From violence-bracing to violence

RoughCastle Roman fort

This may be the last about Roman occupation on this trip. This is a turf fort on the Antonine Wall, called Rough Castle. The Romans took twelve years to build this wall, and after eight more years they abandoned it (the forces of political economy…). To the right is the land of the barbarians, with a ditch and rampart in the mid-ground, facing the threats…to the far left is the fort, and I am standing on a gate (I assume; one sign on the whole fort…). This is the second-smallest fort along this wall, and the best preserved. It’s rough, humpy ground surrounded by a ditch, and would be a royal pain to sketch-map with a compass by pacing.

FalkirkWheel drone

By the time we got to the other side of the hill (roughly speaking), the sun was out, and we found two guys and a drone watching the Falkirk Wheel. This is some major industrial engineering to bring boats up/down between two canals at very different heights. The drone is left of center near the top and the boat is at the bottom ready to enter the lower basin. The arm takes the boat and water on side, with a counterbalance on the other. This lift replaces eleven (I think) locks that used to be used to span the 79–foot elevation change.

Sun plantationtrees

As we climbed, we saw many plantations, including bits of Tay Forest. Some of Tay Forest is old(er) growth…. And rivers, some with rocky beds and rushing water. Elevation….

Balds snow

As we climbed higher, we got above the treeline (or at least where trees have not returned since the last glaciation), into glacier-rounded peaks and valleys, with some snowpack remaining. The dark brown landcover is heather. The lambs up here are much younger than at lower/warmer elevations, and most were hunkered down napping, not gamboling about, as we have seen everywhere else.

Highlands distillery

We have driven past several whisky distilleries, but have yet to stop. Crazy, eh?

Culloden marker

Many men died on this relatively flat moor, properly called Drumossie Muir/Moor, including Scotsmen fighting on both sides. This is where the Blàr Chùil Lodair, or Battle of Culloden, happened beginning about one in the afternoon of 16 April 1746. The Jacobites, who sought to restore their beloved Stewarts to the throne, opened with cannon fire, and English forces answered with their own cannon. As the National Trust for Scotland puts it:

Bombarded by cannon shot and mortar bombs, the Jacobite clans held back, waiting for the order to attack. At last they moved forwards, through hail, smoke, murderous gunfire and grapeshot. Around eighty paces from their enemy they started to fire their muskets and charged. Some fought ferociously. Others never reached their goal. The government troops had finally worked out bayonet tactics to challenge the dreaded Highland charge and broadsword. The Jacobites lost momentum, wavered, then fled.
Hardly an hour had passed between the first shots and the final flight of the Prince’s army. Although a short battle by European standards, it was an exceptionally bloody one.

Culloden was the last pitched battle on the British mainland, and the ramifications for the Scottish people have been immense. The English subsequently sought to suppress ethnic Scottish behaviors, including kilt-wearing, the Scottish Gaelic language, and the clan social structure. The effect of these changes was a depopulation of hinterlands, and disruption of pretty much everything Highland.

This and other rough stone markers were installed in the 19th-C. Archaeologists have used non-destructive, remote sensing techniques to define the areas where bodies were buried in mass graves.

Culloden marsh

Another problem for the Jacobite troops was that the part of the battlefield they sought to cross was even wetter than today, slowing the advance of a major portion of the line. Indeed, this was a little marsh we found that would have been difficult to slog through.

Managers of the battlefield are encouraging the plant species that were here on the day of the battle, and the moor is turning from pasture into…gorse and grasses, along with wildflowers and other woody plants. One type of feature that was here in 1746, but is mostly gone now, are stone field enclosures…. The powers-that-be are also trying to convince landowners in the preservation area to refrain from tree plantations.

Such are the cycles of land management.

ONC!! and Knag Burn

Rolling rowcrops

We saw the landscape change today, first as we drove north, eventually through the Pennines, and then as we drove east, descending the Tyne drainage. We saw more critters than people throughout most of it, I daresay.

Pasture stonewalls

We watched the row crops yield to pasture, with fields defined almost exclusively by stone walls.

We did this in Our New Car!! Yes, new to us, but ALSO it had 40-some miles on it when The Guru received the keys! New car smell! Shiny white!

Sheep dots stonewalls

The rolling countryside became treeless….

Pasture notrees

And we were on the open range, driving between the snow-sticks, and watching for “LAMBSONROAD.”

Housesteads Hadrians wall

Even more exhilarating, we visited a Roman fort…. That’s the land of the barbarians on the left, and down at the bottom of the hill…the creek…that’s Knag Burn. Burns are creeks. Other things, too…. Many of the trees in this area were pine plantations, and some were newly logged, but not these “forests.”

Northsea night

Our east leg took us to the end of the wall/road, and we watched the afterglow on a North Sea seawall.

Technical report: we’ve been using Goog__Maps to do our navigation, with Miss Voice turned on. She mentions nearly every roundabout, even the ones that are just a big white dot in the middle of a circle of pavement. Keeping us on our toes. Every once in a while she skips one, but our route is obvious. Sometimes she over-narrates curves and turns. Today she totally skipped one, and we had to backtrack. I think it was a new subdivision that wasn’t there in her world, although it was on the map. Still, using technology makes the whole process quite smooth compared to scrutinizing printed maps…without the magic blue dot of self-ness (as in, I am here, right HERE, therefore I exist…).

Traveling road show…embarks

Airplane salt pepper wine apertif

Ah, high-flying style for cocktail hour…love those wee chubby airplane salt-and-pepper shakers!

Dawn in new place

Sometimes the sun comes up and you have a new outlook on the world. Sometimes the sun comes up and you are in a new place.

We had some of both today.

Beach front fun hibernating

Deflated amusement park….

By day’s end, we had slogged through miles of rain (in “Bono,” which has the license licence plate BNO), and found ourselves in a holiday and fishing-fleet town (that’s diversity!) where nearly no one was out and about—too wet; too windy; have to get up early to go fishing…. Until the sky began to turn blue and the puddles began to dry up…then we saw dog-walkers and exercisers…and a few locals getting from here to there….

Fishing fleet work buildings

Long day! But fruitful….

May Day!

Babettes manhattan

We did a bunch of spring cleaning, then some celebrating, of this May Day!

No ludi for this Floralia—instead, long-time friends in town from far away where the green is just beginning to arrive(!), and heaps of talking and laughing.

Fired up for luck

Hell bank note

Skipping the backstory that I felt was compelling, last weekend I impulse bought some lucky money* planning to…well, I forgot. Now it’s THIS weekend, and I’m sending luck to all, especially those who have b-days today….

* Yeah, I know it’s long after Chinese New Year.

Matzot variety

Matzot dessert

Things I knew before today: matzoh is a plain food…really simple…cracker-bread; they can be used to make a yummy soup.

Things I learned today: the plural of matzoh is matzot (sometimes); matzot can be transformed into a tasty albeit not-so-pretty chocolate-drizzled sweet; they can be used to make bitter-herb-and-horseradish-and-apple-cinnamon sandwiches.

Mystery in ATL

Moose whimsy

ATL is pretty far away from moose* territory…. Is this whimsy in the garden of transplanted Yoopers? Canadians?

* Elk is moose in British English, I “see.”

Or should the title have been “Rusty steel mini-moose”? Or “Migratory moose visits ATL”? Or….


H4WP shaved

I looked at the weather this morning and thought about how antsy I was, so I headed out under the almost-cloudless skies (instead of waiting until the possibly rainy afternoon) and looped the lake at H4WP.

The landscaping crew has been through, and all the decorative grasses are cut to nubbins. I was surprised this pair of Canada geese and a mallard were hanging out. Doubt if the great blue heron (aka the denizen) will hang here for a while.

Where’s the lotion?

Statue skin condition

That’s a bad case of winter-skin. I’m not sure lotion/creme will fix it….


Essence of peaches

Wooden box at Fort Jackson yesterday.

I am not sure what was in the “Essence of Peaches” tins; was it peach puree? whole peach chunks? the equivalent of what we call peach nectar today?