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I have long made known my vitriol against pandas: great, dim, pointless beasts who refuse to make an effort to procreate and insist on trying to live on an indigestible foodstuff. They clearly have no will to live and if the forces of natural selection could have their way, they would be long gone.

As some notable naturalists have pointed out, if all the money spent on ‘saving’ the panda were redirected it could be of huge benefit to other, more pressing, ecological causes. But us Westerners with our sentimentality and our weakness for insufferable cutesiness… I suspect the pandas may just have become the victims of my displaced rage towards these cutesy and unreasonably sentimental types, though. And this weekend, I became one of them…

I picked up a 2013 calendar of pandas, chuckling shamefully to myself, thinking what a great Christmas present it would make for my friend who also hates pandas. And then I looked at the pictures on the back and suddenly felt really, really, terribly guilty for all those vociferous, anti-panda rants I’d subjected my colleagues to. Look at them, wee silly bumbling things, just trying to make their way in this grim world. Ach they’re cute, are they no?

[image: chinapanda.org.cn]

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Since I’ll be leaving the country again soon, and indefinitely, I thought I’d best make the most of my remaining time at home and get out into the landscape, by far the best thing about my homeland. My home county of Angus is a tourism backwater, and its dismal towns either suffer for it, or are the cause of it, it’s hard to say which. But the agricultural pastures which roll between hills and woodland and right to the cliffs of the North Sea shore make it the most beautiful of the land, in my opinion, and are what shall one day bring me back.

Though I took a lot of classic shots of that landscape today, I’ve chosen slightly abstract ones which display textures:


Light through the beech leaves and on the bare dreels, post-harvest.

I like this one cause it doesn’t really fit. It’s ambiguous, homogeneous even. It could be anywhere, though it makes me think of Kansas, or Nebraska. Not that I’ve ever been to either, but I did fly over them in an aeroplane once…