Archive for Scotland

Fate & Fortune [book review]

Posted in Books, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on February 10, 2019 by xi'an

After enjoying very much the first book, Hue & Cry, in the Hew Cullan series by Shirley McKay, I bought the following ones and read Fate & Fortune over the vacation break. If anything, I enjoyed this one even more, as it disclosed other aspects of 16th Century Scotland, still with the oppressive domination of the Kirk, the highly puritan Church of Scotland, over all aspects of everyday life, but also a more rational form of Law, plus the first instances of caitch, imported from France jeu de paume. And the medical approach of the time against an epidemics of syphilis. And the dangerous life of printers at the time, always in danger of arrest and worse. As usual with historical whodunits, it is hard to guess what is genuinely from 1580’s and what has been imported from the present era, but this is a most pleasant (light and short) book to read!

Scottish sunbathing

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2019 by xi'an

reading pile for X break

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2018 by xi'an

hue & cry [book review]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2018 by xi'an

While visiting the Blackwell’s bookstore by the University of Edinburgh last June, I spotted this historical whodunit in the local interest section. Hue & Cry by Shirley McKay. It stayed on a to-read pile by my bed until a few weeks ago when I started reading it and got more and more engrossed in the story. While the style is not always at its best and the crime aspects are somewhat thin, I find the description of the Scottish society of the time (1570’s) fascinating (and hopefully accurate), especially the absolute dominion of the local Church (Kirk) on every aspect of life and the helplessness of women always under the threat of witchcraft accusations. Which could end up with the death penalty, as in thousands of cases. The book reminds me to some extent of the early Susanna Gregory’s books in that it also involves scholars, teaching well-off students with limited intellectual abilities, while bright but poorer students have to work for the college to make up for their lack of funds. As indicated above, the criminal part is less interesting as the main investigator unfolds the complicated plot without much of a hint. And convinces the juries rather too easily in my opinion. An overall fine novel, nonetheless!

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.

Wow! [#2]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2018 by xi'an

Isle of Skye brewery

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , on August 20, 2018 by xi'an