Cousins, Provence, wine-making, and climate change

I’m back in Aberdeen after an amazing trip to France for my sister’s wedding. We landed in Aberdeen last night to heavy snow! I’m feeling very tired today and think I need a holiday to recover from my holiday :)

I got these nice photos of the cousins together yesterday:

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As we drove back through Provence yesterday, past field after field of grape vines, I couldn’t help but wonder about the wine industry and how it will survive climate change. We are looking at a minimum warming of 2°C by the end of this century but it could be up to 4°C if we continue on our current trajectory. A change of 2°C is an optimistic outcome and requires large emission reductions from us which we have so far failed to achieve. And it won’t stop there, it will just get noticeably warmer and warmer with each decade after that unless we do something about it now. The wines we so love from the southern regions of France are unlikely to survive in their current form. Farmers will need to adapt, to change the varieties they grow and harvest at different times. The best wine growing regions are probably going to move poleward.

I did a quick search to see what was in the literature and here’s what I found:

The entire range of grape growing climate zones is about 10° C globally; for some grapes, such as Pinot noir, the range is an even narrower 2 °C (Santisi, 2011). The National Academy of Sciences suggests that the general shift of warmer temperatures poleward will lead to a “huge shake-up in the geographic distribution of wine production (Lallanilla, 2013)” in the next half century (Hannah et al., 2013). The practical and economic would be monumental. Premium wine producing regions would shift poleward. “Many quality wine growing regions now on the margin for secure wine production will become safe and other regions will be able to expand their grape selection (Tate, 2001).” Some areas would cease production all together (Kay, 2006 and Tate, 2001). According to Tate (2001), the consequence of this warming will be the ability of Vitis vinifera to “thrive in more poleward locations than it does today,” with some areas now perfect for a given cultivar ceasing to be so.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212977414000222

From the same source, climate change will also alter the chemistry of grapes and thus their flavour.

Additionally, it is surmised that a rise in CO2 will change wine quality. According to Schultz (2010), a rise in CO2 coupled to a lift in temperature and a shift in relative humidity may increase biomass, increased sugar (thus alcohol), and a decrease in acid levels all of which will affect grape aroma and flavor. Tate (2001)states, that rising CO2 will cause faster growth and, therefore, higher sugar concentrations and thicker skin development (thus higher tannin levels). Therefore, it is a certainty that a change in climate, no matter how small, will shift grape chemistry for winegrapes currently in place.

Wine is not necessary for our survival but it would be a tragedy if we lost these wine growing regions, which, in many instances, were producing wine long before we became dependent on fossil fuels. Wine has been made in Provence for at least the last 2,600 years. Our apathy when it comes to climate change is a punch in the face to all the wine-makers of the region from the past. They developed an industry which has lasted thousands of years and which is now at risk because of our own greed and selfishness. I don’t even drink wine but I was still able to appreciate the beauty of the Provence wine-growing region with its grape vines, the tradition of wine-making, the tourism it must bring, and the income generated for the people who live there and produce the wine.


A party in Provence

We were forced to attend another party this evening. What a tough life :)

I got to wear another beautiful frock and hopefully I don’t look too bony and emaciated in it.

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I also got a nice photo of myself with Dad who seems to be turning into a party animal as he gets older. He stays up later partying than all the rest of us.

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The kids looked just as cute as ever:

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Quite by accident we three look like a French flag:IMG_0503

Susie looks so lovely she needs a photo all to herself:IMG_0522

My sister, Josey, discovers that high heels are not suited to gravel.

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No, this is not the groom kissing her in this next one.

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Here’s the bride and groom:IMG_0515

And some other random photos:IMG_0505

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And now I must go to bed if I’m to run laps around the grape vines again tomorrow.


Provence

We’re currently staying at a truly magnificent place in Provence. My sister and her husband have organised a weekend celebration for their wedding rather than just the usual day and so a group of about 30 of us have gathered in this lovely part of the world to drink and be merry.

There are quite a few kids and they’re all free-ranging around the vast open spaces. There are no cars, just vineyards, fields, and forest. I went for a run around these grape vines yesterday. It was wonderful.

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I got another nice photo of the sisters again today. You can tell I’m the one who has come from Scotland while everyone else is used to warmer climates. My dress in this next photo came from a charity shop in Aberdeen.

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What a good life I have and don’t I know it :)


A French Wedding

My sister got married yesterday in Antibes in the South of France. It was splendid. She knows how to throw a party like no-one else and it was so nice to see my other sisters (I have quite a few), my father, and various other people I haven’t seen for a long time. I also got to wear a pretty frock somewhere other than our lounge room and pose for photographs.

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Ben got to pose for photos too:

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Daniel and Elizabeth looked adorable:

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My sister looked lovely and her dress was beautiful. You can’t have a wedding without some kind of drama over the dress. Like so many things these days it was bought online and was not quite the right size. There wasn’t time to exchange it and because my sister and I look alike I nearly had to act as her body double and walk down the aisle in her dress. But in the end we decided it might be better to sew my sister into the dress instead and this is exactly what we did, an hour before the ceremony. She cut herself out of the dress at the end of the day. I don’t think anyone noticed my bad sewing :)

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They were married by the mayor of Antibes in the town hall. It was a lovely ceremony even though I didn’t understand most of it as it was in French. The bride and groom didn’t have to say anything other than urine (or wee which is yes in French). I could never live in a country where the word for yes translates to urine but that’s the beside the point.

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I love this next photo. They look like a royal couple emerging from the palace to wave to their adoring fans. IMG_0351

Here’s another lovely sister of mine and her boyfriend:

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At one point I caught this sister’s boyfriend negotiating with a 7-year-old who was in possession of some cake. He suggested to the 7-year-old that he trade the cake for a toy rifle. The kid with the cake looked at the toy rifle and said, “That’s a fake” and disappeared with his cake.

Here’s my nephew looking incredibly cute:IMG_0360

And the very handsome Daniel:IMG_0364

And finally, four sisters:

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An exercise plan

After school yesterday Elizabeth decided to do some exercise. It was her own idea and although I’m a big advocate of exercise myself, I never pressure my kids to do it. However whenever they ask me why I’m exercising I will usually say something like, “because it keeps me fit and healthy and I’ll live for longer”. Elizabeth parroted these reasons when she was doing her exercise so she must be absorbing at least some of the things I say and she even drew up an exercise plan (again all her own initiative). Here it is:

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It says:

Sturjyumps 10
Runing 10
Froing toys 10
Hoping 10

Translation:

Starjumps 10
Running 10
Throwing toys 10
Hopping 10

I asked her about the throwing toys. Is that exercise? She replied that I had said it was, then added a bit indignantly, “I asked you and you said it was exercise!”. Ooops. I’m a bad parent. You know those times when you’re concentrating on something and your kids ask you a question but you’re not really listening and just say, “Yes, yes”? After school I’m still at work and so I’m working while they’re at home. They sometimes come and ask me things while I’m busy and concentrating on something and this was one of those times. Just as well we don’t own a car otherwise I might have inadvertently replied with “Yes, yes you can take the keys to the car and go for a drive”.


Evolution and adventures

Explaining evolution to kids is harder than you think especially when you’re riding a bakfiets at the time and they’re firing questions at you from the box in front. It started on the cycle ride home today with, “How come some kids have brown skin?”. I tried to explain that humans have evolved to have lighter or darker coloured skin depending on how much sunlight the place they originate gets. People with fairer skin are better able to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight which is useful in places with lower UV radiation as vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. While darker skin types offer more protection from the sun and are important in places with high UV radiation. Elizabeth went from that to, “That’s why we don’t live in New Zealand because New Zealand is hot and we have white skin”.

Elizabeth has obviously forgotten about Christchurch and how cold it can get there. Kids also don’t seem to have a concept of time. It’s hard to explain that although our skin colour is determined by our parents and their skin colour by their parents and so on it’s our ancestors and where they came from who determine whether we are fair or dark.

Some people spend money on cars and house renovations whereas we like to spend money on adventures. Every time we come back from a short trip or weekend away, I start dreaming about the next one. Where will we go? What will we do? I seem to live my life from one adventure to the next which isn’t such a bad thing, I don’t think. I also relive old adventures sometimes. One particularly good one we made was a short campervan trip to Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook in the South Island of New Zealand. Lake Tekapo is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We went in July 2010, two months before the start of the Christchurch earthquake sequence. Here are some photos of it (Daniel is in the first one and he’s wearing a cardigan I made for him):

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This was taken from the Mount John Observatory:

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Here’s our campervan:

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We slept here one night with not a soul around except for us:

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Elizabeth was only little:

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And I didn’t have any grey hairs yet. I blame the earthquakes for those.

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And the obligatory sheep pic:

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Brig o’ Balgownie

Bridges are very clever things. Spanning rivers and harbours they hold a lot a weight and somehow manage, most of the time anyway, not to fall into the water. Aberdeen has some very old bridges including one of the oldest in Scotland, a medieval bridge over the River Don called the Brig o’ Balgownie.

It was built in the 12th Century according to Wikipedia and is thought to have been the work of Scottish architect, Richard Cementarius. There is some dispute over who commissioned the bridge but credit has been given to both Robert the Bruce and Bishop Cheyne.

It’s a lovely old stone bridge with a single arch and is open to pedestrians and cyclists only. We cycled all the way over to it, which, although it wasn’t far, was quite exhausting because there were a few hills. Busby does not really do hills. I can manage them as long as they’re not too steep but there was one hill that I had to get off and push the bike up. I can’t stand and pedal on Busby as my knees hit the wooden box at the front. Ben actually ended up pushing Busby up the hill for me. There were also quite a few roads with cobblestones and these are not so great for cycling.

This next photo was taken in Seaton Park, which is right beside the River Don, and quite lovely and enormous.

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Here’s the bridge:

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I really am impressed that humans managed to build things like this so long ago. It’s a magnificent bridge that will hopefully be around for many more centuries yet.

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What do you think of this dress? I got it at the charity shop yesterday and I’m not sure whether I like it. The cardigan I made myself.

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There were some lovely little stone cottages nearby:
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I don’t think the kids enjoyed it very much. As we were nearing the bridge I began explaining the historical significance of it to Daniel and his response was, “Where is the cafe?”.


A robin redbreast and more of Elizabeth’s writing

I was out in the garden today and this little robin redbreast came and said hello. Isn’t he cute?

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There are a quite a few birds around. They, and the sunlight, wake us up at 5:30am :) The little robin was interested in what I was doing because my digging was revealing tasty morsels to eat.

Elizabeth got a bird house for Christmas which she painted and which we decided to put out in the backyard for a potential Mr and Mrs Bird. My husband, clever though he is, is not very good at handy man things. Here’s what he did with it:

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Perhaps wisely, no bird has taken up lodging there yet. This afternoon the fellow who lives down stairs, aka my second husband, screwed it to the tree. See how useful it is to have a shared backyard? Maybe now one of our local birds will give the house a try.

Elizabeth wrote a card for her teacher which I thought I’d share:

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Elizabeth wrote: Deeyir Miss Smith. I luv yoo it the bac of yor card ther is sum maths. Luv from Elizabeth.

Translation: Dear Miss Smith. I love you. On the back of your card there is some maths. Love from Elizabeth.

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Clothes and sunny Britain

I have way too many clothes. But it’s not because I’m materialistic and spend all my money on contributing to despicable sweatshops and environmental degradation. Most of my clothes are second-hand and they have either been given to me by people I know or I have bought them from charity shops. Sometimes I buy new things for myself but not very often. I also find it very hard to part with clothes and I’ve got things from decades ago which I sometimes still wear.

This will sound incredibly silly but choosing an outfit each day and wearing beautiful clothing is a way to express myself. I love being able to select from colours, shapes, patterns, and styles to suit my mood. It also takes a bit of creativity to design clothing and fabric and so in some ways I feel as though I’m wearing art.

Today I was going through a large bag of clothes I hadn’t seen in a while and came across a dress-up from my childhood. It’s a dress-up of Little Bo Peep and must be more than 30 years old now. It fits Elizabeth and here she is wearing it. It used to have a large hat to go with it but I’m not sure what happened to that.

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I also came across this pregnancy bra of mine. It’s almost a parachute! I think I can safely chuck that one out now.

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I took this photo of Marischal College yesterday and look how blue the sky is:

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It’s just as sunny today as well. Why is it so sunny? I moved here for the lovely overcast, drizzly weather Britain is famous for but so far I have been disappointed. Can I get sunburnt here? Normally I would wear sunscreen every day in Australia and New Zealand as you can get sunburnt in less than 10 minutes. Here I haven’t been wearing sunscreen at all but I think I should probably start doing so. Do any locals have some advice?


Rants: Zips, Tony Abbott, and wills

I feel like having a bit of a rant about a few things so if you don’t like that kind of thing then feel free to stop reading.

Zips. They’re always getting stuck. They seem to be very poorly made these days and they always get stuck, usually when you’re in a public changing room half-undressed and unable to get out of the dress you’ve just tried on. I’m sure this never used to happen as often. They’re just like modern toasters and kettles that stop working one day after the warranty expires.

Tony Abbott. There’s always something to rant about with Tony Abbott but I try to avoid reading anything about him so as not to get all worked up. But something was thrust in front of me this morning and I read it before realising. In 2013 Tony Abbott abolished the climate commission to save money and to avoid “duplication of services“. Here’s how much they saved:

“This decision will save the budget $580,000 in 2013-14 and an annual funding of up to $1.6 million in future years.”

Today I read that Tony Abbott is now going to give $4 million to Bjorn Lomborg to establish a consensus centre in Australia. Except that Bjorn Lomborg isn’t exactly on the same page as consensus scientists where climate change is concerned. He doesn’t deny that the climate is changing and that we are the cause, but unlike the majority of climate scientists, he doesn’t think we should do anything about it. He thinks the money would be better spent on other things like helping poor countries to become rich countries by giving them access to cheap fossil fuels. The problem with this is that while it might be better for us to spend the money on other things, like cheap fossil fuels, it is not better for people in the future who will inherit a problem which by then will be beyond repair. There’s a gross injustice of intergenerational ethics which he and people who call themselves “Skeptics” are prepared to overlook. What is also overlooked is that climate change is expected to hit poor countries the hardest.

The last thing I want to rant about are wills, as in last will and testament. Why is it possible to contest a will? If you write and sign a legal declaration in a sane state of mind before you die about what you’d like to happen to your assets, people should not have the right to change this. When we’re alive we are free to spend our money on whatever we want, provided we don’t break the law, of course. Why should it be any different once we’re dead? If someone wants to give all their money to the hooker living next door then that’s their choice entirely and no-one else should be able to take that away from them. What’s the point of having a will at all if what you decide can be changed, without your consent, after your death?


Duthie Park and ice shelves

I took this photo of Duthie Park today. I love watching the plants change as we move deeper into spring. There’s about to be an explosion of green there as all the buds on the trees open up probably in the next week or so. Duthie Park is a gorgeous place: great for running, walking, cycling, playing in one of the many playgrounds there, or wandering through the winter gardens.

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There’s a good interview with Tim Naish, Director of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University, on Kim Hill’s Radio NZ program from last month. He explains the difference between ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice rather well. He also discusses tipping points and why these are something we should be concerned about. Most of the heat from climate change is going into the oceans and the oceans take a very long time to warm. But once they’ve warmed, they will take thousands of years to cool down again.

They know that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet disappears at about 400ppm of CO2 which is where we are now and there’s about 3-4m of sea level rise in that alone. If all of Antarctica melted the seas would rise by 50m. Here’s the interview if you want to listen it:


Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday/20150328


Daffodils and vote cycling

The days are getting really long here. I’m surprised by how light it is and for how long. The vampire in me is wondering how I’m going to get to sleep mid-summer. I might have to get some blackout curtains. Sunrise is at 6:03am and sunset at 8:13pm but it starts getting light sometime around 5:30am. I know this because it wakes me up. That’s way too early.

The daffodils are at their peak right now and they look lovely:

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The National Cycling Charity (CTC) has a website where you can write to all the parliamentary candidates in your electorate to ask about their cycling policies. It’s very quick and easy to use as the letters have already been written – although you can edit them if you want to – and all you need to do is type in your postcode and it finds all the politicians for you. Go to http://votebike.org.uk if you want to give it a go. I did it this morning and I’ve received two responses so far.


Baby photos

I started this blog because of the Christchurch earthquakes but many women start blogs as a way to record images of their children. My blog has certainly morphed into that over the years but there’s nothing of my children from before the earthquakes. I realised this yesterday when I went searching for a baby photo of Daniel. So I thought I’d share a baby photo of each them here now.

Here’s Daniel at less than 24 hours old. He was born in Christchurch Women’s hospital in 2007. He was born about 3 hours after my arrival at hospital and despite my pleas for an epidural, no pain relief was forthcoming because there was no anaesthetist around to administer one. This is one of the problems when you live in a developing country ;) So Daniel entered the world listening to his mother’s foul language. Ben was there and noted that just as Daniel emerged he (Ben) was reminded of Zaphod Beeblebrox, the character with two heads from Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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And here’s Elizabeth at about the same age. She was also born at Christchurch Women’s Hospital but in 2009 and her birth was also very quick (it pays to marry a man shorter than yourself). This time I did get an epidural because I asked for one about, oh, 6 months in advance, I think. Epidurals are the best. I was still able to return home about 3 hours after her birth which is why this photo was taken from home. And I have boobs, as you can see (apologies to my father if he’s reading this who will no doubt be embarrassed by the mention of body parts) but I’m very happy to have my own figure back again.

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Real neat blog award

I don’t usually participate in blog awards but I was described as a “young Australian” (note the young) by the person who nominated me. Since flattery will get you everywhere, I thought I’d participate. However, I’m not going to nominate anyone else. Not because I don’t think there are some fab blogs out there, there are, but because it feels a bit like chain mail. Instead I’m going to answer the questions I was asked and if others would also like to answer them, then please do so in the comments.

Here are the questions and my answers:

How many states are there in Canada?

None. Canada has provinces, I believe.

If you could invite any 3 people to dinner, who would you invite?

Peter Singer, Bill Bryson, and Jane Austen (assuming I can invite dead people)

If you were an actor, who would you be?

Audrey Hepburn, of course.

If you could take a month long holiday anywhere in the world, where would you go and, who would you most like to go with?

I’d travel all over Scotland with my family.

What is the capital of Vancouver?

Vancouver is a city and so I don’t think it has a capital.

If there was one thing you could change about the way you look, what would that be?

Bigger boobs? No, just kidding :) I’m not sure. I’m pretty happy with the way I look. Maybe I’d get rid of those grey hairs that seem to be spreading at the speed of light on my head.

What is the most imminent problem facing mankind today? And, what would you do to fix it?

Climate change. What would I do? I’d ban cars from towns and cities and build bicycle lanes everywhere. I’d invest heavily in carbon-free energy sources, improve trains, and introduce trams where there are none. Then I’d make everyone go vegetarian :)


Feeling sorry for myself and more writing from Elizabeth

After I posted my last post I looked at the image of myself and thought I looked ill in it. I didn’t think anything of it until later that night when I woke up feeling very ill and then spent much of the night in the bathroom. I picked up a stomach bug in Pitlochry and didn’t eat anything for 24 hours. I’ve probably lost a few kilos although I’m not sure as we don’t have any scales.

I’m feeling much better today and the nausea has gone so I’m eating again which is good. I still feel a bit fragile but pleased that this was just a 24-hour thing. I feel sorry for those poor souls who die of ebola. What an awful way to die.

The last time I had a tummy bug was when Daniel was a baby and Ben had gone to Germany for two weeks for a mathematics conference. It was dreadful. Daniel was still waking up through the night and so I was dashing from baby to toilet bowl for much of the time. Being sick is bad enough but being sick and having small children to look after is way worse. This time was much better by comparison. Hopefully I’m now resistant to this round of bugs and it will be another good while before it happens again. I guess it becomes less likely as the children get older too.

I’ve just finished reading James and the Giant Peach to Elizabeth. She was very taken with the story and has starting writing a book about it. Here’s the front page and the first page:

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She has written: Gyayms and th jyiint peech = James and the giant peach

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Elizabeth wrote: Wunts ther was a boy naymd jyayms he had tharee ugle granees naymd aurnt spunj an aurnt spic

Translation: Once there was a boy named James. He had very ugly grannies named aunt Sponge and aunt Spiker.


Black Spout Waterfall and Blair Athol Distillery

We enjoyed our last day in Pitlochry and are all very sad to be leaving. I highly recommend this little village as a place for an enjoyable family break.

This morning we went for a short walk to Black Spout waterfall. It’s a 60 m high waterfall just next to the village of Pitlochry and is a pretty and accessible walk through forest. All the trees are still bare but the buds of springs are visible on their branches so it won’t be long before it looks completely different.

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Here’s the waterfall:

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Elizabeth likes to pose for every photo now:

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I can’t think where she gets this from.

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I blame the father.

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The Atholl Palace Hotel in just visible in this next one:

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My husband graciously tolerates an awful lot living with me. It’s one of the many reasons I love him. He always says, “A happy wife is a happy life”. So I thought it only fair that we do something to make him happy: a quick visit to the Blair Athol Distillery. It’s one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland; established in 1798. We both tasted some while we were there. I can’t stand whiskey and this was just as disgusting as any other I have tasted but I tactfully told the lady behind the counter that it was delicious. Who said Australians are tactless? Ben is the true whiskey connoisseur and he thought it was very good.

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Squirrel Nutkin and a fish ladder

I saw not one Squirrel Nutkin but two Squirrel Nutkins this morning (and by Squirrel Nutkin I’m referring to the very elusive red squirrel). I went out by myself just after breakfast and it didn’t take very long to spot them. They’re much smaller than I thought and very, very cute. They’re incredibly agile and quick and leapt from branch to branch and even tree to tree with great speed. They’re a lovely ginger colour with a white tummy and quite different to the grey squirrel which now seems rather large and sluggish. I tried to get photos but it was tricky because they move so fast and they were quite skittish. I did get this 9-second movie though.

We went for a little walk this morning and saw some pretty scenery.

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Then we went to the fish ladder. This is a very interesting place. It’s a hydropower station which was constructed mid-last century on the River Tummel. Hydropower stations of this type dam the river and prevent fish from traveling upstream. This is a problem for salmon stocks as salmon like to swim upstream during the breeding season to lay their eggs. An Act of Parliament in 1943 required the hydroelectric board to exercise a duty of care to preserve these fish stocks and so they built a fish ladder as a way for these fish to swim upstream past the power station. The fish ladder is the series of pools on the right in this next photo:

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You can peek into the power station too although you can’t see all that much.

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From the outside it looks like this:

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I can remember learning about electricity generation at school and how it sounded like magic. That spinning a magnet inside a solenoid (coiled wire) can generate electricity is pretty amazing.

Then we wandered home and Daniel had a haircut at this cool barber’s on the way:

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We’re heading back to Aberdeen tomorrow but will go on another short walk somewhere in the morning.


Pitlochry

We are in Pitlochry in Perthshire, which is in the middle of Scotland. We caught the train from Aberdeen yesterday and plan to spend two nights here. We thought about booking one of the Co-wheels cars but it actually worked out to be the same price, if not cheaper, to catch the train. That’s including the fact that we had to buy four tickets. We have one of those family and friends railcards which makes it very economical. If the choice of car versus train works out to be the same price, we’ll always choose the train because it’s so pleasant and enjoyable.

When the train first leaves Aberdeen it travels right along the coast which makes for some lovely views of plunging cliffs and ocean to the horizon. We usually book our seats and reserve a table seat so we can eat our lunch or work on laptops or maybe just read a book. There isn’t a mode of transportation I enjoy more, other than cycling, I guess.

Train stations are also fascinating places. We changed trains in Perth and the station there is a lovely old Victorian building. I love the iron and brick-work and the lack of concrete. Concrete is, to my mind, the bane of modern architecture.

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Pitlochry train station was also beautiful:

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We also saw some wind farms from the train and they were not at all the blight on the landscape that others seem to think they are.

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Pitlochry is a very cute village. The main street is lined with lovely old Victorian buildings and lots of inviting cafes and shops. This next photo is of part of the main street. The only thing spoiling it are the cars. If I ruled the world I’d ban cars from the main streets of villages and cities. They shouldn’t be there. These are places for people, not ugly chunks of metal. I guess most people would disagree with me.

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There are some splendid views here:

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And giant pine cones:

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We are told there are lots of red squirrels around so the plan today is to go and find some.


Creeper family

Elizabeth drew this picture of Creeper’s family (I especially love “bruver”. She still pronounces “th” like a “v”):

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I’ve eaten too much chocolate this past week. I’m never eating any chocolate ever again. I just have to finish my Easter Eggs first, though :)

Ben has a tradition of hiding Easter Eggs around the house for me to find starting from a few days before Good Friday. Isn’t that sweet? The only problem is that once you start eating chocolate you want more. It’s addictive. The only solution is to gorge myself on what’s left of my Easter Eggs and then go cold turkey. I have no self-control and so there’s no way I can make a bit of chocolate last more than a few days. The only solution is not to buy it in the first place which is how I usually operate.


Ice-skating, The Satrosphere, and climate change

It has been a very sunny and warm 17°C today. We’ve been out on our bicycles and I must admit that it was almost a bit too hot. Whose idea was it to move to such a balmy climate? For me the range from 5°C-10°C is the best for cycling otherwise I get stinky armpits.

We went to the beach and cycled along the esplanade which was lovely. Quite a few people took photographs of Busby and because it was so warm we ended up doing the convertible thing and taking the cover off. The kids were getting too hot under the plastic cover as when the sun shines it acts a bit like a greenhouse. I almost wished I’d taken my bathers and gone for another dip in the North Sea. It definitely looked very inviting. Maybe next time :)

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Then we went ice-skating and the kids have come along way with their ice-skating skills. We can skate around and leave them to hobble along on their own now.

After skating we went to the science museum, the Satrosphere. This was our first time visiting Aberdeen’s Satrosphere and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s only small but there are lots of hands-on activities and practically no-one there which meant we didn’t have to wait to play with any of the exhibits.

Even more surprising to me was that they had a climate science exhibit. I was pleased to see anything about climate science given that Aberdeen is a bit in denial about it all. The city is very dependent on oil with no signs of diversifying and the number of gas-guzzlers here seems unusually high for a European city. There’s also a glaring absence of off-road cycle paths.

They presented different future scenarios for Earth depending on choices we make today. I took a photograph of the business as usual scenario for 2050 which is essentially what humans are following at the moment:

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There was also a bit of information about the things we need to do to change this future scenario which include driving less, reducing energy consumption, and eating less meat. At the café there were brochures about climate change from Aberdeen Climate Action. But when I looked at the menu to order lunch, there wasn’t single vegan item on it other than baked beans on toast. Even the soup had ham in it. I pointed this out to the guy behind the counter who was very nice about it and ended up making me a bespoke panini. This is typical of cafés and restaurants where practically every item includes meat and/or cheese and usually I wouldn’t say anything except that they had all these brochures on their counter about climate change.

We need to eat less meat and dairy. It’s not a secret. Livestock farming contributes more greenhouse gases than the whole transport sector put together; that’s all the trucks, cars, buses, trains, planes, and ships on the planet. What hope is there of reducing our meat consumption when a café, which supposedly supports individual action to combat climate change, doesn’t offer any animal-free options? There weren’t even bicycle racks outside the Satrosphere. We had to chain the bikes to a lamp post. Despite our intelligence, sometimes I can’t help but wonder at our stupidity.