South-East Islay Skerries – Monday Map

A hauntingly beautiful seascape, the skerries along the southeastern coast of the Isle of Islay are now a nature preserve

Home to charming marine life and at least one species of scary skerry folklore

click photos to enlarge

Skerry is the name given to any of the countless little islets that dot the Scottish seacoast, from the Kintyre peninsula at the nation’s southwest corner, to the subarctic Shetland Islands far to the north. The Isle of Islay, the southernmost main island of the Inner Hebrides, just west of Kintyre, is surrounded by a necklace of skeeries ranging from small islands filled with nesting birds, to minuscule teeth of jagged rock barely rising from the surrounding shallow seas that are choked with thick kelp forests and teaming with aquatic creatures.

S E Islay Skerries

They were also known to be the haunt of kelpies, shapeshifting water spirits of ancient Pictish folklore, who often came ashore in the physical guise of a horse. Those unfortunate enough to encounter one were beguiled by the promise of a free ride on a beautiful mount, only to be unable to dismount before the kelpie returned to the depths to drown and devour them.

kelpie water horse spirit skerries

Not exactly Disney’s Little Mermaid.

Before the advent of modern conveniences, villages along Islay’s stormy southeast coast depended upon their local skeeries as a source of food, from seabird eggs, to shellfish, to larger marine life. All such traditions came to an end in 2005, when the South-East Islay skeeries became an official protected Area of Special Conservation.

Scotland Islay Skerries ASC

South-East Islay Skerries lighthouse

click to enlarge

The Kintyre Peninsula is seen in the distance of this photo, miles beyond the lighthouse that stands on a small skerry at about the midway way point of the South-East Islay Skerries SAC.

While there are five other locations on Islay designated as protection areas for birds, the South-East Islay Skeeries received their specific designation as a marine ASC due to an important colony of some 600 harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) that rely on the area for pupping, molting, and hauling-out areas, where seals leave the water for long periods of time to socialize, usually segregated by sex and age group.

seals-loch-an-tsailein-islay-skerries

Some 80% of the SAC is made up of marine areas and sea inlets, while 18% is consists of the skeeries, as well as sea cliffs and the rocky shingle along the main island. The remaining 2% is salt marshes and salt pastures. The topography includes a series of underwater ridges, which provide the seals unique opportunities for hunting and sheltering from the strong currents in that location.

On the coastline near the southern end of the South-East Islay Skerries SAC is the Ardbeg distillery. One of nine active single malt whisky distilleries on Islay, several being known for producing the most robust single malts in the world, Ardbeg makes the peatiest, smokiest single malt Scotch whisky available today.

In 2017, Ardbeg released a special expression of their whisky named Kelpie, in honor of the local kelpie legends and the fact it has a particularly volatile and maritime character, not for the timid tippler of landlubber libations. And you can read an exclusive feature article on Ardbeg Kelpie at our sister site One Man’s Malt.

ddArdbeg Skerries

photos in this post are by Armin Grewe. Check out his marvelous photoblog

http://www.islay.org.uk/

And his text and photo blog about one of the coolest places Planet Earth

http://new.islayblog.com/

Cricket, a technical manual

My understanding of the Rules of Cricket

Easy as eel pie

One side is in and one side is out until the side that is out gets the side that is in out, when they come in until they are out.

Or so I thought. I have since been informed that there are some other rules to Cricket. The following should clarify a few things:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
 
When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game

 

 

 

Jerry Douglas and the Transatlantic Sessions Tour

Town Hall, NYC, May, 4 2017 – Final Concert of the Transatlantic Tour

Since 1995 the Transatlantic Sessions have delighted audiences with collaborations between Scottish, Irish, English, and American roots music devotees.

According to their official Wiki – Transatlantic Sessions is the collective title for a series of musical productions by Glasgow-based Pelicula Films Ltd, funded by- and produced for BBC Scotland,[1] BBC Four[2] and RTÉ of Ireland. Each half-hour episode features a core “house band” led by Shetland fiddler Aly Bain, and special guests, recorded at a unique location, such as a stately manner house.

The 2017 American tour was an almost-three hour extravaganza featuring some of the finest musicians ever produced in the UK or Ireland, along with many special guests from the USA, most of whom have appeared at various Transatlantic Sessions in the UK.

Here are some excerpts from the incredible Transatlantic Sessions show last night, with a list of performers listed beneath.

Jerry Douglas – Steel Guitars, Vocals (USA)

Aly Bain- Fiddle (Scotland)

John McCusker – Fiddle, Whistle (Scotland)

Michael McGoldrick- Pipes, Flute, Whistle (England)

Donald Shaw – Accordion, Piano (Scotland)

Russ Barenberg – Guitar (USA)

John Doyle – Guitar, Guizouki, Vocals (Ireland)

Daniel Kimbro – Bass (USA)

James MacKintosh – Drums (Scotland)

 

SPECIAL GUESTS

Mary Chapin Carpenter (USA)

Rosanne Cash (USA)

Sarah Jarosz (USA)

Declan O’Rourke (Ireland)

Aoife O’Donovan (USA)

John Paul White (USA)

Karen Matheson (Scotland)

Look for Transatlantic Sessions on BBC, PBS, and Youtube

 

Remember this day!

Pancho Villa and others at the very first Fiesta de la tarro vacía

Rare photo recently discovered

Sinko de Mayo

A contemplative Villa (left) and a glum Zapata (2nd from right) face an uncertain future

In Mexico during the time of the Revolution, mayonnaise was a national obsession. More of the condiment was consumed there than any other one place on earth, with Hong Kong a distant second.

In fact, leaders on both sides of the conflict were crazy for the stuff. But it was Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata circa 1910, who spread the spread among the common people, as it were, so that its popularity soared.

In those days, England was the mayonnaise capital of the world, with Cross & Blackwell’s, and Hellmann’s as the most popular brands, and the largest shipment of all time, some tens of thousands of jars, set out from Southampton by steamship on April 10, 1912, bound for Vera Cruz, by way of Cherbourg, New York, Charleston, and Havana.

But as history showed, the vessel was none other than the ill-fated H.M.S. Titanic, which struck an iceberg and sank on April 15th.

When news arrived in Mexico twenty days later, the war-torn people were devastated. Their anguish was so great that a truce was declared between the Federales and the rebel factions, for one day of mourning. And thus was held the very first Fiesta de la tarro vacía (Feast of the Empty Jar.)

(photo: Museos de México)

feast2

It has been observed ever since, on this very day, now known colloquially as Sinko de Mayo.

Thank you, I’m here all week …

 

Art is it’s own reward

Meanwhile, back at the same coffee shop….

The cook who had fixed my hearty, satisfying breakfast was busying cooking away.

With a graceful turn, he strode forward in upright dignity and a large garnished platter of chicken and vegetables. And he, rather than the waitress, brought it to an abandoned section of the serpentine counter, where he set it before an empty chair, with a certain panache of pride and pleasure, twitching his salt and pepper pencil thin mustache before walking back past his station, while removing his chef’s hat and apron, and then out and around the counter, where he occupied the empty seat, and prepared to enjoy his 4 PM lunch.

One day…

Maybe…

One day, I will post a review and declare it finished and it will be finished, without the additional 48 hours of chisel tapping and complete rewriting of paragraphs only a lobotomized gibbon would have thought polished. And the next day I will drop dead.

The day after that, the international media will announce the record holder for the oldest human ever known will have expired at 187 years of age.

Cases in point include:

Ardbeg Kelpie

Martin CEO-8.2

and the Monday Map post following this one.

Adygea Republic- Monday Map

The Republic of Adygea is virtually unknown in the West

Located within Krasnodar Krai, at the extreme southwest tip of the Russian Federation, near the Black Sea

Adyge Republic Map

Called Cherkess by the Soviets, when it was set in the 1920s as an autonomous region for the Adyghe people, more than 60% of the republic’s current 107,000 residents are ethnic Russians. But the Adygejtsy government is headed by an elected official, sensibly called the Head, who by law must be fluent in the Adyghe language.

Notable people who have come from Adygea include professional athletes, a cosmonaut, Sci-Fi novelist Iar Elterrus, and the artist and illustrator Konstantin Vasilyev, who had a minor planet named after him.

The Adyghe are made up of twelve tribes, with two languages, considered dialects by modern linguists. They are among the indigenous people of the Caucasus mountains, but the majority of the modern Adyghe population live in Turkey, Jordan, and Syria, and are Sunni Muslim. Most of the rest reside within the Adygea Republic and are primarily Orthodox Christians, with a minority of Muslims and others not officially religious.

Adyge dancers

Also called the Circassians, the Adyghe suffered from persecution and “ethnic cleansing” throughout their history, when the greater Krasnodar territory was conquered at various times, first by local tribes, then the Kievian Rus, then Byzantine armies, and basically ever afterwards. And the Adyghe have adopted customs from other cultures, just as they have provided some of their own. Hence, they embrace the fashion and spirit of the Slavic Cassocks who were at times their enemy, while also inventing the Cossack’s fabled shashka sword. The word shashka coming from the Adyghe term for “long knife.”

A crossroads of empires, the Adyghe homeland is found within an area that includes the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, and the peninsula situated directly across from the Crimea.

But the Republic of Adygea itself is landlocked within a larger republic, with plains in its northern areas, and mountains in the south. It has no lakes but several large reservoirs. It is one of the poorest Russian republics, but has considerable natural resources, with some 40% of its 2,900 square miles covered large forests, along with undeveloped oil and natural gas reserves.

The Adyghe are also capable farmers, with a deep and fabled history of cultivating fruit and nuts. The oak from the region is prized by Georgian and Russian winemakers, and similar to oak used by French vineyards. And the Adyghe tradition of wine goes back to the deepest recesses of their ancient tribal history, and it is something that even Muslim Adyghe have never given up. Their prehistoric religion was centered on the fruit tree and archeologists have discovered the remnants of Adyghe gardens deep within the wild forests of the Caucuses and Asia Minor, still producing fruit, nuts, and grapes to this day.

This landlocked “island” at the southwest edge of the Russian Federation has a surprising connection to the Isle of Islay, of the Inner Hebrides near the southwest edge of Scotland. Oak trees from a forest in Adygea were made into barrels and seasoned there before being shipped to the Ardbeg distillery, on Islay, where they were used to age single malt whisky that has now been turned into an exclusive, high-priced expression called Kelpie. The result is an impressive and eccentric spirit, even for that maker of exceptionally robust whisky. You can read my exclusive review of Ardbeg Kelpie at 1mansmalt.com.

Adygea mountains in the Caucauses

 

The Sierra Cacachilas Mountains of Baja Sur, Mexico – Monday Map

Haunt of Hikers, Divers, and the Giant Spider Califorctenus of the Cacachilas

Situated between La Paz and El Sargento in Southern Baja

Baja Sur Sierra Cacachilas detail map

Before the 2017 announcement that a new genus of giant wandering spider was discovered there in an abandoned mine shaft, I had never heard of the Cacachilas Mountains, located in a relatively out of the way corner of Baja California Sur, the second-least populated state in Mexico.

Baja Sur Sierra Cacachilas satellite map

As it turns out, the nearby sea coast is a popular place for scuba divers. And the Cacachilas themselves offer an expansive sunny landscape for hikers and burro riders who want to get away from it all and commune with some the wildlife. But don’t worry, the spider isn’t that venomous. And since it had gone undetected by science all these many centuries, it is safe to say you will likely never see one outside of a zoo, or perhaps an abandoned mine shaft.

sierra-cacachilas-mexico

 

Related Reading:

https://www.ranchocacachilas.com/home/

New Species of Giant Spider Announced

As reported in the scientific journal Zootaxa, this spider also represents a newly discovered genus.

Allow me introduce you to Califorctenus cacachilensis (Cteninae, Ctenidae, Araneae), the giant spider of the Sierra Cacachilas.

Califorctenus_cacachilensis giant spider face

OK, the arachnid in question measures about four inches across, with a body about one inch long. But compared to most spiders in the world, that qualifies as a giant to scientists. And it would seem that way to most anyone who felt one running up their leg, or had an encounter with its furry fangs.

In fact, this new species of wandering spider is reminiscent of the infamous Brazilian wandering spider, among the most venomous arachnids in the world. Also known as the banana spider, newspaper reports of my childhood wherein Brazilian wandering spiders hitchhiked to the USA amongst banana bunches, made me extremely wary of my mother’s grocery bags.

However, you would have go to the mountain caves at the extreme tip of Baja California to find this new creepy crawler, as that is where they were discovered, doing their wandering in the dark of night, in search of prey. But one reason this new spider has been declared the first species of a newly discovered genus is that it is not as venomous as its poisonous cousins from points father south.

While new species of spiders and insects are discovered all the time, it is rare for anything so conspicuously large to be found new to science these days.

Califorctenus_cacachilensis giant spider lit

You can read more about the discovery of this new spider at Smithsonian.com (since Zootaxa costs money to read and is rather dry in the telling.)

The Last Waltz – 40 years later, remembered in a guitar

Robbie Robertson’s bronzed guitar from the historic Last Waltz concert recreated

This $14,500 limited edition Fender Stratocaster is a meticulous replica of the hot-rodded 1954 Strat Robertson had dipped in bronze to signify the final show of the Band, on Thanksgiving Day, 1976.

Although the other members of The Band reunited and played together for many years, Robbie Robertson never played with them again.

Influential Axeman

Perhaps more than any other guitarist, Robbie Robertson influenced my own sense of how to play fills as a lead guitarist.

But I am in good company there, Eric Clapton was so enamored of Robertson and the Band’s first album, Music from Big Pink, he said he was seriously considering quitting Cream and moving to Woodstock, NY to commune with the roots music rock band sometimes seen backing Bob Dylan.

Here is one of my all-time favorite performances played on the original article, you can see the gleam of the bronze in the stage lights, even on this lo-res archival footage.

Unfortunately and inexplicably, a pretty big chunk of the guitar solo was cut out of this song in Scorsese’ motion picture The Last Waltz. So here is the version from Winterland’s house archive camera, released after Bill Graham’s death, with the mix the audience actually heard.

 

I tried to synch up the mixed audio from the record album, with all its fancy EQ that combined the stage mix and house mix, but the actual timing on the CD version, the video on Youtube from the film, and this archival footage here, are all at different speeds so it was a no-go.

Also, you will notice the camera man stopped paying attention and pretty much misses Robertson’s playing on the solo – something that seems to happen VERY often when people are filming or video taping classic performances and end up shooting other people instead of showing iconic guitar solos I will only wish I could see in detail – or like in the Last Waltz film in general, where the editor keeps showing Robbie’s face contortions rather than what his hands are playing.