Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Tag

Drink To Me At A Price

The Chief Medical Officer wants a minimum price for alcohol of 50p per unit. That would mean the cheapest bottle of wine would cost around £4.50 and a can of beer would cost at least £1. Scotland is already making moves to stop supermarkets selling alcohol at low prices, the driver being the high rates of alcohol related problems in many Scottish communities. It looks like the era of cheap booze will soon end, well at least for those who are less discerning about the quality of what they are drinking.

Many people do not think the change will stop binge drinking and its consequence’s on the human body and the cost to the NHS. Those who are dependent on alcohol or see getting drunk most nights of the week a lifestyle choice will carry on regardless. The people it will effect are those on low incomes who enjoy an occasional drink but cannot afford pub prices. The people making these claims are the trade associations who see their sales and profits at risk even though they have contributed to the problem by creating imitation soft drinks of sweetened alcohol aimed at the young and which have helped cause some of the problems.

The drop in the value of the Pound against the Euro reduced the numbers crossing the Channel to stock up on cheap booze to a trickle. Minimum pricing may mean the shopping trip to France regains its popularity as would the smugglers trade. Alcohol is not essential for our survival, it has its pleasures and plays its part in the human experience but it is an addictive drug second only to smoking as a contributor to ill health and death. Although smoking may eventually be relegated to a minority pursuit followed by a few individuals in the confines of their own home, drinking will remain a social pass time and will need some form of controls if the growing problem is going to be curtailed.


Monty’s 21st Century Crofting

Monty Hall’s Great Escape must be the best advert for holidaying in Scotland. The scenery on the west coast is stunning and the people who live there are welcoming and helpful. Its as good as it gets anywhere. Monty may not be living the true crofting life but his antics are very entertaining and the outside toilet a hoot. No doubt the country around Applecross will be very popular this year, I hope all the attention does not spoil the tranquillity of the west coast.

Mind you, its a big country, if you avoid the popular places such as Fort William and the crowds around Ben Nevis it is relatively quiet. In fact if you tour the coast you may bump into the same people time and again as you both travel from beauty spot to beauty spot. Its almost impossible to pick a favourite part of Scotland but the three places we find very enticing are Loch Teacius on the Morvern Peninsular, the Ardnamurchan peninsular and the Summer Isles.

I’m also intrigued at the history of the country, walk over the hills and you may come across the remnants of a settlement. During the highland clearances between the 18th and 19th century many thousands were moved off the land abandoning villages and settlements. You can hear the cries of the people as their homes were burnt down by the land owners to make way for flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. It was a time when humans were worth less than livestock. Its something that has happened in many forms and will no doubt happen again and again.

Energy Nirvana Proves A Messy Option

I can remember the supporters of nuclear energy touting the idea that this new technology would provide us will cheap, pollution free energy for ever. The visitors centre at Doonray in northern Scotland proudly boasted that nuclear fission was safe and economic. It was the way of the future and we invested in new generating plants around the country. The doom and gloom merchants were derided as Luddites. How different it is now.

Nuclear energy has been at the dirty end of the market for years. New power stations are rare although there is a developing view that we may have no alternative as renewable sources of energy seen unable to much impact on our needs. Nuclear power stations cost billions to decommission and sit as potential hazards for thousands of years. We have taken a natural material and converted it into a deadly substance. One that could see towns and cities closed for years due to the contamination from a dirty bomb.

It not surprising that the Irish Government want to see Sellafield closed. There is no doubt it has polluted the Irish Sea and parts of the English, Scottish and Irish mainland for years. It is a legacy from the past that would be best closed down. Unfortunately for the Irish and those who live in the shadow of the site commercial interests are proving more important than the environment and human life. Its another example of how we continually get the balance wrong and bow down to Mammon instead of ourselves.