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    Entries by Dr. Jeff Harper (261)

    Memories of Scotland: Isle of Mull Road Trip

    Our trip to the Isle of Mull was, a road trip, and as such, we saw many interesting places on the way there.  One such place of interest was not far from where we spent the night, the famous village of Pitlochry . . . Blair Castle.

     

    The oldest sections of Blair Castle date from 1269.

     

    A lovely burn (creek) ran along the side of the castle.

     

    Like many castles in Scotland, there have been many renovations and much remodeling over the centuries.

     

    Our route took us along the souther edge of the Highlands, and along Loch Tummel.

     

    Although it was early April, Spring had not yet reached Scotland.

     

    Way out in the countryside, people still built their homes as row houses . . . a statement of the power of the Scottish Lairds as much as anything I guess.  Here, along Loch Tummel.

     

    We arrived in the old harbour town of Oban.  It is a favorite place of ours to visit, not just because of the ferries we have taken from here, but because our favorite restaurent to have fresh oysters is there (front and center on the dock with the bright red roof).

     

    We checked into a nicely restored old seafront hotel (the only white one in the row of guesthouses and B&Bs).

     

    Ferry service to many of the western isles of Scotland originate from Oban.

     

    The Oban Ferry Terminal (foreground) where we departed for the Isle of Mull.  That is a fake ruin on the horizon, a folly, built in Victorian times when ancient ruins were fashionable to have in your city.

     

    Oban has some fine old architecture.  Here, Gaylen House.

     

    The ferry that took us to the Isle of Mull as it arrived in Oban.

     

    The Isle of Mull in a nutshell . . . a sea economy and culture.

     

    Friends and family visiting from Thailand means an opportunity for a road trip somewhere I have never been.  The Isle of Mull, and it's atmospheric and moody landscapes and quaint seaside villages beckoned . . .

     

    The west coast of the Isle of Mull is wet, wet, wet.

     

    Thick, wet moss of the west coast.

     

    Early April 2017 . . . always very damp Isle of Mull.  The dampness on a cloudy day certainly brings out the color of the decomposing autumn foliage.  A view from a hill.

     

    The sea invades the land around the whole of the Isle of Mull.

     

    When we saw a castle ruin we would stop for photos.

     

    We stopped often and walked out to points of interest and to gaze upon the fantastically moody vistas.

     

    As is true for all of Scotland, there are always castle ruins to explore.

     

    Castle ruins everywhere.  These are the ruins of 14th century Aros Castle.

     

    Isle of Mull always presents a strange, otherworldly view.

     

    A fisherman out on an Isle of Mull inlet.

     

    Small villages dot the inlets.

     

    This church was in a style I had not seen before in Scotland.

     

    Abandoned and weathering ship on the Isle of Mull.

     

    The dampness from a light drizzle brought out the color, pattern, detail, and complexity of the old rotting ship.

     

    Sheep everywhere.  Very wet sheep.

     

    View from our hilltop B&B of the sweet 'town' of Toberbury.

     

    Our very sweet B&B, The Harbour View, was was run by a Scot and a Thai!  Our Thai visitors were able to have Thai breakfast!

     

    History marks itself.

     

    Ancient battles fought and castles defended near here.

     

    Castle Duart (c1350) under renovation.

     

    The atmospheric view from Castle Duart on a cold, rainy day on the Isle of Mull.

     

    Then, around a bend . . . . a photographer's dream come true!

     

    Fantastic patina of age and deterioration.

     

    Abandoned after years of service.

     

    There are no bad light days in photography . . . .

     

    Not too long before this ship completely disappears.  I wonder if this is an Aberdeen Trawler.

     

    Three old fishing trawlers abandoned.

     

    Nature taking over.

     

    Fishermen worked these decks for how long?

     

    Always a view of sea and rising hills.

     

    On another day . . . sun and blue sky along the tiny roads . . .

     

    Cattle and sheep augment the fishing industries of Mull.  These are Highland cows.

     

    We meandered along these small roads using Google maps guide us to points of interest.

     

    An interesting point. 

     

    The rain came and went on all days.  These cattle were very wet!

     

    The morning we were leaving the Isle of Mull the weather turned wonderful . . . of course!

     

    Ships to and from the Outer Hebrides pass through the Sound of Mull.  We took one of these ferries last year.

     

    We boarded our ferry back to Oban on a beautiful morning.

     

    It was a smooth passage home.

    Memories of Scotland: Boat of Garten Rail Yard

    If you love UK place names like I do, you have to love 'Boat of Garten' . . . Here I found a wonderful rail yard of derelict rail stock and an old steam yard locomotive.

     

    What a photographer's dream!  A weathered locomotive!

     

    Old passenger cars from a bygone era.

     

    Train rolling stock was scattered about.  Some of them appeared to be occupied.  A self portrait!

     

    Some of the rail cars were being used as storage containers. There is a strong movement of railway preservationists in the UK.

     

    Here's something you don't see every day: a train with a steering wheel! 

     

    A stamp on the frame noted this car was built in 1906.  Imagine the journeys taken in this car!

     

    Restoration parts and pieces storage.

     

    Such a wonderful machine!

     

    Classic locomotive photo in HDR.  I know it's become ubiquitous, but I just HAD to.

     

    These rolled through the UK . . . and UK History.

     

    I was so happy to have found this old rail yard.

     

    There were some people working up in the switching tower (left), but nobody came out to say Get Out.

     

    I'm not too sure what the intended purpose was for this track machine.  It did have a steering wheel, which might have been used to lower the plow.

     

    The rail yard was littered with stacks of parts and pieces of . . . who knows what.

     

    Parts to make the industrial train system work.

     

    Cap head screws.

     

    An old rail crane.

     

    As I was leaving, assuming I had seen the best of the old rail yard, I happened upon this amazing study in shape and texture, light and shadow.

     

    Someone's workshop.

     

    Lovely flat light.

     

    Inviting, in a spooky kind of way . . .

     

    We stayed the night at the Strathallan B&B in the village of Grantown-on-Spey.  It was sweet . . . and they served a huge and delicious breakfast.

     

    Grantown-on-Spey is not an ancient town, but a planned settlement (1765) which would be a gateway to the Highlands.  There were some very beautiful neighborhoods.

     

    The B&B had a fine flowering garden.

     

    One of my my greatest memories of Scotland will be the quaint stone cottages.

     

    Downtown Grantown-on-Spey.

     

    We drove up and over the Highlands and back to Aberdeen.

     

    Although it was an overcast day, the Highlands shone with color and light!

     

    A beautiful valley in the Scottish Highlands.

     

    Stone walls, deep valleys, heather and heath . . .

    Back Home In Thailand

    After four wonderful years living and working in Scotland, we have returned home to Thailand.

     

    Back in the Buddhist World . . . and happy about it.

     

    The Wat Poh Reclining Buddha almost completely fills the Wat it occupies.

     

    So powerful in it's grandeur.

     

    The Wat Poh Buddha at rest.

     

    Wat Poh, and its Reclining Buddha image, is my favorite place in Bangkok.  My friend John Stiles and I went there on my second day back in Thailand.

     

    The lower legs were under repair . . . but the feet were exposed.  Amazing.

     

    Wat Pho is a great place to just wander around . . .

     

    There is always something interesting just around the corner at Wat Poh.

     

    The grounds of Wat Poh hold many temple structures.

     

    What to do with too many donated fans?

     

    Buddhas.  Lots of Buddha images at Wat Poh.

     

    A monk ghost in the Buddha Hall.

     

    So many beautiful Buddha images in Wat Poh.

     

    I am always surprised to discover that there will be one Buddha that I relate to more than all the others. This one seemed special to me.

     

    Night fell on Wat Poh . . .

     

    What a fantastic place!

     

    My friend John is always on the lookout for the perfect photo.

     

    A calm and peaceful place on the first night of 'Buddhist Lent.'

     

    Pilgrims walking around the temple, candles lit.

     

    The lights went on the chedis of Wat Poh.

     

    We wandered for hours among the structures of Wat Poh that evening and into the night.

     

    The moods of the spaces changed as it grew darker.

     

    Wat Poh is filled with interesting structures.  I would like to learn the significance and history or each.

     

    You cannot believe our own eyes; the beauty!

     

    Interesting shadows everywhere.

     

    We walked out of Wat Poh and into the dark streets of Old Bangkok.  10:30pm and still 31c.  Fantastic to walk around Bangkok at night. We headed toward the river nearby.

     

    Wat Arun across the Chao Praya River.  The dock at right is for the river 'taxis' - actually river busses. I was going to take one home up the river (one hour) but the service had stopped already.

     

    Wat Arun.

     

    Restaurant cruise boats passed by.

     

    We both knew of a small restaurant along the old piers that line the river.

     

    A very laid back waiter took care of us: beer, then rice and minced pork with chilies.

     

    Don't look too close at the kitchen . . . just enjoy what comes out of it.  We did.

     

    I am always in the histories that are revealed in the old surfaces . . . this old wooden shop house still had vestiges of past generations hung about here and there.

     

    The old and the new.  That Pepsi salesman really gets around!!

     

    We walked out the way we came in . . . through this wooden hall leading us off the dock and into the Bangkok night.

     

    Dark, old space.

     

    The Royal Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, is next to Wat Poh and is always a busy area of Bangkok.  Tourists sped through the night on a wild tuk-tuk ride.

     

    Late night tourists engage in selfie-taking behaviors in front of the palace walls.  John and I did the same!!!

     

    It was a beautiful night to be out walking along the palace walls.

     

    At around 11:00 we started to flag taxis to see if they wre interested in taking us to our different parts of the city . . . several didn't, but eventually we each secured a taxi.

    Winter Vacation 2016-2017: The High Sierras, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Richmond, Baltimore, and Pennsylvania.  Whew!

    Swall Meadows, Eastern Sierras, California.

     

    Out along US Highway 395, Eastern Sierras, California.

     

    June Lake, Eastern Sierras, California.

     

    Approaching June Lake, California.

     

    Hot Creek Geological Area, off US Highway 395 near Swall Meadows.

     

    The Buttermilks, outside Bishop, California.

     

    Incredible Mono Lake, California.

     

    Hot Springs Ice, Mono Lake, California. December 2016.

     

    Manzanar WWII Japanese Internment Camp, California

     

    Out along US Highway 395.

     

    Fossil Falls, California (US Highway 395)

     

    The Outpost (closed), Darwin, California.

     

    Old water truck, Darwin, California.

     

    A Death Valley sunset.

     

    A high view down to a sand storm in Panamint Valley, California.

     

    Tourists from all over the world make the trek to Badwater Flats in Death Valley, California to walk on the lowest spot in the Americas.

     

    My camera never left the hotel room in Las Vegas.

     

    Hoover Dam on a wonderful day.

     

    "Winged Figure of the Republic" - by sculptor Oskar Hansen, Hoover Dam, Nevada.

     

    The great bridge at Hoover Dam.

     

    Great Hoover Dam on the Nevada-Arizona boarder.

     

    A very low level at Lake Mead.

     

    Out in the Nevada desert.

     

    We visited family in Richmond, Virginia . . . . where they controversially display statues to the leaders of the Confederate States of American along Monument Avenue.

     

    Beautiful old homes along Monumant Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.

     

    Stonewall Jackson monument, Richmond, Virignia, USA.

     

    At The National Acquarium in Baltimore, USA.

     

    A forest walk in the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania, USA.

     

    A very cold morning in rural Pennsylvania, USA.

     

    MORE COMING SOON . . . . .

    October Thai Visitors = Scottish Road Trip

    I love having friends and family visit us here in Scotland . . . we get to take them around the country and share good times together.  I also get to take my camera and shoot some pics.  We headed south out of Aberdeen for a little time in Edinburgh first.

     

    The Royal Mile is always the first stop in Edinburgh.  Although it is touristic, it is also stunningly beautiful.

     

    The Scottish Parliament sits astride the Royal Mile.

     

    The philosopher Hume called Edinburgh home, as does this bonny lass busking with her pipes.

     

    The Royal Mile leads up to Edinburgh Castle.  I loved this old cafe truck.

     

    I bought a cafe latte here . . . of course.

     

    Edinburgh Castle dominates the city skyline . . . and is absolutely fantastic.

     

    The Edinburgh Castle drawbridge and gate.  There has been a castle on this location since at least the 2nd century AD, although there have been many rebuilds and additions since then.

     

    Once inside the castle walls, an ancient world unfolds.

     

    Edinburgh Castle is a 'living' castle: these offices are in current use by the Royal Family for administrative purposes.

     

    Inside the castle walls.

     

    I love that the Scottish National Trust has young men circulating in period WWI military dress . . . a reminder of wars gone by . . . and the human toll.

     

    Of curse, the castle is a defensive position and is ringed with canon emplacements.

     

    The gun emplacements had the best views of Edinburgh.

     

    Looks dangerous.

     

    It's always good to have the high ground in a siege.

     

    There are wonderful views of Edinburgh city from the castle ramparts.

     

    A small chapel within the castle walls.

     

    We were at the castle as soon as it opened in the morning . . . to get the best photo opportunities, but it quickly filled up with tourists.  Here, an inner courtyard outside the grand hall.

     

    Inside the magnificent grand hall!

     

    A sumptuous castle interior.

     

    We enjoyed several days of sightseeing in Edinburgh, but the call of The Highlands and more historic sites beckoned.

     

    From Edinburgh we headed northwest and to ancient town of Dunfermline, which served as the royal capitol of Scotland until the 17th century.  Here we have the ruins of the 11th century Dunfermline Palace.

     

    Dunfermline Palace ruins.

     

    Adjacent to the palace ruins sits the intact Dunfermline Abbey (c. 1128).  A perfect October day in Scotland!

     

    The immense ancient Dunfermline Abbey. 

     

    The interior view of the old section of Dunfermline Abbey.

     

    Beautiful vaulted ceilings.

     

     A working mill near Pitlochry.

     

    We actually bought 'heretage' stone ground organic flour from the mill . . . it makes the BEST pan cakes!

     

    A stunning scene.