Monday, 19 August 2013

Daleks, tunes and other goings on.

I was pretty stationary during my last time off ( pretty stationery ). There seems to have been plenty to do in Kirkcudbright what with the Arts and Craft trail and musical goings on. When the weather is kind, the town is more picturesque than most, even when you've grown rather accustomed to it. It might only be at the end of my street but I still like to imagine how grand  Maclellan's Castle must have looked in it's day. You can be sure the local laird would have had a bit more garden space between him and the rest of the town than there is now.

Even nearer is the Tolbooth. These days, a local art gallery and wee cafe, but when it was built, somewhere between 1625 and 1629, much of the town bureaucracy would have been conducted here. The building also included a jail which is famous for having imprisoned a local sailing captain, one John Paul Jones, for having flogged a man so badly he died. My American friends will of course know that he overcame this early hiccough in his career and later fought against Britain on behalf of America and is now known as one of the fathers of the United States navy.

As well as hosting art exhibitions, the building has a small collection of it's own on permanent display, several feature the Tolbooth itself, though mainly from the back. This one is by   Helen S. Johnston.

This painting of the Tolbooth is by Scottish Colourist Samuel Peploe .He spent quite a lot of time in Kirkcudbright, too much it seems and came to dislike the place. Some of his later pictures of the town show up this dislike.

A one legged seagull enjoys the sun.

 I wasn't in Kirkcudbright quite all of the time and on my regular visit to Dunoon, I passed through Largs, where I saw this chap guarding the coast.

Largs is the scene of Battle of Largs in 1263 in which the Scots under Alexander III defeated the Norwegian army of King Hakon Hakonerson and put an end to Viking problems on the mainland for ever. Actually, importance of the battle has rather varied over the years and it was more a series of running skirmishes than a battle and it is perhaps debatable who actually won, either way, in the later part of the century our Southern neighbours were certainly a greater problem than longships from across the North Sea. Whatever happened in the battle, Largs likes to make a feature of it's Viking connection.

This scale model of a Viking ship sits outside the Vikingar! museum.

Many years ago when I lived in Polmont, the local church had taken down it's bell and installed loud speakers in it's bell tower to blast out the sound of the church bell on a Sunday morning. I spotted that a Galloway church had done the same. Good grief - what's the problem with using the bell and a length of rope. How soulless!!

There are horse and cart rides round the town in the Summer. It drives past our house on the High Street. In Kirkcudbright, the High Street is only the High Street by name - the main centre and bulk of the town shops are elsewhere. Often the horse is heard to come past the house more often than cars - it must have been what town streets all sounded like before the motor car, rather pleasant really.

It wouldn't do to work the horse too hard and the owner has at least two horses that he rotates on the job.

Some years ago we had a comedy on the telly here called Bread where the family at the centre of the story used to reserve the piece of the road outside their own house for parking their car by placing police cones there. Round the corner, on Union Street, a similar attempt to reserve a piece of the public highway for private use - naughty.

A dalek outside our local bookshop. You can't spend all day exterminating things and a little time spent with a book is time well spent.

This dalek was spotted in a local cafe.

Last year or maybe the year before, time goes so quickly, the Parish Church had one of their gargoyles replaced. This is the new one starting to weather in a bit.

I was up in the balcony of the church looking at their stained glass (now that's not like me, is it!) and found the old gargoyle stashed with a few other items at the bottom of the stairs. Poor fellow - might be happier round at the museum.

Here's a busy fellow.

Look out! Pirates on the river.

Have no fear, it's just a boating regatta down by the harbour.

Inspired by Scotland's current most popular residents, this boat has got their own panda.

Most of my time off has been spent in music one way or another. Matt Seattle appeared at the Mill on the Fleet playing the Border Pipes, sometimes traditional tunes, sometimes not.

Most of the entertainment has been home grown. Cafe Largo played a charity concert in the parish Church featuring musicians from a few miles away to my next door neighbour.

Much of the music was connected to the Arts and Crafts trail. Here's my niece, Hazel, and Mary playing piano duets, also in the church.

Once a month in the Gordon House we have an open mic night. This month (the first one I've managed to get to for ages) there was an influx of Dalbeattie musicians to boast our numbers.

The Kirkcudbright Bay Hotel has recently fitted out it's courtyard with a bar and had been asking local tunesters round on a Sunday afternoon in the Summer to provide entertainment. Thanks to all my fellow folkies who came to support me through my afternoon there, but the last few weeks have also featured Stirring the Stoor and the Dykeside Ramblers (they have a CD at £4 each but no home on the web). A small delay in my working trip meant I could also catch 44 Blues at the 'Bay.


Dominic Rivron said...

Time is weird. I sometimes think it's a good job we haven't invented time machines. What would a 13th century Scots warrior make of that bloke??

The Glebe Blog said...

Must have been a powerful ballad by the look on your face Sandy. Apart from Gatehouse it's a while since I ventured east. Must get over to Kirkcudbright again soon.

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Oops. I would not have noticed you had it not been for GB above. I like the Plant Man.

Sandy's witterings said...

Dominic - it's hard to say what a 13thC warrior would have mad of the plant man, though I'm fairly sure he would have chopped it up first and asked the questions later.

Jim, I seem to look like this in most of my tunes - I had a quick burst of the Postman Pat theme tune as a sound check (I'm not thinking it's that one though)

John, I had passed the plant man in the other direction a couple of days earlier and had no chance to stop (the return journey has no time pressure). I don't like spotting things on the road side that you can't give any attention too. He is great and quite fearsome for somebody made of plants.

s.c said...

Nice reportage about your environment Sandy. Its all new for me.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

My goodness these are breathtaking shots...

Crafty Green Poet said...

Excellent series of photos. i like the Viking all made from plants!

Sad that the art of church bell ringing is dying out, but it must be difficult to find people with the skills to do the ringing for the full od fashioned peals.

Sandy's witterings said...

Thank you SC and the Optimistic Existentialist for your kind comments.

and yourself Juliet. It's not as is most church bells in Scotland involve more than 1 bell tolling - it can't be that difficult. We are of course not completely devoid of a full peal of church bells - St Cuthberts at the end of Princes Street gardens puts up a pretty good show for one.

Pam said...

Your gargoyle reminded me that I have to revisit City Hall in Milwaukee during business hours. They recently renovated and their gargoyles were recast and replaced. Never knew they did that kind of thing before this summer! Love your big Viking on guard, whoever created that is very talented.

Michael (Light-In-A-Box) said...

Sandy, your post inspires me to grab a few photos of our historic landmarks. In my neibourhood their is not a lot, its fairly new & used to be farmland. Downtown would be my best bet. Great post sandy! : )

Shundo said...

Hi Sandy, lovely to catch up with your local goings on again. I just saw this news story and thought of many cups of tea would it take to eat this:

Sandy's witterings said...

Pam, I do like a good gargoyle on a church - I feel they help welcome the heathen like me. Gargoyle being renovated has been in the news recently (almost in visiting distance of me)

Micheal - historic and old need not be the same thing. Many newer buildings can have interesting things about them - they're the history of tomorrow.

Shundo - several I should think. Though the biscuits that have been painted green don't look too appetising. As a lad, I once played the fiddle at the real Carlisle castle - it was very cold. Perhaps to have one mad of biscuits is appropriate as one of Carlisle's main businesses is biscuit making.