Category Archives: Travel

Wet Feet

Ardroil Beach

Ardroil Sands, Uig, Isle of Lewis, on New Year’s Eve.

This beach is generally thought to be the location where, in 1831, the Lewis Chessmen were found.

And yes, I did get my feet wet. And yes, it was worth it.

Update: My mother says this must be the best-selling sequel to ‘A Bridge Too Far’…

A remote dawn

Around Christmas and New Year, I was in Scotland in my campervan. I took lots of video footage. Far too much, in fact, so I’ve been gradually working my way through it, on and off, for several months. This evening, I came across this rather pleasing scene. It’s just a still frame captured from video, and on a GoPro too, so the quality’s not great, but I hope you enjoy the view!

This is a dawn dog-walk at Uig on the Isle of Lewis, on New Year’s Eve. Not only was I up at dawn, I had already breakfasted and was setting off for a hike! However, this sounds a bit less impressive when I point out that sunrise in mid-winter up there is after 9am.

The small black blur on the right-hand side, which you may be able to see if you click for a larger version, is Tilly romping in the heather.

We’re still standing

The Callanish (or Calanais) Standing Stones, on the Isle of Lewis. New Year’s Day 2020.

AirBnB faces some challenges

I’ve only stayed twice in AirBnB rooms.

The first time was in Sausalito, California, many years ago, when AirBnB was still a fairly new phenomenon. (I tried out another new service called “Uber” on the same evening.) Because I was only staying one night, the room was a bit pricey, but it was otherwise fine and still a lot cheaper than a hotel just across the water in San Francisco.

The second time was a few weeks ago, when I stayed for a few days over the New Year with a delightful family on the Isle of Lewis. A really lovely spot.

So my experience with the service, however limited, has been good, and I have many friends and family members who use it a great deal more than I do.

But it’s not the same for everyone, and James Temperton’s interesting article in Wired exposes the fact that some rather dubious people have found the success of AirBnB to be an irresistable temptation…

Thanks to John Naughton for the link.

None shall pass

None shall pass

Children of the Stones

I visited the stone circle at Callanish this morning. Wonderful spot.

Callanish Stone Circle

Not a peaceful spot today, though: the photo doesn’t show you the 40mph winds whipping across the island!

Here’s an alternative view.

This put me in mind of the splendid 1976 TV drama Children of the Stones, filmed in Avebury, Wiltshire, which also has some dramatic standing stones, encircling half the village. One of the themes of the plot is the rumour that the stones sometimes turn into people and come back to life. I love the Avebury stones, but these ones looked more as if they might do that, given a little encouragement.

I didn’t watch Children of the Stones in 1976, which is probably just as well, since it has been described as “the scariest programme ever made for children”. It’s fun to watch as an adult, though, and is a great example of how you can tell a compelling story with a very low budget and some spooky music! Also, for people of my vintage, it has the added interest of featuring Gareth Thomas, better known as Blake, from Blake’s Seven.

More information on Wikipedia about the TV series, and about the Callanish Stones.

The Old Man and the Sea

I have a feeling this fine vessel could tell a few tales of adventure!

I’m on the Isle of Lewis, where, in order to take a good photo, you can almost wind down the window and click in a random direction.

You do, currently, have only six-and-a-half hours between sunrise and sunset in which to do it, though!

Achiltibuie

I walked through here yesterday, went into the village store, and somebody invited me to a ceilidh! (Which turned out to be great fun.) Such friendly people here, as well as beautiful views.

Nothing monstrous here

Loch Ness, last night

I don’t think we’re in East Anglia any more, Toto…

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a work-related conference in Bern, Switzerland, and was fortunate enough to have a couple of days’ walking in the mountains at Saas Fee beforehand. (Thank you, Peter!)

I had skiied there before, but never visited at this time of year. It really is a very pretty spot.

Better views than the average working week, I think.

Malham

Malham, in Yorkshire, is a splendid place, which I’d never visited until we stayed there last night. It’s a pretty and charming little village, with a bubbling stream running through it, and one or two very nice pubs.

But, take a short walk through the green, rolling countryside in one direction, and you come to Malham Cove, a very impressive limestone cliff.

A path with some good stairs takes you to the top of the cliff, where the limestone has eroded into other unexpected features.

An occasional delicate flower nestles in the indentations, protected from the sometimes dramatic weather.

If, on the other hand, you head out of the village in the opposite direction, a path through some fields eventually enters a little wooded valley, which takes you first to Janet’s Foss:

And then, a little higher up, to Gordale Scar.

And between all these dramatic sites…?

Sheep grazing in bucolic peace beside gently winding streams.

The end of a long day

Montmartre, Paris, March 2019

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser