Tuesday, 30 June 2009


My apologies for my enforced absence from bloggerland, as they say on the BBC, it was due to circumstances beyond my control. I hate BT.
I don't know, you turn your back for five minutes and what happens? The King of Pop pops his clogs. Sheesh!
But not being one to hold a grudge, (well not much) and to reflect the sunny disposition with which I make my return to bloggerland and to demonstrate how little I give a shit that Jacko has snuffed it, here are a couple of summerlike pics which I took during my absence.
The middle one was taken on Saturday at Arbroath harbour beside the visitor centre, I loved the combination of blue green and yellow. So summery.
The top and bottom ones were taken at Carnoustie beach last week. I resisted the urge to go for a paddle!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Rubh Re Lighthouse

I think I posted a pic of this lighthouse previously. It's Rubh Re lighthouse near Gairloch. It was engineered by David Alan Stevenson and built in 1912.
The Stevensons were the original Lighthouse Family, not to be confused with the crap band from the nineties.
A more in depth post about them will follow, because they're a pretty fascinating bunch. In the meantime these pics should whet the appetite.
PC is going to the hospital for sick PCs tomorrow. So there may be a shortage of posts next week. Don't miss me too much.

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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Eilean Donan

Everybody likes a good castle, right? So here's one of Scotland's finest, Eilean Donan.
The castle is named after the 6th century Irish saint, Bishop Donan who came to Scotland with his Irish brood in 580 AD. The first fortified structure was built in the early 13th century to protect the lands of Kintail against the raping and pillaging Vikings ( note how I got the rape and pillage in early).
Over the centuries, the castle has expanded and contracted in size to suit its various needs. It was at its largest in medieval times with towers and a curtain wall which encompassed the entire island. During the 17th and 18th centuries it played a role in the Jacobite risings which ultimately ended in the castles destruction. It was garrisoned by 46 Spanish soldiers in 1719 (Spain supported the cause of the Jacobites) and it was during this period that it was attacked by three heavily armed English (wouldn't you know it) frigates.
Unable to break down the castles defences by bombardment ( the walls of the castle were 14 feet thick, not sure what that is in ells)the English landed and overwhelmed the Spanish troops. Upon the discovery of 343 barrels of gunpowder in the castle, they used it to blow the place up. The English had no respect for a nice castle.
The ruins lay for nearly 200 years until It was rescued by Lt. Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap (no relation to Jim Gilstrap of Swing Your Daddy fame). He dedicated 20 years of his life to restoring the castle to its former glory.
I tried and tried to find a suitably gory story about Eilean Donan, but in vain. I toyed with the idea of making something really horrible up, but had to think of my street cred as a serious historian.....

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Cat Vomit

I'm sick as a parrot.... but I couldn't find a pic of a parrot being sick so this cat's gonna have to do.
Reason I'm sick is my pc's all over the feckin place, so my apologies if my posts are not up to their usual magnificent standard.
I think I've picked up a virus. Everything is running slow and I can't get access to sites and email and all sorts.... IT'S DOING MY HEAD IN!
So I'm off to run every anti virus programme I've got, then I'm gonna dowload some more and run them, then ...... ad infinitum.
Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


Not sure if it's my pc or blogger.com but everythings slow, slow, slow.
This was the view over Asda in Dundee at the weekend. Looked like a spot of rain was on the way.

Monday, 15 June 2009


Memories of an all too brief period of summer we had a few weeks ago..... it's rained since then. I think it's gonna rain tonight... and tomorrow....

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Sunday, 14 June 2009

Technobloggy stuff

Can it be happening? I finally managed to get a vid on my posting. Only taken me six months. This technobloggy stuff is a piece of piss.
This song is guaranteed to make you feel better than before you heard it...

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Phoebe Anna Traquair 2

Some more examples of the beautiful work created by Phoebe Anna Traquair. (1852-1936)

'The Ten Virgins Casket'. Wood lined silver casket with twelve enamelled copper plaques and decorated with semi precious stones. 1907. Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow.

'The Bonskeid Cabinet'. Oil on Oak. 1893. Private Collection.

'Cupid with Earth Upholder'. Enamel with foil on copper, necklace. 1907. Trustees of the National Museum, Edinburgh.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Evening skies

Took these twenty minutes ago from my front garden. The skies are changing so rapidly just now. We've had loads of rain the past few days and even thunder and lightning last night and today. Yet in between has been warm sunshine. Nothing like a bit of mix n match weather to keep you on your toes.

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Wednesday, 10 June 2009


And so to Arbuthnott, the heart of Sunset Song country. This is where the author Lewis Grassic Gibbon was born and raised and much of the novel is centred around this area.

This is the view directly across the road from the signpost above. When I first looked at this photo I thought it was out of focus, but it's the soft effect of the barley which tricks your eye.
There seems to me to be an increase in the growth of barley this year. It's everywhere. A welcome return and a nice change from the incessant fields of rape which have replaced much of the traditional crops recently.

The little centre dedicated to Gibbon. As you'll see, it was jam packed the day I came.......

Well ok, I was the only visitor.... I loved the wee sign on the bike which ran along the lines of ... 'This is a bicycle similar to one which Gibbon would have rode......' Fair enough!

The curator/manager/coffee maker offered to put a video of Gibbon on for me and ushered me into this little room/cubicle. He drew the curtain and I settled down in comfort to watch the show...... Note the 56 inch widescreen plasma job. DVD hasn't quite made it up here yet..... it was a VHS.

A range of comfortable chairs was provided, I chose one with a back. A box of tissues was thoughtfully left on the table, no stone was left unturned in an effort to ensure the complete satisfaction of the visitor. I was hugely impressed.

All that paled into insignificance however when I caught sight of this signed first edition of Sunset Song. A fitting end to my day in the Mearns.
'So Chris put on the best frock that she used for Sundays, and her tall lacing boots, and prigged out her hair in front of the glass in the parlour, and went up across the hill by Blawearie loch, with the night coming over the Grampians and the snipe crying in their hundreds beyond the loch's grey waters - still and grey, as though they couldn't forget last summer nor hope for another coming.
The Standing Stones pointed long shadow-shapes into the east, maybe just as they'd done of an evening two thousand years before when the wild men climbed the brae and sang their songs in the lithe of those shadows while the gloaming waited there above the same quiet hills. And a queer, uncanny feeling came on Chris then, she looked back half-feared at the Stones and the whiteness of the loch, and then went hurrying through the park paths till she came out above the kirkyard and Manse. Beyond the road the Miekle House rose up in its smother of trees, you saw the broken walls of it, the flagstaff light was shining already, it would soon be dark.'
Lewis Grassic Gibbon 1901-1935 from Sunset Song.

Monday, 8 June 2009


As with most rural villages, the hub of the community tends to be the local pub or hotel. Drumlithie is known locally as 'Skite' ....... no idea why.

The neighbouring village, Glenbervie is notable as the final resting place of the great grandparents of Robert Burns. They farmed on the braes of Brawliemuir and it was from the farm of Clochnahill just off the main Laurenckirk to Stonehaven road that Burns father left the howe to seek a better livelihood.

I was surprised when I came across this Church. I didn't realise it had been converted into a house until I got round this side. The only giveaway at the side was the inclusion of a modern style door, but all the original stonework remains in place.
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Saturday, 6 June 2009


Auchenblae's name is a derivation from the gaelic for 'field of flowers', probably due to the large amount of Flax grown in the area many moons ago.

I noticed this place was up for sale, probably get it quite cheap just now I'd imagine.

The rolling landscape of the Mearns from just outside Auchenblae. Sunset Song country. The deep reddish clay of the earth.

'Clean and keen and wild and clear, the evening ploughed land's smell up in your nose and your mouth when you opened it, for Netherhill's teams had been out in that park all day, queer and lovely and dear the smell Chris noted'

Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon 1901-1935.

In the Parish church vestibule is a Celtic stone, this has been a religious site since the 7th century. St Palladius died and is reputedly buried here. The ancient ruin of St Palladius' Chapel is still in the kirkyard along with a memorial to Scotland's first Protestant martyr, George Wishart who was burnt at the stake in St Andrews by Cardinal Beaton. Having said that I don't mean literally by him. That is I don't think he struck the match.........

And rather than end on all this goriness and unpleasant forms of death, this is a pleasant wee corner of the village...... better now?
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Thursday, 4 June 2009

Dunnottar Castle

Chillin' out with a view.

Dunnottar Castle. What can I say? Amazing place, so atmospheric. Even on a beautiful sunny day. Spent a magical hour or so here on Monday. I've lived within a half hour drive of this place all my life but never actually visited it till Monday. Odd eh?

The site has been inhabited since Pictish times (5000BC to 700 AD). The surviving buildings date back to the 15th and 16th centuries but there have been fortresses here since the Dark Ages. Dunnottar has played an important role in Scottish history, not least because of its strategic position overlooking the shipping lanes to the north of Scotland but also due to its position on the narrow coastal strip controlling the northern route to Aberdeen.

William Wallace is said to have led the Scots to victory over the English here in 1296. By all accounts Wallace was said to have imprisoned many of the defeated English soldiers in the castle church and torched it as revenge for many of the brutalities inflicted upon the Scots civilians in the Borders. You can't beat a good gory story to go with a castle eh?
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Wednesday, 3 June 2009


This fountain was built in 1869 and dedicated to Sir John Hepburn Stuart Forbes, Baronet of Pitsligo and Fettercairn, obviously a very important dude or he wouldn't need so many names.

As you can see from the blackboard, none of your burger and chicken nugget shite here. This impressed me greatly. This was on the lunch menu of the Ramsay Arms Hotel and it very nearly tempted me in. However, one had a bridie in one's car and it seemed a shame to waste it.

This wee burn tinkles merrily through the village just north of the arch.

The Mercat (Market) Cross sits in the centre of the Mercat Square. It must be one of the very few multifunctional Mercat Crosses in Scotland. It incorporated a 37.5 inch groove (or one ell) which was the standard unit of measurement for traders at the time, it also acted as the stocks when the baddies required to be taught a lesson. But most importantly it has........ a SUNDIAL!