A Lovely Little Story

It’s perfectly true too…I have some stills from the security cameras somewhere and will dig them out.

It happened a few years ago now at a small but busy hospital in the Highlands of Scotland. In the wee small hours the door alarm was triggered but when staff went to let in whoever it was who needed help there was no one there.

Later, when the CTCV camera was checked a pair of otters could clearly be seen at the glass door, standing on their hind legs, obviously trying to get in. They made off when the alarm sounded. A cute little story but even stranger was to come. The next morning the cleaners spotted a mess on the glass. On closer inspection it turned out to be bloody otter paw prints.

Had this pair of animals come to the hospital looking for help? Who can tell?

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More Damn Wind Turbines

I have just learnt that there is to be a huge new wind farm just down the road in the Monadliath Mountains. This is a shocking and unwelcome development. I am unconvinced of their effectiveness and they despoil pristine hill country. I am convinced, however, that there is someone in someone else’s pocket. Now, I am all for eco-friendly power, indeed, Strathnuin has had hydro since my ancestors installed it in the late 1800s but wind turbines are not the way forward.

We need to be installing more micro hydro, more solar and more pumped storage hydro to make use of day time solar excess. Every new house built now should have solar. We should be spending more time and money investigating wave and tidal power and the potential of seawater osmotic power. In twenty years time we will be wringing our hands and sobbing that we have covered all the wild places with useless wind turbines.

There, sorry, rant over.

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Archie Update

I suppose it’s about time I gave you an update about what’s going on in Archie’s World. Well, he’s currently revising madly for his school exams, GCSE’s next year and then on to 6th form. He’s already planning his post 6th form trip. He’s aiming to go to the Himalayas with some pals, not sure why yet but I don’t think it’ll be an Everest attempt. I’m currently writing up his experiences from last autumn with his friend Ben…look out for a new book called The Monster Factory soon!

What about Seq you ask? Well, she’s out in British Columbia with her mother’s family and having some very interesting experiences there. She emails me regularly with updates. You never know, one day I may write them up.

I hate to be a name dropper but the other day Ray Mears told me something very interesting. Something I had not heard before. He told me that in the Algonquin world of the North East of America the word Windigo is taboo, it simply must not be uttered. As to why, well, I’m not even going to say here.

Don’t forget, you can now order a proper printed version of Windigo from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Windigo-ebook/dp/B00D3RCBKE/ref%3Dsr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1370377895&sr=1-2&keywords=windigo

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Great Blogger…

Just come across this great blog: http://jodiellewellyn.wordpress.com/ why not pop over and have a read.

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A Real Print Book!

At long last we have a print copy of Windigo available to purchase: https://www.createspace.com/4601476

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Ghost Cars and Suchlike

I spend a fair bit of time on the gorgeous Isle of Skye, not only because the stunning scenery and the peacefulness provide a great writing environment but also because of the sheer level of supernatural lore. It really is everywhere; this can come as something of a surprise as the western parts of the Highlands are still a stronghold of Christianity. I have experienced my fair share or weirdness here for certain but one that sticks in my mind was my encounter with ‘the ghost car’.

The summer nights here are short and not very dark but dark enough to need headlights. I was pootling down the A87 between Portree and Broadford on a deserted late night road. If you know this stretch f road you’ll know that it runs through some pretty remote and spectacular country. The road undulates and twists through the scenery glimpses of it can be seen ahead and behind. In the Highlands it’s usual practice to pull over to allow faster traffic to overtake you. Well, lights appeared a couple of undulations away and seemed to grow closer.

Minutes passed, I went by no pull-ins or side roads, the lights were now a single undulation away. I looked ahead, checked the mirror again, lights getting closer. I pulled over on to the verge, I detest bright lights in the mirrors, they give me a headache, and waited for the vehicle to pass. I waited and waited. An unreasonably long time.

A prickle of concern hit me, what if the vehicle had come off the road, it might be hours before someone found it. I’d better go and check. I turned and retraced my journey until I was well past the last spot I had seen the lights. I turned again and slowly scoured the open moorland. Nothing. Not a sausage. I didn’t know of the ghost car then, didn’t know of the numerous sightings over the years. I do now!

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Outdoor Education

Archie learned a valuable lesson last night. He decided to go off into the woods on the edge of the hill ground to test his new jungle hammock and basha (also known as a tarp or bivi). It’s a way of sleeping outdoors which raises you off the ground and makes for a lovely airy sleep. So much better than a stuffy tent. He chose last night as it was blowing a hoolie and raining buckets. Whilst experienced with this system in good weather he’d never actually used it in poor (read atrocious) weather. His mistake was not to tie ‘drip strings’ on to his hammock straps. I had forgotten to mention it and obviously Magnus never had. Needless to say the puddle which formed in his hammock was a salutary lesson; one he won’t forget.

This got me to thinking about education and the value of allowing children to make their own mistakes and also the value of outdoor and adventure training. As you may know if you have read Windigo Archie goes to a school which places great value on Adventure training and getting kids out of their comfort zones. I have seen this pay huge dividends in terms of confidence and resourcefulness and I would urge everyone to encourage their children to get involved in Duke of Edinburgh schemes, Outward Bound, Scouts & Guides or similar, wherever possible. I know not everyone has the opportunity and I would love it to be so but if you have the chance, do!

I thought too of my own childhood, running free from dawn to dusk in the long Highland summer days, pockets knives and boats, dogs and catapults, fishing rods and skinned knees. We were feral, but we learned things. We learned that it was not a good idea to fall out of trees, to poke an adder or to not duck when the boom swung over. As the Walker children’s father put it so well in Swallows and Amazons ‘If not duffers, won’t drown’.

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