A news story you may have missed

Now we know that the pace of life is a bit slower in the Highlands and Islands than in the rest of Britain but I was amused to read last week that after two years council officials in Lewis served an enforcement notice on a lady in Back who had “stabled” her pony in the living room. I’ve heard of pampering your pets but this seems a step too far. And I’ve heard of moving ornaments a bit higher when children are visiting but honestly – a pony in your living room? But this is no ordinary pony. This one rejoices in the name of Grey Lady Too. And she is a lady because the report concluded with the phrase : “It is understood the pony offered no resistance when she was led away by officials.”

In other news a football manager has been charged with “improper conduct” for headbutting an opposition player. Note that he wasn’t charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

And all this while police in Edinburgh are hunting a robber who left the Royal Bank in Corstorphine and had a taxi waiting. Presumably he said to the taxi driver – “wait a couple of minutes while I go and withdraw some cash.”

The temperature is rising here so I’ve been out running and continuing to train. I hope to run Edinburgh parkrun 5k this Saturday for the first time this year. Part of me can’t wait but part of me is strangely nervous!

Signs of the times

The English language is a wonderful thing. But things can go wrong. Take this sign that I spotted on my last visit to the Highlands.
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Now in one sense the sign is correct. There are no cars on the grass. But I think the wording they were actually looking for was “No cars allowed on the grass”
It is rather like the big envelopes you used to get through the post stating in large letters : “Photographs do not bend” It made me want to fold them in two and write beneath the wording : “Oh yes they do”
A couple of road signs in Scotland always amuse me. The first is “Dull, linked with Boring”. Good on them – they’ve created a positive out of a negative. And up north “Strome Ferry. No ferry”
They’re both slightly better than the road sign in Wales which was believe it or not the “Out of office” message from the translation unit that was used by councils to translate the signs into Welsh. I’ll bet there were a couple of red faces after that incident.
I feel sorry for people trying to learn English. It must be so difficult. We’re talking about a language where you can repeat the same word four times and it is still correct: “The pathologist concluded that the deep-fried mars bar he had had had had no contributory factor towards his death.” I feel sorry for the restaurant abroad where demanding English speaking guests obviously visited regularly :
“Customers who consider our waiters uncivil should see the manageress”. Nothing wrong with the translation. But a bit of a double-entendre – the all too regular occurrence that spawned the Carry On films and many of the 70’s sitcoms.
But it is possible to get it right and I’ve seen two signs recently which have restored my faith in the English language. The first on a building site nearby : “Work safe. Home safe.” I think there’s a profound truth there in four short words. And finally on the van of a dog creche firm : “Bark and ride”. I barked but they didn’t stop!

ullapool and life

I’m still feeling the benefit of my holiday in Ullapool. There is some amazing scenery in and around the town.
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Wonderfully sharp hills rising majestically.
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Ullapool itself is defined by its importance as a ferry route and life very much revolves around the ferry from Stornoway arriving and departing two or three times a day. I found myself taking lots of photos of the ferry coming and going and you can see the various weather conditions we experienced from the following.
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It was very evident that life in the town revolves around the arrival and departure of the ferry. The area around the harbour and ferry terminal would become very busy as the arrival of the ferry approached. Once moored all the passengers and various forms of transport have to be unloaded. After that all the travelling passengers and various forms of transport have to be loaded. I was going to write that it was all done very speedily and efficiently. But we are very definitely talking about a very different pace of life here. And nothing whatsoever is rushed. The story is told of the visitor to the Highlands who became exasperated at how long everything took to do in the area where he was on holiday. Finally his patience snapped and he asked a local : “What’s the equivalent of manana in Gaelic?”
The local scratched his head for a minute then replied seriously : “In the Gaelic we have no word which expresses that degree of urgency.” And the story (surely apocryphal) is told of a time in the 1960’s when a tourist went into a Highland shop and asked for a newspaper. The shopkeeper asked : “Do you mean yesterdays’ or the day before?” The tourist, reasoning that he would make the best of a bad job, said “Yesterdays'” “Come back tomorrow then” was the reply.
Now things have moved on and the ferry timetable is (loosely) observed. The tides ebb and flow. The ferry comes and goes. People help each other and great hospitality is shown to visitors. You could observe the same in a dozen Highland ports. It is a bit like life and more particularly how life should be lived.

Hurray for holidays!

I’m just back from a week’s holiday in Ullapool – a ferry port in the north west of Scotland. I’m a great fan of the north west in general and Wester Ross in particular. The scenery is stunning; the pace of life is dead slow and stop; the natives are friendly; the air is wonderfully fresh and you literally can leave your troubles hundreds of miles away. When I say scenery I’m talking about views like this :
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The above is a view of Stac Pollaidh from the road to Achilitibuie. And it is isn’t just the mountains. The sea and islands are pretty special too :
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These are some of the Summer Isles – probably called that because you wouldn’t want to go near them in winter.
And if you’re wondering why the whole world hasn’t relocated to the Scottish Highlands then the two reasons are the weather and the midge.

We were extremely fortunate with the weather this time round and the gentle but persistent breeze kept the dreaded midge away so it was win, win for us.

It was good to get away and breathe in some wonderfully fresh air. And eat whatever we liked for a week. I haven’t dared weigh myself since I came back but a week of scones, cakes, fish and chips (twice), ice cream and chocolate have definitely taken their toll!