Weekly Smile: 16 May 2022

Yesterday was my youngest grandson’s 7th birthday, so I took a bus trip 10 miles out of town to join him for his birthday party. My Weekly Smile is me sharing some of my day with you:-

  • The first pic is me with a big smile sitting on the bus on my way out
  • We passed a sprayer spraying come unidentified crop in a field
  • We also passed the ‘Cloud Factory’ – it’s actually a wood-chip processing plant making pressed fibre-board, and the billowing steam funnel gives it its fun nick-name locally
  • Once we’ve passed through the airport, the bus empties out for the last bit of the journey
  • We drive along the coast to the village where my grandson lives – the water is looking nice and blue today!

I’m not sharing any pics of the party itself, but we all had great fun and ate plenty of yummy party food. The drawing I’ve shared here is my grandson’s version of the Mona Lisa with her enigmatic smile, which his mum has put up on the wall, and the final image is my grandson wearing his new velociraptor mask – he’s a huge dinosaur fan so his big brother bought him the mask which has a chin strap (like a bicycle helmet) internally so that when you open your mouth wide the dinosaur mouth opens too, and it actually roars – what fun, and of course it looks as though the velociraptor is smiling too!

So there you have it, three smiles for the price of one today! 🙂

Review of 2021 in Pictures

Although 2021 didn’t turn out to be my best year, and inevitably the ongoing pandemic kept me close to home throughout, I see looking back through my blog posts over the last twelve months that I still managed regularly to capture some beauty in the world around me. I’ve chosen one image I particularly liked from each month of the year to showcase here, as a kind of pictorial representation or personal review of 2021.

Apart from going to work and occasionally seeing my family when possible, I effectively spent most of last year either relaxing in my garden or going out for a walk locally, and I can see my necessarily constrained photographic subjects accurately represent my reality. I can’t help but wonder what 2022 will have in store for me… Will I venture further afield, or will this year simply be more of the same? No doubt I’ll find out as I go along! 🙂

Ben Wyvis

We were walking across the Greig Street foot-bridge the other day, where my husband stopped half way along to capture a softly snow-capped Ben Wyvis with only one narrow ribbon of afternoon sunshine lifting the view.

Ben Wyvis is about 35 miles north of Inverness so is not always visible from the city – I really love the way everything looks dull blue-grey in this image apart from the highlighted mountain range itself 🙂

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…