Isle of Skye 🏴
Back home after 6 weeks aboard, and I’m really struggling to get back into my own life. Sailing was great! Wonderful crew and watch, and after day 5 of masks, distance (as much as possible) and tests we were a Covid-bubble as a crew and god just cramming in together for dinner and singing together was. Soul healing, I think. And hugs!
We started in Portree (Isle of Skye) and sailed to Stromness (Orkneys) and then up around the very North tip of the Shetlands, then down to Lerwick, anchoring in bays now and then for a rest. We swam a couple of times along the way, even when the water was 12c. Bracing, to say the least.
Then down to Edinburgh, and then the last (but shitty) bit down to London, which was a 4-day bash motoring straight into the wind and swell. This gave the watchleader team occasion to develop our definitions of the three types of fun you can have on a tallship:
Type 1 fun: just plain fun while it’s happening.
Type 2 fun: not necessarily enjoyable, but satisfying when it’s done
Type 3 fun: this actually sucks, but it’ll make a great story later
We came into London on August 10, went through the Tower Bridge, and spent a couple of days moored up along the HMS Belfast. It was fun to be that central in London, but also kind of a pain since that area has almost nothing that tallship people need - like shops that sell actually useful clothing! I met up with @lurkinghistoric (\o/) and went to Borough Market for yummy things!
We moved the ship to Canary Wharf and the next day 30 14-18 year olds came aboard for a youth voyage, so that’s all a bit of a blur. Some of my watch started out extremely quiet, but warmed up along the way, and they really drew together and had a good time, which was very gratifying. We sailed up to Great Yarmouth and then planned to end the voyage in Folkestone, but things got a bit more exciting than intended when the engine failed and we had to get by under sail in a bit of the North Sea that is teeming with platforms and wind farms. Got towed in to Lowestoft and the ship is still there for repairs. I was supposed to stay on longer because we were going to Emden next (and I could just take the train home from there) but when it became clear the engine situation would not be a quick fix I booked a ferry home to go cuddle my cats sooner rather than later.
I still miss everybody. I thought I might struggle to share a cabin smaller than the size of my tiny bedroom with three other people but I don’t think there was a moment I resented it or really wanted to be on my own. We had a good time together and I seriously miss the company and the hugs and the singing right now.
Over the sea to Skye
We have just driven from the Kyle of Lochalsh peninsula across the bridge to the Isle of Skye and we are staying at Portree. The weather is beautiful and the campsite has an impressive mountain as it’s backdrop. So many great places.
In the last week, we have completed our journey across the north visiting Tongue and Scourie and headed down the west coast to Lochinver and Ullapool. The North Atlantic Drift passes Ullapool, moderating the temperature. A few New Zealand cabbage trees are grown in the town and are often mistaken for palm trees, giving the place a Mediterranean feel.
During our journey through the spectacular scenery, we were lucky enough to see a golden eagle hunting across the mountains and swooping down over the loch. This magnificent bird with a massive wingspan, was soaring and diving to catch its prey.
We decided to take the more scenic coastal route from Lochinver to Ullapool despite the warnings that it wasn’t suitable for buses or caravans. No mention of motorhomes here so we pressed on. In places, the road was nothing more than a single track with hairpin bends and steep drops. It took us almost an hour and a half to cover 30 miles as we had to pull over and even reverse to let other traffic through and then there were the cyclists to avoid.
As we emerged unscathed from the experience and proud of our achievement, we stopped to take a photo of Ullapool harbour. A motorhome with a German couple on board sped past and hit Big Boy’s wing mirror, catapulting the glass into the grass verge. Without Alex slamming his hand on the horn, it was unlikely they would have stopped because they had driven a considerable distance before pulling over. Luckily, we managed to salvage the glass, tape it back in place and unfortunately we will be going home more battered than we arrived.
We also visited the mile long Corrieshalloch Gorge which takes its name from the Gaelic meaning ‘ugly hollow’. But that couldn’t be further from the truth as you gaze down over a series of crashing waterfalls into the gorge below. The gorge is one of the most spectacular of its kind in Britain. I drew the line at crossing the suspension bridge over it, however, and was not alone in deciding that was a step too far.
After leaving Ullapool, we headed to Gairloch and then onto Applecross. As we drove through the countryside, we noticed a magnificent stag had come out into the open and was standing among the cars and visitors in a parking bay. He wasn’t at all concerned by the people or the cars and has clearly made a habit of dropping in to blag a few snacks. Incredible to be able to be so close to such a wonderful animal in its own environment.
There are two routes into Applecross - the shorter one, originally a cattle track, goes up and over the mountain; the second one goes up and round the mountain following the coast. We decided to take the second, known as ‘the coward’s way’, and we’re so glad we did. It was still hair-raising driving on the edge of the mountain on a single track road with sheer drops. I can’t imagine how terrifying the other one must be but I’m not planning to find out anytime soon. This little hamlet sits in the most breathtaking scenery and it was well worth the long drive. We were once again dodging the sheep on the road and one decided to play kamikaze pilot just as we were passing by, narrowly missing being hit as it ran out in front of us.
The greatest moments on this journey have been the simple pleasures, such as a picnic beside the road with the amazing loch and mountain scenery all around. But best of all, we’re doing this in the middle of a working week with no work to go back to. We’ve waited a long time to be able to say that.
Bathed in gold by Pete Rowbottom, Wigan, UK
Going back to Scotland again, this time the fantastic Talisker Bay, Isle of Skye. I was lucky to get this image as we had got here later than we would have liked due to Mike's car unfortunately getting 2 punctures from a massive pothole the previous day and the resulting need to be recovered from Portree to Broadford to the only place that had 2 tyres the right size.. Complete nightmare but at least there were 2 tyres on the Island that fitted or it could have been a whole lot worse....! When we got here after a walk on a path that was more like 'ice rink' the sun was already really low and I had to work really quickly to try and get it 'bursting' against the cliff in the gap between the sea stack. All fingers and thumbs I managed to drop my polariser several times, somehow it landing on sand (thankfully) each time instead of on the big rocks dotted all around the place. But it all worked out and I'm pleased with this one, we managed quite a few shots from this location as even after the sun had dropped the light remained decent for quite a while, followed by a really stormy sky that rolled in after sunset, amazingly no kit broken at this location, which is getting increasingly rare for me ! Mike has done a great vlog of this trip to Skye in several parts, well worth a watch, they can be found here: ======================================== www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN25teBiXYA ======================================== My website - new images now uploaded ======================================== Fantastic photo, location + talent = stunning image.Keep up the good work
🌍 The most charming seaside holiday destinations in the #UK 🇬🇧 and #Ireland 🇮🇪 🌍
🌟 Prices from £50pp* for 2-3 Nights
👉 1. Introduction:
There’s nothing quite like a hit of fresh sea air. At any location in the UK 🇬🇧, we’re lucky to be no further than 70 miles from the sea. An estimated 3 million people live by the coast, so for the rest of us, there are seaside holidays.
In the summer, the coastal atmosphere is electric, with endless days to splash about or soak up the sun with a gripping book. In winter, you can rug up on a chilly morning to catch the sun rising over the bay, or head to the local for a satisfying serve of fish and chips.
While Brits have long been lured by the sun-drenched days of the Canaries, the past year has reinvigorated our appreciation for our vast and varied coastline. According to a recent UK Staycation Index, 62% of Brits will spend their 2021 summer holiday in the UK. Moreover, half of the most sought after locations are by the seaside. The great British seaside holiday has made its triumphant return, and here’s where you need to go…
👉 2. #Beaumaris, #Wales 🏴:
According to the UK Staycation Index, North Wales topped the list for the most popular UK holiday destinations, beating out long-time favourites Cornwall and Devon. If you’re yet to experience the striking scenery of this part of the world, we’d recommend basing yourself in Beaumaris. This charming seaside destination on the Isle of Anglesey will tick many of your holiday boxes, offering history, scenery, cuisine, and swimming opportunities.
Initially a Viking settlement, Beaumaris became part of a series of fortifications when Edward I ordered the construction of Beaumaris Castle in 1295. This incredible, symmetrical structure is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is just waiting for you to visit. Outside of the castle lies the town, with its fascinating combination of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture.
Wind your way through the modern cafes and pubs and head for the glittering seafront. On the way, enjoy a delicious local treat at Red Boat Ice Cream Parlour or venture out to the pier, where boats depart for the seabird sanctuary of Puffin Island, where you can spot puffin, guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes.
👉 3. #Swanage, #England 🏴:
If your idea of a holiday is one based around food, then you can’t go past Swanage. The town market takes place every Friday and you can pick up some fresh delights at the Purbeck Produce Market on every second Saturday of the month.
Swanage is home to all the classic charms of a seaside town, including a quaint harbour, bays for swimming, amusement arcades, and local fish and chips shops. You can relax on the Victorian pier, or take things up a notch with some water sport activities including sailing, canoeing, and pedalo.
To dive deeper into the area, take a break from the sun with a stroll through the Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre, where you can gain a insight into the local history. History buffs might like to ride the historic Swanage Railway to visit the nearby Corfe Castle – it’s the ideal day out.
Beyond the delights of the town, what makes Swanage a dream holiday destination is its proximity to some of the Jurassic Coast’s most stunning locations.
👉 4. #Portree, #Scotland 🏴:
While Portree is considered to be the capital of Scotland‘s Isle of Skye, it lacks the hustle and bustle of a big town. And that’s why we love it. Sure, it’s home to plenty of amenities including cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, bookstores, a cinema, but ultimately it’s a quiet base to explore the isle.
The town is known for its colourful and picturesque harbour, with pink townhouses and old fishing vessels bobbing by the footpath. Better yet, the peaks of Ben Tianavaig, Suidh Fhinn and Ben Chrachaig are visible from the town, adding to the natural tranquillity. If you’re looking to explore the surrounding areas by sea, boat cruises regularly operate from Portree.
👉 5. #StHelier. #Jersey:
Feel like you’ve seen enough of the UK? Then venture a little further to the Channel Islands. St. Helier is Jersey’s largest settlement and only town. Foodies will be drawn to the town centre, where there’s the Michelin-starred Bohemia, a luxurious, art-deco space with high-quality dining, and Street Food Thursdays, a collection of delicious, local street food traders.
Aqua lovers will find paradise at Havre des Pas, a sandy beach on the fringes of St. Helier. The bathing pool is filled by the tide each day, giving swimmers a safe area to take a refreshing dip. Beautiful period buildings dot the seaside promenade at this spot, adding a nostalgic tinge to your beach trip.
If you’re feeling adventurous, board the castle ferry or stroll across at low tide to Elizabeth Castle. The fortification, based on a tidal island, has defended Jersey for more than four centuries. The castle offers secret rooms, hidden passageways and bunkers to explore, as well as sweeping views of the gorgeous bay and Jersey’s south coast. For more thrills, take to the breakwater and wander until you reach the stony, single-room chapel that is St. Helier Hermitage.
👉 6. #Dingle. #Ireland 🇮🇪:
If you’ve always dreamed of exploring an archetypal Irish seaside town, get yourself to Dingle. The town is on the edge of the Dingle Peninsula, located on the southwest coast of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. From the town, you can explore the Slea Head Scenic Drive, a 30-mile route of coastal views, verdant hills, and dramatic peaks. A short drive from Dingle is Inch Beach, a stretch of soft sand where you can spot birds, stroll along the dunes, or even head out for a surf.
Like many coastal towns, there’s a famous local spot for ice cream. If you’re looking for a sweet treat, sample the handmade goodness of Murphy’s Ice Cream on the colourful Strand Street.
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Despite a poor audience turnout, there was no shortage of good music at the January meeting of Skye Accordion and Fiddle Club in Portree’s Royal Hotel when the Club’s regular players stepped up to entertain the appreciative listeners. Fiddle solos were contributed by Rachel Henderson, Wendy Riva and Julia Rudram while Peter O’Donnghaile gave a couple of sets on his Antoria 3 stop 1 row melodeon. On more conventional piano accordions the music came from Emily Matheson and Carmen MacAskill with the final Club contributor being drummer Charlie Oag. The remainder of the evening was devoted to a fine and varied programme of music supplied by the Club’s special guest band, The Lindsay Weir Duo. With Lindsay leading on piano accordion and Colin Garvin backing on piano it was a superb demonstration of skill from two top class musicians working together. From Rev Alex Muir’s haunting slow air, The Bays of Harris to the dramatic Chorus Of The Hebrew Slaves from Verdi through the whole range of traditional Scottish dance tunes there was something to please everyone and earned the duo deserved acclaim from their audience. Calls for an encore were rewarded by a final set of 2/4 marches from the duo, bringing a great night of music to a close. The next meeting of the Club will be in the Royal Hotel, Portree on Thursday 6th February when the special guests will be The Iain MacPhail Scottish Dance Band.
Sunrise over Portree Bay, Isle of Skye, Scotland / 15.10.2019
Happy Birthday to ex Runrig singer Donnie Munro born 2nd August 1953, Uig, Isle Of Skye.
Munro made his name as vocalist and guitarist with the highly successful Scottish folk rockers Runrig, before opting to leave the band at the peak of their commercial success to pursue a career in politics. The Skye born singer was brought up in an English and Gaelic-speaking household. He initially resisted calls from his old friend Calum MacDonald to join Runrig, concentrating instead on his job teaching Art at Inverness Royal Academy, but eventually relented in 1974 and, after several years with the band on a part-time basis, joined as a full-time member in 1982.
Runrig went on to enjoy great success in their native Scotland but were even more popular across the border in England, placing successive albums in the UK Top 10 and broaching the Top 20 with their single ‘An Ubhal As Airde (The Highest Apple)’.
IN the 90’s Donnie launched a solo career with On The West Side. The follow-up, Across The City And The World, featured eight Munro originals and the traditional Gaelic number ‘Calum Sgaire’, and detailed his experiences of growing up on Skye. A Gaelic language album followed later in the year. The multi-talented Munro is also a painter and has exhibited his work at the National Gallery. In 2021 he painted a mural on a wall in the heart of Portree
Donnie might not have written the words to this song, but without his lyrics, it, and many other songs from Runrig would not have had the appeal that has endeared many fans to the group.
Hearts Of Olden Glory.
There’s thunder clouds
Round the hometown bay
As I walk out
In the rain
Through the sepia showers
And the photoflood daysI caught a fleeting glimpse
And though the water’s
Black as night
The colours of Scotland
Leave you young insideThere must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow youngThere’s a vision
Through the faith
That cleans your wound
Hearts of olden glory
Will be renewedDown the glens
Where the headlands stand
I feel a healing
Through this land
A cross for a people
Like wind through your handsThere must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Portree Bay - Isle of Skye, Scotland 2017
NAME Dierdra Jones
AGE / DATE OF BIRTH 26, December 8th
OCCUPATION Seeker for the Holyhead Harpies
BLOOD STATUS Halfblood
FACECLAIM Laura Harrier
Emrys Jones lived a relatively quiet life after Hogwarts, which meant that his daughter lived that same quiet life--one that she should have been more grateful to have. Dierdra grew up in Caerphilly in a small wizarding neighborhood not far from the muggle population. Her life had been full of warnings, cautioning her to behave with made-up stories about how the muggles would take her away if she didn’t stay within those boundaries. It made muggles out to be much scarier than they were, though the only purpose of those stories as Dierdra would find out later, told by their neighbor Cardella Wopsle, was to keep the Ministry from coming in and causing everyone trouble.
Since her parents were always working, Dierdra was always at some neighbor’s house. If it wasn’t the stories of muggles, it was a fear of being disliked that kept her on her best behavior, understanding that the reason she hadn’t just been kept in her own house by herself for hours was because of the kindness of her neighbors. And it was really those neighbors who introduced her to Gwenog as someone who was much more than her auncle she saw at family Christmases and Catapults’ home games.
The closest thing she had to a role model, really, was her auncle Gwenog… or rather, Gwenog’s career. Spending time with a few neighbor kids made it easy to keep up with Quidditch every season, and Dierdra was a staunch supporter of her auncle—not quite realizing that their belligerent attitude on the pitch wasn’t just them being larger-than-life as they were during the holidays. Gwenog would still be her favorite relative, Quidditch player or not, but there was something to their brazenness that made Dierdra yearn for more than just the cul-de-sac she lived in. But hearing stories from them about their last match or their opinions on the Quidditch finals made it easy for Dierdra to see that they were in their element, and easier as well to be convinced that she too wanted stories like that to tell.
She did not, however, figure out a way to make a name for herself once she was in school. She couldn’t figure out how Gwenog managed to take up so much space and still glow in the hearts and minds of Harpies fans. Hufflepuff showed her that she didn’t need to be more than she was—but it was fortunate that what she was… was a Quidditch player. Anything else would have been acceptable, but she still hung onto Gwenog’s stories and their appearances on the sports pages of the Prophet. Everything else outside of Quidditch had been filled in by what her classmates had decided for her, her opinions molded by (if not a copy of) theirs.
Because of the unspoken rules of their magical community, Dierdra took the hint not to ask for a broom from her parents. The first time she had ridden one was the rickety older models in first year flying. It wasn’t that she had gotten a more functional broom by chance during her first class. After the second, third, and fourth meeting, it was clear that she could fly faster and higher than most of Hufflepuff house, receiving the first detention then when she strayed too far, but at the time she felt proud of herself for having proven that she had that natural talent.
Although she wrote to Gwenog about what had happened, the letter had gotten shuffled in the same pile as the fanmail their assistant slogged through for them. But perhaps by way of apology, even though Dierdra hadn’t felt like she was slighted, for Quidditch players were always just busy, Gwenog gifted her a broom after her first year to tryout for her house team, noting that the seekers are the speedy ones. Their advice made sense to her even if Gwenog didn’t tell her outright that she should be a seeker; what they said was barely advice so much as it was an observation. Dierdra did not have it in her to knock people off their brooms, nor did she want to get involved in the mid-field wrangle for the quaffle.
Dierdra’s life at Hogwarts did not revolve around Quidditch to the point where she had abandoned everything else; rather, Quidditch was a tool to remind her that the only thing worth doing was doing what she was good at. Sure, she did her due diligence, perhaps giving some of her favorite classes a little more attention than she should have--but her achievements academically were so patchworked that it was obvious that she hadn’t given much thought to how the combination of them could turn into a real career. Most of what mattered was that her marks were high enough so she could stay on the team.
While Dierdra made fast friends at Hogwarts in her first year, the peak of her popularity at school had come after victorious Quidditch matches, having broken the school record for the fastest snitch catch in her fifth year. It was then, she realized, that she didn’t need to be as boisterous as Gwenog to fill the space in someone else’s opinion of her… because most of that work was already done by whatever preconceived idea they had of what Dierdra should be. This didn’t mean that Dierdra was never honest; she had just become more selective about what she made sure to let people see, though there wasn’t much there anyway that would turn anyone’s heads. She didn’t mind; she was no trailblazer by any means.
Despite the fact that she had inherited the talent (if it worked that way), there had still been no guarantee that her Quidditch career would extend past seventeen. Even during her Career Advice meetings, she had been advised against pinning all of her hopes on the sport. She couldn’t find herself at all interested in the typical Quidditch-adjacent work: journalism at the Prophet or a Ministry position under the Department of International Games and Sports. A combination of the right OWLs and NEWTs would have qualified her to be a broom maker, had it not been for her lucky break.
Dierdra called it lucky. It was one of the matches where recruiters were watching, though she put that out of her mind and tried to treat this game like all of the other ones she had played in the last six years. For a Seeker, strategy didn’t seem to matter; no amount of height or speed mattered so much as Dierdra caught the snitch.
She was first signed to the Pride of Portree out of school and was traded to the Magpies after four seasons, though her rise to stardom didn’t start until she signed with the Harpies—though the media storm had been less about her record as a pro seeker and more about carrying Gwenog’s legacy. The Harpies were any player’s dream team to be part of, and barring being signed with them, they were any player’s dream to defeat in the finals.
Being signed on the Harpies didn’t make Dierdra work any harder than she already did. It felt as if Dierdra had done all she had sought to do, but she had wondered if being a Quidditch star had truly been a goal at all, so much as she was doing what she was good at doing. Perhaps that was the reason why she had always looked up to Gwenog: they were always so assured of themselves while Dierdra was convinced that her path to the Harpies was a series of events that just happened to be in her favor.
More often now, she wonders what her life would be like had she become a broom maker instead, understanding the magic between her and her broom and reliving the first time she flew. Maybe she’d be more enthusiastic about the muggle toys that started to take over the last few years, especially since GPS has become more prevalent as a broom accessory out of Quality Quidditch Supplies.
Besides, what the helll was wrong with using a map? Dierdra had found herself lost trying to use the new muggle device, having chucked it in Cardigan Bay on a flight back to Caerphilly. It just felt wrong, the way it interfered with her and her broom. But that was the least of her muggle problems: having a phone now had been mandatory for the Harpies. Dierdra was wary of being forced to have a social media presence, unsure of what to fill her profiles with and unsure of how much autonomy she really had over what she was forced to give away. Now more than ever she was forced to channel the energy Gwenog had, with words like aesthetic and brand she never had to think about before. Quidditch was demanding more and more of her beyond catching the snitch nowadays.
As some of her teammates were talking about retirement because of a bad fall here, a pulled shoulder there, and bludger injuries everywhere, no one seemed to talk like their careers were over. They still had to carry the legacy through whatever they posted, and it seemed like all anyone spent their time doing off the pitch was creating something out of nothing for the sake of staying relevant.
Dierdra had never succumbed to her injuries too long to miss a significant portion of any season; how lucky was she to have fantastic healers behind the scenes. (Hell, they were even integrating muggle methods like physical therapy that kept her on the pitch, but she’d never understood how it works.) She wasn’t just in good health; seekers had a penchant for being injured often and she was doing better than most of them in the league as far as recovery time. She should be grateful that she has the next eight to ten years still to keep doing what she’s doing.
Or at least, what she thought she was supposed to do. What she thought her only job was. Muggle technology had more than just complicated what Quidditch was supposed to be. Playing the sport itself—getting on the broom, lifting off, searching for the snitch—had become less worthwhile because of the sacrifices she had to make for her career, beyond just becoming a good seeker. But even if she could cut and run, the lack of stability scared her into doing so. Dierdra had always been risk averse. On her pros/cons list, there were always more cons: it would be scandalous, she didn’t want to ruin her luck, she wasn’t qualified to do anything else, she didn’t know how to live without Quidditch…
That last detail grew into something beyond just a bullet point on her list; the mere thought of this hypothetical other life eroded her resolve and extinguished her passion. Dierdra had friends from school at this point who have had their luck lead them differently. She attended weddings and had her assistant send snitch themed gifts for their newborns. Dierdra couldn’t help but feel she had everything and nothing at the same time, missing out on something she was sure she hadn’t seen but had given up without even knowing.
How does your character feel about their family?
As much as she admired her Auncle Gwenog, the two of them had never really been close—but that didn’t make them any less Dierdra’s favorite family member, if only because that was what people found interesting about Dierdra when she was younger. She modelled herself to be like Gwenog, but in failing that, she just ended up being more impressionable as she got to school.
Dierdra knew that they were proud of her rise to the top, especially after she joined the Harpies. Perhaps then she could say they were close, corresponding more often then, if only for the media appearances. As her career progressed, her auncle had become more of a caricature of what people found entertaining, though that didn’t mean she cared for them any less. It wasn’t disillusionment at all, since she still admired them even if it wasn’t the same sort of amazement she had in her formative years. Rather, she had come to terms with the fact that she would never deal with her Quidditch quandaries in the same way they did.
Some people called it going soft now that Dierdra’s taking the time to reconnect with her parents. The longer she played for teams far from home, the more she missed Caerphilly—even if it took missing several holidays because of the league’s schedule for her to finally admit it. Since going home more often when she can, rumor has it that she’s planning on signing with the Catapults—which didn’t seem like a terrible idea. The Catapults didn’t graze the front pages as often as the Harpies did, and maybe she could manage to look good as a hometown hero, especially since reputation was all the rage these days. Regardless of all of the Quidditch considerations, coming home and getting to know her parents better is her way of connecting to the idyllic life of being a kid in the neighborhood, and trying to capture what she had missed before. That always weighed more heavily every time she went back.
What does your character value in a friendship?
Whatever she says may as well end up in the Prophet, and whatever she posts may as well be picked to pieces out of context. Dierdra values someone who can be trustworthy. Someone who she can open up to about what’s on her mind without fear of having to hear her own news read back to her from someone else. She never thought she has much to say—but she’s never found someone she could truly open herself to.
How would your character describe their own work ethic? Is that an accurate measure of themself?
Dierdra is constantly worried she’s not working hard enough. Despite having the advantages of being well-off enough as a professional athlete, she’s terrified that everything she’s worked for would be swept aside. She’s willing to put in the work where she thinks it’s supposed to go, but very often her focus (on Quidditch) makes her blind to the bigger picture. So she’s right about having a great work ethic—whether or not she spends the time on the right task is another question.
How would a stranger who has just met your character describe them?
If this stranger knew anything of Gwenog’s threatening rage on the pitch, their niece Dierdra is much more behaved. A first impression of Dierdra is a quiet woman, having much more of her father Emrys in her than she thought. Friendly, welcoming, but not alluring by any means—someone quickly forgotten at the end of the day. Dierdra does not have a different face she puts on for the public; rather, she picks and chooses what she wants to share, and she really believes she has little worth sharing. There’s nothing she can say that hasn’t already been said better by someone else. The more she stays out of anyone’s radar, the less they care about her business—but the issue now is that there seems to be no escaping scrutiny since every witch, wizard, and wix could have a camera on their person.
What magical skill or talent is your character most proud of?
Dierdra wouldn’t consider it a skill, really, even though Dierdra wouldn’t know her way around an oven or a stove to save her life—so most of her cooking is done magically. What’s worse is that she’s incredibly out of practice. But she can confidently make two things: (1) Every year on her birthday, she bakes herself a cake from scratch as a tradition she insists on keeping, even if it falls apart as she tries to cover it up with icing. (2) She knows how to make her eggs any way she wants, realizing it takes patience to properly make them over easy without breaking the yolk. The process of cooking—getting the ingredients together, preparing them, and heating them just right—is meditative, and very rarely does she allow herself to have these moments.
Product sponsorships put the numbers on her paycheck, though once upon a time the products were simpler: weatherproof jackets, leather gloves, reliable scrunchies. Of all the broom attachments the Harpies could have sponsored, they had to pick the one that made the most noise.
The damned GPS beeped as Dierdra had taken off from Holyhead and somehow shouted at her as if it were trying to make conversation with the air rushing past her ears. She didn’t need a muggle box to tell her which city she was over; she had made the flight back home enough times, even in the worst of weather.
It felt like her broom was being weighed down by the device, though she shouldn’t have been surprised: the device could hardly stay on her broom to begin with. Dierdra thought she was adjusting her steering more than usual, like she was fighting with the broom to fly straight. Somehow her trusted Nimbus had become the worst broom she had ever flown on after having attached the device onto it. She gripped the handle tighter with her hands.
The device was supposed to keep her from getting lost, but she was the one who was supposed to be doing the flying! A bundle of wires was no equivalent for a decade and a half of practice and Merlin be damned if she let some muggle toy take control of her broom for her.
This voyage home should have been easy. She had given the device a fair enough chance to prove its usefulness for less familiar trips. Dierdra screamed into the wind as the broom jerked again against her will.
She fumbled to get her wand with her left hand, regretting using the sticking charm now to attach the device onto her broom. But as soon as she let that hand go, the broom skittered to her left. Her body wasn’t trained for stability like the beaters were, but seekers were only one-handed on a broom for a few seconds. Except now, the few seconds turned to a dozen soon enough as she fought with her jacket to take her wand back. She calculated the next move, biting her lip hard upon realizing that it was necessary.
Her right hand lifted from the handle and she felt the broom slip, losing elevation despite her knees still steering. She kept her eyes forward, though there wasn’t much to see except the clouds she had hidden herself in. She knew she wasn’t over any cities yet so no muggles could see some “ooh-foes” out of the sky, but a water landing was complicated by the fact that there was nothing solid to land on. She slowly lifted her fingers to her jacket, fighting the force of the wind to unbutton it with both hands.
The force of the jacket billowing out behind her nearly threw her off her broom. Her heart leapt to her throat, her left hand reaching for the broom handle as her knees gripped for control. The wind tore her wand out of its inner pocket as soon as the fingers on her right hand reached for it, and she pulled the broom out of its planned path to make a swift hairpin turn.
The device screen flickered wildly, taunting her for going in the wrong direction. Her teeth gnashed together as she dove for her wand, speeding down this time to anticipate catching it from above. She needed to be out of the cloud cover to watch for the wand drop, making a wide circle before she spotted the wind carrying it further from where she had opened her jacket.
Dierdra leaned forward as she sped off towards the wand. Her muscles tensed as the broom urged her to turn back, the pull of the device stronger than ever now that she forced the broom to steer in the opposite direction. Again, she’d have to risk the broom wandering of its own accord when she made the final catch, but her timing had been nothing but impeccable: it was only half a second to reach out and grab it, its slenderness much easier to grip than a rounded golden snitch.
She inhaled sharply as she let the device bring the broom back to its intended course, clinging to the broom until she was steady again. It was only when she let the broom cruise did it finally behave, but the benefit of this was lost on her as soon as she tried taking control again to lift her back into the clouds, defying even that simple command. Her wanded hand clenched into a fist and raked over the thick strap that held the device onto her broom, opening her mouth only to shout the severing charm in frustration.
The strap would have fluttered elegantly like a broken ribbon carried by the wind—instead it looked like a misshapen tadpole diving into the sea, watched by a relieved rider securing her wand in its pocket and buttoning her jacket. Dierdra leaned forward, not bothered this time with cloud cover; she was nearly crying as the broom accelerated home, finally unencumbered.
GENERAL INFORMATION ➤
Full Legal Name: Mary Aileene Macdonald
Nickname(s): Mare (most of her friends when two syllables is just too much), Shortie (her dad and her sister, despite the fact that the two girls are the same height), Mac (her Quidditch teammates)
Gender & Pronouns: cisgender female, she/her
Sexuality: Straight and easily distracted by cute, tall boys. As much as she might like kissing them, though, she’s afraid she will never be good at being in a relationship. Once she gets close enough with someone to feel something for them, she gets too afraid that dating them will mean losing them one day. And she can’t stand to think about losing the ones that matter to her.
Date of Birth: September 30, 1960
Hogwarts House: Gryffindor
Nationality: Scottish, as is clear by her very thick accent that she makes no effort to reign in
Occupation: After graduation, Mary will further delay making a decision about her future. Through the war, she will be a bartender at a somewhat seedy but usually lively pub. After the dust settles, though, she will get her dream job at a magical animal sanctuary.
Summarized in One Word: Survivor
Faceclaim: Kat Graham
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Noticeable Features: An infectious smile and a room filling laugh. A tattoo she got over the summer of the Loch Ness Monster on her hip.
Typical Outfit or General Fashion Sense: high-waisted jeans and crops tops, an abundance of band t-shirts even for ones she’s never seen, party dresses with short flippy skirts and bright designs, the obligatory school uniform that she pushes as close to an infraction as she can
Hometown: Mary is from Portree, Scotland, the largest town on the Isle of Skye, surrounded by hills and overlooking a bay. She loves it with all of her heart, and sometimes imagines that returning home would be some kind of magic fix to many of her problems. After graduation, though, a rational part of her knows that’s not true and doesn’t want to risk bringing her troubles back to her idyllic home. She settles down in a small flat in London instead.
Financial Status: middle class
Spoken Languages: Only English fluently, but she also has learned bits and pieces of Scottish Gaelic and Hebrew from her parents.
Bad Habits: She has trouble reigning in her cursing, and often feels bad for letting out a storm or curses in front of the new first years. She tends to doodle on all of her notes when she’s bored in class, though she’s been trying to be better at that in light of her attempts to actually pass NEWTs. She gets over excited and talks with her hands a lot, which normally is fine but has been known to knock over cups of alcohol that have been set too close to her.
FAMILY BACKGROUND ➤
Mother: Katherine, an English teacher and loving mother who does her best to keep the calm in a somewhat wild household
Father: Niall, a fisherman who gave Mary his boisterous laugh and his love of music
Sibling(s): Lydia, her older sister who is a free spirit traipsing the globe, and Alfie, her younger brother, who she would do anything to protect
Pet(s): an orange tabby cat name Nutmeg
Grandparent(s): Her paternal grandparents both died when she was younger, but her maternal grandparents live in a small town in the Highlands. They don’t see them much outside of holidays, but Katherine and her mother seem to talk on the phone every day.
Cousin(s): A few cousins on both sides of the family. Katherine and Niall were both the oldest siblings, so the Macdonald children are the oldest of the bunch.
MAGICAL ABILITIES ➤
Wand: Black Walnut with Unicorn hair, 9 3/4 in, springy
Patronus: Mary has yet to be able to cast a corporal Patronus, but when she is able to it will take the form of a Husky. To cast it, she thinks of a warm summer night her and her fellow Gryffindor friends spent at the beach. She can’t remember a single thing they talked about, but she remembers the laughter that rang out between them and how comfortable it felt when they were all cuddled up around the fire, and that is enough.
Boggart: Mary’s boggart still takes the form of Mulciber. Not because he is what she fears most, but he is a good representation of it. The lose of control she felt the night of the attack, the feeling of being unwanted in a world she thought she could call hers, the fear that something worse could always be waiting around the next corner.
OWLS: Mary had taken the OWLs for Astronomy, Charms, DADA, Herbology, History of Magic, Potions, Care of Magical Creatures, and Transfiguration. She got a few Es, and a couple As that left her talking her way into the class for her sixth year. The only one she failed was Potions.
What Kind of Magic do They Excel at: Mary is best as practical, instinctual magic. She’s always done well in DADA because she can think on her feet and trust her cut in fast paced situations. More complex, theoretical magic, like Transfiguration, was always harder for her to grasp.
MB Type: Entertainer - ESFP-T
Entertainers love the spotlight, and all the world’s a stage. Utterly social, Entertainers enjoy the simplest things, and there’s no greater joy for them than just having fun with a good group of friends. Though it may not always seem like it, Entertainers know that it’s not all about them – they are observant, and very sensitive to others’ emotions. People with this personality type are often the first to help someone talk out a challenging problem, happily providing emotional support and practical advice. However, if the problem is about them, Entertainers are more likely to avoid a conflict altogether than to address it head-on. Entertainers are welcome wherever there’s a need for laughter, playfulness, and a volunteer to try something new and fun – and there’s no greater joy for Entertainer personalities than to bring everyone else along for the ride.
Type 2 - 64% Match
Type 2 can be described as The Giver. Twos want to be liked and find ways that they can be helpful to others so that they can belong.
Type 9 - 61% Match
Type 9 is also called The Peacemaker. Nines like to keep a low profile and let the people around them set the agenda.
Type 7 - 54% Match
Type 7 is described as The Enthusiast. Sevens want to have as much fun and adventure as possible and are easily bored.
Moral Alignment: Chaotic Good
A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. However, chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment when it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.
Friendly, sincere, and compassionate, the Caregiver finds their reward in helping others. No one could ask for a better best friend.
The Explorer is drawn to the unknown, whether that’s a Himalayan peak or the road not taken, and have a thirst for adventure. They take journeys, not vacations.
The Athlete's focus and drive are unparalleled. Staying healthy and being fit are paramount to them (as for winning, that doesn't hurt, either).
Sanguine people are boisterous, bubbly, chatty, openly emotional, social extroverts. In our distant past, the sanguine members of the pack might have played a supportive, encouraging, social role. They would have been the glue that kept the group together. In modern society, you might see them as entertainers, singers, dancers, or perhaps simply as the energetic people at parties.
On a cloudfull pressing day we planned to find a landmark not easily uncovered, Loch Seunta. We had got up intending to approach the loch along the sea line. Staffin Bay would not encourage sun bathers or surfers even in the most favourable weather. Boulders dab the shore like turtles laying eggs and sit among dark grey sand, when you can see it. But most of the beach is surfaced by cobbles big enough to step on but unsteady enough to turn you ankle. The beach is difficult to get to in any case with no obvious footpaths across the barbed encircled fields, and being cut off by a stream at one end and crumbling cliffs at the other.
We got to the shore zig zag half expecting some annoyed farmer's shout. The sea was blaring and breaking on the bay, the wind gusting snatches of conversation I could not make sense of, perhaps seized from some headland and brought round for us to hear. We picked and hobbled our way, the only ones on this open wasteland of marine debris, a rotting sheep carcass either dumped or ignored by a careless farmer, fence posts undermined and made horizontal by cutting waves, pointing like pikes in useless defiance in this battle between fields and sea, unable now to keep intruders out or sheep in. Skye is wild and what's been tamed has to continually assert that condition.
The difficulty of the journey made it feel like a pilgrimage of penance we were making in our efforts to discover Seunta. We gradually compassed the curve of the bay and made towards the headland. The cliff at this point was a slanting field chewed away by high tides. A taunting north wind seemed to be determined the waves would wet our boots before we got away. But defiles in the terrain, beguiling where streams poured off the land so that you could not climb up, still seemed to promise some easier access to higher ground. So it was we discovered a cattle track deeply indented with hoof prints, but drying out sufficiently to not threaten a breach of our footwear. We climbed up the path and after all that, suddenly there it was.
The preparation had made me aware this was a very small loch, the size of a pond really so when we found it at last we thought we had got the proverbial needle. On a 1: 50000 map it is too small to show. If it hadn't been for the helpful young guy in the tourist office in Portree, who drew our attention to it when we said we were booked to camp at Staffin, we might never have sought it out. The internet information explained Seunta means holy and said it was holy for its healing properties. But there are plenty of stretches of water that can claim the same. Indeed there is one famous holy loch called Holy Loch. So there you are. Still, other descriptions intrigued. It's a stones throw from the beach, and while the salty sea crashes away at the dark rocks in its foamy dark intensity, grinding them to pebbles and finally to dust, ever determined to get to the root of the earth, on the other side of a hillock this small stretch of water moves quietly rippleless, transparent so you can see the bottom that gives it an inviting clarity, lightness and purity. Seunta is fed by a spring that keeps it the same temperature winter or summer, perhaps at 7 degrees. If I had come across it in my mid twenties I would have stripped my kit and leapt in to yahoos and other less than reverential bawling. However, today was cold and overcast and I was content to take a hand dip and caress my face, hoping I would become more handsome. But the trivial nature of my desire ensured the healing process refused to accommodate my whim. Still, the time spent at Seunta felt precious.
The water is blue unlike the peaty troubling invisibility of other lochs and as it fills from the spring one end it slowly empties along a steam at the other sinking under the hill and emerging over the pebbles and down the beach to join the sea. So just as Seunta departs itself, we left it, walking up the hill on a track made by cows that winds like a fluttering flag up to the road. As we arrived at the tarmac we could see a gate out of the field to a small car park where there were no vehicles. Strange in this island inundated with visitors. On the other side of the gate was a sign warning 'Beware of the bull and cows with calves in the field', enough to put off half the population and probably intended to do that. Also this car park did not advertise itself as such. There were no signs anywhere to orient the traveller. And so it is that virtually everyone passes by ignorant of the experience waiting for them below.
I felt almost holy and I felt almost blessed when we came to see, finally, Loch Seunta. Maybe it was the foretelling of its ancient reputation and the preparation I had undergone. I had had a similar but more intense feeling years before on Crete in a coach on its journey up to the Sevaria gorge. That time it seemed god had spoken to me but certainly a strong feeling of being a part of the oneness of things played over my molecules and left me slightly amazed. I had then made a walk over several hours down the gorge to the sea in the company of other coach users. This time there was nobody with us, just us two. And the sense that this was an attraction that had not cut through to the consciousness of the ever increasing other tourists who travel the roads of Skye, made a very private event of it all.