Fyvie Castle interior

You can see my previous post on the exterior of Fyvie Castle here. Below is a photo of a drawing room, I think it’s comfy looking, not too grand if you’re used to old places and furniture.

Fyvie Castle Fireplace
The photo below is much brighter though and this is the family room, I imagine that the ladies of the house used this one most of the time for relaxing, reading and sewing in, note the small face screens on the side table by the fireplace, used to stop the heat from the fire from damaging their complexions.
Fyvie Castle Family Room

Below is a very solid looking desk, a proper work desk, not one for ladies to write their letters on I suspect.
Fyvie Castle Desk
If fireplaces are your thing then there are plenty to choose from in Fyvie, the furniture looks Dutch to me but I’m sure that wasn’t what the guide said it was.
Fyvies Castle Furniture

They were preparing for a wedding while we were there, hence the chairs in the photo below, so I had to be quick taking it.
Fyvie Castle Fireplace
While we were ay Fyvie there were quite a lot of really small children there with their parents. One four year old French girl was diving around the place like it was a school playground. According to one of the guides this is normal behaviour for many families – and the parents just let the kids get on and do what they want, picking up objects and jumping on chairs. I thought it was bad enough when they allow kids to do things like that in IKEA! I feared for the Tiffany lamp at one point and was also worried that people might think I was with the child as there were no parents in sight.
Fyvie Castle Interior
The Tiffany lamp is in the middle of the chest of drawers, underneath the tapestry, sadly you can’t see its intricate design well in this photo.
Fyvie Castle Tapestry Tiffany lamp

The day we visited Fyvie Castle it was very hot, I was saying – is it me, or is it really hot? Later that day the BBC weather chap said that Fyvie had been the hottest place in the UK, it was 19 celsius (66.2 F) I think, very hot for the end of October. Two days ago the weather man said that Fyvie was the coldest place in the UK at -7 celsius (19.4 F). I wonder if that was just a coincidence or if there’s something about the location that attracts weather extremes.

I still have a lot of photos of the interior of the castle, but that’s enough for now.

Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Fyvie Castle
Towards the end of October we had a few days away in Aberdeenshire, the north east of Scotland, just for a change of scene, again we were very lucky with the weather. One of the castles that we visited was Fyvie Castle, as you can see it’s rather imposing and with its pepperpot turrets it has been influenced by French chateaux rather than the more brutal architecture of many English castles.

Fyvie Castle
Fyvie Castle is now a Scottish National Trust property. It started its life as a royal castle though and Alexander II stayed here in 1222. There’s been a castle here since about 1200 but that one was probably just made of wood. By 1296 when the English King Edward I visited the castle while doing his worst to Scotland it was built of stone and over the years it has changed a lot, being constantly extended by the generations of owners.
Fyvie Castle

This castle is fully furnished, quite sumptuous in parts and luckily nowadays visitors are allowed to photograph most of the rooms, but I’ll leave the interior for another blogpost.
Fyvie Castle stone urn
The castle design is now Scots Baronial as many of the previous occupants seemed to have a penchant for adding their own towers, it’s quite elegant I think.
Fyvie Castle

The V&A at Dundee

V&A Sign, Dundee

We’ve been to the V&A at Dundee a couple of times now since it opened recently, the second time we had hoped that it wouldn’t be quite so busy – but it was. I think it’ll be quite some time before the visitor numbers settle down a wee bit. Below is a close up of one of the walls so you can see how curvaceous it is. We’ve watched this building grow very slowly for years and it seemed at times that it would never be finished so it’s no surprise that people have been chewing at the bit to get into it.

Exterior Curve, V&A Dundee

In parts it overhangs the River Tay and I’m not sure if it’s meant to be inspired by a ship or Scottish cliffs, or a conglomeration of both. Dundee was famous for shipbuilding in the past. It looks like a perfect nesting place for seabirds of which there are plenty around here, but apparently they are being kept at bay by the use of sonar.
Overhanging River Tay, V&A Dundee

The weather in Dundee does get pretty wild at times so I hope that the planting has been chosen for hardiness. I think it’s supposed to be prairie planting. It’ll be interesting to see if it survives.
Exterior Planting , V&A Dundee

The interior is definitely different with this angled slatted shingle effect which is reminiscent of an old ship.
V&A Interior

V&A Interior

V&A Interior,  Dundee
The staircase is elegant I think.
V&A Interior ,staircase, Dundee

I’m not sure if the stone of the floors and stairs is natural or some kind of man made substitute, but it looks like it has all sorts of fossils embedded in it.

Interior Stairs, V&A Dundee

V&A Interior floor, Dundee

If you want to see more photos you should click over to Jack’s post here.

Melrose Abbey – part 2

I took a lot of photos when we visited Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders, so I thought I might as well do another post about it.
This finial is on the roof, you have to trek up a lot of stairs to get this photo.
Melrose Abbey Finial

The grave markers below are really part of the inner walls, I suppose it was only very wealthy people who could afford to be buried there and if any other members of the family want to be laid to rest there then the paving slabs beneath can be lifted to slot them in.
Melrose Abbey Grave Marker
A lot of the stonework has been eroded by the weather but you can still get an idea of the original decoration.
Melrose Abbey Doorway
The abbey must have been split up into different chapels in parts as there are several of these piscinae (wee alcoves) which were where the water was kept for the priests to wash their hands.
Abbey Piscinae, Melrose Abbey

The photo below is from the highest point of the roof.
Melrose Abbey Roof
It’s definitely not for people who suffer from vertigo!
Melrose Abbey roof

I find that I get dizzier if I’m on the ground looking up though. Hundreds of years ago some religious fanatics climbed this building to knock hell out of the carved images of saints which they objected to, it looks like some of them more or less survived, maybe those ones were just too difficult to reach.
Melrose Abbey Saints' Niches
In its heyday this abbey must have been a vast complex, far more of it is just ruins in outline, presumably the stones were carried away for house building at some point.
Melrose Abbey Grounds , Scottish Borders

Melrose Abbey Grounds , Scottish Borders

If you happen to be in the Melrose area it’s a good idea to fit in a visit to Sir Walter Scott’s home – Abbotsford, which is not far from here.

As you can see we were very lucky with the weather, it was the last warm day of what has been a great summmer or should I say autumn as these photos were taken towards the end of October.

Melrose Abbey, Scottish Border

On the same day that we visited Abbotsford we managed to squeeze in a visit to the nearby town of Melrose, mainly to have a look at Melrose Abbey. As you can see – it’s another ruin.

Melrose Abbey Information Board

It was King David I who in 1136 asked Cistercian monks to found an abbey in Melrose.

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey

Between Jack and myself we took loads of photos of the abbey and its surroundings.

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey Bell

One of the information boards told us to look out for the carving of a pig playing the bagpipes, and we found it, we had to hike up 72 steep and narrow steps of a spiral staircase to reach the very top of the abbey, and from there you can look down on the pig. Whoever designed the place had a sense of humour anyway.

Melrose Abbey Decoration  pig

As this abbey is situated in the Scottish Borders it got more than its fair share of attention from English invaders, including Edward II’s army and later Richard II’s army. Then Henry VIII had a go at it; given all that – it’s surprising there’s anything left of it at all!

Abbotsford’s gardens

Abbotsford Information Board

Abbotsford Stitch

Looking towards the front of Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford the photo below is what you see to the right hand side of it.

Abbotsford Garden
The photo below is of the same piece of garden ground but this time viewed from his study.
Abbotsford Garden from Study

There was still quite a lot of colour around although most of the roses were over, next time we’ll visit in the summertime.
Abbotsford Walled Garden, Sir Walter Scott, 1
Abbotsford Walled Garden, Sir Walter Scott 2

Below is an elegant sheltered spot to sit in within the walled garden, but the day we were there was hot, very hot for October and as you can see it was very sunny.
Abbotsford Walled Garden

Abbotsford Walled Garden,Sir Walter Scott

In the distance you can see that the blue delphiniums were still going strong.
Abbotsford Walled Garden,Sir Walter Scott 6

Abbotsford Walled Garden Information Board

Abbotsford, Sir Walter Scott’s Study

We went to Abbotsford one day early last Month, it was the last hot day of the Indian summer, perfect weather for looking around Sir Walter Scott’s home and gardens. Below are some photos of his study which isn’t a huge room but as you can see it’s well designed to hold a lot of books.

Abbotsford Study
There’s a narrow winding staircase leading to the upper storey but there’s a gate closed over it so the public can’t gain access.

Abbotsford Study

His desk and chair look like he has just left the room for a wee while although there is a piece of perspex covering the open drawer.

Abbotsford Study 1

The contents are just as they were when he died, just bits and pieces of this and that.
Abbotsford Study Desk

I’m having terrible trouble getting the photos on this blogpost tonight so I’ll leave it at that for the moment, but I have loads of photos of Abbotsford that you might be interested in seeing – when the technology behaves itself!

Brantwood – John Ruskin’s home at Coniston

Following on from my previous post – below is a side view of John Ruskin’s house Brantwood at Coniston. As you can see it goes quite far back. The rather ugly grey blocks to the right of the photo are now loos but I think originally they were workshops.

Brantwood

I took the photo below so that you could see the view of the lake from it, the room itself is a small museum which features artefacts that Ruskin had collected, especially geological samples, the white object on the table is a huge piece of rock crystal. He seems to have been fond of that as it features in the garden too.
Brantwood
The drawing room is below.
Brantwood

Brantwood

And now a sort of study which has the same wallpaper, I didn’t notice that when we were there!
Brantwood

Brantwood
On to the dining room which is quite sparse looking in the photo below.
Brantwood
But from the other end it’s a bit more homely looking. The portraits are of members of his family.
Brantwood
Below is his bedroom which looks very much like it belongs to a single man but he did marry again eventually. The watercolours on the walls are of landscapes.
Brantwood
Below is a photo of a tiny turret room, really it’s just a bay window off the bedroom but it has a wonderful view of the lake – a favourite spot for Ruskin to sit in I believe.

Brantwood turret
Brantwood  turret room

Looking at the photos now I’m quite confused, mainly due to the same wallpaper featuring in two and possibly three rooms. Were there two pianos in the same room? Possibly there were, I used to have a boudoir grand and an upright in the same room after all – which makes me sound posh I suppose – but I’m not!
Brantwood

Brantwood is in a lovely location and must have been comfortable in its day. John Ruskin was a great champion of the Pre-Raphelite Botherhood of course but there’s not a great deal of evidence of any of their paintings here. Ruskin was definitely not good husband material going by his poor wife Effie’s experiences.

Effie Gray eventually married the artist Millais and they had eight children. Click on the link to read a bit more about the background of the marriage.

Coniston Water and Brantwood

After visiting Grasmere we drove on to Coniston Water on the way to our next overnight stop in Derbyshire. It was a lovely day and thankfully Coniston Water wasn’t nearly as busy as other places in the Lake District – such as Ambleside which always seems to be heaving.

We were making our way to Brantwood which is the lovely house that the writer, art critic, philosopher, philanthropist and environmentalist John Ruskin bought, it is situated high above Coniston Water and these photos were taken from the grounds at the front of the house.

Coniston Water

Coniston Water

Coniston Water

You can see in the photo below that there are lots of wee boats and yachts in the lake. This lake inspired Arthur Ransome to write his Swallows and Amazons series.
Coniston Water

And below is a photo of Brantwood, it has marvelous views of the lake. Ruskin bought this house unseen as he had often holidayed at Coniston and at a time when he was ill he thought that if only he could lie down in the water at Coniston he would get better. It must have worked as he lived here for many years.

Brantwood, Coniston

I suspect that the one thing that everyone knows about John Ruskin is that his wife had to go to court to get an annulment for non-consummation of the marriage. That harmed his reputation for a long time but that was just a small part of a long life which included many interests. He was interested in educating ordinary working people, at this time education in England was in a very poor state compared with in Scotland. He was involved with progressive schools for girls, and he also set up workshops that trained and employed people who would probably otherwise be unemployed and destitute.

I’ll show you some photos of the inside of the house soon.

Around Grasmere, Lake District

The photos below are of the view we had from the window of our hotel room just outside Grasmere in the Lake District. I took these ones in the morning, but I was so annoyed when I looked out of it because when we arrived the night before it had been full of unusual grey fleeced sheep, and I didn’t take a photo of them as I thought the light wasn’t good enough.

farmland, outside Grasmere
I’m not great at getting to sleep when I’m away from home and I wasn’t helped by the sound of an owl hoo-oo-ooting. It must have been sitting on the roof directly above our bed, but it sounded like it was sitting on the bedhead, and it was one of those spooky sounding owls. It went on for quite a while only stopping now and again when I imagine it must have flown off on a hunting expedition, before alighting above us again. It was definitely a different experience.
farmland, Grasmere

Very early in the morning I had been woken up by some dogs barking outside and I did think in a woolly way that they must have been sheep dogs and my brain just didn’t click to the fact that they were rounding the sheep up, taking them to new pastures – I hope.

The view of across the road from the hotel is really quite different as you can see.
hills outside Grasmere
It’s much more mountainous although maybe I should say craggy as by Scottish standards these are really just hills. I love the stone built farm buildings they have in this area.
scenery outside Grasmere
The Lake District does seem a bit like a mini Scotland – with loads more tourists. It’s not really that far from the ‘debatable lands’ of the Scottish Borders which were always being fought over.
hills outside Grasmere

I took some photos of the types of houses that are in Grasmere. The one below is so wonderfully craggy and solid looking and I’ve never seen chimney stacks like that before. This house is close to Dove Cottage.
House + chimneys

In complete contrast whitewashed houses like the one below always seem quite fragile to me and remind me of iced cakes. I’ll be completely un-pc and say that as I often think of houses as having characters then the top craggy one is definitely male whilst the whitewashed one is veering towards femininity!

typical Lake District house

The burn/stream below edges the graveyard that the Wordsworths are buried in. I did take a photo of the lovely wee bridge over it but sadly it came out all blurred.
Burn, Grasmere

If you want to see more images of the village of Grasmere have a look here.