate on The Caledonian Canal from Fort William, on the west coast, to Inverness, on the east. The steamer was primarily intended for sightseeing, but as the A82 road wasn't completed for another 60 years it would also serve as an important transport link.
The canal allowed ships to navigate the Great Glen by joining the Lochs: Linnhe, Lochy, Oich and Ness.
The final resting place.
I drove past a scrapyard the other day, and this traditional red telephone box caught my eye. They used to be a common sight in towns and villages, and even the rural Highlands & Islands had many of them.
There was a time when communities ran campaigns to save their 'phone boxes, but even that has passed now. The onward march of the mobile 'phone has been relentless.
Another icon bites the dust.
This photo is from earlier in the evening when the men of Burghead take turns to carry the burning Clavie through the streets. Not only is it an arduous task, due to the size & weight, it is also very dangerous. Regardless, they are all very keen to have their turn.
There are many festive events marking the old Hogmanay in Scotland. When Scotland adopted the Gregorian calendar (previously using Julian) 12 days of the year were "lost". People went to bed on the evening of the 2nd of September, and next morning when they got up it was September 14th.
Some communities took a dim view of this change. So, they continued to celebrate the old Hogmanay which happens on January 11th (Gregorian), rather than December 31st.
I took this #photo many years ago, in my pre-digital phase. It is of the fire festival in Burghead called The Burning of the Clavie, which is celebrated every year on the old Hogmanay (January 11).
The burning Clavie (a wooden barrel containing staves covered in tar, mounted on a stand) is carried through the town, and eventually to the Doorie Hill. On the hill, more tar is added so the whole construction, and parts of the hill, are ablaze.
I came across this #photo of the West End of Edinburgh from 1977. The #photo technique doesn't have much interest, but some of the subjects are fascinating. I like the taxis waiting for residents coming out from the Caledonian Hotel (very posh). A branch of John Menzies when they still had shops. Across the road (Princes Street) is Fraser's department store, and below the wee clock is a very famous place that all Edinburghers know about: Fraser's Corner.
This photo really appeals to me.
It was taken on Eilean Èisdeal (Easdale Island). The island was famous for producing slate in huge quantities for hundreds of years, until flooding put most of the mines out of business in the mid 19th century. The dark stones in the photo may be slate residue.
The wheelbarrow must have a special purpose, but it is unknown to me. The wee girl looks like she is enjoying the ride.
Darwin is, of course, best known for his scientific work on evolution. However, he also "dabbled" in other scientific fields, including geology.
Just to prove that even great minds sometimes get it wrong, it is worth reading about his conclusions on the "parallel roads" of Glen Roy, which he visited in 1838. To be fair to Darwin, he wasn't far wrong...
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One of the things I loved about this area was the profusion of trees.
In particular, I found the shapes of the Scots Pines (giuthas-Albannach - pinus sylvestris) were endlessly fascinating. Every tree had a unique shape. Some were tall and narrow, others were umbrella shaped, and in-between there was every shape imaginable.
Sad as it was to see dead trees, they still added to the landscape. They remained upright, losing their bark and turning silvery.
After finishing our circuit of the loch we made our way to An Lochan Uaine (the little green lake). You'll just have to believe me that the lochan is vividly green when viewed from the eastern side, as I didn't take a photo from this angle.
From there we continued up Rathad nam Mèirleach (The Thieves' road) to the bothy at Ruighe a’ Bhothain (Ryvoan). We were surprised to find 6 people inside the bothy when we looked inside.
At the point where we completed our circuit of the loch there was a lovely sandy beach. Judging from the number of footprints in the sand it was a popular place for people to visit.
Tucked into one corner of the beach was a wooden building, which during the tourist season is a centre for wind-surfer and dinghy hire.
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