Archive for the ‘Land of Bent Grass’ Category


Saturday, August 20th, 2011


All is calm in the land of giants,
On a rare windless day,
Water the only sound,
Life has stopped.

The sheep, still in the roofless cottage,
Belongs there as much as any,
Regular visitor, like us it has not moved
As the heavens move all.

The generations have not returned,
Chilled hearth, three chimneys,
One lofty precious pot survives,
Defiant, hope in an unforgiving land.

Two oaks guard the ruin,
Glacial debris,
Turf covered stone,
The eagle, the stag and the mountain hare.

Revolutions pass and global markets crash
But here the peace is deep,
Across the glen shadows creep,
Expectations of tomorrow.

Time rediscovered, absent clock,
Decisions of the day fundamental,
Seconds counted by the foot, unscientific measure,
Tired, we lie in our beds and absorb the noise.

No place to hide

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

The end of the road is a long long way
and with storm clouds gathering
there is no place to hide,
I think of the friends I have left behind
and wonder what they are doing,
wish they were with me on this long long ride

Photo - Lewis weather by Blues

Photo – Lewis weather by Blues

Not An Easy Living

Monday, March 29th, 2010
Dilapidated house in Lewis - by "Blues"

Dilapidated house in Lewis – by “Blues”

It was not an easy living and the kids eventually had to leave home to work over the water. They came back from time to time but then the old man died and there was no longer a reason to make the trip. The building lay empty and locked until one winter a storm ripped slates off the roof. The subsequent decline was rapid and the cottage soon became fit only for sheep and nesting birds. Never again would that hearth see a roaring fire in the grate.

South Uist Sunset

Sunday, March 28th, 2010
South Uist Sunset - by Blues

South Uist Sunset – by Blues

I look at this scene and feel calm, the serenity of the South Uist sunset. The derelict building, a black cut out on the darkened promontory, is a focus for the mind on life on the island. Summer now but a different proposition in winter. As if I am being lulled into a false sense of wellbeing.

I spend a few minutes gazing and then retire to the cottage. The oil lamp is already lit. There is no fire in the hearth but the smell of peat lingers, mingling well with the whisky in my glass. We sit around the table in the kitchen and talk long into the night.

jura dawn

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
photo - "jura dawn" by Blues

photo – “jura dawn” by Blues

waters gently lap
whilst the light slowly
grows in intensity,
nature’s perfect alarm clock
a gradual awakening,
reflection on the day ahead,
eastern promise exclaimed
in western islands, perfect

church spire mull

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

one casts shadows
the other provides shade
church tower – tree
tree – church tower
rhyme or reason
personal decision

photo "church spire Mull" by Blues

photo “church spire Mull” by Blues

roll ‘em

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

roll ‘em
fill ‘em full of whisky and roll ‘em

line ‘em up like gas-bloated porkers
brim with potential and gasping for kicks

release to an audience of nosey savants
significant savour,
bar brawl, shameful mix

full, of anticipation
empty, filling with expectation
or deepest reflection, innermost feeling

a cycle, start again
roll ‘em
fill ‘em full of whisky and roll ‘em

barrels by Blues

photo – Barrels by Blues

Have ye heard of the White Stag of Arran ?

Friday, September 11th, 2009

I’d taken the opportunity afforded by a flat, roadside patch of gravel to stop and capture the view back down the valley through the black clouds to the sunshine and blue sea in the distance below. I was in a buoyant mood having seen my first golden eagle an hour before. Heading back to the car I was approached by an old gentleman and his grandson who’d been quietly sitting in their car on the same patch of gravel, watching for wildlife through their binoculars.

“Have ye heard of the White Stag of Arran ?” (read with Scottish accent). I could hear the capital letters as he spoke. I fetched my own binoculars from the car and followed the line of his pointed finger past the white stones on the hillside opposite, and past the sheep until my eyes alighted upon a white(ish) red deer with a pair of the most enormous antlers I’d ever seen. Admittedly, they were probably the first set of antlers I’d ever seen that were still attached to their owner, and for this reason I was more impressed by the headware than the colour. I turned to the old gentleman who was by now heading back to his car, and gave him a smile and the thumbs up, and went on my way, his voice receding into the distance “Ye’re probably one of only a handful of people in the world (heavily rolled ‘r’) who’ve seen that’.

I checked later with people at the campsite, and it seems that albino red deer can be seen on Arran, but they are very rare. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to the gentleman, who deserved a more emphatically impressed response than he got.

A golden eagle and a very rare albino red deer within the space of an hour !

The passing of the passing place

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Remote though they are, even the Outer Hebrides are not far enough away to escape the far reaching tentacles of European legislation. It seems the quirky, rhomboid shape of the passing place sign has offended the Keepeurs of the Livre de Standards (see Note 1), who have dictated that they must be replaced by square signs, an example of which below.

Copy of IMG_7134

Locals remain phlegmatic.

Note 1 – No attempt is being made to single out the French for blame, I just can’t do any of the other European languages very well.

The Passing Place (Noun)

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009


Ubiquitous feature of travel in the Western Isles of Scotland. A transient meeting place of generosity, where people wait for oncoming vehicles to pass, or to allow people uninterested in photo opportunities to overtake. Invariably involves a smile, a wave, or a short, polite parp of the horn.

The story so far – Cardiff/Islay

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Feels like months, but it’s only really been 2 weeks. Five ferry trips and one uninflatable inflatable bed later and I’m in the pretty little village of Port Ellen on the South West part of Islay, with a sun tan that rivals the one I had after two weeks cycling in Vietnam. The sun’s out and the landscape is dramatic in its intensity of blues, browns, greens, purples (that’ll be the thistles) and yellows. The skies are very picturesque with huge cloud formations which change every minute in the blustery wind. Arran was controlled wildness. Gigha was small and friendly with spectacular white beaches. Islay is so far magnificent in its big open moors stretching miles. I drove past some men hand-cutting the peat for the Laphroaig disillery today, then saw it stacked up in the distillery itself. The next island will be Jura. That’s another kettle of fish. Big jagged mountains and lots of dark looming clouds. Happily, unlike the bed, the tent has taken everything thrown at it so far. Have bought a new one which needs checking out later. Photos at a later date when I’ve got them off the card.