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Going out in  style / John MacPherson

Going out in style / John MacPherson

My old school mate Frank was one of life’s enthusiasts. Despite congenital heart problems and major heart surgery in his early years, he never let it impede his life.

His passion was motorcycling, and he would blat off to places like Le Mans, the Bol d’Or, or wherever took his fancy on various of his bikes which included over the years a couple of Laverda Jotas (still my fave sounding bike of all time), or the Ducatis he preferred as he got older. But unfortunately he didn’t get to be too old before his heart finally gave up. But my my did he give it a work out whilst it still ticked. The 600 mile ride from the Scottish Highlands to the Channel Ferry port in Dover was simply the opening leg of what usually turned out to be epic trips, often taking in several European countries.

We had a good send off for him. And his helmet went with him for the final ride (that’s it on the end of his coffin). I thought this was a particularly lovely moment: as I shared some quiet time with a family friend and Frank, a burst of laughter from some of Frank’s mates sat outside, who were telling stories of biking adventures they’d shared with him, caught our attention.

These little moments, at times like these, really matter. We should record more of them. And cherish them.

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The Soft Hiss of Lead

This is an old picture. Taken at least 30 years ago. I’m not sure if they allow such shenanigans these days. Firing shotguns beside a tourist attraction busy with tourists – hmmm!

I wandered down the path below the monument to the shore of Loch Shiel and walked along the water’s edge on the gravel, several tourists already there skimming stones and generally enjoying the scene. As I passed in front of the shooters, who were a long way back up the field, I was astonished to hear the sound of the shot from their cartridges falling into the bushes and low-lying heather a short distance behind me, a soft hiss of lead.

Clay pigeon shoot, Glenfinnan, Lochaber 1981 copyright John MacPherson

Clay pigeon shoot, Glenfinnan, Lochaber 1981 copyright John MacPherson

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Bringing the feed, Rum

SNH National Nature Reserve Staff feeding highland cows and Rum ponies, Isle of Rum NNR.  Copyright: John MacPherson

SNH National Nature Reserve Staff feeding highland cows and Rum ponies, Isle of Rum NNR.
Copyright: John MacPherson

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The sheep, Sutherland

A sheep on a wall, with Suilven behind, viewed from Achnahaird, Sutherland © John MacPherson

A sheep on a wall, with Suilven behind, viewed from Achnahaird, Sutherland © John MacPherson

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On a Scottish Sunday

North Sutherland © John MacPherson

North Sutherland © John MacPherson

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‘September When it Comes’: If you’ve not heard Rosanne Cash singing this duet with her father, Johnny Cash, give it a go. It is touching and beautiful. And, strangely predictive, for Johnny died in September. Their voices are a glorious pairing, but it’s Johnny’s central solo that will make the hairs stand on your neck. His voice is fragile and wistful, but absolutely charged with emotion. One of my all-time favourite tracks.

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