Posts Tagged ‘scotland’

No blog in a while; what to write? That question has been preying on my mind this last week once I had cleared a large work related project which had taken up most of my time over the last few months.

Mousa with his pants on

Should I bring forward one of the chapters of my second book, which has also suffered over the same period?  Should I proffer my apologies for the delays in releasing an illustrated copy of Bernie Bolts Bergen, for reasons beyond my control? Neither of these options felt right, but recent newspaper reports discussing aspects of Scotland’s unique diet, lack of sunshine and the arrival of two pandas provided an opportunity for a little wordplay.

First our diet, we Scots are famous for our unhealthy approach to food. Our love of fry ups, fish suppers, take-away Indian and Chinese, as well as the ubiquitous Macdonalds have helped to establish us as one of the world’s most obese nations.  This week’s addition of the Braveheart Butterball, deep fried frozen butter in an irn-bru batter served with Irn-Bru ice cream is a wonderful example of our love for the unhealthy. It’s not that we don’t know better, studies, published this week, show that we are well aware but either we can’t be bothered or we have decided that life is here to be lived for the day. 

Other studies this week show that people in Scotland lack vitamin D which can be increased if we all eat oily fish or increase our exposure to sunlight. The latter at this time of year is asking, if our current weather system is anything to go by, for the impossible. We have spent days recently with the house lights on for most of the day because it has been so dull; with low energy bulbs  it ain’t much better.

Munchkin in artificial light

Some professor appeared on the radio suggesting that the Scottish government should have supplements added to our food to remedy this deficiency, but surely another alternative would be to send us on holiday every year to sunnier climes to allow us to charge our vitamin D batteries. It would appear that the government is doing neither. 

The only government action taken that can be remotely linked to all of this, and I mean remotely, is that the Scottish Government has borrowed two big adorable Pandas and put them on display this week in Edinburgh Zoo. The pandas are, among other things, there to cheer us up ( I will be going to see them over the next few weeks) and go by the name of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, translated apparently as sweetness or sweetie and sunlight or sunshine, respectively. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the Scottish government have brought us sunshine and sweetness. Will it make us any healthier – who knows.

The last comment on all this nonsense sits with Edinburgh Zoo’s famous penguins (see link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-16270214) who have poo’ed on the Panda parade and like the weather made it a little more difficult to enjoy any Sunshine in Scotland.



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I like geese. I don’t know why, but I do. I think it’s because they have presence, and are more than capable of letting people know of their authority, as those with guard geese can testify. My partner tells stories of  various family gander, in full honk, with wings flapping, charging at her as a young girl, before their Christmas demise.  I think one of the reasons I like these creatures is that they reassure me that, depite all the economic turmoil and other worldly problems, life continues. Throughout my life I have witnessed large skeins of geese flying overhead as they make their way to and from a local loch (nature reserve) about 7 miles from home. They arrive around late September and leave around April, spectacularly marking the seasons. Last week on my drive to work I saw my first pinkies, as they are known by some, of the season.  Last week’s gaggle of Pink Footed geese was a small one, less than fifty I suspect; while today’s sighting must have approximated 200-300. Up to 20,000 will winter here in Fife. (picture gobirding.eu)

As I drove past the gaggle in the field I had a strange thought. I wondered what would happen if a teenage goose (is there a name for such a goose or does it just move from being a gosling to a goose?), decided not to come. What if a teenage goose wanted to holiday elsewhere, with other teenage geese? At some point in time, every family’s holiday plans hit the independent cries of  that ‘sounds boring’, ‘I’ll just stay at home’,’I’d rather be with my friends’; usually accompanied by the some form of ‘you can trust me’, or ,’ more often than not, the phrase, or variation thereof, ‘after all I’m sixteen now; I’m a grown up.’ In a moment of madness I started to wonder if teenage geese pass through the same developmental phase.

OK, staying in Greenland or Iceland may not be an option for young geese given how cold it gets there and how hard feeding becomes. But if If staying at home isn’t a viable option, there does appear to be several other destinations where they can spend winter. A few miles from me is one choice and may be preferable to other geese resorts such as Montrose, Aberlady, (both Scotland) or  even Norfolk, the latter is warmer than any of the others but a slightly longer flight. Who knows, there may be some geese put off by longer flights. Which raises another question, which skein do the geese take? In September are there scheduled skeins leaving for different destinations and do different destinations offer different things? Is there an 18-30 club equivalent for teenage geese? Is Loch Leven,Fife, the party capital , the Ayia Napa, of Scotland for geese or is it Montrose, after all, Montrose is at the seaside? Maybe, Norfolk is a better choice after all more geese winter there than here, however, maybe,just maybe, it’s the other way around and Norfolk is the Costa Brava for geese while Fife is for the more discerning goose. It would also appear that some geese may actually fly from resort to resort moving south as the temperatures drop arriving at Aberlady, Aberdeenshire and if it gets too cold moving south from there. There may of course be another reason, that being that these geese are enjoying the best of all possible worlds by mixing the partying resorts with the quiet ones.

As you may have gathered from the above I know very little about these creatures and should, perhaps,concentrate on the cats, cue a cat pic.

Tigh, from our very first litter – still going strong.

Anyway, the geese have returned in their thousands once again. For the next six months or so, I will see them every morning on my way to work, perhaps, as they recover from the night before. But they will be there, reminding me that some things in the world continue as before and that there may just be a better and simpler life  than the manic one that we lead.



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