The Highlands of Scotland

Here we are half way through 2012, selling this 2013 calendar like the proverbial hot cross buns and beginning to think about pictures and general design issues for 2014.

As it'says on the tin' our 2013 calendar is a combined operation featuring Eoghain Maclean's wildlife photographs and my own pastel landscapes, each of them, each month, accompanied by my little narrative describing the thoughts and the actuality of what went into their creation.

As I said, local shops report bumper early sales for this product. This of course is particularly gratifying in this time of 'recession' (that I myself prefer to call a 're-alignment'). We are also selling it to Waterstones (in Inverness) and the Scotland stores of the UK's largest stationer / bookseller. In addition we have every reason to expect some good business with VisitScotland. Certainly our Picturebook 2013 Calendar' hanging on a few thousand kitchen walls throughout the UK and as far afield as Australia will not do our local tourist trades any harm. Even our own B&B here in Aultbea.
This is how it looks on the inside. Poor photo of mine but you get the idea.(I hope) The narrative reads ...

White-tailed Sea Eagle - the photograph

The White-tailed Sea Eagle is by some way the largest bird here in the UK. Local records indicate that ‘the last native sea eagle was killed by gunshot in 1919’. The RSPB re-introduced them to the Scottish Highlands in the early 90’s, bringing in the chicks from Norway, Sweden and Poland. For obvious reasons their breeding and hunting grounds are not generally publicised. But with the full co-operation of local landowners - including my employers, Scottish Natural Heritage - the RSPB have been watching over them ever since.
Suffice to say that I know this chap very well. Furthermore I am honoured to add that this particular photograph has been chosen for an RSBP magazine front cover. He is some fifteen years of age and is one of a pair born on an island in one of the sea lochs not too far away from my home in Kinlochewe. His sibling unfortunately died as a result of an encounter with an electricity pylon. 
I am indebted to three common seagulls for this shot! This trio were buzzing and generally harassing their giant cousin, keeping him sitting on that branch instead of taking to the sky for long enough to allow me to set up my camera.

Eoghain Maclean

...and this is the narrative for my pastel painting for September ...

You think you know colour', (I wrote)
'until you’ve seen an early day
over a cloudless Gairloch.

You think you know about distance

until your eyes have roamed around
the curves and contours of the world
through air so clear, this clean;
noiseless save the shushing of the sea,
the calling of the gulls as if to you and me

‘A Gairloch Morning’ - the painting

I painted this on the first Saturday after the infamous 11th September, 2001. When the twin towers happened I had watched all the horror in a Middle East hotel bar, surrounded by … well, I won’t go into that. Suffice to say that the contrast between there and what you and I see here inspired our move north a year later. We’ve no regrets. My little verse ends …And so they came, our friends,
and it rained and blew
a gale of wind all week.
(A different kind of beauty!)
This place smiles not, shows not herself
so often, nor to everyone.
And they, as we, will come again.

Bryan Islip

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