Forensic readers of this blog will quickly have realised that the last two weeks' entries were 'canned', written in advance and scheduled to appear on a daily basis. It took a family event to drag us away from Kilchoan, though the 'plane that carried us from Scotland started by giving us a fine view of Ardnamurchan - Loch Sunart stretches away into the distance in this picture, with Ardslignish, Oronsay and Auliston Point clearly visible.
Reminding ourselves of how some others in this world live has been good for us. We went, once again, to Canada, to a country which owes much to the Scots who were forced away from western Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Their descendants now live a lifestyle of which their ancestors could hardly have dreamed. This is a typically crowded rural road in Alberta, like our B8007 a cul-de-sac leading to a remote community that lives on the tourists it attracts.
As with Ardnamurchan, one of the attractions of the area is the wildlife which, as with most things Canadian, tends to dwarf anything comparable here. This is a bull elk in the middle of the rutting season, not a pleasant character to bump into on a ramble.
Even Canada's insect life is large. We were there just as the monarch butterflies, living at the northern extreme of their range, were heading south for their winter home in Mexico. This one was photographed on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Generations of Canadians have worked hard for the country's present affluence. Alberta, where we spent most of the time, is rich from its oil industry, its beef and timber, and its tourism. The Canadian character, open, warm and welcoming, lends itself to the hospitality industry. What impressed us is that, as here in Scotland, many workers in that industry are recent immigrants, but there they have integrated quickly and, so they told us, happily and easily.
We spent time in two very contrasting cities, Edmonton, which continues to thrive from its oil, and Toronto, above, Canada's business capital. Both have an air of youthful enthusiasm, their streets clean and their extensive parks and wildlife areas a joy to visit. Although Edmonton, where 'gas' is cheap and the 'small' SUV we hired was the size of a Churchill tank, doesn't know what pedestrians are - except if they step out into the street, when they have to be stopped for - Toronto is a pleasure to walk round, particularly....
....as one of the groups which have settled there are the Italians, bringing with them their food. In this small pizzeria we were faced with a choice from 55 different ice cream flavours, freshly made by the 'gelata girl' in the basement and served by a smiling Chilean.
Some readers may remember our son David who used to work with us in the shop. The principle purpose of our visit was to attend his marriage to a lovely Canadian girl, Tanis. The simple but moving service was held beside a lake near Jasper in the Rockies, with mountains all around. David has lived in the country for nine years now and has seized the opportunities which a new life and the New World have offered him.
Finally, this is the aurora which burned in the skies during the early hours of Tanis and David's wedding day, an appropriately Canadian firework display.