Scotland – A Scenic Journey 1: Plockton to Strome Castle

Continuing the account my Scottish holiday – this post covers Plockton to Castle Strome.

INTRODUCTION

We are continuing with stuff from the Wednesday of my Scottish holiday. The second part of our itinerary for the day involved visiting the village of Applecross, which entailed a very scenic journey that I have split into two parts, using the brief diversion to Strome Castle as a natural divider. 

ON THE ROAD

The road out from Plockton follows the shore of Loch Carron pretty closely for the first part of the journey. Loch Carron, like Loch Alsh is a sea loch (readers familiar with Norway should think ‘fjord’ – the Scottish sea lochs were created by the same geological phenomenon as the fjords). Not withstanding the limitations imposed by having to shoot through the window of a moving vehicle I kept the camera busy:

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The end of the road
This road won’t be extended any time soon!

STROME CASTLE

This ruined castle is well worth the detour if you are heading towards Applecross. Here are the pictures:

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A Couple of Important Nature Links

Links an important petition and an important thunderclap. A couple of other nature related links, a classic nature related meme and some of my own photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A couple of big things to do with nature came to my attention today and I have decided to share them with you. In addition to the two major links there will be some of my own thoughts, a nod in the direction of New Zealand and some appropriate photographs of my own. As you will have noticed by now, the text in this post is green, and that is because it is a post entirely dedicated to nature. Links in the text will in bold and underlined, while images relating to other posts will also be formatted as links.

THOUGHTS ON NATURE

My own interest in the natural world and concern for nature are both lifelong. I literally cannot remember a time when these attributes were not part of me. Although I grew up in London I had a common practically on my doorstep, lots of natural history books, and of course being in London meant I was within easy travelling distance of the museums at South Kensington. In my childhood the Geological and Natural History museums were two separate entities, though they have long since been amalgamated into one museum, the Natural History Museum. Therefore you can imagine my reaction when I saw something on twitter about…

A GCSE IN NATURAL HISTORY

A petition on the official site created for petitions addressed to the UK parliament to create a Natural History GCSE has been launched. This means that it is only open to those among my readers who are UK citizens to sign, which I regret, but you can still view this petition (there is a screenshot below to whet the appetite) even if you are not a UK citizens. UK citizens please sign and share.
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My next major link is to a…

THUNDERCLAP

To be part of a thunderclap you have to be on some form of social media (facebook, twitter or tumblr to be precise). This particular thunderclap is about the importance of pollinators and the fact that scientists have established that birds as well as bees are pesticide victims. If you are able to add your voice to this thunderclap please do so. Below is a screenshot for further clarification.

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Yes, this thunderclap is well ahead of target, as it should be, but just as the importance of pollinators cannot be overstated, so this thunderclap cannot ever be said to be over-supported. 

A COUPLE OF FURTHER LINKS

Miles King over at anewnatureblog has today produced a splendid piece titled “Time to rename Defra the Ministry of Agriculture and Fieldsports” in which he reveals the extent to which our government is failing in its duties as regards the environment. Below is a screenshot of the section of the post dealing with the downright dishonourable Andrea Leadsom by way of introduction.

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Now it is time for…

A NOD TO NEW ZEALAND

Jerry Coyne, author of the books “Why Evolution Is True” and “Faith Versus Fact”, and who also runs a blog named after the first of those books is currently in New Zealand, and it is from there that this wonderful picture (click on it to view it in its original econiche) comes:

It is nearly time for some of my own photos, taken yesterday and today, but for the penultimate section of the post I share once again…

ANNA’S NATURE MEME

This wonderful creation was formed around words that were originally submitted by me as a comment on one of her blog posts.
Nature Meme

PHOTOGRAPHS

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Musical Keys

A personal account of yesterday’s Musical Keys at the scout hut on Beulah Street and a walk on either side of the session.

INTRODUCTION

Musical Keys sessions happened at the scout hut on Beulah Street yesterday. I was there both as NAS West Norfolk branch secretary and someone who enjoys the session. With it staying light later in the evening and yesterday being pretty benign for an early March day in England I got two good walks in on either side of my session.

GETTING THERE

I made a quick visit to King’s Lynn library before heading for the scout hut by way of the Broad Walk and the Sandringham Railway Path. I had sufficient spare time to take some photographs en route…

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This town centre cafe is the venue for an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning on Wednesday
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Here are some of the trees from which it takes its name, on the bank of the highly sculpted stretch of the Gaywood river that passes through The Walks.
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The library, fresh from recent repair works.
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The first of four flower pictures – all featuring crocuses.

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AT THE SCOUT HUT

I arrived with the youngsters session still in progress – here are some pictures I took before my session started.

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Before getting into details of what I did, I have a short subsection about…

A SPEAKER SYSTEM FROM Q BRANCH

This is best shown in a series of photographs…

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The speaker system in use
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Partially closed up – machine and bag of cables in the centre, the two speakers forming the sides of the case.
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And fully closed – a stout black plastic suitcase.

MY SESSION

I was on the computer, using Scratch 2. Once again I consider a series of photographs to do a better job than words…

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A modest but sufficient set up – I have eight notes on my chosen instrument (Cello) set to be played by pressing a, s, d, f, h, j, k, and l respectively, and various extras, including getting the cat avatar to move and draw, with the pen size increasing each time I pressed one particular key.

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THE JOURNEY HOME

Once the session finished, and the clearing up and locking up was done it was time for the walk back. I journeyed back by a different route, heading for Bawsey Drain, the Tuesday Market Place and King Street. Here are some photographs from this walk.

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Norfolk Pictures and Some Shares

Some local photographs from earlier today and some interesting links.

INTRODUCTION

I had expected to be blogging about the first ever NAS West Norfolk curry night at The Globe today, but the event had to be postponed due to the severe weather that affected King’s Lynn yesterday. In addition to the decision to postpone the curry night made because those who would have had to travel (as opposed to me strolling down the road) to get there did not feel safe doing so I have a couple of other little pieces of evidence to back my claim that the wind yesterday was the strongest I have experienced while living in King’s Lynn, which is a fairly windy town anyway. Firstly I had to retrieve one of the legs of my outside table from the roof of Artertons (this roof adjoins my balcony but is one storey lower, so to access it I have to descend to street level, ascend a fixed steel ladder to the Artertons roof, retrieve the item, descend the ladder and ascend the stairs to my own flat). For this to happen, the table top, which when the table is not in use I position covering the legs, had to be blown clear of the legs and then one of those legs had to be blown across the width of my outside space and down on to Artertons roof, and it has never happened before. Secondly, the 813th King’s Lynn Mart made what was in truth the only sensible decision they could have done, not to open yesterday evening on safety grounds, again a first in my time living in this part of the world. Therefore with a couple of links at the end as a bonus I am falling back on a staple of this blog, some local pictures taken today.

THE PICTURES

Weatherwise today has been the calm after yesterday’s storm, so after lunch I went out for a walk with only my trusty Nikon Coolpix P530 for company. Below are the highlights of this walk in picture form…

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Daffodils just emerging in The Walks
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Signs of life in what I call the “Trivial Pursuit Beds” in The Walks

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A cormorant showing its wingspan on the west bank of the Great Ouse
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Cormorant just in the western edge of the Great Ouse

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A view of the town from Harding’s Pits
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The Nar was so calm that these modern houses were clearly reflected in its water.
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A tern (probably in origin an Arctic Tern.
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A Moorhen

SOME LINKS

My first link is to a new petition on change.org calling on the UK government to treat hate crimes against autistic people as seriously as race hate crimes. Here is the body text of a suggested message provided by change.org:

I just signed the petition, “UK Parliament: Make autistic hate crime as punishable as racism.” I think this is important. Will you sign it too?

Here’s the link:

https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-make-autistic-hate-crime-as-punishable-as-racism?utm_medium=email&utm_source=notification&utm_campaign=petition_signer_receipt&share_context=signature_receipt&recruiter=181177831 

On a completely different note, courtesy of www.independent.co.uk here is a fascinating account of a new solar system in which no fewer than seven earth-like planets wouyld appear to be in the habitable zone around their star. Click on the picture below to read in full.

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Finally to end this post, a highly amusing video. Clearly based on the classic sketch “What did the Romans ever do for us?”, this is a sketch called “What did the European Court of Human Rights ever do for us?”

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/culture/video/2016/apr/25/patrick-stewart-sketch-what-has-the-echr-ever-done-for-us-video

Sunday in Uppsala – The Botanic Gardens and Carolina Rediviva

The latest installment in my series about my recent holiday in Sweden. This post covers the botanic gardens and Carolina Rediviva.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next installment in my series of posts about my recent holiday in Sweden. This post deals with the start of the full day I had at my disposal in Uppsala.

PREPARATIONS

Although I was booked in for a second night in my dorm room I still had to do some sorting out before setting forth to continue my explorations of Uppsala – I stowed my larger bag in a recognized storage slot and put everything else I did not wish to carry with me, including most of my books, on my bed, which as I would be using it again the cleaning staff would not need access to. Having thus ensured that the staff would be able to do their jobs with no obstruction it was time to set off. My initial target was the Linnaeus Museum,the former home of Carolus Linnaeus, but that was closed when I got there.

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My next target was the…

THE BOTANIC GARDENS

The Botanic Gardens in Uppsala have an entrance just opposite the Carolina Rediviva which features later in this post and at their other extremity abut on to the grounds of the Evolution Museet.

THE START: FORMAL GARDENS

If you enter the gardens (admission free) at the Carolina Rediviva end you are first greeted with a very formal looking and generously spaced garden which reveals nothing of what lies ahead.

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The first two pictures were taken just before I entered the botanic gardens

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The view from the entrace.

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THE SECOND SECTION – A VARIETY OF GARDEN TYPES

The second section of the botanic gardens offers much more by way of variation. I did not venture into the greenhouse like building that houses the tropical plants, but everything else that was there to be seen I did see. Here are some photographs from this area…

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Deep within this second section of the botanic gardens is a real treasure…

A SMALL EDUCATIONAL SECTION

I was drawn towards this subsection by the only indications of its existence to be visible at a distance – two information boards and a very distinctive sculpture. As I soon found out, these were just the tip of the iceberg…

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The first two pictures show the information boards

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This is the sculpture – a giant model of DNA, as revealed by the work of Watson, Crick AND Franklin (Rosalind Franklin’s work was shown to Watson & Crick without her consent even being sought, much less given, and enabled them to complete their own work, so at the time she did not receive the credit she was due).
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On the ground in front of the sculpture is this mosaic showing the chemical formula.

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There are also several other mosaics.

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Viewed from the outside this is what this little subsection looks like.

I concluded by visit to the botanic gardens with…

SOME FINAL PHOTOS

Here are the last of the photos I took in the botanic gardens…

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THE EVOLUTION MUSEUM: A PLEASURE DENIED

I had been looking forward to seeing what the Evolution Museum had to offer (a natural history museum in the home town of Carolus Linnaeus – surely it must be good). Unfortunately, I discovered that it was closed for renovations, so I missed out on seeing exhibits that include the largest collection of dinosaur skeletons anywhere in the Nordic countries. Making my way back towards to the town centre to visit the old home of the aforementioned Linnaeus I paid a visit to…

THE GREAT LIBRARY OF UPPSALA

The Carolina Rediviva to give it its proper name is home to 5,000,000 volumes. On the ground floor is a small exhibit of its greatest treasures, the centre piece of which is the ‘Silver Bible’, a 1,500 year old bible which was captured by the Swedes from Prague in 1648. A 17th century Swedish goldsmith crafted the cover that now adorns it and gives it its name. I do not have a photograph of it because after I had taken three photographs of the exhibits I was told that photography is not allowed due to the potential damage done by flashes (I never use the flash anyway, but it was clear that I could not win the argument). However, while I fully accept the argument for banning flash photography in such a place, a blanket ban on photography seems excessive (the Uppsala University museum, which I covered in this post, takes the sensible course of banning flash photography but permitting photography without flash). Here are my photographs from the Carolina Rediviva…

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These last three photos were the ones i took inside the Carolina Rediviva before being stopped from taking photographs.

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Uppsala – A Bit More Exploring Before Checking In

The latest installment in my series of posts about my recent holiday in Sweden.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next installment in my series of posts about my recent holiday in Sweden. This post picks up the story from the end of my visit to the Uppsala University Museum, which I covered here.

CONTINUING MY EXPLORATIONS

On leaving the museum I took a brief walk in one direction, before deciding that it lacked appeal, and on looking for alternatives I found the University Park, and headed that way. Before making that firm decision I had taken these photographs…

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After taking the picture above I entered…

THE UNIVERSITY PARK

The University Park features runestones, a central statue, a view of the main university building (swathed in scaffolding on this occasion) and various other points of interest…

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A runsetone
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The explanation

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If this arrangement of statues with the man on a raised pedestal looking down on the woman at ground level was this close to a UK or US university building there would likely be petitions circulating demanding its replacement on grounds of sexism!
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The building itself
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Close up of the name.
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A close up one of the two pieces of bronze work that flank the name on the university building.
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The cathedral from this vantage point
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zooming in on the clockface
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The crosses at the top of the twin spires, with an aeroplane in the background.

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The statues again

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BACK TOWARDS MY ACCOMMODATION

I continued my explorations a little longer, buying lunch from the Pressbyran in Stora Torget, the main square of the city and taking some more photographs. In Stora Torget I saw some heavy duty evangelising going on, a sound system having been set up to enable these individuals to preach to anyone who passed – the only such incident in over two weeks in Sweden (not a claim one would ever be able to make in the UK).

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The cathedral from below.

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The view from the bridge that gives access to the folk museum.

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The main building in Stora Torget

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Both sides of the map I was given at the tourist information office.
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The Map itself
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The attractions, quite a few of which I got to see.

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MY ACCOMMODATION

I had booked accommodation in a four-bed dorm room at a ridiculously cheap price. The room was windowless, and I my bed was a top bunk, accessed by way of a wooden framework (to call it a ladder would overstate the case). My official review for booking.com can be seen here.

Off to Marxism 2016

An announcement relating to the next five days, accompanied by some photographs.

This is by way of an alert for my followers. Between now and Monday I will be in London attending Marxism 2016, and my computer access will be sporadic at best. Here are some pictures to accompany this brief announcement…

Brexitia
I found this map in a post by Mike Sivier at Vox Political, and he found it on twitter.
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Lot 497 at yesterday’s auction – a bargain at £10 – splendid pics of trains.
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The next five images are close-ups of pictures from lot 497

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A flowerhead with an insect in attendance
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Close up extracted from the foregoing image showing the insect and the centre of the flower.

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