Scotland 2021: Wick

An account of my day in Wick near the end of my recent Scottish holiday.

We have reached the last full day of my Scottish holiday (May 28 – June 5th), the Friday which I spent in Wick (a mix up over booking times meant that I had an extra day in Scotland after we were supposed to leave the house in which we had been staying, having missed the first day, so I was booked into a hotel in Wick, from whence I was departing early on the Saturday morning).

ARRIVING IN WICK

I was dropped at the Norseman Hotel in Wick, where I would be staying overnight. Unfortunately it was far too early to check in, but fortunately I was able to deposit my larger bag at the hotel which meant that I had at least some freedom of movement.

ETYMOLOGICAL NOTE

Wick derives from Old Norse and means ‘bay’ in English. It is most often seen as a place name ending, with -wich, as in Norwich, an alternative version. The -vik of Narvik in northern Norway derives from the same root. The fact that Wick has no prefix indicates that when it was first settled it was the only bay in the area that was considered significant.

EXPLORING WICK

My explorations started by following the Wick River inland. This was a nice walk, with lots of bird life in evidence along the way. When I got to back to Wick I explored the town itself. I also took the opportunity to locate the railway station and make sure I knew how to get there the following morning. After a visit to a cafe I was finally able to check in to the hotel. In the event I did not head back out until the following morning, being very tired. The hotel room was perfectly pleasant, although the wifi connection that the hotel so wants its guests to know about proved to be rather unreliable.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I got lots of good pictures while in Wick…

Scotland 2021: Wildlife Cruise

An account of a wildlife cruise on the afternoon of my birthday.

This post describes the main activity of the day of my birthday (Monday), a wildlife cruise. The route of the cruise was from John O’Groats harbour past Duncansby Head to Duncansby Stacks beyond and then back. There were a variety of sea birds on display, including guillemots, razor bills, shags and various breeds of gull. There are sometimes puffins in the area but I do not think we saw any that day. Also supposedly resident in these waters are seals and otters, but I saw neither. However it was a very enjoyable cruise.

OUTWARD BOUND

The walk to the harbour starts along an open road with no footpath before one comes to the path that leads to the John O’Groats hotel, at which point you can access various locations, including the harbour. We boarded the boat with no problems, and by the time we set out on the cruise it was very full.

Although there were some signs of life in the open water it was only when we got level with the head and then the stacks beyond (for an explanation of what a stack is in this context visit this article which explains how they form) that we saw creatures in huge number. The guillemots predominated (they look a little like tiny penguins, although unlike the Antarctic’s most famous bird they can fly), but a few razor bills were in evidence, as were a number of shags (they look similar to a cormorant).

The boat arrived back at the harbour and after waiting for things to clear a bit we made our way back on to terra firma.

HOMEWARD BOUND

We took an exploratory route home, attempting to locate a route back which would eliminate the main road. This was unsuccessful, and we reverted to the route we knew. My mother’s shoes were causing her trouble by this stage, so my father went to fetch the van to the point where the path joins the road and I accompanied my mother to that meeting point. The problems with the homeward walk notwithstanding it was a very enjoyable day.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have loads of photographs to go with this post and I hope you enjoy them:

Scotland 2021: Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

An account of a visit to a ruined castle that nowadays doubles as a wildlife haven.

On the morning of my birthday we travelled to Wick to do some essential shopping, and on the way back as a warm up act to the main event of the day, a wildlife cruise which I shall write about in due time we called in at the ruins of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe.

RUIN AND WILDLIFE HAVEN

In it’s heyday this castle would have been an imposing sight (it was very obviously built to intimidate, and had little in the way of style), although its location is testament to the absence of any kind of field artillery – even Ballistae and scorpions as used by the Romans hundreds of years before it was built could have caused mayhem by targetting the rock formations around the castle and effectively subjecting those in the castle to a hail of rock fragments – in Scotland in that period. Nowadays it is an impressive ruin, and also home to many kinds of wildlife, both fauna and flora. There are some stunningly good views out over the sea. If you ever happen to be in this corner of Scotland it is worth a look, though it would not be the main event of one’s day.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My photographs begin with a few from before we got to the castle, cover the walk from the parking area to the castle and the castle itself:

Scotland 2021: John O’Groats

A look at John O’Groats and its environs – pics from my first full day of this Scottish sojourn.

This post looks at my first full day of this Scottish sojourn, and at a walk we did from John O’Groats to the beginning of Duncansby Head. Duncansby Head is most north-easterly point of the British mainland, while a few miles down the road is Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of the British mainland.

THE END OF BRITAIN

Other than it’s geographical location John O’Groats itself has rather little to recommend it (the name derives from a 15th century Dutchman Jan de Groot – the dutch Groot being pronounced the same as groat, which way back when was a small silver coin worth fourpence), but the walk out towards Duncansby Head is interesting though rough in places. There is a lot of bird life in these parts that one would see no where else in Britain – birds that are mainly creatures of the arctic but which sometimes come south.

I chose some beers from the John O’Groats brewery (I opted for an oatmeal stout which in a quite dreadful pun is named ‘Deep Groat’).

Today as you will find has been much busier,but yesterday I was not fully recovered from being in transit for 23 hours.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here some photographs from yesterday:

Brathwaite Ends Lean Spell

A look at developments in #WIvSL, some remarkable footage of a volcanic eruption (courtesy of Science girl on twitter), and my latest photographs.

In this post I look at developments in the game between West Indies and Sri Lanka that is just into its second day.

DAY 1: KRAIGG BRATHWAITE DEFIES SRI LANKA

With the West Indies batting first and looking to improve on the draw they recorded in the first game of the series Sri Lanka bowled very well. Veteran seamer Suranga Lakmal was particularly effective, bowling full and just a fraction wide (even in limited overs cricket the umpires would not have been calling wides – he was targetting the area that bowlers like to call ‘fourth stump’) to take three of the first four wickets. For much of the day it seemed that Brathwaite would simply not find anyone to bat well enough with him for the Windies to post a decent total, but then Rahkeem Cornwall, the off spinner who has a decent first class record as lower order batter, set about proving that his maiden test fifty, recorded in the previous match, was no fluke. By the close West Indies had got to 287-7, Brathwaite 99 not out, Cornwall 43 not out.

DAY TWO – LANDMARKS SECURED EARLY

It took one ball of the second day, which is just under way, for Brathwaite to complete his ton with a single, and Cornwall has subsequently got to 50. After three overs of the second day the West Indies are 299-7, Brathwaite 101 not out, Cornwall 53 not out. Lakmal is bowling at one end and left armer Vishwa Fernando at the other, and Cornwall has just brought up the 300 with a two off the latter, taking himself to 55.

LIVE FOOTAGE OF A VOLCANO

Someone who posts on twitter under the name Science Girl has posted some extraordinary footage from Iceland, where volcanic eruptions have been happening lately. You can visit the tweet by clicking here, and the video is embedded below:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off, with as evidence of changing seasons (the sun came out today and it has been genuinely warm here in Norfolk) my first butterfly sightings of 2021 – nothing very exotic, just some tortoiseshells.

As I publish the West Indies have still not lost any further wickets, the score being 302-7 after 92 overs.

Cricket Back With A Vengeance

Some thoughts on the Bob Willis Trophy, a sensational ODI and the start of a test match. Some mathematics, an important petition and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back briefly at the first round of Bob Willis Trophy fixtures, for longer at yesterday’s incredible ODI and casts an eye over what is happening in Manchester.

BOB WILLIS TROPHY – EIGHT
DEFINITE RESULTS, ONE DRAW

In addition to the three teams who recorded wins before I reached the end of yesterday’s post, five other teams ultimately achieved victories in the first round of the Bob Willis Trophy. The odd game out was the game between Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, where Northamptonshire having escaped from a very difficult situation declined to make a game of it, and declared at 507-6 in their second innings after which the teams shook hands on a draw. Essex beat Kent by two wickets, Middlesex beat Surrey by 190 runs, bowling them out for 123 in the final innings. Worcestershire beat Gloucestershire by eight wickets. Leicestershire were set to score 150 off 17 overs by Lancashire and did it with eight balls to spare. Derbyshire were set 365 in the fourth innings by Nottinghamshire, and 299-7 it looked like they were either going to be bowled out or just hold out for a draw. However, the eighth wicket pair not only pulled off the great escape, they snatched the win off the last possible ball of the game. These outcomes bear all the hallmarks of a thoroughly absorbing set of county matches, but their conclusions were all overshadowed by…

AN ODI TO REMEMBER

It is often the case that limited overs games do not remain in the memory for any longer than they take to play, but often does not equal always, and most general rules have exceptions. Yesterday’s game between England and Ireland was precisely such a game. England batted first, Roy and Bairstow both failed, while Vince added to his considerable oeuvre of elegant miniatures, once more failing to produce a full scale masterwork. At 44-3 England looked to be in deep trouble, but Tom Banton produced his first ODI 50 at a vital time, skipper Morgan scored a majestic hundred and the lower order produced some useful runs. England eventually tallied 328, which looked enough for them to defend. An early wicket did not augur well for Ireland either, but then Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie produced the best batting of the day to get Ireland within range. Both fell before it was quite a done deal, leaving the veteran Kevin O’Brien and the 20 year old Harry Tector together for the closing stages. It ultimately came down to eight needed off the final over, which Saqib Mahmood accepted responsibility for bowling. Tector hit a four, Mahmood bowled a no-ball and suddenly it was three needed off four balls. The first of those balls was a dot, but Tector then scored two off the third to last delivery to level the scores and took a single of the penultimate ball of the game to take the victory and ten points in the ODI Super League for Ireland. Although it went right down to the wire Ireland looked in control for most of their batting innings and any result other than the actual one would have been a travesty of cricketing justice. Well played Ireland – or if you prefer: D’imir go maith, Éire!

Plenty more will be seen of this Irish side, especially Harry Tector and Curtis Campher, the latter named of whom had a fine debut series. Most of the England side too will feature again, but Moeen Ali and James Vince are both in serious jeopardy – Moeen cannot buy a run at present and his bowling is not sufficient to command a place in its own right while Vince is a player of fine shots who never seems to play a major innings, and although he bowled three overs yesterday he is not a serious bowler, while Banton’s runs yesterday came although he was batting out of position – he normally bats at or very close to the top of the order.

THE TEST MATCH AT MANCHESTER

Another England team is in action between today and Sunday in Manchester, playing the first match of a three match test series against Pakistan. England are unchanged from the third test against the West Indies as Stokes is still not fully fit to bowl, England do not believe that three seamers plus Bess can take 20 wickets between them and the England management retains its absurd faith in Buttler as a test cricketer. Pakistan won the toss and have chosen to bat. They are 121-2 of 41.1 with the players currently off the field for bad light. Archer and Woakes have a wicket a piece, Broad and Anderson have none and Bess has bowled five overs to date. Babar Azam had reached a 50 and left handed opener Shan Masood is not far away from that mark, with Abid Ali and Azhar Ali the two to go, the latter for a duck. Pakistan have taken a minor gamble with their own batting, putting the young leg spinner Shadab Khan at no6, which most would reckon is a place or even two higher than his batting skills currently merit. If Pakistan can get to 300 in this innings that could well be enough for England to struggle – their recent history when faced with anything approaching a substantial total is not exactly encouraging.

SOLUTION AND NEW PROBLEM

Yesterday I posed this problem adapted from brilliant:

My change is that where they gave a list of options for what was closest the the probability that someone testing positive actually has the disease I simply ask: To the nearest whole number what is the percentage chance that someone who has tested positive for the disease actually has it? Answer in my next post (my own explanation, plus a particularly impressive published solution).

The way I worked this one out was: if we imagine a sample of 1,000 people, 50 will have the disease and 950 won’t. Of the 50 who do have the disease 47 will have tested positive while three test negative (94% accuracy on positives). Of the 950 who do not have the disease 96% will have tested negative and 4% won’t. That 4% of 950 is 38, so the probability of a someone who has tested positive actually having the disease is 47/ (47+38) = 47/85. This comes to 55.29% to two decimal places, or to the nearest whole percentage 55% and that is the answer. Below is a jpg of a brilliantly economical published solution from Inesh Chattopadhyay:

Inesh

Today’s question is incredibly easy, and I also offer a bonus challenge:

Shading

No multi-choice here (this is much too easy for that), but a bonus challenge: part 1) if there was a third square of the same size but divided into 49 smaller squares shaded in similar fashion which would have the largest shaded area, and part 2)what is the general rule relating the number of squares into which the big square is divided and the proportion of it that ends up shaded?

A PETITION AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS

Jo Corbyn, chair of NAS Norwich, has a petition on change.org calling on the government to stop cutting people’s life-saving social care. Below is a jpg of the petition, formatted as a link so that you can sign and share it – please do so:

Petition

My usual sign off…

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This was by far my best butterfly pic of the day…

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…so I devoted some attention…