Wednesday, 28 November 2018
A bus trip out to central Fife a while ago but just getting to it now- still over on the sunny east coast but this time centered around an exploration of this fine historic town with long deep roots and an ancient pedigree. Queen Margaret, an English Princess, married Malcolm III of Scotland then founded a priory here around 1070, enticing some monks from Canterbury to set up a religious complex that attracted nobles, royal visits, and quickly became the preferred burial ground of various kings and the royal court- just one of several lucky spots around the UK to get the seal of approval from royals but a favourite haunt. A bit like Queen Victoria and Prince Albert falling in love with Balmoral. Margaret later became a saint, having devoted her spare time to healing and good causes. A virtue that would later be repeated in spectacular style by another famous native of this town. An early philanthropist and one of the greatest of the modern age.
Dunfermline bus station above.
After Margaret, Queen of Scotland, started the priory here her son David 1 expanded it into a large prestigious abbey in the 1100s. Robert the Bruce in the 1300s then restored the central core of buildings here, including the monastery and when he dies is also buried in Dunfermline Abbey Church. Apart from his heart which is placed in a silver casket and is transported by his trusted right hand man for many years, Sir James Douglas, thus fulfilling a pledge death prevented him keeping. To visit Jerusalem and the Holy Lands as his final task.
Really enjoyed wandering around this fine museum. Not particularly large, compared to a city one, but great displays throughout.
Forbes Trail USA Link here. Good details, interactive maps and history.
The French version of The Voice and an exceptional singer from Corsica with a traditional theme and instrument. Worth seeing although I could do without the judges reactions and expressions each time in these programmes and just have the singers on instead.
Friday, 16 November 2018
Another bus trip out east to avoid the gloom and wet weather of the west coast and the gloom and increasing shambles of Brexit. This was another section of the John Muir Way. Well, my John Muir Way as I'd be following the coastline and beaches whereas the actual route heads inland after North Berwick. I had explored this coastline before but it had been as part of a solo cycling tour decades ago so I hadn't walked the full route to Gullane along the coast. North Berwick and town beach above. High tide during this walk but still ok to complete the route.
Now, I believe, you have to book months in advance for a place due to popularity and a range of different trips are available. On the one I was on we visited all the other islands as well.
Craigleith, Lamb, and Fidra, which you pass as you walk westwards towards Gullane. Uri Geller owns Lamb, a bird reserve as are the other two islands.
So this feels very appropriate. A classic by a singer/ songwriter/guitarist who has been around since the 1960s. Co-founder of The Youngbloods. Great evocative violin/fiddle accompaniment here. Grows on you this one does.
Saturday, 10 November 2018
With remembrance Sunday approaching and the First World War on the news and in other media outlets generally over the last month I thought I would borrow a few poppies for an often overlooked casualty of any war and all wars throughout history. The planet and the wildlife on it. Tens of millions of horses, cattle, donkeys, elephants, etc etc... basically anything that could carry men, ammunition, guns, supplies, or anything else helpful to the war effort was gathered up and drafted in to do a job, right back to the first civilizations and often treated with unbelievable cruelty and hardship. Some acts of kindness as well but war, by its very nature, is generally not the place for sentiment or much compassion. It's too brutal an arena for that.
Since the 1960s they have escalated this trend towards cheap disposable goods at an ever increasing rate but not to our benefit. Certainly not now in the long term. According to various reports three or four people today own more wealth than the poorest 50 percent on the planet will ever acquire. Or put another way one percent own the other 99 percent.... a situation that's a more extreme division of wealth than ever before in the modern era. I wouldn't mind that but instead of swanning off and enjoying it they always find new ways to exploit the world further...to make more, to change our situation year by year and gain even more control over us in the process. The 1970s/1980s is when this new disposable trend started so it's back to a future before that if we even want a future to look forward towards. Are certain technological advances really helping us improve our lot or just dumbing us down even more- just made for greater profits and a handy collar and chain for the servant's neck? A trusty safeguard to keep us compliant. All over the world right now employees are already getting micro-chipped... for security purposes in their jobs. Tracked and coded. But once that becomes normalized in the workplace, who knows what else. Programmable particles are also being developed in labs, tiny robots so small they can enter our bloodstream- for good or ill. Sadly, not for much longer the realm of science fiction novels like Michael Crichton's excellent 2002 book -Prey. Will we even have a choice when it comes down to it? Did we have one with smart phones? And is that a wise move forwards for humanity?
You could argue that the vast movements of people seen today from poor to wealthy countries have been greatly facilitated by smart phones. Incentive images showing a better life, directions and methods of travel and entry, potential jobs, ease of networking and feedback from friends who have made the change already... all listed worldwide at the push of a button in mud hut or shanty town. Why wouldn't you grab that chance, however slim, compared to your surroundings when you see the opportunity of a better life elsewhere? Almost every day through your phone. A modern carrot on a stick. ( Of course wealthy countries only got that way by stealing the resources of poorer countries they exploited and controlled but I'll cover that topic in a future post soon as it's still happening today.) History is often what you choose to remember as a nation or individual, rather than the reality.
To house computer in the corner. (my new and totally essential personal servant) " Hi little buddy, here's a question for you....do you know every single thing about me, my bank accounts, my relations and colleagues, past lovers, and all I've ever done since birth. "
"Yes, I do my Master."
Aye, thought so.
We also need to learn how to get our fun in less destructive ways. It can be done. It doesn't take much thought at all. This is our war. Taking place now. The fight for the planet. I'm already in the resistance movement but more through natural lifetime inclination than deliberate choice.
Unfortunately, humans, by their very nature, are easily provoked to fight. The people in charge know this only too well. All it takes is a perceived enemy... be that Communists, the Chinese, Islamic State, The backward Middle East, The corrupt West- anybody really will do. Any issue to baffle and motivate the masses. Most of them funded and supplied of course by the elite at the top moving pieces on the board to maximize profit. Being at war means you can grab lands, resources, drain other countries wealth while improving your own - and generally have a great time- from the shadows. All things you can do much quicker and easier in a war.
Happily nature tries to tidy up afterwards, improve the chaos- but will that always be the case?
Link here to this BBC 2 programme.
50 million is a conservative estimate as many Commonwealth countries at that time had poor hospital facilities, overwhelmed staff, and keeping records on the growing piles of dead was not a top priority. It could easily have been 100 million killed directly through this deadly flu pandemic - many times more than the total who died as a result of fighting in WW1 yet it is rarely mentioned at all. Equally heartbreaking for families I'd imagine as babies, mum, dads, teenagers, grannies and grandads all died together, often vomiting rivers of blood at the end as they gurgled and choked to death all in one house or crowded wards. Entire families and communities wiped out. The young, the old, the fit and healthy. Very few memorials or services to them around the world. I did check. So is it total numbers of dead who count in memorials- or the way they died... or the cause they died for?
" Oh and a far greater number died afterwards away from the battle fronts but we don't talk about that bit- too messy and complicated."
I'm not diminishing the loss of loved ones during wartime in any way just that it really surprised me that this flu killed such vast numbers in every country worldwide at the same time as WW1 yet is so rarely mentioned at any point regarding this war. The forgotten victims. Or maybe that's just me and it's everyday knowledge as to the numbers involved? Apparently Armistice Day 1918 was a huge boost to spreading this lethal virus with all the hugging, kissing and sharing of wine, beer bottles and celebrations going on. A great mix of people packed very close together, touching each other. An incubation chamber to improve the strain. These are the things that should be remembered by future generations as well to my way of thinking. Nature is really sneaky like that. Yin and yang. The ancient two handed Goddess. An expert at give and take.
And a beautiful happy video to end. No, it really is. Honest. I promise. This is a joy to watch. Maybe....A film I haven't seen yet. Catchy tune and visuals that I suspect sit much better without any dialogue at all.
But wild nature should never... ever... ever.... kiss a human child-as it is completely forbidden for good reason.... the kiss of death unknowing- like Pocahontas helping explorers in her own lands to prosper, or John King surviving against all the odds in outback Australia when everyone else around him perished... with local aboriginal intervention of course ... in hindsight... kill them all.. and all those who follow them....Kill, Kill, Kill, if you value your own survival at all- as first contact is often deadly for First Nations peoples around the world and the last thing you will ever regret doing before you die is helping lost strangers survive, coughing up blood, looking up at your smiling assassins patting you fondly on the head.... as a much loved pet and trusted guide through the unknown wilderness, as they quickly take over your lands and your very existence within a quantum leap... erasing your own personal stamp of 50,000 years of careful evolution and taming of the wilderness, reduced to within one generational push of modern effort and effectively claiming it all as their own work.... flattening countless generations of hard brutal effort in one swift tumble...eliminating all that past endeavour to a very brief footnote in history... A mere blip by a primitive culture. Well... that's what I see in this film anyway. A romantic fantasy....... I think not :o)