Heavy Glow

Through the fog of time

The WordPress Daily Prompt provides the theme of Encrusted, which is a rather interesting theme to find.

Not surprisingly, my first thoughts went to those famous jewel-encrusted crowns and swords of the fantasies of the Middle Ages.  This brought me on the path that I usually take, when looking at thematic images: go for a browse through my somewhat extensive image library.

This search led me to encounter the image that I feature here…

Heavy Glow

Of course, you are right to question what this has to do with the theme!  When I think of jewel-encrusted objects, I see the light that creates specular highlights across the various gems, creating a sea of beauty!  This image immediately connected me to that across the fog of time….

Have a wonderful day!

Isle of Mull – pt. 5

Beauty with a thorny attitude

In this final installment as your tour guide of beloved Mull, there’s one thing that I cannot overlook from our visit to Mull and really all of Scotland: Gorse!

Ulex (commonly known as gorse, furze or whin) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae. The genus comprises about 20 species of thorny evergreen shrubs in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae. The species are native to parts of western Europe and northwest Africa, with the majority of species in Iberia.

The first thing that you do notice about gorse is the intense yellow flowers, which are in bloom nearly year-round.  When lit by sunlight, these bushes create beautiful patches of yellow across the landscape, which can stand out against a blue sky (yes, we found plenty of blue skies in Scotland)

Gorse and the Landscape of Mull

Gorse is closely related to the brooms (Scottish Broom is a very hard plant, that we have in our backyard in New England), and like them, has green stems and very small leaves and is adapted to dry growing conditions. However it differs in its extreme thorniness, the shoots being modified into branched thorns 1–4 centimetres (0.4–1.6 in) long, which almost wholly replace the leaves as the plant’s functioning photosynthetic organs. The leaves of young plants are trifoliate, but in mature plants they are reduced to scales or small spines. All the species have yellow flowers, generally showy, some with a very long flowering season.

Detail of Gorse

In this image you get a good view of the thorns, which you do not want to try to walk through without some adequate protection.  The gorse in Scotland can grow rather large, as I saw bushes well above 2 meters in height.

Have a wonderful day!

Isle of Mull – pt. 4

Magical paths

In this fourth installment as your tour guide of beloved Mull, I’d like to show some of the beauty that we found there during our visit.

When visiting Mull, we had a general idea of what we’d expect from Scotland: mountainous terrain with expansive lochs and a sense of ruggedness that would be everywhere.  While there is plenty of such terrain, there are also some tender, hidden gems that show up with the right light and transport one into a completely different environment.

Step into the Elfin Kingdom

Getting views of this kind gave me a sense of where our inspiration for works, such as ‘Lord of the Rings’, comes from.  There are many places within Scotland that I found these utterly magical scenes…

Bridging the Magic Realm

Walking along the wandering paths of Mull, on a beautiful, sunny day, there were little treasures to be found around every bend.

Have a wonderful day!

Isle of Mull – pt. 3

A true gem on Mull!

In this third installment about our visit to beloved Mull, we take a look at one of the prominent features of the isle, which is seen upon approaching it on the ferry from Oban to Craignure.

Duart Castle sits high atop the hill with a great vantage across the Sound of Mull toward Loch Linnhe; it is rather imposing from any angle of approach, as even from the landward side, there is a bit of a rise to climb, while approaching the castle.  Duart Castle was probably built by Clan MacDougall in the 13th century, and appears to have come into the hands of Clan MacLean in the following century.

In 1350 Lachlan Lubanach Maclean of Duart, the 5th Clan Chief, married Mary, daughter of John of Islay, Lord of the Isles and Duart was part of her dowry.  In 1647, Duart Castle was attacked and laid siege to by the Argyll government troops of Clan Campbell, but they were defeated and driven off by the Royalist troops of Clan MacLean.

Duart Castle

There was quite a bit of to and fro over Duart castle between various factions until it was abandoned in 1751.  Descendants of Archibald Campbell, 1st Duke of Argyll sold the castle in 1801, to MacQuarrie, who then sold it to Carter-Campbell of Possil who kept it as a ruin within the grounds of his own estate to the north, Torosay Castle. He later sold his Torosay Estate which now included the ruins of Castle Duart to A. C. Guthrie in 1865. On 11 September 1911, the ruin was separated from the rest of the Torosay Estate and was bought by Sir Fitzroy Donald Maclean, the 26th Chief of the Clan MacLean and restored.

Bird Protector of Duart Castle

In 2012, the centenary of the 1912 restoration, the Chief of Clan Maclean announced that his family could no longer afford the upkeep of the castle in light of the expense of major repairs.  When we visited during the Spring of 2013, we noticed the Chief of Clan MacLean working on the upkeep of the castle himself; he was even nice enough to provide us some directions.

Unfortunately, in the winter of 2013-14 the castle lost four ceilings, which were brought down by water penetration through the chimneys. In July 2014, a Restoration Appeal was launched.

I certainly hope that the restoration will bring the castle to its former glory, to the delight of many visitors!

Factoid: Sean Connery is a MacLean through his mother’s side of the family.

The Isle of Mull – pt. 1

Power of the stones

As I was going through some of my photos in preparation for writing a couple of posts for the upcoming week, the thought crossed my mind to write something about the wonderful island of Mull that my wife and I visited during our trip to Scotland in 2013.

Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides (after Skye, on which I will also do a series of posts), off the west coast of Scotland in the council area of Argyll and Bute.

With an area of 875.35 square kilometres (337.97 sq mi) Mull is the fourth largest Scottish island and the fourth largest island surrounding Great Britain (excluding Ireland). In the 2011 census the usual resident population of Mull was 2,800 a slight increase on the 2001 figure of 2,667; in the summer this is supplemented by many tourists. Much of the population lives in Tobermory, the only burgh on the island until 1973, and its capital.

Tobermory is also home to Mull’s only single malt Scotch whisky distillery: Tobermory distillery (formerly Ledaig).

The Lochbuie Stones

It is widely believed that Mull was inhabited from shortly after the end of the last Ice Age, around 6000 BC. Bronze Age inhabitants built menhirs, brochs and a stone circle with examples of burial cairns, cists, standing stones, pottery and knife blades provide compelling evidence.

The Lochbuie (Lochbuie means Yellow Loch, which makes sense given the sea of yellow gorse on the island) Stone circle stands beautifully in sight of Ben Buie; this circle consisted of 9 stones at its onset and still radiates ancient power.  While the circles orginal purpose is a matter of speculation, I can tell you that walking through the area of the stones and the paths toward them, I could feel energies flowing through me that were extremely potent.

More episodes to follow for this beloved island!


Variation on the Lock Theme

Spinning through time and space

The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge provides the theme of Variations on a Theme.

Another opportunity for me to share some vacation shots, as there was a particular variation on the theme of lock.  Boat lock, that is.

The Falkirk Wheel is a one of a kind solution to boats having to traverse a large number of locks due to the different elevation levels in canals.  The canals in question are the Forth and Clyde canal and the Union canal.

As you can see, the wheel is a rotating boat lift, which raises the boats 24m.  This elegant and simple design first opened in 2002 to transport boats and re-establish the connection between the canals for the first time since the 1930s.

The wheel is always perfectly balanced, as Archimedes’ principle is used rather effectively; the contents of each the water-filled caissons is always in balance, as the weight of the boat displaces an amount of water equal to that weight to create the buoyant force keeping it afloat.

If you look carefully, you may notice the name of one of the boats: Archimedes.

The town of Falkirk is fairly close to Edinburgh, with which it is connected by the Union canal.  It is also close to the Antonine Wall, which is within walking distance of the wheel.

Hope you enjoy your day!


Tuesday Photo Challenge – Round Up 93

Elgin has more than just marbles…

Welcome to the 93rd round up of the Tuesday Photo Challenge!  It may be old news, but this was another wonderful week of posts on this theme!

The line up of contributions this week varied tremendously in subject matter, while being consistent in a high level of creativity and quality.  Seeing a wonderfully captured old man, a 3,500 year old tree, ancient cat, old buildings and much more!  Your entries were magnificent and a pleasure for me to read!

Please let all the authors know how much you appreciate their work!

And something else that is on the old side….


Elgin Cathedral, Scotland

During our vacation in Scotland in 2013, my wife and I just happened upon the wonderful town of Elgin, where I sensed that there was something interesting to see; we were not disappointed, as the magnificent remains of the Elgin Cathedral drew us in.  Walking around on the grounds, you can feel the connection to what made this location special in a spiritual sense.

The following were this week’s participants in the challenge with links to their posts:

  • By Sarah shares photographs and the story of a banyan tree in Hawaii that dates back to 1870; it’s a sight to behold!
  • Nicole’s post in Une Photo, Un Poéme tells the tale of a medieval clock in Salisbury, which is a stunning piece of time keeping!
  • In her post in VickiMD87, Vicki tells the story of Mystic Waters, the ferrie that runs between the village of Baltimore and Sherkin Island.
  • In Field Notes from over the Hill, Gwenny brings us to some interesting locations and finds great old items!
  • This week, pensivity101 tells the tale of one of her previous residences that was built in 1847 and had many interesting features!
  • In Geriatri’X’ Fotogallery‘s post, we get to see an ancient Lykian rock grave, which goes well back before we started counting years forward!
  • This week’s response by Land of Images brings us old King’s Hall of Trinity College in Cambridge.  Dating back to MCCCXXXVI!
  • This week’s contribution in theonlyD800inthehameau, takes us back to World War I with a French helmet that is a classic!
  • Xenia’s post in whippetwisdom has us remembering the mountains, truly ancient in their grandeur as they stand above the landscape!
  • This week iballrtw has a truly phenomenal contribution with Hathsepsut’s Myrrh tree that she brought back from ancient Punt about 3500 years ago!
  • In Chateaux des Fleurs, we get to meet an old man, who is photographed beautifully  and just radiates the wisdom that comes with age!
  • Ladyleemanila‘s contribution this weeks has a great variety of old objects and a song that I really like (yes, I’m old 🙂 )
  • Ed’s entry in his cool blog In My Mind’s Eye, focuses on a couple of old items that give me the feel of the Middle Ages!
  • In this week’s entry from PtitNFit, we not only get to see some wonderful old items, but also a great poem by Nikita Gill!
  • In Bedlam & Daisies, we are treated to a fantastic post featuring trains in the snow, with some rather old boxcars!
  • In this week’s entry from ForgivingConnects, Debbie lets go of the old, while nurturing the every-renewing self in mind, body and soul!
  • Musin’ with Susan shares a treasured possession with us, which connects her family across a number of generations!
  • Mara’s post in Mara’s Artistry combines two of her loves: art and pets; the pet, in this case, is rather ancient!
  • This week, Photo Roberts Blog brings us some fantastic images exploring the beautiful lines of old cars!
  • When she goes Out an’ About, Miriam sauntered through old Chiltern to create a beautiful reportage of this town, with a spirit as old as the land that it stands on!
  • Khürt puts his best foot forward in Island in the Net with a fantastic photo that has the appearance of being from another age!
  • Ron provided a wonderful photo of an old standard in many a landscape in Progressing into Solitude; you’ll want to check it out.

I hope that you enjoy these posts and let the authors know!