Welcome to my blog. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you'll stay and enjoy reading about where I've been and what I've been doing!
I don't mean this to be a replacement for personal emails, but it gives me the chance to put up photos and my scrapbook layouts, so I don't block up your in-boxes, or have to send the same photos and stories to everyone separately!
Thanks, and welcome, to the followers of my blog. I'm very honoured that you enjoy it.Drop me some comments from time to time! It's good to hear what you think about the posts. Come back again soon.
Thanks also to Mary of Mary's Mixes for doing all the work on the blog's heading. You are great, Mary!
Norma, Morag and I set off on our journey to Knoydart a week past Friday, though we weren't due to meet the boat at Mallaig till Saturday afternoon. We always like to take an extra day to enjoy a leisurely drive through beautiful highland scenery, stopping to explore here and there. A B&B had been booked on route so we had plenty of time to stop and explore, and our first "explore" was at Glenfinnan, where as those of you who know your Scottish history will know "Bonnie Prince Charlie" (Charles Edward Stuart) raised his standard in 1745, to rally his Jacobite supporters, in a quest to regain the British throne for the Catholic Stuart family whose direct line had been set aside in favour of a protestant king from Germany - the "wee wee German Lairdie" or "German Geordie" (George I) of song and story.
The "Rebellion" as it would eventually be labelled was doomed to failure, though it could have succeeded. BPC had gathered a good following in both Scotland AND England but on 16 April 1746, at Culloden Moor, near Inverness, the Hanoverian troops beat the hell out of the Jacobites, leaving BPC to flee "through the heather" eventually escaping to France, and his surviving followers to suffer the indignity of being designated outlaws, and stripped of their proud and ancient culture by the king. For some time the Hanoverian redcoated soldiers sought out the rebels in hiding, removing ringleaders to London where they were to suffer further indignities and even death in some cases. Basically King George wanted to eradicate all traces of the highlanders' culture, so things like the clan system and the wearing of tartan were made illegal. Well, nowadays we see what that led to with the world and his wife wanting to claim a clan for themselves and a tartan to go with it! Of course the ban on all things Highland was eventually revoked and we have Sir Walter Scott to thank for the revival and the promotion of tartans as we know them today.
Well, that's your potted history of the '45! Of course there is far more to it than I have made mention of, but the main thing is that it wasn't a battle between Scots and English as many believe, but of Jacobites and Hanoverians, and there were many Scots supporting King George while many English supported Charlie. My own ancestors appeared to have been for the King, judging by a tale told to our 'family historian' of the 1800s by his grandfather! " The highlanders came to the place and took away (a few household items), and a servant was sent out to bring the same back." The ladies of the family had been frightened they would also take the meal they were cooking, so they hid it! Obviously no sympathies with the Jacobites.
The first photo is a rather atmospheric one of the Highlanders' monument at Glenfinnan, built about 80 years after the '45 to commemorate the fallen highlanders. We returned next morning from our nearby B&B to take the next few photos.
The Highlanders' monument at the head of Loch Shiel
Now for those Harry Potter fans among you, this could be Hogwarts Express! A few years ago the viaduct wasfilmed as the Hogwarts Express steamed across, and it was seen in three of the films. We narrowly missed seeing the Express that year on our way to Knoydart, but saw the Lochaber High School pupils dressed in their witches and wizards costumes in the field where the Highland Games take place!
More potted history now! The viaduct was the first concrete-built viaduct in the world. Built at the end of the 19th century by Sir Robert McAlpine (Concrete Bob) it has a span of about 1400 ft, and at its highest point is 100 ft above the glen floor. There are 21 arches. There was a story that a horse and cart fell into the viaduct before the concrete was fully set, but according to a website I looked up, that happened at the Loch nan Uamh viaduct further along the line to Mallaig, and another of Concrete Bob's jobs. http://www.geo.ed.ac.uk/scotgaz/features/featurefirst9543.html
Norma and I climbed the hillside a little to get a better view of the viaduct and the Mallaig train, and were amazed to see this guy sitting quietly in the bracken just 30 ft away from us. He didn't seem to be unduly perturbed by the visitors, and we joked afterwards that he must come up there to be photographed himself when the steam train is due, as he got up shortly after the train passed by and strolled off again!
He's a grand looking chap!
Soon we were on our way again, partially ignoring the new fast route to Mallaig, preferring to stick to the twisty old road along the coast through places with names like Back of Keppoch, Arisaig and Morar. The beaches are just wonderful with golden sands and rocky outcrops - and oh, that light! It is so pure - unpolluted by all the fumes the south has to put up with!
At Morar we stopped for a walk along the soft golden sand, looking back to the shortest Scottish river that flows half a mile from inland (just) Loch Morar to the sea! The tide was out at the time so there was just a narrow channel of fresh river water mixing with the sea.
Morag and Norma at Morar. Behind them is the new road bridge, and the falls of the river where it meets the sea
Along the beach a bit we came upon these two gulls having a good squawk at each other, while another across the water joined in!
At last we arrived at Mallaig where we met up with the rest of the group. Martin had already arrived and Gripper was moored alongside the pier right beside the steps.
The town was built round the fishing industry, both of which expanded with the arrival of the railway. Today the line that once carried fish to distant markets now mainly carries visitors to and from the area and the islands of the west. The steam train runs every weekend to the delight of not only the train buff. We are all very nostalgic about our old 'choochoo' trains, even those who have really only known diesel! Seeing the puffs of smoke over the Glenfinnan viaduct was enough to reveal that.
Mallaig is a working town with boatyards still in use for repairs and boat building, a large pier for the ferry to the Isle of Skye to dock at, and a large-ish harbour for a much reduced fishing fleet. It is not itself a holiday destination, but a junction for those who wish to travel on to Skye, the Small Isles and like us, Knoydart. The main ferry goes to the village of Inverie, but we were bound for Doune which has its own boats and a thriving business, part of which we would be sampling as guests for the week of Martin, Jane, Liz and Andy. I've been plugging their website so here's the link yet again: http://www.doune-knoydart.co.uk/
The annual Doune Lacemaking week originated with Liz's own hobby, and over the years a small core group of lacemakers has built up, to the extent that now we are all friends who keep in touch with each other throughout the year, and even exchange home visits, but lately we have also been bringing along craftworking friends who enjoy such things as painting, embroidery and patchwork. Don't expect TVs in your rooms (no signal), or a taxi at your front door. The nearest road is a mile walk up a rough hillside track, often wet and boggy, and then it only goes 5 miles in one direction (to Inverie where you'll find a part time shop and the pub - a long stagger home) and 2 miles in the other (to Airor, where a path takes you further along the coast to the Guseran river which you have to paddle or even wade across to get any further). As you can understand this is no place for your high heels and clubbing gear. Expect to wear waterproofs and welly boots, even walking boots with thick woolly socks! So saying, the weather can be glorious, but in the summer watch out for the midges, those tiny scraps of insect life that can make human and animal life miserable in their search for their next meal! Smother yourself in insect repellant, cross your fingers and hope for the best that you are not it!
Not painting a great picture! Is that what you are thinking? Ah, well, there are compensations! On good days there are views of the Cuillin hills in Skye and of Rum and Eigg; there are chances to visit these places by boat; there are hills to climb and lochs to fish in; there is pure clean air, peace and tranquility; there are meals in Doune's dining room to die for, there are sunsets to leave you breathless...and at the end of the day a comfy bed to collapse into when all these outside activities leave you exhausted! What I am really trying to say here is that you have to be a certain type of person to appreciate this wonderful place.
I'm getting ahead of myself now. We're still on the boat just leaving Mallaig, having stowed our cases and lace bags, boots and walking poles, in the cabin. Martin is at the helm on the slightly choppy last bit of our journey.
Margaret, protected from the elements by those waterproofs I mentioned earlier!
The view into Loch Nevis behind the little dark islands at its mouth
First view of Doune Click to enlarge (hopefully)!
From L - R, the buildings are: a tiny part of the boathouse; the White House (Martin and Jane); Ranzo, the newest house, (Alan and Mary); Liz and Andy's house on the hill; the Stone Lodges - L. the restaurant and kitchen. R. the 3 guest rooms; Jamie's house up on the hill; a tiny bit of Doune Bay Lodge or the Bunkhouse, where most of us are staying.
The pier is round the small headland and in front of the White House.
We arrived at the pier, and were greeted by Jane and Liz, who accompanied us and our lace bags along the stony path to the lodges. We had landed our gear and left Martin to bring it along in the small dumper. Thank goodness we don't have to carry it ourselves!!!
So, I will leave us here for now - well maybe one last pic! Here's the gang at the dinner table that night - Janet from across the water in Skye, Margaret from Winchester, Morag from Peebles, Norma from Roslin, Joan and Sheila both from Cawdor. I'm the one behind the camera, and I'm from Peebles too!
Help!!!!!!! I'm off to Knoydart tomorrow morning and still haven't packed or even looked out some of my stuff! I know the midges will be out in force over on the west coast so I HAVE to find the stuff I use to deter them!
I'll be away for about ten days with no access to PC, so will start blogging with more photos when I get back! Meanwhile here's a website for you to look at! http://www.doune-knoydart.co.uk/ and a picture.
Anyway the point of this message is to say I can't blog the wedding reception tonight! I haven't time, but I do have a couple of pics ready to upload so they will have to suffice.
It's Sally and Andrew dancing the Bridal waltz. It was a fuzzy picture in the first place but I decided to follow my friend Vina's advice - Emphasise, don't improvise! so I have made the mood all soft and romantic, and I don't think the fuzziness matters!
And the next pic is of dad Ian making his speech at the reception, with Mum Berny waiting at the side for her turn!
Another fuzzy one I had to play with! It's not great but it will do just fine!!!
So, now I'm almost at the final chapter of my Antipodean holiday blog in pictures - and after next week I'll be starting another. It's time for the annual pilgrimage to Knoydart, the lacemakers' week! It will be great to meet up with the others from Winchester, Inverness, Nairn and the Isle of Skye, as well as our friends at Doune. Norma, Morag and I are travelling up together to Kinlocheil on Friday and on to Mallaig on Saturday to be picked up and boated across Loch Nevis to the Last Wilderness, for a week of lacemaking, exploring, excellent accommodation and out of this world food!!! It's the perfect R&R for the stressed - and the unstressed. I've given up stressing!
However, for now we have a wedding to attend - that of Sally to Andrew, in Adelaide on 17 May 2008.
First, a day or two before, there was the rehearsal, and Father Sean, from Ireland, is directing the proceedings. What a character he is!
Then it was for real!
I think dad looks more nervous than the bride!!! How were you feeling then, Ian?
The bridesmaids precede the bride down the aisle over there, unlike here where they follow!
Bruce is filming again.
Andrew and Sally listening to the readings!
Sally's dress is pale pale pink
with beautiful beading on the bodice.
I was the first reader with a passage from the Letter from St Paul to the Ephesians!
This is the buttonhole I was wearing! Isn't it beautiful!
Bea, Rowena, Clare,the bridesmaids, Sally, ET, and groomsmen, Tariq, Shaun and Andrew D.
Now Sally and Andrew make their vows to eachother....
....and exchange rings.
You may kiss the bride!
Parents of the bride and groom Ian, Berny, Sally, ET, Dianne and Geoff
As Sally and ET light their candle, Father Sean encourages the congregation to applaud!
As Sally and Andrew sign the register, the harpist plays and sings
Then it is the turn of Andrew's sister, Sarah, and Sally's brother, Paul, to sign the register as witnesses. Over here it tends to be the chief bridesmaid and the best man who are the witnesses.
Showing off the certificate, and a photo for the album
I really didn't take many touristy photos in Adelaide as the weather was SO dreadful, so here are a few quirky ones instead, showing off what the rain was like mainly. Actually this first one is of a corner of North Adelaide, near to where I was staying, showing the modern and traditional sides of the city.
I walked through the park to reach the main city centre and got soaked in the process! Even sheltering under trees made little difference, though I did take one or two photos while waiting to see if the rain would get any lighter before I made a dash for the next tree!
This is some size of tree and root system. When you click this pic to enlarge it you can see lines against the dark tree trunk. That's not a feature of the bark, but rain! Talk about stair rods!!!
When the trees ran out I took shelter under a small mausoleum in memory of a son of Adelaide "done good", and was amused by the angel alongside, looking as if she's holding up her dripping palm leaf in disgust! She certainly doesn't look like one happy angel!
By the time I reached the river Torrens the paths were running like streams.....
....into the river, as a lone pelican sailed by, oblivious to the weather and the, for now, redundant moored up pedal boats.
I had no alternative but to get wetter as I crossed the Torrens, but then took shelter in the bandstand looking down onto this fountain and the "paper" boats! Last time I stood here was amost 30 years ago, when the river was so low that you could see all the pipes and workings of the fountain! A different story this time!
In the main city centre you appreciate the traffic free malls and the canopies and awnings to walk under. It was actually more interesting looking up rather than at the shops! Sorry but I am not one of life's shoppers!
Then there were the sculptures to look at too.....
I should have taken this hot from the other side, but in the absence of some shelter, I opted for this one taken fom the shelter of a mall stall canopy!
So, I think that's about your lot from soggy old Adelaide! Eunice, it's the wedding pics next!!!