Saturday, 24 May 2008

Rainbow N Scotland and Robinson Crusoe!

I returned on Sunday evening from Scotland having visited 13 summits in 8 consecutive and very full days. My longest day was being out for 11 hours that included two food/rest stops and two Corbetts. Only one of those days was in the rain. I had cloudy and cool weather with some low cloud that made walking ideal. One day was sunny with light winds. Two Corbetts out of the 13 were visited in the evening, when the darkness caught up with me. By the end of my last long day I had swollen ankles that were biting into my boots!

So I've now climbed 29 Corbetts out of 220. Of those, 19 were this season's batch in April and May. I had a slow start having been diverted onto lower hills by one blizzard and gale force N winds that made for mesmerising, mountainous seas to shock and awe! I just got away with rounding a headland as the tide and waves came sweeping in over my mountain boots. Then, I enjoyed pretending I was shipwrecked as I waded ashore out of the white surf on one remote and deserted sandy beach - apart from one otter surprised at man Friday - on Scotland's stunning N coast. There was a mix of white and red sandy beaches of sea and loch; blue, green and grey seas and lots of white, red and black rock - quite apart from the purple-headed mountain of the hymn!

My exploration of the one Munro, in April, that I thought I had not properly completed, proved that I was wrong. There was only the one obvious summit and the concrete base, only of the trig point/pillar. I must have found that summit cairn on my first, ridiculously long diversion from Beinn a' Chleibh to Ben Lui via this Munro outlier, Beinn Bhuidhe, miles away! That was on the 26 March 1991 when I was wearing fell running shoes, no crampons and when I saw, as I descended Ben Lui, that my tent had blown down, with my sleeping bag in the process of being sucked out from under the nylon! Therefore, my round of Munros was completed with Ben More on Mull on 4 August 2007.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

They're behaving like animals!

An understandable comment on the TV scenes of violence and destruction by Rangers fans after they lost against the Russian team in Manchester, the other evening.

Yet, we are the human animal, whose violence and destruction is a slur on other mammals. It is almost unheard of for the animal kingdom to behave with the gratuitous aggression that we show. The white humans have a history of genocide and mindless destruction going back centuries far, far worse than any other branch of humanity. Empire building, piracy and slavery, exploitation and war around the globe is still the hallmark of the white, human animal. And, my own gender is almost solely to blame for the despicable behaviour of that too dominant part of creation where, far from being the crown of creation, the aggressive male much more than the female, is actually the pits!

Our antics are threatening the rest of creation by wiping out species after species as our aggression and expansion and domination continues apace. We are intent on draining every drop of oil and every molecule of gas from the earth's crust. We continue to over-populate the planet and to over-consume. We continue to believe that we are the crown of creation, the bees knees, the top dogs who can do as we like, regardless. For me, this shouts abroad how arrogant; how foolishly dominant; how stupidly supremacist we white human animals are in the otherwise sinless and innocent animal kingdom. We have messed up and trashed the planet. We have learnt nothing!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Over-bearing, over-here and everywhere - and nature nowhere!

Margaret Thatcher, when she was Prime Minister, in one of her three environment speeches said that we had begun a massive experiment with the very life support systems of the planet itself. She never spoke a truer word!

Yet, she did nothing to modify our behaviours that are threatening those ecosystems. Indeed, the problem is we are living unnaturally in a natural world and, we are part of nature. We are living infinitely in a finite world, convinced that money and energy grows on trees! We are living as God when the result is so far from God - so far from paradise.

We think we can increase our numbers infinitely and exponentially and that there will be no repercussions. Quite extraordinary!

A Green Party publication had: "Either, we get our numbers and our activities into harmony with the powers of the earth to support life or, collapsing ecosystems will do the job for us."

9/11 - Tutu called it a criminal act

'Time' magazine wrote: "If you want to humble an empire it makes sense to maim its cathedrals. They are symbols of its faith ... The Twin Towers and the Pentagon ... are the sanctuaries of money and power that our enemies may imagine define us. But that assumes our faith rests on what we can buy and build, and that has never been America's true God."

However, I think it is what a nation does and not its spiritual or Christian faith beliefs that defines it and that it is judged by. "By their (rich) fruits shall ye know them", declared the Lord and Master of a higher proportion of Americans than any other nation. Riches for the richest nation on earth is contrary to the teaching and practice of their Lord and Master, who had no permanent home but was an itinerant preacher. Riches that have come from an abundance of its own natural resources, certainly but also by decades of running the world's structures and systems for its own material and military advantage.

It is richly ironic that for the nation that is fullest with the Lord's disciples should be the most powerful economically and militarily. This is completely contrary to the life and teaching of the Man for Others, the Servant of all and who came into Jerusalem for the last time not on a war horse but, non-violently, on a donkey.

America's true God is not the God, Jesus, of the Sermon on the Mount and who told the disciple Peter to put away his sword. It is, in fact, the wealth and vast military power that enables it to show that might is right on the world stage by keeping the weak and powerless, like Jesus, well under its dictatorial thumb.

The Anglo/American/Israeli hegemony is well and truly in charge. Indeed, Israel is the regional super-power and is funded by the devout US. Yet, the Jew who was the founder of America's Christian faith rejected the Devil's offer to give him all the kingdoms of the world if only he were to bow down to him. The most devout nation on earth, with its closest allies - the UK and Israel - has warmly embraced that offer! It has fallen at the feet of the devil. It is a fallen nation. Its crimes of aggression that come out of its empire, its imperialistic nature, its colonial ways, invite a similar response from the victims of its false God of money and power. For America's victims, revenge is so, so sweet.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

A Tale of Two Hotels

The first was one of the few buildings in Kylesku, in Sutherland in the remote NW of Scotland. Its stunning location - overlooking a sea loch, old ferry slipway and jetty - made it unforgettable and even the steady rain detracted nothing from its beauty. A fishing vessel was unloading its cargo just metres from the bar window where I was sitting.
Never before have I seen such a presentation of a £15 main course of fish - all dangling from a spike that was sitting on a plate of delicious delicacies, like a chandelier. Its name begins with 'l' and it was a new name for me, I remember or rather fail to remember! But, I do remember that it wasn't my meal!
The village is bypassed by an impressive, soaring, curving road bridge that was opened in 1984. Photos of the five different ferries, previously used over the decades, are posted above the bar in this old coaching inn.

Inchnadamph Hotel, in Assynt, is almost on the same fold of the Landranger map as the Kylesku Hotel but, is 8 miles south. Its claim to fame is the photos and text about the Scottish geologists who discovered the 'all back to front' rocks of the area - much older rocks on top of newer and featured in the nearby crags. A second claim to fame, for me, was a quite delightful, 20 year old looking hotel assistant who, on a quiet Wednesday evening, sat on the other side of the blazing log fire from me. Her complexion was so perfect that it was her pure skin that I noticed first! She was happy enough to chat for a time, even about the politics of the 1960s after she mentioned that the book on the floor by my chair was hers. It was a biography of the newspaper tycoon, Cecil King, who owned the Daily Mirror at that time. I lived up to my stereotype and talked about green politics - and, the charming, affable, humorous Alex Salmond who I like. She came from Sedgefield in the County of Durham. I never did ask her name.