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Sunday, 12 January 2014

I read my first book

Scotland badge

OK!  My first book in the Read Scotland 2014 challenge was truth st kilda“The truth about St Kilda” by Donald John Gillies, a native of Hirta, the main island of the group called collectively St Kilda.  The islands, some mere rocks with high steep cliffs lie 60 or so miles west of the Outer Hebrides, and have always held a fascination for me.  I doubt if I ever will now, but I would love to go there.

Donald John was born in Hirta in 1901; was brought up on the island, in a very isolated community whose way of life was quite primitive to our minds, even in the 20th century.  He left the islands when he was 24, making his life as a minister in Canada.  This book is about his memories of the place he called home, the people, their way of life, their customs, their work - some of it quite hair raising!  I mean would you go abseiling down a sheer rock face in the middle of a raging sea, the rock covered in seabirds’ nests, and guano, to collect gannets eggs and capture not a few gannets into the bargain.  That was just one of the jobs that had to be done to secure food for the islanders.  I have a tiny inkling of the conditions on these islands as some years ago I visited the Skellig Islands off the south west of Ireland, two great stacks of rock in the middle of the ocean, where a group of intrepid monks set up their community, in centuries gone by. 

For centuries life continued much the same as ever it had, until the population dwindled so much in the 19th century, mainly due to young men leaving to pursue careers elsewhere, in the merchant navy for example, or as church ministers, like Donald John, leaving behind a population that was steadily aging, and unable to continue the life they had lived in their youth

Eventually life on Hirta became totally unsustainable, and in the late 1920s the islanders requested that the British Government relocate them on the mainland.  Conditions were set and met, and in 1930 the evacuation took place.

There are many books about the island group, its history and social structure, and I have another to read, by a visitor to the islands in the 18th century, so I am looking forward to that, to compare the lives of the people a century before Donald John Gillies was born.

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A Reading Challenge for 2014

Well, Happy New Year to you all!  Bliadhna Mhath Ur, as it goes in Gaelic (bl-EE-an-a Va Oor).  I watched the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on my laptop (TV’s not working) last night, followed by the Bells from London and then the ceilidh from Partick, Glasgow, on the Gaelic BBC channel.  I followed my little traditions, as I described them last night, and had a couple of glasses of whisky as I watched the London fireworks and the ceilidh.  They went on a bit, the London fireworks; about 15 minutes of them!  Pretty spectacular, but I’m afraid I thought of the money that could have gone to better causes!  Party Pooper?  Well, yes, maybe I am - but 15 minutes?  I didn’t see the Edinburgh fireworks as my TV wasn’t working and typically there was no coverage from BBC Scotland on the website.  Scotland is treated as a region rather than part of Britain!  Though so saying, the Gaelic channel was available!

Anyway, on to that reading challenge.Scotland badge  The topic as you can see is based on Scottish literature.

         Challenge levels:
Just A Keek (a little look): 1-4 books read
The Highlander: 5-8 books
The Hebridean: 9-12 books
Ben Nevis: 13+ books

Details:
Read and review Scottish books -any genre, any form- written by a Scottish author (by birth orimmigration) or about or set in Scotland.
Challenge runs January 1 to December 31, 2014

So I am signing up to the Ben Nevis level and have already made a list of 15 books I want to read, with the option of more if I want,  but the Ben Nevis level is the highest (because Ben Nevis is the name of Scotland’s highest mountain), so 13 books gets you there!  The books I have chosen may not all be to my taste once I start reading but I can choose more.  The list is not cast in stone.

If you fancy joining in too, click on the Read Scotland 2014 logo for more info.

Talk again soon.