Thursday, 6 August 2020


The days are hot, and the nights warm.  Autumn feels too far away. 

Because of lockdown, foraging is limited to a local area, as is wanderings to megaliths of interest.  Venturing too far seems like a risk too far, just now.

Local woodlands are not enough; wider areas to roam are needed.

The solace found in the cooler air of mountain woodlands remains unavailable as summer, and confinement continues.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Scottish Customs: From the Cradle to the Grave

Author: Margaret Bennett
ISBN: 184158293X / 9781841582931

Why did I choose this book? I have an avid interest in the history, and folklore of the Highlands, even before moving here last year.  I am curious about the superstitions, and such like surrounding life events of the Scottish people.

What did I like? Oh, everything, but particularly the inclusion of some Gaelic and Scots in the words used by folk.

This book is mostly a compilation of interviews with Scottish folk recalling the procedures for, and celebrations of significant events in the human life cycle: birth, baptism, marriage, divorce, and death.  The author has arranged this methodically - if not strictly by region - and transcribed them in the speaker's own words, with accompanying translations if needed. 

I have to say there is a broad range of lore, custom and attitude covered in this book. What I found fascinating was how the customs changed over the years, sometimes within less than a decade, and how the culture of incomers might have effected such changes.

It is a good introduction for the lay person, such as myself, despite being a scholarly work.  I read elsewhere someone said this is not a book you read cover to cover, but delve into from time to time.  I disagree.  I read it from cover to cover, savouring every record contained within. 

What makes this book a real gem is the extensive endnotes providing the source of each interview, and further explanation of various snippets within them.  There is also a long bibliography, and "further reading" list for those who wish to learn more.  For these two things alone, I am grateful to Margaret Bennett.

Although I have a paperback copy, it was left in storage during my move [Sadly, along with most of my library for the time being.]  So, I read this on my Kindle and was able to make extensive notes for future reference, as I am sure to return to this book regularly.

I was happy to find no typographical errors in the Kindle edition, which sometimes seems to happen these days.

What didn't I like? Is it really a complaint that there were too many books in the further reading section that I now want to read?

Would I recommend it? Yes.  I would highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Review: Elemental Tangents
Composer: Stephen Paine
Photographer: Tracey Swain
ISBN: 9780993252105

Full disclosure: "Elemental Tangents" was offered to me by the photographer in exchange for a review.  As I adore photography, and music, I was happy to do so.

"Elemental Tangents" is a unique fusion of images, and sound.  The elements of earth, air, fire, water, and spirit are encapsulated in the imagery of Tracey Swain's photographs, and the music of Stephen Paine.

I appreciate good photography, and the music being in the style of ynth, chill out, meditation style is the perfect accompaniment.  It is a unique experience to peruse photographs with music made to accompany it, or to listen to music with imagery designed to enhance the meditative experience.  It's hard to explain this fusion properly; it has to be experienced.

Stephen Paine's music is evocative of Enigma, and Deep Forest.  It is the style of music that allows you drift to other places, which is perfect if you use Tracey's photographs to guide you.

It's not just a CD of music with clever liner notes; it's a book with music designed for reflection on the elements.

I would have preferred this to be a coffee table book, so that the photographs could be better appreciated, with a slot for the CD rather than a CD case-sized book.  This is just a minor quibble.

Would I recommend it?  Yes.  If you enjoy meditation, if you enjoy photography, if you like meditative/chill music, then this is definitely for you.  It truly is an experience.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Artificial islands older than Stonehenge stump scientists

A study of crannogs in Scotland's Outer Hebrides reveals some were built more than 3,000 years earlier than previously thought. But what purpose did they serve?

When it comes to studying Neolithic Britain (4,000-2,500 B.C.), a bit of archaeological mystery is to be expected. Since Neolithic farmers existed long before written language made its way to the British Isles, the only records of their lives are the things they left behind. And while they did leave us a lot of monuments that took, well, monumental effort to build—think Stonehenge or the stone circles of Orkney—the cultural practices and deeper intentions behind these sites are largely unknown.

Now it looks like there may potentially be a whole new type of Neolithic monument for archaeologists to scratch their heads over: crannogs.

Read more from the article at National Geographic here.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Co-Fhad-Thràth an Earraich

'S e co-fhad-thràth an earraich a th' ann an-diugh.  Today is Spring Equinox, and this is how to say it in Scottish Gaelic.