Mike Vickers' Blog

June 12, 2019

Boris?

Filed under: Boris, Europe, Politics, Trump — derryvickers @ 6:37 pm

Is it Boris?

Oh No! Its Trump.

So alike.

Trump or Boris

Trump and Boris: so look alike

June 9, 2019

The Guardian

Filed under: Communications, Journalism, Personal, Sustainability, World Class — derryvickers @ 6:58 am

The Guardian Newspaper – why I read it

As child in WW2 I was introduced to the Guardian at home because the only paper available from the local newsagent Was The Manchester Guardian; may be because we lived in Congleton not more than 25 miles from Manchester.

Anyway, the Guardian stuck to me and I have read it ever since. Even when I was abroad as a consultant there was the Guardian Weekly on the newsstand or failing that I could get it by post; the postal version used to be printed on very thin but durable paper; lovely!

I still get the Guardian Weekly posted to me even though I am back in Scotland.

And I cheat, I read the Guardian online daily, for which I feel honour bound to pay a quarterly subscription.

For those who do not know the background and the Policy of the (Manchester) Guardian just get a flavour by reading Katharine Viner’s (the editor) history at

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/16/a-mission-for-journalism-in-a-time-of-crisis

June 7, 2019

The Magic Flute – an Opera for Our Time?

Filed under: Brexit, Mozart, Opera, Scotland — derryvickers @ 8:41 pm

If Beethoven is the greatest all round composer; Mozart is THE greatest composer of Opera. Of course, Puccini has his moments, particularly in Tosca and La Bohème but Mozart is at times funny with it even in Don Giovani.

On Thursday we went to see Scottish Opera’s performance of the Magic Flute directed by Thomas Allen. Mozart’s music is enchanting and here was under conductor Tobias Ringborg. Sitting on the front row of the stalls with Ringborg just a metre away I got all his facial expressions singing pointedly to the orchestra and urging them on not only with his baton but more so with his body language. It’s great sitting on the front as I can watch all the music being played. I have learned a lot on the sounds each instrument makes and how the nominally the same instrument varies from one to another – the double base is a good example, and the horn is continually evolving.

OK, the singing was excellent as was the theatricals, singers have long since sung on the spot and are taught to act their parts. And I have no idea how the complicated set is readily ported to six theatre across the UK, 4 being in Scotland. Allen has incorporated his background of the Glasgow shipyards where he was brought up into the set.

The singing is in English, but we still have the sub-titles which I like as they help my deafness.

The libretto is nominally around the Masonic Ritual, but it is in tune with the problems of UK politics emphasising the need to work together and opposes the attempted dominance of the Queen of the Night – the Brexiteers such as Johnson.

For those who wish to get a feel of this performance go to

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-pty-pty_extension&hsimp=yhs-pty_extension&hspart=pty&p=scottis+opera+magic+flute#id=5&vid=cf06998f5380b2bb83ff4729100e2db2&action=view

June 6, 2019

The Only Man in any Semblance of Conrol in Westminster

Filed under: Bercow, Brexit, Europe, Westminster — derryvickers @ 5:32 pm

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has said it is “blindingly obvious” that the new Conservative prime minister will not be able to suspend parliament to push through a no-deal Brexit.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/06/next-tory-pm-will-not-be-able-to-suspend-parliament-bercow

 

Macron and Trump

Filed under: D Day, Trump, War — derryvickers @ 1:01 pm

Macron or Trump – World Leaders

On looks: I know who I would turn to

A comparison

Macron and Trump at Colleville-sur-Mer

June 5, 2019

Britain must not turn its back on the world made possible by D-day

Filed under: Brexit, D Day, Europe, Personal, War — derryvickers @ 10:59 pm

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/05/britain-d-day-commemoration-trump-brexit-war

Martin Kettle

I cannot emphasise more clearly Kettle’s message

My primary school lessons were paused to hear a live broadcast from the landing on the D Day morning.

75 years in Europe without a major war. Brexit is at best an anachronism.

June 1, 2019

McCain v Trump

Filed under: John McCain, Trump, USA — derryvickers @ 7:38 pm

Scathing but Correct – The Scotsman Editorial Saturday 1st June 2019

‘During this time, Trump avoided conscription several times because he was a student and once because of a “bone spur” in his foot. However, in 2015, Trump had the temerity to say McCain was “not a war hero” because he was captured, saying “I like people who weren’t captured”. …In contrast, at a 2008 presidential election rally, McCain defended Barack Obama after one of his own supporters claimed the Democrat was untrustworthy and an “Arab”. “No ma’am … he’s a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as President,” McCain said as the crowd voiced their surprise.’

‘In a parallel universe, The Scotsman would have been pleased to welcome President John McCain and it is his ethos, not Trump’s, that our politicians should embrace’

https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/welcome-donald-trump-we-d-much-rather-it-was-president-john-mccain-scotsman-leader-comment-1-4939347?utm_campaign=The%20Scotsman%20-%20Daily%20RSS&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=73265722&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–AHTBcavXFUO46nzlsF-oTsHD_PIImdb2WpGvNlNvpEc-cqPI47JlanN7awxyrunHL9cScnsq4l1YvEvxrk23OVZsYTA&_hsmi=73265722

 

May 31, 2019

Knoydart: una comunità con un futuro.

Filed under: Knoydart, Land Ownership, Scotland, Sustainability, Travel — derryvickers @ 2:41 pm

Archiviato in: Knoydart, proprietà fondiaria, ferrovie, realtà, sostenibilità — derryvickers @ 11:46 am modifica questo

Abbiamo trascorso tre giorni a Knoydart soggiornando nella Bunkhouse della Knoydart Foundation a Inverie. Inverie è il villaggio principale, anzi l’unico villaggio.

The Village

Il villaggio

Ci sono alcune case sparse in tutta la peninsulare.

Abbiamo fatto due buone passeggiate da Inverie, a Doune dove c’è un buon ristorante vicino alla riva (anche se a 200 metri in discesa ci siamo astenuti dal campionamento) e alla cascata su una bruciatura sotto Ladhar Beinn (un Munro), ciascuno circa 20 km.

The Waterfall

La cascata

 

Vedi mappa semplice

Map of the peninsula

A Simple Map of Knoydart

Una semplice mappa di Knoydart

Un piccolo background: Knoydart fu uno dei primi acquisti della Comunità dal proprietario terriero della penisola di Knoydart. La metà è ora di proprietà della Comunità, mentre l’altra metà è di proprietà del John Muir Trust. Knoydart non è un’isola, anche se in realtà è come non vi è alcun collegamento stradale alla comunità. Si può raggiungere a piedi da Loch Hourn, ma ci vogliono due giorni oltre brughiera. Si può anche camminare da Glenfinnan ma al momento c’è un ponte vitale sostituito.

Cito “la Fondazione Knoydart è stata istituita nel 1997 per lavorare per conto della Comunità nel prendere la proprietà della zona di terra coperta da Knoydart estate in quel momento. La penisola di Knoydart, che non è collegata alla rete stradale continentale, fa parte di un’ area panoramica nazionale (Clicca per scaricare il foglio informativo). ”

Per un po’ più di dettaglio vedere https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoydart con un sacco di foto.

Ma l’essenza di Knoydart è la sua comunità che ha costruito fino a circa 100 persone. Knoydart fu efficacemente cancellato durante le Highland Clearances. Le persone naturalmente lasciano, ma più arrivano. C’è ora una scuola primaria attiva, mentre i bambini delle scuole secondarie sono boarder settimanali a Mallaig.

Boats at Mallaig Pier

Mallaig – a busy port

Mallaig – un porto occupato

la città più vicina con un collegamento stradale continentale. _ la Comunità deve essere autoportante e c’è il negozio del villaggio, il caffè gestito da due eccellenti sorelle da forno, l’ufficio della Fondazione e il local pub che afferma di essere il più lontano ovest sulla terraferma di qualsiasi pub in nel Regno Unito. L’elettricità è alimentata da un sistema idroelettrico degnato e costruito a livello locale, fornito da un vicino lago e TV e Internet da un ricevitore/trasmettitore, alto sopra il villaggio; anche, casa progettato e costruito. Lo schema è comune collegamento in Mallaig e South Skye pure.

Un’attività principale è la registrazione per l’esportazione

The Timber Yard

Il cantiere del legname

; case sono sorprendentemente costruite in legno e ci sono alcune belle nuove nel villaggio. La terra viene reimpiantata per il futuro, anche se le piantature semplici abbondano ancora.

The Waterfall

Un boschetto di betulla incontaminata sulla strada per la cascata

. Mentre lo stalking del cervo può essere considerato uno sport dei ricchi, su Knoydart è una necessità come i cervi devono essere abbattuta per controllare il loro numero; nuova scherma abbonda. La Fondazione sta per iniziare a raddoppiare le dimensioni della sala del villaggio; è il centro della Comunità, ma ha bisogno di espandersi per fornire una casa per tutto ciò che va avanti. Un nostro amico è Davie Newton che intraprende e dirige la gestione operativa. C’è sempre molto da fare e mentre eravamo lì, c’era un gruppo di volontari ‘ jolly ‘ dal John Muir Trust rifacendo i fossati; l’acqua piovana è sempre un problema.

John Muir Volunteers

The John Muir Team of Volunteers

Il team di volontari di John Muir

Anche se non c’è alcun collegamento stradale al mondo esterno Knoydart ha la propria rete stradale e auto e 4by4s sono traghettato e molto apprezzato! Il traghetto è naturalmente un collegamento essenziale per le persone e il cibo e per sottoscrivere come c’è fiducia nella Comunità la compagnia di traghetti, Western Isles Cruises, ha recentemente acquisito una nuova barca veloce che si strati tra Mallaig e Inverie e il tempo di attraversamento è ridotto da tre quarti di un’ora a meno di mezz’ora con la più antica barca tradizionale (che è ancora in servizio).

The big boat with Rhum in the distance

La grande barca con rhum in lontananza

Una caratteristica fondamentale dello sviluppo è la gestione della terra e c’è un Ranger dedicato e molto attivo, Amie, che gestisce la terra e si concentra sulla “sostenibilità” in particolare piantando nuovi alberi. Sottolinea che le foreste più vecchie non possono essere facilmente raccolte perché sono state piantate con l’estrazione di cavalli e non ci sono più cavalli su Knoydart; un cambiamento non facilmente reversibile dove i trattori ora dominano.  Amie organizza viaggi organizzati intorno alla sua Land Rover; La Land Rover Defender è la dominante 4 per 4 non sorprende e non sono chiaro che cosa accadrà a pezzi di ricambio ora la Land Rover non li stanno facendo più. Naturalmente, i turisti sono una fonte di ricchezza e Inverie è un centro per escursionisti appassionati che arrivano in barca o in da Loch Hourn e Glenfinnan.

Per inciso, per i tifosi di Stuart Glenfinnan è dove Bonny Prince Charlie alzò il suo standard nel 1745. Più recentemente per i fan di Harry Potter, il ruscello Jacobite scorre tra Fort William e Mallaig via Glenfinnan sul viadotto di cemento Bob. Il treno e gli allenatori erano a Mallaig stazione quando siamo arrivati

The Jacobite waiting to depart from Mallaig

Il Jacobite in attesa di partire da Mallaig

A mio modo di vedere, la comunità di Knoydart deve essere lodata; hanno acquistato e istituito la Fondazione e nel corso dei pochi anni siamo stati andando a Knoydart la Comunità sta crescendo in forza e resilienza e forse, soprattutto, la vita sta assumendo una “normalità”. Apprezzo che la vita in estate sembra facile (a parte i moscerini)

Sunset looking towards Rhum

Tramonto guardando verso rhum

ma poi ci sono i lunghi inverni bui, anche se alcuni della comunità ci hanno detto che questi sono giorni migliori in quanto possono rilassarsi e fare ciò che non possono in estate. La Scozia ha bisogno di tali comunità, sostituzioni per i villaggi rimossi dai Clearances, ed è bello vedere Knoydart fiorente e il New Village Hall è un segno per il futuro positivo.

Knoydart: A Community with a future.

Filed under: Knoydart, Land Ownership, Railways, Reality, Sustainability — derryvickers @ 11:46 am

We spend three days at Knoydart staying in the Knoydart Foundation’s bunkhouse at Inverie. Inverie is the main village, indeed the only village.

The Village

There are a few scattered houses across the peninsular.

We did two good walks from Inverie, to Doune where there is a good restaurant near the shore (although at 200 meters downhill we refrained from sampling) and to the Waterfall on a burn below Ladhar Beinn (a Munro), each around 20 kms.

The Waterfall

 

See simple map

Map of the peninsula

A Simple Map of Knoydart

A little background: Knoydart was one of the early buys out by the Community from the landowner of the Knoydart Peninsular. Half is now owned by the Community while the other half is owned by the John Muir Trust. Knoydart is not an island although effectively it is as there is no road connection to the Community. You can walk there from Loch Hourn, but it takes two days over moorland. You can also walk from Glenfinnan but at present there is a vital bridge being replaced.

I quote ‘The Knoydart Foundation was established in 1997 to work on behalf of the community in taking ownership of the area of land covered by Knoydart Estate at the time. The Knoydart peninsula, which is not connected to the mainland road network, is part of a National Scenic Area (click to download information leaflet).’

For a little more detail see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoydart with plenty of photos.

But the essence of Knoydart is its community which has built up to around 100 people. Knoydart was effectively cleared during the Highland Clearances. People do of course leave but more arrive. There is now an active primary school while secondary school children are weekly boarders at Mallaig

Boats at Mallaig Pier

Mallaig – a busy port

the nearest town with a mainland road connection._ The community must be self-supporting and there is the village shop, the cafe run by two excellent baking sisters, the Foundation Office and the Local Pub which claims to be the furthest west on the mainland of any pub in the UK. Electricity is powered by a locally deigned and built hydro scheme supplied from a nearby loch and TV and Internet from a receiver / transmitter, high above the village; also, home designed and built. The scheme is communal linking in Mallaig and South Skye as well.

A main activity is logging for export

The Timber Yard

; houses are unsurprisingly built from wood and there are some lovely new ones in the village. Land is being replanted for the future although simple plantings still abound

An untouched birch grove on the way to the Waterfall

. While deer stalking may be considered a sport of the wealthy, on Knoydart it is a necessity as the deer need to be culled to control their numbers; new fencing abounds. The Foundation is about to start doubling size of the Village Hall; it is the centre of the Community but needs expanding to provide a home for all that goes on.
A friend of ours is Davie Newton who undertakes and directs the operational management. There is always plenty to do and while we were there, there was a group of ‘jolly’ volunteers from the John Muir Trust redoing the ditches; rainwater is always a problem.

John Muir Volunteers

The John Muir Team of Volunteers

Although there is no road connection to the outside world Knoydart has its own road network and cars and 4by4s are ferried in and much appreciated! The ferry is of course an essential connection for people and food and to underwrite how there is faith in the community the Ferry Company, Western Isles Cruises, has recently acquired a new fast boat which plies between Mallaig and Inverie and the crossing time has reduced from three quarters of an hour to less than half an hour with the older more traditional boat (which is still in service).

The big boat with Rhum in the distance

A key feature of development is managing the land and there is a dedicated and very active Ranger, Amie, who manages the land and concentrates on ‘Sustainability’ particularly planting new trees. She points out that the older forests can’t be easily harvested because they were planted with horse extraction and there are no horses on Knoydart anymore; a not easily reversible change where tractors now dominate.  Amie provides organized trips round her Land Rover; The Land Rover Defender is the dominant 4 by 4 not surprisingly and I am unclear what will happen to spares now the Land Rover are not making them anymore.
Of course, tourists are a source of wealth and Inverie is a centre for keen walkers coming by boat or in from Loch Hourn and Glenfinnan.

As an aside, for Stuart fans Glenfinnan is where Bonny Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745. More recently for Harry Potter fans the Jacobite Stream hauled train runs between Fort William and Mallaig via Glenfinnan over Concrete Bob’s viaduct. The train and coaches were in Mallaig Station when we arrived

The Jacobite waiting to depart from Mallaig

As I see it the Knoydart community is to be lauded; they have bought out and set up the foundation and over the few years we have been going to Knoydart the community is growing in strength and resilience and perhaps more importantly life is taking on a ‘normality’. I appreciate that life in the Summer looks easy (apart from the midges)

Sunset looking towards Rhum

but then there are the long dark winters, although some of the community have told us these are better days as they can relax and do what they can’t in the summer. Scotland needs such communities, replacements for the villages removed by the Clearances, and it is good to see Knoydart flourishing and the New Village Hall is a sign for the positive future.

The Train from Wigan Pier

Filed under: Uncategorized — derryvickers @ 8:36 am

George Orwell could have approved

Train from Wigan Pier

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