Tuesday Photo Challenge – Ring

A ring that captures…

Welcome to Week 110 of the Tuesday Photo Challenge.  This week’s theme is something different again!

You produced a wonderful set of posts for the past week’s theme of Shine!  Your creativity shone through your posts and made them a lot of fun to read and appreciate. So I decided to give a completely different element to this week’s theme and select a topic that allows you to go in many directions: Ring!

Of course, a ring can be the one that binds them all, or the sound from a telephone, or have a familiar ring!  Your tasks is to put your creative vision on the theme and come up with something interesting…

I can’t wait to see what you might create!

This is one version of a ring, as it stands in a circle with a ring of stones…

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Lochbuie Stone Circle

The Lochbuie stone circle is a location that is filled with the power of the ancients, which permeates the entire site; there are several locations in this site that produce a palpable amount of energy that one can feel coursing through your body…  To say that there’s ancient mystery in this location is an understatement!

The full rules of this challenge are in TPC Guidelines, but here’s the tl;dr:

  • Write a post with an image for this week’s topic
  • Please tag your post with fpj-photo-challenge (if you’re not sure about how tags work, please check out this WordPress article about tagging posts)
  • Create a pingback link to this post, so that I can create a post showing all of the submissions over the week (note: pingbacks may not appear immediately, as my site is set up to require approval for linking to it; helps against previous bad experiences with spamming)
  • Have fun creating something new (or sharing something old)!!

I’m looking forward to seeing what might ring true in your posts!

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)

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

Isle of Mull – pt. 2

Religion and sheep!

In this second installment about our visit to beloved Mull, we pick up the era between 600 BC and AD 400, when Iron Age inhabitants were building protective forts, duns and crannogs. Whether or not they were Picts is unclear.

In the 6th century, Irish migrants invaded Mull and the surrounding coast, establishing the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata. The kingdom was divided into a number of regions, each controlled by a kin group, of which the Cenél Loairn controlled Mull and the adjacent mainland to the east. Dál Riata was a springboard for the Christianisation of the mainland; the pivotal point was AD 563, when Columba, an Irish missionary, arrived at Iona (just off the south-west point of Mull) and founded a monastery, from which to start evangelising the local population.

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The Monastery on Iona

Another thing that we learned during our visit to Mull, is that the significant number of sheep roam free everywhere on the island and do not concern themselves with traffic; on the mostly single-track road one may have to stop for sheep that find it a comfortable place to rest.

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Mull’s Sheep

The other aspect about sheep is that they will eat whatever they find; therefore, if you want a garden you put up a fence that is necessary to keep the sheep out!

Have a wonderful day, wherever you are in the world!

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).

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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!

 

Thorny Beauty!

Tough as beauty!

The WordPress Daily Prompt has the theme of Thorny.  One idea sprung to mind immediately when I saw this one: the Scottish beauty of gorse!

Gorse is ubiquitous across the highlands and isles, where it adorns many hills with a lush coat of yellow that looks so beautiful from a distance.  It is a pioneer that knows how to protect itself with thorny spikes that are strong and almost an inch long; any encounter with this defense mechanism is sure to leave an impression that is not soon forgotten.

Here’s a quick shot that shows both the beauty and the beast….

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Prickly Scottish Beauty

This was captured on the lovely isle of Mull, where it abounded.  Where you get a dense conglomeration of gorse brushes, there is no passing without strong protection.

Have a wonderful day!