I took part in a nature writing festival at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh at the weekend. It was called Connect With Nature.
Between the years of 1870 and 1994, more than 10,000 people were buried in Dundee in unmarked graves. I am no-one’s idea of a historian, so this is not the kind of information I normally carry around in my head.
A mountain hare and a raven met to discuss the events of recent times.
I was back in Glen Doll at the weekend, walking with a Scots Magazine group, and found it looking like winter but feeling like spring, that typical Highland brew that materialises whenever the frontiers of these two seasons rub up against each other. But, for me, the trouble with travelling to Glen Doll is having to drive through Glen Clova without stopping. It’s a bit like having to drive through Skye simply to catch the ferry to Harris, except Glen Clova has a place in my heart of hearts claimed by no other landscape.
The reputation of Scotland’s landowners took another hefty blow in the solar plexus in the seven days since I made the case for legislation to protect the red fox from the worst excesses of what passes for land management, after a protest outside the Scottish Parliament about abuse of foxhunting legislation.
A whale washes up dead on an Angus beach and makes big headlines. A mass stranding of whales on an Australian beach makes national television bulletins over here, 10,000 miles away.
Something about the euphoria that greeted Scotland’s new flavour-of-the-month status in British tourism made me shudder.
A kestrel slips from the crown of an ageing ash tree that appears to have rooted in a singularly steep scree slope halfway up the hill. It side-slips on the air, leading with the open primary feathers of its left wing and eases up to a hovering standstill above a small clearing of grassy hillside amid crowding whin bushes.
I have been reading the runes in some of the quieter backwaters where agriculture and nature cohabit (and sometimes annoy each other the way neighbours sometimes do). And having read and thought about what I’d read, a troubling question began to take shape in my mind: how long will it be before the British Government starts culling badgers in Scotland as part of what passes for its strategy to control bovine TB in England?
If you are minded to select an official body to champion the cause of trees at a world-famous beauty spot, I would venture to suggest that Perth and Kinross Council would not be high in the selection process (think Perth Academy playing fields and Scots pine).