Monday, 17 June 2013

Five Things I Learned In Wester Ross

1.  Juvenile pine martens can be tricky to transport from one's kitchen.  You can't approach them directly, or they'll run away.  Lean backwards and stick out your foot, however, and they feel confident enough to attack.  Once they've done that, you can walk out of the house with them holding on for dear life - screaming horrifically the whole time - and shake them loose.  If this seems unnecessarily cruel to the animal, you can offer them honey, jam or peanut butter as a peace offering.  Don't let the locals catch you doing that, though, they hate pine martens like you wouldn't believe.

2. Just outside Aultbea you can find a tiny distillery named after Loch Ewe, which is the only place in the entirety of Britain where you can distill your own whisky.  You can't legally call it whisky - it's tough to find time during a day out to mature something in an oak cask for three years - but that's what it is to all intents and purposes, even if it says uisge beatha on the bottle (pronounced ush-ta-bay).  A quick tour and some fiddling with gas burners and copper stills, and the Other Half and I walked away with four drams of the finest Glensquid liquor.  "Finest" in this context meaning "no less undrinkable than whisky is in general".

3. If you wear a "James" t-shirt in Wester Ross, you will sooner or later meet someone eager to tell you about how their bass player lives in Ullapool, and how nice he is.

4. What Charlie Pierce has sarcastically labelled The Great Climate Change Hoax continues to cause problems across the board.  The late/absent spring this year has affected fish stocks around the Inner Hebrides, which has kept whales away from the islands.  Jellyfish shoals are massively depleted as well, which may make life difficult for turtles, because God knows they've not had a rough enough time of it lately.

5.  Somehow, wondrously, this exists:

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