Travel

Why this treehouse beats Disneyland. Holidays in Lismore

WE are walking back from the island's only shop at a pace that would disgrace a snail. But it doesn't matter - supper is at least three hours away, and that's the only other thing we have planned for today. On the verge, which stands 15ft above the single-track road, we can just glimpse the top of a caramel-coloured head amid the long grass. Reuben -
who, at six, is the eldest of the eight children in our party - is commando-crawling back to the cottage.

Every now and then he stops, disappears and doubles back on himself, reappearing behind a tree further down the track. If one of the others catches sight of him, a
lengthy gun battle ensues, involving pointed index fingers and amazingly realistic sound effects. This is a Scottish holiday very much as it would have been 50 years ago, when the Broons left their tenement in Glebe Street for a two-room but and ben in an anonymous glen.

Read more: Why this treehouse beats Disneyland. Holidays in Lismore

On a heat wave that killed thousands in France

The ''canicule'', what the French call literally the ''dog'' weather of the past fortnight, and which was blamed for causing up to 5000 deaths is over and the barometer is set to ''stormy'' - for politicians.

Director-general of health Lucien Abenhaim has resigned because of allegations that the authorities failed to react to the crisis quickly enough.  Our family holiday coincided almost exactly with the heat-wave, so we watched the story unfold from the comparative safety of a shady farmhouse  in the Normandy countryside. Even there, it was too darned hot.

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Crazy Horse

Shelley's poem Ozymandias tells of the wreck of a huge rock sculpture which stands in the desert above the inscription: ''Look on my works ye mighty and despair.'' ''Nothing beside remains,'' the poet tells us. ''Boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.''

A thousand years from now, when the US empire has crumbled into dust and climate change has cleared beef cattle and farmers from the western prairie, it is possible to imagine that tourists will travel across the sand to visit the mountains of South Dakota and marvel at the massive monuments of a bygone civilisation.

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Scotland glimpses eclipse through the clouds with quiet reverence

THERE was no fuss. The Western Isles don't do fuss. Despite the fact that yesterday's annular solar eclipse comes round only once every 90 years, the Isle of Lewis was not in festival mood.

Four out of five island residents questioned said they were in their beds when the moon passed in front of the sun. It was all a contrast to the hype of a total eclipse in Cornwall four years ago. Then
commentators predicted the county might sink under the weight of millions of people there to see it.

Yesterday was very different. The astronomer Sir Patrick Moore and Queen guitarist Brian May led a small band of eclipse watchers who travelled to the north of Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, the Faroes and Reykjavik to see the event.

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In praise of wild camping

The Herald Magazine

Hiking off into the purple yonder with nothing but a sleeping bag and a loo roll – that is camping as it once was and, for some, what it is becoming again. There’s a resurgence in so-calledwild camping in Scotland as the countryside access laws bed in. Forget the designer floral tent with matching curtains, the elegant plastic wine goblets and the pre-cooked lasagne – leave them at home where they belong and head for the horizon with just a toothbrush in your pocket.


Pic: Rob Bruce (not original illustration).

Read more: In praise of wild camping