It’s a good idea to only tell the Internet about your holiday when you get back. Not before, and certainly not during. Especially if, like me, you have previously posted pictures of your house online.
It’s not an easy house to find, that’s true, but if the bad guys have seen it and know I’m not in it, it would be an easy target. They’d be disappointed. I own bugger all of value other than my cameras and the car and I’d have those with me anyway. But they might break one of my chilli plants and I only have 16.
This past week I was visited by old friends from Wales. They drove all the way here, stayed for a week and drove all the way back again. We were out every day and since the spare bedroom (downstairs, we don’t go upstairs because those are the junk rooms and the stairs are scary) is also my office, I had no access to this computer. That’s okay, it enforced a week of socialising and I wouldn’t have done that otherwise.
So, they have now seen Haddo House, Fyvie castle, Pitmedden Gardens, Cruden Bay which houses the castle that inspired Bram Stoker to write ‘Dracula’ (the first drafts had Dracula come ashore in Cruden Bay, which later changed to Whitby), and more.
We visited the Glen Garioch distillery – they weren’t whisky drinkers so I didn’t have to drive and also got all the samples – and they generously donated a bottle of that fine malt to my whisky collection. There’s still some left. This one isn’t in supermarkets so I have to be careful with it.
The online search for that distillery culminated in the phrase ‘There it is, on Distillery Road. Who’d have thought?’
The highlight of the week was Friday, when we took a long drive and visited this –
…and rode a Class 108 DMU (diesel multiple unit) from Keith to Dufftown. It’s like the ones we used to have in the Welsh valleys but they were mostly 110’s I think. Anyway, I don;t want to get uber-geeky…
A Class 108 looks like this, which is totally different from all the other variants of DMU that you think look all the same but aren’t.
This railway is privately owned, and not connected to the main line. They are hoping to get it to at least have a platform on the main Keith station so that the tourists going to Dufftown can use their trains to get there.
When you hear the name ‘Dufftown’ you’d think there’s not likely to be much there, right? It’s where the first picture in this ramble was taken. The Glenfiddich distillery is also there and the J&B distillery and the Singleton comes from there and Balvenie castle –
Oh wait, that was the site of the original castle. The Scots had sensible priorities. ‘We need that spring water supply for a distillery. Get that feckin’ castle oot a the way.’ So they built another one, which later fell down and nobody cared because it wasn’t a distillery. It now looks like this –
On the line between Keith and Dufftown you pass a distillery that has been abandoned since 1931. It’s all still there and it’s the size of a small town. Distilleries need their own spring water supply. Mains water would cost them a fortune because they use so much and mains water is treated to stop microbes growing – including yeasts – so it’s going to seriously limit fermentation. That particular distillery lost the reliability of its spring and gave up. There is considerable investment in structures there, all of which is probably worthless now. It’s the risk capitalists take to make stuff so that socialists can claim they actually matter.
Dufftown is full of distilleries. It reminds me of old South Wales where everyone worked in the coal mines because the mines were the primary employer. Dufftown is also well into North Scotland, the SNP heartlands. Really, the name might not be inspiring, but it’s well worth a visit.
So let’s see. You have a political party where you want to drum up support for your idea of an independent country. What do you do? Oh I know, let’s hammer alcoholic drinks
Half of the people of Scotland work in whisky (or beer) production in some capacity. Making it, transporting it, growing barley for it, bottling it, malting the barley, making barrels or bottles, and of course selling it. The other half (and a good percentage of the first half) are drinking it. So, an anti-booze stance is possibly the worst idea any Scottish party could ever have. And the SNP managed it.
I’m pleased by that.
I’d also like to note that before the Act of Union, whisky wasn’t taxed at all. If the SNP made that point in their declaration of independence they’d win 90/10 at least but they won’t because they are Puritans. If I was going for power, I’d do it.
But I digress.
In Balvenie castle I found something the new camera can do. It sees into the infrared really quite well. The detectors just show infrared as ‘brightness’ but then if it displayed it as infrared I still couldn’t see it. So okay, there’s this cellar place where you can see bugger all with your eyes even in the middle of the day but the camera has a flash on it so you can get this –
Not a particularly inspiring photo. The walls are original but I suspect the concrete floor is unlikely to be. There is a fascinating display of lumps of rock on planks but otherwise it’s a dull photo.
The thing is, the camera saw all that without the flash. In almost total darkness. The camera, without flash, took this –
The heat coming from the stones translates into infrared and digital cameras see it. There is nothing in this photo that wasn’t in the previous one but I bet you see details you hadn’t noticed before. No special filters, no tricks, just trust the camera. Their photo chips see outside your range of vision and they just bring it up as best they can. Usually as white light.
If you have a digital SLR, check the screen, not the viewfinder. The viewfinder sees what you see. The screen sees something else. You might not need that flash.
I’d like to test this over seasons. It should work less well in winter.
Unfortunately all the fun stuff is closed in winter because tourists are feeble and don’t want to come here in darkness and snow.
But that’s when it all gets interesting.
Okay, holiday is over. Back to work.