DYSTOPIA


There is a stone – the Craw Stane – up the hill from Rhynie that has incised on one face a salmon and what is sometimes called the ‘Pictish Beastie’ No-one has the foggiest what the purpose of these stones was. There used to be hundreds of them but farmers and builders used them, incorporated them into their byres and walls with little regard for what they stood for. Had these farmers and builders committed their sacrilegious acts when the Druids held sway, they would have been incorporated into the rituals that these stones were part of and their blood would have compensated for their insensitive lack of reverence.

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE


FELIX MENDELSOHN (dadadididaadaaa[bis]) OR                          

VIRGINIA WOOLF  (filled her pockets with stones and then walked into and under thewaters)  

OR

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON ( like Rennie Mackintosh, an elegant dandy doomed to die tragically young) OR  CADELL OR SOMEONE FAMOUS LIKE THAT THOUGHT ABOUT VISITING THIS  PRETTY-AS-A- PICTURE,   ART DECOISH, WHITER-THAN -WHITE LIGHTHOUSE AS THEY   PASSED  AMAZINGLY BUT UNKNOWINGLY ALL TOGETHER ONE FINE DAY ON THE  TWO O’CLOCK OBAN – MULL FERRY EN ROUTE FOR  THE  SPIRITUAL AURA OF IONA AND  THE WAGNERIAN MAGIC OF STAFFA.


NOCHE Y DIA


We arrived in the dark at Oviedo Railway Station and wandered through a dull new town looking for somewhere to stay. A bit of a dump, we agreed. In the morning we left the hotel after b’fast, happy to be on our way and found ourselves in a lively old town parallel to the dull new town of the night before.

Years ago I went to Barcelona with no Spanish, no preconceived ideas, no guide book and the Barcelona I found bore no relation to the Rough Guide’s Barcelona  which I read (wrong order of doing things) on my return to Scotland. Not that the Barcelona I found was all that wonderful – no Gaudi  cathedral,  no Art Galleries and I got my pocket picked – but it was my Barcelona and I felt part of it.

I still like the idea of  not knowing what to expect but willing to  discover for myself  the night and day of  wherever I find myself .

RED HARLAW


On my way up to the Recumbent Stone Circle I tried to see the  skylarks  singing high overhead but they were either too high or too small.  Perhaps it was just one of them. Ascending.
Far below I could see field after green field all the way down to the conical hill of  Dunideer where the sheep that fondly graze acquire golden teeth. Some chemical in the soil, some say.
And not too far away the 40ft. column that marked the battle of Harlaw. Red Harlaw:
As I cam in by Dunidier
 And doon by Netherha’,
 There were fifty thoosand Hieland men
 Cam mairchin’ tae Harlaw
Only 40,000 at the end of the day however….
But all that was a long long time ago. 1411.

Big blue sky; fluffy summer clouds; a day that made you feel like whistling. A place that had something about it that brought a smile to your lips and a spring to your step. And I was going to the sacred place that marked the centre of all the strange things that had happened here where the river Gadie runs at the back o Bennachie.
Then I  heard  voices.
French schoolchildren had been organised by their teacher to play a sort of basketball game in the stone circle.  They were clearly and loudly enjoying themselves immensely.
” Excuse me,” I called out to their teacher.  ” Excuse me!” She blew her whistle and they stopped playing. ”  Excuse me, ” I said again, lowering my voice and sweeping my arm to take in the ring of stones, ” but do you know this is a sacred place, the burial ground of brave warriors,  not a playground for noisy teenagers.  How can you be so insensitive ? “

(No, I didn’t. But I wish I had. Instead I went back to my car and drove down  to the main road to Aberdeen feeling the brightness had gone from the day)

Duplopia


  I climbed here 3 times. Top of the world. Not even a fly. Still got money stolen from top hut while we were out climbingl Where every aspect pleases….

I was climbing Batian, the left peak, and looking down I could see an African plodding up the route to Point Lenana where the top hut was. My heart sank. We did the climb, descended, got to top hut and sure enough Donald’s camera had gone and my £50 holiday money ditto. I raced down to the Teleki valley and caught up with the African. Of course he denied everything. I searched him and found nothing. “Wewe mwivi!” I told him but he shrugged. So I picked up a rock and smashed his head in.

No, I didn’t but the impulse was there

STROMNESS


Main Street, Stromness, May2011

This is the Undermilkwoody sort of town where George Mackay Brown once lived and wrote  not about its dylanthomasy inhabitants but mostly about the Vikings (early incomers!) who came and saw and went away again but left their mark on the islands. You grow fond of this  one-street town with its lively pubs and friendly people. I met a guy in a bar here who asked me if I was from Orkney and when I said I was just passing through he gave me a slow look and said, “Ye soond like wan o thae tropical diseases”