Markinch War Memorial after the Remembrance Service and wreath laying yesterday.
On Friday we were guests at Perth Academy Remembrance Service which was only attended by a fraction of the school roll because it’s a big school and the hall wouldn’t accommodate them all, but what a lovely lot of youngsters they were.
As you can see, a lot of ‘old boys’ didn’t return from World War 1. Every year the history department chooses two names from the roll of honour and they research into their background, so that they become real people, not just names. Often some relatives are still living in the area and they are very happy to provide information on what they know of their ancestor. One was a talented footballer, another was an organist, and one modern day pupil once discovered that her family home had at one time been the family home of one of the fallen, so when it came to visiting the battlefields as part of the history course, his grave was sought out and some earth from his old garden was put onto it.
The war memorial is on the wall at the back of the assembly hall so they’re at the centre of things, not tucked away somewhere where they wouldn’t be seen often.
Modern perspex silhouettes of soldiers have been placed in front of the memorial in recent years, sitting at an old double desk just like the ones they would have sat at in school.
The whole service was impressive, with lovely music from the school orchestra, singing and of course readings.
I/we went to an old school but I don’t recall anything being done to commemorate Remembrance Day, apart from a minute’s silence at 11 o’clock on the 11th of the 11th. I’m fairly sure that more is now made of Remembrance Day than used to be.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Robert Laurence Binyon apparently wrote the word contemn at the end of the second line, but everyone seems to have changed it to condemn now, which is quite a different meaning as contemn means to scorn, despise or treat with contempt.
A couple of weeks ago I decided that we should visit the nearby Falkland Palace, before they shut the place for the winter. I specifically wanted to see what the gardens looked like as autumn crept up on us. In the photo above you can see the palace and ruins as viewed from the back. The palace was built as a pleasure palace, mainly used as the ‘hunting palace’ of the Stuarts. It was a favourite place of Mary Queen of Scots as it reminded her of the French palaces she had grown up in.
I think I zoomed in on the one below too closely as it looks a bit pixelated, but it gives you an idea of the autumnal shades.
The stone building in the photo below houses the real or royal tennis court. One time we went there people were actually playing real tennis, I think it calls for more skill than the modern version. The court is the oldest surviving one in the country, I think there are only a couple more of them.
I took the photo below just by turning around after taking the photo above it, so we’re looking back in the direction of the palace again.
The church in the photo below is next door to the palace, but it’s a lot more modern than the palace which dates from 1501, but there was a hunting lodge belonging to the Macduff Thanes of Fife, as long ago as the 12th century.
Click here if you want to see more photos and read a bit more about Falkland Palace which is now run by the Scottish National Trust.
You can see images of the real tennis court here. It’s a complicated game as you get points for hitting the ball through the windows in the back wall so the scoring system must be very different. You serve by hitting the ball onto the small sloping roof at the side.
We did go inside the palace but they don’t allow you to take photos which is a shame. The chapel is still used as the Roman Catholic church for the area. However as lots of people are very happy to dodge the rules there are images online of the interior of the chapel which you can see here.
Like so many places in Scotland, Falkland has been used as a location for filming Outlander.
I had just finished one of those FutureLearn online courses when I noticed that there was an exhibition of art called Men of Bannockburn on at the library/museum in Dunfermline. The art consists of life size illustrations of some of the main knights involved in the battle. The works are by the artist Marco Trecalli who as well as being an artist is also an expert on 13th and 14th century military equipment and uniforms.
Click on the photos if you want to read the details, that should enlarge them for you.
In another room there was an exhibition called Tall Tales, aimed at encouraging children to read. There were quite a few kids in there so I couldn’t take photos of any of the exhibits, but I liked the bookish sentiments on the walls. I doubt if any were read by kids though, mainly because they were at adult height! But they were too busy playing in the Beanstalk house made of books anyway.
I’m so late getting around to writing this post that I suspect both exhibitions are finished now, but they’ll probably move on elsewhere eventually.
It’s over a year since I visited Cardoness Castle, close to Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, south-west Scotland. It was originally built by the McCulloch family around 1470 and they seem to have been a difficult bunch, not the sort of people that you would want as neighbours.
As ever – you get a great view if you’re willing to tramp up the spiral staircase. The view below is looking over the Fleet Estuary.
Twp castles for the price of one today!
Carsluith Castle is situated three miles south of Creetown and dates from the 1400s. Carsluith looks fairly solid and it’s easy to imagine how it must have been in its heyday. Over the years various outbuildings have been added very close by and one of them has been turned into a cafe, also it’s right next to the A75 which is a very busy road and detracts from the atmosphere of the place, but Carsluith has some lovely details in the stonework so it’s worth having a look at it if you’re in the south-west of Scotland.
We visited Pitmedden Garden when we were in Aberdeenshire recently. It’s a place that I have wanted to visit for something like 40 years after watching the early days of the Scottish gardening programme The Beechgrove Garden, because one of the presenters – George Barron – was the head gardener at Pitmedden then.
The garden is a wonderful knot garden with over six miles of clipped box and yew hedges as well as a fairly recently replanted orchard. Most of the trees in there are too new to have much of a crop, but the older trees which are trained against the tall stone walls were well laden.
One of the great things about this garden is that despite the fact that its ‘bones’ are set in the intricate box patterns, it will still be ever changing as the spaces are planted up with seasonal bedding plants. The area in the photo below was filled with several different sorts of marigolds. I love the topiary yew buttresses aginst the walls in the background too.
We were there quite early on a Saturday morning and almost had the place entirely to ourselves. It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re in Aberdeenshire.
Below is a You Tube video of the beginnings of Beechgrove Garden and you can see George Barron and Jim McColl chatting away, George had a lovely Aberdonian accent which wasn’t something I had heard much of back then. Occasionally he slipped into the ‘Doric’ but not often enough for my liking!
Earlier in August we were in Aberdeenshire – for one night only, but we managed to fit a lot in as usual and Tolquhon Castle near Ellon was one of the places we visited. It was built in 1580 and although it’s now a ruin it’s well worth visiting, it’s easy to imagine how elegant and luxurious it must have been in its heyday. It’s thought there were earlier structures here around the 1200s.
Originally built for the Forbes family it was eventually sold in 1716 as the then laird had lost most of his money in the disastrous Darien Scheme.
The very narrow stairs in the photo below lead up to the highest point of the castle, a teeny wee room. These rooms are always my favourite part of castles as they would have been used mainly by the owners, probably the lady of the castle – a great place to read or just get away from it all, although this one only has one small window and there’s nowhere to sit outside on the walls – as other castles often have.
You get a good view from the top, but I was really interested in the two white bulls in the field below – well I think they were some variety of bull as there was nothing else in the field but they seemed placid.
Castles are all very well, but most of us would have been living in a wee cottage way back then, if we were lucky to have one, and I would have been happy in one of these cute wee ones at the entrance to the castle. One of them is now a visitor centre. What about you – castle or cottage?
Last weekend we drove up to the north-east of Scotland, a couple of hours from where we are in Fife. The main reason for the trip was so that Jack could watch his beloved Dumbarton football team play Peterhead – and ‘collect’ one of the few football stadiums that he hadn’t visited in Scotland. As ever we tried to squeeze in visits to other places of interest locally which is why we ended up at Haddo House which is near Ellon. It was built in 1732 and was designed by William Adam in the grand Georgian/Palladian style. Sadly I didn’t manage to get a photo of the front of the house as the heavens opened just as we walked to the house from the eatery for our scheduled guided tour, then we had to leave early as we were in danger of missing the football match!
The house is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland and they don’t allow photography inside this property which is a real shame – even our guide agreed that it was a daft decision. The windows are shaded to prevent the textiles from being damaged by bright light and there was only one window not covered and I was allowed to take these photos of the garden from it.
There’s a very long winding road leading to this house and it isn’t the original access road. This property was handed down through generations of Earls of Aberdeen and one of them married a woman who didn’t like the house and would only marry him if she could change things. I think it’s obvious from the photos I took that the original driveway was through the middle of the avenue of trees, it would have been a much more elegant and scenic arrival for guests. Aparently her husband gave her the equivalent of £14 million to reconfigure the house to her liking. We all agreed that moving staircases and adding some bits on including a chapel couldn’t have cost that much, we suspect the rest of it went into her private coffers for dresses and jewels!
There are quite a lot of photos of the interior at the Undiscovered Scotland site.
There were only ten of us on the guided tour but this place is obviously very well used by locals as a great day out for families, the car park was very busy.
During World War 2 the house was used as a maternity hospital so the guide always asks if there are any Haddo babies among the visitors so he can show them where they were born, we were the most local people in the group though as the others were mainly from London, apparently visiting Scotland now as they feared they would need a passport in the future! The rooms used for the expectant mothers had been used by Queen Victori and and Prince Albert during their one night only stay.
You can read more about the history of Haddo House here.
Thankfully Dumbarton beat Peterhead 3-2.
On our trip to Dunbar last month to visit the battlefield – such as it is almost 500 years after the fact – we stopped off at the actual town of Dunbar which is in East Lothian about 30 miles east of Edinburgh. The High Street there boasts the birthplace of John Muir and although we had often been to the small coastal town, we hadn’t been into the birthplace museum, so we rectified that this time around. As you can see below it’s a rather spiffing looking Scottish Georgian building.
What a disappointment when we got inside though. The whole building has been stripped back so there’s really nothing left to see of the internals, apart from a hole where a fireplace must have been once. I assume that it must have been riddled with dry rot and it was easier and much cheaper just to scrape everything away down to the bare stonework, no floors or ceilings left. You can go upstairs but it is modern and is almost as if another building has been built within the original one. It’s such a shame as there’s no ambience at all and it’s impossible to imagine how it was in John Muir’s day.
I took a photo of an embroidery sampler which I believe was supposed to have been done by his mother, sorry about the reflections. I have a couple very similar to this one, but mine have the embroiderers name on them – as most do.
You might be asking who John Muir was, I think he’s possibly better known within the USA than in his country of birth. He was a writer, explorer, naturalist and environmental campaigner and was years ahead of his time, realising that humans were damaging natural environments, and seeing that something had to be done – he is seen as the ‘Father of National Parks’.
Like most coastal towns Dunbar isn’t what it used to be, people would rather go on holiday to Spain than brave the icy waters of the North Sea, but it’s still a scenic area, you can see more photos of the area here.
There’s now a walk called The John Muir Way which stretches 134 miles from Helensburgh (one of my favourite areas) in the west of Scotland to Dunbar in East Lothian. That’s even longer than Hadrian’s Wall is and if I ever get around to a long walk like that I think I’d rather do the wall, if not the West Highland Way. Click the links if you want to see some stunning images of the walks.
At the end of June we got around to visiting Largo and Newburn Parish Church in Upper Largo. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for decades as I could see it in the distance every time we drove to St Andrews. The church wasn’t open though so we didn’t get a keek at the interior. The oldest parts of this church date from the 17th century but there has been a church here since the 9th century.
It was a really hot day and as all of these old churches are built on the highest ground in the village there was a decent view over the rooftops to the Firth of Forth. Originally before this was a place of Christian worship this was probably a place of religious significance for the older religions, possibly some sort of druids.
There’s an ancient stone monument in the photo below, I think this was originally a Pictish stone and when the place was Christianised they carved a cross on it. It’s behind ‘bars’ for protection as you can see.
The decoration on the other side is definitely Pictish.
I’m glad we managed to get there – before the very recent collapse of part of the churchyard wall, which seems to have been caused by the frequent bouts of torrential rain that we’ve been having over this strange summer. You can read about it here.
You can see a lot of old and new photos of the area here.