Tag Archives: Scotland

Scotland, ah Scotland!

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And what a great wee country it is!  A bit bleak in places, and at this time of year, not always the best weather (read: don’t go to Scotland in winter!) but hey, the people are lovely and there’s plenty of tea, coffee, soup, hot water bottles, coal fires and thick duvets to keep out the winter cold and damp.

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And so it is that I’ve just spent the last 12 days in Bonnie Scotland, in-between 2 weekends of church visits in Co. Durham, but with a free weekend in the middle.  So it’s fitted in really well.  But as I’m a fine-weather photographer, you’ll just have to imagine most of my trip, cos it didn’t half rain for the first few days!  Visited friends in Hawick, West Kilbride, Fife, Dundee, Perthshire and East Lothian, in that order, staying for 1-3 nights with each.  Loved it all!  Grateful thanks to all my friends for their hospitality – and all the teas, coffees, soup, hot water bottles, coal fires and thick duvets too.

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Weather-wise, it improved as I went on.  A wet journey up the A68 to Hawick.  Knew I’d arrived in Scotland when I saw haggis lasagne on the menu, really good!  Cold and wet on the west coast.  Highlight there was the tea party for some of the West of Scotland CMS group ~ new friends and old gathered together.  Then I arrived in St. Andrews on St. Andrew’s Day, where admission to everything was free for that day only.  Especially interesting was the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.  Worth a visit!  And the Chariots of Fire beach was as beautiful as ever.  But then the rain started ~ and the rest was, well, very wet and cold!

Sadly no photos of Scotland’s most famous chain walk at Elie, which consists of 8 long chains going up and down the rocks and cliffs all round the beach, and only passable at low tide.  That was an experience.  Exhilarating.  Not for the faint-hearted.  So maybe it was good that it was late afternoon and the light was going, and it’d been drizzling for a few hours, so I couldn’t see too much.  Some of those rock faces are really scary.  Go with people who know the way, it makes a big difference on those rocks. But all in all, highly recommended!  Also went to church on Sunday at Upper Largo Church of Scotland where there must have been 70 in the congregation, and a very energetic retired minister taking the service.  Lots of friendly people to drink coffee with afterwards too.

Then there was Dundee, where the new V & A was also well worth a visit.  Stunning architecture.  Grateful that my friend had membership plus one, so I could also go in the liners exhibition free too. Loved it.

And so to Perthshire.  Cold.  Oh so cold.  But the frosty views in the sunshine were great.  Heavy frost 2 nights running, but the car started first time.  If you know my history with cars, you’ll know that cars rarely start first time.  Or any time.  And always break down, groan, groan 😉😉!  But on this trip, so far, so good.  This is the area around Glenshee.  Snow on the mountains.  Yes, yes yes!

And finally to East Lothian, where beach views and North Berwick Law were bracing and breezy.  Blown away by both the wind – and the views!

My furthest northernmost point on this whole UK trip was the Glenshee Ski slopes, not yet open, which are just into Aberdeenshire.  Cold and blustery, but beautiful.  Loved it.  From now on, it’s southwards all the way!

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Thank you Scotland – and all friends in Scotland – enjoyed every minute, even the cold and damp.  Can’t wait to come back, and I haven’t even left yet!  Off to Darlington tomorrow, Saturday.  So, goodbye until we meet again, and thanks to you all!

Haddington, East Lothian

Kinda misread the postcode and before I knew it, my friends turned out to have moved to EH41 not EH4 – which is the difference between the west and east side of Edinburgh ~ so off I redirected myself to what turned out to be the very lovely town of Haddington in East Lothian, birthplace of John Knox (considered to be the founder of the Scottish Presbyterian Church) no less!

A historic and beautiful town with famous churches and buildings galore, and a nice Holy Week Prayer Cairn at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church….

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And discovering in fact that we’re now kind of directly across the Firth of Forth from where I was last Friday on Largo Law ~ so up we went this morning to the local hill, Traprain Law from where there were views of Fife, and even of Largo Law….

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Us – looking happy – OK, so the pose was at my insistence!

The cliff is actually an old basalt quarry – but the legend is as follows:

“In legend, Traprain Law was the cliff from which Thenaw, the mother of St Mungo, was thrown when her father, King Lot or Leudonus, discovered she was pregnant by Owain mab Urien. Saved by divine providence, she was transported by boat to Saint Serf‘s community in Culross, where she gave birth to Kentigern, later also known as Mungo.”

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So there you have it, a gloriously sunny day (all the more enjoyable after the freezing snow of yesterday) and summer is almost upon us….

Many thanks to my good friends for moving to such a wonderful place ~ East Lothian ~ YES!

Snow, snow and more snow ~ in April!

It may be April Fool’s Day but this is no joke – waking up to a thick covering of the white stuff today and it’s supposed to be spring!  Here I am in Strathardle, in deepest Scotland – and looking at them poor sheep frozed outside the house early this morning….

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This morning, driving over Moulin Moor and down into Pitlochry looked like this – it’s bleak out there!

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Now southward bound – Easter is coming!

Glenshee, Perthshire

When in Scotland gotta go and check out the ancestors ~ and so it was that today I found myself in Netherton, Bridge of Cally where my grandmother was born and brought up – at the Smithy….

Netherton is right at the beginning of Glenshee, and so, determined to get as far as possible up Glenshee before the rain came, off I went, up and up…..

Right up to the top in fact, to the Glenshee Ski Slopes, the UK’s largest ski resort, and the highest public road in the UK at 670m…. although now closed for the summer. It’s actually just over the Perth and Kinross county border into Aberdeenshire.

On the south-facing slopes in the sun it looks like there’s hardly any snow ~ and then you turn around and look behind you and see masses of the stuff on all the north-facing slopes……

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It’s the furthest north I’m going on this trip ~ so coffee at the ski cafe to celebrate ~ and back down to Spittal of Glenshee to check out the church, the view and the sad state of the old hotel that was burned down last summer and still sits there looking miserable…

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By which time the rain was starting, right on time according to the weather forecast, and I was on my way over the hills to Strathardle – visiting more friends….

In case you’re wondering, visiting friends is what I’m doing in Scotland, taking photos is what I’m doing in-between times ~ but on sunny days only!

IMG_20150326_130436_1427578941376[1]So it was that last week I was in Kilmahog with my good friends Irene and Brian who live in Cumbernauld. Kilmahog is near Callander – and the name of the place is – um, very memorable. So is the place itself and its beautiful location, but on a dull day, I focused on the task at hand, which was, well, talking.  Talking, and more talking.  Sorry, no time for photos!

And yesterday was dull and dismal, and the only photo was of a big cruise ship arriving in Dundee – but I was busy.  Busy being woken up by the noisiest dawn chorus in the whole of the country, seagulls in full voice.  Tons of them screeching and screeching.  It was kinda fantastic!

Went with friend Karen to the afternoon service at her church, Lifegate Community Church – which was great. They have a really worthwhile outreach on the Whitfield Estate, with a community café on Fridays for those in need (read the article about it here).

Such a good sense of a close Christian community, really caring for each other. And all generations in each family all together in one church.  They even have a couple of church members who are with Youth-with-a-Mission in Taiwan. It’s a small world.  We all went out to dinner to celebrate!

So there you have it.

And now here I am in Strathardle, not far from Kirkmichael, and outside it’s snowing hard. It’s freezing cold out there ~ winter is back!

St. Andrews, Scotland

Ah, St. Andrews, home of all sorts of things ~ Scotland’s oldest university, the ruins of Scotland’s largest cathedral, and home of the oldest and most iconic golf course in the world, and right on the sea.  Oh yes, and  famous for being the place where Prince William and Kate met as students….

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And home too, of one of the nicest university chapels in the country!  Most old university chapels are, well, let’s face it, dark, gloomy and sombre places, not helped by all the dark wood used for the pews.  St. Andrews University Chapel – St. Salvator’s Chapel – is in the same style but light and bright ~ and today my friends were there ringing the bells for a wedding….

So while they rang bells, I went to see the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral, up St. Rule’s Tower, and to the castle ~ and later we went to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, near the beach featured in opening scenes of Chariots of Fire…..

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See that white flag on the golf course?  It’s the 18th hole of the most famous golf course in the world ~ and the 2015 Open Championship is coming here in July, YEH!

The Fife Coast

Visited Kinghorn this afternoon ~ the harbour is still the same from all the times I’ve visited my relatives here in years gone by ~ the old church, the beach, the lifeboat station, and the sea, even at low tide ~ beautiful!

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And now I’m further along the Fife coast visiting friends ~ this is the view from their local hill, Largo Law, the remains of a volcanic plug….

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That’s the Firth of Forth, and the hills of East Lothian in the distance.  What a view ~ but it wasn’t half a steep climb up to get there!

Forth Bridges, Edinburgh

Spent an amazing few hours at the Forth Bridges near Edinburgh today ~ the road bridge, rail bridge and even the construction work that’s going on for the new one….

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They are truly incredible!  This is the charming village of South Queensferry, and the view north across the Firth of Forth……

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And at North Queensferry, the village is almost right under the bridge…. and the view south…

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There’s tons of history, tons of steel ~ and tons of awe at what has been made ~ definitely big WOW factor!