Huntly Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

I’m still catching up with the photos I took when we were on our trip up north to Aberdeenshire at the end of October 2018. We had been meaning to go to Huntly for years. Actually it was quite a surprise as in my mind it was a much bigger town than the reality turned out to be, it’s really small. There are just a few shops there but one of them is a secondhand bookshop! Yes I did buy books.

Huntly Castle

Apparently over last summer the lettering on the stonework was refurbished, I’m not sure what they actually did but it looks quite new now. Originally the lettering would have been painted to make it even more visible.

Huntly Castle

Huntly Castle
You can read about the history of Huntly Castle here.

The first castle was built on this site around 1180 but the castle that we see now dates from around 1550.

Huntly Castle Info Board

Below is a photo of an upstairs fireplace with a modern canopy over it to protect it from the worst of the weather.

Huntly Castle

The photo below is of the castle interior.

Huntly Castle Interior

One good thing about living in a castle was that you were never far from a loo, most of the rooms had one in a corner and some even have the remnants of fancy plaster decoration on the walls. I suspect that they didn’t smell great though as it was basically a hole going into a stone shaft. I imagine that now and again a servant had to chuck water down them. The loo below has had a piece of perspex placed over the opening, just in case some bright spark tried to use it I suppose.

Hunly Castle Loo

Below are the windows in the stairwell.
Huntly Castle Windows
And below is where the stairs lead to. The view’s not bad – what you can see of it anyway.
Huntly Castle Top

Sadly you can’t get right up to the top in this castle, my favourite place is usually the solar which is where I imagine the ladies sat and did some needlework or reading in good weather. I think the small bit with the glass windows in the photo below is the solar.
Huntly Castle Solar

Castles obvioulsy had to be built near rivers and Huntly has two rivers nearby – the Deveron and the Bogie, I’m not sure which this one is but it’s pretty anyway.
River at Huntly Castle

Huntly Bridge

Huntly is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Aberdeenshire area.

Huntly Castle

Christmas lights 2018

It’s the second of January but some of my neighbours have taken down their Christmas decorations already. Mind you those are the people who put up their decorations in mid November! I did manage to take some photos of the lights in a few of the places we visited pre-Christmas, below are the street lights in Dumbarton, the small town that I grew up in.

Dumbarton HighStreet

I must say that I was really impressd with the town’s efforts. I actually think that they’re the best ones I’ve seen for a long time. I’m fed up with just bright white lights that so many places seem to have opted for, the yellow and red fairly cheered the place up.

Christmas lights, Dumbarton Hight Street

Tha lights of the “Artizan’ area (which by the way is NOT where the old Artizan was) aren’t quite so nice I think, but they’re better than nothing I suppose.

Christmas lights, Dumbarton

The permanent lights that enhance the old stone bridge below are atmospheric.

Dumbarton old bridge, Scotland

You can get an idea of what it looks like in daylight from the photo below.

Swans in River Leven, Dumbarton

In Glasgow George Square is the focus for the Christmas activities, in my young day that used to mean a nativity scene, but nowadays they plonk a fun fair on it. It was ‘sear your eye balls’ bright this year (2018).

Christmas lights,George Square, Glasgow

West George Street in the Merchant City area was the place to go if you were looking for something a bit more elegant. The church doorway was flanked by two Christmas trees, it looked pretty in the distance anyway. The church (St George’s Tron) is actually in Nelson Mandela Place though, the first street named after him – long before he was released from prison.

Christmas lights, Glasgow

And so went another year – in a flash!

Bakewell in Derbyshire, (Peak District) England

During our fairly recent trip down to England we stopped off in Bakewell, Derbyshire for lunch and to stretch our legs. A walk along the very scenic River Wye is a must, especially on a lovely sunny day.

Bridge at Bakewell, Derbyshire

We walked from the car park over this stylish and very ancient gothic arched stone bridge which dates from the 14th century, and if you’re interested there’s a decent second-hand bookshop right at the end of the bridge – or the beginning depending on which way you’re walking – all profits going to local worthy causes.

Bakewell Bridge

Weirs always add interest to waterways and I noticed that this one doesn’t quite go all the way across the width of the river, one edge has been kept clear so that fish are able to navigate easily up or downstream.

Bridge  at Bakewell

Which is just as well because …

Fish

it’s absolutely full of fish – trout and grey mullet I think. They’re big too, most of them being around 18 inches long or thereabouts. The last time we were in Bakewell there were even more fish though and it seemed quite spooky to me as they were all grey and ghostly looking.

As it was such a dry summer the Wye was very low, there wasn’t much depth for the fish to swim in and they were navigating around the legs of the ducks and swans. I’ve never seen anyone fishing here so I suspect it isn’t allowed which is just as well really as there are so many it wouldn’t seem very sporting – like shooting fish in a barrel.

Fish , River Wye, Bakewell, Derbyshire

If you’re interested our lunch was of the clotted cream scones variety – delicious.

You can see more images of Bakewell here.

Random photos

I must have walked past this window in St Andrews hundreds of times but I only noticed it recently. The buildings are generally very old but this is obviously an Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts window, somebody did a bit of refurbishment over the years.

Art Nouveau Glass Window

Across the road I noticed the stone owls sitting on the edge of the portico. I think that like many buildings in St Andrews this one is owned by the university, so presumably the owls are symbolic of wisdom and learning.

Owls

It’s rare to see an empty street nowadays, they’re usually full of parked cars on both sides of the street, but on their Open Arts Festival in Cellardyke, a coastal village in Fife, the place was deserted of cars for once. The clutch of red balloons being the only evidence of modernity, denoting where an artist was exhibiting work.
Cellardyke

I took the photo below in the fair city of Perth, the hanging baskets and window boxes were looking so lovely. I think the rather grand looking building was a bank originally – remember them?!
hanging baskets

I have visited the small town of Dunkeld hundreds of times as it’s one of my favourite places, but I had only ever been into the cathedral ruins there. The photo below is of the newer cathedral which is obviously still in use as a place of worship.
Dunkeld Cathedral Stained Glass

The photo below is the view of Dunkeld that you get as you drive over the bridge.
Dunkeld From Bridge over the River Tay

After visiting the cathedral I walked over the bridge to get a photo of the River Tay. I’ve never seen it so low before, there were actually people walking out to the ‘islands’.
River Tay From Bridge at Dunkeld

I bet it was still cold though!

Ironbridge, Shropshire, England

When I realised that we would be staying quite close to Ironbridge during our recent visit to England and Wales that went on our list of places to see. I’ve often seen the bridge on TV and it always looks beautiful. We drove into the small town and managed to park quite close to the shops (it was a Sunday) but we had only walked a few yards before we realised that the big plastic structure spanning the river was the actual bridge, swathed in scaffolding and plastic. What a disappointment, but not totally unexpected as we have a history of inadvertently visiting iconic locations when they’re being refurbished, including Chatsworth, the entire front of which was hidden.

Iron Bridge at Ironbridge

Anyway, we walked across the iron bridge as it’s not actually closed off, in fact it was very busy. Peering down at the River Severn was a strange experience. Any photographs I’ve seen of the bridge show a beautiful reflection of it in the water, but the river wasn’t looking its best. Mind you, having said that I can actually see reflections of some buildings in that photo, despite the sludginess of the water, so maybe it’s always like that.

I love rivers and bridges but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s just Scottish rivers that I love. They’re always lovely and clean and they rush and tumble towards their destination – sea or loch, in a mad dash to get there and making a joyous sound.

I don’t know if the area surrounding the River Severn had had heavy rain and storms just before we went there, maybe the character of that river’s water is always murky and slow moving, it looked like a brown sludge, with strange circular swirls on the surface. Colour wise it resembled a river of melted Galaxy chocolate, like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate factory, but it was somehow diabolically dangerous looking too.

Anyway, our trip there wasn’t a complete dead loss as despite it being a Sunday there were quite a lot of shops open, and one of them was a good secondhand bookshop. That was where I got the two Agatha Christie paperbacks I blogged about earlier. On the way out of the shop I caught a glimpse of a book called The Story of Scotland by F. Fraser Darling and realised that I already had one in this particular book series, they were published by William Collins in 1941, 1942 and 1943. They only have 47 pages in them but they’re really nicely illustrated with interesting prints and drawings. I also bought British Ports and Harbours by Leo Walmsley, I love its cover design. English Villages by Edmund Blunden is the book that I already had at home. These books are really lovely and it amazes me that they only cost me £3 each. It seems to be the price that booksellers ask for them no matter where you are in Britain, they’re underrated I reckon, but maybe I shouldn’t say that!

William Collins Books

Rochdale – part 2

Co-operation

Rochdale is the birthplace of the Society of Equitable Pioneers, the beginning of the Co-operative Society, something that they’re rightly proud of.

Rochdale Co-op

We visited a couple of interesting museums and walked around the town which has a river running through it, always a plus as far as I’m concerned. Apparently until recently the River Roch was completely hidden from view as a road had been built over it, now parts of it have been revealed, the bridge in the photo below is 800 years old.

River Roch

Since that photo was taken the work to open the area up has been done and it now looks like this.

Town Bridge + Hall, Rochdale

Rochdale is the only place that I’ve seen old cars used as planters, it’s a great idea I think. This isn’t a great photo though as I had to snap it while Jack was driving past. They used various types of old cars, well it keeps them out of landfills!

Car Planter

I’m back!

I really enjoyed our trip to Norway, it was something I’d wanted to do again for donkey’s years, and often when you’ve looked forward to something so much it can be a wee bit of a disappointment. But Norway lived up to my expectations, I don’t suppose the fjords ever change, except when some more scree falls down the mountains, just making it even more scenic than before.

As ever, the food on the cruise was excellent, but luckily we were able to go for long walks when we got off the Black Watch, we were just about the only ones to do that, although one couple did hire bikes to travel up to the lakes at Flam.

Queensferry Crossing

The cruise started off from Rosyth though and we were lucky enough to be the first cruise ship to sail under the newly completed Queensferry Crossing which was being officially opened by the Queen the next day. It had been closed to traffic to allow 50,000 people to walk across the bridge over the weekend, it’s not a pedestrian bridge normally. There was a lottery for the tickets so as you can see there were people waving at us as we sailed under the bridge. The bridge isn’t open to pedestrians at all now so that was a rare opportunity for them – and for the passengers who were out on deck waving back to them, quite emotional really.

Queensferry Crossing

All going to plan tomorrow’s post will be in Norway!

Bruges in Belgium – by water

Like many towns in Belgium and Holland Bruges is ringed by water, it’s part of the charm of their towns. Bruges is in west Flanders and is known as the Venice of the north. The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mind you, I don’t think I would like to be living in one of the houses that have water lapping at their walls, they must be terribly damp. There have been settlements in this area since the Bronze Age.

Boat trip

Anyway, we decided that a trip on the canal was a must although as the boat filled up with fellow tourists I was looking over the edge and wondering if it was safe, they don’t half pack people in! I think it is partly the boat trip that made me think that Bruges was so busy with tourists because when I look at the other photos it doesn’t look too crowded.

Boat trip

The name Bruges actually means bridges – obviously because there are so many small bridges all over the town, they’re all quite low but there’s only one that you have to duck your head to get under it though, when you’re in the boat.

This is definitely the best way to get a view of the many ancient buildings around the town. It must be quite annoying though for the people living in the houses with constant tourist filled boats going past – with a guide talking through a microphone.
Boat trip

Boat trip
The swans mainly seem to congregate in this area, probably they take to the water when the boats retire for the evening.

Boat trip swans

We noticed what seemed to be two Swaene Hotels, a bit confusing.

The Swaene Hotel, Bruges

The Swaene Hotel, Bruges

A lovely lilac tree overhung the canal.

Boat trip

More photos of Bruges will be forthcoming, eventually!

Kemback, Fife, Scotland

I was mooching around on Kingsbarns beach a while ago, it was just after a big storm and I practically fell over some stones with fossils in them. I’ve been back there since and haven’t been lucky enough to find anything interesting like that again, so I googled fossils in Fife and a village called Kemback was mentioned.

Now I’ve lived in Fife for over 35 years but I had never heard of Kemback before, so it was put on a list of places to visit, and one beautiful afternoon last week we got around to going there.

It’s close to Cupar and in Victorian times a mill was built there, taking advantage of the rushing water of the Ceres Burn which looks far too big to be called a burn if you ask me. The photo below is of a lovely waterfall which feeds into the river after running underneath the road. At some point it runs into the River Eden I believe.

Kemback waterfall

The waterfall is to the left of the Community Hall which you can see in the photo below.
Kemback waterfall
There are quite a few big-ish houses and a row of small terraced houses that must have been built for the mill workers, there’s a community hall and up a very steep hill stands a church and a graveyard.

But it’s the waterfall gushing down a cliffside that is the most attractive aspect of the place, it’s the one reason to visit the village really as although the waterfall feeds into the ‘burn’ there seems to be no easy way to access the burn banks or the enticing woodland over the other side of it which is really frustrating.

I love bridges in general and this one is a cute wee thing, it’s a shame about the rubbish that someone has probably chucked out of a passing car, litter seems to be all over Fife and it’s about time they started fining people because where there is a fine, such as around the Glasgow area – there is no litter on the roadside verges.

Kemback Bridge

As you can see from the photo below, it’s a fairly skinny road through Kemback, but not so narrow that passing places are needed.
Kemback cliffs

The road leading up to the church was another matter though, it’s very steep and narrow and I was terrified that we would meet a monster of a 4×4 coming in the opposite direction – but we were lucky, it’s a surprisingly busy teeny road. The church is a replacement of the original one which is just a shell in the middle of the graveyard and it was built in 1586.

Kemback Church and War Memorial

As you can see the World War 1 war memorial is in the shape of a Celtic cross.

It was the old church that really interested me, it’s situated below where the existing church is now and is surrounded by a graveyard which is still in use, but some of the graves go back hundreds of years. The church was built in 1582 and it replaced one from 1244, so it’s a fairly early Christian area. There’s only one World War 1 grave which is in front of the church in the photo, the poor soul must have been brought back home wounded – and lingered until 1920.

Old Kemback Church

The photos below were taken inside the church, where there are some ancient gravestones.
Old Kemback Church
Old Kemback Church

A view of some of the surrounding hills.
hills, Kemback< Fife

We went for a wee walk beyond the village and below is a photo of the road leading back into it. The orange thing to the left in the distance is a temporary barrier as it looks like some idiot had crashed into the wall recently. The walls around Fife seem to have taken a battering over this winter one way or another.
Kemback road

No doubt in the past this area has been quite industrial but now it’s a quiet backwater, apart from the roaring of the water that fuelled the industry.
3rd waterfall

There’s nothing else in the village apart from the community hall and the church it seems. Nobody has been tempted to open up a tearoom – which would no doubt have bought loads of visitors, but I’m not surprised that the inhabitants want to keep the place to themselves. I didn’t see anywhere that looked like a good place to find fossils, but we had a lovely afternoon out there.

You can see more images of Kemback here.

Getxo, Basque Spain

If anyone is interested in seeing more of the lovely town of Getxo in Spain’s Basque country – hop over to A Son of the Rock here as Jack has been posting a lot of photos of our visit in various blogposts, including a transporter bridge, there are very few of them in the world apparently.