Sunday, 8 February 2009


It was a lovely sunny day but only 1 degree above freezing. These Highland cattle at Auchendennan Farm, on the road to Helensburgh, were not bothered about the chilly air and mud underfoot.

The snow on the hills behind Helensburgh show that we have been getting the outer edges of the big snowfalls that have hit the south and southeast of England. They have had huge dumps of it!

Down at sea level, and also because of the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream, we enjoy milder temperatures than the rest of the country.

These long horned, hairy cattle are not the most common type in Scotland but where they are evident it is mainly the red coated ones that are predominant. Apparently it was Queen Victoria who set this fashion, as fashion it was: the black coated cattle were common until she established a different custom.

This handsome fellow is courtesy Wikipedia. "Somewhere in the Outer Hebrides".

The origin of the word 'blackmail' is tied up with these cattle.

Rob Roy MacGregor was born in 1671 in this part of the world and was resident not far away from here (the other side of Loch Lomond). "He was, they say, in the cattle business . He traded cattle, but also for a consideration, made sure that your cattle passed safely through these lawless lands. Whilst Coll of Barisdale in Knoydart is credited with the coining of the term Blackmail, it was also Rob Roy's business. Blackmail was literally Black Meal , the highland cattle." [Source: here.]

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