Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Ancient Wildness

The thing I love about the Highland wildlife park is that you feel like you're stepping back through time, since most of the animals there are rare or endangered species that once roamed Scotland or Eurasia thousands of years ago. Some of them look like they just stepped out of a cave painting...

Bison in Altamira Cave, Spain.

The European Bison we photographed at the Park...


 Wild horse on the cave wall at Lascaus, France...


Prezwalkski's Wild Horse at the Park...

 Giant prehistoric deer at Lascaus cave...

Huge Forest Reindeer at the park...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Going Wild for a Day

This week we kind of went wild for the day... by heading off into the mountains to go spend the day at the Highland Wildlife Park.

Hubby took me to the Highland Wildlife Park 10 years ago, but we've never taken my parents. For some reason it's just been one of those places we kept meaning to get back to, but never did... until now! That's partly due to the fact that earlier this year we received a special offer on tickets for the park. I've had the tickets sitting on my dressing table for months, waiting for the perfect day, but  it seemed like every time the weather was good someone in the family has been sick, or when we've all been feeling great and energetic... the weather's turned awful. So, when the weatherman said this week's good weather would be turning bad by the weekend... we knew we had to go for it!

I sorted out a picnic lunch to take with us and we were gone the whole day. It was great fun and I have loads of photos. I'll be separating them out into a few blog posts - one for each section of the day's adventures. do remember to click on the photos for a bigger view!

The drive south was gorgeous sunny weather. We stopped on the way to buy shortbread at the Walker's factory shop in Aberlour. I saw this little cutie enjoying the morning sunshine. :-) 

Just down the road there was this really charming building...

Running beside the building there's this lovely view along the river.

At the park it was more cloudy, but still warm. The first animals we saw as we came through the gates were the camels, snoozing in the sunshine.

There were deer and other animals in the fields behind the camels, but they were all wandering about along the edge of the forest - too dark or too far to photograph easily. I did manage to get some decent photos of the Mishmi Takin, who was kind enough to nibble grass right up against the road side of his enclosure. 

Isn't that a strange looking animal? And so woolly! You can find out more about them and every other animal, by clicking on their names as I've added links to their pages on the Wildlife Web page. All the animals at the park are either Scottish wildlife or endangered animals of the mountains and tundra, mostly from Europe or Asia. The Mishmi Takin are from China.

The next animals we saw were the yaks and the Kiang. Both animals are from Tibet. The Kiang (right) is a wild ass.

They have such beautiful markings and that dark mane runs are a dark stripe down their backs all the way to their tails...

I just love the Yaks; they're so cute. They look like shaggy little cattle... with BIG horns.

After the yaks we stopped for a quick look around the gift shop before going over the cattle grid to drive through the reserve. I'll put the photos we took of the animals from there into my next blog post tomorrow.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


The Heavy Baggage of Forgiveness

Years ago some friends and I were discussing forgiveness and trust. One friend felt that it was important to always forgive others, or otherwise you couldn't say you were a truly 'good person' in a spiritual/religious sense. She felt, very strongly, that complete forgiveness and trust were the only way. Another friend summed up the trust issue perfectly, but I was still left struggling to explain why I felt forgiveness wasn't that necessary. The trust thing? Our other friend said, "Sure, I trust - I trust the laws of Nature. A snake will be a snake and a lamb will be a lamb." Trust isn't being blind to the truth - it's accepting it. Some people are born to be snakes, but forgiveness... how to explain that? I couldn't find the words to fit my feelings. Then last month I saw something on a Facebook page (of all places!) that finally made it all "click" for me. It said...

"If you can't forgive another, than forgive yourself for being only human... and move on." 

That is exactly what I'd felt, but had no words to explain all those years ago! I believe that forgiveness can sometimes be too heavy to carry.

We talk about bad memories as "heavy baggage"- things we carry along with us through life. All those memories of times when life/people hurt us, when our trust or hearts were broken or damaged... anger, sorrow... it's like they become these memory books that we pack into a bag in our hearts.
So you drag this bag of heavy books through life and every now and then you'll probably stop a while, open the bag and take out a book to read it again. Sometimes just be rereading a book it grow lighter and fade away, but here's my big issue with some ideas about what forgiveness means. Some people say that the only way you can ever remove all those books from your bag is to forgive anyone who played the "bad guy" role in those life stories.

It is true that when you read a baggage story, and truly forgive the person in it, the book dissolves into stardust and floats away.... but this doesn't happen for every book. Every book is different, every person's bag is different.

There will also be those clear objective moments when you take out an old baggage book, reread it and finally understand it. You'll suddenly see how it helped you by making you be stronger and wiser, and you'll let it go. Then it floats away to become a part of your Life Story book - the big bright book God holds in His/Her heart of who YOU truly are.

But in every bag there will be books written about people and/or events that just make you feel so BAD when you try to reread them that you can't finish reading. They might hold events that were tragic or terrible; they might fill you with rage, despair or even fear.

If you are a person brought up to believe forgiveness is vital then you take that book you can't bear to reread and you shove it into a reminder box you think is called MUST READ, but in actual fact this box is really called GUILT. It's big, heavy and it serves no use except to make your bag even heavier to drag. Now, each time you open the bag to take out a book you look at this MUST READ box and, if you can't bear to open it, you add a new layer of dense suffocating GUILT to the surface... so it just gets bigger and heavier and harder to drag. I truly believe that in some cases the whole forgiveness thing traps us into carrying more weight. It also misleads us into thinking we can never get rid of those books we cannot bear to reread and forgive. 

Of course, we all know those people who forgive with such ease and that can make us feel even more heavy leaden guilt that they get it right when we can't. Truth is it's all unique for every person. You get amazing people who can go through war, abuse, rape, murder of their loved ones and still genuinely say, "I forgive", but the fact that not everyone can be that way should never become a burden. No-one should ever drag a heavy bag of painful or frightening memories through their life because they can't bear to remember them, reread them... forgive them.

Sometimes we need to forgive ourselves for being human. Then, you open the bag and you discover that the MUST READ GUILT box has melted away. You take out the book you can't forgive, can't bear to read... and it suddenly feels lighter in your hands. It doesn't see important anymore - not important to read it, not important to keep on carrying it. You put it down and a breeze catches the pages...

The pages turn into feathers, then the feathers form into wings and... 

it's gone.

Close the bag and travel on.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Tappety Tap!

I finally have full use of my hand and I can type again. How I have missed being able to write properly.  

I have a backlog of emails to reply to, as well as two writing projects I'm starting to work on, but I promise I will try to update on my blog more often from now on... I miss seeing everyone and reading your comments.

Have a great day! :-)