Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’


September 22, 2016

From my childhood home in Ifield in Sussex to a village called Crosshill in Ayrshire, Scotland is  a road journey of 435 miles which the Automobile Association estimate would take seven and a quarter hours of continuous driving. Yet my childhood home was called Crosshill and was named after this village. My home was one of a pair of semi-detached homes. The other was called Straiton and that is named after the neighbouring village to Crosshill.

When returning home from a recent holiday in Scotland there was an opportunity to visit Crosshill in Ayrshire and see just what my old home had been named after.

Like many a Scottish village it is quite an attractive place.


Here we have some of the main street and just opposite here there is a Post Office and store where I was allowed to copy an old photo they had hanging up.image004This photo, to judge by the car, dates from my childhood era.

We also had it pointed out to us where we could see more photos from the past.


The square had a war memorial and of course, it still does.


This is King Street in 1913 – a dozen or so years after my home was built.image010A similar view now.


And this was my childhood home – the right half of the pair. The left half is Straiton.


The Shout

September 19, 2016

When we holidayed in Scotland we called in at Tighnabruaich each evening because I could get internet access there and could send and receive messages. Our chosen spot was by the lifeboat station which meant we were there when the lifeboat was called out. It’s an inshore type. It was darkening as dusk turned to twilight.

I was sitting in the car when I became aware that the lifeboat was being hauled out.



It was pushed into the water on a cradle behind a special tractor.

image006Once in the water the engine was started.


The lifeboat set off.


As it set up its wake it nearly created the need for another rescue.


That floating pontoon really did the rock and roll but the photographer out on it somehow managed not to fall into the briny.

We saw the boat return, rather more sedately, when we were back at our holiday home in Kames.

The next day we visited the shop at the lifeboat station and learned what had happened. A boat described as a dinghy had suffered engine failure off the island of Inchmarnock. The sailor had installed his reserve engine which didn’t start. As he was drifting and without power he called for help and was safely rescued. He had called at the lifeboat station earlier that next day and, we were told, put a good contribution in the box

How lucky we are to have volunteers willing to ride out and effect rescues



September 10, 2016


Regular readers may have gathered that I rather like going to lesser known places and lesser visited places. Kilchattan is close to the south east end of the Isle of Bute. It has probably fallen off the bulk tourist trail these days. It felt a homely sort of a place. What caught the eye straight away was a marine weather vane.


Now I found that absolutely charming. That’s a Clyde puffer used as a vane. It looks as though we had a North wind, but it was gentle and certainly not particularly chilling. And a bit later a latter day equivalent of the puffer passed, on its way up into the Clyde.


The vane was by a small jetty with gentle grassland reaching down to the shoreline.



Here’s a part of the coastal village – pastoral and very pleasing is how I judge it.


Despite the rural loveliness, the folks at Kilchattan clearly thought international.


Kilchattan Bay – popular with visitors for 7000 (yes, seven thousand) years.


The Bute Sheep

September 5, 2016

Now how could anyone resist this gorgeous beast we saw when walking on the west coast of the Isle of Bute in Scotland? We were to the north of Ettrick Bay.


Actually, how could anyone resist the whole scene? Yes, the ram is a singularly handsome brute and he was one of several. But the green and the trees were a delight as well. But it had to be worth a bit of patience to get a closer view of one of the rams.

After a few not so good attempts I finally snapped this one.


The horns are spectacular although they may make things hard for the ram. Where are his eyes? They are hidden behind his horns. I love the nonchalant way he has one stalk of ‘grass’ in his mouth. It’s a bit like a traditional cartoon of a straw sucking country bumpkin. I think he’s a Scottish blackface. I thought it was worth going to Bute just to see him.

Visiting the gents

September 3, 2016

When in Rothesay you simply have to visit the Victorian gents’ toilet. That’s easy enough, if like me you are of the male gender. You pay your money and make use of them. For ladies, you need to find a time when they are not in use and then you, too can visit. I was able to get my wife in with no problem. She was impressed for the ladies have a modernised set of facilities.

However, I have jumped into my tale without setting things out. Rothesay is in Scotland and is the main town on the Isle of Bute. You can travel straight to Rothesay on a ferry from Wemyss Bay or you can sail to Bute from Colintraive – a very short crossing. That’s what we did but we were staying quite near Colintraive.


This building houses the Rothesay loos.

They are well labelled.image003

And inside they are just magnificent. Look at these wash basins.


And see what a fantastic mosaic tiled floor they are on.

The urinals are magnificent.


The cisterns for flushing are glass so you can see what happens.image009The cubicles and lavatory pans are pretty good as well.


It may all be historic but it is spotlessly clean and, no doubt, as hygienic as any public loos.

It does cost more than a penny to make use of the facility, but really, at just 40p it makes this a very cheap to visit utility and museum in one.

It’s definitely a place to visit.


The Scottish Flyer

September 2, 2016

It was wild and windy and cold at Ettrick Bay. We went in the café and had a hot chocolate. We could admire the place and have some warmth. I became aware of a plaque. It was a memorial to a pioneer Scottish flyer – Andrew Blain Baird.


The wide flat beach was, no doubt, ideal.


We were looking across to the bottom end of the Kames Peninsula with Kintyre beyond.

This Wikipedia photo shows Baird in his plane in 1910.


Apparently the anniversary of his flight is now celebrated by a Baird of Bute day with lots of flyers and spectators on or over the beach.

I had never heard of this flight pioneer. I’m pleased to know more.



Kilbride Bay

August 30, 2016

The Cowal Peninsula, where we recently spent a holiday, is a rather complex mix of land, sea and also islands. The arrow on the map below points at Kames which is where we stayed.


At the southern end of the bit we were on there’s a bay with a big sandy beach. It is about a mile’s walk from a car park which is just about big enough for three cars so it is never going to be crowded. The walk down to the beach gives you a chance to enjoy some delightful flora and fauna and that’s what we’ll look at here.

We’ll start with knapweed which happens to be one of my favourite flowers.


There is ancient and fantastic woodland to pass through.


The bracken is wonderful too but there is a well-made path and you do not need to push your way through it.


Foxgloves, which I also love, grow along the edge of the path.


As you get nearer the beach area it begins to look a bit like Scottish machair scenery. The sandy soil produces other


There are harebells amongst the ragwort and other flowers.

image014Now harebells are another of my favourites.

There is life on the huge beach, but it was a long way from me so my much zoomed in photos aren’t special.


That’s as taken – already on an 18 times optical zoom. So below we’ll do a bit of digital zooming as well.


Aha! It’s a ringed plover. There were quite a lot of them scattered across the beach.

Right. That’s moved us on to the fauna so now we’ll return to the woodland.

image019This was a tiny bird, making use of a bit of man-made scenery. I’m not 100% sure but I think this is a young chiffchaff by colour but its size made me think young goldcrest. Any advice would be gratefully received.

The Dunoon Seal

August 22, 2016

We went for a short cruise when in Scotland. It was about two and a half hours and we started at Dunoon.

Whilst queueing for the boat a seal appeared nearby but he (or she) proved tricksy to photograph. This seal maintained a distance and spent much more time under the water than on the surface. But in the nick of time it popped its head up reasonably close to us.


Well, actually, it was just half a head.


He or she zooms up quite well.

Oddly, during our week in this part of Scotland this was our only seal. We saw quite a lot of dolphins – but never got a photo. We saw (or at least I did) an otter but got no photo. This seal was my only water mammal photo. Enjoy!

The Permanent Way gang on Rannoch Moor

August 21, 2016

Having left Maid of the Loch at Tarbet (yesterday’s post) back in August 1970, we stayed in a beautiful youth hostel on the banks of Loch Long and the following morning caught the train to Fort William from Arrochar and Tarbet station.

This was to be one of the best railway journeys ever. It was after the steam era and our train was diesel hauled. For the nerds we had an English Electric type one (class 20) in charge of the train. It was underpowered and went slowly affording time to see the surrounding bleak, wild and wonderful scenery.

I looked forward to crossing the remote wilderness of Rannoch Moor. The tales of railway prospectors trying to pick a route almost beggar belief. Elderly men dressed in Sunday best set out to walk across the moor. The weather closed in and they got lost and separated. One of them banged his head on a rock and became unconscious. The brolly one of them carried proved no use at all in the wild weather. Almost amazingly, all survived and the line was built over the moor – still as remote a spot as you could wish for.

But railways need maintaining and during our journey across Rannoch Moor, a permanent way gang were at work. I could, of course, lean out of the window in those days to take a photo of them. The train was travelling at little more than walking pace.


The men have stepped aside to allow the train to pass. It’s interesting to note the lack of hi-vis jackets. In terms of settlement or habitation, there is nothing.

Life has not taken me back to Rannoch since that day, but on a recent visit to Scotland we looked at Arrochar and Tarbet station, for old time’s sake.


It would not have had any Gaelic back in 1970.

Tarbet, Loch Lomond – then and now

August 20, 2016

Our first visit to Tarbet on Loch Lomond in Scotland was in 1970 which, as I write, was 46 years ago. We had caught the boat up to Tarbet from Balloch and had a wonderful, bright clear journey. Our vessel for this trip was the wonderful paddle steamer, Maid of the Loch. It didn’t really prove possible to photograph it until we had alighted at Tarbet at the end of that stage of our journey. As the old Maid departed she did her best to blacken the skies above those bonny banks.


By heck – that was a lot of evil black smoke but Maid of the Loch quickly got under way as she headed further up Lomond.


She is of course a fascinating ship still extant but now a static tourist attraction. She was built in 1953 on the Clyde and then disassembled and transported by train to Balloch where she was rebuilt and launched in 1953 so she was but 17 years old when we travelled on her – the last paddle steamer built in Britain.

We’ll now fast forward to 2016. We had been to Tarbet in between times but always got bad weather, but in July 2016 the sun shone again for us.


That little peak hasn’t changed but there is no Maid of the Loch to occupy the foreground.


The boats on the loch do not have the same appeal that Maid of the Loch had but Loch Lomond looked good.