A Respite

Time for a break.

This is a poem, some early Buddhist writing, from Han Shan a Chinese poet of the 9th century.  This is part of the Cold Mountain poems and they have been translated in different ways, notably by Gary Snyder, one of my favourite poets [and people].

Part of the message is that there are many ways to journey – and not all of them involve airplanes or trains.  This is a brief excerpt.

Thirty years in this world
I wandered ten thousand miles,
By rivers, buried deep in grass,
In borderlands, where red dust flies.
Tasted drugs, still not Immortal,
Read books, wrote histories.
Now I’m back at Cold Mountain,
Head in the stream, cleanse my ears.


The Quiraing – A Tougher than Expected Hike

Before starting a hike there is a simple rule — do your research.

A short two hour hike turned into a marathon.  Rather than circumnavigating the mountain we went up and over it.  Muck, mire and uncertainty plagued us once we reached the halfway point.  After slogging through the muck we were happy to see a couple coming towards us.  We described to them what they faced, and asked if it improved ahead.  “No, as a matter of fact it gets worse.”

Thankfully the wet moss I stepped into was only above my ankle, and not my neck.  So as any North Vancouver resident can tell you – take precautions before any hike.   Home of spectacular views and challenging trails.

It is said that residents once hid their sheep in some of the small valleys around the mountain to protect them from marauding Vikings, terrified as the Vikings killed men and children, raped women and otherwise brought more misery to the land.

The road to the Quiraing is a one lane two way road with turnouts.   A challenge when one car you need to pass is in the ditch.

Part way through some words were heard — ‘expletive’ Scotland’.

The path down


Some naive hikers we encountered in our travels.

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Growl – the ‘Cold Fish’ Award goes to Europcar

0530 hrs – Saturday morning – Up and at it to catch the train to Southampton Airport.

Flight to Glasgow – on time

On to Eurocar Auto rental for our ‘reserved’ vehicle.

Clerk at counter checks with manager – no, we will not rent to you because this is an interim license [because my license was stolen in Paris].

Me:  ICBC, the issuer of licenses in British Columbia confirmed it was valid world wide.   We will pay for a call to ICBC if you want to verify it.  Of course, I carry my original International Driver’s Permit.

Manager:  Europcar makes the rules – not ICBC

Me:  Yes but we checked beforehand, and, we rented from Europcar in Bournemouth already and they confirmed the license is recognized.

Manager:  Well they obviously don’t know the rules.

Yes but I also checked with your office when we were in Stansted and they said it was not an issue.

Answer:  Who did you speak with and they were wrong.

Garry gets a bit testy!

I decide further discussion with this cold fish of a manager is pointless.

Try Budget – No
Try three other kiosks – No, No and No.

Panic begins to set in.  We begin to plan our flight home to Bournemouth — yikes.  tres expensive, lose our accommodation in Skye, cancel trip to Heather’s ancestral homeland…BLAH!   The trip is collapsing quickly.

Heather says, “Why don’t you try the last remaining one, Hertz?”  Well, I say, it is a waste of time – but I will anyway so that no stone is left unturned.

I walk to the Hertz counter and carefully explain the situation.  The woman obviously has experience as several staff come to her with questions during our conversation.  Sure not a problem she says!!!

She is actually interested in our plight, yes Paris and Rome are terrible for thefts etc.  A HUMAN at the counter, this is a treat for sure.

Get the keys, get in the car and we are off — to SKYE.  Past Loch Lomond, across on the ferry.

SKYE IS UTTERLY STUPENDOUS!  The house we are staying at is near Staffin on the north of Skye – with cows out our front step and sheep in the back, and the owners [crofters] have two great sheepdogs, one of whom is nursing eight pups.  She looks tired.

The friendly owner shows us the bedrooms – aye ye hove an extry one in case ye shood have a fallin oot.

Next Chapter – UK Immigration

We have entered the next round of this bout with UK Immigration.  On our side is logic and common sense.  On  their side is the heavy hand of bureaucracy.  Who will win?  For this second round we are not optimistic.  If there is any hope – it is with the final appeal which is the UK Ombudsperson.

For this round we are only at the second level of review, which is entirely within the Department of Immigration.

We copied this to the writer at The Guardian newspaper.  Amelia Hill, a senior writer with The Guardian, wrote an article about how UK Immigration is profiting from providing poor or false advice – sound familiar?

Our letter follows which was based on their initial reply to us in which they offered a partial refund.

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Our First Autumn Storm

Aileen: UK faces first named storm of season with Britain facing 75mph winds

Storm Aileen is set to batter parts of Britain overnight and risks damaging trees and buildings as fierce winds sweep across the nation.

An amber warning for wind has been issued for North Wales, England’s eastern coast and areas of the Midlands, which are likely to be worst affected, the Met Office said.

 Road, air and rail services are also expected to be disrupted and power cuts may occur, with less serious yellow warnings in place from Tuesday evening across the UK.
— the Evening Standard
Image is from The Telegraph

A Day Out in Brighton

Melita and Maria, two of my BCAA former work mates were vacationing in London.  They invited us to meet them for a day of sightseeing in Brighton.   Brighton is to the east of us, along the south coast.  Although the weather was rainy, blustery and cold we had a great visit.

With the inclement weather, it was a perfect day to visit the Royal Pavilion, the former seaside residence of King George IV.  Construction on this impressive but rather strange structure began in 1787.  Transformed into a military hospital in World War I, it is now owned and operated by the City of Brighton.


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UK Immigration – Response to our Complaint

We have been dealing with UK Immigration regarding misinformation we were given by them relative to our initial multiple entry visa.

They responded to our complaint stating they are ‘partially upholding’ it.

Reading the letter they seem to be evading accountability for the services they provide as they describe the proposed refund as a ‘good will gesture’.  They need to understand that sometimes it pays to actually be accountable and apologise.

Well onward and upward we go.  We are requesting a review of their decision.  Based on my reading there is no independence at the next level so we are not expecting much from it.

However when they fail to take responsibility our next step after that is to appeal to the UK Ombudsperson – which may take a more objective view of their administration.

We are copying this complaint to The Guardian newspaper.  The newspaper recently had an extensive article [see previous posts] about how UK Immigration is making significant profits from their ‘premium service’.   [Note Treasury Board in Canada does not allow profit making by departments.  They can only recover costs.]

So off we go to the next level of review and The Guardian newspaper.

I will post the letter we send ‘appealing’ their decision.  Our deadline is September 30.

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Scotland – beautiful Scotland

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is held each year in August.  If you love bagpipe music as we do, you will love the tattoo.

As a lover of CBC Radio as it used to be, the music of the Tattoo brought back fond memories.  In the 1970s each Saturday morning I would look forward to Max Ferguson and his cohort Allan McFee lighting up the airwaves with their idiosyncratic humour and music of the British Isles.  From the pet mouse that inhabited the studio, to warming his dinner by sitting it in front of the microwave transmitter, he had a program like no other.

The first video is a collection of excerpts from the Tattoo.  We were more than fortunate to have seats that could not have been better, front row, centre.

We included a slow dark piece played by – no doubt – a distant relative John Mitchell.

The banner for this posting is a combination of the MacDonald & Mitchell tartan.  MacDonald [the one with red] is the ninth most common surname in Scotland, Mitchell is the fifteenth.

This was a one day trip to Edinburgh specifically for the Tattoo.  We return to Scotland for a more extended visit in mid September when we will spend a week on the Isle of Skye, ancestral home of the MacDonalds.

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