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Old October 6th, 2008, 1:40 am
Neville Longbottom
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Re: Hermione Granger / Neville Longbottom for Minister for Magic

Dear Hermione,

I can’t BELIEVE you posted these pictures! And I still can’t see how that proves anything – although the amount of drool in this thread has really got rather frightful. I was planning to post a few photographs of you – but I guess that had better wait for a bit, just to avoid flooding !

Unbelievable

Well, I am going to go back to something less, erm, personal.... I’ve been travelling this weekend, and I had a great trip once again. I know you didn’t expect me to do more campaigning this weekend, but this opportunity simply presented itself at short notice.

Hannah suggested to me a few days ago that we go and visit some friends of hers who keep an inn on the Isle of Mull. I am confident that you know where that is, but it seems we are actually getting other people reading this, too, so here is a map: it’s off the western coast of Scotland.

.....

Hannah is perfectly happy about my campaigning, but when she manages to take a rare weekend off, she’d obviously like to spend it in a different way – it’s been difficult enough to find someone to keep the Cauldron open for just two days, and she hadn't had a break in ages! The destination she had picked for us was just great!



We stayed at the Craignure Inn on Mull, for Hannah to enjoy the company of her friends and the fantastic landscape –



… and I got a chance to go round Mull and talk to a few of the wizards there. On Saturday evening we had a great time in the Inn – a few of the locals played Scottish music and it was really rather homey… I think I could spend some more time there!

You wouldn’t think just how many wizards live on Mull! They tell me it’s like that in many parts of the Hebrides – and if you think about it, it makes sense. Wizards don’t have to rely on overland transport, so they find it easier to enjoy the nice landscape and to find a job elsewhere…. A few even work in the Ministry! Now that I think of it, you may have come across Nigella Naughtie in the Transportation Department – she lives in a small village with a few other wizarding families…. I had tea with them on Saturday afternoon, with the wind howling round the house and the mist drifting over the sea. Pretty Scottish, I thought!



With communities that small, the magical inhabitants who earn money elsewhere and can contribute to local life are pretty important to keep things going at all – and many wizards and witches here more or less socialise with their communities pretty much as muggles would do.

It’s nice, I think – a few of them are considered eccentrics, but otherwise the Statue of Secrecy doesn’t seem to be in particular danger, either. Of course, with so many houses fairly isolated, it isn’t all that difficult – plenty of space to play Quidditch and engage in similar activities without disturbing the neighbours!



So, here are a few more places I went to on my visit….

There is Carsaig Arch, quite a special place. When you get there, you can feel the ancient magic all around you – this was clearly used by wizards a very long time ago! I wished I had had an expert for historical magic here on Sunday afternoon – I am sure one could say a lot more about it!



The Muggles have also built a very impressive historical place here – It’s the ancient (if heavily restored) Abbey of Iona. It’s been a Christian holy site for centuries – and it isn’t magical in the conventional sense – but I can tell you, if this place doesn’t convince you that the muggles have a magic all of their own, I don’t know what would. You can immediately feel how ancient and sacred it is, I can’t really describe it in any other way.




Back on the mainland, a friendly wizard lent me a broom and I braved the weather to have a look at Staffa. A few people have mentioned this to me as a possible university location, and I had to have a look.



It’s pretty far out at sea, but it looks quite stunning (OK it does in good weather - which I didn't have!). In summer muggle tourists come here, but the weather is rarely good enough to land and climb up – so it wouldn’t be too hard to hide a university, I think.
Of course, the location is so beautiful - the buildings would have to remain completely invisible for muggles: firstly, the look of the place is well known, so we can't add anything visible; and secondly, we wouldn't want to spoil it, would we?

The island also has a cave with rather impressively magical vibes about it: so the place seems pretty good! Here is an old painted postcard: looking out of Fingal's cave towards the sea.



Finally, if you find some time at some stage, you might want to look at Tobermory. It’s such a charming harbour town.



The people were friendly, as everyone seems to be around here, but there is one thing you’d really find fascinating: some of the wizards here use spells in Gaelic (as well as the ones they learned at Hogwarts), and the few I saw in action seem to work a little differently from the English/Latin ones that most people know about. I found that really fascinating!! I think our new University/Research Institute definitely needs a linguistics department that does research on different languages for spells!

Finally, as I came back to Craignure Inn, just in time to floo back to the Cauldron before punters come in to finish the weekend with a pint and some gossip, another surprise was waiting for me.

Have I ever mentioned that Hannah is THE BEST? While I was travelling around, she was asking round a bit, and look what she found me! It’s a whole stand of Self-Heal or Heal-All (Prunella Laciniata). This is quite a sensational find!



The muggle government has declared most of the Hebrides conservation areas, so obviously I didn’t dig out or pick any of them – but I did manage to find some seeds: can’t wait to see how they do in my greenhouse. I grow a lot of Prunella vulgaris at Hogwarts – but THIS is the real thing! It’s got so many healing properties, there are several books just on all the medicines you can make with this plant. Can you tell that I am excited?


… and now I’d better get back downstairs. The Cauldron is quite full tonight, and Hannah will be relieved to have another pair of hands to help out. You know, I am actually getting reasonably good at mixing drinks! And with the Cauldron’s customers, it’s a pretty wide and unusual range of drinks, too.


Next time you come to visit, I'll mix something new for you!

Yours ever,

Neville


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