My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Birds of Prey, Owls and Scottish Weaponry

Today was exciting, but it didn't exactly go to plan! I went to the International Pipe-Band Championship with 2Wit 2Woo. I was helping alongside Suzy_Bugs, who is also a volunteer. 

An older photo of me with Skirly, a buzzard.
Skirl is a word for the sound of badly played pipes.
It was originally a word for mournful piping.
Buzzards make a screech noise.
Photograph by Suzy_Bugs

First of all, I over-slept, which is a common occurrence as I often find it rather hard to go to sleep at anything approaching a reasonable hour, so I am very, very tired many mornings. I had set my alarm clock, but turned it off and then promptly fell back to sleep (in a funny heap, getting a neck-ache), then could not find my clothes for the day. As I was supposed to be going to volunteer with the owls and raptors, I wanted to be reasonably practical rather than frilly. I then missed the bus I was supposed to be on, then the next bus arrived into the city centre about 30 seconds after the connecting bus from Inverness to Aviemore departed, so I had to wait for about half an hour for that... 

The bus journey was between 45 minutes and an hour, and I ended up in Forres about just gone 11:30, but without being with the 2Wit 2Woo van, and not having the money to pay for a regular ticket (I think volunteers are supposed to get in for free or reduced rates). I walked up the wooded hill above the park being used as a show-ground, and found a suitable vantage point to work out where our stall was, and then asked two nice young men near the fence and the stall to go over and pass a message on to those running it. Thankfully everything got sorted out, and I got my blue wrist-band.

I spent most of the time helping fairly static, remaining at the stall. I got to handle a variety of the owls there, including Spotty, who I had never handled before, who bit me (but not very hard) and was in a bit of a bad mood. Most of the birds seemed complete unperturbed by the fact that there were over 150 pipe-bands, and approximately 4,000 pipers and drummers, and a whole lot of spectators! We were near one of the pipe-band practice stations, which was quite cool, as I got to hear a lot of good piping. I haven't got a good ear for telling just how good piping is, as it is not a genre and tradition of music that I am hugely familiar with (yes, I've seen and heard a few since I moved to Scotland, but I hardly know it well ) but I did enjoy what I heard. 

Targe, dirk and broadsword...
Rocket the owl in the background.
Photograph by Suzy_Bugs

Towards the later afternoon, I took a walk around the grounds with Rocket, a barn-owl, sitting on my arm, and talked to lots of people, including representatives from the RAF the Army - the latter Rocket seemed to take a real liking to, giving them affectionate nibbles in return for lots of scritches and petting. Something I learnt was that in local parlance, if you stroke or pet something, it's called "clap" not "pet" or "stroke" - so there was a momentary mix up in communication when I thought someone meant applaud the owls, and I didn't want them to startle the owls with noises.  I got to meet some historical re-enactors from Brodie castle, who were wonderfully friendly. I sadly can't remember the chap's name but he was really helpful, told me lots of interesting things (including how to make a targe for re-enactment or L.A.R.P purposes) and let me handle the weaponry (all false-edged, but pretty fun anyway.)

The highlight of the day was handling Sweep, a young jackdaw. The little bird was incredibly calm on his first outing. We did minimise his handling, nonetheless. He even fell asleep once! He's an incredibly bright young corvid, and was trying to figure out (unsuccessfully) how to remove his jesses. 

Sweep and I! A cute wee jackdaw.
Photograph by Suzy_Bugs

Suzy_Bugs and I had to leave early, as we had to catch a bus back for getting home at a reasonable time. She bough Chinese take-away for Raven and I, for which I am grateful. I am also grateful for her taking all of today's photographs. 


  1. You are very welcome for both photographs and dinner, also for what was overall a brilliant day.


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