Monday, 2 June 2014

In Tain.

Rest easy readers, this article has little to do with Scottish independence. Hardcore supporters of independence may move along.

I'm working in Tain for two weeks which is why I'm sitting beneath Tarbat Ness Lighthouse, Britain's second tallest at forty metres and sporting two red stripes, I'm not sure why I'm adding the information about the stripes except to say, its on the information board and I'm an unselfish soul. More accurately, I'm sitting among the rocks down by the water looking north through sunshine and showers toward Dornoch, Golspie and the hills of East Sutherland beyond.

Tarbat Ness Lighthouse. Can you guess where I'm sitting? I've given you a clue.
Tarbat lighthouse is automated and the lighthouse buildings are now private dwellings - I rather suspect of a holiday home nature. Polite signs tell you the grounds are private gardens and not to be entered, someone has adorned one sign with a 'Scotland 2014/Vote Yes' sticker which the owners will either agree with or put up another polite notice about. The location is undoubtedly attractive for holidays and short breaks but I couldn't live here, I'd be bored shitless within minutes. I mean I'd try to convince myself I wouldn't - but I know I would for I am afflicted with the Me-Now Bug, symptoms include not being able to tell the difference between what you want and what you need.

The rocky shore currently giving me backache and a developing case of piles is where the geological fault responsible for The Great Glen meets the sea. I've sat on some of the rocks along the Great Glen Way and can confirm they are as hard as the rocks here, so it must be true. I genuinely don't know why I'm going to tell you this because I'm positive you already know, but The Great Glen sits in a Strike-slip or transcurrant fault. It extends south west toward Ireland (through Lough Foyle, Donegal Bay and Clew Bay) and to the north east toward the Shetlands where it becomes indistinct due to pesky mesozoic rifting. On land though, it gives us The Great Glen, which I think is underrated. We drive, walk or cycle along it, look for the Loch Ness monster in it and drink wine in Fort William or Inverness at either end of it. Rarely do we look up and realise that we are doing those things in or around an impressively large - if you'll excuse the term - gash in Scotland's landscape.

In any case, I'm sitting at the point where it enters the sea, which is nice. Or it would be were it not for the smell of sewage in the air. I tell you, nothing ruins a Coop Cheese & Ham sandwich like the stench of human waste, I'm not even sure where its coming from, there are no outflows here but it still smells fucking awful.

Squalls have been chasing up and down the Dornoch Firth for most of the day, at one point the weather closed in completely consigning the noisy jet planes roaring hither & thither to their various bases. Today they seemed to be engaged in an exercise of showing off, lets be honest, they don't need to do all those loops and sharp climbs do they - they can release their smart bombs and rockets from miles away and guide them in with lasers and magic. These pilots are just showing off. I think - and again, you'll have to excuse the metaphor - its just the RAF metaphorically nobbing Scotland with one of its many winged penis shaped objects - "Yeah, look at us in our planes, fancy a drink later ladies?"

Anyway, I'm babbling, I think because of the discomfort from sitting for so long on these rocks - I've had a Twix but it hasn't help. As I sit here, from the texture of the rock (I can feel every ridge and nodule in exquisite detail through my back and what turns out to be a not-so-well padded backside) I cannot decide if these rocks belong to the metamorphic Moine supergroup or the metamorphic Dalradian supergroup - I'll be up all night mulling that one over...

I should say, except for the smell, it really is quite lovely here, as I type, a seal just bobbed up for some fresh air, (hard luck there chum.) At least I assume it was a seal, there are a lot of things bobbing about in the water, most of which I guess are attached to lobster pots. Lovely though it is, I'm going to have to stand up, seriously, I have problems if I sit at my desk for an hour without moving, I've been here for at least forty five minutes and I've lost contact with my legs... Give me a minute...

... OK, much better now. To add to the idyll, I can hear lambs bleating in the distance, I can just see them gamboling cheerfully over by - trying gamely to keep up as their mothers are chased by randy locals - I'm joking, they seem to be from McSweans...

I think the only thing that could improve this location is a nice pub... with a beer garden... and comely bar staff... and winsome clientele.

Realistically I know this is out of the question (and so it should be.) So I'll settle for a cushion.

I won't be able to do my usual pithy blogs about the daftness of Better Together or the slick & slimy Vote No Borders rabble, I won't have the time to do the extensive research that is a hallmark of my articles...


What do you mean?

OK, at least stop laughing now...


  1. Well if your still about on saturday night, why not drive inland to the old bridge at Bonar for a Talk from Ivan McKee followed by a separatist pint or two ;-)

    1. Hi.

      I would attend but i'm home on Friday.

      I also tried to get to the do at Bogbain Farm? I think National collective (who are artful souls like myself 😉 ) were launching something. Alas, I was late after spending too much time at the Meikleour Beech Hedge - the highest hedge in the world!

      Well, one must have one's priorities...

      Thanks for looking in.

  2. Pa

    I've been to Tain, agree not a lot there but some great views and interesting sheep when you meet them. Like Wick, Thurso etc all interesting with some people who live there two weeks a year and some couples who can trace their family lines back to the same family, a bit like the Windsors. However, you should enjoy this time, take a deep breath and relax, think about what you might be doing on the 19th Septemebr if it's a good night, think about Dundee Football Club being back in the top flight, have a listen to some laid back Neil Diamond and set the politics and the things you would like to do to Better Together aside for a moment. Mel Gibson has probably been there and as we all know he is as Scottish as they come, he probably owns the lighthouse and buildings. Have fun and keep a jumper handy.


  3. Cheers Bruce.

    I'm trying to relax but I'm also working unfortunately. The lucky inhabitants of Tain are getting a new health centre into which I and a colleague are putting stuff.

    Today for example I spent quite a lot of time moving clocks around - it is important work you know... Next week I'll be placing bins, lots of bins - the glamour...

    So far Tain has been nice, the view down the firth is superlative but the town's one ways system is a bit confusing - many of the locals seem to ignore it.

  4. Your job does seem to involve a lot of sitting on beaches in nice parts of the country.

    I don't suppose you need a very highly paid, pretty useless assistant do you?

    Thought not.

  5. I'm extremely busy during the day...

    No seriously, I am.



Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?