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June 18th 1998

Punds Water In our last day in Shetland we were busy in visiting several ancient sites: standing stones (the two at Hamna Voe, also called the Giant's Stanes and the Skellister standing stones, locally known as Auld Wife because of its silhouette looking as the profile of an old woman); a broch (the one at Loch of Houlland, beautifully situated on a promontory with a narrow neck of land connecting with the mainland); some chambered cairns (Punds Water, in the rough moorland and surrounded by small lochs and Beorgs of Housetter); neolithic settlements (the houses and enclosures of Scord of Brouser and the so-called "temple" of Stanydale, an impressive and enigmatic building halfway between a huge house and a heel-shaped tomb).

Early on Monday morning (our flight was scheduled at 7:55 AM) we left Shetland. And its warm sunshine: as we landed in Aberdeen it was raining, of course. But we had our hearts full of Shetland's beautiful memories and we were happy to meet again our little and patient Twingo car at the airport car park, that we (almost) didn't notice the pouring rain.

BerrybraeWe drove to the north and visited the tall Candle Stane standing stone and the huge round cairn of Memsie. And our last recumbent stone circles of Aikey Brae, Strichen and Berrybrae. Approaching the last one, we discovered that it lay (as usual) in a field... full of young bulls. The field was large and the cattle far from the gate, so we tried to pass over it. But the animals saw us and came quickly towards us (near the gate there were two cribs: probably the bulls thought we were two Sottish breeder ready to feed them). In less than a minute between us and the stone circle there were two dozens of young bulls Bull(and luckily a gate between us and the animals). So we tried a diversion: Diego walked around the field boundaries looking for another gate, while Paola began to talk to the stunned beasts. Surprisingly, our strategy worked. Diego reached another gate, managed to cross the field and entered the circle while the bulls, after a couple of minutes of Paola's Italian chat, were so bored that turned their heads off and went away. After this brilliant performance, we visited our last site of the day, the tiny and beautiful stone circle of South Ythsie.

On Tuesday we drove through the whisky land of Speyside (there are so many distilleries there, that you can smell malt whisky everywhere) and visited the two circles of Marionburgh and Lagmore West (or Upper Lagmore, as Aubrey Burl calls it).

Clava When we reached the Highlands and the Clava ring-cairn in Aviemore, Paola was still half asleep (she misses Italian coffee a lot: even two cups of tea in the morning can't awake her). But, as a young boy was playing Ballfootball inside the ring and interfering with Diego's photos, she began to play football with this little boy outside the ring-cairn, in order to leave Diego alone at the site. In these weeks of high-level world cup football matches, the performance of a little Scottish boy and a 33 years old Paola wearing wellies was quite an odd show!
In the afternoon we visited the beautiful passage-tombs and ring-cairns of Balnuaran of Clava, a not-to-be-missed site and the similar Gask cairn, with its gigantic slab measuring 3.4 x 3m.

Craig PhadrigYesterday we spent most of the day in Inverness and brought our Twingo to the local Renault garage (Ness Motors in Telford Street). She was all right but we thought that a quick check would have been useful, after touring for 5000km. The Ness Motors' technician was very ice and helpful, made an exhaustive check and didn't ask us a pence! Thanks again from the Net! Before leaving town, we found in a record shop the new Van Morrison's album, with Diego's Stones of Stenness photo on the cover.
Around Inverness we walked up to Craig Phadrig hillfort and then we drove along the hyper-touristic Loch Ness to Corrimony chambered cairn, in a quiet corner of Glen Urquhart. Looking for a cheap and comfortable accommodation with a direct dial telephone, we eventually sheltered in the southern scenic tip of Loch Ness, in Fort Augustus, where we found a rather spartan but clean and spacious twin room by the Benedectine Abbey's guest house. It is an unbelievably peaceful corner of the monster's loch, off the beaten path.

A barn owl is screaming out of the window; it is time to go to bed, we suppose. Bye bye until the next connection, then. From Paola, Diego and Nessie (hiding somewhere in the deep loch, wisely avoiding hungry japanese cameras).


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