Sunday, 31 July 2011


Sometimes one sees a flower that despite not being in the garden of anyone in particular (this was on sale in Stornoway's Home Improvement Centre) is just too beautiful to resist.

The Black Water

The Black Water, near Loch Garve between Inverness and Ullapool.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Berserker

The Lewis Chessmen (or Uig Chessmen, named after the bay where they were found) are a group of 78 chess pieces from the 12th century most of which are carved in walrus ivory, discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. They may constitute some of the few complete medieval chess sets that have survived, although it is not clear if a set as originally used can be made from the pieces present. They are owned and exhibited by the British Museum in London, which has 67 and the Royal Museum in Edinburgh. There has been fairly heated debate about the best place for the display of the pieces.

The chessmen were probably made in Norway, perhaps by craftsmen in Trondheim, in the 12th century, although some scholars have suggested other sources in the Nordic countries. During that period the Outer Hebrides, along with other major groups of Scottish islands, were ruled by Norway.Some historians believe that the Lewis chessmen were hidden (or lost) after some mishap occurred during their carriage from Norway to wealthy Norse towns on the east coast of Ireland, like Dublin. A large number of pieces and their lack of wear may suggest they were the stock of a trader or dealer in such pieces.Along with the chess pieces, there were 14 plain round tablemen for the game of tables and one belt buckle, all made of ivory, making a total of 93 artifacts.

Around the Isle of Lewis one occasionally comes across a large wooden carving of one of the chesspieces.

My favoutire is the Berserker - seen here Uig.

Friday, 29 July 2011


This tiny, ant-like beetle is a blister beetle of the family Meloidae – perhaps an Anthicus species, possibly Anthicius floralis – the narrow-necked harvest beetle. Like most creatures on the Island it enjoys aggravating humans. In this case it pierces the skin and injects canthadrin – a poisonous chemical which causes blistering of the skin. (Canthadrin is used medically to remove warts). For the purposes of scientific research and a better photo I allowed it to have a go at me. When not busy biting it was sprinting all over my hand which made it difficult to photograph. Once stationery and biting it was easier to photograph – the things I do for science!

I can confirm that being injected with canthadrin hurts.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Window shopping in Ambleside, Cumbria

On the way North from Exeter to Scotland GB and I spent a night at Ambleside. This was in the doorway of the Queens Hotel but as you can tell from GB's blog the meal got the thumbs down from us.

As usual, and despite the rain, we had a wander around with our cameras and did some window shopping.

And at that price, lovely though this work is, it shall remain ‘window shopping’ only.

Now that is what I call a crystal. We have a large amethyst geode at home but it’s not even half that size.

This one defies comment. Unless my readers can think of one.

GB and I have always liked this relief version of Bartholomew’s map of the Lake District. All the names are so familiar from my youth that it feels like a map of home.

I love Bridges

The Second Severn Crossing going down to the wedding.

And returning - it's free one way and nearly £6.00 the other!

Ballachulish Bridge - the only way across here was a ferry when GB and I first came up in the 1960s.

The sun sets on the River Spean at Spean Bridge - a community so called because it is placed around the bridge over the River Spean - logical folk these Scots.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

On the main roads

You see some interesting things as you travel up the A roads and motorways of the mainland and as I'm always being chauffeured I usually have the camera to hand with a view to grabbing a photo or two.

As we aerrived at Loch Lomond there was some sort of rally of French Jaguar owners...

These gritters were obviously heading up to the Highlands to hide in the hills so they won't be found when the winter comes.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

For Jo and Librarian

This photo of a shop in Keswick is one for Partner-who-drinks-tea. She loves pink, which is a shame because it is my least favourite colour. But such is my affection for her that I wore a pink tie and pink socks when we got married - but I did hide the socks under another pair of more subdued ones and only showed them off during my speech at the wedding breakfast.

On my posting of ‘Home for the next few weeks’ Librarian asked whose pointed ears could be seen on the corner of the first photo. It’s a creature I take so much for granted that I hardly even notice it any more. The ears belong to a picture of a cat that lives on the corner of the window. Why a silhouette of a cat lives on the corner of a window I don't know! One of GB's quainter ideas. Perhaps he'll let us know in the comments?

Sign of the times

I should hope it does or we'll end up in the river!

He certainly studied it carefully - I wonder if he took it personally.

I don't know why but seeing a man in a kilt with a dirk in his sock eating an ice-cream seemed incongruous to me.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Some sunshine

One special Hebridean friend asks that I bring the good weather with me each time I come up and in previous years I've succeeded. So far this year I'm a bit slow getting off the ground but at least I've managed a bit of sunshine every day. This was at six this morning and I have strong doubts as to her being up to see it so I thought I'd better put it on my blog.

There was even enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers, as my grandmother used to say.

By lunchtime my reputation was secure - for today at least!

P.S.  Partner-who-drinks-tea is back on the internet. It only took BT 13 days to sort the problem out. That’s 312 hours, or 18720 minutes or 1,123,200 seconds – give or take a few. Well done British Telecom - another dissatisfied customer.

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