Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Outside the box - a new blogging challenge

You'd think after blogging from A to Z throughout the month of April I'd be reluctant to take on another blog related challenge - well you'd think wrong. This is a monthly photo blogging challenge where a theme is given at the beginning of the month and then we interpret it how we want with five photos taken during the month. Is that clear?

For May the theme is 'outside the box'. It's one of those phrases that you often hear spouted by management type people - we've got to think outside the box, run it up the flagpole,and touching base. So my photos are mainly me being outside a box, taking the theme literally.

1. I'm going to start with a photo demonstrating my least favourite management speak phrase - blue sky thinking. What does that even mean??

2. This box contains Sueno's stone, a remnant of early medieval history in Scotland. It's over 6.5 metres tall and is covered with carvings. One side has carvings of battles and the other has intricate celtic knotwork including a large cross. The stone was uncovered from where it was buried in the 1700's and was finally protected by the glass box in the 1990's in order to preserve it for future generations.

3. In the middle of the picture is a bird box. I love seeing these as it shows that humanity does exist in such a simple way as kindness to the creatures we share this planet with is very important.

4. This is a pillbox from the second world war - it's on Roseisle beach where there are lots of old defences slowly being taken over by the sand. I'm not sure why they're called pillboxes despite doing several Google searches.

5. The type of box that I won't be outside of for very long as I absolutely love these chocolates. My beloved bought these for me as he's just that adorable.

So there you have it, my interpretation of 'Outside the box' - I can't wait to see what June's theme will be.

Click HERE to read how other people have interpreted outside the box.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and treat yourself to something nice this week.

Pamela & Ken

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Scarborough Fair, Rosalyn chapel, and the Kelpies

A couple of months ago I had to go to Scarborough in Yorkshire for a workshop, so we decided to make a weekend of it and visit a few places that were on our list of things to do. Scarborough is 380 miles south of us and I was very grateful that my beloved doesn't mind driving.

As we headed down the motorway we made our usual stop at the House of Bruar for a drink and something to eat. The below sculpture was in the stairwell and depicts mackerel swimming amongst seaweed.

Scarborough is a seaside resort that really comes alive in summer and has been a summer resort since the 1600's. All along the front there are restaurants and amusement arcades which look really pretty at night when all the lights are lit up. It is just along the coast from Whitby where we've spent some lovely holidays in the past.

Nighttime selfie. Ken had explored during the day whilst I was busy and then took me on a wander in the evening.

Don't even ask. Maybe it's an age crisis thing - you have to admit he looks very cute riding Noo Noo.

On our way back up to Scotland we went past the Angel of the North which was designed by Antony Gormley. It's near the A1 at Gateshead and amazingly is passed by over 90,000 drivers every day!!!

Hooray, back in Ken's mother land - I love how they make a big deal of crossing the border. There's usually a piper here as well.

The next place we visited was Rosslyn Chapel - anyone who has read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code will have heard of this fascinating building, as it is a big part of the story. Outside the visitor centre is the Old Rosslyn Inn which as you can see from the plaque had some interesting visitors including the Prince of Wales (not the current one) and Dr Samuel Johnson.

There is a really lovely visitor centre with lots of information and history to look at beffore you go through to the chapel. The chapel was founded in 1446 and is still an active place of worship.

It's actually smaller than I expected, but still incredibly beautiful and fascinating.  Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos inside so you just have to take my word for how incredible the carvings are.  Also, there is a lovely chapel cat who was curled up on one of the pews, not at all bothered by all the tourists around, and letting us pat him as we went past. The outside of the chapel is just as beautiful and there were lots of interesting faces gazing down on us.

It's actually ten years this year since the film of the Da Vinci Code came out, so in September they're having a special outdoor screening of the film at the Chapel - that would be fabulous to go to. Of course we had to stop for a drink and cake in the visitor centre - look, they had Australian ginger beer (I know, small things make me happy).

We then wandered down to the cemetery for a look - well it would have been rude not to visit as we were so close. It's a mixture of neat areas that are still in use, and large areas that nature is slowly taking over. Here's a few of the lovely carvings and the resilience of nature.

Our final stop on this magical mystery tour was at the Kelpies at Falkirk. These are two amazing sculptures based on the mystical shape shifting creature from Scottish legend. Kelpies are believed to lurk around rivers and lochs, usually in the form of horses, and they try and lure people to their death. They are also there to symbolise the impact that horses had on industry along the canals. They are 30 metres tall and weigh 300 tonnes each.

It's amazing how much detail has been achieved with metal - you can almost imagine that at any moment they're going to burst out of the water as whole horses.

When we sat down to have a drink these very inquisitive swans were being brave and getting close to people. There was a family near us and when one of the children asked the dad if swans could fly he replied that he didn't know so turned to me - I of course told him that yes they could. He then asked me if the emigrate? I felt like saying that they didn't because they had nowhere to put their passports.

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of the interesting places there are to visit in Scotland. Until next time, be good, stay safe, and take time to appreciate the wonderful world around you.

Pamela & Ken

Friday, May 27, 2016

The history of Fort George - a Georgian Fort in the Highlands

Earlier in the year we went on a day of fun with Ken's brother David, and his sister Jean and her family - our destination was Fort George.  It was built in the 1700's after the battle of Culloden and is still in use by the British army.  It's a huge place and everything about it is big, the walls, the doors, the buildings.

A lot of the fort is set up as a museum so that you can see how it has been used through the centuries by the different battalions that have been based there.

These beds were tiny and looked very uncomfortable, plus the room they were in was freezing and it's not even the middle of winter.  There was just a small fire at one end of the room for heat, and the soldiers only got one blanket each, so they slept in their full uniforms.

Looking down through the site.

In the middle of the site is the museum which is really fascinating.  I loved the door knocker as you entered the building.

 All through the museum are items from various stages of history and one of the things you see a lot is the stacked drums - this comes from past wars when soldiers didn't have an alter so stacked their drums to form one.  If you've ever watched the service of remembrance at the Albert Hall they always stack the drums at the end of the evening.

The decorated horn below is one of many snuff mulls that you see throughout the museum - mull comes from a Scottish word for mill.  Lots of variations on the horn decorated, but an even fancier one which you will see in a moment.

Beautiful glass panel for the Queen's own Highlanders.

In the museum they have a dressing up area, so here is my adorable nephew Fergus dressed in both old and modern military dress.

The formal dining room set up for an officer's meal. Lots of really lovely silverware and candelabra.

Here is the Snuff Mull that I alluded to earlier. It's a rams head on wheels!! (I'll let you digest that for a moment). It would have been rolled across the table for people to use the snuff - it's very ornate with silver adornments (but it's still a ram's head).

I liked how in the middle of a working battalions residence there is this perfect bit of British normality - red phone boxes and a post box.

This is the regimental chapel which is still very much in use.

Beautiful bench in the chapel - very moving scene.

Here are a few more shots taken inside the chapel.

On top of the very thick walls you can see the cannons that would have been used in the early days of the fort.

Here I go again, managing to squeeze a graveyard into a blog where you thought you would be safe. This is the view of the dog cemetery at Fort George where regimental mascots and officers dogs are buried. Unfortunately we couldn't go through to see it the day we were there so will have to go back. I always love seeing graveyards for animals as it shows that their humans really loved and respected them.

The two of us.

Our nephews Fergus and Murray took great joy in climbing the walls and sliding down the embankments. Teenage boys - totally fearless.

Here's a picture of the siblings. Left to right; David, Jean, and Ken.

A lovely day out with family. Until next time, be good, stay safe, and think of five things that you're grateful for today.

Pamela & Ken