Archive for Hebrides

blood hunt [book review]

Posted in Books, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2018 by xi'an

I realised just lately that I had not read the early non-Rebus novels of Ian Rankin (written as Jack Harvey) and thus ordered cheap used copies of three of these, which waited for me on my (new) desk when I returned to Warwick. The first one I tried is Blood Hunt, a 1995 conspiracy novel that is so full of clichés that it feels like several volumes long..! I almost left it in the common room before heading back to Paris! To wit, a second-rate journalist is after a big international chemical corporation that is poisoning the entire planet. As he gets too close to exposing the truth, he is assassinated in the US. Fortunately, his brother is a super-hero, an ex SAS soldier, living on one of the Outer Hebrides in massive isolation and getting a living [while remaining very fit] by training “weekend soldiers”. If this sounds like too much of a coincidence, the story gets downhill from there and the suspension of belief gets so heavy that one could walk on it all the way from Uist to Skye! With the main character achieving on his own more than a dozen Jason Bourne, despite a horde of killers set after him. The only thing of interest in the book is how old it sounds, being set before 1995, with hardly any cell phone available and money running out of call cards. The action taking place in France is rather well documented, including a visit to Orly airport, except for the unfortunate mention that entries are found both left and right on the Périphérique! It is fortunate that Rankin chose to adopt a highly different perspective on a similar character when writing Knots & Crosses and creating Rebus, as I would not have possibly continued reading this type of books! And be waiting for getting my hands on the novel House of Lies, which I saw in the airport when leaving.

paradise island

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2017 by xi'an

As should be obvious from the pictures posted here in the past days, I have been away on vacations on the Scottish island of Skye, part of the Inner Hebrides. This is a place that had stood very high in my dream vacation places, mostly because of the mountain range that stands at the bottom of the island, called the Cuillins. There are 13 Munroes (tops above 3,000 feet) in that range and its entire traverse takes a very long day, including several belays. As I was there for a family vacation, we [alas!] only went up the easiest group, made of Sgùrr nan Gillean, Am Basteir, and Bruach na Frìthe, and did not climb Sgùrr nan Gillean. This was a fairly easy hike with a 900m differential, the only difficulty being in route finding. Which was made harder than needed by me first confusing a group of three hills with these Cuillins for the first third of the hike! And relating to instructions in our guidebook that covered the opposite side of the mountains. It was however a most pleasant walk, quite dry by Scottish standards (where it is often hard to separate water and soil) and with sun part of the way (it actually did not start to rain until the final half-hour). And not too many people on the path.
The other days saw easier walks at lower elevations, from a grassy and pleasant route to the top of MacLeod’s North Table [with terrific views of Western Skye and the Outer Hebrides], to a tour of the Gresornish peninsula under a pouring rain but with an amazing light (and an exciting crossing of a definitely web bog where even sheep did not do]. Overall, this was a great week in a secluded location, keeping mostly away from the few tourist traps [except for a trip to the Isle of Skye Brewery and to the compulsory Neist Point lighthouse] and I hope I can get back there one day. Although other Northern paradise islands like Mull, Harris, and the Faeroe are also beguiling..!
An unsolved puzzle about this visit to Skye is that, while there are sheep all over the island, which makes spotting any form of wildlife but midges impossible!, lamb meat is curiously absent from restaurant menus [except from the offal parts used in haggis]. The few persons we asked seemed perplexed by our question and had no convincing explanation to this absence!

my next vacations location [with no bike]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on July 2, 2017 by xi'an