Archive for March 2013

Britain on Ice – 1954

Pathe News footage of the 1954 “big freeze”, with many of the same images that we’ve been seeing on our tv screens over last week or so. Given the harsh conditions people were experiencing, Pathe have managed to capture some very happy faces.

Click HERE to watch the clip, and look out for the brief glimpse of the Taynauilt-Oban signpost!

The Easdale Handyman’s Essential Guide to Practical DIY

(He’s recovering …)

Get away from it all!

Reproduced from Private Eye No. 1322 20 Sept 2012

And no mobile ‘phone signal unless you crouch in front of the ‘phone box, or go up the mountain and wave your ‘phone about in the air!

Out of the Blue

“The sometimes scary and often funny world of flying in the Royal Air Force – as told by some of those who were there.”

These tales of derring-do from RAF pilots are posted here under “Easdale Memories” because they were collected by Chris Long and two fellow former pilots, and include a reminiscence from the island’s much-missed raconteur and former fighter pilot, Chris’s father Peter.

The names of all the stories’ authors are listed at the front of the book but, for reasons that will become obvious as you read, the authors’ names are not attributed to individual pieces. As it says on the cover: “It is true to say that, from an aviation perspective, [the stories] are frequently more remarkable for the fact that the protagonist got away with it rather than demonstrated great flying skill”. While we can reveal that Peter’s tale involves beer, that really doesn’t narrow it down a great deal!

All proceeds from the sale of the book are shared between The RAF Benevolent Fund and Help for Heroes, and you can purchase it online HERE.

A picture worth a thousand words …

… and well over £2,000 raised for the RNLI.

What a whopper!

One of Willie’s chooks must be feeling the effects of Spring, because a couple of days ago she produced this stonker of an egg.

Not a chance of it fitting in the eggcup! If you visit the plots you’ll recognise her immediately. She’s still lying flat on her face, beads of sweat on her brow, stars rotating round her head and fanning herself with a feeble wing. If you get close you can just hear her moaning “I’m never going to do THAT again!”.

Standing Stones and the Stars

Most of us have probably seen Standing stones around the UK and further afield and wondered why they were built and what they were used for.

Henges, Stonehenge, Woodhenges, Stone Circles, Seahenges, Standing Stones and Rock Art have proliferated throughout Europe, some dating back to 3-5000 year BC, well before the Egyptians built the pyramids. Over the centuries, they have variously been thought to have been used by Druids for human sacrifice, used as territorial markers or elements of a complex ideological system, or functioned as early calendars.

Many of the structures have been plundered for building materials, but still large numbers have weathered the ages for us to admire and theorise over today. Several of the structures are thought to have celestial significance, particularly the circles, where combinations of stones point to key annual events, such as the rising and setting suns at the summer or winter solstice. Some even point to the position of familiar stars in the heavens, such as Sirius and Rigel. Being able to predict the onset of the solstices and the equinox, for example, could have helped the Neolithic farmers to know when to plant and when to harvest. Even modern day farmers link their farming strategies to the seasons.

But the stones used in these circles are huge, and must have needed the resources and efforts of large numbers of people to quarry, transport and erect in calculated positions. To command this level of co-operation, our ancestors must have been driven by very important issues that were central to the community where the stones were placed.

Interestingly, stone circles were not the prerogative of our Neolithic forbears. Over in Glasgow, a contemporary Stone Circle was built in Sighthill Park. Its designer and creator, Duncan Lunan provides an on-line account of the project here. The circle was completed in 1979 but became the subject of renovation plans in 2000 and 2010. The stone circle was designed and built to demonstrate that key earth bound events such as summer and winter solstices could be accurately predicted. Interestingly, the chosen site was subsequently found to be the viewing target from a nearby hill during summer solstice fairs up until the 17th Century.

Duncan strongly advocates the notion that standing stones and circles ‘have the characteristics of observatories’. He cites the work of Professor Alexander Thom et al who over a period of decades ‘unravelled the geometries of the ancient sites’. At a time when other astronomers were highly skeptical, Professor Thom and his colleagues were able to show that the alignments of the ancient sites in relation to the movement of the Sun, Moon and bright stars was not coincidental.

So the next time you visit one of these amazing places, imagine waiting for the sun to rise or set on a summer solstice and wonder if our forbears decided that it was now time to plant the seeds, gather the harvest or sacrifice an unlucky animal. Could they trust the designers of the circle that they had got the time right?

Stargazer