Friday, July 28, 2006

Back to work

Well that's me home from my first shift back at work.

Things that haven't changed:

  1. First call allocated 10 minutes before start of official duty.
  2. IT had prevented me accessing computer as I had been away for over a month. Eventually got response from helpdesk 1 minute before aforementioned call allocated.
  3. Couldn't find a car. Borrowed Sergeant's.
  4. 10 minutes refreshment break in 10 hour shift eventually snatched after 7 hours duty.
  5. 88 emails in my inbox of which 90% were destined for deletion and eventually read on return to station some 5 hours after commencing duty.
But on the positive side things that have changed included:
  1. Plenty of water in stock for water dispenser.
  2. Air conditioner installed in Muster Room
The joys of Response policing.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

New uniform needed

What with record temperatures on Monday for Aberdeen (and I can say it was warmer here inland) and a car thermometer recorded 31c (88f) at Burn o'Vat (nr Ballater) on Thursday, I for one am not bothered if the summers get better and better due to that global warming rumour, but having seen one of my colleagues perspiring, nae expiring, on the main street in Ballater on Thursday as he dealt with the sudden influx of townies escaping the haar, it got me thinking of my next subject report I will need to submit to my gaffers on my return to work on Thursday (82f forecast by the way).


I have to report that there is a need for a new summer uniform. It is acknowledged that the death of the collar and tie in favour of the lightweight top thingy is more comfortable in the present weather conditions, but can consideration be given to the issue of designer shorts, RayBans, steel toe-capped sandals and air-conditioned body armour?

And do we still need to wear hats?

PC Betty Swallocks

Mull & Iona


Over the years I have managed to 'Island Bag' most of the major Hebrides e.g. Lewis, Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Barra, Vatersay (before the causeway!) Skye, Islay, Bute, Arran, but had omitted the Isle of Mull under the false impression that it was just a tourist haunt typified by the pastel painted village of Tobermory and more recently the CBeebies Balamory kids TV series.

What a serious mistake, but not one that I fully realised till the trip back on the ferry from Craignure to Oban.

We caught the ferry to Craignure and viewed the panoply of the high mountains of the west coast from Ben Nevis, the Mamores and Glencoe down to Ben Cruachan in sunlit splendour to the far east, the hills of Ardnamurchan to the nearer east and Mull's hills and only Munro (Ben More) to the west. The attached photo shows Ben More, Castle Duart and some lucky so and so's on a pair of yachts as we approached Craignure.

Once on Mull, most folk seemed to head off north to Tobermory. Silly people. As they say...'Go West young man'. We did and headed off through the spectacular glacial valleys towards the Ross of Mull, Fionnphort and the isle of Iona. If you've done this journey then you will know what I mean when I say the scenery is unsurpassed.... deserted glens, towering sea cliffs and a geomorphologist's heaven. The single-track road was quiet and a real driver's delight, given that the 40 odd miles to Fionnphort passed in as many minutes. Yeehah! I wish we had had more time to try the road back via Salen (see map), but that's for another time and there WILL be another time!

We got the passenger ferry across to Iona (you don't need a car to discover this Island) and traipsed about the Abbey, Nunnery and village in glorious sunshine. What a place... total chill. St Columba knew a good place when he decided to build his abbey there and not just because he couldn't see his homeland Ireland. The abbey is particularly stunning and along with most of the folk there I was genuinely taken aback by what you see within. I won't spoil it for you, if you've not been, by telling you what's within, but it does surprise you.

The yoofs were less impressed and wanted us to get the first available ferry back, which crosses frequently (as the timetable literally suggested probably to save ink), but we adults let a few crossings pass before heading back to the cars at Fionnphort.

We hurtled slightly more slowly back to Craignure, had a pleasant pint in the pub and caught the ferry back in the evening sunset, when the views were, if anything, more spectacular than those arriving.

So if you are 'mulling' over a place to visit.....

Saturday, July 22, 2006


So to Saturday and we cross country westwards via Lochearnhead, Crianlarich, Tyndrum and Taynuilt to 20 miles south of Oban to a cottage called East Kames.

On arrival I am eaten alive by the dreaded midgies and hastily beat a retreat to Oban once the bags were unpacked. Our co-tenants weren't due to arrive till later, so we poked about in Oban for a while. Meanwhile weather improves and, on return to cottage, the midges have obviously overdosed on human blood (mainly mine) and are off annoying sheep in field next to cottage (or as others suggested flown off to get their mates given that my blood seems to be a particular delicacy for the
Culicoides Impunctatus.) I am glad to say they did not return till the last night of our stay.

p.s. Best skin applied repellant for midges is Skin so Soft by Avon ..... and this is not a wind up believe me. Click here for other devotees, and if you think it sounds a little ....well girly ..... then I can tell you the hard men of the SAS swear (profusely no doubt) by it.

10 of us stayed at the cottage (and 2 dugs) and its location was idyllic, as can be seen from the view above from the garden.

We visited a number of local sights, go karted, some went horseriding, ate well and kept ourselves well hydrated. The weather was average at the start of the week, but by the end of the week it was truly gorgeous. I only put my rain jacket on once and never needed a jumper.

We made an excursion to Mull and Iona on the Thursday and I will save a blog for that alone...the highlight of the holiday for me and all the other adults.

On the Friday we celebrated Mary's birthday and Peter and Mary's wedding anniversary (Paul didn't make the trip - sic). Mary, Peter, Elaine and I had our best lunch of the holidays at the pink, but otherwise unprepossessing Anchor Inn in Tarbert, Loch Fyne. The food was advertised as award winning and it certainly lived up to the reputation. I suspect an evening meal there would be a winner. The weather by then was scorching, so it was a leisurely 90 minutes in the sun outside, on the only 4 chairs they had, for us. Later there was a surprise party for the two of them and a send off for us all on our last night.

On the trip back we stopped of at the wonderful Ballachullish Hotel for lunch and sat outside stunned by the views and the sunshine. We then set off for Fort William to do some shopping, but the sun had got to she who must be obeyed and she realised she had left her little backpack at the hotel, so back we went. I made the decision that given the weather and the passage of time, that once reunited with the bag, we should travel back via Glencoe. One of my better decisions as it was glorious and boiling hot as we made a comfort stop at Tyndrum, enjoyed an ice cream and lay out in the sun again. It is at times like this that you are truly in awe of Scotland's landscape and glad you couldn't thole a trip abroad.

Junior was less impressed and just wanted to get home to civilisation (i.e. Sky TV, Internet, Subway sannies and his m8s) and told us repeatedly, so off we hurtled to the flatlands of Aberdeenshire!

Now...... Mull and Iona.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Up the Trossachs

For the first 3 days of our holiday we set off for the Trossachs, an area of Scotland I have skirted, but never really visited. What a mistake that had been.

We journeyed down via Perth, Crieff and Comrie to St. Fillans at the eastern end of Loch Earn and stayed in a lochside chalet set in woods beside the Four Season's Hotel. It was unseasonably warm at about 85 fahrenheit on arrival and stayed warm throughout our stay till the Friday night when the rain had to come, but only as mizzle.

We particularly liked Callander and would recommend it as a base for any visit to the area, mainly because it's away from the usual haunts around Loch Lomond favoured by our weegie cousins!

We found some fabulous views particularly on the way to and from Aberfoyle, when we made a slight excursion off the beaten track to Loch Katrine and Inversnaid on the east side of Loch Lomond, where as usual the dug couldn't resist swimming for sticks. Check the map out for the road to Inversnaid from Aberfoyle and try it - quite an experience! I also recommend the Duke's Road out of Aberfoyle for some more spectacular views and at least the road is wide enough for 2 cars.

All in all, I am amazed at the bits of Scotland that I haven't seen before and still manage to delight me. I was standing at the western ferry jetty on Loch Katrine at 6pm and there wasn't a soul to be seen, there, on the road, on the loch and not a sound to be heard other than my 14 year old son moaning about when he was getting something to eat! To which we returned to Aberfoyle and had the best meal of the holidays in the grandiose and spectacular setting of the Gathering Room at the Forth Inn. I seriously recommend you go to this establishment for a malt (they have a fabulous selection) and a meal. She who must be obeyed had Sea Bass and was bowled over. The aforementioned sprog had Lasagne off the bar menu and I know he was hungry, but his plateful was huge and according to him the best Lasagne he has ever had and believe me he is an expert on the subject. The slabs of accompanying garlic bread, chips and serious salad were apparently quite acceptable too. The puds were good as well, though where the loon managed to put that is anyone's guess. It should also be noted that all the staff were local (i.e. not being bleedin' Ozzies) and very pleasant.

So I say.....Up the Trossachs!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

In the summertime.......

I'm back from my hols and yesterday we hit record temperatures for this part of the globe - high one's that is! I have even aired my shorts and exposed my peely wallie legs to the world. I'm busy putting together a review of my travels away, but meantime you can see some of the photos on my flickr homepage - just click on the side bar.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Put this in your diary

Wishbone Ash are on tour again and will visit Aberdeen on the 28th October and play at the Lemon Tree.

Full details are available for the whole UK tour on the band's website - click here.

See you there - I'm dayshift thankfully!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

SEPA Warning

Scotland has been placed on a major flood alert.

All areas of Scotland were last night placed on high alert as a major flood is expected this morning. This is thought to have been caused by most of Scotland pishing themselves laughing at the England result.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


I have resisted spouting forth excessively about the World Cup, but as a Scot, I was cheering on a defiant Engerland last night against a team that has effectively 'cheated' its way to the semis via two games that did little or no credit to the talent they have in their feet.

I have a few points to make on Engerland's exit:

No worse than Brazil & Argentina.

Owen Hargreaves proved his
doubters wrong with the star performance and can I get some of what he takes before a match!

Rooney disgraced himself, with poor control of temper blighting England's chances once again.

I reckon they have the squad, particularly as they will no longer be under the 'helm' of Sven, to do well in the Euros.

generally have an ambivalent attitude to Engerland's results, but the players showed true pride in this game once they were down to 10 men.

Portugal do not deserve to progress and I hope 'Les Bleus' show the class they showed against Brazil and wipe the smugness off Ronaldo's face in particular.

He should be as welcome at Old Trafford next season as a Leeds fan.

Note for new Manager...... Penalty practice!!!!

p.s. I predict a Germany v France final and I think the French may just sneak it.