Category Archives: Travel

Kenning Yew

Up in Kenmore with the folk club, A8M, celebrations, music and jaunts.  For some reflection we visited the Fortingall Yew; debate rages, quietly, about its age but it’s definitely very old*. It felt pretty humbling and impressive to be in its company.  I note from Wiki that part of it has changed gender.  Mum always said there is nothing new under the sun.  She would have enjoyed the pre-dinner-drinks drinks  in our posh verandah room.

When I’ve done my work of day,

And I row my boat away,
Doon the waters of Loch Tay,
As the evening light is fading
And I look upon Ben Lawers
Where the after glory glows;
And I think on two bright eyes
And the melting mouth below.

She’s my beauteous nighean ruadh,
My joy and sorrow too;
And although she is untrue,
Well I cannot live without her,
For my heart’s a boat in tow,
And I’d give the world to know
Why she means to let me go,
As I sing horee horo.

Nighean ruadh, your lovely hair
Has more glamour I declare
Than all the tresses rare
‘tween Killin and Aberfeldy.
Be they lint white, brown or gold,
Be they blacker than the sloe,
They are worth no more to me
Than the melting flake of snow.

Her eyes are like the gleam
O’ the sunlight on the stream;
And the songs the fairies sing
Seem like songs she sings at milking.
But my heart is full of woe,
For last night she bade me go
And the tears begin to flow,
As I sing horee, horo.

She’s my beauteous nighean ruadh,
My joy and sorrow too
And although she is untrue,
Well I cannot live without her.
For my heart’s a boat in tow
And I’d give the world to know,
Why she means to let me go
As I sing horee horo.

*3 – 5000 years.

Fortingall Yew tree
A8M, Kenmore
Room and terrace
Kenmore Bridge
Some cards


Back on the road

The Seafarer, by William Lamb, F.R.S.A.
A Snipe. Honest.
Lunan Bay
Seal skeleton
Snowdrops, House of Dun

Last  week found us in Montrose, to visit the Basin and its wintering residents.   Timing was either spot on or spot off; coinciding as we did with that time in late winter when there is enough daylight to evince notions of venturing further afield, only to find out that most places of interest are still shut.  Honourable mentions therefore to the Basin visitor centre, the gardens of House of Dun, Brechin Town House, Montrose Museum and Art Gallery, and the Aircraft Museum.  They were open and staffed.

A high spring tide meant that the birds hiding on the Basin foreshore were forced to reveal themselves,  giving us a fine view of a wisp of snipe, nine in total.  (And also giving me the opportunity for legitimate use of a collective noun).   Other highlights included various sculptures, and it should not go unmentioned that everyone we spoke to was pleasant and helpful.

If you do not know the story of Bamse, read the book.

Due to my misinterpretation of the rules for the honesty box in the Aircraft Museum tearoom, we were entitled to rather more biscuits than were consumed.  However, in the presence of so many sobering reminders of the real cost of war…

There was an excellent exhibition of sea themed paintings at the gallery in town, including many by famous son William Lamb.  I have yet to find a sculpture trail or map, but I believe much of his work is dotted around the environs.


Land o’ the Peh

To Dundee, thence to meet up with Philip and Jacqui,  and to assess at first hand the V&A museum which opened its doors recently, after the usual amount of controversy associated with any groundbreaking arts-led enterprise.

It’s a bold building, with excellent views along the Tay and over to Fife.  The Scottish design gallery had some very interesting exhibits and I would like to go back early on in the day, mid week, so that I could see more.

We hope that the hundreds more who will visit, venture out to enjoy what else is on offer in this unique and interesting city.    We also made a sideways jump to the McManus Galleries, and again I would like to go back and spend more time there.

I have looked up the deal for the Birds of Africa picture below, the ship Uganda is indeed the same one as I sailed on in 1970.   It was an educational cruise and the schoolchildren lived in dormitories.  We were not allowed anywhere near the grandeur of the grown ups’ dining rooms and we drank nothing but apple juice for 10 days, which explains why I have been ambivalent about that drink ever since.  Had great fun though, even if I was sick as a dog going through the Bay of Biscay.

Tay Bridge through the V&A
BIrds of Africa, from the Uganda
Dancer with Three Seagulls, Marcello Mascherini, bronze panel 1959.
V&A entrance
Exterior, V&A
Salon, from the Cruise liners exhibition




































Oak panel, Titanic


Sha Raku En

The garden of loveliness that is the Japanese Garden at Cowden was our destination on Sunday.  The sun shone for the last day of the 2018 season, and there was still a fair bit of autumn colour.

Last flowers
Stone garden
Stone temple
Acer reflected
Zig zag oath
Van Gogh seed pods
Lake bridge


After a splendid 5th birthday party for Lily, we found ourselves at East Fortune, specifically the Nation Museum of Flight. Displaying our new found tendency to be so far ahead of the curve that we come up behind it again, I proudly and possibly pompously showed my Member’s card, only to be told “It’s Doors Open day, no-one pays”.  This explains the unfeasibly long queue to get in, the extra car parks, the raft of stewards and the crammed café.  Ah well, it meant that the Concorde Experience was also open to all, and if it took 25 minutes to board, what’s that against 3½ hours in Windhoek, plus 50 years to be in with a chance.

Paul was absolutely delighted, as was I, to see the iconic Mach 2 signs. International politics meant the demise of this technological marvel, but for a moment we could imagine ourselves hurtling through the skies with barely a quiver in our champagne.

Tail of G-BOAA in hangar
Concorde interior





























Later on, a caption for one of the Red Arrows, housed nearby G-BOAA, brought back memories of a day in 1999 when Rosemary and I, along with her friend Margaret, stood on the Mound in Edinburgh watching the procession to mark the opening of the Scottish Parliament.    I can’t have been the only person who burst in to tears when the Arrows appeared over the Forth, led by Concorde, the former trailing their trade mark coloured plumes.

Concorde in formation flight
1st July 1999













Lastly, in the shop (there’s always a shop) I came across this lovely image.

Hawker Hurricane
Hawker Hurricane credits













Recently I wrote up a page about Mum’s war work.  This is the type of plane she worked on, so here she was, tapping me on the shoulder, via a card made in Norfolk…..


Well, were we not off on our travels yet again?  This time to Durham, in the company of family chums.   Stand out moments included an ad hoc napkin party hat event, and someone’s face when his son forgot to buy him a sausage roll from the bakery.

The first three images were not taken by me, photography was forbidden in the Cathedral, so these are from postcards.   These are the windows with which I was particularly impresssed.  The Cathedral itself is most interesting, it houses the tombs of the Venerable Bede and Saint Cuthbert, but in addition it presents  modern art, and an extensive panoply of historical touchpoints.  It took us three goes to get in there, but fair play to an institution which has been an active centre of worship for 10 (?) centuries, you have to wait if there are services.

Since, amongst many other goings-on,  [Hey! Freshers’ Week!!}  it was open doors weekend, we were able to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which is quite one of the most affecting, beautiful and simple chapels I have yet visited.  Leaving aside any discussion on religion, it was a place of contemplation, with an immediate link to Saint Margaret, well known to Dunfermline.

After that, we enjoyed much silliness over dinner, and if the journey home was made interesting by some appalling lapses of manners on behalf of our fellow travellers, it allowed us to chunter quietly whilst acknowledging that no real damage was done, except perhaps to the reputation of a large country to the west.

Oops, nearly forgot.

The Last Supper, window in Durham Cathedral
Millenium window, Durham Cathedral
Rose Window, Durham Cathedral
Freeman’s Quay ironwork
Cathedral square
University buildings
Cathedral 2
Cathedral 3


I would most likely break my website were I to upload all my pictures from our visit to Jupiter Artland yesterday.  Typically we started off going some where else entirely, but a golfing extravaganza in Gullane changed our minds for us*.

So here are just a few pictures of the works there.  From the entrance gate via the driveway through the Life Mounds,  past the unsettling Weeping Children and round the whole parkland, to the  Ballroom, it was  a memorable visit.

Weeping Girls, Laura Ford
Firmament, Anthony Gormley
Life Mounds, Charles Jencks
Rose Pavilion, Pablo Bronstein


























Poppy with bee
Ballroom mantel detail













Heart, Joana Vasconcelos









Heart, Joana Vasconcelos, detail











*Sorry Roger.

10 years on

Back home from a most enjoyable trip on board the Balmoral, although it did seem for a while as if the passengers who lived round the corner were going to miss the boat.  We saw the isles of Orkney and Shetland in beautiful weather, in particular on the evening we cruised round Orkney and were afforded a grand view of the Old Man of Hoy.

Old Man of Hoy






The three of us are fairly used to life on board by now, and enjoyed the various diversions offered.   Personal highlights included sailing under all three Forth bridges for the first time, Skara Brae, Scapa Flow and the RIng of Brodgar,  the musum in Lerwick, and the aquarium in Bergen.

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney
Skara Brae
Scapa Flow
St. Magnus’ Cathedral, Kirkwall

























Fishing Boat, Lerwick harbour
Lerwick from the ship













Bryggen in Bergen
Baby penguin
Mud skipper
Sailing the archipelago









As our island nation emerges from a long long winter, we have begun our programme of jaunts short and long.  I have very quickly run into the issue of not being able to keep up with the updates, so this post will have to cover at least three such peregrinations.

First to Kenmore with the Folk Club.  The journey up was made in weather most foul.  The A9 runs alongside some vast swathes of Perthshire farmland, and I don’t think I will forget seeing so many  lambs huddled behind sodden hay bales, trying to find shelter from the incessant rain.  What a welcome to the world.  48 hours later, we were taking some glorious shots along Loch Tay, although the Ben was still caked in snow.  We had a merry time with chums, a rare old daunder round Aberfeldy and a climb up to see the Falls of Acharn.

Loch Tay, Kenmore







The next weekend saw us off to York, to meet Team Discovery, on the (near enough) 10th anniversary of our inaugural AGM.  We were too busy chatting and laughing to remember the group photo, suffice to say the girls won the quiz.  The journeys there and back were smooth, plus the majority of the taxi drivers we encountered were pleasant and helpful.

I ticked a box at the National Railway Museum, which is free to visit, btw,  what an utter bargain.  When I was little, steam trains were still on the go and the ones that captured my imagination were the Bittern and the Mallard.  I think it was the streamlined design and punky funnels which caught my childish eye, the bird names would have nothing to do with it, oh no.  Mallard was awol from the museum last time we went, in 2010, but this time she was centre stage, and even had a café named after her.








I did manage to take a picture with only two humans in it, which was not easy.  All I know about trains is from the standpoint (touchy subject) of a commuter and occasional steam groupie, but if I could meet Sir Nigel Gresley*I would shake him by the hand.  The trains he designed looked stunning and outperformed most others.  Interestingly, his home had a moat in which he bred ducks.








Once I was forcibly extracted from the sheds, we wandered round the town, which was extremely busy with hen parties and football fans.  Every pub had at least two bouncers, mid afternoon.  It’s not like that in Dunfermline.  Passing by York Minster we noticed that the restoration of some stonework was laid out for all to see, and by poking the camera lens through the wire fence I managed to capture this fine fellow. I found this link which could well show the stonemasons involved.

Minster lion







I have many more photos of trains, if you wish to see these please do call round.

We also travelled to Berwick.  However, despite Paul’s best efforts the PC will not view the SD card from the camera, so I have to wait for him to upload them to the shared drive and them drag them in from the network.  Looking at you, Panasonic, and your WiFi link that scrambled my files.  Lastly, a street with identity issues.


*From  Wikipedia *A statue of Gresley was unveiled at King’s Cross station in London on 5 April 2016, the 75th anniversary of his death.[6] Sculptor Hazel Reeves originally included a duck alongside Gresley in reference to his hobby of breeding water fowl and his bird-themed locomotive names such as Mallard, but this was removed from the final design when two of Gresley’s grandsons complained it was “demeaning”.[7]


Hazel Reeves also researched, designed and sculpted the Cracker Packers  statue in Carlisle, as I discovered this morning.