SOS -Save Our Squirrels

The red, or Eurasian red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris is a tree squirrel of the genus Siurus squirrel that has been apart of our landscape since the last ice age. They migrated to Britain from Eurasia 10,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age and the species is entirely separate from its grey and black cousins. ie. they do not interbreed. The native red has been in decline since the arrival of the greys, brought over from America in the 19th century. Dancing in the trees, running, jumping, playing, scavenging for nuts and fruit whilst humans became civilised, lived through dark ages, medieval times.  The red squirrel has been here, gently clucking tutting and tail swishing.  A creature of real beauty, both in character and nature. As diverse and individual as we humans are ourselves.  We have a duty to protect, to care for these wonderful creatures that we find ourselves living along side and sharing our woods and our landscapes.  They delight, they entertain and they educate us and in return we should protect and ensure they have safe happy lives. Yet ignorance has led us to destroy our native species.

 

The name “squirrel” first appeared in 1327, it is Norman French, “esquirel” derived from Latin , “sciurus” – meaning “shadow tail”.  The native Old English name was “ācweorna”, from Old English “ǣċ” (Oak) and “æcern”.  Little Acorn, Shadow Tail.

 (The earliest British fossil record of the Red Squirrel was 4542 years ago on the Isle of Wight but it is thought they date from 12,500 years ago.)

The red squirrel migrated to Britain from Eurasia 10,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age and the species is entirely separate from its grey and black cousins. ie. they do not interbreed. The native red has been in decline since the arrival of the greys, brought over from America in the 19th century. Since the release of only a few pairs , the greys have bred and spread and now number in the millions. The simple fact is they shouldn’t be here, they do not fit our environment. They are too big, too strong, too destructive. They have decimated the oak and broad leaf forests in England, however, they are not as keen on the pines and conifers in Scotland.

There are constant reports in the press about the destruction the greys cause, biting through wires, starting fires. They devastate our natural environment, stripping trees of bark killing them dead. They are officially vermin, as it is the diseases that they carry and spread that have wiped out our native red squirrel.
Red squirrel numbers have fallen by 98%. There are less than 100,000 left.  The pox virus is carried by the greys and passed to the reds, it is extremely infectious. Now endemic in all the southern greys, it kills 100% of reds and greys do not develop any symptoms. They pass it on at shared feeders and when just one grey enters a red colony hundreds of reds die horrifically, starving to death with tumours on their faces. The whole area is wiped out in around ten days to a fortnight. They literally fall out of the trees. Remove the greys and the reds return.

 

Since the release of the couple of pairs of greys in the south, they have been pushing north, like a huge grey wave. They arrived in South Scotland in 1998, the first grey was spotted near Lockerbie. A timber wagon stop on the main motorway. They hitch rides.  You can admire their tenacity and their ability but not the total devastation they leave in their wake. They push up through Kielder forest on the east, and are heading in massive numbers to meet up with the central belt greys. When this happens, they will spread the virus through that colony and it will all be over for the red squirrel. The native red squirrel – our iconic squirrel will be gone forever. Because of our irresponsible actions.

The grey is bigger, stronger, has more young that survive the first winter when reds have few and high mortality. The greys can eat unripe fruit an berries earlier than the reds, thus out competing their cousins in every way. Roads, man again, are one of the biggest killers of red squirrels, along with birds of prey whose numbers are recovering with conservation. But only because the numbers are so low.

The progression and advance of the greys has been recorded and monitored.  Their numbers have expanded to an estimated 5 million and the wave of greys pushes constantly north up the country.  The disease clears an area of the native and the greys take it over.  Reds numbers in SW Scotland have fallen to critical levels due to the constant pox outbreaks in the wake of the greys pushing upwards over the border. ( see outbreak case studies, Paxton House, Borders).

 

red-squirrel-distribution

Pic courtesy Cornish Red Squirrels

 

Many groups are now actively controlling the grey squirrel and its spread. The Scottish Wildlife Trust and many in England, Wales and Ireland have now protection in place for the reds. Many people everywhere working so hard to save them. Grey control simply for the numbers would have been necessary at some point. But they project that it will be gone within five years. Our only hope is a vaccine, again around five years away.

 

“The red squirrel, the wildcat, and the grey long-eared bat are all facing severe threats to their survival, according to new research.

They are among 12 species that have been put on the first “red list” for wild mammals in Britain.

The Mammal Society and Natural England study said almost one in five British mammals was at risk of extinction.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44461150

 

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Patrolling the squirrel frontline

By Giancarlo Rinaldi 
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

“Red Alert South West Scotland relies heavily on the local populace to help its bid to block the “main routes of incursion” from the south.

It is at the frontline of stopping grey squirrels getting into a red squirrel stronghold.

And in the woodlands throughout its area it has now established a total of 13 safe havens.

The south of Scotland is one of a small number of areas in the UK where the reds still thrive.

They are under constant threat, however, from their grey counterparts which compete with them for food.

The grey squirrels also carry the squirrel pox virus which has no effect on them but is fatal for the reds.

Red Alert has been a busy organisation since it was set up some seven years ago.

 At this time squirrel pox presents a very localised threat but, without direct action, could rapidly spread throughout Scotland 
Rhiannon Hatfield
Red Alert South West Scotland

Its main aim is to raise awareness of conservation issues surrounding the animals and also highlight the impact of habitat loss and disease.

At this time squirrel pox presents a very localised threat but, without direct action, could rapidly spread throughout Scotland,” Ms Hatfield said.

“The majority of the traps Red Alert has out on loan are located in Annandale, Eskdale and Nithsdale, these being the main routes of incursion and subsequent spread.

“In the past year this voluntary effort has results in close to 130 pioneer grey squirrels being prevented from establishing in Dumfries and Galloway.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that, on occasions, such action may be necessary.

“While we are opposed to the unnecessary killing of any wild animal we do recognise that in certain situations populations need to be controlled,” she said.

“If conservationists deem this to be the case we would expect any cull to be subject to high animal welfare standards.”

“To assess the effectiveness of these measures, red squirrel populations are monitored each year.”

So far, the population seems to be holding steady against the potential invasion of the greys.

But Red Alert, as its name suggest, will not be letting its guard down any time soon.

They have killed about 650 squirrels over an 18-month period.

These animals then form the basis of monitoring for squirrel pox in the area.

“One of Red Alert’s particular concerns is the increasing number of grey squirrels arriving in Dumfries and Galloway,” explained Rhiannon Hatfield, from the organisation.

“Not only do these squirrels compete aggressively for food but many of those entering the region from Cumbria carry with them a pox virus that results in very rapid death of the red squirrels into which they come into contact.

“An outbreak of the disease in a population of red squirrels near Lockerbie last year resulted in a number of deaths.”

It is for that reason that Red Alert distributes traps to people who are willing to help – after appropriate training – with the “humane control” of grey squirrels.

Two full-time Grey Squirrel Control Officers are also employed by Scottish Natural Heritage to cover the Nith, Annan and Esk river valleys.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/7336991.stm

 

Just outside Lockerbie, lies a gem, an oasis of peace and tranquillity an absolute jewel.  Eskrigg reserve is a place of beauty, peaceful serenity, a place where people walk, sit, wonder and learn.  The reserve is home of such an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, it hosts school parties and various groups, events and is popular with wildlife photographers, adults seeking peace, children looking for adventure and dog walkers. Hares, deer, butterflies, many birds, owls, frogs, toads. Mushrooms, toadstools, flowers, grasses.  Also living here are a large colony of the most wonderful, beautiful, entertaining, happy, healthy red squirrels.  One of the largest colonies in SW if not the whole of Scotland.  Much loved and cared for by locals and visitors alike.  Cared for and monitored by the hard working, Reserve Manager, Mr James Rae, who has devoted his entire life to creating an amazing wonderland that welcomes visitors from all around the world, the UK and locally who all hope to see the endangered red squirrels.  They are rarely disappointed, they dance in the branches, fly through the trees.  Dance, play, breed well and thrive in this beautiful, precious environment.

https://scottishsquirrels.org.uk/news/article/suspected-squirrelpox-outbreak-near-dumfries-threatens-local-red-squirrel-population/

 

Sadly and worryingly, the incursion of the grey squirrels and the disease outbreaks, has led to SWT declaring SW Scotland being declared a “Grey Zone” last November, 2017. The sightings suggest greys now outnumber reds three to one and outbreaks will eventually eliminate all the reds from this region as has been the continual pattern as they move up the country.

 

“Dr. Mel Tonkin, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels Project Manager said: “Unfortunately red squirrel numbers have continued to fall in parts of the Scottish Borders, especially since the arrival in Berwickshire of the deadly Squirrelpox virus from south of the border in 2011. However, there are still good populations of red squirrels from Galashiels and Jedburgh westwards, and Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is carrying out conservation work aimed at safeguarding these squirrels.

“In Dumfries and Galloway, red squirrels continue to do well, but are threatened by increasing records of grey squirrels which appear to be spreading into Nithsdale from the east and north. It is vital that the work we do here is stepped up to make sure these red squirrel populations remain healthy.”

https://scottishsquirrels.org.uk/news/article/2017-squirrel-survey-reveals-scotlandrsquos-red-squirrels-are-holding-on-strong/

 

Some areas in the Borders did not have a single red squirrel sighting logged during the whole of 2017.  Once a red stronghold, the arrival of the greys has devastated the red population.

 

Greys are now being sighted on the edge of the Eskrigg reserve.  Increasingly often and increasingly close.  Almost on a weekly basis concerned residence are seeing greys closing in on the reserve. Eskrigg, the Lockerbie Wildlife Trust, Manager James Rae, the local Annandale Red Squirrel Group, Red Alert and doing everything possible to keep this colony safe so that it can be enjoyed by future generations. It is heartbreaking to think that our grandchildren will only know and hear about these beautiful, wonderful native, once indigenous creatures through stories.  That they will be lost and the dancing in the branches gone.  Woodland silent.

 

Monitoring equipment is desperately needed.  An urgent and real threat on the reserve’s doorstep could be watched and grey incursions seen and controlled before they can spread the disease through the colony.  Any outbreaks could be caught early controlled and limited.  Trail cams would aid the protection of the reds.  Monitoring equipment such as thermal imagining cameras could locate the greys and watch over the reds.  The protection they so desperately need.  Despite the hard work and dedication of many they are vulnerable and in an extremely and increasingly dangerous situation.  Monitoring equipment would give this very special colony a fighting change because at present it is very much borrowed time. We have done this to them, we owe it to them to at least try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I cried at the John Lewis Christmas Ad

 

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I cried when I first saw the John Lewis Christmas advert. It has become a new annual tradition here in the UK, the launch of the schmaltzy Christmas ads. Like film premieres, without the red carpets, or stars, or films. An advertising agency sits all summer plotting how to make the ultimate advert, planning the release, the publicity, the official launch of their Christmas campaign. Designed to tug on those heartstrings and purse strings.

I didn’t cry because I was overwhelmed with sentimentality, or a feeling of cuddly warmth inspiring me to go out and spend money on pointless gifts. I cried because the overpaid advertising executives had done something so terrible, it virtually destroys all the hard work of a lot of dedicated people over the last ten to twenty years. I cried because they used non native animals in their cute advert, and it was watched by millions withing the first hour. Talked about across every form of media all day.

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Squirrel is an Anglo Norman word dating from 1327 and comes from esquirel or escurel in Old French. In Latin it is sciurus, from the Greek skiouros, meaning shadow tailed. Our native name for the native red squirrel, from Germanic Old English is ācweorna, and survived as aquerna into Middle English. Squirrels are rodents and belong to the Sciuridae family. This includes the tree squirrel, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, flying squirrels prairie dogs and other medium sized rodents, it is a very large and diverse family. They are spread all across the world and are indigenous, or native, to the Americas, Eurasia and Africa, but were introduced to Australia.
They count the mountain beaver and dormice among their close relations. The existence of the squirrel family, which is divided into 5 subfamilies, can be dated back to around forty million years ago. There are around 50 genera and nearly 280 actual species. The oldest fossil, Hesperopetes is similar to the modern flying squirrel and dates to the Chadronian or Eocene period.
From the Eocene to the Miocene the squirrel family split roughly into three main groups, the Oriental giants, or Ratufina, which is a small group inhabiting Asia. The Sciurillinae in tropical south America consists of just one member, the Neotropical Pygmy squirrel. The third group is the largest, Sciurinae, and are global. They also split into groups and all the three main group are widely believed, from the evidence of fossils, to originate from a common North American ancestor, from where they radiated outwards.

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The red, or Eurasian red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris is a tree squirrel of the genus Siurus and is part of the third group, is often presumed indigenous to this country, but then so is the rabbit which actually arrived with the Normans in the 11th century. The red squirrel is actually one of the few animals considered an icon that actually really is.

protosciurus_sp-_-_national_museum_of_natural_history_-_img_2017

 

The earliest British fossil record of the Red Squirrel was 4542 years ago on the Isle of Wight but it is thought they date from 12,500 years ago 1)

The red squirrel migrated to Britain from Eurasia 10,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age and the species is entirely separate from its grey and black cousins. ie. they do not interbreed. The native red has been in decline since the arrival of the greys, brought over from America in the 19th century. Since the release of only a few pairs , the greys have bred and spread and now number in the millions. The simple fact is they shouldn’t be here, they do not fit our environment. They are too big, too strong, too destructive. They have decimated the oak and broad leaf forests in England, however, they are not as keen on the pines and conifers in Scotland. I don’t actually dislike any animals, I had the most wonderful, entertaining greys in my garden when I was at university in Birmingham. But they did move into the loft and did a lot of damage, so I called pest control. There are constant reports in the press about the destruction they cause, biting through wires, starting fires. They devastate our natural environment, stripping trees of bark killing them dead. They are officially vermin, as it is the diseases that they carry and spread that have wiped out our native red squirrel.
Red squirrel numbers have fallen by 98%. There are less than 100,000 left. The reason I cried at the John Lewis advert is it destroyed the hopes, the hard work of so many who are desperate to right a wrong. They greys just should not be here, it is as simple as that. We have done this to our native squirrel, man, and some of us believe we have a duty to at least try and put things right while there is a chance we can. We can still save them, a separate release of greys in Scotland across the central belt, shows they can co exist. There are no problems, and reds numbers are stable. But these greys are not carriers of the dreadful squirrel pox. Now endemic in all the southern greys, it kills 100% of reds and greys do not develop any symptoms. They pass it on at shared feeders and when just one grey enters a red colony hundreds of reds die horrifically, starving to death with tumours on their faces. The whole area is wiped out in around ten days to a fortnight. They literally fall out of the trees. Remove the greys and the reds return.

The grey is bigger, stronger, has more young that survive the first winter when reds have few and high mortality. The greys can eat unripe fruit an berries earlier than the reds, thus out competing their cousins in every way. Roads, man again, are one of the biggest killers of red squirrels, along with birds of prey whose numbers are recovering with conservation. But only because the numbers are so low.

 

A youngster at Eskrigg Reserve, Lockerbie.

 

The problem is the pox. The central belt has shown that they can get along pretty well – reds generally prefer conifer forests so it gives them an advantage here.

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Since the release of the couple of pairs of greys in the south, they have been pushing north, like a huge grey wave. They arrived here in my part of South Scotland, in 1998, the first grey was spotted near Lockerbie. A timber wagon stop on the main motorway. They hitch rides. I have real admiration for their tenacity and their ability but not the total devastation they leave in their wake. They push up through Kielder forest on the east, and are heading in massive numbers to meet up with the central belt greys. When this happens, they will spread the virus through that colony and it will all be over for the red squirrel. The native red squirrel – our iconic squirrel will be gone forever. Because of our irresponsible actions.

The black is a subspecies of the grey first spotted in 1912, near Letchworth in Hertfordshire and was thought to be the result of a mutant gene. This mutation is also found in the black squirrels in the USA, so it is unlikely that it occurred amongst the greys here. Dr Alison Thomas, a professor of life sciences of Anglia Ruskin University, conducted a number of genetic tests to work out the background of the new squirrel and concluded that the black was most probably introduced and that the growing colony around Letchworth, Hertfordshire are most likely a result of an escapee from a collection in the early 1900’s. The black therefore is a direct descendant of the American blacks and is a subspecies of the grey and they do interbreed.
Our native red squirrel is much threatened by the introduction of its more dominant cousins, the grey (Sciurus carolinensis) from North America and its sub species the black, but hope remains that concentrating on the reds preference for coniferous habitats and the active control of the greys will increase its chances of survival and it will remain an icon of this county.

red-squirrel-distribution

Pic courtesy Cornish Red Squirrels

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Many groups are now actively controlling the grey squirrel and it’s spread. The Scottish Wildlife Trust and many in England, Wales and Ireland have now protection in place for the reds. Many people everywhere working so hard to save them. Grey control simply for the numbers would have been necessary at some point. But we project that it will be gone within five years. Our only hope is a vaccine, again around five years away. Our Patron is Prince Charles, seen often with a big cuddly red squirrel, I have seen a video of him with a wee red who approached him showing no deference to royalty at all. Absolutely beautiful and it is clear that his concern and commitment is genuine, his dedication so appreciated.

 

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Pic courtesy BBC

 

In many areas the reds are doing well, holding their own, numbers rising. But the greys keep coming, with the virus and it takes just one. The reds keep fighting, they bounce back every time. So must we. Some of us feel we have a responsibility to right a wrong while we still can. Some of us care, some of us think we should learn from our mistakes. from history and not keep repeating them.

 

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Pic courtesy The Daily Telegraph

So into this knife edge situation comes the John Lewis Christmas advert. Making grey squirrels appear normal, acceptable. There is a movement to protect the grey, again people with very little understanding or environmental responsibility argue that they have been here for several generations, enough to call them “native” and we should just give up our reds.

 

red-grey

From British Democracy

The John Lewis advert is a total betrayal of our native flora and fauna, it also uses pygmy hedgehogs over our endangered native species. it’s impact is massive. I cried because it is a nail in the red squirrel’s coffin. It seems we never learn.

 

 

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Further reading/links/ref
1)http://www.waterstar.co.uk/squirrels/documents/newsletters/2015%20Jan%20Article%20for%20Fram%20News.pdf
2)http://www.berwickshirenews.co.uk/news/paxton-house-aiming-to-bring-back-red-squirrels-1-2162822
http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/squirrels.html#top
http://scottishsquirrels.org.uk/
http://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/what-we-do/scotlands-red-squirrels/

Please consider adopting a Scottish Red Squirrel, help save them – I cannot imagine our woods and forests without them.

 

https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/shop/product/red-squirrel-adoption/

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Prince Charles Video

Prince Charles Red Squirrel Week Video

 

 

Breaking news!! Update on way!

 

Wee munchkins love Cobnuts!

 

 

History of the red squirrel

Origins of the Red Squirrel
By Vicki McNamara
Squirrel is an Anglo Norman word dating from 1327 and comes from esquirel or escurel in Old French. In Latin it is sciurus, from the Greek skiouros, meaning shadow tailed.
Our native name for the native red squirrel, from Germanic Old English is ācweorna, and survived as aquerna into Middle English.
Squirrels are rodents and belong to the Sciuridae family. This includes the tree squirrel, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, flying squirrels prairie dogs and other medium sized rodents, it is a very large and diverse family. They are spread all across the world and are indigenous, or native, to the Americas, Eurasia and Africa, but were introduced to Australia.
They count the mountain beaver and dormice among their close relations. The existence of the squirrel family, which is divided into 5 subfamilies, can be dated back to around forty million years ago. There are around 50 genera and nearly 280 actual species. The oldest fossil, Hesperopetes is similar to the modern flying squirrel and dates to the Chadronian or Eocene period.
From the Eocene to the Miocene the squirrel family split roughly into three main groups, the Oriental giants, or Ratufina, which is a small group inhabiting Asia. The Sciurillinae in tropical south America consists of just one member, the Neotropical Pygmy squirrel. The third group is the largest, Sciurinae, and are global. They also split into groups and all the three main group are widely believed, from the evidence of fossils, to originate from a common North American ancestor, from where they radiated outwards.
The red, or Eurasian red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris is a tree squirrel of the genus Siurus and is part of the third group, is often presumed indigenous to this country, but then so is the rabbit which actually arrived with the Normans in the 11th century. The red squirrel is actually one of the few animals considered an icon that actually really is.
The red squirrel migrated to Britain from Eurasia 10,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age and the species is entirely separate from its grey and black cousins. ie. they do not interbreed. The native red has been in decline since the arrival of the greys, brought over from America in the 19th century.
The black is a subspecies of the grey first spotted in 1912, near Letchworth in Hertfordshire and was thought to be the result of a mutant gene. This mutation is also found in the black squirrels in the USA, so it is unlikely that it occurred amongst the greys here. Dr Alison Thomas, a professor of life sciences of Anglia Ruskin University, conducted a number of genetic tests to work out the background of the new squirrel and concluded that the black was most probably introduced and that the growing colony around Letchworth, Hertfordshire are most likely a result of an escapee from a collection in the early 1900’s. The black therefore is a direct descendant of the American blacks and is a subspecies of the grey and they do interbreed.
Our native red squirrel is much threatened by the introduction of its more dominant cousins, the grey (Sciurus carolinensis) from North America and its sub species the black, but hope remains that concentrating on the reds preference for coniferous habitats and the active control of the greys will increase its chances of survival and it will remain an icon of this county.

Scottish Independence Referendum – ‘Don’t Know’

 

 

Why it’s all about the politicians, what difference will it make? Being comfortable with our identity.

willia10

What difference will it make? To us? We know what difference it will make to the politicians. It is all about them, what they want and in the case of the Scottish National Party and Mr Salmond, it is all he has ever stood for.

The question of “Whether Scotland should become an independent country?” will be asked of its people, myself included, on September the 18th of this year. Roughly 10 weeks time. I have said since the day it was declared, that I am undecided. I have read everything, followed both sides closely and still am, this is why.

No one seems to have any answers. Yes projections for an independent Scotland are rosy. No predict failure, economically, running out of oil refusal of entry to Europe and no currency union. But we will keep the Queen…Yes campaign produce their own experts declaring these are No lies and scare stories. Is the truth somewhere in the middle? It will be a matter of waiting and seeing. I have read much on all issues, will Scotland survive as an independent country? The most important question has to be economics and that feels rather like rolling a dice. It comes down to who you choose to believe. So yes, I am feart..or “feardy” as Yes accuse No. I think we all should be feart of what will happen, our future is uncertain.

Yes claim that Scotland has little say in the government in Westminster. We are too small – we get the government voted in by the majority and in most elections that is who England votes for, and Scotland has voted differently. Is that fair? But my own personal experience of the Scottish government has been disappointing. How can we presume that independence will be any better?

I was born and spent my first five years in the north of Scotland. From there we moved to Kent – speaking local Aberdeen dialect, Doric. I was called English. At the age of twelve we moved again, to just outside Lockerbie, Dumfries & Galloway. I was called English. I spent my 20’s in the English Midlands, working, studying and re-enacting. I was called Scottish.

Usually the first words that someone says to me are “you are not from around here, are you?” I have been explaining myself for decades. It gets tiring! I am from nowhere and everywhere. My home is nowhere but I belong to Scotland. I grew up in Deal, in Kent. But Dumfries is where I came back to.

There has been a change since the campaign for Scottish independence began. No light hearted comments now, it is “You’ll be needing a passport next time you visit..” and other abusive comments, in response to nothing except my strange accent. I have realised recently that I am trying not to speak when I go out, or shopping. This awful bad feeling has followed on from the constant bitching and sniping of the Yes and No campaigns.

One side hack the other’s emails, Yes campaigners dressed in red and yellow and pretended to be “Labour for Indi”, were exposed in a national newspaper, in order to convince the voters who don’t like the SNP but might vote Yes. The campaigns have been about politicians, voters the bystanders. So you have to ask yourself why it is so important to the politicians? What happens to the Scottish National Party if the vote is No? This is all they have ever stood for. It is why it is no holds barred. Yes I suspect their motives. What in actual reality will change for the person on the street? We will have a new government, more politicians, more bureaucracy. Scotland will still be Scotland.

As a historian I see us as an island of Indo European origin peoples. Nomadic tribes who settled these islands 4,500 years ago. Whilst more recently enriched by incoming cultures, the Indo European element remains prominent. The Angles occupied almost the whole east of Scotland around the 5th and 6th C. (according to Bede and contemporary sources) Their kingdom was called Bernicia. “Ingles” is still a common name in Edinburgh and the Lothians. England is of course called after the Angles. The Angles also occupied the south west side of Scotland later Strathclyde. From Glasgow down into Cumbia during the same time. The kingdom of Rheged . The Celts/ Scots/Hibernai were a mix of Irish Scots. All branches of the Indo European family, as are the Scandanavians of the highlands and islands, Northmen later Normans.The Picts are unknown origin, thought to be related to the Basques.

So I know who we are, I know where we came from. I am happy with who I am. Do these campaigners know? Those ones who cite “Braveheart”, a battle of over 700 years ago, between an Anglo-Norman/French King of England and an Anglo Norman/French nobleman whose family settled in Scotland in the 1100’s. The Scottish people were canon fodder. We still are. Nothing has changed.

7th Century Ruthwell cross, built by the Angles just outside Dumfries.ruth

Oh Dear. A Really Bad Day….

I had a terrible nightmare last night. One of the worst, vivid and upsetting ones. Not had one like that for a while. A few things caused it I think. I was upset over the chickles, and was ill. three bad insect bites. Feeling dizzy, sick and light headed. Two chickles have gone broody again, which is truly awful. Bramble then Meg, they are in solitary, no bedding, just food. Only a few weeks since I broke it last time. So much for “they never go broody first year and never twice”. A week now and I’m upset thinking of them all alone at nights too. But they starve themselves for around 12 weeks, attack the others, won’t let them in the roost and if one does lay, they heat the eggs. So it has to be done, they aren’t sitting on eggs, just broody. Then I thought I heard Gizmo cluck a few times, so I bunged her in with Bramble. Gizmo seemed so upset, I decided to let them all out in the evening, Elsie and Fern had laid so I just shut the roost. Gizmo was so upset, fraught, in and out of the shed, and the house, I did note it was different behaviour from the other two. But at bedtime she gave me a cuddle and I thought not broody behaviour. Found this later in the rabbit litter tray in the box room and feel so awful.


Guid Nyghburris here yesterday, which is always a worry, loud and drunks everywhere, I was feeling very ill… and also Father’s Day absolutely everywhere for some reason , upset over the chickles too and cold last night. The dream. I was in a car, a grey one with a roof rack. Father driving, mother in the front brother in the back with me. He drove it straight into the river Nith on the Whitesands. I got out and raced around the gathered crowd,  wet & in a blanket saying they were still in the car, everyone shrugged or ignored me, including the police. I don’t even know if these people are still alive in real life, or where they are and don’t care. So why dream about them? I woke up in tears, so upset. but I think also I’ve been upset over the awful things that are happening out there. I listened to reports as they happened about the attack on the MP, so shocked and upset for her family, she seemed so lovely too, then the awful bad feeling and bullying raising its head again on Twitter, Orando, and failing my wee babies like that. What I don’t need is a nightmare.

 

Everything will be better tomorrow.

This is Real

Depression

by me

I disagree about talking – and friends. I have been thinking and as always with me, it’s best not to. I hope that you will excuse me “getting this out”. I need a calm mind and this, this week with Robin Williams has me pondering. Everyone IS very different. We handle things in different ways. I has suffered from depression and my answer was the opposite of talking and friends… I also think when it comes to getting it all out in the open and the publicity this week – only one person can deal with this and this is yourself. I apologise for this (I’d leave now if I were you!)..Three days going around in my mind so here goes. Around ten years ago I had depression. Real depression, destroyed by realising I meant nothing to my family who ignored me basically because I was female. The hurtful actions of my parents, to whom I repeatedly explained to for many years about depression and how dangerous it was and asked them to stop doing certain things. They carried on because they wanted to. This is where understanding depression would help. People can do this to you, but only you can help yourself. When my friend, my only friend, died suddenly also I really experienced something awful. Maybe a year..I can’t remember.. of crying, darkness, unbelievable pain bordering on despair. You hate yourself, everyone, A deep dark bottomless pit. You hurt yourself because of the mental pain. Numbness too..eventually. I ended up with pneumonia & pleurisy, which has done permanent damage to my heart. You don’t want to live but don’t want to die. Do just want to not exist. Never have had been born. What I did, and I was lucky enough to realise that there was a glimmer of light, I clawed my way back, rebuilt myself from the bottom up. I realised people can’t help. It is you, you do this to yourself and only you can stop it. I separated my mind & consciousness, my brain from my person. My mind was doing this, wild constant desperate thinking. Which is why talking does not work. I realised I had to be in control of it and had to switch it off. One day at a time, I started to rebuild, Give yourself goals, aims and something to get up for every day. Smile. You start with pretence but it tricks your brain into believing it. Meditation was a massive part of this and the quiet it brought. I have my pets, my animals and my garden, I work obsessively and write. It is always there, the darkness. I know the signs and I know what to do. Ten years on, I have had a few wobbles. December is a very difficult month to get through. I withdraw and concentrate on quiet. But I am happy, lucky and enjoy every moment of my life. I can write this now because I am strong at the moment. Robin Williams lost his light, his reason for getting up and going on. His diagnosis of Parkinsons will be a relief to many as it is an explanation, not depression then, it’s okay – he had an actual reason,. No, it took his reason for carrying on away..poor man. I am on my own, love my life, my pets, my garden and the cycle of life, which I look forward to every January. So when people think they know what’s best for me “you know you want to…” etc, No I don’t. Understanding would be so good, When someone mentions depression they don’t mean down in the dumps. But ultimately it is down to you..no one else. I am a depression survivor. This is why I have said very little this week, if people haven’t it is probably because they can’t. There are an awful lot out there. I also recognise them instantly, just one word and I know. Same with people who don’t, like my family. I don’t hate anyone, I don’t blame anyone, that is the best way. I don’t think we’ll ever understand the full capabilities our brain, but if it can do this to us, and we know this, we can also use it to turn it around. I wouldn’t change a thing in my life. Now I have done this I can stop thinking…Sorry Carol!!! I may well delete this very very soon, feel free to do so if it offends…. I’m off to spend the rest of the day baking and creating….( and meditating). xxxx