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Friday, 30 July 2010


On the way back from the pub.

Posted by bigblue on 30/07/2010 at 12:39 AM
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Monday, 26 July 2010


I find myself at the Findhorn Foundation Park one mile from the village of Findhorn in Scotland. I’ll re-enter life in a week or so.

Posted by bigblue on 26/07/2010 at 10:25 PM
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Friday, 23 July 2010
Forres Station


So I’m not in England at the moment.

Posted by bigblue on 23/07/2010 at 07:30 PM
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Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Entering a New Year


It gives me pleasure to publish the following short article by Dr Gary Robertshaw of The Green Providers Directory, as a “thought for the end of the year/beginning of a new year” for all of us. May each of us be the change we wish to see in the world.

The debate surrounding the extent to which the burning of fossil fuels leads to climate change misses a more fundamental point. That is, fossil fuels are an inherently finite resource. This resource is dwindling at an accelerating rate as economies such as those of China and India expand rapidly. Fossil fuels will run out. Maybe not in the next 10, 20 or 30 years but they will run out. As the scarcity of fossil fuels grows there will be increasing conflict between nations to secure their supplies in an effort to maintain their carbon-dependent economies. At the same time, there is an inexorably growing human population, destruction of rainforests, depletion of natural resources and plummeting biodiversity. Clearly, this situation cannot be sustained in the longer-term.

Yet our capitalist system is based on the principle of economic growth - growth that is heavily dependent on fossil fuels and unsustainable practices. Just look at recent events; governments are terrified by anything that threatens economic growth – pouring billions of public money into failing financial systems. In addition, many economists see growth not only as desirable but as essential. They claim it lifts the poor out of poverty, feeding the world’s growing population, supporting the costs of rising public spending and stimulating investment and technological development.

The dilemma is how can we square Earth’s finite resources with the fact that as the economy grows, the amount of natural resources needed to sustain that activity must grow too. I am clear in my conviction that economic growth in its current form is unsustainable. We need a new paradigm that limits (or reduces) the global population, a meaningful shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency and the adoption of more sustainable lifestyles. This will require courageous, co-ordinated and global government policies that ensure we don’t use up resources faster than the world can replace them.

Many will dismiss this as a utopian ideology. But isn’t it a utopian ideology to carry on blithely down a path that will ultimately lead to catastrophe? Yes, it will require a new world-view and radical changes but I think we have several grounds for optimism. Firstly, sustainable economies are more stable – whilst growth may be lower than in traditional economies it will be more durable in the longer-term and less volatile. Secondly, the shift towards a sustainable economy would create new opportunities, jobs and greater stability. Thirdly, the potential for conflict between nations is reduced as our dependency on fossil fuels reduces over time. Finally, there is a growing recognition (albeit begrudgingly) amongst governments that the current situation is unsustainable and the mood seems to be shifting from one of cynicism and self-interest to one of genuine commitment to tackling the problem.

The prospect of a truly sustainable global economy, fuelled by renewable energy sources coupled with a stabilised human population and harmonised with biodiversity is an ambitious yet achievable goal. But it’s a goal that requires a re-appraisal of the current meaning of economic growth.

The photograph is Clean Energy by Ms Carrie, showing a Scottish windfarm, and is republished under the Creative Commons licence.

Posted by bigblue on 31/12/2008 at 07:33 AM
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Thursday, 26 January 2006


But do they know it’s Robbie Burns Night?  I noted Robert Burns last year on this day.

He was an interesting character, and a contemporary of Mozart, Heydn and the French Revolution (which he supported).  The Robert Burns Encyclopedia has some detailed information about him.  The Horsecross in Perth is having a Mozart & Burns 2006 concert this Sunday:

his day of music and words explores their world and art, and ponders what might have happened if Rabbie had met Wolfgang.

2006 is a major year for Mozart lovers - the 250th anniversary of his birth. By way of celebration, Horsecross presents an array of Mozart related events over the coming year, including our Mozart Journeys series, and this day of Mozart+Burns. Why bring together these two great men? Pause for a moment and consider how much they had in common. They were born and died within a few years of each other. Both died tragically young, but left an impressive body of works and both enjoy an enduring status as two of the most influential artists of all time. And there is more: in the Age of Enlightenment, they shared a passionate belief in the dignity of humanity, an egalitarianism at odds with the aristocratic society they depended upon for patronage.

Some twenty years after Burns’ death Beethoven was commissioned to compose folk songs to the words of Robert Burns.  There is a story from last year in the Scotsman as well as the Independent about this.

Posted by bigblue on 26/01/2006 at 12:20 AM
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Tuesday, 25 January 2005
Bonny Burns’ night!


As tonight is Burns’ Night, in honour of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, I thought I would post the above photo which I took walking into Eskdalemuir, a little over a year ago. I will also share the instructions on How to Weigh a Hog, by Robert Burns:

  1. Get a perfectly symmetrical plank and balance it across a sawhorse.
  2. Put the hog on one end of the plank.
  3. Pile rocks on the other end until the plank is again perfectly balanced.
  4. Carefully guess the weight of the rocks.

Of course this is a very impractical method because where is one to get a sawhorse these days?

While on the subject of Eskdalemuir, there is an Observatory nearby. It provides images and weather data for a weathercam.

Posted by bigblue on 25/01/2005 at 08:49 PM
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Thursday, 19 August 2004
Esk Dale

Esk Dale

I took this photo in the Esk valley, two weekends ago.  This valley has become world-famous recently with the publication of the book, The Da Vinci Code.  The Rosslyn Church, some 57 km (by road) north of where I took this photo, is apparently quite a hot tourist attraction this year.  There is an article in The Telegraph, here, and some background on the church at several websites, such as here, and here.

Posted by bigblue on 19/08/2004 at 05:37 PM
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Friday, 06 August 2004
Lost in Scotland

Esk Dale

At exactly this time last week I stopped to take this photograph on the road between Langholm and Eskdalemuir in Scotland.  On the road up, via Cumbria, I had appreciated the scenery, the colours and life.  At Lockerbie I turned off the motorways and onto roads that hug the contours of the land, so you start to get a better appreciation of of your surroundings.  And I took a wrong turning in Lockerbie and got lost.  And in the valleys I found my phone didn’t work - it only worked when I was on top of hills.  Eventually I found my way onto this road which took me in the right direction, and felt relaxed enough to stop and take this photo in the still strong, but dying rays of the sun.

A truly boring photo, but having last been in that place in the snows of early January I was fixated at the transformation that had taken place.  And change was not just in the sunlight, the grass and the yellow and mauve plants. There was an abundance of animal life: particularly rabbits,  insects and of course a wide variety of birds.

But tonight I am off to York.

Posted by bigblue on 06/08/2004 at 10:15 PM
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