The Life of John Lorne Campbell of Canna by Ray Perman

Tag: John Lorne Campbell (page 1 of 2)

Canna whisky tasting

When I was researching John’s story I came across unopened bottles of long-forgotten brands of whisky in his desk, relics of the SS Politician which foundered on Eriskay in 1941. Now, revising The Man Who Gave Away his Island for a new paperback edition, I am intrigued to find how often whisky works its way into the book. Perhaps that’s not surprising. As Addicted to Pleasure, Brian Cox’s diligently researched documentary records, Scottish history is saturated with uisge beatha, which no doubt accounts for the potent blend of fact and fantasy in so many stories.   Read more

A return to Fiesole

A view of Florence from Fiesole

A view of Florence from Fiesole

The No 7 bus takes only 15 minutes to climb the hairpin bends from Florence to the hilltop town of Fiesole, but when you arrive you are in a different world. The heat and bustle of the city are left behind and although the market square is busy, the Via Vecchia Fiesolana, a narrow lane between high walls a few yards away, is quiet and cool.

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Midsummer wedding and burial on Canna

misty view across Canna

In the bleak midsummer

On another bleak midsummer John’s remains returned to Canna. By poetic coincidence his coffin made the journey on the Loch Nevis in the company of a wedding party. And now long friends of Canna, Gordon and Julie Galloway return to the island every June to celebrate their anniversary.

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A short story for Valentine’s Day

There was an inevitability about the meeting of John Lorne Campbell and Margaret Fay Shaw; their paths and their interests had been intertwining for years. Several times they had been in the same place at the same time, but had not met until a wet night in 1934, when he took the Lochearn to South Uist to address a meeting of the Sea League.  Read more

Strange things

Interesting to see that this year’s theme for Faclan: The Hebridean Book Festival, is An Dà Shealladh, or Second Sight, although how Alistair Darling snuck in there I don’t know. The former Chancellor has a holiday home in Lewis, as well as a new book to promote, but doesn’t seem to have inherited any of his ancestors’ gift of foretelling the future. If he had, perhaps he might have avoided the banking crisis.

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Modernising Canna farming

Canna in 1938 by Margaret Fay Shaw

In the 1930s it wasn’t that unusual for wealthy men to buy up whole islands, but John Lorne Campbell was an unusual young man.

A nice surprise in the post, a review in Farming Scotland Magazine which,  not surprisingly, concentrates on John’s modernisation of the farm on Canna. Interestingly, it also highlights his essential belief that efficiency must go hand in hand with wildlife conservation and sustainability.

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Canna questions

Today’s story in the Guardian moves me to write a letter to the editor.  Severin Carrell’s report on the sudden depopulation of Canna draws attention to the difficulties of living in a small, remote community and the problems facing the National Trust for Scotland.   The problem as always centres on land ownership.