Skip to main content

Nature's gems

It can get a wee bit confusing as to what day it is when my schedule for each day is essentially similar. And for other people who can work at home and choose their own timetable, I guess it will be similar. I do know today is Sunday, because the newspapers whose web sites I am reading are, mostly, Sunday papers.

But just as the variety and number of newspapers has significantly changed over the years, so too has the degree to which the "Sundays" are differentiated from papers published on other days. They are thinner for one thing.

That goes for almost all our news media. It's not simply the focus on COVID-19, quite properly and necessarily, but the paucity of stories on other subjects. I guess in part that is because there is less going on. But it is likely that the inability of journalists to go out and hunt down new stories is shrinking the news agenda as well. A reminder of how much we need their profession.

When I was a student in the 1960s, I stayed in digs in Victoria Road, Torry with two other students. Mrs Dunbar was a wonderful landlady who looked after us, forgive me mother, even better than being at home in certain respects.

Her best pal was married to a fish buyer in the Aberdeen fish market. And that meant a ready, and affordable, supply of the best quality fish to be put before us on the dinner table. For me, in particular, this was a revelation. Father was not very keen on fish. At home, the routine was that we only had fish for Wednesday lunch-time. That's when father was at his weekly Rotary Club lunch.

My mother-in-law was born in Burghead and was from fishing stock. Living as she did when I was "courting" her daughter, on the shores of Loch Ness close to the point it went into the canal, she never hesitated to deploy her negotiating skills to solicit fish from passing trawlers. My spouse needed no education in fish, and it remains a staple, and delicious, part of our diet to this day.

Back on Sundays in Victoria Road, we were very clear about how that day was differentiated from others. Not simply because Bill and Bella Dunbar went to the Mission Hall for Sunday worship. Nor because of the splendid lunch table, often with a large trifle for afters, to which our girlfriends would often be invited by Mrs Dunbar.

But also for our slow start to the day. On a weekday, we would have to leave the house at 0800 to get two buses to attend our first lectures. On Sundays, we had a rota among the three of us students as to who would rise, dress, and go across the road for the papers. It would be a pile probably about six inches thick. That person would make the first distribution of titles and would return to their bed. During the morning, the papers would move around the group until, brains sated, we would rise and breakfast.

This Sunday will have a pattern not dissimilar to other days and will centre around my walk. Yesterday's was a wee bit different. We had to visit the vet in Turriff to collect a prescription for an elderly cat. We were impressed by our practice's approach. Instructed by them to stop in their car park and then phone to announce our arrival, we did so. The wee bag was brought out and placed on the car bonnet. An excellent scheme to maintain distance and protect the vet and us.

On our way home, my spouse dropped me off in Foggie from where I commenced my 5-mile walk back. The weather was gorgeous, blue sky, no wind. And unexpectedly, shortly after leaving the village, a new Council footpath, running parallel to the road but about 3 metres from it and separated by some small bushes. On reaching the junction where I planned to turn right to walk up a road, close by us in car terms, but which I had never travelled on, the new footpath continued.

It had been constructed with care. Brand new fence posts, with the barbed wire topping on the side of the posts furthest from the walkers. And an additional plain wire on the side next to me. So if I stumbled against the fence, I would be protected from the barbs. Clever. Never seen that before.

About half a mile walking on the road and then a signpost on the left with more new footpath to Auchinderran Walks. I had seen an indication on a gate off a different road I was walking for the first time about three weeks ago. But the map on the board was so basic and the information so sparse that I gave it little thought. I twigged that I was the other side of this area and that it might worth deviating from my planned route.

And worth it, it certainly was. Clearly, a fair bit of money has been spent on paths, seats and a pond. And it is scenic and quiet. An excellent area to walk in. The internal sign-posting is not very helpful but I was able to work out how to walk through it to the entrance I had previously seen.
It's about 3 miles from home, and I had never heard about this "Walks" area. There are no sign-posts to it on any road. Not even a simple post or two with the word "footpath" on them. And I could find nothing about the area on the World-Wide-Web. Even the Council's web site was silent. Despite their name being on the one small board at the entrance.

A genuine hidden gem to which I shall be returning later today as part of my walk. The board says they have otters, pine martins among the fourteen species listed. A proper walking exploration beckons, not simply a walkthrough. 

It doesn't even appear on Google Maps, albeit if you switch to the satellite picture, you can see the paths. This link is centred on the pond,-2.6386267,706m/data=!3m1!1e3.

I certainly see gems on foot that have totally escaped my notice through the car windscreen.

And that's me now over 150 miles on foot since isolation started.

Fitter and better informed.


Popular posts from this blog


When big things go wrong, and one feels powerless to do much about them, small things in one's life can become surrogates for one's anger. And there are quite a few big things around at the moment; COVID-19, No-Deal Brexit; A US Presidential Election where the incumbent leads with racist statements.As the end of the current session rushes towards us, many of my colleagues are concluding that they will not be putting themselves forward at the forthcoming election. A couple of our younger colleagues are placing their families first. But most are looking at being in their eighth decade, as I already am, at the end of the next session.
When the two leading candidates for the US President are both older than I am - seventy-four in five week's time - it may seem surprising that retirement may be beckoning for me and others a lustrum younger than I am. But it illustrates the profound differences between being a back-bencher in our Parliament and the political life of a US Senator …

Train time

After one hundred and seventy-four days, I resumed sitting in our Parliament's debating chamber. It was the first time I have seen how members dialling in by video-link look and sound at the "business end".

I found that I was a bit rusty. My only oral contribution this week was to ask a question. As I approached the end of it, a sound from a mobile phone totally distracted me. Worried that it was my own phone, I paused and for about a second, lost the thread of what I was saying. I wasn't that pleased with my neighbour when they returned to their seat. Their phone, not mine.

It just shows that one can travel backwards in one's abilities. Like an athlete who has had an extended layoff and loses muscle tone, my brain had retreated from its previous peak of perfection.

Next week will be our first proper three day week. I think I will ease myself in by participating in the two Member's debates scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. That will be about eleven hundred…