Saturday, 26 February 2011

Highland mystery tour

This novel advertisement caught my eye in the window of a Broughton Street pub. Tours of Scotland in a beautifully equipped Volkswagen camper van. The company 'Bonnie Campers' has two vans available for hire - Bonnie and Clyde. (sorry about the blurry picture - there was a brisk Scottish gale buffeting me as I took these shots)

What made me stop and look in the first place was not so much the camper vans (I'm not really a car person), but the recreation of a section of Highland road, complete with Highland cows and obviously stunning scenery all around, judging by the rapt gaze of the two tourists. It reminded me of the model farm I had as a child, with all the accoutrements that could be bought to go with it. These included some rather strange plastic trees, which looked as if they had mutated after an unfortunate accident involving nuclear waste.

But what really made me stare was the scene behind the van.

And the fact that the other occupants of the van seemed to be ignoring their distress.

There's even a handily placed phone box - mobile phone reception is patchy in the Highlands - but there's no-one in there dialling 999.

Various scenarios flitted through my mind, but I'd like to hear what you think. What has happened to these unfortunate tourists? Why are their friends just standing there? Are they their friends? And what does the rabbit have to do with it?

Whatever it is, I'm sure it has nothing to do with Bonnie and Clyde. If I didn't live here already and have a car (a Volkswagen!), I'd be hiring one of them to tour the Highlands in retro comfort. Do check out their website -

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The old road

I had forgotten about road signs like this until we came across this one on our Borders walk. All of a sudden I was hurtled back to my childhood. Black and white striped signposts, empty roads, cars with 'trafficators' which flapped up from the doorpost to indicate turning. I read on Wikipedia that these 'have become increasingly rare since the 1950s'. I'm not THAT old - this was in the 1960s, but things moved slowly in north east Scotland. One of my earliest memories is of lying in bed looking out of the window on a winter's night, across to the village of Craigellachie under a starry sky. Car headlights came slowly down the road towards the station, and I remember my surprise at the unusual sight of these twin moving stars. I must have been about 4 years old.

For part of our walk we were on the old road between Melrose and the village of Eildon. It seemed to have become a private road between farms. Very gradually, the verges were creeping over the tarred surface.

The Romans had forts in this area for about 100 years, until they withdrew south to Hadrian's Wall in about 180 AD. Their military roads must have seen the same slow encroachment of leaves and beechmast.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Poetry, pastures and a pot of gold

From our muddy walk around Melrose last week. Above, the stone marking the site of the Eildon Tree, where in the 13th century Thomas the Rhymer is supposed to have met the Queen of the Fairies and been spirited away to Elfland from where he returned years later as a prophet. His prophesies are meant to include the death of King Alexander III in 1296, the succession of Robert the Bruce to the throne, and the Union of the Crowns in 1603.

Below, typical rolling Borders landscape.

On our drive home we passed through sun and showers, and a succession of glorious rainbows.

Monday, 14 February 2011

My love is like a red red...cactus?

Alongside the usual red roses, heart-shaped leaves make a novel Valentine's Day gift.

My Valentine's Day gift today? A very muddy walk in the Borders countryside south of Edinburgh, with showers of hail and rain to clear away the city cobwebs.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

You have been warned

Scottish romance in the Braveheart tradition.

I just want to direct you to a great Shetland blog I've discovered. Kenneth Shearer's Kendoza blog has daily photos about Shetland life. Two visits to Shetland have left me longing to return, but in the meantime this is the next best thing.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Collective effort

Unfortunately there weren't enough of us today. The score in the Six Nations rugby match at Murrayfield was Scotland 6, Wales 24.

When I passed this poster (is that the right word? it seems too big for a poster) yesterday morning, the comma was up at the top of the 'y' of 'play', like an apostrophe. When I passed by on my way home in the evening, it had shifted down to be a comma. I wonder whose concern for grammar got it sorted.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


If you're a Scottish man, the national dress can be demanding.


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