1 EAGLETON NOTES: September 2015



Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Safari Day 3: Lewis

True to her reputation Pauline brought lovely weather to Lewis with her - during the day anyway which is what mattered. So we drove across the Island to the West Side to explore.

The hills of South Lewis from The Peatland Road
Looking South and West 
The Garenin Black House Village (Pauline in red).
Old and new thatch. Weighted fishing net was thrown over to help keep the thatch in place in storms.
Pauline capturing a thatcher at work. I think she got some cracking photos.
Just another village black house.
The village street 
The Broch at Dun Carloway

I'll do a proper post on the Broch one day
From New Zealand to The Standing Stones of Callanish
The interior of the Black House at Arnol 
and the Church at Eoropie

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Whistle Stop Café

Safari: Day 2. Have you read the book or seen the film? I enjoyed the film. Very much like in the book The Whistle Stop Café at Kinlochewe (encircled in red on the map below) is a place one either lives near or visit when passing through. It's not, generally speaking, a place one would actually set out to go to. Nor is it on a main route to anywhere. Pauline and I arrived in Kinlochewe on Day 2 of our safari.  Although on the map Kinlochewe is very close to Achnasheen (where we stopped the first night) we went via Balnacara, Lochcarron, Applecross, Sheildaig, and Torridon: a stunning journey often on single track roads in between glorious mountains. Having stopped for a late  lunch at The Whistle Stop Café we drove on to Gairloch, Poolewe, Laide, Letters and arrived in Ullapool for the early evening ferry to Stornoway. 

A remote part of the Scottish Highlands
Self explanatory
The Whistle Stop Café 
Probably a shepherds' bothy long since fallen into disuse
The Cuillins on Skye from the Applecross peninsula
Slioch and Loch Maree 
And the same view taken by me in 1960 before the foreground was obscured by trees.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


In UK terms Achnasheen is in the back of beyond. In Scottish terms it's just remote. It does have a good road to Inverness about an hour away and a train station built in 1870 (and trains between Kyle and Inverness  still stop there!). It's also very small and I doubt the population exceeds double figures. It was where, at the only hotel a mile from the village, Pauline and I stayed on the first night of our safari after visiting Fort George.

Ledgowan Lodge Hotel is a Victorian hunting lodge well over 100 years old and a perfect place to stay. In addition to very friendly service and very good food here's why:

Arriving in the evening
From my bedroom window at 0545
Before breakfast 
The entrance hall looking towards lounge
Lounge with chess
Lounge with piano
Entrance hall looking towards dining room
A little way from the hotel on the road to Kyle

Sunday, 6 September 2015

I Was an Economic Migrant

I was born in a city of economic migrants: from Ireland, from Wales, from Scotland, from Aftica, from the West Indes, from China. and doubtless many other places ('though, oddly, in the 40s and 50s few people from the Indian sub-continent). I expect there were plenty from other parts of England too although I rarely recall meeting a through and through English person when I lived there.

I moved to a satellite of Manchester to work in my 20s and then, to get experience and for a considerable drop in salary, I moved to the Outer Hebrides. I was called, by a few, a 'bloody incomer taking away our jobs.'. The then Convener of the Council  (a Minister of Religion) once said to me "But you're not one of our kind and you'll soon leave for better things. That's what incomers do."

I have to say that such comments and sentiments appeared to me to be relatively few and far between and I have always felt welcome by the majority and have always felt part of this Island.  I would like to think that all the many, many economic migrants from this Island, whether they went to Glasgow, Toronto, South Georgia (whaling) or Australia and New Zealand (as £10 Poms) were made as welcome where they went. 

After all almost everyone on this Island (of Lewis and Harris) is descended from an economic or refugee migrant of some sort: whether it be from a Viking who came to farm a thousand years ago or from someone who came more recently in the times of the clan troubles.

The little band of countries known as Great Britain colonised much of the world. We didn't adopt the traditions and languages of the countries we conquered: we imposed our traditions and language. And Scots were amongst the greatest explorers and conquerors that Great Britain had.

You and I have the standard of living we have now, including, in the UK, perhaps the largest almost totally free health and welfare service in the world, because of the economic migrants and conquerors of our countries' past and the toil of our forefathers.  And, yes, some got obscenely rich and some lived wretched lives in intolerable conditions. 

My generation in Great Britain have probably lived in the longest period in the last thousand years where no war was fought on our soil. We have not had to flee for our safety. 

And let the Tories amongst you never forget Norman Tebbits' words "I grew up in the '30s with an unemployed father. He didn't riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking till he found it." He wasn't fleeing persecution like the fathers of some of our leaders. He was an economic migrant.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Fort George

I'm ashamed to say that I'd never been to Fort George until I took Pauline there when she came off the plane from Dublin on a beautiful Monday afternoon a couple of weeks ago and we started our Highlands and Islands safari. Fort George is a working garrison as well as a historic monument. 

It was built after the Jacobite uprising of 1745 and their defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The English and their allies were determined that the Jacobites would never again pose a credible threat. 
Fort George from the air looking North
The bridge over the first moat (though I'm not sure that it was a water moat)
The 'moat' area between the outer and inner fortifications
The inner parade ground from the top of the north embankment under which were fortified stores and quarters
The (Church of Scotland) Chapel
Church attendance was compulsory in the early days. 
The three tier pulpit is unusual but not unique.The top is for the minister, the reader stands in the middle section to read from the Bible, and the precentor stands in the bottom section to lead the singing. 
An angel playing the bagpipes: possibly unique in a stained glass window
A swivel gun sea defence
One of the batteries pointing out to sea
The Chapel and the stables 
Mortar defending the fort from a land attack 
The parade ground and barrack square
Pauline will be posting about this in due course when she gets back home to New Zealand.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

How to Deal With a Mistake

Well that's made my day.

When I arrived home last week I received a 'Failure to Attend' letter from the hospital.

I had received a phone call on my answering machine after the hospital appointments department had closed on a Friday evening and I left the Island on the Saturday morning before the letter arrived. The appointment was for the Monday - eight days ago.  I rang and left a message on their answering machine saying that I couldn't attend.

After I got home a week ago today I checked that they had received the message and that was confirmed and a new appointment sent. Obviously the 'Failure to Attend' letter was simply a glitch but it did mean a stain on my impeccable record. Being an Edwards these things matter: like not being late. It's just how we are.

So I wrote a very reasonable letter to get the matter off my chest and get the record put straight. After all the ladies (are there any men there?) in the department are always incredibly helpful and pleasant.

I've just had a phone call to admit the glitch, thank me for my feedback, say that my record had been put straight and apologise. So, of course, I was delighted.

If only, if only all organisations would react in that way. A mistake but an even happier customer at the end of it.