Saturday, 31 March 2012

Llansilin and Whittington Castle

For the most of my World tour I stayed with Bev and Craig in their new pub, The Wynnstay Inn in the village of Llansilin. 

How delightful it was in the morning to stand at the bottom of the garden and look out on this view, first cup of tea of the day in hand with nothing to listen to but the song of the birds.

Llansilin is just a few miles drive down some very hilly and bendy, thin roads across the border from Oswestry in Shropshire. The sheep just over the fence in this picture may be in Wales but another couple of fields away and the hills in the distance are England.

Looking down the village at the Wynnstay in and the church.

On the Thursday we stopped at Whittington castle on the Shropshire side of the border with it's impressive gate towers.

Neatly tucked just behind the old facade  is a more modern building.

Most of the castle isn't in as good condition.

It is on the site of an iron settlement from about 500BC whose ditches and earth works are still apparent. It is thought that around 600AD it may have been Llys Pengwern, the capital of the kingdom of Powys. In 1204 King John granted the castle to the Fitz-Warin family who built a stone castle on the site in 1221. It played a part in the wars between the Welsh and the English and in the English civil war was partially destroyed by parlimentary cannon fire in 1643 and was never repaired.

An information board had some excellent illustrations of the castle over the ages.

These ducks in the moat seem a little camera shy - perhaps living amongst the damage done by cannon they were a little confused and concerned to see me armed with a Canon.

Their friends on the ramparts seemed to be less bothered.

The doves likewise.

This is St. Silin's church in Llansilin.

Just outside this window dedicated to him, lies the Welsh poet, Huw Morys from the 17th century

This window is also dedicated to him.  The four saints along the top, Jubal, Miriam, David and Cecilia, are all associated with music.

Some sparrows on Friday morning.

It took a while for the mist to clear that morning before I set out on the next stage of my journey down to Wiltshire.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A walk in the park

My! it's warm. We're experiencing the warmest March since records began here in Scotland and the rest of the UK. On Tuesday up in Aberdeenshire they recorded a temperature of 23.6C, which beat the previous record set on Monday which in turn beat the one set on Sunday. Before that the warmest March day in Scotland was in 1965 when a temperature of 22.2 was recorded. I've picked those very few days to go off on a world tour of North Wales and Wiltshire visiting a few friends. I've took 764 pictures during that time and they're not quite sorted out yet.

These pictures are from just over a week ago when we went for a wee walk in Princes Street Gardens. Jerseys and coats were in evidence then and if we wandered out of the sun it was quite chilly. Not knowing what the weather was about to do, this was marked down as a lovely day and the local wild life seemed to think so too.

Robins are not just for Christmas

This bee was enjoying the plentiful blossom

A couple of squirrels were out and about down at the bottom of the gardens.

They were quite keen to come and pay us a visit in case we were dishing out goodies.

We weren't, so they returned to their bushes.

At last I've managed to see a tree creaper. I didn't manage to get a decent picture of one though. I did get this little fellow and I have no idea what sort of bird he (or she) is - any idea? He was quite an enthusiastic singer.

The castle looms over the gardens. Anyone who knows the area probably realises that this was taken round the corner from Castle Terrace, a little later the same day, and not the gardens.

There's a path around the bottom of the cliff. As you get nearer you can see that there is a barred gate in the wall.

There's a wee sign at the bottom to save you climbing up the rock to read the one above the door.

The sign doesn't really give much of a clue to the goings on here. Both the Viscount Dundee and the Duke of Gordon were prominant Jacobites and as far as I can see met at this rather inaccessible gate because the castle was being blockaded by a group Cameronians. Seems the actual reason for the conference was unclear, perhaps to bolster resolve in the Duke of Gordon or perhaps an offer of troops.

In July of that year Viscount Dundee (below) led the Jacobite troops to famous victory at the Battle of Killiecrankie although he himself was killed that day. He became a hero of the Jacobite cause and is remembered in the song Bonnie Dundee

Another lovely sunset over Edinburgh

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Summer revisited

You'd think I would have run out of things to post about from last year, but no here's a little blog of odds and ends that cropped up in the Summer between arts and crafts trails and sculpure parks and symposiums.

Just a couple of miles to the north east of Creetown is this rather unusual stone circle of low lying boulders with one standing stone in the middle - easily missed, it's two fields off the road and no proper parking to speak of. I had spotted it on the map - it's the sort of road where you have to watch for things coming in the other direction - it's quite thin! It's known as the Glenquicken stone circle.

This sculpture is known as the Creetown Baby - not surprisingly it is just outside Creetown. It was created by Alex Rigg who along with Trevor Leat create the Wickerman that is burned every year at the Wickerman festival locally (for a better idea of that, best to pay Kim a visit here or here). This one though is made from steel.

Apparently there's a door in the back that you can get inside from - I didn't realise that while I was there. 

It was only unveiled in April of last year - in a few years time these climbing roses planted around it's base should cover the sculpture and it will look very different indeed (a good reason to keep popping back I think)

Some roads are a bit more rural than others - this one is verging on stopping being a road and becoming a field.

When the prehistoric Gallovidians put up their standing stones, I don't suppose they knew they'd be so far from a proper road - Maybe they did. This one certainly had a grand view over the Solway.

What could be further from the last picture than this rather brutalist block of flats in Barnsley - what a world of difference though the rainbow widows make in cheering it up.

I dropped into Halifax minster on my way through the town. Quite the loveliest thing in the church in my opinion was this alter with mosaic panels.

All in the nations churches is not as Christian as you might think. The most commonly occuring pagan symbol occurring in our churches is the green man, this one spotted amongst the choir seating.

While I was in Halifax, some of the Piece Hall was bedecked in bits of knitting of which this was typical.

There was an excellent exhibition in the Tolbooth in Kirkcudbright of arts and crafts from the Glasgow School. The pieces are from the earlier half of the 20th century and were on loan from a private collection. At this exact moment I cannot say much about the pieces, but once I get home, I have the catalogue for the exhibition and will update this blog with what details I can.

The next two pieces are by Jessie M King, who was one of the best known figures in the Kirkcudbright art scene, living in the town from 1915 till 1949, when she died.

I'll finish here with a couple of little wild life moments. This was a close thing, this lapwings nest was spotted just before I arrived at it. They normally lay clutches of 4 eggs and the camoflage obviously works, as I've often seen lapwings but this is the first time I've seen their nest.

This hare was spotted one evening as I was leaving my sister's house.