Category: tourism

The Isle of Mull

and the White-tailed Eagle.

This is a story about one of the islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. But more than that it is an opportunity to share with you all a video that my son, Alex, and his partner, Lisa, took on a recent trip to that part of the world.

But first a few words about Mull from the Scotland Info Guide.

Isles of Mull and Iona

The Isle of Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland in the council area of Argyll and Bute. Mull is the fourth largest Scottish island and has an area of 338 square miles. The coastline of Mull is almost 300 miles long. The population of Mull, Iona and Ulva is around 1,800 people which is probably doubled in the summer because of the many tourists that visit Mull each year. Much of the population lives in Tobermory, the only burgh on Mull until 1973, and its capital. Mull is surrounded by the Sound of Mull in the north, the Firth of Lorn in the south and east and the Atlantic Ocean in the west.

History of Mull

Mull has been inhabited since around 6000 BC. Bronze Age inhabitants built menhirs, brochs and a stone circle. In the 14th century Mull became part of the Lordship of the Isles. After the collapse of the Lordship in 1493 the island was taken over by the clan MacLean, and in 1681 by the clan Campbell. During the Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th centuries, the population fell from 10,000 to less than 4000.

Wildlife on Mull

The island is home to over 250 different bird species including the White-tailed Eagle, which was reintroduced in the nearby Island of Rùm and migrated to Mull, where they now have a stronghold. Minke whales, porpoises and dolphins are among the sea life that can be seen on boat tours from Mull.

Now here is the video.

It is a beautiful review of what must be a magical place!

A dog’s journey!

A guest post from a dear friend!

Many years ago I found myself teaching at a unit attached to Exeter University. I was teaching sales and marketing. I can’t remember clearly the events that produced the meeting between myself and Chris Snuggs. But I recall the outcome.

Chris was the director of studies at a French institute named ISUGA. Let me borrow from their website:

The ISUGA Europe-Asia International BBA Bachelor’s degree is a 4-year cursus following the Baccalaureate or High School diploma which combines studying International Business and Marketing with learning an Asian or English language and comprising university exchange stays, as well as internships in French and International businesses.

ISUGA is located in Quimper, Western Brittany relatively close to Devon in England where I was living.

In Chris’ words: “It must have been through them that we got your name when we needed someone to teach Selling. Now I come to think of it, we HAD someone lined up for a whole week and he CANCELLED on us, so you were a last-minute replacement.”

For quite a few years I went across to Quimper to teach for Chris. Mainly by ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff. During the summer months I flew to Quimper from Exeter in our group-owned TB20. (The picture below is of the type only not our aircraft.)

A Socata TB20

Since that day we have remained in reasonable contact and I regard Chris as good friend.

A few days ago Chris published on his blog his account of his journey from Quimper back to Ramsgate, in east Kent. It was hilarious and I asked Chris if I could publish it and share with everyone.

Chris not only said yes but insisted on improving it (his words) including expanding it to what it is below.

So with no further ado, here is Chris’ post.

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“A DOG’s Travel Across Northern France” … as in “Doddering Old Git”

I am officially a “Senior Citizen”, but as such prefer much of what passes for “The Good Old Days” when in this case we were called “Old Age Pensioners” – MUCH less PC and wokeish AND more realistic – but DOGS sounds much better (and more informative) than OAPs.

A simple trip to Blighty to see the family for XMAS was not supposed to be a saga, but it turned out to be one: 

Like ET, I was going home, though not quite as far – though it probably seemed like it.

I got about 3 hours sleep max Thursday night/Friday morning; worried about oversleeping even though I had THREE electronic wake-up devices.

I got up at 04:30 to finalize packing and clean up (the worst of) my mess.

I went out into the street in front of the house at 06:45 to await the taxi – it was raining, albeit not heavily.

The taxi was 5 minutes late, but the driver didn’t apologize. (I was going to say “woman driver” but I believe that sex differentiation is no longer allowed.)

I tried to help her (it, hir, shim?) load my heavy suitcase into *** boot (car, not footwear).

I lightly touched the car with the suitcase, and shim said: “Mind my car. Your suitcase is too heavy.”

I nearly said: “So are you, but it’s probably your hormones or your genes.” but decided that discretion was the better part of insult as I had to catch a train ……

We got to the station in plenty of time, only for me then to find that the train was due to go from platform C (usually it’s A as you leave the entrance hall).

I then found out/remembered that there is no lift at Quimper station. “This is not going to be my day,” I thought …

As I approached the stairs down to the access tunnel, I pretended to be a Doddery Old Git on the point of collapse (no comments please) and a nice young man helped me with the case.

Same procedure with a different bloke to go up to platform C. I actually tried this ploy with a pretty young lady first, but just got a funny look ….

Eventually got onto the right and very crowded train; my “This is not a gasmask” COVID mask was very reassuring as the virus probably had a field day circulating the carriage. I got some more funny looks, but two people asked me where I got my mask, so I am thinking of merchandising them ….

Got to Paris 4 hours later – showed a railway worker my little map where the taxi was supposed to be waiting and he pointed me in direction X saying authoritatively: “Tout au bout.” (“right at the end” for those who left school at 14).

Seemed a bit iffy to me (I vaguely remembered having gone somewhere else the last time I had done the journey, but couldn’t remember where. Does that happen to you?), but I followed his directions in the obviously-idiotic belief that someone actually working in a place would know where the taxis would be.

Of course, there was no sign of a taxi area at the distant far end of the HUGE Montparnasse Station, so I asked another railway bod.

He pointed in the 180° opposite direction and said the same as the first bloke, so I had to retrace my steps and go another 200 metres past where I had started to one of the no doubt multiple exits.

On exiting I was surrounded by some Middle Eastern gentlemen (without beards as it happens) who were desperate to take me somewhere.

I told them I had booked a taxi already and they suddenly lost interest.

I then got a call on my posh new mobile, but as with every other mobile I have ever owned it is specifically designed so that one cannot easily answer a call – first there is always some other leftover screen on the thing which by the time you have got rid of the caller has given up, and second you have to SWIPE to even see a green button which you then press – and I don’t know who invented SWIPE but hanging, drawing and quartering while being burned alive in oil over a period of several hours would be a suitable punishment.

This was all way beyond me, so I missed the call.

Miraculously, however, I did manage to call back and it was in fact the driver.

After two or three calls in each direction we managed to find each other physically as well as phonally.

We set off for La Gare du Nord, which should be about 15 minutes max by road – but it took us an hour and a quarter … (This was Paris in the rain on Friday at lunchtime – but I did learn a few new French swearwords from the driver.)

Fortunately, I had plenty of time between trains and so managed to find and embark on my TER to Calais.

This was an uneventful trip except that I was opposite a young mother with an inquisitive baby who kept looking at me for some reason (the baby not the woman ….).

I thought about playing with the baby but did not want to be arrested as a paedophile. I did plonk a small orange on the little table between us thinking she might want to play with it, but I got a funny look from her mother …. so I picked it up (the orange not the baby) and ate it – getting more funny looks. Strange … I get that all the time.

There was no internet on the TER so I tried to doze, but dozing with a high-decibel baby one metre away is a skill I have not yet mastered – and probably never will.

Arrived at Calais station – it took me 10 minutes to find the lift to get to the exit: in fact, one has to be led across an actual line by a railway bod and then take the lift – which is conveniently hidden.

But once outside the station I got a taxi right away. (a rare plus chalked up!)

I was dropped at the port outside a little hut marked “Billets”: (“tickets” for the linguistically-challenged).

This was weird – there used to be a big hall full of foot-passengers, but it has all changed – there IS a big hall, but it is empty except for two WWI biplanes. “Perhaps they want to fly us over?” I thought.

Went into the ticket office to be told my boat was cancelled (no explanation was offered) and they would try to get me on the next one. I never did understand why they would “try” (there was hardly anyone else there), but it seems they had to wait for a phone call.

It was a very small cabin with four guichets (Would you like a French dictionary for XMAS?) and three simple chairs, on one of which – after having my particulars scrutinized and recorded – I was invited to sit – which I did, not sure whether I should show appreciation or keep going with the scowl I could feel coming on ….

Behind the desks several women came and went, but spent all the time yacking to one another about women stuff while three of us sat waiting in stony and in my case exhausted silence (it was by now 18:00 and I had been up since 04:30).

I eventually got up and complained, something that comes naturally to we DOGs. I said I did not understand the delay, that I needed a coffee and a toilet break and that the least they could do was install some beds in their little office for those in my situation (and condition) who had to wait overnight for information about getting on a replacement ferry. I wanted to add a question about whether they had been trained in defibrillation techniques but by then I had run out of breath.

The charming young lady smiled and said they had none of the things that might alleviate my stress (adding the word “understandable” would have been nice) but that the large hall opposite might be open, and if not she could lend me a key to open it and visit the convenience.

I couldn’t be bothered to try to work out why she wouldn’t know whether the hall was open or not and that what I in fact most urgently needed was to get out of there without bothering with keys I would probably lose – which I did.

I then walked round the large hall three or four times admiring the WWI planes and wondering if the Red Baron had ever flown one of them. The fresh air and exercise refill renewed the oxygen supply to my needy brain.

I eventually staggered back to the ticket office and sat down on my hard chair again. I was tempted to feign a loud snore but as with the taxi driver in the morning decided that discretion was the better part of valour.

15 minutes later a phone call came and I was summoned to the guichet and given my ticket.

“Great,” I thought. “At last we can get outta here.”

THEN she told us that in 40 minutes someone would come to drive us to the boat.

I was fast losing the will to live, but thought that another dose of circling the large airplane hall might at least get my blood circulating again.

I told her where I was going and mentioned the hall and the planes (to be fair she did laugh at my joke about flying us across the Channel), but said: “That’s all run by the Chamber of Commerce.”, and of course we all know that no lunacy is beyond THAT organization.

I left after asking if she could send out a rescue party if I did not return – and she smiled again …. Smiles don’t of course achieve anything practical but they do at least make the pain somewhat more tolerable. 

I came back half an hour later, having admired the bi-planes once again and wondered whether the Red Baron had ever flown one – and indeed a lady driver soon turned up as predicted to drive us to the boat. (another rare plus chalked up …)

We had to go up and down two or three kerbs (nowhere lowered for people to wheel their too-heavy suitcases) and eventually got onto a bus.

Had to go up a multiply-zig-zagged ramp to get onto the boat, but I played the Doddery Old Git card again and someone helped with my case.

I had thought of taking my walking-stick on this trip to boost the DOG sympathy factor, but could not work out how I could possibly carry it simultaneously with the rest of my baggage.

I asked a boatbod what time we would be leaving and then arrive in Dover, and he said: “in 15 minutes and 20:00.”

40 minutes later we still had not left, so I asked someone else when we would be leaving and was told in 15 minutes.

We actually left 30 minutes later, and I decided that being 100% wrong in a prediction was not actually that bad as these things go.

When I asked yet anOTHER bod WHY there had been another delay he just rolled his eyes and said something about the Captain which I didn’t understand – but was past caring. 

Ten minutes later I asked the next available bod what time we would arrive in Dover and was told 20:30.

This was well past the time my taxi was booked, so I called to inform Eddy, the driver.

Fortunately, making calls on mobiles is easier than receiving them, so that was OK.

On the boat I got talking to a foot-passenger couple (there were only EIGHT of us!).

They were very nice and I gave them Taxi Supremo Andy’s phone number as they had nothing arranged for their arrival.

When we eventually got to Dover, there were no more checks (even though they made us walk through a maze of corridors in the totally empty border-control and customs instead of going straight to the taxi area – maybe they were filming us secretly?) and we eventually got to where I hoped to find Eddy the Driver.

However, there are huge roadworks going on just inside the port entrance and all the usual roads are blocked off and/or rerouted.

There was of course no sign of Eddy – OR any other taxis. Foot-passengers have a VERY low priority …..

Grateful for my phone once again, I called Eddy who said he was ALREADY in the port but had got lost.

Taxi-drivers getting lost is a bit ominous, so I assumed he was even more of a DOG than I am. Still, we DOGs have to stick together …..

I told him where we were ….. right near the entrance just past the roundabout at the bottom of the long clifftop descent to the port. For those who know Dover this is the easiest part of the entire port (or indeed of England) to find …..

Three exchanged calls later we finally met up physically as well as phonally – which was a reminder of Paris. In future, I am going to fix a GPS signal to myself and ensure my driver has military-standard tracking equipment. Perhaps Nathalie can arrange that?

Eddy was as suspected a bit of a DOG – but like me, very nice …… I asked if he could drop off my friends from the boat at Dover railway station before taking me back to Ramsgate – which he agreed to.

So we took them up the road to the station, where they unloaded their stuff from the boot.

I did think about getting out to check they didn’t take any of my four bits of luggage, but I was very tired and also thought that it would be impossible to confuse the grotty things I was carrying with any of their posh stuff from Parisian shops.

They gave Eddy an extra £8 for the slight detour. As I said they were very nice even if the lady’s perception and memory banks were highly undeveloped.

We then at last set off for Ramsgate, but Eddy took a wrong turn and we ended up driving towards Canterbury.

It takes a really advanced stage of dodderation to get lost driving from Dover to Ramsgate, so I will be contacting “The Guinness Book of Records”.

I decided against advising Eddy to do a U-turn in the pitch dark, and after driving four miles up a dual-carriageway we eventually got to a roundabout, retraced our wheels and made our way back to Dover.

Miraculously finding the right road to Ramsgate this time, we set off on the last lap. By now I was desperately hanging onto life by a thread.

Halfway to Ramsgate Eddy got a call from Taxiboss Andy’s Missus:

“The couple you dropped off at the station just rang; it seems they have got a package belonging to one of the other passengers.” ME! NO, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP …..

…. but they were nice people and apparently said they would wait at the station for us to come and pick up the bag.

I tried to keep calm, but remembered Einstein’s famous dictum. (SEE BELOW)

We stopped to check the boot and I saw that they had taken a plastic bag with two boxes of wine for my sister Maggie and another box of boiled eggs and fishsticks essential for my diet.

I asked Eddy if he minded going back, and he agreed to instantly – even without being promised any more dosh.

So back we went to the station, picked up the bag and Eddy collected another £10 for his trouble. (As I said, nice people …)

Off we set for Ramsgate again, and this time Eddy did not get lost ……. even we DOGs are capable of learning.

I eventually got to Ramsgate around 22:30 instead of the anticipated 20:00 – and of course I felt obliged to give Eddy a generous tip even though he DID get lost twice. Actually, everything in France had gone pretty smoothly as planned; it only went really tits-up when we got to Dover. I of course blame BREXIT ……

How was your day?

PS No insult to real dogs is intended in this account. As we know, if the world were ruled by dogs we would all be safer and happier, though the absence of tv and the internet would be a shame.

PPS I was fortunate to be able to employ Paul for brief periods over a number of years to teach business students about Selling and Marketing during my time as Director of Studies of a business school in France. His teaching was highly impressive, but even more so his habit of flying his own plane to Quimper. In this and many other ways he was and remains unique. As I told the students: “Listen to Paul’s advice and one day you will fly your own plane.”

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Marvellous.

Thank you, Chris!

The end of our present behaviours!

What is happening to Earth’s climate needs attention NOW!

Two charts recently from the BBC News.

The 10 years to the end of 2019 have been confirmed as the warmest decade on record by three global agencies. 

According to Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office, last year was the second warmest in a record dating back to 1850. The past five years were the hottest in the 170-year series, with the average of each one more than 1C warmer than pre-industrial.

The Met Office says that 2020 is likely to continue this warming trend.2016 remains the warmest year on record, when temperatures were boosted by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

This is the reality.

It affects every part of the world and it affects everyone. BUT! We, as in you and me, and everyone else, still haven’t got it.

The recent COP26 was progress and, especially, the next convention being held in a year’s time is important. But it is a long way from where we need to be. A very long way.

Patrice Ayme is someone that I follow and there have been times when I have gladly republished his posts. With his permission I should add.

Recently he published a post called Cataclysmic Seven Degree Centigrade Rise and I wanted to share it with you. Here is is:

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CATACLYSMIC SEVEN DEGREES CENTIGRADE RISE

Abstract: Expected rise of temperature in mountains correspond to a seven degree C rise. This informs global heating: in the long run, it will also be 7C. Large systems (Antarctica, Greenland) have greater thermal inertia, so their temperatures rise slower… But they will rise as much. In other words the so-called “forcing” by man-made greenhouse gases (which corresponds to 600 ppm of CO2) is universal, but the smaller the system, the faster the temperature rise

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Geographical systems with little thermal inertia (mountain glaciers) show an accelerated rate of heating of these parts which is only compatible with a seven (7) degrees rise in Celsius by 2100… A rise the IPCC of the UN considers impossible… But INERTIA says that it IS happening. The first thing this implies is that most forests will burn… worldwide. Then the ice shelves in Antarctica will follow.

TEMPS RISING ULTRA FAST IN MOUNTAINS

Anybody familiar with mountains worldwide know that temperatures are rising extremely fast: large glaciers I used to know have completely disappeared.. As in Chacaltaya, Bolivia. Or Portage, Alaska. The closest glacier to an Alpine village I went to as a child has been replaced by a larch forest (melezes)… One reason for this is that mountains are smaller in frozen mass than immense ensembles like Greenland and Antarctica. Moreover, the mountains’ permafrost is not as cold.  

From 1984 to 2017, the upper reaches of the fires in the Sierra Nevada of California rose more than 1,400 feet. Now the temperature in the lower atmosphere decreases by 7C every 1,000 meters. There are many potential factors to explain why fires go higher (although some contradict each other). To avoid paralysis by analysis, I will assume the rise in fires is all due to temperature rise. So what we have here is a 2.5C rise in 33 years.

….FROM SMALLER THERMAL INERTIA:

Mountain thermal capacity is accordingly reduced relative to those of Greenland and Antarctica. The proportionality factors are gigantic. Say the permafrost of a mountain range is of the order of 10^4 square kilometers, at a depth of one kilometer (typical of the Sierra Nevada of California or the Alps at a temp of -3C. By comparison, Antarctica is 14x 10^6 sq km at a depth of 4 kilometers of permafrost at a temp of -30C. Thinking in greater depth reveals the proportions to be even greater: individual mountains are of the order of square kilometers. This means that (using massively simplified lower bounds), Antarctica has a mass of cold which is at least 4 orders of magnitude higher than a mountain range: to bring Antarctica to seriously melt, as mountain ranges are right now, would require at least 10,000, ten thousand times, as much heat (or maybe even a million, or more, when considering individual mountains).  

As it is, mountains are exposed to a heat bath which makes their permafrost unsustainable. From their small thermal inertia, mountains warm up quickly. Greenland and Antarctica, overall, are exposed to the same bath, the same “forcing”, but because they are gigantic and gigantically cold, they resist more: they warm up, but much slower (moreover as warmer air carries more snow, it snows more while Antarctica warms up).

I have looked, in details at glaciologists records, from the US to Europe… Everywhere glaciologists say the same thing: expect a rise of the permafrost line of 1,000 meters… That corresponds to a SEVEN DEGREE CENTIGRADE RISE. Basically, while glaciers were found down to 2,500 meters in the Alps (some can still be seen in caves)… Expect that, in a few decades, none will occur below 3,500 meters… Thus speak the specialists, the glaciologists…

Mount Hood, Oregon, in August 1901 on the left, and August 2015, on the right. The Eliot glacier, front and center, which used to sprawl for miles, is in the process of disappearing completely.

What is happening then, when most climate scientists speak of holding the 1.5 C line (obviously completely impossible, even if humanity stopped emitting CO2 immediately)???… Or when they admit that we are on a 2.7C future in 2100? Well, those scientists have been captured by the establishment… They say what ensure their prosperous careers… At a global rise of 2.7 C, we get a migration of the permafrost line of around 500 kilometers towards the poles… Catastrophic, yes, but still, Antarctica will not obviously start to melt, big time. 

At 7C, the melting of the surrounding of Antarctica, including destabilization of West Antarctica, and the Aurora and Wilkes Basin can’t be avoided… They hold around 25 meters of sea level rise….

If it came to light that a seven degree centigrade rise is a real possibility, authorities would turn around and really do some things, which may destabilize the worldwide plutocratic establishment: carbon tariffs are an obvious example. Carbon tariffs could be imposed next week… and they would have a big impact of the CO2 production. So why are carbon tariffs not imposed? Carbon tariffs would destabilize the deindustrialization gravy train: by employing who are basically slaves in poor countries, plutocrats make themselves ever wealthier, while making sure there would be no insurrection at home… A trick already used in imperial Rome, by the Senatorial aristocracy/plutocracy. That would be highly effective… By the way, without saying so, of course, and maybe even unwittingly, this is basically what Trump had started to do…

The devil has these ways which the commons do not possess…

That would stop the crafty, dissembling nonsense that countries such as France are at 4.6 tons per capita of CO2 emissions per year… That’s only true when all the CO2 emitted to produce the goods the French need is NOT counted.. including deforestation in Brazil to grow soybean. With them counted, one gets to 11 tons or so, more than double… The wonderful graph of CO2 emissions collapsing in Europe is the same graph as collapsing industrial production…

The devil has these ways the commons have not even detected…

Carbon tariffs would be a way to solve two wrongs in one shot: the wrong of deindustrialization, of corrupt pseudo-leaders not putting the most advanced countries, their own countries, first… And the wrong of producing too much CO2.

Little fixes will go a long way, as long as they incorporate hefty financing fundamentally researching new energy (it does not really matter which type, as long as it is fundamental…)

Patrice Ayme

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Now this isn’t some academic treatise that doesn’t affect the likes of you and me. This is, as I have said, the harsh reality of NOW!

Here’s a photo of me and Jeannie together with Andy and Trish taken in March, 2018. On the edge of Crater Lake.

Then this is a stock photograph of Crater Lake taken in March, 2020.

Taken by Valerie Little

Not a great deal of difference but the trees in the photo above aren’t encased in snow as is the tree in the 2018 photo.

Now there is important news to bring you from COP 26. On Sunday Boris Johnson said:

Scientists say this would limit the worst impacts of climate change.

During a Downing Street news conference, Mr Johnson said: 

  • “We can lobby, we can cajole, we can encourage, but we cannot force sovereign nations to do what they do not wish to do”
  • “For all our disagreements, the world is undeniably heading in the right direction”
  • The “tipping point has been reached in people’s attitudes” – with leaders “galvanised and propelled by their electorates”
  • But “the fatal mistake now would be to think that we in any way cracked this thing”

Mr Johnson said that despite the achievements of the summit, his reaction was “tinged with disappointment”.

He said there had been a high level of ambition – especially from countries where climate change was already “a matter of life and death”. 

And “while many of us were willing to go there, that wasn’t true of everybody”, he admitted. But he added the UK could not compel nations to act. “It’s ultimately their decision to make and they must stand by it.”

That point about attitudes is interesting. Who would have thought, say, five years ago, that attitudes had changed so dramatically by late-2021.

One hopes that we will come to our collective senses but I can’t see the CO2 index being returned to its normal range without machines taking the excessive CO2 out of the atmosphere. Because, as was quoted on The Conversation nearly a year ago:

On Wednesday this week, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was measured at at 415 parts per million (ppm). The level is the highest in human history, and is growing each year.

Finally, my daughter, Maija, and my son-in-law, Marius, had a child some ten years ago. He is my grandson and I left England before he was born. He is Morten and he is a bright young spark.

Morten

Morten and all the hundreds of thousands of young persons like him are going to have to deal with the world as they find it!

The Isle of Mull

A guest post.

With a difference in that the guest author is my son, Alex. Recently Alex and his partner, Lisa, went on a trip to the Isle of Mull. But I will let Alex continue in his own words after I have explained a little more about the island. And where better to start than with the opening paragraphs of an article on the Isle of Mull from Wikipedia.

The Isle of Mull[6] (Scottish Gaelic An t-Eilean Muileachpronounced [ən ‘tjelan ˈmuləx]) or just Mull (English and Scots[mʌl]Scottish GaelicMuile[ˈmulə] (listen)) is the second-largest island of the Inner Hebrides (after Skye) and lies off the west coast of Scotland in the council area of Argyll and Bute. Covering 875.35 square kilometres (338 sq mi), Mull is the fourth-largest island in Scotland – and also in the United Kingdom as a whole.

The island’s 2020 population was estimated at 3,000.[7] In the 2011 census, the usual resident population was 2,800.[2] In 2001, it was 2,667.[8] (In the summer, these numbers are augmented by an influx of many tourists.) Much of the year-round population lives in colourful Tobermory, the island’s capital, and, until 1973, its only burgh.

There are two distilleries on the island: the Tobermory distillery (formerly called Ledaig), which is Mull’s only producer of single malt Scotch whisky;[9] and another one located in the vicinity of Tiroran, which produces Whitetail Gin (having opened in 2019, it was the island’s first new distillery in 220 years). The isle is host to numerous sports competitions, notably the annual Highland Games competition, which is held in July. It also has at least four castles, including the towering keep of Moy Castle. A much older stone circle lies beside Lochbuie, on the south coast.

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This is now from Alex:

We decided to go to the Isle of Mull after reading about the amazing wildlife it has to offer. It’s famous for its white tailed eagles, which are the largest eagle in the U.K. and fourth largest in the world, with an average wingspan of 7-8ft and a perched height of 1m. After securing a place on a Mullcharters.com eagle photography boat trip, we waited with excitement as the boat left the small harbour at Ulva ferry in force 5 winds and intermittent rain showers, cruising out of the harbour, we where very lucky to spot an Otter swimming along.

On reaching Loch Na Keal, we where told to keep an eye out for an eagle approaching, they apparently recognise the boat from around 1-2 miles away and know that it offers them an opportunity to get some free fish! It wasn’t long before looming out of the distance, a white tailed eagle appeared and started circling the boat, one of the boats crew told us he was going to throw a fish out and exactly where he was throwing it, so we could aim our cameras in that direction, we where treated to the amazing spectacle of an adult white tailed eagle swooping down to collect its fish, which was about 20-30ft away. This enabled us to get some excellent pictures of the eagle picking up its fish on numerous occasions, we saw at least six different birds on the trip and at one point had two pairs of eagles overhead the boat. Even with the challenging conditions, we all managed to get some excellent photos, it’s just a shame we didn’t get any sun to really show the eagles colours off.

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To round off these wonderful photographs, here are two of an otter. They are notoriously difficult to photograph.

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What a wonderful journey for Alex and Lisa. The camera was a Panasonic Lumix G85 with Leica 100-400 lens.

Eating out with your ….

…. dog!

The last few days have been sidetracking me from writing the blog. Apart from editing my third book The One We Feed and dealing with critical fire conditions and hoping with all our hearts for the rain due on Friday night to materialise, and … You get the message!

Anyway, The Dodo came up with a lovely snippet on the 20th August. Here it is:

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Diner Spots A Guy Out On The Sweetest Date With His Dog

Relationship goals 💞 

By Stephen Messenger, Published on the 20th August, 2021.

The other day, Gemma Colón stopped by a restaurant in New York City to grab a bite. But the visit ended up satisfying more than just her appetite.

“I was presented with one of the most unexpectedly heartwarming views,” Colón told The Dodo. “I noticed this dog seated across from his owner, perched up on a chair, acting like an absolute proper gentleman.”

The dog and his owner were apparently on a date.

GEMMA COLÓN

Colón was fortunate enough to be seated in view of the adorable pair — basking the sight of the good thing they have going.

“[The man] was doing a crossword puzzle and sipping a glass of red wine with his meal. His date (the dog) was enjoying his own bowl of water, which he slurped politely,” Colón said. “It was really amazing how well-behaved the pup was. I saw better table manners displayed by this dog than I’ve seen from some humans.”

While the man and his dog dined, Colón saw other patrons smile at the sweet scene as well. No one had the heart to interrupt their meal to comment on their cuteness, but Colón did overhear an exchange with their server — revealing that this wasn’t just a one-off outing.

“I heard a waitress comment on how good the dog was at one point, and the man replied saying he brings the dog with him everywhere,” Colón said. “It definitely seemed like a very pleasant date, with lovely company.”

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This is really a delightful story but it isn’t surprising. Because dogs that are loved and cared for by us humans are so loving and caring in return. As the waitress heard the man brings his dog everywhere. He is never separated from the dog.

Perfect!

Protect Pipe Fork

Please, let me use the power of the internet to spread the word!

On the face of it this has nothing to do with dogs. Or does it? Because the stream and the forest will most certainly be favourite walks for people and their dogs. (Indeed a very quick search online brought up the following picture🙂

Why Your Dog Will Love A Trip To Klamath As Much As You Do.

So this post is to drum up support for this critically important area. Please also sign the petition. Thank you.

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Protect Pipe Fork

Pipe Fork is a compelling example of lush, mature riparian forest in the Klamath-Siskyou Bioregion of Southern Oregon. Pipe Fork Creek originates from pure-water springs nestled in ancient forest on the east flank of Grayback Mountain, and flows cold and clear and abundantly year-round through a narrow canyon wilderness into the Williams Valley. There it provides generously for farms and homes as well as for rich spawning and nursery grounds vital to chinook and coho salmon. 

Designated a Research Natural Area (RNA) of Critical Environmental Concern by the Bureau of Land Management, the upper reaches of Pipe Fork have also been nominated for designation as a Federal Wild and Scenic River. Rare Pacific fishers and martens, spotted owls, elk, bear, and many other animals, as well as numerous species of rare plants, live in the undisturbed forests of the RNA. 

Josephine County has had plans to sell a 320-acre parcel right next to the BLM RNA that encompasses both sides of Pipe Fork, and to clearcut 114 acres on the north side of the creek. The devastation that would result from clearcutting on the steep slopes above Pipe Fork would do lasting damage to the sensitive riparian forest and would greatly diminish the quality and quantity of water that flows into the Williams Valley. 

But we will not let this happen! We are determined and optimistic that by all of us working together, this precious place will be saved for the benefit of present and future generations.

Williams Community Forest Project invites you to watch our brand new 7-minute film showcasing the wonders of Pipe Fork and our efforts to preserve it, and to sign the petition at the bottom of the page. Please share this page with like-minded friends and family, allies and colleagues! 

Pristine Waters 4K from Wise Oak Productions on Vimeo.

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Now go to the link below which has what I published above but more importantly has the petition. Please sign it!

Protect Pipe Fork

Thank you!

Resilience Thinking – a review

A book to make one think anew.

Let me make myself absolutely clear about this book, indeed I can do no better than to publish part of an email that I sent to the authors last Saturday:

To say that I was inspired by what you wrote is an understatement. More accurately it has changed my whole understanding of this planet, of the natural order of things, of the politics of the Western world, of vast numbers of us humans, and how precarious is our world just now. It has opened my eyes radically, and I thought before that I was fairly in touch with things.

Resilience is a simple idea but in its application has proved to be anything such. On page 2 the authors set out as they saw it The Drivers of Unsustainable Development. Here’s how that section develops:

Our world is facing a broad range of serious and growing resource issues. Human-induced soil degradation has been getting worse since the 1950s. About 85 percent of agriculture land contains areas degraded by erosion, rising salt, soil compaction, and various other factors. It has been estimated (Wood et al. 2000) that soil degradation has already reduced global agricultural productivity by around 15 percent in the last fifty years. In the last three hundred years, topsoil has been lost at a rate of 200 million tons per year; in the last fifty years it has more than doubled to 760 million tons per year.

As we move deeper into the twenty-first century we cannot afford to lose more of our resource base. The global population is now expanding by about 75 million people each year. Population growth rates are declining, but the world’s population will still be expanding by almost 60 million per year in 2030. The United Nations projections put the global population at nearly 8 billion in 2025. In addition, if current water consumption patterns continue unabated, half the world’s population will live in water-stressed river basins by 2025.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2004 Annual Hunger Report estimates that over 850 million people suffer from chronic hunger. Hunger kills 5 million children every year.

It goes on ….!

Now I want to quote from the end of the book, from their section on Resilience Thinking.

In our opening chapter we observed that there were many pathways into resilience thinking and suggested readers not worry too much if the finer details of a resilience framework are a bit obscure. We emphasized that what is of much more importance is an appreciation of the broader themes that underpin such a framework. Those broader themes revolve around humans existing within linked social and ecological systems. These are complex adaptive systems, and attempts to control or optimize parts of such systems without consideration of the responses that this creates in the broader system are fraught with risk. Much of this book has been spent on attempting to explore the consequences of such an approach.

In the broadest sense, optimizing and controlling components of a system in isolation of the broader system results in a decline in resilience, a reduction in options, and the shrinkage of the space in which we can safely operate. Resilience thinking moves us the other way.

It is our hope that readers who are persuaded of this basic premise will be encouraged to explore the inevitable consequences of such thinking. Even if you are not completely clear on the basins of attractions, thresholds, and adaptive cycles, if the concepts of ecological resilience and dynamic social-ecological systems have any resonance then you are in a better position to appreciate what is happening to the world around you.

The phrase complex adaptive system was new to me but intuitively I got what the authors meant. As they state on page 35: The three requirements for a complex adaptive system are:

  • That it has components that are independent and interacting,
  • There is some selection process at work on those components (and on the results of local interactions),
  • Variation and novelty are constantly being added to the system (through components changing over time or new ones coming in),

This was my eye-opener. It was now obvious that many processes, especially in nature, that I had hitherto regarded as constant were changing albeit usually on a timescale of many decades sometimes centuries.

And the other conclusion that was inescapable was that we humans were largely responsible for those changes because we couldn’t see the longterm consequences of what we were doing.

As I remarked in a previous post :

David writes that firstly carbon dioxide is not like other pollutants, for example like air particulants.  Then later goes on to say:

The second difference is that climate change is irreversible.

As Joe Romm notes in a recent post, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera slipped up in his latest column and referred to technology that would “help reverse climate change.” I don’t know whether that reflects Nocera’s ignorance or just a slip of the pen, but I do think it captures the way many people subconsciously think about climate change. If we heat the planet up too much, we’ll just fix it! We’ll turn the temperature back down. We’ll get around to it once the market has delivered economically ideal solutions.

But as this 2009 paper in Nature (among many others) makes clear, it doesn’t work that way:

This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop. Following cessation of emissions, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases radiative forcing, but is largely compensated by slower loss of heat to the ocean, so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years. [my emphasis]

My last piece in this review is to republish a graph that is shown on the NASA Global Climate Change website:

For all our sakes, dogs and humans and many other species, let us all please change our behaviours! Soon!

Back to the book: It is a remarkable book!

I will close with quoting one of the praises shown on the back cover. This one by Thomas Homer-Dixon, professor of political science, University of Toronto, and director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Resilience Thinking is an essential guidebook to a powerful new way of understanding our world – and of living resiliently with it – developed in recent decades by an international team of ecologists. With five clear and compelling case studies drawn from regions as diverse as Florida, Sweden, and Australia, this book shows how all highly adaptive systems – from ecologies to economics – go through regular cycles of growth, reorganization, and renewal and how our failures to understand the basic principles of resilience have often led to disaster. Resilience Thinking gives us the conceptual tools to help us cope with the bewildering surprises and challenges of our new century.

Please, if you can, think about reading it.

Donate to fund dogs in the Serengeti

This plea came in from Mr. Pedantry!

This came in yesterday and I thought for some time that I wouldn’t be able to publish it quickly owing to me getting my knickers in a twist.

But all was resolved and therefore I am delighted to republish it.

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Donate to fund the dogs saving elephants

Ever heard of dogs saving elephants?

In the Serengeti, a small, specially trained team of rescue dogs sniff out poachers and sound the alarm. Just 4 dogs have helped arrest hundreds of poachers, saving countless elephants being murdered for their ivory.

Almost a quarter of the elephants in the park now live in the tiny area they protect — but poaching is on the rise everywhere else and there are thousands more elephants that still need protection.

That’s why the team behind this amazing project are asking for your help to train up more of these sniffer dogs — and save double the number of elephants.

With 96 of these gentle giants killed each day, every moment counts.

Can you chip in to help?

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Whatever you can spare please contribute to the donation request.

The page to go to is here!

Here is a YouTube video to watch.

Mid-summers day!

Another post from John Brooks

John is becoming a regular contributor to Learning from Dogs. He was last here on March 26th, this year with a guest post Reasons to get a pet portrait.

This is a timely and pertinent post.

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Five Questions you need to ask a Boarding Kennel

If you’re planning a vacation or a work trip, you’ll need to decide what to do with your beloved pooch. This can be a stressful event for both you and your pup, but things will go a lot easier if you pick the right boarding kennel.


How do you know whether you’ve picked a good kennel?

The best way to determine the quality of a kennel is by asking appropriate questions. Not sure what those would be? Never fear! We’ve got you covered!

Read on to learn what questions to ask to help you choose the best available pet hotels or kennels.

Five Questions to Ask a Kennel or Pet Hotel

One – Is Your Kennel or Pet Hotel Certified?


Certification is not mandatory for kennels. However, certified kennels have to comply with 250 standards in 17 areas of pet care facility operation. This certification is known as the Voluntary Facilities Accreditation (VFA) certificate. If they have a certificate, you can assume several things about the facility:

They have put time and money into making sure they have the best facility possible for the animals they care for.
They care about reassuring pet parents that their dogs will be well cared for.
They have all the necessary space and equipment to take excellent care of your pooch.
Your pup will be secure and safe while you’re away.

Two – Can I Tour The Kennel?

You must always ask to tour the facilities. Just like you put in research when you book a hotel, you need to be equally as fastidious when you book a kennel. Therefore, you should look for the following:

Is the kennel odor-free?

A clean kennel will not smell because all urine and feces will have been cleaned up quickly and appropriately.

Is it loud or quiet?

Dog kennels will be noisy, but an extreme amount of noise usually signals that the pups are unhappy.

Are there enough staff?

There should be a 1-to-10 staff to dog ratio. The higher the people to animal ratio, the more individual attention your dog will get.

Are the living and playing areas clean?

Are there feces, urine, and debris? Or are the areas open and clean?

Do all animals have proper bedding and water?

The pooches should look content and stress-free and have both comfortable bedding and ample water.
If a kennel doesn’t let you take an impromptu tour, do not leave your pup there.

Three – What Will the Facility Do if Your Dog Gets Sick?

The kennel must have a procedure in place for dealing with small issues like diarrhea and broken toenails and more significant problems like medical emergencies. Ideally, they will ask you to pre-approve an amount for vet services. They should also know basic pet first-aid.

Four – How Knowledgeable Are the Staff?

Kennel staff, like the facility, are not required to be certified in animal behavior or training. However, what’s more, important than a certificate is the staff’s attitude and attentiveness. Good staff can tell you details about each animal under their care.


When you enter the kennel, staff should welcome your dog and take meticulous notes about your pup’s diet, exercise needs, medications, and any other pertinent information. Take note of whether they are patient, friendly, and seem genuinely interested in your pooch’s welfare.

Five – What Do the Exercise and Play Programs Look Like?


You must look at the package your kennel is offering. Some kennels have one playtime, whereas others don’t include any in their base fee.


Good kennels will have a system for playtime where they divide dogs by style, size, age, etc., to keep the pups safe and happy.


Dogs that need more exercise should get walked by a kennel assistant. So, if you own a dog that needs regular walking, make sure that the kennel offers this service and has enough staff to meet your pup’s needs.

Furthermore, not all kennels offer toys for your pooch to play with. So it’s important to find out ahead of time if you need to provide your own toys.

To Sum Up…


We know you love your dog, so you should plan where they will stay while you’re away as carefully as you planned your vacation. The most essential thing to look for when visiting different kennels or pet hotels is how the environment makes you feel. Listen to your gut. If you feel comfortable and you get along well with the staff, then there’s a high probability that your pup will feel at ease there as well. While no kennel can replace the feeling of home for your dog, it should come close. This way, you’ll be able to go on your trip knowing your pooch is safe, sound, and well cared for.

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This is a very useful list from John. One that will provide guidance to everyone but especially to the new dog owners.

Thank you, John.