Church on the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg

The Church on the Spilled Blood in St Petersburg is quite something – as you can see. You really couldn’t get further away from the ecclesiastical architecture that prevails in western Europe, in other words – it’s definitely different. Yes that is scaffolding swathing it. It seems that no matter where we are there’s scaffolding hugging whichever building we particularly want to see!

Church of the Spilled Blood 7
And from another angle.

Church of the Spilled Blood 4

This church was built on the site of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II which took place in 1881. A bomb was thrown at him and it went off when it landed at his feet, I believe he lived for a few hours but was never going to survive. You can read about Alexander II here.

Church of the Spilled Blood

Below is the decoration on one of the sides of the church.

Church of the Spilled BloodSpilled Blood

We didn’t go into the church as Nevsky Prospect was calling to us, we aren’t religious and you aren’t allowed to take photos inside anyway. The outside was stunning enough for me.

St Petersburg – part 2

Winter Palace , St Petersburg, Russia
The green/blue palace is the Winter Palace and it’s just part of the entity that is called the Hermitage. There are six palaces which make up the Hermitage complex. There are so many exhibits in the Hermitage that if you spent only one minute in front of each one it would take you seven years to get around it all. We didn’t even get in due to the queues and wanting to viist other parts of St Petersburg in the short time we were there.

Winter Palace, St Petersburghorse-drawn
You can have a ride in a carriage around the square if you’re that way inclined. I watched people in the carriages taking selfies of themselves while they jogged around – not looking at the actual scene at all!

palace , St Petersburg, Russia

There’s a huge square in front of the complex of palaces which make up The Hermitage. Presumably it was designed like that for military purposes. Kings and Queens have always wanted to inspect their troops I suppose. This was the official residence of the Russian Tsars from 1732 until their demise in 1917. You can see more images here.

Palace , St Petersburg, Russia

There’s a massive column of victory over Napoleon in the square which is now edged by loads of tour buses.
victory monument

There are so many palaces around there, it’s difficult to figure out what they are! We discovered later though that the one below is the General Staff building.

Palace , St Petersburg, Russia

palace , horse statue pediment

The square had obviously been the focal point of the recent 1941-1945 Victory celebrations which we had just missed, and they were busy taking down the banners while we were there.
Palace Square  , banners

After years of reading about Russian history I could hardly believe that I was actually standing in front of the Winter Palace and it really didn’t matter to me too much that I didn’t actually get inside. Although I remember my mother telling me that she had seen a train in a station in Holland which had the destination MOSCOW on the front of it – so if we ever do go back (very unlikely) we’ll go by train and have a week there as that is what is needed to do the place justice.
Winter Palace stitch

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia which used to be part of the Soviet Union. They gained their independence from the USSR in 1991 and from what I can see they seem to be doing rather well on their own. Food for thought for Scots I think!

onion domes, Tallinn, Estonia

I’ve always been interested in architecture so buildings feature in most of my photos whenever I go to somewhere new. The onion domes seen through the trees say it all really – so exotic looking compared with the rather boring spires of churches in the UK.

Tallinn church

But the crow stepped gables and red pantiles of the church below are rather reminiscent of old buildings in the east of Scotland. The pantiles in Fife came over as ballast in ships from Holland, I wonder if these ones in Tallinn came from Holland too.
Tallinn church, Estonia

Looking up at the architecture I began to feel like it reminded me of the old film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Tallinn, street, Estonia

building in Tallinn, Estonia

Below is a photo of the ministry of culture building. As you can see it has the beloved European flag flying from it. While we were in the Baltic all of the cities had campaign posters up for the then upcoming European elections. I didn’t see any at all in the UK.

culture ministry, Tallinn, Estonia

Sadly it began to rain quite heavily towards the end of our day in Tallinn, as you can see from the green roof on this building below, I love the fancy weather vane though.
green roof weather vane, Estonia, Tallinn

But cafe culture doesn’t stop because of a wee bit of rain.

green roof, Tallinn, Estonia

Doors into buildings were often very ornate too as you can see below.
painted door, Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is a medieval city and still has a lot of its ancient walls intact, you can walk around on top of them in parts.
wall + towers , Tallinn, Estonia

The old part of the city is very busy with tourists, especially if there’s more than one cruise ship in town but it’s a lovely place to visit – as you can see.

Warnemunde, Germany

The very first Baltic place that we visited on our recent cruise was Warnemunde in the former East Germany. Some people took bus trips to Berlin from here, but it was a seven hour round trip for a very short time in Berlin so we opted to stay in the lovely small town and enjoy walking along the beautiful sandy beach. Actually it was really quite warm and we really had a good time here.

Warnemunde beach , Germany

I have no idea what it was like during Cold War times but there are now a lot of fairly newly built hotels and the place was heaving with German tourists so it’s obviously very popular with the natives. You can also take a train to Rostock from here if you really pine for a large town or city.
deco , Warnemunde, Germany

The streets were well planted up with mainly tulips and pansies.
planting in Warnemunde, Germany

planting in Warnemunde, Germany

We chose to walk back into the town using the beautiful woodland walk which edges the beach, it got us out of the glare of the sun, a good thing as I had forgotten my sun hat.
woodland walk, Warnemunde, Germany

The town was very busy but we did manage to get one photo of a typical street with very German looking buildings.
Warnemunde street, Germany

There were some very talented sand sculptors around. Neptune is somehow very Germanic looking don’t you think?
sand sculpture , Warnemunde, Germany

I don’t know how anyone could have the patience to do something like this, especially as they are so fleeting and won’t last long after all the hard work expended on them.
sand sculpture , Warnemunde, Germany

So that was a glimpse of the coastal area of Warnemunde, I’ll leave the park for another post.

Yetts O’Muckhart, Clackmannanshire, Scotland

After we visited the Japanese Garden at Cowden we stopped off at the village of Yetts O’Muckhart. I had spotted a sign pointing to the church and wanted to check it out.

It’s a plain 18th century very Presbyterian looking church. I’m not at all religious as I dislike that we’re the best attitude that many such people have but I love old churches, possibly because they’re always situated on what was a sacred site for some much older religion than Christianity. One which speaks to me more as it’s more about trees and plants. I see from the photo that they are hedging their bets here as they’ve chosen to situate a holly tree in front of the church – very Druidesque!

Muckhart Church

Yetts O' Muckhart Church 2
How do you feel about graveyards? I’m not so keen on modern ones but I do love to mooch around really old graveyards. If you look at the stone wall in the photo below you’ll see some really ancient gravestones have been incorporated into it. As I recall they’re from the 1600s.
Graves ,  Muckhart , Clackmannanshire

Graves Muckhart
The setting is lovely and it’s so peaceful.
Graves Muckhart
It seems that almost all British graveyards have at least a few war graves, of servicemen or women who came home after having been wounded and didn’t survive. He lived to see the peace, surviving just 19 days after the armistice. At least he got a beautiful resting place, but it’s rather a scanty stone, no age given and no personal message from any relatives at the bottom of it. Maybe he didn’t have any. Note the spelling of the word ‘serjeant’. I wonder when they changed it to a ‘g’.
War Grave Muckhart

Powis Castle, Wales

It is ages since we visited Powis Castle, when we drove all the way down to Wales so that Jack could go to a football match, in fact it was over a year ago. I could have sworn that I had blogged about our visit, but apparently not. This often happens to me as I ‘write’ blogposts in my head, but get no further than that, and then I think it’s done and dusted!

Powis Castle from Approach Path

Powis is the only castle in Wales that I’ve visited, according to a recent TV programme I watched most of the castles in Wales are actually English as they were built by the English to keep the Welsh in order. Thankfully the same does not apply in Scotland, our castles are very definitely Scottish, and so different from those in England. Some Welsh people apparently have a bit of a problem about having all those English built castles looming over them, and I can’t say I blame them, but on the other hand – they are still interesting and historic structures. However, Powis is unusual in that it was actually built by a Welshman in the 13th century – Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn. Apparently he was given permision to build it by Edward I as he had been so loyal to him. As Edward I was also known as The Hammer of the Scots I can only imagine that Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn’s loyalty was rooted in fear.

Powis Castle, Courtyard and Equestrian Statue
As I recall it was very cold, well it was February, but the gardens still looked lovely.
Powis Castle Gardens
You can see the bones of the planting better in winter, but I would like to go back in the summer sometime, there are so many other castles in Scotland to see though, so I may never get around to it, Wales isn’t exactly handy for us.
Formal Garden Powis Castle 6

The peahens were patrolling around the grounds.
Peahens, Powis Castle
And when I walked around the plant sales area below they were all over the place, holding me up, but I did manage to buy a souvenir of my visit in the shape of a Sarcococca confusa (Sweet Box) but it hasn’t flowered this year. I live in hope!
Peacocks

You can see some fantastic images of Powis Castle here.

St Serf’s – Dunning, Perth and Kinross

If it hadn’t been such a dreich weekend we would have driven to the Japanese Garden at Cowden as it has just opened for the new season and I imagine that the cherry trees will be at their best now. We went there last September for the first time and the autumn colour of the acers was lovely and we promised ourselves we’d go there again in the spring. If the weather cheers up this week we will go there.

Anyway, thinking about that reminded me that I never did get around to writing a blogpost about the village of Dunning which we stopped off at on the way to Cowden – so here goes!

Although I’m not at all religious I do love old churches and St Serf’s in Dunning is certainly old. It dates from around 1200 but it isn’t in use as a church now, it’s looked after by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to vistors.
St Serf's , Dunning

Inside the church is really dark and like all such churches it has been extended and mucked about with over the centuries, but it does house a very fine stone cross – the Dupplin Cross which dates from around 800 and is dedicated to one of the last kings of Pictland – King Constantine, son of Fergus. Presumably the decoration on the front is of the king on his horse.
Dupplin Stone cross

The carving on it is still in great condition considering that until 1999 it was outside. As you can see there’s a man playing a harp , he’s thought to be King David. This is the side of the stone.
Dupplin Stone Cross, Dunning

Dupplin Stone, Dunning

St Serf window, Dunning

You can read about the church here.

There’s not much nore of interest in the village of Dunning, but there is a pretty wee burn near the church.
Dunning Burn

Someone has put a lot of effort into the garden below.
Dunning garden, Perth and Kinross

The house beow is called Straw House for some reason. It’s very Scottish and solid looking, it has wee windows so it might not be too difficult to heat – or maybe that’s me just being optimistic on the owner’s behalf! This house is apparently the only house which survived the Jacobean burning of the village in 1716.
Straw House , Dunning, Perth and Kinross

It seems that we missed quite a lot on our quick trip to Dunning on our way to the Japanse Garden. When we do go back there we’ll have to look for the memorial to a witch burnt at the stake in 1657 and a bit of a Roman encampment.

Another walk – Cockburnspath and Cove, Scottish Borders / Berwickshire part 2

To get down to the right hand side of the beach at Cove you have to walk through this tunnel. It was constructed years ago and goes through the cliffs. It was no mean feat to build it and it’s very dark inside, you just have to aim for the light at the end of it and watch out for the potholes.

Cove Tunnel

At the beginning it’s shored up with brick but I think most of it inside is just rough rock face, but as it’s so dark in there I don’t know for sure.
Cove Tunnel

To get over to the beach on the other side you have to go back through the tunnel. These cottages are all that’s left of what had once been a thriving fishing community, all of the other cottages have been swept away by the sea.

Cove Harbour

Cove Harbour

Thecottages are only used to store fishing gear.

Cove Harbour , creels

The houses below are bit more modern and set back from the seashore. I still wouldn’t fancy being in them during a storm though.

Cove Harbour

Looking closer you can see that the cliffs are well upholstered with gorse bushes, they fairly brighten the place and seem to be in bloom most of the year – just don’t fall into it!

Cove Harbour

gorse

A train unexpectedly shot across a field. It’s many many years since I had toddlers walking beside me but whenever I see a train I still have an urge to point it out to them!

train, Cockburnspath

We walked back to Cockburnspath by a different route and came across this rather grand ram. When we first spotted him he was having a fine time attacking the hessian sacking wit his huge horns but he stopped to scrutinise us. Obviously we were more interesting, or just a welcome distraction. He was probably bored but seemed too aggresive to have any company in the field with him.

Ram

Just beyond the ram’s field are these farm buildings, very neglected and seemingly unused. Whenever I see places like this I just itch to put them to rights. I hate that farmers just let old buildings fall down.

Farm buildings, near Cove, Scottish Borders

Farm  buildings near Cove

Farm  near Cove
We walked along farmland paths
Farmland, Cockburnspath, Scottish Borders
and then along the field margins.
Farm view  sheep, Cove, Scottish Borders

And back to Cockburnspath for a well earned coffee.

Farmland , Cockburnspath, Scottish Borders

Another walk – Cockburnspath and Cove, Scottish Borders / Berwickshire

We had arranged to go and visit our friend Eric last Monday and luckily it turned out to be a beautiful day for it. But then it always seems to be a blue sky sparkling sort of a day around Cove and Cockburnspath in Berwickshire whenever we go there. Why not join me on my walk there?

The lands of Cockburnspath were part of the dowry given by James IV of Scotland to Margaret Tudor (daughter of Henry VII of England) on their marriage in 1503, it’s a lovely place but so off the beaten track that few people seem to know about the place. Our visits always include a walk down to the coast to the teeny wee historic harbour of Cove. This time we went the scenic way along narrow lanes, avoiding the main road. This flowering currant was putting on a good show beside one rather remote cottage.
Flowering currant, Cockburnspath, Berwickshire. Scotland

Stone Cottages

The lane becomes a narrow footpath, as you can see the daffodils are out.
Path , Cockburnspath, Cove, Berwickshire, Scotland

It isn’t long before you catch a glimpse of the coast in the distance across some fields.
Cove bluffs

I was relieved to see that the tide wasn’t too far in.
Cove sea , Berwickshire, Scotland

Cove sea , Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, Scotland

Uther the red and white setter was in a hurry to get down there, but I lagged behind him, Jack and Eric, taking my time to get some photos.

Cove Path, near Cockburnspath

Cove, near Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, Scotland

It certainly felt like spring had sprung, but Uther didn’t brave the sea, in fact he never does. He just loves the sights and smells, and enjoys digging up crabs to crunch now and again. I suspect those crabs must be dead but they don’t seem to cause him any harm.
Uther

I’ll continue with our journey tomorrow. I hope you’re up for it, it’s just a pity that you can’t catch the fresh coastal air.

Meanwhile you can see more of my older photos here.

Glasgow Cathedral’s stained glass windows

Despite the fact that apparently a lot of the Victorian stained glass didn’t last long there are still plenty of lovely windows in Glasgow Cathedral.

Stained Glass 1

Stained Glass 2

I adore colour and particularly coloured glass. I’ve never seen the attraction of flashy diamonds. I’d always be happier with a beautiful coloured gemstone, even if it was only glass. So long as it was set in a metal which wouldn’t turn my finger green.

Stained Glass 3
These stained glass windows were originally designed so that those medieval Christians who couldn’t read would still be able to recognise the stories from the bible that the windows depict.

Stained Glass 4

You could study some of the windows for hours I’m sure and probably still find something in them that you hadn’t seen the first time you looked at them. Going to a church service must have been quite an entertainment and of course most people probably didn’t have any glass at all in their own houses.
stained glass 5
Sadly the photo that I took of the Millenium window which is in shades of blue and purple didn’t come out well, but you can see some images of it here.
I think the colours are sumptuous, but those blue/purple shades are some of my favourites. Can you believe that there are people in this world that hate purple? Bizarre, and I’ve never felt that it’s a colour that I shouldn’t be wearing, no matter what my age might be.