In September 2013 I travelled to Barcelona for a long weekend. Staying in the Hotel Continental on Las Ramblas, the very place that Orwell penned Homage to Catalonia, I hardly slept instead sitting on the balcony for most of the night watching everything that went on below me. The speed at which the street traders switched from selling sunglasses to umbrellas was fascinating as was where they stashed their wares and the “International Street Dancers” quickly drew large crowds yet sidled away unnoticed when the first look out spotted a policeman. The weekend before Independence Day, Placa de Catalunya had stalls similar to our ownRead More →

My two elder children received their first mobile phones last week in preparation for starting high school and although a means to an end for my son, it’s been hard to separate my daughter from hers whilst the novelty is fresh; I apologise to the few family members whose numbers she has for the bombardment of text messages they have been receiving! As well as the expected texting, phoning and selfies that have ensued, I have also been surprised by the amount of interest that she has been taking in the news when on the internet and I’ve frequently had breaking news headlines relayed toRead More →

It is the end of another school year and for my eldest child, the end of primary school as he looks forward to starting at the big school after the holidays. Having spent his time in P7 in the brand new Noss Primary in Wick and the wonderful learning environment that if offered, he will now be the first full S1 in the newly opened Wick High with all the opportunities that this community campus has available including the adjacent public library and swimming pool. Neither school has been without its problems during construction and settling in with many more no doubt to come butRead More →

My last piece touched upon the way that people interact with politicians on social media and the last few weeks have proved no exception. NHS Highland took the difficult and considered decision to change the previously consultant led maternity unit at Caithness General Hospital to a midwife led community maternity unit on safety grounds due to tragic incidents in the past. A pressure group, Caithness Health Action Team, was set up locally to fight what they saw as a downgrading of local services and several protests have been held. Several months on, this pressure group now agree with the report which stated that the statusRead More →

I try really hard not to watch Question Time on BBC1. Perhaps it is because I find David Dimbleby an ineffectual Chair, perhaps it is because I can guarantee Scotland will be mentioned with sneers and condescension or maybe it is because the whole format is just tired, jaded and run its course. A long, long time ago when there was still a degree of separation from politicians and the public, it was a respected political discussion show and the panel were accorded a level of dignity and respect due simply to their career choice. Nowadays things are, quite rightly, very different in that ourRead More →

Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work was in Invergordon last week where he was one of the signatories of the £315m Inverness City Region Deal along with Lord Dunlop from the Scottish Office and Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council which is run by the minority administration of the nonsensically named “Independent Group”.  Lauded as investment to significantly enhance and improve the lives of all Highland residents when the proposal was first mooted hence its original name, the City and Region Deal, in a time of financial restraint, many Highland causes and groups welcomed potential investment into theirRead More →

As we begin to approach the end of another year, I find myself reflecting on how the children have grown and matured over the months and how their priorities shift and their awareness deepens. They’ve always had it hard growing up in a politically engaged household and many times have been encouraged or coerced into attending meetings and helping at events. I have no doubt that many people disagreed with me when I involved them in what I was doing possibly thinking that I was indoctrinating them into my beliefs or forcing them to only see one political ideology but I would wholeheartedly disagree withRead More →

Sunday morning saw the clocks go back an hour as British Summer Time came to an end. Most of the day was spent trying to work out whether clocks had changed automatically or not and ending up thoroughly confused as to what time it was. We had been away for the weekend so when the kids woke at their usual time, we had to stop them from awakening the rest of the guest house at 6am; we also ended up leaving Perth an hour earlier than we had intended to because of clocks displaying the wrong time. It always takes me a while to feelRead More →

The First Minister visited the Nigg Energy Park in the constituency recently and saw the turbines that are bound for the world’s first large scale tidal wind farm. This will also be sited in the Far North; the MeyGen project, a forerunner in marine renewables, will change the way they are viewed around the world. Generating reliable, sustainable and clean energy for the consumer it will also add nearly £300 million to Scotland’s economy as well as providing employment, training opportunities and research developments which will be of global benefit. Work will begin on the placing of the first giant underwater turbines within the nextRead More →

The summer holidays have come to an end; hair is cut, bags are packed and bedtime battles once again ensue.  The family holiday was a few days in Fife, an area of the country that I had not visited for many years and a welcome change of scenery.  The children delighted in fruit farms and go carts, horse riding and play parks whilst I marvelled at the lack of travel time needed between towns.  When you are used to travelling several hours to the nearest city, 15 minutes commute from one large town to another takes a bit of getting used to and we wereRead More →