Sunday, 24 April 2011

Motoring around Scotland

As I type this I'm back offshore at work again. I can't really complain as it's been an excellent time off with plenty of things looked at. The whole situation has been vastly improved by having a set of wheels again after 7 years. Do I look pleased? I think I might.

Now that I'm able to get to places, I've bought myself a membership of Historic Scotland which at £3.56 a month isn't at all expensive. I've been into 5 different places with entrance fees so far which means it's already paid for itself easily. Most of these places will appear here as their own blogs sometime soon but travelling around by car means it's easier to stop and see other things as they appear. 

It was quite by accident that I passed the Torhouse stone circle. I visited this a few years ago with Bev and we thought at the time that it was a remarkable neat and circular stone circle. Unusually there are three boulders in the centre of the circle.

Here we are looking though the circle directly at the boulders in the centre. I think that they are probably an alter but there is a local legend that says that central stone marks the burial spot of King Galdus who is believed to have fought the Romans in 80 AD. While we're in the area of dubious facts, there's also a theory that it is from King Galdus that Galloway takes it's name.

In the field across the road there are another three boulders which the same local legend says are three of Galdus' generals.

Back at the ranch, a very pleasant bottle of beer from Alloa if the label is to be trusted - I'd nearly finished it by the time I remembered to photograph it.

 Here's a cute little critter.................

............and friendly too.

 These two standing stones are in a field a short walk from the head of Lock Striven in Argyll

When you look at the larger stone (you can't really see it in this picture) the grain of the rock is very wavy and over the thousands of years, as pieces have fallen off the stone it has given it a rather curvy appearance.

Some tadpoles in a flooded area of the same field as the standing stones.

After my cup of tea served on a platter at the Coffee Angel in Edinburgh a few weeks ago, it seems the idea has caught on with a cafe on Dunoon.

This is Huntingtower castle just outside Perth. I happened to pass it and popped in since my Historic Scotland membership covered it.

Of architectural interest but other than that it's very empty except for this original medieval ceiling which was discovered in 1912 when the castle went into trust.

 As I was in Dunoon visiting the kids just before I went to work, I decided to take the scenic route to Aberdeen through the Trossachs. Here's some scenery to prove it.

I bought a cup of tea and a scones from a wee cafe at the side of Loch Lomond which had this view. There are far better views of Loch Lomond. I nearly got run over crossing the road to get this picture - the road's not the best. The scone on the other hand was the best - well worth stopping for.

 Just to finish off, a few pictures of the sun setting over Galloway.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

A bit of a catch up.

I've been a bit quite on the blog front lately. Actually the first week or so of my  time off has been a bit quite all round - nice and peaceful and quite welcome to be honest. A bit of reading here and there, the odd walk in the country (around here that doesn't necessarily mean going a long way), and a few tunes in the garret. It seems that each successive time off has been marked with a sign of the advancement of Spring. In February there were snowdrops, March had crocuses and this month the country is covered in daffodils. Here's a wee picture of some Kirkcudbright daffodils, which help to disguise our local town defences a bit.

On the music front it's been a good week and a bit since I arrived home. We had a session in Crocketford on my very first night back and the usual monthly session here in Kirkcudbright on Friday night which has been very well attended of late. No photographs I'm afraid, nor of this afternoon where I spent a couple of pleasant hours with Martin and my father playing tunes on the patio at the Mill on the Fleet in Gatehouse of Fleet and not getting chucked out. Outside music in April - if this is an indication of the year to come then goodo!

He really deserves more than a mention in this round up blog, but Ivan Drever (below) was playing at the school a few weeks ago at a very modest ticket price which included a free glass of wine. I have a couple of Wolfstone CDs, which he was a member of in the last century and a bit's of music from his son, Kris, kicking about, but I had nothing of him on his own so I didn't really know what to expect. A thoroughly enjoyable night - you can here some of his music on his website here and a bit I've just found on Youtube here.

I photographed a chap wearing the following garment in Edinburgh last month. There has to be line somewhere where a kilt ceases to be a kilt and becomes a skirt - I fear that this fellow is on the wrong side of that line.

Funnily enough, I opened Daily Opinionated this morning to find Mr William Connolly wearing a very similar item - but it wasn't a great picture and in black and white. When I tried to surf up a copy of the picture in glorious internet technicolour, I find it's a bit better. Now Billy, just because you may be the funniest man in the world and it looks like you might have snaffled my denim jacket, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on this one and we'll call it a kilt (just this once).

When I was passing by the Gracefield art gallery last month I spotted the following in the grass. I know where that's going I thought..........

.......and I was right.

A new piece of artwork which I quite like has sprung up at the bottom of the Vennel in Dumfries.

It has the following poem called Sons O Selgovae! by Rab Wilson ( the Selgovae were one of the local tribes during Roman times)

The faur kent Nith sweeps regally throu the Saunds,
History cairved alang its windin course,
Raxin seeventy miles oot frae its source,
A laund o broch an crannog, hillfort, duns;
Whaur, lang syne, bronze age boats aince berthed tae tred,
Tin frae Cornwall, copper frae Great Orme,
An ower yer ‘muddy ford’ the fowk wid thrang,
Tae barter skins, or huntin dowgs they’d bred.
Whyle aiblins frae his heich fort in the wuids,
Thae fremmit masts some chieftain micht hae spied,
O Roman galleys beatin oan the tide,
An suin the drumlie watters ran wi bluid.
Sons o Selgovae! Whaes fawm aince lowed –
Afore ye tint yer torcs o burnisht gowd.

Attached to the museum, Dumfries has a camera obscura mounted in an old 18th century windmill. I was quite surprised to see it wrapped up in white plastic when I was on my way to work.

When I arrived back from work, I was quite surprised to find old house at the end of Devorgilla's bridge had also been wrapped in white plastic. My best guess was that Dumfries was putting in a bid to win the Turner prize by wrapping up as many interesting buildings in the town as possible - I was thinking that they were probably round at Burn's house wrapping it up as I waited for my bus.

I reported in an e-mail to Mrs W that these were for electricity production purposes because that's what the Dumfries and Galloway Standard told me, but now that I look back, it was an edition of the paper remarkably close to April the first - Doh!! If it turns out to be true, then I shall report back at a later date, in the mean time I'm going back to my theory that the local council are trying to boost funds by winning the Turner prize.

I had a couple of bottles of Brewdogs Punk IPA the other night. The first was not so hot frankly but the second was much better. I did notice that there was a 3 month difference in the production dates of the two bottles - they were both so far inside their sell by dates that it shouldn't have made all that much difference but they were most definately not the same beer.

The woods are full of bird song at the moment (well not right now because it's 9 o'clock at night) and it's all very lovely. Most of our feathered friends stick to chirps and cheeps and the odd hoot. The blackbird of course sits at the top of the tree at twilight and gives us the most delightful song but he's not alone in the bird world for expert singing by a long chalk. The festive season being long over, the robin has been freed from his Christmas card duties. This little fellow was sitting in a tree giving it laldy the other day and didn't seemed inclined to fly off when I took his picture - I think he might be giving me a bit of a dirty look though.