Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Olympic torch

The Olympic torch called at Edinburgh University on Monday. Members of University sports teams posed for photos with the torch, which surprised my by its futuristic appearance. I was expecting something...torch-like. Note the white gloves. All those who touched the torch - or The Torch - had to put them on.

After the sports teams it was the turn of ordinary students, who queued to have their photo taken in the search for what are called 'Future Flames'. I'm not quite sure how the selection is made for the Flames. The whole enterprise is sponsored by Coca Cola, in one of these ironies of modern life that I just don't get. Sweet fizzy drink + loads of money = association with peak fitness. Anyway, students certainly queued.

The tour bus was of course a London double-decker. It just seems like yesterday that one of these trundled into the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Although a group of us went to watch from my office, we didn't bother queuing. We got the message that we weren't quite in the 'Future Flame' age group.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Leaving Skye - Glenelg ferry

A Greek island, perhaps? Rocky shores, crystal azure water, sunhat and sandals - where else could it be but Skye. On our return to the mainland we crossed by the Kylerhea to Glenelg ferry, which goes between the narrow strait between the island and the mainland. The road bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh has replaced the romance of going over the sea to Skye at the main crossing point (and the queues of traffic), but there are still ferries at Glenelg and at Armadale in the south of the island. The Glenelg ferry is a community enterprise, and is the last manually operated turntable ferry on the west coast. (The two girls are mine - my daughter and her French friend. The hat, sandals and dog belong to someone else.)

The road to the ferry is spectacular, with a series of single-track switchbacks. First of all there are vistas of the island you're leaving.

Then the mainland of Scotland appears across the water.

The ferry makes the crossing every 20 minutes or so. We waited in a 'queue' of 4 cars, watching the loading on the other side of the water.

I have no photos from our own crossing. It's a very friendly ferry, and I was engaged in conversation by a German tourist who related his family's wonderful time on Skye, complete with golden eagle spotting, and then their plans for a dash to Orkney.

There's a small-scale lighthouse on either side of the water, in close-up below, and just discernible in the following shot of the turntable being manually turned.

Every ferry should have its attendant dog, who either comes along for the ride:

Or keeps a lookout from the shore.

If you cross before 4pm you can prepare for the next section of switchback single track road by having tea in the village hall at Glenelg. We were just too late, but having taken the ferry once I'd want to cross to Skye this way again, and hopefully include a scone or pancake at the village hall.
And if you'd like to see more of the Glenelg ferry, there's a blog (of course) about this national treasure.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

You think of a clever title for this one

A very clean lamb enjoys the evening sunshine on Skye. A very domesticated lamb:

Seen as we walked along Waterloo Road, Broadford, this summer. The road gets its name from the large number of soldiers who settled there in 1815 after the Napoleonic wars.

And yes, suggestions for a title for this post, please. After a flat-out week at work, a Friday night drive up to Moray, and in the middle of a weekend of helping my now house-bound father with accumulated chores, I can't get beyond the laughably obvious. Sometimes I long for title-less posts.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Tattie Bogle

We saw the first one at the turning for Carbost, on our way to Talisker beach. A gypsy scarecrow in a bus shelter, it struck a faintly sinister note as we headed into ever more remote country on increasingly narrow roads.

The Stig himself stood at the entrance to Carbost village.

Further along, a cheerful Dalek guarded a cattle grid. We all know they can't go up or down stairs, but what about cattle grids? We had seen no humans by this point, which reinforced our unseasy feeling that the inhabitants of Carbost had been taken over by some extra-terrestrial invasion.

'They' had taken over the post office, in a regulation Royal Mail postie's jacket:

And the health centre, in the guise of Dr Who.

There was the grisly, outside the Carbost Inn. We revised our earlier plan of having fish and chips:

And the benign, in school uniform outside the primary school:

In fact there were so many that driverly patience began to wear thin at the frequent cries of "stop! just one more photo!". We did go into the Carbost Inn for a cup of tea, where all seemed normal. So normal that we didn't quite like to ask about the alternate reality outside.

On returning from holiday I've discovered that there are scarecrow festivals held up and down Britain. 'Tattie bogle' is Scots for scarecrow. I've always found the name faintly scary, redolant of boggarts and freets and a whole faerie world of babies stolen while their mothers pull bracken, and Thomas the Rhymer transported away by the Queen of Elfland.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Talisker (at last)

For those who were hoping for a post about the famous distillery of the same name, I'm sorry - this is all about the beach at Talisker. A gentle curve of a beach, backed by storm-flung pebbles, and sheltered by cliffs.

You have to really want to get there. First you turn off the main road, then you turn off the narrower road onto a single-track road, heading up over moorland. Then you turn off that road onto an even-more-side-road. At last the sea comes into view.

The road ends at a farm at the bottom of the hill, and from this point you have to walk in. First of all past Talisker House, a big lonely pile of a place mostly hidden from view in its shelter belt of trees. The track does pass by the kitchen door of the house at one point, but I was having one of my periodic fits of sensitivity to prying too closely into people's lives and didn't take any photos.

Once past the house you take the farm track heading for the sea, sharing it with sheep. From the large beeches round the house the trees dwindle in size and robustness, until they give out in the stunted specimens you see in the shot below.

The wild flowers are also lush to begin with.

A rowan tree takes what foothold it can find.

Once you've clambered over the bank of stones at the high tide mark, you find a beach of black sand, with traces of silver.

We were mesmerised by it. I have photos of us all - daughter, husband, our French friend, taking photos of the sand, over and over. Those without cameras simply contemplated the waves. (not our dog - it belonged to some ferociously organised people having a barbecue. Perhaps the inhabitants of the Big House.)

And so we took photos of sand and water and pebbles.

Two more Skye posts to come. I am trying to return to seasonal posting - the summer flowers in this post will have faded by now. But I just have a quick detour to a conservation camp my daughter did in Kintail, and then I'll be back on track.

And if anyone knows how to post 3 photos side by side in a mini collage strip, I'd be very grateful for the technical hints. I tried to do that with the photos of the flowers and mini rowan tree but had to give up, having searched Blogger 'help' in vain for something that made sense. Inching closer to Wordpress...


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