View from the Bus

I found myself on a double decker bus the other day rather than the usual single decker, so I sat right at the front for the 30-minute journey and took some images of the views outside on my phone camera. Not the brightest weather, but then it is autumn in the the North of Scotland, so here I am on the bus (wearing my mask, as is still legally required on public transport here in Scotland) and the best of my rural landscape shots taken along the A96 main road travelling from Ardersier to Inverness 🙂

Coffee Grounds and Bin Bags

My husband works in a local supermarket here in Inverness, and the other day had a really weird conversation with a customer. The customer approached my husband and asked if he knew anything about air fresheners, and could he help as the customer wasn’t familiar with them and was unsure what to buy. So the obvious first question to ask was – what it is you want to use the air freshener for? And this is where the conversation got weird…

Apparently the customer was from the South of England, and he and his partner were coming to the end of a cycling tour around the North of Scotland. While cycling out in the back of beyond they had come across a decomposing dead deer carcass not yet picked clean to the bone, and had the crazy idea of removing and taking home the antlers as a souvenir of their trip. With great difficulty they had finally wrested the antlers from the deer skull, and now had them in their possession but were preparing to travel home to the South of England on the overnight sleeper train from Inverness to London.

An important point to note here is that at this time of year deer antlers are often covered in a hairy membrane known as velvet, which effectively helps provide the necessary blood supply to the fast-growing antler and is eventually shed. The customer indicated they had done their best to remove as much of the attached skin and dead meat as possible, however the process was not yet fully complete and they now needed to take the antlers home with them on the overnight train, so wanted to buy some air freshener to make the impending journey more pleasant!

I have no idea if they planned to leave the antlers in the guards van along with their bikes, or keep them in the sleeping compartment with them, but either way I doubt if air freshener alone would help much in disguising the sweet, stomach-heaving smell of decaying flesh in such an enclosed environment. My husband pointed out that coffee grounds were always a good natural deodoriser, and advised that perhaps a couple of heavy-duty bin-bags sealed thoroughly with tape may well be the best option for transport, along with whatever chemical air freshener fragrance the customer desired for external use…

So Who Won the Week for me this week is without doubt the English cyclist couple who took a pair of stinking antlers all the way home from the North of Scotland on a ten-hour journey on the sleeper train, drenched in air freshener… One way or another that seems to be the kind of wacky DIY souvenir of a trip you wouldn’t forget about in a hurry – and imagine the tall tales to be told around where they came from and how they got there! 🙂

April A-Z: L is for Lock-down

Across the world over this past year different countries have taken different approaches to lock-down, but overall most have imposed restrictions of some sort or another on their population as a whole.

Here in Scotland since 26th December last year we’ve been on our second full national lock-down. Initially required to ‘Stay at Home’ this has only very recently been changed to ‘Stay Local’. Thankfully such tight restrictions are finally beginning to ease and a handful of business activities were allowed to re-open last week – things like homeware stores and car showrooms, and also premises-based hairdressers, plant nurseries and garden centres.

And yesterday the Scottish Government announced that travel outside our local area will now be allowed from Friday. Non-essential retail can finally start to open up and also some self-catering and hospitality businesses (still within strict limits) from April 26th. However socialising at home indoors with family– the one thing I want more than anything – remains restricted for at least another three weeks from that date, and even at that point permitted numbers will remain limited for a further period of time.

Last year our first full lockdown lasted from March until things started opening up again from mid-July onwards – even so, many businesses were still required (or had no option) to remain closed well beyond that date.  Still everything was a long way from normality, as nationally we were all put into varying levels of restriction depending on local infection-rate numbers coupled with several other relevant criteria. Those same blanket levels are being applied again now, although country-wide this time.

One way or another we have not had any real freedom of existence for over a year now, and people are becoming increasingly tired of the continuing national caution even though we do understand the reasoning behind it. We all just need this to be over, but we’re not there yet, so we’ll all just have to bide our time a little longer and hope the introduction and implementation of the ongoing Covid vaccine programme eventually helps render the long-term threat of the virus null and void.

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

Ben Wyvis from Greig Street Bridge

After being laid low yesterday with yukky side effects from my first Covid shot, I’m feeling loads better today and fancied a walk to get some fresh air and sunshine – and of course my camera came too!

I got this lovely pic of Ben Wyvis still with a sprinkling of snow, taken from the Greig Street Bridge in Inverness. The mountain is actually about 35 miles away, so is not always as visible as this, but I really liked the way it both blends in blue with the water and the sky yet stands out edged in white all at the same time 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Air

An Arse of a Farce

I’m feeling quite put out that my first serious participation in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections since moving from England back to Scotland 18 months ago has been effectively hijacked by ridicule and revenge, like a Monty Python sketch gone hideously wrong. The Scottish Government is run on Proportional Representation although for many years the SNP have pretty much been in charge, and the current First Minister of Scotland is SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon.

There was already a bit too much of a ‘People’s Front of Judea’ versus ‘Judean People’s Front’-style bickering and back-biting feud evident at the top of the Scottish National Party for my liking. And with the cringe-worthy news this week of previous ego-meister Party Leader Alex Salmond newly breaking away from the SNP in some sad little splinter faction, basically adding his brand new ‘Popular People’s Front’-esque ‘Alba Party’ to the indy-mix all on his lonesome, it’s become even more of an arse of a farce…

The question of Scottish Independence has been on the go up here for as far back as I can remember politically, from the 1970s and the indomitable Winnie Ewing who in her time has since served as a Westminster MP, a European Parliament MP, and also a Member of the Scottish Parliament. In fact, her son Fergus Ewing is currently serving as the cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism in the Scottish Government and is to be on the ballot paper again in our area for this next election. I might even give him my vote this time around, but I haven’t decided yet.

The thing is, I’m not a one-dimensional one-trick pony when it comes to my voting habits. I have no specific party allegiance and in my lifetime have voted for different parties, depending on the particular political landscape of the time, where I was living, and the personal bona fides of the candidates in question. Over the last forty years I’ve variously voted SNP, Liberal Democrat, Labour, and even Green Party on occasion. Never Conservative though, it’s never been a party that has spoken to me or for me, and I can’t imagine a time when it ever will.

I’d been so looking forward to the opportunity to have the choice of voting SNP again, but now it’s here I’m not so sure which way I’ll go. The dual economic threats of Covid and Brexit have together created a climate of need for political togetherness moving forward, a time of healing and soothing across the world, and right now I’m not sure what the best way forward for Scotland may be. So one way or another there’s lots for me to figure out in the next few weeks before finally making my mind up on May 6th…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Figure