It doesn’t matter how you vote, you’re fucked anyway.

I’m going to discuss the UK General Election, because someone has to put a stop to all the nonsense about it.

So Theresa May, the UK “Prime Minister” (that gets inverted commas because she’s had the job for 5 minutes and she was never voted in), has stated there is going to be a general election in June. We only had one last year, but since she wasn’t voted in, you’d think this was a good thing. In reality, that means that all the other political parties have under two months to campaign. Current polls show that Conservatives (sort of our version of the US Rebublicans… maybe) have a lot more support than any other party: 45%, compared to 27% for Labour (sort of our version of the US Liberals… ish) who are the next nearest party (we have about 5 main parties and a load of others, besides).

The news of this election has filled the 18-30 demographic (my age group) with lots of false hope that they might be able to prevent Brexit, despite the fact that it’s irreversible at this point. It’s sort of like someone trying to stop a car crash while the car is flying through the air at 90 miles per hour, claiming it’s going to be fine because the vehicle hasn’t hit anything yet. I mean, there are a crazy amount of things this past year that our age group has clung to and gone “Brexit can’t happen because of X, Y or Z” and it’s still happening.

Now, the thing is, everyone’s spreading around this “Here’s how to vote to stop Brexit” spreadsheet, where someone’s basically checked what political party is voted in, for every given area of the UK. If the party in your area is Labour, you are supposed to vote for them. If it’s Liberal Democrat (also sort of liberals), vote them, green party (kinda liberals too)… and so on. It’s not very clever or revolutionary, and to be perfectly honest it’s not going to help.

See, there’s this glaring issue with this plan. Labour are NOT GOING TO STOP BREXIT. Nor are they going to be better placed to get us a better deal. That’s like saying that one pimp is going to get us more money for being assfucked than another pimp, because the other one talks to the common people occasionally.

A lot of people believe in Labour because They Supported the Trade Unions in The 1970s and 1980s (also sometimes explained as, “My Dad Was A Coal Miner/Steelworker/Factory Worker…”). The trouble is, most of those politicians are dead and the party has changed immeasurably since then. This is the political party that took us to Iraq then pretended it was all Tony Blair’s idea and was never properly held accountable. Nobody ever gets held accountable in politics, and they never will, despite all the posturing of the 18-30 year olds on Facebook. We don’t live in a world of justice, good doesn’t triumph over evil, and democracy isn’t automatically better than a benevolent dictatorship. Sorry.

The other issue with the Labour party is that, since Jeremy Corbyn got made party leader, they have NEVER STOPPED INFIGHTING. I mean, seriously, they are the most unstable and argumentative party, so at this point they stand for literally nothing. Look at what happened when they called a leadership election barely 6 months ago (because some people in the Labour party with positions of power don’t like Corbyn) and, when the polls revealed that Corbyn would be voted leader again, someone in the Labour party decided to get rid of 300,000 members — or more, the true extent of this was never proven — because those people had all joined in support of Corbyn. The whole thing made no sense and went against their own rules. They also excluded those people from party meetings and then increased the cost to join the Labour party so only people with a particular amount of money could cast a vote. I don’t know who has decided to do all this, but it has culminated in the suggestion that the Labour party will demand ANOTHER leadership contest either at the same time or immediately after the general election. Don’t delude yourselves. A VOTE FOR LABOUR IS NOT A VOTE FOR CORBYN. It’s a vote for some catty, bitchy little girls who will not lead Britain into stability, and are not interested in reforming welfare or social care or life prospects for all us 18-30s who have been systematically fucked over by two consecutive political parties. Don’t forget that they started it.

Also, voting Labour is a vote for racism. I remember, when I was a child, the shit put through my door on a regular basis by Margaret Moran Labour MP (I think that’s our version of a senator) and the Lib Dem opposition when I lived on a gypsy site, and I remember all the shit both those parties used to say about us in the local newspaper, blaming us for everything that ever went wrong in their constituency because it was illegal to blame any other races any more and they needed some fabricated enemy to make up drama about. They have been cashing in on Anti-European sentiment ever since Brexit and, given that I’m married to a European, I can clearly see a vote for Labour is a vote against my own husband. He has found it nearly impossible to find a job since Brexit because of our surname, because of the assumptions people make about him being Eastern European. Labour won’t fix that, because they’re the party of the imaginary Common Working Man (and The Common Working Man voted for Brexit, remember? Because The Common Working Man reads the Daily Mail). Actually, Labour only WANT you to think they’re on your side. They’re actually the Petit Bourgeoisie CLAIMING to be For The Common People because they’re scared of being up against the wall come the revolution* and they all read The Guardian really. Anyway, in the unlikely event that Labour gain power and ride into Parliament on unicorns and try to stop Brexit, the country will degenerate into civil unrest and disorder due to the loud outspoken hooligans and yobs being all the ones who voted Brexit. Think this through: You REALLY don’t want them to stop it now that it’s been started. It’s the same reason that Trump cannot be removed from office by legal means. People will take to the streets and riot, which nobody wants. The situation is completely impossible.

*Which got canceled.

I cannot support a disorganized party, who have been locked in an unwarranted power grab since they got rid of Milliband. I cannot support a party filled with institutional racism. I cannot support a party who is outspoken against the SNP in Scotland, and if I was still in Scotland, I would not hesitate to vote SNP. But I am currently in England, which means I don’t have that choice. I feel really bad, but I physically cannot support Labour, I genuinely don’t think they will fix the mess in this country. A vote for Labour is a vote for everything to carry on the same as it currently is, only there’ll be a smiling face to sugarcoat it all for you.

So what about the Liberal Democrats? Um… that would be like voting for a vampire to run a bloodbank. They can make all sorts of claims and promises in their manifesto, because they are completely safe in the knowledge that they will never have to fulfil ANY of it. The closest they’ve ever come to running things was when they were in the coalition government, where the Conservatives ran things really and the Lib Dems could say they didn’t fulfil their promises because of the Conservatives. Just like Labour, they stand for nothing.

The Green Party are just confused and make more wild promises than the Lib Dems. It’s hard to take them seriously when they never even TRY to consider how they’re going to pay for all the things they claim they’ll do.

And the Conservatives and UKIP are evil bastards.

This leaves me in a quandary. I want to vote to change things, and I have never before been unsure about which way to vote, but no party is worth voting for this time. I know the danger of “protest votes” or not voting. I once skipped out of work on my lunch break to vote, because I wasn’t going to finish work until the polls closed (we only get one day to vote over here), it has always been important to me as a woman and as a member of the lowest social class in the UK, because of how hard men and women had to fight for people like me to be able to vote. But this time, I’m honestly not sure I can vote for anyone. Anyway, if I don’t vote for the prevailing party in my city, the ridiculous nature of the UK voting system means my vote will have been wasted anyway (it’s impossible for us to have a Liberal majority in Parliament, unless we also have a Liberal Prime Minister). So it’s with a heavy heart that I stare at the impossible situation and wish they’d called this election for 2 months later, so I’d be living abroad and therefore wouldn’t have to get involved in all this nonsense.

I’d like to reiterate that the adverts below this article are nothing to do with me. WordPress wants me to pay them to make the adverts go away for you all, but I can’t really afford it, so they keep putting more adverts here and making them more annoying and objectionable. Sorry.

Review: Outlandish Scotland Journey Part 1 and 2

When I read Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager)*, I thought to myself, “I really want to go to those places and see those things.” I often wish it was easier to find stuff in Scotland but there’s so many things in Scotland that it can be hard to know where to look for anything specific! Anyway, that was before they made a TV show out of it, and now there’s even more Outlander locations in Scotland!

*Book 1 was retitled Cross-Stitch in the UK for some stupid reason, and they wonder why it was initially less popular over here; it’s still the same love story between Jamie and Claire.

Another rainbow in the West Highlands of Scotland on the way to Loch Ness.

The first guide, Outlandish Scotland Journey part 1, covers the Outlander sites between Edinburgh and Inverness, while the second, Outlandish Scotland Journey part 2, covers Inverness and a whole plethora of sites around the city. In both cases, the sites are marked on a map so you can see the route that goes between them all.

If that’s not enough, there are also very clear directions explaining how to get to each location, and the guides are very clear about what you will find in each place, with lots of details to help you make the most of your holiday. One thing I especially liked was the thistle icons that rated each location, and showed whether a location was worth visiting or not, so I could see at-a-glance how many sites to spend time visiting (nearly all of them… now I just need a reliable vehicle to travel in).

Another thing I liked was the author has found pictures of what the places look like, and put them alongside what the places looked like in the TV series, so you get an idea about how similar the places are in real life (for example, some buildings in Culross were painted for filming so in real life they’re a different colour).

One more thing that I liked about these guides is that they give you the disabled access information, so if you are traveling as a disabled person or if you’re taking someone who is disabled, you have a good sense of whether you can get into any specific place. I’ve talked before about why that’s important to include in travel guides as it can make or break some people’s trips.

It was also useful to know how much time to schedule for each aspect of the trip; for example, it tells you how much time each itinerary will take, depending on whether you want to do it faster or slower, so you have a good idea of how much time to budget.

Other things that you will find in these guide books include: Where to park, for sites where parking isn’t immediately obvious; whether any individual attraction is worth a visit or not (and an explanation and references showing why not, if it’s bad, so you can make an informed choice); how much they cost; and there are even lots of extras, such as places of interest that weren’t in the books/TV series but are still worth a visit while you’re in each area.

These Outlandish Scotland Journey ebook guides also really make use of being in an electronic format, by linking to additional useful information, which basically means it’s like someone went out and painstakingly researched your holiday for you, so all you have to do is follow the route and have a great time! Or, if, like me, you’re the sort of person who likes to go out and discover things, these guides have a lot of mileage in them as well; I would choose the most interesting locations, and see what turned up in the space between them while I was traveling (because Scotland has a LOT of space).

If you live in Scotland, you could do some of these locations as a series of day-trips at the weekend, rather than a long holiday, and it would certainly be a great way to spend your days off! If I still lived in Edinburgh, I would definitely do that.

These guides are useful for a wide range of readers, both locals and further afield, and my overall conclusion is that they are well worth a buy if you are going anywhere in Scotland this year or researching a future trip.

Find the Outlandish Scotland Journey guides on Amazon here: Part 1 and Part 2
Or find out more here: Outlandish Scotland Journey website

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinner Time at Cafe Mango

Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
The main course at Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland. Taken August 2015.

For this week’s photo challenge, Dinnertime, I decided to share these pictures of the delightful Cafe Mango in Fort William.  If you’re climbing Ben Nevis, this Thai and Indian restaurant is well worth a visit.  It was the best restaurant we ate at on the West side of the Highlands, everything was simply delicious and the staff were friendly and made us feel very welcome even though it was 9pm, and we were the last customers (because we had just climbed Ben Nevis – everyone seems to eat early in the Highlands)!

Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
Some of the stunning decoration inside Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland. Taken August 2015.
Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
A shot of the rest of the restaurant (I used the bannister near the top as the horizon line) including the beautiful emboidered elephants backdrop, in Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
Fort William at night: The outside of Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.

Weekly Photography Challenge: State of Mind

This week’s photography challenge was a real challenge for me. The topic was State of Mind. As my regular readers know, I have a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which sometimes makes it difficult for me to identify what I’m feeling and why. This can make it difficult to express my responses to things because my status quo is to not really feel anything until a long time after the event (but when I get emotionally de-regulated, for example by grief, I have so many feelings that I don’t know what to do with them all).  So I have probably spent more time trying to find a picture for this challenge than any other.

I chose this picture because I often feel like I am in possession of this great and ancient amazing structure, this human brain, which has so many possibilities (and there’s so many ways to get it to bluescreen when you have PTSD and bipolar disorder) and hidden features that it’s like excavating an ancient site that no-one’s really heard of. Sometimes my brain does weird stuff and I have to spend ages figuring out why it did that, how did that response get elicited, and other times it’s just happy to chug along at 5% of its full capacity, keeping house while someone else does the important stuff. Sometimes all it can do is absorb input (when I’m learning everything I can), other times it can’t absorb anything until it’s broadcast all the stuff it’s accumulated (when all I can do is create). I’m still figuring it all out; I think we all are. My state of mind is an evolutionary and environmental enigma. So I decided to illustrate it with another enigma. This is Dun Troddan, one of the Brochs of Scotland, mysterious towers, thousands of years old, built predominantly in the north of Scotland by mysterious methods, in varying states of preservation:

Dun Troddan, a broch in Glenelg, Scotland.
Dun Troddan, Glenelg, Scotland. The horizon was difficult to gauge in the Highlands where everything is on a slope, but when I look at the picture as a whole, I am pretty sure it’s actually straight (see the fence posts in the foreground). What do you think?

And here’s a bonus picture of the back of the broch, showing some of its construction:

Dun Troddan, Glenelg, Scotland
I’m not very happy with this photo – it seems a bit flat.  I think the depth of field could have been better. 

If you’d like to know more about Brochs, I’ve made a 3 minute video about them, focussing on Tappoch Broch in Torwood (near Falkirk), and explaining some of the archaeology (I have a degree in archaeology but I’m by no means an expert on brochs) which you can see here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons: Spring

In direct contrast to Autumn, Spring as an emotion is a feeling of growth, of change, of refreshment, when I look on the whole world with new eyes.  Everything is growing, and the detritus of the old world is consumed by rebirth:

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Lichen on a rock, Fort William, Scotland.

From the Weekly Photo Challenge found here: Seasons I decided this picture best represented Spring as a reflection of the inner landscape.

I Found the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland.

Driving to Fort William takes at least 7 hours from Bradford.  When you get there, however, there’s a pretty decent Morrison’s (supermarket) and it’s right next to a McDonald’s.  On both of our driving holidays around the Fort William area, we saw a lot of this part of town because it’s the only supermarket in town as far as I know, and it sells things you can eat without having to cook them.

We didn’t actually make it to Fort William on the first night, because we didn’t set off at a reasonable time of day – I’d stupidly decided at 8pm the day before that life was slipping by without anything interesting happening, so I convinced my future husband that we absolutely had to pile into the car and find the Loch Ness monster (or rather, go to see Loch Ness).  I felt it was deplorable that I’d never been the entire time I’d lived in Scotland, and now I lived 7 hours away it was suddenly imperative that we go.  I get like this sometimes.

Before we got to Glencoe, as the road started to incline and about ten minutes after that point on the A82 (the main road) where my ears always pop, I got too sleepy to keep driving so we pulled into a layby and reclined the seats in my VW Golf (aka VW Rabbit in the USA) then caught some Z’s.  FYI, the VW Golf is a very uncomfortable place to kip, and I awoke with a crick in my neck, sleep in my eyes and a bladder full to bursting.  Luckily, around the corner from the layby we’d stopped in, there was another one which was surrounded by three spectacular waterfalls.  Not only that, but there was also a brick wall on one side.  I climbed over it, with difficulty due to what the rushing sound from the waterfalls was doing to my psyche, and I took care of the bladder problem (why is it that those of us with female anatomy get so embarrassed about urinating in public but people with man parts just do it at the side of the road in full view of traffic?  We should get over it already).  Anyway there were quite a few good waterfalls because it was the right time of year for them to be really big with the snow melt and rainwater off the mountains (in summer most of them are nondescript) and this was my favourite (all photos taken on Samsung Galaxy SII as this was early 2014 before I got a camera):

A beautiful waterfall near Glencoe in Scotland, next to the A82.
A beautiful waterfall near Glencoe in Scotland, next to the A82.

We carried on up to Fort Bill, stopping along the way to take some photos of the beautiful waterfalls and surprising rainbows, which formed from the clammy Scottish morning mist in the Highlands:

A rainbow in the West Highlands of Scotland on the A82 on the way to Loch Ness.
A rainbow in the West Highlands of Scotland on the A82 on the way to Loch Ness.
Another rainbow in the West Highlands of Scotland on the way to Loch Ness.
Another rainbow in the West Highlands of Scotland on the way to Loch Ness. It looks out of focus – that’s actually the mist that’s also causing the rainbow.

When we arrived at Fort William, we grabbed some breakfast from McDonald’s; my future husband had some sort of bacon McMuffin and I had three hash browns and a pot of Barbecue Sauce, all washed down with a nice cup of tea.

We headed upwards some more until we reached Fort Augustus, about which I remember nothing, and appear to have taken no photos, so I suspect it was just a main road, a roundabout and possibly a primary school.  It looks bigger on the map.  The significance of Fort A. is that it lies at the southernmost tip of Loch Ness, which was what we were there to see.  From here onwards, we were driving with Loch Ness on our right and a bunch of trees on our left.  The trees seemed oppressive, cloying, like they were clamoring to just reach out and push us off the road and into the Loch.

Loch Ness shores
The shores of Loch Ness: The trees looked malevolent, like the only thing preventing them from reaching out and pushing our car into the Loch was that we weren’t worth their time.

There was something very primal about this part of Scotland.  The temperature stayed quite chilly around Loch Ness in the early morning, and we pulled over a couple of times to get a look at the water.  I can confirm that it’s much longer than it is wide.  And it’s very wide, too.  Like, I could see to the other side, but I couldn’t make out what was there beyond distance-trees.  And I definitely couldn’t have swam to the middle let alone the other side.  We pulled into Invermoriston with the intention of walking around on the shores of the Loch, but we found this to be impossible because a) Invermoriston is a lot further away from Loch Ness than it looks on the map and b) the road is the only thing between the trees and the water.  So we had a better view from the car.  Having said that, Invermoriston is a place of spectacular scenery and if we were staying in the area for a few days, I would probably have wanted to stay in Invermoriston because its scenery kinda looked like Rivendell:

Invermoriston looks like Rivendell
Arrgh! My phone’s lens must have gotten dirty all the pictures of Invermoriston HAVE no focus. Invermoriston: Looks like Rivendell. Black thing in middle is my future husband.
Invermoriston looking like Rivendell Highlands Scotland
WHAT HAPPENED FOCUS YOU USED TO LOVE ME??? I think it was too bright for me to see the screen and realize what had happened else I would’ve cleaned the lens! Invermoriston looking like Rivendell again (can you even see the second bridge?), although you might just have to take my word for it 😦
Invermoriston
Invermoriston from inside “The Summer House” an abandoned building from a bygone era.

In all honesty I have to say Invermoriston was a nicer place to look at than Loch Ness.  Loch Ness was a black, inky, deep place of mystery.  I’m sure you know the story – that it’s a deep fissure in the land, that separates the top of Scotland from the bottom, that they’re just attached at all because of tectonic plate movement.  Somehow, even though I could only see the surface, it *looked* deep.  I certainly wouldn’t want to swim in it.

We climbed around Invermoriston for a while then got on.  Having reached Loch Ness, we weren’t really sure what we were doing here or where our end point was.  It was impossible to walk around Loch Ness and to be fair, the Loch was so big that it was entirely probable that a giant monster of the deep could live under it’s pitch black waters and never be found.  Perhaps there would be a clue at nearby town Drumnadrochit.

I’d at least heard of Drumnadrochit from that episode of Count Duckula where the Count and his BFFs teleported their castle to Drumnadrochit and had some sort of episode involving both of the townspeople.  Count Duckula was very good at taking Londoners’ perceptions of the rest of the world and playing with them.

In real life, Drumnadrochit is a reasonably sized village, with a post office and three Loch Ness visitor centres, all of which, I believe, are privately owned.

Me outside one of the Loch Ness Visitor centres (the Loch Ness Monster Centre) in Drumnadrochit.
Me outside one of the Loch Ness Visitor centres (Nessieland) in Drumnadrochit, next to a large model of the Loch Ness Monster.
The Loch Ness Monster Centre, Drumnadrochit, was closed when we went.
The Loch Ness Monster Centre, Drumnadrochit, was closed when we went because it was out of season.

 

We went to the first one but it was closed (despite a roadsign claiming “open every day”) because apparently it was the wrong time of year.    The second one was also closed for the same reason.

Nessieland visitor centre scotland drumnadrochit Loch Ness
This Loch Ness visitor centre is closed… but the sign on the left clearly states “open every day.” Most peculious. It didn’t stop us taking photos with their Nessie sculptures.

The third visitor centre took itself very seriously and had a cinematic entrance (and correspondingly high ticket prices).  It looked like a proper museum.  I think they were catering to fancy people with plenty of holiday money (of which I believe there is a steady supply in the tourist season).

Loch Ness visitor centre Drumnadrochit Scotland
This one looked like the best Loch Ness visitor centre… but be prepared to pay correspondingly high prices.
Sock ness Loch Ness Drumnadrochit
Sock Ness.

We weren’t feeling very fancy, and we didn’t have lots of money so we just walked around to the gift shop which was free entry, and where I *finally* found the Loch Ness Monster.   She’s now sitting upstairs on one of my bookshelves with her friend who is a Loch Lochy Monster but was visiting Nessie at her home in Loch Ness when they both got caught and put in a gift shop:

The Loch Ness Monster
I found the Loch Ness monster and adopted her and her friend.

After that we drove on, following the road beside Loch Ness until we reached Inverness.  The Loch really is spectacular and I highly recommend seeing it out of season when you don’t have to worry about hitting someone because they’re trying to take photos whilst driving (I narrowly missed crashing into a lot of distracted drivers last summer when we used this road to get from Fort William to Aberdeen), and out of season there are also far less entitled angry Audi drivers, talking on their phones and speeding on the wrong side of the road as well.  For the best of both worlds, most things in the Highlands are fully open in April and it’s still fairly quiet by then.  If you’re looking for an actual Loch Ness monster, it’s also far more likely that you’ll spot one off-peak because everyone knows that Nessie is scared of tourists.  Here’s what Loch Ness was looking like:

Loch Ness after Drumnadrochit.
Loch Ness after Drumnadrochit.
Loch Ness after Drumnadrochit.
Loch Ness after Drumnadrochit. as you can see it’s impossible to get closer than the road.

Kiss From A Rose (in Aberdeen)

The car broke down, and on a trip filled with minor disasters, it was the best thing that could have happened during the holiday.  I left it at a garage in Aberdeen city centre and I had three hours to kill before it would be ready to collect.  Walking towards nowhere in particular, camera in hand, I found this beautiful cavalcade of roses.  I was compelled to test out my new camera in what turned out to be the beginning of an afternoon of photography.  The results are below.

rose1.png

Whilst perusing them for choosing which pictures to share with you all and which ones to discard, the following little ditty came into my thoughts, and it is somewhat appropriate (plus it’s ALWAYS Music O’Clock in my house; to say I like music is an understatement).

rose5

rose6

.rose7

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rose4

.rose3

 

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Do you know where I found these?  Outside an unremarkable retirement complex with no interesting architecture or other heritage, in a city filled with ancient buildings.  I guess it reminded me that beauty is everywhere, we just have to pay attention to it.  When I put a magnifying glass to this patch of roses with my camera, it has become bigger in my memory than it was in real life, but if I saw these every day, I probably would never have noticed their beauty.

This was really the turning point in the trip to Scotland in August (it was two hours after that head injury), and everything started to pick up from the moment I decided to take photos of these flowers instead of passing them by in the search for something “interesting” to do.  The next part of the afternoon’s photographic extravaganza can be found here, which begins around the corner from the roses pictured above.

I guess it really is true that everything in life can be pinned down to a series of tiny decisions.