Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Last week I watched "Sunset Song", one of the saddest movies I've seen recently. Directed by Terence Davies, the film is set in the period just before and during WWI on a farm in northeast Scotland. Chris Guthrie, a bright young girl's whose dreams of going to teachers college are shattered when, after her mother bears numerous children, she commits suicide and kills her two youngest twin boys when she discovers she's pregnant again.

When Chris is left with her father, a brutal man, and her older brother, Will, after relatives take the younger children to live with them, she gives up her dream of teachers college to care for the household. For minor infractions, John, the father, takes the horsewhip to Will, and Will finally saves enough money to leave the farm and marry. Chris is left alone with her father.

The mood is dark and somber throughout the movie, except for a brief interlude of happiness after John dies of a stroke, and Chris marries Ewan, an amiable young man who lives nearby. Ewan reluctantly volunteers for the Scots Guards after war is declared and goes off to training. When he comes home on leave before being shipped to fight in France, he's drunk and brutal with Chris in the sight of their young son. Chris does not understand what's happening with Ewan, but she stands up to him when he shows sings of becoming violent, like her father.

When Ewan turns brutal, which we learn later is from stress about going into the fight in which thousands upon thousands have already died, I thought, "Oh! I've seen this movie before," and I debated whether to continue watching a replay of Chris living with another violent man. I decided to go ahead, and the dark mood continued, till weak hope is offered toward the end of the film by Chris' oneness with the land.

The stunning cinematography, which redeems somewhat the sadness of the movie, is by Michael McDonough. Northeast Scotland is gorgeous, and McDonough takes full advantage as he moves the camera slowly and lingeringly on the beautiful scenes. Indoor scenes are poorly lighted, as were the farmhouses at the time, and the camera again moves slowly. The light and shade in certain scenes resembles lovely paintings, and I was grateful again for the lingering camera.

The soundtrack by Gast Waltzing is very much in tune with the sadness of the movie and deserves credit.

I was going to post the video of the trailer for the film, but I think it gives away too much. It's on YouTube if you'd like to see it.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


My questions missed the anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Samuel Seabury on November 14 by a couple of weeks. In 1784, the Rev Samuel Seabury, rector of St Peter's Church, Westchester, NY, was consecrated first Bishop for the Church of Connecticut by the Right Rev. Robert Kilgour, Bishop of Aberdeen and Primus of Scotland, the Right Rev. Arthur Petrie, Bishop of Ross and Moray, and the Right Rev. John Skinner, Coadjutor Bishop of Aberdeen, Scotland, in Bishop Skinner's private chapel.

Would it be accurate to say that the Scottish Episcopal Church is the mother church of the Episcopal Church in the US, rather than the Church of England? The Church of England is the mother church of the Scottish Episcopal Church, so would the Church of England then be the grandmother church of TEC in the US?

Thursday, March 7, 2013


A Glasgow lawyer went duck hunting in rural Aberdeenshire . He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer’s field on the other side of a fence.

As the lawyer climbed over the fence, the elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked him what he was doing.

The lawman responded, “I shot a duck and it fell in this field, and now I’m going to retrieve it.”

The old farmer replied, “This is my property, and you are not coming over here.”

The indignant lawyer said, “I am one of the best trial lawyers in Scotland and, if you don’t let me get that duck, I’ll sue you and take everything you own.”

The old farmer smiled and said, “Apparently, you don’t know how we settle disputes here. We settle disagreements like this with the ‘Three Kick Rule.’”

The lawyer asked, “What is the ‘Three Kick Rule’?”

The Farmer replied, “Well, because the dispute occurs on my land, I get to go first. I kick you three times and then you kick me three times and so on back and forth until someone gives up.”

The lawyer quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided that he could easily take the old codger. He agreed to abide by the local custom.

The old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked up to the attorney. His first kick planted the toe of his heavy steel-toed work boot into the lawyer’s leg and dropped him to his knees.

His second kick to the midriff sent the lawyer’s last meal gushing from his mouth.

The lawyer was on all fours when the farmer’s third kick sent him face-first into a fresh cow pat.

Summoning every bit of his will and remaining strength the lawyer very slowly managed to get to his feet. Wiping his face with the arm of his jacket, he said, “Okay … now it’s my turn.”

The old farmer smiled and said, “Nah, I give up. Ye can ha’ the duck.
Thanks to Ann. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Not nine ladies dancing, but nine stones set in a circle, the Loch Buie Stone Circle on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, which I visited a couple of years ago with my travel companions, Cathy and Jonathan.
The circle was originally nine granite stones, about 12 metres in diameter, with the tallest stone being about 2 metres high. It is mainly composed of granite slabs which have been positioned with their flatter faces towards the inside of the circle. One of the original stones has been removed and replaced in recent times with a low boulder.

There are 3 single stones in the field at differing distances from the circle. The nearest of these outlying stones is 5m away to the south-east, and is only 1m tall. The second outlier is a spectacular monolith 3m high and set about 40m away to the south-west. Also south-west of the circle, 107m away, is the third outlier, over 2 metres high. The stone is broken at the top and was probably taller when erected.
I wonder why the original stone was removed and replaced with a boulder.   Below is a photo of  the large outlier stone.

To the left is a picture of me standing beside a stone to give you an idea of the size of one of the stones in the circle, which varied in height and width.

Cathy said the photo reminded her of an illustration of Aslan and the evil White Queen from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the resemblance is plain.  If I had tried to strike the pose, I couldn't have done a better job.

And what the subject of this post has to do with Christmas, I can't say, except today is the ninth day of Christmas, and there are nine stones in the circle.  Gimme a break.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Asperatus clouds - Scotland

   Partly Cloudy With A Chance of Seeing

Low clouds slumped, lingering, leave a thin sheet
of white on glass, metal, bowed grass and asphalt
just wet and shimmering, no need for salt,
brace for winter closeout, a year end retreat
except in the vault of the soul’s heartbeat.

Advent, you’re here again, begin anew,
back to page one, annual re-booting
of what is meant or real or just fragment
of divine texting by star re-routing;
but first the penitence, the harsh review
the wardens of faith inflict to deny
any foolish expectation of clean,
cleared slate, repent or miss out on pardon
that is the point of birth in stable mean,
gift for which they insist we must apply.

Ignore the frantic forecasters warning,
a new cloud, undulatus asperatus,
rough waves perhaps disturbing the status
of science known or a sign, wind fresh forming
old verse, “Lo, he comes with clouds” upending.

It makes no sense this ritual attempt
to bargain with the firmament, appease
some imagined angry God with sorrow
and self-flagellation, a show to please
One who knows just how messy and unkempt,
adventitious, disorderly ever
the course of those created with free will,
not quite exempt from seasonal forces,
yet prone to agitate waters made still,
restless, testing the limits of never.

Adventure is a chosen risk the bold
begin with trembling wrapped in joyful hope
that aspiration can uncoil the rope
error ties to souls trapped, seeing only cold;
set out again for Love meant to enfold.

(Marthe G Walsh)

See more pictures of asperatus clouds here. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Oops! When I first glanced at the headline, I thought the cardinal was planning a same-sex marriage. Of course not!

The Telegraph reports:
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, says the proposals to allow same-sex unions are “madness” and a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.

The cardinal’s intervention, in an article for The Sunday Telegraph, is the strongest criticism yet from any church figure of the plans, which are due to be unveiled this month by Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister.

He accuses ministers of trying to “redefine reality” and change long-standing laws and traditions “at the behest of a small minority of activists”.
The Roman Catholic hierarchy never gives up in its attempts to interfere in the lives, not only of their own flock, but of everyone. I ask you: Where lies the “madness” and a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” to be left alone to live a peaceable life with the person you choose? A same-sex marriage causes no harm to anyone, except in the fevered imaginations of people who refuse to occupy their minds with serious problems in the world, such as poverty, umemployment, wars, famine, etc., etc., etc.

Monday, November 14, 2011


From Thinking Aloud, the blog of Bishop David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church:
In the Square
by david

‘One of the clergy at St Paul’s said that he found Jesus in the Occupy encampment. Do you expect to find Jesus here?’

As an opening question from a reporter from The Times as I arrived at the Occupy camp in St Andrews Square in Edinburgh .. it seemed challenging enough to be going on with. To which I responded that I expected to find Jesus in every place of suffering and poverty – indeed with the late Bishop David Shepherd I believe that the Gospel has a ‘bias to the poor’. But I also expect to find Jesus among bankers of good will and integrity .. among financiers and politicians who are desperately trying to rescue a failing financial system .. After all Jesus called Matthew the Tax-Collector

I’ve been wanting to visit for some time and I was glad to do so today. They are a community – attempting to function without leaders. They have a cause but they don’t see themselves as strategists – they are there and they intend to stay there, letting their presence and perseverance speak for itself.

And of course the really interesting thing is the speed with which the conversation turns to what the Bible says or doesn’t say about their issues. In that sense it is humbling to be with them because they expect so much from those who claim to stand for something better – and the question about whether or not Jesus was there was maybe not so wide of the mark.
I hope Bishop David doesn't mind that I borrowed his entire post. I agree with the two Bishops David that the Gospel has a 'bias to the poor'.

Here's the link to website of Occupy Edinburgh.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Pictured above is the Beech Hedge at Meikleour near Perth and Kincross snapped by Bishop David Chillingworth, Primus of Scotland, who blogs at Thinking Aloud. Isn't it gorgeous?

From Wikipedia:
The Meikleour Beech Hedge(s) (European Beech = Fagus sylvatica), located near Meikleour, Perth and Kinross, Scotland, alongside the A93 Perth-Blairgowrie Road, was planted in the autumn of 1745 by Jean Mercer and her husband, Robert Murray Nairne on the Marquess of Lansdowne's Meikleour estate. It is said the hedge grows towards the heavens because the men who planted it were killed at the Battle of Culloden.

The hedge is noted in the Guinness World Records as the tallest and longest hedge on earth, reaching 30 metres (100 ft) in height and 530 metres (1/3 mile) in length. The hedge is trimmed once every ten years but remains viewable to visitors all year round.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Dunvegan Castle is a castle a mile and a half to the North of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye, situated off the west coast of Scotland. It is the seat of the MacLeod of MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod. Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the stronghold of the chiefs of the clan for nearly 800 years. Originally designed to keep people out, it was first opened to visitors in 1933. Since then, the castle is consistently ranked as one of Scotland's premier visitor attractions. Over the years, the castle has been visited by Sir Walter Scott, Dr Johnson, Queen Elizabeth II and the Japanese Emperor Akihito.

And also by Grandmère Mimi and Cathy.

Below are pictures of the lovely castle gardens, which were laid out in the 18th century, no doubt at great cost and effort to make them look as natural as possible. The walk through the gardens was the highlight of my visit to the castle.

The bridge and waterfall.

The waterfall up close.

Monkey puzzle tree.

Daylilies? (amyj says that the flowers are Asiatic lilies.)

More flowers...

...and more flowers. (Penny tells me these lovelies are lacecap hydrangeas.)

...and more flowers, including blue hydrangeas...

And a birdie, a sea gull with pink legs and feet. (susan s. tells me the speckled bird is probably a juvenile.)

The sea gull's mate?

All this on the beautiful Isle of Skye.

Text and top photo of Dunvegan Castle from Wikipedia. The other pictures are mine.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Pictured above is MadChauffeur, aka as MadPriest, aka Fr Jonathan Hagger, who blogs at Of Course I Could Be Wrong.... When I requested permission to use his picture and told him that the stars of the post would be langoustines, he insisted that if I used his picture, he had to be at the head of the credits, and there he is with his wonderful suntan. Foxy, isn't he? (Psst...his blog is well-titled, as he is often wrong.)

MadChauffeur was the driver for the greater part of our trip in the Northwest of Scotland last August. Links to my other posts on the travels of the Mad Three, MadChauffeur, Cathy, and me, may be found on the right sidebar under the heading "Scotland".

Pictured below are the stars of the post, the mouth-watering, to-die-for langoustines which we ate at Glenuig Inn on the Arisaig Sound. The proprietor, Steve, who was also a bit of a fox, even though he was bald, told us that the langoustines went from the water into the pot. That's how fresh the delicious shellfish were.

The Glenuig Inn offers contemporary-style accommodations, which are nothing fancy, but quite comfortable and clean, and the proprietors make much of being green, which is a good thing, surely. The restaurant serves delicious food, and it is there that I fell madly in love with the savory taste of langoustines. I didn't order them for my first meal, but MadChauffeur did, as a starter, I believe, with only about 6 in his dish, but he didn't like them, so he gave me his leftovers. How could he not like them?!!! Well, you can be sure that for my next meal I ordered langoustines, and perhaps for every meal after that, except breakfast, while we stayed at the inn. As you see below, the buildings are nondescript, but the setting at the end of nowhere is gorgeous.

For most of our stay there, we didn't spend a lot of time at the inn, except in the evening, for we used it as a jumping off spot to visit other places.

Below are the lovely flowers at the front door of the restaurant/pub part of the inn. We saw gorgeous flowers in gardens and pots all over the places we traveled in Scotland.

The adorable boy with auburn curls and a couple of sheep, along with beautiful scenery which surrounds the inn on every side are pictured below.

See the adorable sheep crossing in front of the inn. Cathy, the prime wildlife photographer in our group, was in heaven when the sheep approached, although cows are her first love.

MadChauffeur left us stranded without wheels for a day, as he headed home to Newcastle, so, since Cathy and I did not want to spend money on an expensive taxi into Mallaig, we entertained ourselves in the vicinity of the inn. We wanted to take a nature walk, but it rained all morning, so we were confined indoors, except for a pleasant lunch at the tea shop just a way up from the inn - pleasant except for the moment when a woman at the next table knocked a floor lamp over onto me. Fortunately, only the shade hit me, but I had raspberry-flavored tea all over my jeans.

On the way to the tea shop, we passed the old church pictured below.

The weather cleared in the afternoon, and Cathy and I walked to a beach on a lake (I believe it was a lake, but I'm not sure. It was water, water, everywhere.) not far from the inn, where we had a lovely, peaceful, soothing sit-down in view of the beautiful surroundings.

Note: I'm told the body of water was very likely an inlet of Arisaig Sound.

We sat on rocks just above the scene pictured below. There's something about a beach....

Here I am in the restaurant at the Arisaig Inn. You can see MadChauffeur's shoulder and side, but I feared he'd think more than one photo of himself de trop, so I cropped him out.

The picture to the left has nothing to do with our time in Arisaig, but I found the photo when I was searching for a picture of langoustines, and I could not resist posting it here. It's a Scottish dish called Tian of White Crab. I had the starter at a restaurant in Tobermory upon the recommendation of MadChauffeur, and, once again, it was food for the gods, food to die for. Can you tell I'm a foodie? Have I rhapsodized enough over the food in Scotland for you to know how much I enjoy good dining?

The following morning, Cathy and I left for the Isle of Skye, where we hired a car, and Cathy drove for the rest of our trip. Several posts on our travels and dining on the Isle of Skye may be found in the list under the "Scotland" heading on the sidebar.