Jedburgh Abbey, Scottish Borders

The main reason anyone will go to Jedburgh I imagine is to see Jedburgh Abbey, what’s left of it anyway. As you can see from the photos below it’s quite grand still, even as a ruin. It was founded by King David I in 1138.

Jedburgh Abbey

Jedburgh Abbey

Jedburgh Abbey

Jedburgh Abbey

Some parts of it still have the roof intact.

Jedburgh Abbey

Other parts of it are just piles of stones where the kitchen and sleeping quarters and such were. Over the years as the abbey became poorer they just abandoned buildings that they couldn’t afford to upkeep. Now it’s maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.

Jedburgh Abbey

You can see more images of the abbey and town here.

Holmwood House – Glasgow

Last month we visited Holmwood House in Glasgow which is an Arts and Crafts property owned by the National Trust. It was designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. It isn’t a massive house, just four bedrooms and over the years has been owned by various people, before the National Trust took it over a Roman Catholic convent inhabited it and they made some strange changes to some rooms, including installing ‘confessionals’ in the dining room! The National Trust is slowly putting the place back to how it looked in its glory days.

The hall walls have just recently been refurbished, all hand painted by four men apparently, I don’t know how they had the patience for that!

Holmwood in Glasgow

There are various designs of floor tiles that have withstood the years well.

Victorian Hallway floor tiling

There had been a private school in residence at one point and had damaged the lovely wooden flooring, all part of the building’s history now I suppose.

Upstairs room wooden floor

I’ve never seen a ceiling like the very ornate one on the oriel window of the drawing room below. It was designed so that the blinds and curtains are recessed behind it so you can’t see the top of them, very posh!

Drawing room Holmwood Glasgow
A close up of the window recess ceiling.
ceiling Drawing room , Holmwood

The colour scheme in the drawing room is certainly vibrant.
Holmwood Drawing room

I have no idea why there’s a hallstand in the drawing room. Holmwood is still a work in progress.
Drawing room , Holmwood, Glasgow

The ceiling ‘rose’ in the midle of the drawing room ceiling is quite unusual, the actual ceiling is marbled, a paint effect I think. At first glance I thought they had had some water damage but phew, it’s meant to look like that.

Holmwood Drawing room  ceiling

I have quite a few more photos but that’ll do for now. I thought I’d already done a post about the outside of the house but apparently not.

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

Rochdale Town Hall, Lancashire

We stayed in Rochdale for a few days last month, visiting friends who live there. I knew very little about the place, apart from knowing that like many towns it has a very grand town hall built in the Victorian Gothic Revival style. We had just missed a tour of the building and they only have a couple of them a week, but we were being treated to afternoon tea in the tearoom there so we were at least able to see some of the interior. I can highly recommend the afternoon tea – delicious.

Rochdale Town Hall

Rochdale Town Hall

Rochdale Town Hall Interior 1

Rochdale Town Hall fireplace

It’s a good setting for a wedding if you live in that area.
Rochdale Town Hall interior

Sue and I made a trip to the loos and we were held up a bit because there was an old lady in front of us, obviously not able to walk very quickly – and leaning on a man’s arm. Luckily they veered off in a different direction and Sue said to me “Did you realise who that was?” No I didn’t. It was the actress Julie Goodyear, better known as Bet Lynch of Coronation Street fame! And – blow me down – she had been wearing her trademark leopard print too, just in case people failed to recognise her I think. We all saw her from the front later on so Jack and I feel we got the authentic north of England experience of seeing a ‘soap’ actor around town. With Emmerdale also being filmed nearby actors can apparently be seen around and about quite often.

If you have no idea who Bet Lynch was you might like to see the clip of her below, when she was in her heyday. This is probably from around when I gave up watching Corrie as they went from two episodes a week to just about every day of the week. Too much.

It was obviously too much for Julie Goodyear as she seems to have retired from acting to concentrate on breeding horses. Martin and Sue pointed her property out to us, on the outskirts of Rochdale, she has a good view anyway.

Rochdale has come in for a lot of flak in recent years but I was quite impressed by it.

Blackpool Illuminations – and more

Central Pier, Blackpool

Last month when we were visiting friends in the north of England for a few days we were taken to see the Blackpool Illuminations – a first for both of us. I had heard that Blackpool was like lots of British coastal resorts, very much down-at-heel and that’s true for some parts of it. The sad truth is that it’s often cheaper for people to travel to Spain for a week than to stay in a seaside hotel in Britain.

Tower + tram at Blackpool

You can’t go to Blackpool and not buy some rock, it comes in all sorts of weird flavours nowadays, not just the mint of the past. So chilli, salted caramel and cheesecake flavours purchased, it was time to look at the Blackpool Tower. The TV programme Strictly Come Dancing must have been a godsend to Blackpool as it must have brought a lot of visitors to the place, to see the famous ballroom. But there was something going on in it when we were there, probably filming so we didn’t see the actual ballroom although there are still good Victorian details to admire in the rest of the interior.

Imperial Hotel Blackpool

We were treated to a splendid afternoon tea at a posh hotel, The Imperial – see above, but the framed celebrity photos on the walls spoke of a grander history when the likes of The Beatles and Jayne Mansfield visited.

Afternoon Tea at Imperial Hotel Blackpool

It was dry but windy and a wee bit chilly, so after filling up on delicious sandwiches, scones and cakes – twice as many as in the picture! – we got all day tickets for the trams and took a ride out to Fleetwood, about fifteen miles from Blackpool, but by the time we got there Fleetwood was shut! We had a walk about and Martin, who had gone there on holiday as a nipper, found a lot of changes although to me it looked fine, but was lacking the bowling greens and crazy golf of the past. There are a few buildings that would be recognisable by Edwardians who flocked to Fleetwood in its glory days as you can see from the photo below.

Fleetwood Pavilion
When we got back to Blackpool it was time for dinner, so we headed to a fish restaurant – as you do. Fish wrapped in batter is really the only kind that I like as it doesn’t taste very fishy.

By the time we had finished it was dark and the show had started, illuminations were lit up. I’ve known loads of people who go to the illuminations every year and I never really had any idea of what it was they were going to see – so now I know!

It’s a mixture of tableaux aimed at children I suppose, but I liked the Alice in Wonderland one.
Alice in Wonderland Lights
Lights Blackpool tram

The trams are festooned with lights making them look like riverboats and old steam trains, and the street on the long esplanade is decked out in a variety of designs. I was really quite impressed and I was surprised to discover that the illuminations are so temporary. It seems strange that they don’t have them there for the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Sadly most of our photos were too blurry but you can see more photos of the illuminations here.

They certainly brighten up a cold dark night but I suppose could be thought of as being a bit tacky, I think it’s just a bit of fun to try to prolong the tourist season after the summer holidays are over. It must use up a lot of electricity though so I hope in future years they can power a lot of it by solar!

Blackpool Illuminations

I thought you might like to see posters of Blackpool and Fleetwood in their heyday in the 1920s and 1930s.

Blackpool Illuminations
Blackpool

Fleetwood

Battlefield/Langside in Glasgow

One day last month we decided to travel to my beloved west of Scotland, all of seventy or so miles away from where we now live, but a miss is as good as a mile – as THEY say. We were aiming to visit Holmwood House, an Arts and Crafts house which is now owned by the National Trust. I’ll blog about that house sometime in the future.

On the way back from that part of Glasgow I mentioned to Jack that an ancestor of mine (great great uncle?) had designed a church and monument in Battlefield, which happened to be the area we were in, just as I said that we passed the monument which is now situated on a traffic roundabout! The Wiki link is wrong, I think that must have been his son who went to Australia.

Battlefield Monument

It’s much bigger than I had imagined. The monument commemorates the Battle of Langside in 1568 which ended with the defeat of Mary, Queen of Scots’s army on that site, or certainly nearby. Alexander Skirving designed the monument in 1887 which was the 320th anniversary of her defeat.

As ever, we in Scotland are always in a bit of a quandary, would we have supported her or been on the other side? I suppose it depends which religious leader you favour – the Pope or John Knox. What a choice!

The church is now a bar and eatery, as so many of them are nowadays, if they haven’t been turned into flats or demolished. We had already had our lunch at Holmwood, we’ll try that restaurant out another time though.

Church

Battlefield/Langside Church

After that the only thing I wanted to seek out was the street that I knew must be fairly nearby, named after the architect and also of course my own maiden name. With a bit of help from a passerby we found it, as you can see it’s typical Victorian tenements, it’s actually quite a long street the photo below is about half of it.

Skirving Street

There are shops further up, including a bookshop which very annoyingly was closed for the day. It was a bit surreal to see my surname above a Chinese take away. They’re usually called Lucky Date, Golden Moon or some such thing, but I suppose it means that people won’t forget where it is! It’s something that Alexander Skirving could never have foretold when he designed buildings for this area.

Chinese cuisine

There aren’t that many of us about with that Skirving surname, in fact I’ve never met any that I wasn’t related to. It appears in ancient Scottish surname books, but not in ordinary ones, and is of course originally Scandinavian/Viking. Some people like to think that in Britain our ancestors have been here forever and a day, but like everywhere else we’re just a bunch of mongrels when you get right down to it.

street sign

Doune Castle in Stirlingshire

A couple of weeks ago we visited Doune Castle which is not far from Stirling, we hadn’t visited it before although we’ve been to Doune quite a lot and even looked at a house in the village when we were house-hunting prior to J’s retirement. The castle was built in the 14th century.

Doune Castle

There’s some work requiring scaffolding going on at part of the castle.

Doune Castle
Like many such places it has been used as a location for TV programmes and films and probably because of the plummeting pound it has seen a big increase in visitor numbers, especially from the US. I’m beginning to think that Diana Gabaldon should be given some sort of award from the Scottish government – for her services to tourism in Scotland.

Doune Castle

There was also a wedding going on in the kitchen of all places while we were there and the bride was due any minute so we only got a quick look at the kitchen, the guests were already waiting for her to arrive.

Doune Castle Courtyard
Doune Castle has been famous for quite a long time though as it was used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Game of Thrones.

Internally it has some quite grand rooms that would have been more suitable for a wedding I think, but maybe that would have meant closing down most of the castle and they wouldn’t want to do that.

Doune Castle Interior
You can see more images of Doune Castle here.

Doune Castle Interior

The staircase below started off fine but got progressively narrower and steeper, it’s amazing to me that people manage to negotiate them without breaking something, although I did hear of one lady who got stuck in a staircase at Culross Palace!
Doune Castle Interior
Most of these National Trust properties have a dressing up box for the children, but at Doune it’s for adults who fancy dressing up as Clare from Outlander! One lady was desperate to try a dress on but I think they were all in Claire’s size so she had to give up trying. In the shop they have for sale replicas of Claire’s riding jacket priced at £200. I think you would have to be a fairly dedicated fan (or nutter) to shell out that sort of money.
Castle Interior  Dressing up

We went for a walk around the castle and it was only then that we realised how well positioned it is. They built it on high ground at the confluence of two rivers, the River Teith and the Ardoch Burn so it wasn’t going to be easy for any attackers to gain access from those sides. There were a few men fishing in the Teith.
River at Doune

Doune,River

There isn’t a tearoom at the castle but we enjoyed coffee, scones and cake at Willows Dell which is in the village of Doune nearby. You can see photos of the village here.

Willows Dell

The Cavern, Liverpool

For some reason I had been under the impression that The Cavern had been demolished years ago, but it turns out that they only knocked down 25% of it, so it was a must visit destination for us during our recent trip to Liverpool with our friends Martin and Sue.
The Cavern

Just imagine how many famous performers have traipsed down the stairs into The Cavern! It seemed a long way down too.
The Cavern stairs

The place was packed out with drinkers and people like ourselves who were just there to soak up a wee bit of the atmosphere. There was a chap on the stage playing guitar and he discovered that a woman at the front had come over from Belfast, Frances was celebrating her 40th birthday and she asked him to play Give Peace a Chance which he did. Perfect for a sing song! And I imagine something often in the mind of a person from Belfast.

The Cavern

I had a good walk around the place, the walls are covered with old photos of the many people who have performed there over the years, not only The Beatles. But it was their photos that I found strangely moving, it’s all so sad that the best two are no longer with us.

Beatles Memorabilia

Fans from all over the world have written their names all over the brickwork. Above the photos a sign says that The Beatles played there 292 times between the 9th of February 1961 and the 3rd of August 1963
Beatles Memorabilia

A very young looking Chuck Berry was one of the many others who have played there.

Chuck Berry Memorabilia

The photo below is of the entrance, which is ‘new’, well certainly not the original, presumably that one was what was demolished for some reason – years ago – that 25%.
The Cavern new entrance

If you’re going to Liverpool, even if you aren’t a huge Beatles fan but are into music then you should definitely make time to visit The Cavern. I think there will always be a bit of a Beatles sing-song going on mind you!

Stromness, Orkney, Scotland

I liked this really quaint looking house in Stromness.
quaint house

Stromness is a really small town with just one very narrow street of shops strung along the edge of it, and as you can see it’s very narrow, you have to press yourself to the wall whenever a car goes past – which is often, and sometimes you even have to dive into a doorway if it’s a big vehicle. We were never brave enough to actually drive along this street – not wishing to kill anyone!

Stromness Street , High Street

Stromness street

Stromness, High Street

The pavements/road surfaces are interesting though, there seem to be fossils embedded in a lot of them.

fossil paving , Stromness, Orkney

This very old doorway is just off the High Street .

Carved doorway

Stromness like every other High Street in the UK has at least one charity shop, it’s a cat charity and Moxy the cat is apparently NOT FOR SALE.

Moxy the cat in charity shop

There are some cracking photos of Stromness online, you can see them here.

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney

St Magnus Cathedral

After a few decent days of weather on Orkney a storm rolled in, terrible high winds and torrential rain, so we decided to drive to Kirkwall which is the main town on Orkney. We dashed from shop to shop in a bid to avoid the worst of the rain, not that there are that many shops in Kirkwall.

St Magnus Cathedral beckoned us over the road and although there were quite a lot of people inside – that didn’t detract from the beauty of the place. I usually much prefer the atmosphere in small churches (not that I am at all religious) as some large places of worship often have that ‘fear of God’ about them, but this cathedral felt like a place of peace.

St Magnus Cathedral back towards door

The floor is particularly lovely.

St Magnus Cathedral Floor

As is the font which is encrusted with semi-precious polished stones.
St Magnus Cathedral Font

St Magnus Cathedral altar

St Magnus Cathedral Wall

I love this model of a Viking ship.

St Magnus Cathedral Viking Ship

There are more images of the cathedral here.