The series Notes and Quotes highlights interesting people, writings, places and quotes while reading books I like. This is a way to store this information in my external memory, because my human memory often fails. Most of the topics are mapped on Discover British Isles.

Writing is the touchstone of my life, tells the Scottish poet en non-fiction writer Kathleen Jamie. “It’s where I do my best thinking, and where I rub up against the world,” I read on her about website page. In full discovery of people who write about nature, history and landscape the name of the author came to my attention reading the newly publicised collection of writings on the Nature and Environment of Scotland, Antlers of Water, edited by Jamie. Not being very fond of poetry – apologies for that – I selected Findings, her essays on the natural and unnatural world, short stories close to home, which means Scotland.

In Findings Jamie’s small observations become magnified, and wide seascapes and vast landscapes fits in a small pocket. Her stories often start with a conversation, an object, a sound, gradually being unrolled and unravelled. Observations are mirrored to personal thoughts or day-by-day events. She loves sounds, the shriek of a peregrine, the battering sea waves, the grating male corncrake’s call. She finds beauty in darkness and the glass jarred preserved medical abnormalities of human body parts. She scans the skylines of Edinburgh and the water outside Tobermory (Isle of Mull) respectively in search for cockerels and Cetaceans (whales etc.).

While reading I regularly check Google Earth, wanting to know where her non-fiction stories are exactly set. For some of the essays there are no geographical clues. It’s my way to discover her Scotland and map these places on my Discover British Isles project. Her essay on cup-and-ring marks, a form of prehistoric art, dissolves into a search for shielings, old and long forgotten roughly constructed huts used while pasturing animals. These kind of stories fascinates me.

Darkness and Light
Maes Howe, Orkney – 10-22

21 – One of them lifted his hand high in salvation, and I waved back, and for a moment they looked like astronauts emerging from a capsule after a successful mission.

Peregrines, ospreys, cranes
J.A. Baker – The Peregrine – 35-47

Monach Islands – 51-68

54 – I grew to appreciate the company of people who listen to the world. They don’t feel the need to talk all the while. They are alert to bird-cries, waves sucking on rocks, a rope frittering against a mast.

The Braan Salmon
Ossian’s Hall of Mirrors, River Braan – 71-9

Isle of Coll – 85-99


Cup-and-ring marks
Shielings – 120-7

122 – Shielings, and shieling grounds, were the high summer pastures, the places where the cattle were driven to graze on the fresh grass for the few weeks at the top of the year. The word refers to both the grounds  and the shelters the people built for themselves for the duration. It was an old, old system, this transhumance.

Surgeon’s Hall
Surgeon’s Hall Museums
William Playfair, architect
Dr John Barclay
Sir Charles Bell

Calton Hill
Patrick Geddes, Edinburgh townplanner
weather vane / cockerel

Lewis – 163-83
Dalmore – 171-2
Uig – 174
Islivig – 174-5
Na Gearrannan/Garenin – 176
Tolsta – 180

Cetacean Disco
Tobermory – 185-90

Imprint: Sort of Books
Published: 2005
ISBN: 9780954221744 
Lenght: 208 Pages