Thursday, 27 April 2017

Written in the Scars

The Church of Holy Rude, Stirling

   Built high on sandstone rock overlooking the Forth Valley in Scotland, sits  the second oldest building in Stirling, the Church of Holy Rude. The oldest building being, Stirling Castle, sits majestically on the neighbouring  promontory.

     I visited the church the other day and the blue sky and icy cold west wind that blasted my face, seemed to make the beauty that surrounded me more outstanding.

Stirling Castle

    The Holy Rude, which was built in the twelfth century, is the only church apart from,Westminster Abbey, where a coronation has taken place that still continues to function as a place of worship.

    Following the abdication of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, one-year-old James Stuart was crowned, King James VI of Scotland here. Also being the great-grandson of King Henry VIII, James went on to become King of England and Ireland on the death of Queen Elizabeth I.

The Ochil Hills, from the church-yard

  During turbulent times between Scotland and England, Lieutenant-General George Monck led English troops southwards, after defeating the Scots at Perth in 1651. Under the orders of Oliver Cromwell, Monck's army attacked Stirling Castle and the tower of the church still bear the marks of musket shot.

    The church and its yard are steeped in history and the story is written for all to read in its scars. I will be writing more about this area in forthcoming blogs. For now, I'll leave you with some of the pictures I took of the church, its yard and surroundings. I hope you enjoy.


Monday, 24 April 2017

I Can See Clearly Now!

    I can remember as a kid there were days when the fog never seemed to lift. Walking to school I had to wear little luminous armbands on cold winter mornings over my coat, so I was clearly visible to traffic. Of course, the fog wasn't just caused by the freezing cold conditions in Scotland, but by the smoke that filled the air. Our homes were heated by coal fires and the power stations that generated our electricity were also coal fired, therefore polluting the atmosphere.

    The first such, UK, power station  was opened in 1882 and the country became heavily dependent on coal not just for heat and power but for our steel industry. Power stations like the one in the picture, Longannet, was designed with a working life expectancy of 25 years, however closed in March 2016 after 46 years in service.

    The British Government, announced last year that they will phase out all coal fired stations by the year 2025.The National Grid, provider of our electricity, last week managed to supply the country with electricity for one whole day without using coal. Utilising alternative methods, such as, wind turbines and solar panels.

    Twenty-four hours, seems a drop in the ocean, but it is important for the whole of the human race that we find efficient replacements to provide us with the energy our homes, towns and cities crave for.  Even if the steps we're taking to clean our air are baby, there can be no going back.



Friday, 21 April 2017

Voice in the Wilderness


    One hundred and seventy-nine years ago the Naturalist, environmentalist and author John Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland.

Callendar Park, Falkirk

    Whilst born in Scotland John Muir is an adopted son of the US, moving there with his family at the age of eleven. In recognition of his work, trails named after him can be found both in America and Scotland. He was a man who in my view was ahead of his time. He knew that the preservation of nature was important to the existence of mankind.


   There are two hundred and ten miles of trail in the United States to be hiked, through spectacular parks and countryside. In Scotland there are one hundred and thirty-four miles of equally beautiful countryside to be explored, by foot, bike and even on horseback in certain places.

South Queensferry
    I don't have pictures available of places along the US route however, I do have many of the places incorporated in the Scottish trail, which I've included today.

   John Muir's books include the titles, The Yosemite, My First Summer in the Sierra and Travels in Alaska.

Helix Park, Falkirk
Please also read  my previous post

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A Name to Conjure With

Lock 16, Forth and Clyde Canal

  It was a cold spring morning, time to get my butt out of the chair, take a good long walk and take stock of some of the places that are in my area.

      I slipped my feet into my comfy shoes and walked approximately three miles before I reached the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal. I've visited here over the years on many an occasion, but I hoped since it was such a lovely morning that I would see something more than the ducks and swans. 

Barge entering Lock 12

    While as you will know from my photos in previous blogposts, that I love birds, it is nice to see boats making their way through the lock gates and for once I was in luck. Used only for leisure cruises now, this part of the Forth and Clyde joined up with the Union Canal around 1820. It was a working canal for many years, but transporting both goods and people became easier and quicker by rail, or road. Therefore, the upkeep became costly, causing the waterways to fall into disrepair and in turn totally impractical.

The Canal Inn, built circa 1820

    There are a few public houses dotted along the tow paths of the canal, however one that is worth a mention is, The Canal Inn. Not because of its whisky or beer, but because of the name it is known locally. The Canal Inn, has always been known unofficially as the, War Office. As to why, there are many tales told. From it being where young men went to enlist in the army at the beginning of the, First World War, to a place where locals gathered to hear the news coming from the, Boer War.

    The name just adds to its charm and most certainly is a name to conjure with.

Thursday, 13 April 2017


In the Garden of Gethsemane
Amongst the olive trees
You had supper with friends
It was to be your last
You were deceived

The mob ruled, you were degraded,
Insulted and layed upon
They led you through the streets
Uphill to Calgary

Nailing you upon a cross
You shed your blood for us
Dying for our sins
Giving your body
Gifting us forgiveness
And eternal life

Monday, 10 April 2017

Oh Brother!

    Siblings Day is today and if you haven't heard of it before, join the club. It's a day to celebrate your brothers and sisters and while I think the bond I have with my brothers should be celebrated, I'm not so sure if it's just another money-spinning idea.

    I am the oldest in the family and I can honestly say that when we were kids, there were times they were the most annoying individuals I had to contend with. I know the feeling was mutual, even although I was perfect.

    Seriously though, now we're all grown up I do appreciate the strong bond we have. Even if we haven't seen or spoken for a while, when we meet up it seems we were together the day before. Conversation flows, no holds barred.

    Recently, I was lucky enough to spend a few days away with one of them and it was wonderful. It was fantastic to relax in each others company and catch-up.

    Is one day enough to set aside to celebrate our siblings? No, if we are lucky enough to have brothers and sisters, we should make time regularly to acknowledge our tie, no matter where we are or what we are doing.

There is no family resemblance to the little family in the picture!



Friday, 7 April 2017

A Mountain to Climb

    Today, another page is written in our history books. We the readers know, who the major players and victims are; however, we cannot accurately guess, at what the ending might be. Because, unlike fiction there is no author to dictate as to how the story will end.

    We watch the millions of displaced people who find themselves in agonising circumstances, online, on TV and in our news feeds, as they try to escape from their abusers, every day.

    Watching a programme recently, filmed inside one of the refugee camps on the Turkish border, I couldn't help but be surprised at the resilience of these people.

    Former shop-keepers have set up stalls selling essentials, women go about the business of buying food to feed their families, the make-shift barber shops buzz with customers and the children play. The population make the best of what they have and the situation they find themselves in.

    They are not living in a materialistic world, they know they have a great mountain to climb; but above all they know that having their lives is a blessing.


Monday, 3 April 2017

Not Spinning My Wheels

    It is the view of many in the writing world, that research is an author's excuse for procrastination. It maybe that when I'm doing research I am procrastinating. However, recently I've never enjoyed dilly-dallying so much.

    For me it has been an educational journey, I've been reading the works of 19th/20th century authors and poets, of which before I have never read in any depth.

    Coincidentally, two of which are Scottish, one Australian, one American; their names being, Andrew Lang, Robert Williams Buchanan, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Joaquin Miller. The extracts from their poems I came across left me wanting to read more, so I did.

    I want to share one of the poems by fellow Scot and friend of Robert Louis Stevenson,  Andrew Lang;


On these Nysaen shores divine
The clusters ripen in a day.
At dawn the blossoms shreds away;
The berried grapes are green and fine
And full by noon; in days decline
They're purple with a bloom of grey,
And e'er the twilight plucked are they,
And crushed, by night fall into wine

But through the night with torch in hand
Down the dusk hills the Maenads fare;
The bull-voiced mummers roar and blare,
The muffled timbrels swell and sound,
And drown the clamour of the band
Like thunder moaning underground.


    Using delaying tactics, or not I'm going to keep on reading the words of the wonderful authors and poets that have filled and still exist in our world. Because reading is the key to learning at any age.