The Forth Bridges – floodlit

Forth Bridge

Back to our October 2016 cruise and I woke up in the dark, realising that our ship Black Watch must have entered the Firth of Forth because there was almost no movement at all and very little engine noise.

Forth Bridge

I shot out of bed and luckily managed to locate the camera in the dark, Jack was still out for the count. The two photos above are of the Forth Bridge which is for trains only. It’s the one on my header.

I was just in time to take these photos of the bridges as we went under them, I took lots but most of them didn’t come out.

These ones are quite atmospheric though, certainly if you know what you’re looking at anyway.

The new road bridge is still under construction, but it’s not far off being finished.

new bridge the Queensferry Crossing

new bridge

If you want to see more photos under construction have a look here.

Audley End near Saffron Walden in Essex

I was looking through some photos recently and I realised that I had never got around to doing a blogpost about Audley End. We went there on our way back from our trip to Holland last May. We had actually driven past the place the year before but as it was after 4 pm we weren’t able to go into it.

Audley End

Audley End

Audley End

It’s a very large 17th century Jacobean house not far from Saffron Walden in Essex. It’s apparently a third of its original size which is quite amazing, over the years the rest of it has been demolished, but it still seems a complete house now. The parkland was designed by Capability Brown – as so many of them were.
Audley End

Audley End
The house has had a very checkered career over the years but nowadays Audley End is owned by English Heritage and if you are a member of Historic Scotland you get in free. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are interested in historic houses and gardens and you find yourself in East Anglia.

Below is a photograph of the nursery.

Audley End

A sitting room.
Audley End

A doll’s hosue.
aAudley End 11

Tulip beds.
Audley End

The photo below is of a wee bridge and much smaller house which I think is/was used to house staff.

Audley End

You can see more images of Audley End here.

Dunkeld

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go to Dunkeld for the day. It’s one of my favourite wee towns. It was the day we were in search of autumnal trees.

aDunkeld trees 4

I took the photo below from the bridge in Dunkeld, looking north up the River Tay.

aDunkeld trees 1

I crossed the road to the other side of the bridge to capture the view to the south.
Dunkeld trees 3

Some houses just off the High Street in Dunkeld.

aDunkeld street 5

The town was decorated with bunting, it wasn’t long after Halloween but I think it was something to do with a local tradition.

aDunkeld street 3

aDunkeld street 2

If you look closely at the photo below you can just see the beginning of the bridge.

aDunkeld street 1

Here’s the bridge itself, built by Thomas Telford.

Bridge through trees

The River Tay is famous for salmon fishing but you have to put them back if you catch any.

aDunkeld trees stitch

Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway

One of the places we visited for the first time during our recent trip down to Dumfries and Galloway was the town of Newton Stewart. It fits the bill for me as a good town as it has a lovely river running through it – the River Cree. Unfortunately like many such towns the river has fairly recently got too close and personal to the inhabitants, flooding quite badly.

River Cree, Newton Stewart

It was another blue sky day, we were really lucky with the weather.

River Cree, Newton Stewart

What more can you ask for? As well as the river there’s a great old bridge too. I grew up in a town that has a very similar bridge although that one goes over the River Leven, some of my happiest moments have been when I’ve been hanging over such bridges, scrutinising the water for fish, or watching the hoards of starlings doing that magical air dancing. Well that’s what they used to do at Dumbarton bridge anyway.

Newton Stewart bridge

Below you can see what the town and bridge looked like in 2012 when the town flooded. It looks terrifying.

If you’re interested in seeing what the surrounding area looks like you might like to take a look at Vanessa Dixon’s dashcam video, Creetown to Newton Stewart although it takes about ten minutes to reach Newton Stewart there is some nice scenery along the way.

Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands, Scotland

Peggy flew back to TN this morning, no doubt she’ll be in need of another holiday to get over this one in Scotland. Last week we took her up to the Highlands for a couple of nights in a Bed and Breakfast at Dornie, a short walk from Eilean Donan Castle. It must be one of the most popular places to visit for tourists. I couldn’t believe how packed out it was at 10 o’clock in the morning when it opened. Apparently this castle was featured in the film Highlander, but I’ve managed to dodge that one despite it having been on TV almost as regularly as the Bridget Jones films.

Eilean Donan 1

Luckily you can walk all around the outside of the castle when it is closed, or about to close, and take photos from all angles. The only difficulty is trying to take photos that don’t contain other people taking photos! For some reason they don’t allow you to take photos of the inside of the castle.

Eilean Donan

The castle is situated on a small tidal island just where three lochs meet; Loch Alsh, Loch Long and Loch Duich. You can read about some of the history of the castle here.

Eilean Donan Castle

You can see more images of the castle here.

It’s definitely worth going to see but even if the castle didn’t exist it would be worth going up to Dornie as the whole area is incredibly scenic. You can see more images of Dornie here.

You can see how clear the loch water is from this photo I took of golden seaweed below the surface of the water. It is of course a sea loch.

seaweed at Eilean Donan

And below is a photo of Peggy and me, we look estranged! but we weren’t.
Eilean Donan

It’s an interesting but very busy destination.

Guardbridge in Fife

I find myself in the wee village of Guardbridge in Fife from time to time. Mainly when I want to take a look at a furniture restorer’s wares. We were there earlier this month, just before they were closing the roads around the area for some sort of roadworks, causing mayhem of course.

Guardbridge

Anyway, I decided to take a few photos of the two bridges that are so close together they meet. Cars only go across the left hand bridge though, and in the river you can just see the remains of what was a viaduct for the trains to get across the River Eden. The viaduct must have been removed when the railway line to St Andrews was closed down, unusually that wasn’t a Beeching cut.

Guardbridge 2

Guardbridge was a mediaeval stopping off point for pilgrims visiting St Andrews which is only about three miles away. Apparently St Andrews was one of the most important sites of pilgrimage in Europe. The Augustinians regulated how many pilgrims could be allowed to travel on to St Andrews each day.

Guardbridge 3

It was a beautiful blue sky day as you can see. Both bridges are very old, the oldest being from the 15th century.

Guardbridge is close to Leuchars which until recently was an RAF base, now it has been turned into an army base. For that reason if you have a Sat Nav/GPS it won’t be of much use to you, I’ve been told there’s some sort of block on it for security reasons. I find that hilarious, as if someone intent on causing trouble won’t be able to find their way about without Sat Nav!

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace

I could have sworn that I had blogged about our 2014 sojourn to Blenheim Palace but when I tried to link to the post recently I discovered that our photos had never even been put on Flickr, so here are some of them, as you can see it was a good day, unlike our visit this year. The architectural style is 18th century Baroque and the parkland was designed by Capability Brown.

Blenheim Palace ceiling

The ceilings are gorgeous, like very elaborately iced wedding cakes. Winston Churchill was born in the palace, although of course he didn’t inherit it, the title went to a cousin. He obviously loved the place though as he chose to be buried in the tiny churchyard at nearby Bladon.

Blenheim Battle tapestry

The tapestry above shows a scene from the Battle of Blenheim.
Blenheim Palace

Above is the view from the front windows, I do love fountains.

Blenheim Palace bridge

But I love this bridge and lake even more than the fountains, and the trees of course. Blenheim is privately owned, not National Trust and it’s expensive to get in, I think it costs £23 for each adult, but you can convert your ticket into an annual ticket, which is handy if you live nearby, not so handy for us driving from Scotland to visit though.

You can see more images of Blenheim Palace here.

You can read about the Battle of Blenheim here.

Eleanor Crosses

Have you ever heard of Eleanor Crosses? I ask because Jack had no idea what I was talking about when I noticed on a map that we were close to an Eleanor Cross, when we were away on our recent road trip to England.

Eleanor Cross

Queen Eleanor of Castile was married to King Edward I better known as The Hammer of the Scots to a lot of people and Logshanks to others, and a ghastly horror if you’re Scottish. He was the Edward who had William Wallace executed and stole the Stone of Destiny from Scone Palace in Perthshire and took it down to Westminster.

He seems to have been genuinely close to his wife though and when she died near Lincoln in 1290 he had her body moved to London, making 12 resting stops on the way. At each stop he had a huge stone cross erected in her memory. Only three are still surviving, luckily we were near two of them.

Eleanor Cross Inscription
The one above is just outside Northampton, on the edge of what is a very busy road now. As you can see someone has left a wreath there.

The one below is even bigger and is now a sort of traffic island in a very historic village called Geddington, which is lovely and peaceful.

Eleanor Cross

This ancient church – St Mary Magdalene is just a few steps away from the cross so presumably the funeral procession stopped overnight here as there was a religious community there. I love old graveyards and I noticed that the two war memorials in the grounds of the church had a lot of the same names as the ancient tombstones, it seems that people didn’t move away from the area – unless they had to.

Church in Geddington

I can’t resist taking a photo of thatched cottages.

Thatched cottage

The old bridge and ford below seems so English to me, there had been a lot of rain so a few cars turned back rather than chance the ford while we were there, so the bridge is still in constant use, cyclists were happy to go through the water though.

Bridge + Ford

Geddington is a lovely wee place to visit.

Pollok House and Garden in Glasgow, Scotland

Here we are back at Pollok House and Garden, you can see my previous post about it here.

Pollok House  garden

Unfortunately the wedding which was taking place inside the house later went outside for the reception in one of those wedding marquees, not my idea of an elegant do but they are very popular nowadays. It meant I couldn’t get photos of all of the garden.

Pollok House  garden

I do love box hedging and it’s so easy to strike cuttings from any trimmings you make. I think I’ll make some sort of wee design in my own garden, nothing grand like this of course.

Pollok House  garden

Below is an area of mixed flower beds.

Pollok House  garden

And a stone wall bedecked with self seeded flowers.

Pollok House  garden

No grand house is complete without a lovely bridge it would seem. This is the bridge which the Clydesdale horse in my previous post walked over.
Pollok House bridge

The tearoom is located in what was the kitchens of the house and it’s obviously the place to go for lunch as it was very well patronised. It’s worth taking a look down there even if you don’t want anything to eat or drink as it’s all very Downton Abbey-ish, with the butler’s telephone booth. I recommend the gingerbread though Jack chose the shortbread, we sampled each others – as you do, both were very tasty. There’s also a good exhibition of Scottish landscape paintings downstairs.

It was a good day out all in all.

The Queensferry Bridge from Fife, Scotland

It’s all go at the construction site of the new Queensferry Crossing, which is what I believe the new bridge spanning the River Forth is being called. You can just see a bit of the garden of a house on the right hand side, they have a great view of it all.

North Queensferry

The new bridge is reaching out over to Fife, they seem to be getting on with it quite quickly. In fact they’re way ahead of schedule and well under budget too – how often does that happen?!

North Queensferry

I think it’s going to look quite elegant when it’s finished.

North Queensferry

On one of our many recent night time journeys over what I suppose must now be called the old Forth Road Bridge, we took a detour down to the edge of the Forth so that I could take some photos by night.

New Queensferry  Bridge at night 1

It’s all well lit up as you can see, I think they’re working round the clock on it but there should be no danger of any vessels bumping into it. It’s quite a sight I think.

New Queensferry Bridge at night 2