Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Jury Service flop

Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
It all came to nothing, that's what.

Having left the family in Carrbridge at 7am I scooted down the A9 (always a pleasure) and arrived in time to stop off at the house to get changed and at least get out of my muddy leathers. I had managed to catch up with the Badenoch and Strathspey muck-spreading society on their way home from a successful spray session, and was delighted to receive some of their bounty on my leathers, bike and, very safety conscious, helmet visor.

So, cleaned up I parked in Chambers Street and reported to the court. I did a hilarious Charlie-Chaplinesque about turn in the revolving door when on seeing the security guards and metal detectors I remembered the leatherman still in my tankbag from having been camping earlier in the week. Dur-hur.

Once safely inside and removed of my bag (I'd forgotten that worse than a knife, I had my camera...) I hung about for a bit then nearly 50 of us were ushered into the court, registered, then we sat REALLY quietly, terrified that any sniff or grunt might get us banged up.

There was a starter course - a poor soul who hadn't done her community service and was talked at by the sheriff for a bit before being sent away "with a flea in her ear", which is not a legal term.

Finally the main course arrived, basically some weirdo to had said some stuff to some girls even though he'd been warned about this kind of nonsense. Juror names were pulled out of the glass bowl and mine wasn't. But that wasn't the end - we were told we could leave but to phone after 5pm to find out about the next day. Oh, that's convenient.

After 5 on Monday I phoned and was phone again on Tuesday after 5pm. That left me kind of stuck in Edinburgh with the family still up North which was a pain. On Tuesday I duly phoned to be told...that's all folks! Thanks for your help, your jury service is finished.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Skye and Cuillens from the Bealach na Ba

Well we can mark camping off as a success! After my mini-rant about the Scottish tourist industry it was great to find some places getting it really right, for a price.
We travelled west on Sunday, stopping in Strathpeffer at the old railway station for soup and sandwiches before the main push into Applecross. Applecross is where we got engaged, where we came on honeymoon and the last time we were there was Kit's 1st birthday (though the ungrateful brat pretended he couldn't remember it!) so it has a lot to answer for.  It is well known for a couple of things, 1) the road to get there and 2) the food waiting for you if you make it.
Well the road didn't let us down... Wipers on fastest setting, fog lights front and rear and off we went round bends called such delights as "Devil's Elbow". There was no point stopping at the viewpoint as we could se the clouds perfectly well from our vantage point deep inside them but once we began the downward stretch things brightened up a little. The little Suzuki Vitara parked on its side in a gully towards the end of the pass was a gentle reminder that not everyone takes it so easy on this road...I cautiously stopped and checked there were no bodies still inside, and it was clear from the detritus inside that a family with young children had had a journey they would not forget in a hurry.
Our camping hut was as basic as I'd hoped, clean and bright, small enough to be exciting but large enough to stand up in. The front door could have been a couple of inches taller mind you, as both Lorna's and my head will attest to. Ouch.
Sunday evening was spent in the award winning Applecross Inn where we ate and drank because that's what we do. At £8.95 the customary half pint of prawns has gone from snack to main meal status (another ouch) but we enjoyed fresh prawn cocktail, cod and haddock washed down with some pints of Red Cuillen ale.
Oh, the football was on and those hacking Dutch were soundly beaten in the last 3 minutes of extra time. Shame on them.
Monday was wet and we passed the morning visiting the local heritage centre, Free Church and then lunched in the Potting Shed set in the walled garden of the local hunting stately home. Another place Getting It Right, I was pleased to see - pricey but not too bad considering that by the time you got there you were the most captive market in the world.
Back to the hut for a snooze then off for dinner again...this time crab salad, lemon monk fish or cheesy pasta depending on which family member you were. A bit more beer then back to the camp site to read until dark.
Kit loved the whole camping thing - the sleeping bag, showering in the morning, the hut...everything. Considering how wet he got on out walk I was pleased he is a fairly resilient boy all in all.
We headed back to mum's in Tain today and finally got some good weather worth stopping for as the picture shows. Applecross sits on the mainland opposite Skye and it's really never the same view twice.
More pics to come, of course, but the more pressing matter on my mind is...tomorrow we load up the motorbike and head for Orkney. Kit is well looked after at Granny's but the rain is coming down again and Lorna keeps waving huge items of clothing / electrical equipment / footwear under my nose and asking if there will be room...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hysterix, Portmahomack.

Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
Our three nights in Tain are coming to an end tomorrow and time has passed quickly. Today we headed to Portmahomack for the afternoon and spent some time on the beach. It was almost eerie...where were all the people? Where were the children? The holiday makers? Why is the Caledonian Hotel closed down, and why was the owner(?) chef(?) at the Castle Hotel where we had lunch boasting that his evening chef could do "sauces and everything"? Every time I head north I wince in embarrassment and shame at how poorly some businesses understand what counts as a minimum standard of service and food. But that doesn't explain why a seaside town which I remember as being fairly busy during warmer summer Saturdays was deserted today.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Enquiring of the Piper

Enquiring of the Piper
Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
My course at Telford College recently came to a close and left me slightly disappointed and needing something else. Our tutor was a nice guy but slightly disorganised and seemed to have not updated the course, or its files, since last time the course ran. I feel we spent waaaay too much time on Photoshop changing, for example, the colour of lamp posts instead of learning about actual photography. I know not everyone is going to be happy all the time but the title "Introduction to Digital Photography" was vague and had little accompanying detail to help make a decision. Hence me getting a bit bored, yet someone else who by week 4 still didn't know how to turn the flash off on her camera. It was hard to say who the course was pitched at really but the "digital" side should have been more clearly emphasised over the "photography" side.

So now I am going to try un-digital photography at Stevenson College - they have a beginners course using black and white film techniques and darkroom processing. Maybe that's what I'm looking for, and in the meantime I'll keep happily snapping away to myself.

Speaking of which, I am really enjoying taking my camera round the streets of Edinburgh where the whole summer / tourist / festival thing is really kicking off. I enjoy taking pictures of people going about their business but of course there are rules. Try sticking a camera suddenly in someone's face and they tend not to like it, and I don't quite have the guts of this guy.
I am learning, though, to sit still and let the people come to me. In a strange reversal, while a moving photographer suddenly photographing a stationary person can be seen as invasive, a moving person walking into a photographer's shot generally apologises for being there...