Mainly pictures for a few days....
Should we go? Yes! The quiet south west conrer of Scotlaand was calling. The Galloway forest and hills, the neat little towns of Wigtown and Kirkudbright with their largely intact architecture, the bracing beach at Monreith and the comfortable charms of my friend's cosy cottage.....
That could be a good word for the year, along with Fun, Finish and Fulfillment...Any more to share? Tthey don't have to begin with F!)
It is a constant on York Minster, which always has a part covered n scaffolding. The medieval craftsmen would have thought the lit star was a miracke.
The East end was covered in scaffolding for many years. It's wonderful to see it so beautifully restored and to know that the skills still exist.
I mistakenly typed joliday - but in fact that was quite accurate. We had a wonderful week.
There is quite a variety of habitats on the small island of Colonsay (population 135). Sandy beaches and rocky shores, mountain and moorland, forest and woodland, machair and salt marsh, and on the estate of Colonsay House formal gardens, so there is a corresponding variety of wildlife and flora.
The island also hosts a remarkable number of small festivals. See here.
I am on the lovely island of Colonsay! A holiday cancelled from last year, but after two Covid tests, a lot of planning, a drive through heavy rain to sunny busy Oban and a beautiful early evening two and a half hour sail on MV Hebridean Isle we finally got here.
However broadband is slow/intermittant/non-existant, so posts and photographs may have to wait until I get back home..... have on our first day had warm sunshine and heard corncrake and cuckoo, and seen violets on the sand dunes and bluebells in the woods, and marvelled at the skeleton of a fin whale which was washed up on the shore in 2017 when we were last here.
A storm is forecast for today, but then more sun. It's exciting and beautiful to be here.
Have a good week wherever you are.
I am doing my best to focus on what I can do, within the rules and restrictions, and consider myself very lucky indeed to have taken a short holiday when I did, as from today, we in Scotland are being asked not to travel unless necessary!
Areas dependent on tourism are between a rock and a hard place as they say, and areas such as the Black Isle are doing their very best to function in a safe way. Many holiday cottages are letting only alternate weeks to be safer, all the shops are well organised with hand sanitisers and restricted numbers etc.
We stayed in Kelpies Cottage (owned by a primary school friend of mine!). It is really beautiful and filled with lovely things. Helen has a great eye for design and a wonderful antique shop in the town. Enjoy a leisurely browse in this Aladdin's cave here.
Have you managed a holiday or an outing?
How did it make you feel?
I really liked the look of these structures in the Cromarty Firth, and I liked them even more when I learned that they are for wind turbines in the North Sea. They are being welded onto the deck of the ship which will tow them out to position. The centre of the ship can be submerged and the turbines floated off and anchored to the sea bed with concrete (produced in uk, instead of steel made in China). Only the yellow part will be above water.
Scotland is doing well with renewable energy production. See here.
If I had been staying longer I would photograph them in different weather conditions and times of day..
..has a holiday done me so much good.
Company and four different walls to look at! Hurrah! And time in beautiful nature.
Rosemarkie beach in The Black Isle (not really an island) was glorious.
Waiting patiently for dolphins..
They didn't come when I was there though my friends saw them twice.
Topping and Company Booksellers in Edinburgh is a very welcoming bookstore first brought to our attention by Karen of Cornflower Books.
Welcoming (though you are not really meant to stand on the tables..).
Beautifully fitted out, an old clock, and rugs seats and tables, coffee, writer's talks - it has everything you would want in a bookshop. Mary found a few titles she had been looking for. It gets crowded at weekends and it's very easy to lose a friend in the warren of rooms!
The RSW exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy is very good this year. The luminous quality of Winter Sun, Cromar by Chris Bushe stopped me in my tracks.
Mary had booked tickets for the Joshua Bell concert with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in the Usher Hall well in advance. It was breathtaking. For me the highlight of the virtuosic performance was the exuberant Four Seasons of Buenos Airies by Piazzolla. You can get a flavour of it in this 4 minute mix...or you can hear the whole Piazzolla version by other artists on YouTube.
We used the Edinburgh Hop On Hop Off tour bus too, and took in an exhibition and a concert and a visit to Topping's Book Shop (thank you Karen of Cornflower Books).
Click on first photo for full images.
Duke of Wellington without traffic cone (much more respectful in Edinburgh!).Original Leonardo drawings still on at the Queen's Gallery..
Look at that blue sky!
Candles and outside tables in January! Outside of Stocks where we had a very good meal. I was surprised at how busy Edinburgh was - we couldn't get a table at Urban Angel where I had planned to have one of their scrumptious almond croissants for Sunday breakfast. But there are hundreds of places to eat.
We also ate at The Dome. Oh, the high life!
I was lucky to make it to Glasgow as the ferries were off due to gales later last Thursday afternoon!
I was meeting Mary. Many of you will know Mary from her comments on this blog. She is from Washington DC and I think I should persuade her to write a travel blog. She has travelled the world with family, but also independently and I picked up a lot of tips from her about what to take with you, how to pack it, what to wear to be comfortable and look good (those scarves work Mary!), how to be efficient but flexible about arrangements, pace yourself, and keep a sense of humour when things don't go as planned.
Most things did go to plan for us and the weather was kind as we began a tour of Glasgow. It's interesting seeing your own city through the eyes of a visitor.
On the way to Rogano's for dinner we meandered through Merchant City admiring the architecture and a gorgeous hat shop, Looked into MOMA and smiled at The Duke of Wellington - can you make out the traffic cones on the heads of both the Duke and his horse? I don't know who started this joke and for a long time the cones were removed by officials, but they finally gave up and the image has become a Glasgow icon (which perhaps says something about Glaswegians irreverent attitude to figures of authority). Better images here
The next day we used the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus - a really neat way to get around and I learned a few new things about my city! But first we had breakfast at Mackintosh At The Willow. Most Mackintosh interiors are private or in museums with an entrance charge so to be in this restaurant and enjoy the experience of sitting in and using the surroundings as they were meant to be used is well worth the price of breakfast (or just a coffee if you wish, but the breakfast is very good). They have a good website here.
Hopped Off for coffee at Kember and Jones and bought some food to take back to the apartment for supper.
And as I am sure you can imagine talked and talked and talked.....
that holiday high.
One of the highlights of my stay in York was a visit to Salts Mill in Saltaire. My favourite part has always been the Hockney Gallery on the ground floor.
The strong structure, big space, large jugs of headily scented lilies, displays of gorgeous books (some titles to put on my wish list) and art materials, and most of all the loud opera (the first time I was there Wagner was being played very loudly). All this and the energy of Hockney's work bouncing off the walls leaves me feeling exhilarated.
Remembering the feeling once I was back home it occured to me I can have lilies!
I can have music! (I checked with my neighbour today that I was not playing it too loudly!). Le Nozze Di Figaro is playing, loudly, as I write. I have beautiful books I have not looked at for ages and several blank notebooks and sketchbooks waiting to be used.
If you are remembering a good holiday feeling can you do anything to re-create the feeling now that you are home? I'd love to hear any ideas you have about this!
Coxwold and the gardens at Shandy Hall.
I love both the English and the Japanese look. Why has it taken me so long to realise that I shouldn't be mixing them in the garden!
I will keep the Japanese aesthetic to the perimeter and the English look close to the house - I can see this will work better. Have started already...
This development under a motorway flyover is made of old shipping containers. There is a stage, table tennis, a cafe in an old bus, small smart shop/business units, a green wall and lots of healthy looking plants.
Do you know of any developments which make imaginative use of what is usually dead space?
From the welcome in Urdu
to the parents lying on mats with their babies on a gallery floor or playing games outside
beautifully proportioned vistas, quality materials
Thought provoking exhibitions - contemporary and from the collections.
and the most elegant drainpipe ever seen
I love what they are doing at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.
Take a look at their Natural Cultural Health Service.
I could have spent the whole weekend there: in the park, the gardens, the cafe, the galleries, the shop. Free, family friendly, well-used on a sunny Saturday - well done my old University of Manchester! I liked to go to the Whitworth when I was studying but it was darkish, and old fashioned with a played out park outside and very few people inside and the cafe consisted of two tiny tables in the entrance way.
I love a holiday that includes both!
A North Yorkshire market town and village, a glimpse of medieval York and a look at Manchester.
A week of contrasts in the company of good friends.
Nice to be home too.
Do you feel that after a holiday?
.. I love flying.
A few days before I left for New Zealand I was on the beach watching a gull effortlessly soaring high in the air and I thought I'd soon be up there with her, though to get me up there would take the efforts of thousands of people, millions of pounds, hundreds of gallons of flammable and polluting fuel, and systems so complex and amazing that they blow my mind. I've flown in a balloon, gliders, a sea plane and various small aircraft, a Hercules and the usual commercial planes, but this long haul flight was the first time I'd flown in an Airbus. Emirates Economy Class is pretty luxurious.
I always have a window seat ( I gave up learning to fly a glider when I realised that all I really wanted was to look down. I don't think I'd have made a very safe pilot!). My favourite feature of this comfortable and quiet aircraft with its 14 flight attendants speaking 18 languages, is the flight information panel (forget the zillion films). I am up here looking down on the earth. Real geography, maps come alive, names conjuring up history and memories as I fly over Europe including Dresden where my husband's father was born, mountain ranges and deserts, the flares of the oil rich gulf states in the darkness, place names which are familiar only because people there are at war.....
In the quiet and almost empty early morning airport in Melbourne, a family have made a little camp. Mother and baby lie on a yoga mat on the floor, equipment and luggage are spread out in an orderly way over 5 or 6 chairs and father is entertaining a toddler who has such a delightful and infectious giggle that I move a few seats closer to hear him better.
On the way home we follow the night. Fourteen hours of dark is challenging but I get this shot of sunset on the wing over Sydney
We are not going to stop flying.
It's not going to happen.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)