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.

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

Scottish Parliamentary Elections

This year we’re going to be holding Scottish Parliamentary Elections on 6th May – there have been two local elections since we moved up from London 18 months ago, but this is our first ‘big’ election since living in Scotland again.

We’ve already had our voting cards arrive in the post, and a useful Government leaflet explaining the whole Scottish Parliamentary election process, but so far only one candidate flyer has dropped through out letterbox. Hopefully we’ll be getting some more through soon or we’ll have absolutely no idea who’s actually going to be running in the election, and so who to vote for!

There’s been a right stooshie lately – no, probably more of a stramash – relating to the way the Scottish Government have (mis)handled a lengthy investigation into past allegations of inappropriate behaviour by the previous Scottish National Party First Minister, leading last week to a failed Parliamentary vote of no confidence in the current Scottish National Party First Minister.

Hmmm… Not exactly setting a good example of a strong and stable leadership, having such serious squabbles at such a high level of Government just a few weeks before an election – recently it’s been far more of an ongoing soap opera saga within the highest echelons of the Scottish Parliament than pedestrian politicians on the ground doing their usual pre-election propaganda stuff.

I suppose we’ll just have to see how it all plays out in the ballot box locally and nationally in about six weeks’ time… 🙂

PS A stooshie is a row or a fracas, whereas a stramash causes more of a commotion and uproar!

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Run

Caledonian Canal: Clachnaharry Sea Lock

One of my favourite walks close to home in Inverness is to tramp along to the very end of the Caledonian Canal where it finally meets the sea at Clachnaharry Sea Lock. I’m a creature of habit so walk here a lot, sometimes with my camera and sometimes just my phone, and tend to take very similar photographs every time I go. I’d really struggle to choose a favourite image out of all I’ve ever taken because I genuinely love them all in different ways. The scenery remains pretty much the same every time, but the weather changes along with the seasons and the tides. This morning it was dry and cloudy with intermittent sunny spells but OMG it was really windy – my hair was whipping about in all directions and was in knots when I got home! 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Starts with ‘Cal’

Photo A Week Challenge: All About the Scenery

Winter Walk on a Monday

It’s been five weeks and three days since I last went for a walk along the canal, but today the weather was so lovely (well, for the middle of winter, anyway) I decided to give it a go, so wrapped up warm and off I went, taking my time, and my camera of course.

Inevitably I was out far too long and walked far too far for my first ‘proper’ post-Covid convalescent walk, but I felt the need to really get my lungs working properly again and however exhausted I may feel now I’m home again, it was well worth the effort.

Blue water, blue sky, rosy cheeks and a huge sense of satisfaction! Smiles all round for me today 🙂

Weekly Smile

Six Nations Rugby

We sat and watched the first two matches of the 2021 Six Nations Rugby on TV today. There were no spectators present due to Covid restrictions but ambient atmospheric sound was played which mimicked the noise of a crowd, and it worked surprisingly well.

The first match was France against Italy played in Rome, and France won as expected but by a hugely ridiculous number of points – 50-10 – so the outcome was easily predictable early on. The second game played later was Scotland against England at Twickenham (England’s home ground) where minimal points were scored overall, but oh, what a surprising match that turned out to be!

This particular clash of UK nations was an important match as it marked 150 years since Scotland first played England at rugby for the historic Calcutta Cup – and just for the record Scotland last won against England at Twickenham in 1983, so one way or another there was a lot of national pride riding on the outcome for both sides.

And amazingly for us, Scotland ran rings around England for once and won the match 11-6, although the low points score belies the enjoyment of the game. I’m not usually one for flags and national pride and all that patriotic stuff but I must admit I love singing the national anthem at the beginning of the game, and it does feel good to have a really good reason to feel proud of your country, even if it is just because of a sporting competition.

So I don’t actually own a Scottish flag to wave, but if I did have one, I’d have waved it tonight because for once, we did well in something! Woo-hoo! Roll on Ireland against Wales tomorrow… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Flag