UNITED OR BRITAIN UNTIED?

A furore, an uproar, or, a diaphanous truth? Judy Murray, yes, that one, mum of Scottish tennis players Andy and Jamie Murray, was out shopping on the other side of the Scottish border. I don’t know exactly where, but it was certainly well south somewhere in the shire of England

Judy Murray tendered a Scottish £10 note in payment for her purchase. The note was refused with the explanation that only British notes were accepted! Nice one……So much for the political crie de coeur about this sceptered isle being united.

Scottish bank notes do have a national developmental history. In addition, their ‘differences’ are indicated by the name of the bank that has issued them and designs they depict. However, they are legal tender. The English notes are similarly individualised. At the risk of being seen as partial here, and I assure you, I am not, I have never had a English bank note refused anywhere in Scotland for payment of services or goods. Even the banks in Scotland will disburse English bank notes as well as Scottish ones. I have though, had Scottish bank notes refused in England.

There is a parliamentarian trying to smooth out the ‘ethnic’ spending differences that have now been well publicised, which, arise when the Scots grace the shire of England with their presence and their money.


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Never Heard Of Barak Obama

I promise, I really and truly was not searching for anything.  This nugget popped out of nowhere today.  I originally wrote it nine years ago.   I am not sure if I published it then, but, if I did, please excuse me for being tempted to post it again.  You’ll see why……..

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I have actually found someone who has never heard of Barak Obama.

I found this hard to believe but after some further probing, I realised it was true. This young person, (of voting age) thought I was talking about…

“Some man who was going to do something to Scotland”.

This in the middle of a beauty therapy session, padded up for my most un-favourite therapy of toning up useful muscles while lying in a prone state.

I jerked up in surprise, nearly electrocuting myself in the process, “Do something to Scotland. What?” I queried.

Getting all those people out of their houses and off the land”, she answered.

Obama?” I thought of modern day Highland Clearances and was truly puzzled.

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Her mum had talked to her about it and people were going to fight to stay in their houses.

Realisation dawned…………………

“You mean Donald Trump !“, I exclaimed. “He’s the one that’s just got planning permission to build a golf course and luxury hotel complex on the Aberdeenshire coast.”

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© Chicago by M

The lass looked glumly at me and commented with feeling

I hate politics, all that rudeness, shouting at each other and fighting. I can’t stand it, I really hate politics”.

No doubt about that.

 

 

 

A FLYING SQUAD OF TRAFFIC WARDENS

The Scottish police authority dropped the role of the traffic warden from their services in 2014. People became aware  of the missing enforcers when some of the roads, the pavements and any road-like nook or cranny started to resemble a motorists’ wild west. There was double parking, some drivers were even triple parking.  I saw cars at rest close to traffic lights, there was plenty of parking on and close to junctions.  It was perilous to ease out of the shadows of the vehicles into the main road. Now, in some countries this kind of parking is an okay every day occurrence, but it definitely is not allowed here in the UK.

Tearaway Biker

Earlier this year, parking habits got so bad, the local police chief was prompted to issue a very polite request in the county newspaper asking motorists to be more considerate and be mindful of parking restrictions and traffic laws. There was a suggestion that if there was not a meaningful response to this polite request, some people in police uniform would issue forth from the police station and take action. Inevitably, many commercial vehicle companies were unlikely to have seen the newspaper article and the drivers  of those vehicles, (some vehicles are really huge)  while needing to complete their work, were amongst the worst offenders.

Van

Last month the Regional Council decided there was a money-making opportunity they were missing.  A squad of yellow line painters were despatched around the region to renew faded and broken traffic restriction road markings and, in our area, re-site a few. We are being exhorted to take note of the yellow lines on the road and read the parking restrictions signs.

ryr

About now, a flying squad of ‘traffic wardens’ will be starting their initial peregrination to all the far flung towns and villages; we’re expecting a diplomatic offensive on the 19th October, if they can find their way. Unless there’s any glaring violations, the idea is,  on this first visit, the flying squad of traffic wardens will only issue advisory warning notes. Hereon in, subsequent unannounced visitations, are to be for serious cash generating business, which will no doubt, pay for the traffic warden’s wages and  expenses and add a much needed fillip to the cash-strapped council coffers.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

Getty Images:  Peter Cook and Dudley Moore -clever comedians, now sadly. departed from this world- lampooning traffic wardens.

The Difference Time Makes

It is just a fraction over seven years since I last came here. With an Ordnance Survey map it is easy enough to find.  There is a small parking area, space enough for the trickle of people who arrive to explore. This is a ‘pre-history’ site, which,  you reach by an easy sloped climb; you can choose between two or three different approaches, although one approach would certainly depend on whether there’s  a bull in one of the fields and/or cows with young calves.  Dads can jealously guard their ladies and in any case, bovine mums and dads can be very protective of their broods. So,definitely, no waving red rags to a bull.

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Prehistory site Information 2009

The pictures I took back in 2009 were with an early bridge camera that had an unsophisticated limited zoom lens.  Even so, it is so interesting to compare the yesterday, (2009) and today, (2016) photos and see the very marked  modern man-made changes in that period sat on top of, and next to, the signs of time immemorial.

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Prehistory site Information 2016

There are five cairns at this site, none uncovered.  The outlines of three are straightforward enough to see. The roof of the highest cairn (height as in top of the hill) appears to have caved in, creating a rim on which, weather permitting, you can rest.  On a clear day you can also gaze upon the panorama of two counties and their mountains, plus an island twenty-one miles across the water, as you will see.

This a serene view from the top of the hill in 2009 and the picture below it, (allowing for differences of time, position, general weather conditions and the light) is a similar scene ….. and

p1010073-baillie-farm-house-wb p1000444-section-baillie-wind-farm-wb….this is how it has changed…and changed…

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…..A panorama – the same house and woods totally surrounded by windmills.

This photo also shows the sweep down from the ‘high cairn’ to a lower sited cairn, (the rounded mound on which there’s another modern day intrepid explorer).

This was a ‘tentative’ coastline wind farm development, in 2009.  There are more wind turbines now. The two wind farms are not far from one another.

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I did not want to focus on the wind farm, (the one above) in the picture below. I wanted to show the view of Orkney  across the water. It is  some distance away, you may need to peer in, but, it is there to be seen, to the right.

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The yellow flowering bushes in these pictures are Gorse bushes.

 

Morven and Scaraben are the mountains in the county of Caithness. This looks like Morven peaking up and over the horizon in 2009.

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This is The County of Sutherland, also in 2009, pre-turbine days, from the same vantage point.  If I am not much mistaken, you can see a couple of the Bens (mountains), amongst the clouds, Ben Loyal and Ben Hope.

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At the cairn, I was at the same level as the top of these wind turbines, (excluding the upper windmill arms). It was quite a thought.  The miniature buildings, (left) give some sense of scale.

You can see the concave cairn I have been talking about and a typical horn sloping along from what would have been the dome. This is the one from where you get all the great views. You can see a difference in the relatively richer looking grass on and around the cairn, in comparison to the rough moorland tufts on the ascent to it. The new heather blossom is bonny just now.

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Taken from  the cairn, and some distance away,  the land meets the sea. Stubble is being burnt off  the field . There are hay bales in one of the other fields. Across the Firth (sea) is the coastline of the county of  Sutherland and signs of village habitation.

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Moments At The Edinburgh Festival Fringes

It seems to me there are lots of Fringe bits to the Edinburgh Festival, but to keep things relatively tidy, (programmes, books, leaflets always being the exceptions) I see the Fringes divided up into the;

  1. International classical theatre, concerts and The International Book Festival;
  2. Professional Fringe; (worth a look)
  3. Mainstream Fringe (semi professional, can be interesting);
  4. Have-a-go Fringe (a huge range of options, often thought-provoking and clever);
  5. Stand-up Comedy, and
  6. Multinational talents Fringe, (A wide variety, some very beautiful).

Selecting from numbers 2-6  is not straightforward. This, for me, is a great big part of the fun of being at the Edinburgh festival…getting there and invariably taking pot luck. Number 5, is quite likely to be risqué! (I have no respect for ‘comics’ who operate with gratuitous vulgarity).

The Royal Mile pop up shows stand out on their own; The Royal Mile is always worth visiting.

This year I found myself second in a queue for a show; the Editor of The Children’s Guinness Book Of Records, Craig Glenday was first. We had a lovely chat and sat in the same church pew to watch a really good show called The Gin Chronicles.  It’s a spoof 1947 radio broadcast. If the show appears anywhere else, go see it.

And here is the Guinness Book of Records man doing his own ”show’ at The Book Festival. There were only a few tickets left when I got mine on the day. Craig gave the young audience, (and their adults) guidelines about what records would not get into the books,  such as anything that would upset the people who help animals. It was a gentle humorous  production. We saw a couple of record holders, a bagpiper, and  a cyclist without a bike seat. The seat-less cyclist also tried to break a record at the show.   Children were invited  to play the bagpipes, or, monitor something with stopwatches, or, click devices, or, race to make up a potato head. (There is one on the low table).

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The Festival seemed a bit slow to get into a bustling rhythm this year, partly because some of the elements of it were staggered not to clash too much with the Olympic Games. The new digital hub in the Centre of town had no  queues of festival-goers lining up for digital events in the Assembly Rooms, where, in previous years  you would have seen flows of people waiting for shows. It was all very quiet. The pop-up outdoor cafes and bars nearby were not over-subscribed with patrons. Up the hill in the Old Town where a lot of extra events seemed to be sited, it was busy.

What you see here is a newly refurbished banking hall at St Andrews Square, Edinburgh. It is gorgeous. The staff are happy for visitors to wander in and learn about the building’s history. In the front garden – a Festival venue – you could sit and eat, or under gazebos, sit and play with outsize light -weight dominoes, or, under another, lounge on large cushions and play  with large cards.

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So, in Princes Street, (the main shopping street of the city) I was darting through crowded spaces when I heard the attractive sounds of music.  I back tracked and gave the guy a donation. “Stop!” he called as I was about to dash off again. He raked around in a big bag and handed me a card… except it wasn’t. He’d given me a gift of his CD “Because you are so nice”, he said.

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This is busker Marcello Vacante playing a track from  his CD ‘Train For London’ .  (His name is on the CD cover)

 

Does anyone know anything about this type of teapot, (if it is a teapot) seen in a charity shop window?

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Oooops – In a back street I  found that The Driving License Authority had been busy (DVLC stamped on the clamp).

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Let me introduce you to Audrey.

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The last remaining vintage mobile cinema from around 1967.  Black and white Pathé News films, (remember those) were shown, a couple were of the 1947 beginnings of the Edinburgh Festival. My friend told me afterwards that she remembered going to the first festival with her mother!!!  You could have knocked me over with a feather.

This was called “The Rook”. The Game Of Thrones seemed to be a theme, does it refer to it?

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It looks like a close relative of the Kelpies based in Falkirk (Scotland). However, the Kelpies don’t have reins or a feather topknot.

Scenes of Festival relaxation in Princes Street Gardens and Granny’s Drying Green below Edinburgh Castle:

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A musical venue, where guitars  also became percussion instruments for both classical and fusion genres.

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Last, but definitely not least:

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A view of Edinburgh Castle with an interesting wee look-out tower and a clear view of a lump of Dolerite, a coarse-grained Basalt rock.  The Castle rock is estimated to have formed about 350 million years ago and is the remains of a volcanic pipe.

References:
MacIvor, Iain (1993). Edinburgh Castle. p. 16. ISBN 9780713472950.

McAdam, David (2003). Edinburgh and West Lothian: A Landscape Fashioned by Geology. p. 16. ISBN 9781853973277.

 

ON SCOTLAND’S WINTRY A9 ROAD

The weather forecast was almost, but, not quite as dire as some we have heard before a journey. Nevertheless, if we were going to make the journey we had to travel in daylight.  The forecaster warned. that with the temperatures being low, driving conditions could be icy and in addition, there was snow expected on high ground, which would move onto lower ground later on.  It was mid February, daylight hours had increased by four minutes a day since the Winter Solstice, so, that meant we now had a decent chunk of additional daylight time in our favour.

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You Can See The Icy Road Ahead.

Being a Tuesday, we expected to encounter a fair amount of commercial traffic.  Most of the commercial vehicles and some streams of cars were all heading in the opposite direction.  In front here, there was a truck and a tanker.

The road, Scotland’s notorious A9, is currently governed by average speed cameras. Vehicles of 7.5 tons or more, are restricted to 50 miles per hour.  Overtaking opportunities were limited, unless you thrived on serious risk-taking.  There being no other road north, It meant that domestic and smaller vehicles were forced to slower speeds for a much of the time.  You see road signs that tell you ‘frustration kills’.

Here we are into the steady upward climb of  ‘higher ground’ as can be seen by the snow-capped hill on the left and the broken white slopes appearing on the right.  Just in case you are wondering, we are on one  of  the sections of dual carriageway on this road.   There are not many.

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Still, onward and upwards…..

Climbing Higher

Climbing Higher still

 

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Mucky Windscreen, then clarity…….

The snowy  marshmallow pillows were lovely

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This is my way of climbing peaks, using four wheels,

Mucky Windscreen

The dual carriageway at this point is on two levels.  Here in the right corner, you can just see a bit of the upper level.

We caught a heavy bout of ‘lower ground weather’ as forecast, just after a quick, a very quick lunch stop:   me darting in to the cafe to buy two coffees to take away.  The rest of the journey, the last hundred miles or so, was punctuated by heavy wind-driven snow and sleet. But, it was still daylight when we reached journey’s end.  We’d done it!

 

 

 

 

Mmmm…YUMMY

Lots of little children have their special comforters, like a little blanket, or, a toy, or, a taste.  So it was, in a Bohemian meeting place called Tmol Shilshom, in Jerusalem,  a friend got talking to us about his special childhood comfort memory.

What is real

What is real

His mum used to make him a special drink  some evenings, in which she mixed very finely chopped nuts, honey and spices…the names of which, in English, he did not know.

IMG_0076 signboard

IMG_0074 T'mol Shil Shom Menu 2

Here, in Tmol Shilshom, he could re-live the comfort tastes of his childhood; the drink was good, almost as good as the one his mother used to make for him. He was going to order it and if we liked it,  we could order more.  With a recommendation like that, who could refuse at the very least to try this magical experience and share with him just a little of his personal memory.  I couldn’t refuse.  it was a very special gift.

T'Mol Shil Shom A reading Room with a restaurnt

TMol Shil Shom A reading Room with a cafe/ restaurant

The order was given. You could hear a lot of whipping and stirring going on in the nearby kitchen. Very soon a long heat -proof glass arrived filled with a thick creamy substance.  My friend dipped the long handled spoon in to the glass; offering it  to me, he gently said….. Taste a little… perhaps, in just the same way his mum had  once said it to him.  On top was a sprinkling of ground pistachios and almonds around which, was a fine circle of  light  brown powder.  The dessert texture was smooth, the flavours were yummy. I could distinguish the delicate flavour of cinnamon and a blend of nut flavours. He watched me closely as I hummed a long ‘mmmmmm’.  With a big smile my friend said, ‘ It is yours…you have that one, I will order another one for myself……..this is salep’.

Back in Jerusalem two years later we found our own way to TMol Shilshom, where I ordered salep, of course.  We met up with our friend a few days later and talked of our shared memory: shared, except for one detail, we were unsure about the main ingredient of it.  Maybe, by now, the little mystery had become part of the charm.  My friend took me to a small grocery store where I was shown a packet mix of salep I could buy to take home with me.  The two boxes contained two packets and each packet made two portions of dessert similar to those we had.

The main ingredient given on the box was  corn starch. Who would have thought it!

Sahleb

Sahleb 2

I have heard since of a very similar dessert, with a similar sound name, being made with extra fine (powdery) ground rice,

Irrespective of the variations,  I can vouch that the dessert I had was a delicious comforter . 🙂

 

BURPING TO A STOP

Am I the only person who uses a mobility electric scooter in a store, which runs out of steam?  Just as I turned the corner by the stock cubes display the scooter burped to a stop.  That folks was the end of my uninhibited, independent,  browsing and shopping.  A  rather good looking, young-ish, lively store assistant with laughing eyes arrived to help.  Oh dear…. the store had two of these scooters and the other was in use. Nothing for it but to disconnect the empty battery and pull me round, he holding the front basket which was loaded, with me continuing to steer the apparatus.

Mobility_scooter_zoo

Where did I want to go to next….honestly… no… I could browse and shop….. he was there to assist, etc. etc.  I couldn’t, I  just couldn’t  take my time, weaving in and out of aisles and corners, checking on things that caught my eye while reliant on a minder, however nice he was.  Three more items I definitely wanted to find and then on to the check out.

Nobody batted an eyelid when I zoomed off up the aisles at the start of my shopping journey on the scooter.  An awful lot of people stared as the vehicle  was ignominiously pulled  into the ‘pitstop’ by its basket with me astride its seat. 

 

SERENDIPITOUS MASADA

At a local interest group I try to get to, the task in hand was for each of us to present a short exposition of something we might liked to have done, or something we had done, followed by questions from the group.  As I had missed a couple of meetings I felt I ought to show my face for this one. What to do for it was the issue. I thought of a couple of clever ideas, ideas that were just a bit too clever. I urged myself to keep it simple and drew a blank.


On the morning of the meeting I thought to talk about walking the wall around the old city of Jerusalem, illustrating the talk with pictures uploaded onto my tablet computer. First task was to find a set of useful photos. As I rooted around my computer files, I found a really diverse set of photos of a visit to Masada, which, at that moment generated great memories. As Masada serendipitously presented itself, Masada was what I would talk about.

Masada
The Winding Path To + From Masada

After filtering the photos to a sensible number, I then got on with the task of researching a bit of  information for a personal commentary and also some written background within the length of a succinct blog post.

Masada Cable Car-Winding Path+ A Roman Encampment (far left)

In the middle of the preparation for my talk, I was having a conversation with someone at the electricity company. Those calls are never simple, and this one was no different. Some long time later, I was back to the presentation.  Time!  I had twenty minutes to get myself ready and to get copies of the document off the computer.  Whatever mistakes there were would just have to be….no time to proof-read, edit, etc, nor to have lunch. eeek!! I grabbed a ripe pear and dashed out of the house.

 

I arrived ten minutes after everyone else, though, as I was not expected I was greeted as a long lost friend. Having offered my efforts, my contribution was second. The talk went well, everyone was pleased to receive the typed presentation blurb, even with a few typing errors. My pictures of Masada and The Dead Sea were poured over, slowly, many questions were raised and I was asked what camera I used!  Anyway,  by the time my topic ended it was time for tea.

Gazing At The Dead Sea At Sunset (not me)




LONDON NEVER STAYS STILL

 

P1030066 South Bank Greek Cultural Event

It’s  August 2006 in London UK.  On a warm sunny weekend day the South Bank is busy with cultural festivals, meandering tourists, visitors to the Tate Modern, and The Globe. The River Thames, often referred to as the life blood of the Capital City, is alive with tour boats, boat buses and there are kayaks, which, at first, are moving fast in  a two lines formation, oars -in-out, tidily in together. They shift their positions  on the water and  move on, keeping up their speed. Kayaks On The Thames

 The Gherkin + River Thames From Tate Modern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It looks like the biggest draw for those of us on foot is The Millennium Bridge, It has connected up the old  City of London to the rest of the throbbing cultural metropolis, it has breathed life into a part of the square mile that is the Old City Of London, where it used to be sleeping once the business of the day had ended. As you cross The Thames towards the majestic sight of St Paul’s Cathedral, you can also take in the views up and down the waterway. Returning, you will see The Tate Modern Gallery,(from where this picture was taken) you could  also catch sight of The Globe Theatre. There is always so much to see whichever direction you are moving in.

Here on The South Bank you meet buskers, Greek musicians of quality,  who are here because of the celebration of their culture. I stop to listen and record a few phrases of their music. They tell me they are staying in North London (where there are large Greek and Cypriot communities). They earn their living playing music at night in some of the Greek restaurants in London.

P1030092 Busking On Sth Bank

I take pictures as I wander over the Millennium Bridge; the tide is out.  The Gherkin appeals to me, I love its clever  elegant shape, the colour of the glass and it’s design. It breaks into the utilitarian lumps of angular concrete of the buildings clustered around it, buildings which I think are not sympathetic to the Neo-Classical structures nearby them.  I never tire of the Gherkin. Eight years on, the skyline has altered with the development of more new fantastic architecture, slotted in and very visible from the vantage points from which I took these pictures in 2006.  London never stays still.

 Tide's Out P1030075 Skyline From South Bank London

It’s been a really good day, it’s time to go.

P1030064 Central Line Underground Train