salmon swimming, salmon trouble

Salmon swimming

I’m still at my parents’ in Pitlochry. Yesterday we went to the Linn of Tummel, a beautiful waterfall, where we spotted a couple of interesting things –

1/ a humane trap for American mink with just a sandy bed which records their footprints if they pass through


2/ an early example of a salmon ladder

Dad, who used to be an environmental scientist, explained about the journey of salmon upstream (and fish ladders help them get past waterfalls and man made dams)  Salmon return to the same river each year to lay their eggs. Not only to the same river, but in long rivers like the Tay (100miles long) to the exact same point where they were born. This is because the salmon are adapted to the exact environmental conditions of that point and the offspring they create will be able to thrive in those conditions. Man shouldn’t mess with this – fish farms ruin the natural balance of different fish moving downstream at different time when they escape and everything goes wrong.

Fact – fish scientists in the UK have been finding male fish with female features due to the high levels of oestrogen in our rivers probably from women taking the contraceptive pill

Salmon trouble

Skimming stones across the Tummel I will always be impressed dad

you can hit the other side

And mum proudly feeds you smooth flat stones

Afternoon tea there was too much chocolate on that plate

But great for a pipe band raffle prize

That morning, a jacuzzi, shared reluctantly with two old women who knew

everything about me and I politely smiled when they labelled me free spirit

and showed empathy

That her dog died of epilepsy

I scoffed the salmon, smoked to perfection but failed to see there was no sell by date

and i bore the consequences until I lost a few pounds

And didn’t know how to answer my 80 year old neighbour when she asked my opinion

on legalising drugs

Some good things coming up…

  • My Peruvian friend Arturo is coming to visit from Holland for 3 days amidst the chaos of moving. We hung out for 2 months in Cusco 15 years ago and have only met once since but he has remained a big force in my life from afar.  It is amazing how some people stick and others lose their grip so fast they are only a shadow passing through. The day I met him he taught me how to breathe through one nostril then breathe out through the other, on a day when I was just another lonely backpacker with a notepad in the square.
  • Carla and I have booked our first 3 nights in a hostel in Tulum, which is supposed to be very friendly, but bed bugs have been reported. We will use our special sheet sleeping bags to protect ourselves.
  • We have booked tickets to see Paper Cinema at Battersea Arts Centre on 9 Feb. It looks fabby.

I love Battersea Arts Centre. It’s such a magical place with so much character and innovative programming. The last great thing I saw there was 1927’s All the Children and Animals took to the Streets

They are a company to watch out for.


January the second


I wake to thick thumb snowflakes, chat to the recycling queen and walk with a Russian speaking mum whose kids pull their hens in a sledge as their postman daddy smiles at them from the sky

Me and my folks play word games watching the gravy smelling buffet and flag on the 18th hole disappear under white as a young boy bagpipes a table self consciously to their 50th year

And dad, forever the scientist, his word game requiring advanced chemistry to participate and then a hug in the only supermarket from Sylvia who used to feed me cold scrambled egg sandwiches when I played armies with her daughter who no longer sends christmas cards (and we’re not even facebook friends)
And back through the churchyard to warm mince pies and cream and a rush of gratitude that even when i have given everything up I have everything still and there is more of better to come
And I peruse maps of the world with its oyster shadows and my mum frantically sweeps her eyes through pages of jobs so she can tell her friends I am fine, just fine, which I am.


To my BFF

You were the calm, smart one beside a powerhouse man

Working effectively, efficiently and seemingly happily

Until it bust apart and I let you store your life in my attic

And you went home, to a small place, to remember the bits you grew from

And I was impressed that you threw into the air a life that from the outside seemed so so good

But it was not and you listened and left

And I visited your 1960s architectural haven

And got crushed with you in a reggae club changing room

Hiding in a car while your friend tagged graffitti in a country where that crime is almost worth a hanging

I gave you a book.

Blue cover. Colombia.

And we read it by the modern fireplace. Crackling.

And we knew we would go. We promised.

And we went. Big blue skies and empty islands and hiding our age from 22 year olds boys.

And milkshakes in the market and coconut rice and slow dancing with soldiers

And a racing boat on choppy seas and swinging hammocks where you found fun and I realised my own pain that would take me another year to creep out of

With you, always there, a green light to chat to when I needed

With the same high hopes and not letting go of what we deserve

Your sun and horse print on my wall in Portugal.

Blu tacked to my tippee wall

To make me strong, my BFF

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