Friday, September 5, 2008

Puffins and beer

Where did August go?

Mostly, on finishing the typescript for my first academic book. Partly, on a two-week holiday taking in the Edinburgh Festival, Orkney and the Shetland Islands.

The northern islands are amazing, in a dramatic, remote and relatively flat way. We were too late for Puffin nesting season, sadly. There were, though, still lots of peat, sheep, Shetland ponies and ruins everywhere you turned (neolithic villages/viking long houses/castles/crofters' cottages/abandoned MOD radar installations).

One of the more amazing things in the Orkney islands is Skara Brae: the only relatively intact neolithic village in the world. It's an archeologist's dream, and it's fairly incredibly to look at still recognisable furniture (stone dresser, stone bed-box, stone pestle) that was used by real people 4,000 years ago.  I doubt our flat-pack furniture will fare so well, even if covered by sand for a few millenia.

Nonetheless, as I stood at the world heritage site, a small Philistine's voice whispered in the back of my head: "With all the narrow sandy passages, little grassy knolls and wee stone walls ... It looks a bit like a putt-putt golf course, doesn't it?" 

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