I came across a beautiful gatepost today, crafted not just to carry the weight of a gate, but something rather handsome too. It was hewn from the lovely soft blush pink gritstone that can be seen in many of the very old houses around here, the quarries it came from, long since worked out and disused. It’s a precious stone to those of us who live within its walls.
Loop Head West Clare, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. So many beautiful orchids
Whats not to love?
We were not so keen on the dizzying height of the cliffs, but photographed from a safe distance, you had to admire the geology, its things like this, the folds in this rock, a bedding plane pushed to almost 90 degrees, that make me feel very small, just a spec in the universe, just passing by, at the whim of forces of untold strength.
There was lots of wildlife too
Loop Head, is at the mouth of the river Shannon.
It’s a popular place to catch sight of dolphins, the water was heaving with seabirds, and there was a pungent smell of fish, and those people willing to sit at the edge of the cliff were getting very excited, we crept a little closer, all the black flecks in this photo are birds either on the water or diving, there was obviousley a large shoal of fish passing through.
and the distinctive black shape are of course dolphins. Not very dramatic dolphin photographs, unlike these beauties , I’m leased to say we had a better chance to see the magical world of dolphins, they’ll get a post all of their own…
Dark nights and cold weather may have arrived, but I’m still traveling through the Orkney islands and on the North coast 500 route of Scotland, it’s May and June 2017.
This was once the private home of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother, the Castle of Mey. It is now open to the public.
We arrived early, before the gates were open,
the drive looks like you are arriving at a fairy tale castle, I’m sure in a certain light these trees could look a little menacing, but paved with daisies, they look enchanting. I whiled away the time chatting to a robin, who posed in the hawthorn blossom
The Queen Mother fell in love with this place, when she was mourning the death of her husband, it was derelict. But not now, its rather beautiful, you could just imagine the Queen Mum, floating around the gardens of a summer morning with the corgis in tow.
The house is open to the public, but you can’t take photos, for copyright and security reasons we were told, which I can understand: undoubtedly there is a good dollop of ‘set dressing’ for the benefit of the public, but it is non the less an interesting view of her home.
We dodged the showers, to tour the gardens, which are gorgeous,
Look, light and flowers, they seem like a distant memory already.
I have to show you the rhubarb, magnificent, but then everywhere in the far north of Scotland, from derelict crofts to royal residences seems to, the most handsome rhubarb.
A feature of many fields in the area, are slabs of stone used as walls, I do like a nice stone wall, these are stood to attention, as one might expect, those of the field were rather less regular.
The veg patch was on a grand scale.
And the ‘scarecrows’ had a vernacular style!
Thirty Days Wild, thirty posts that started in June and are still limping along! I’ll get there in the end… something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the north coast of Scotland on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.
A visit to St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, sadly if was only a brief visit, we managed to slip in for a quick look around, just as a children’s concert was closing (there was much fiddle playing, but more of that in a moment) and preparations for a wedding were beginning , mind you I’d rather see a building that is very much part of the community than one preserved for tourist like me.
There are some wonderful tomb stones, its true to say I find them fascinating, on many levels, and Orkney has many that are note worthy (there’s probably another post to be had, Mr Uphilldowndale will tell you I spent a lot of time mooching around grave yards on our trip). These stones I loved because they, leave the viewer in no doubt, we are all just passing through, momento mori, ‘remember you must die’ an hour glass, a spade, a coffin, a skeleton, cross bones and skull have you got the message? No use spelling it out, if the viewer can’t read, and not many would have been able to circa 1600, so lets be visually bold.
Here, there is something about the hand, with the pointing finger, that made me smile, there is a touch of the Monty Python about it, what looks like a sleeve, is actually a clasp holding the stone vertical.
The external fabric of the cathedral itself has taken a hammering from the elements,
Momento mori, even if you are a lump of stone
After we returned home, I read of a battered fiddle, bought at a car boot fair, for £20,
It turned out that the fiddle had been made in 1919 by Thomas Sutherland from Flotta, and that the wood had come from HMS Vanguard.
More than 800 people died when the battleship sank in Scapa Flow in July 1917 after a series of internal explosions.
Do have a listen to the restored fiddle, being played in St Magnus cathedral, it will give you goose bumps.
Thirty Days Wild, thirty posts throughout June (and July, and August, I’m so,so tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the north coast of Scotland on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.
Health and safety was a recurring theme.
As a rule of thumb, the more signs a campsite had, the less likely we were to rate it highly,
people can get rather officious when let loose with a laminator and sometimes there are so many signs you just stop seeing them.
However some signs just capture the spirit of a place
And because I’m usually the very last person to be able see a typo, I was kind of proud, in a sad sort of way to spot this one!
We came across a lot of excellent, information boards (or are they called interpretation panels?) on our journey, usually at laybys and points of interest. Mind you, there some more unusual and innovative ways of sharing information. I particularly liked this,
It explains the geology of North West Highland Geopark
A second belated post from our weekend, back in November in the Yorkshire Dales . We went to
You don’t often see paved foot paths around here either, we were glad of them though, it was very wet and muddy.
The stile however posed a bit of a problem for Spud, they are obviously built for Yorkshire terriers, or maybe Whippets, but not Springer spaniels
Poor Spud, he needed a lift.
the local working dogs have got it sussed though. Gates open for them.
A selvedge of snow still remains, banked up against the drystone walls, it lies in dips and gullies (or ‘gips’ as I used to call them as a child, no point wasting words when you can blend).
There are lanes that are still full to the brim, some with cars still entombed! Our lane was cleared of snow this afternoon, by man in a JCB digger.
Tom has returned home from a geography study trip to Iceland*, it has been warmer there all the time he’s been away than it has here. How silly is that. On his return he said how ‘green’ everything looks at home, but this is only in comparison to Iceland, not ‘as it should be’, at this time of year, in this part of of the world. It is dire for livestock.
Here are Joe and Spud on our walk on Sunday
Mr Uphilldowndale wanted to show me some mine workings that have ‘opened up’ recently: as a child I used to play no more than a stones throw from here.
My Mum has said for over fifty years that she is convinced the loud crash she and a friend heard one summers evening could only have been to do with the old mine workings, of which there are many around and about, both coal and lead. It’s not really what you want at the bottom of the garden.
Making them safe is the remit of The Coal Authority.
* I’ve been envious of Tom, I went to Iceland in the early 1980’s with my friend Bob’s-mum; it seemed a bit off beat for a holiday destination back then. I loved it, however unlike Tom, I didn’t get to swim in The Blue Lagoon, or see the Aurora Borealis… sigh.