Loch Buic

Out for a frosty walk yesterday, this was the view of the pretty Loch Buic in Knapdale. No beavers present at the time of taking this, but there were a family of five whooper swans feeding halfway down the far shore.


An eternity in Schipol

On our recent trip to Sicily and Helsinki, we travelled through seven different airports on four different airlines. Amsterdam’s Schipol airport probably had least to ease the waiting between flights.

No 12 “Joan”

No 12 “Joan” is an engine on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. No 12 “Joan” is also named for my maternal grandmother, Joan Mildred Simmons (nee Henzell) and was one of a number of steam engines which were used to haul sugar cane to the factory on Antigua. I visited the WLLR on their recent steam gala and was lucky enough to ride on the footplate on a scheduled service.

To find out more about this rather wonderful heritage railway, visit www.wllr.org.uk. To enjoy the trains, visit the railway!

An 1881 case of slavery?

Whilst browsing the 1881 census for members of my mother’s ancestral family, I came across a rather disturbing census entry for Weymouth in 1881. Here we have a surgeon and his wife, both originally from Dorchester in Dorset, whose children were born in South Africa. The children, who are 12, 7 and 4 have a nursemaid. The shocking thing is that this nursemaid is 11, a Zulu girl taken from her homeland, and given the appallingly degrading name of “Jumbo”. And to make it worse for this child, torn from home and her own culture, she’s described as a kleptomaniac.

I find it very hard to see this as anything other than a case of slavery in Dorset, more than 50 years after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. But then, South Africa was always a different story when it came to the treatment of native peoples by white colonialists.

Keills Port South Quay

Keills Port South Quay

At the end of the peninsula south of Tayvallich lies the little-used Keills Port. This slipway is the still-operational South Quay and maintained by Argyll and Bute Council. The gated road to the quay is a public road its full length and, contrary to the signs, it is possible to turn a vehicle at the quay end. That said, the best approach is on foot or bicycle to maintain the tranquility of the place. This was once busy with traffic from the Isle of Jura, which lies across the sound. Seals and otters can be seen here and the slipway itself is covered with sea pinks in the spring.

The quay was built in 1821 on the orders of the Parliamentary Commissioners for Highland Roads and Bridges and is attributed to Thomas Telford.