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Isle of Arran Scotland

Friday, October 31, 2008

This evening, I am posting some information on the Isle of Arran which is sometimes described as Scotland in Miniature. I have a articular interest in this p;lace because we have traced my wife's ancestors back Io the 18th century on the island.

Arran is close to Glasgow and easy to get to by CalMac ferry. I have visited the island a number if times, memories of which include:

  • Prehistory: Machrie Moor standing stones. Also ancient stone carvings.
  • Activities such as kayaking, archery, mountain biking and golf.
  • Hill and mountain walking-the Three Beinns and Goatfell.
  • Seal watching.
  • Scotch Whisky-Isle of Arran Distillery.
  • Cycling. I have cycled round the island in a day.
  • Brodick Castle`
  • A wide choice of lodgings to suit all budgets.
  • Heritage Centre

Overall, a great place with much to offer the visitor.

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Robert Burns Scotland Tour

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This evening, I am posting some information on upcoming Burns related events:

Touring Exhibition Jan-Nov 2009

Some 36,000 objects fr pm Scotland's national collection of objects connected with Scotland's national poet will be brought together in celebration of the poet's 250th anniversary. The collection includes manuscripts, books, art and artifacts which will be available for viewing at the National Library, Mitchell Library, Art Gallery and Museum Aberdeen and Greyfriars Church, Dumfries.

Creative Burns Feb-May 2009

This exhibition at he Dick Institute, Kilmarnock will explore Burns own creative output and his legacy to the present day. There will also be a display of Burns inspired art work by leading Scottish artists.

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Tour Dumfries House Scotland

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This evening, I am posting some information on one of Scotland's architectural treasures in the form of Dumfries House, near Cumnock in Ayrshire.

This house , which was formerly owned by the Marquis of Bute, is surrounded by 2000 acres of land.

The house was designed by John, Robert and James Adam and built between 1754 and 1759 for William Crichton- Dalrymple, Earl of Dumfries and Stair.
A number of rooms were furnished by the Adams' friend Thomas Chippendale (1728-1779).

Recently, the house and contents were acquired by Prince Charles.

The contents include:

  • A gilt rosewood padouk and sabicu Chippendale bookcase.
  • Late George III giltwood pier glasses, 1759 by Chippendale.
  • A set of 22 Scottish late George II mahogany dining chairs with tapestry covers.
  • A pair of valuable sofas.
  • A pair of late George II mahogany concertina card tables.
  • A mirror with a Savonnerie tapestry panel probably woven by Thomas Moore.
Dumfries House is open to the public, albeit subject to restricted opening times.

Small group tours can be arranged for 2009.

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Visit Robert Burns Monument Edinburgh

Monday, October 27, 2008

This afternoon, I am presenting an image of the Burns Monument located in Edinburgh's Eastern New Town, between Calton Hill and Holyrood. Robert Burns is Scotland's national poet.

This monument was designed by Thomas Hamilton and completed 1830.

It is a circular Greek temple with Corinthian peristyle.


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Wet Glasgow Scotland

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images taken this morning during my cycle ride to get pictures for my ancestry blog.

In the West of Scotland we have experienced very heavy, almost continuous rainfall over recent days.

The images below show the extent of local flooding on Thornliebank Road, close to Eastwood Old Cemetery.

Water was about 30cm deep. I managed to get two wet feet, even though I was a bike. The sun came out later and I obtained some decent images of grave-markers at the Cemetery.






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View Calton Hill Skyline Edinburgh Scotland

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This evening I am posting an image taken from the great vantage point of Edinburgh Castle.

In the middle distance can be seen monuments such as the National Monument and Nelson's Monument the significance of which were summarised by Sir Patrick Geddes:

" with its strange medley of monuments is a museum of the battle of styles and a permanent evidence showing how the town planners of one generation cannot safely count upon continuance by those of the next."

The choices of the buildings were made on architectural grounds.

I acknowledge that that quality of this image is not brilliant but it does serve to highlight the importance of the skyline.

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Visit New Observatory Edinburgh Scotland

Friday, October 24, 2008

This evening, I am presenting an image of the New Observatory on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

This image was taken from atop the Nelson Monument.

Although designated 'new' this building in fact dates from 1818 and is attributed the famous architect William Playfair but influenced by the architect's uncle, Professor Playfair, an eminent mathematician and natural philosopher who was also President of the Astronomical Institution which was formed before the observatory was built.

From an architectural perspective, the building is a cruciform classic temple with central dome, constructed on the summit of the precinct.

As far as I know it is not possible to visit the observatory, which is somewhat disappointing.

In the background on the image below can be seen Edinburgh's New Town which dates from the 1760s and is full of fascinating Georgian architecture.





Be sure to visit Calton Hill when in Edinburgh. It's walkable from Princes Street and offers stunning views.

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Visit Helensburgh Scotland

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This evening I am posting some in formation on the upscale town of Helensburgh located on the shore of the Firth of Forth. The population is about 20,000 but its most famous claim to fame is the number of famous people who who were either born in the own or closely connected with it, viz:

Helensburgh is a very smart, seaside town and worth a diversion when in the Glasgow area. Mackintosh's Hill House is located there an d worth a visit in its own right.

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Visit Old Observatory Edinburgh Scotland

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This evening, I am presenting an image of Edinburgh's Old Observatory which was designed by James Craig and dates from 1776. This is situated on Calton Hill and meshes in with the New Town architecture which can be seen in the background.

This was planned as the City Observatory with advice from Robert Adam. It is one of Craig's very few surviving buildings.


This image was taken from atop the Nelson Monument which offers the fit and energetic some great views when visibility is right.

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Visit Leith Scotland

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This evening, I am presenting some panoramic images of Leith. This is an industrial town and port which sits on Edinburgh's northern shore and is often overlooked by the vast bulk of tourist visitors to Edinburgh.

The two images were taken from Edinburgh Castle and show the towers of Leith in the middle distance then the Firth of Forth then, in the distance, the Fife Coast which ultimately winds its way round to St. Andrews.

For several centuries Leith was an important shipping terminal and played an important role in Edinburgh's growth and prosperity. Leith's decline has, to an extent, been halted by the arrival of the Royal Yacht Britannia which is now an established tourist attraction, albeit one I would not feature in my 'A' list of "must sees".

Other important places to visit in Leith include:

It should not be forgotten that it was from Leith that the ill-fated Darien Scheme was launched in the late 17th century. The failure of this venture virtually bankrupted Scotland and resulted in a deal with England which led to the creation of the United Kingdom in 1707.




Apart from the possibility of a visit to the Royal Yacht, Leith is a perhaps somewhere for the more seasoned traveler looking to dig deeper in to the area's history and architecture.

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Visit Princes Street Edinburgh Scotland

Monday, October 20, 2008

This evening, I am presenting an image of Princes Street, Edinburgh taken from atop the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill.

This is one of Europe's most celebrated streets which benefits from an open aspect to the gardens and castle. In 1840 Robert Louis Stevenson described the street as a terrace of palaces but by 1960 the tone had become harsher being described by Moray McLaren as one of the most chaotically tasteless streets in the U.K.

Princes Street today is renowned for its shops and shopping but at the peak of the busy tourist season ( July/August) a stroll up and down is not a quality experience.

To the right of the image is the New Town whilst to the left is the castle and Old Town.

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Visit Glengoyne Whiskey Distillery Scotland

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This evening, I am presenting some images of a visit to Glengoyne ( glengoyn) which is technically in the Highlands but in fact is situated near Killearn in Stirlingshire and about 45 mins from Glasgow.

In the image immediately below you will see in the background Dumgoyne Hill, a 14ooft volcanic plug which is part of the Campsie Fells from which a burn ( stream) supplies Glengoyne with its water supply.

This distillery offers a good range of tours for visitors.

The 10 and 17 year old Glengoyne malts are both quite flowery, unpeated whiskies with a hint of American oak.



In the image below can be found the bonded warehouses where the whiskey matures, the distillery in the middle ground and the Dumgoyne Hill in the background.



Copper stills

The old malting barn with its distinctive pagoda-like top.


Distillery tour guide in full flow



Overall, Glengoyne offers a good value tour and fits in nicely with a day tour of the Trossachs from Glasgow

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Visit National Monument Edinburgh Scotland

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This evening, I am presenting an image of the National Monument on Calton Hill. This forms part of the important skyline which was designed to form the 'Athens of the North'.

The Monument was designed by C.R.Cockerill ( with William Playfair) and dates from 1822. It was originally designed as a church whose exterior was intended to replicate the Parthenon but funds were short and only twelve columns were completed.



This is quite a romantic site. There are many other interesting monuments and buildings on Calton Hill which also affords a great vantage point for viewing Edinburgh City and the Firth of Forth. Great photos when the visibility is right!

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Visit World's End Pub Edinburgh Scotland

Friday, October 17, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of the famous World's End pub located at no 4 high Street (Royal Mile) Edinburgh.

This is a very historic site on two accounts:

  1. It is adjacent to the former Netherbow Port, a defensive gateway which once separated Edinburgh Old Town from Cannongate. From the perspective of Edinburgh residents, this was the "World's End" and hence name.
  2. The building's foundations incorporate part of the Flodden Wall, once part of Edinburgh's defences.
Here is a ( somewhat average quality) image of the pub's interior on the day I took a small group inside for a spot of lunch. Consensus view that the meal was good quality.


The following two images are of the pub's exterior.



Overall, an intriguing pub of history and character. However, dining area is relatively modest and we had to wait some minutes for a table-but worth it!

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Blogger Janet and Lenore said...

Hi,
Thanks for this. I have wondered what this pub was like and not yet got round to going in. We have a holiday let property that you almost managed to capture in your photograph of the corner.

October 18, 2008  

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Visit Abbey of Holyroodhouse Edinburgh Scotland

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This evening, I am presenting images and information on one of Edinburgh's major sites, namely the Abbey of Holyroodhouse which is located at foot of the Royal Mile adjacent to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Latter was subject of yesterday's post.

The ruined early 13th century Nave and West Front (altered 1633) are all that remain of this magnificent building which was founded by King David I ( of Scotland) in 1126.

The key features are:

  • A vaulted south aisle with fine blind arcading.
  • Nave, which was converted to Chapel Royal in the 17th century and the converted again to Chapel of the Order of the Thistle. The latter can now be found in St. Giles Cathedral located in the Royal Mile.
  • Curious traceried windows in the east and west ends.
  • Addition of a stone slates in 1758 which caused the building's destruction in the 19th century.
  • Inspiration for Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony.




A visit to the Abbey is usually undertaken in context of a tour of Holyroodhouse.

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Visit Palace of Holyrood House Edinburgh

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This evening, I am presenting some images of one of Edinburgh's top visitor attractions, namely Palace of Holyrood House. This is the Queen's official residence in Scotland.

The following two images are of the interesting fountain located in the Palace Yard. People who have also visited Linlithgow Palace may have a double take because the fountain ( constructed in 1859) is actually modelled on a much older, similar edifice at Linlithgow.



The following images are of the Palace exterior, as photographs of the interior are not permitted.

The North West tower dates from the 16th century and is all that survives of the pre-Civil War palace. The remainder is late 17th century to the design of Sir William Bruce, executed by Robert Mylne, the King's Master Mason. It will be noted that Bruce balanced the old tower with one on the north east thereby forming a grand arcaded quadrangle between the two towers tied by a rusticated screen wall.

The contract to rebuild the Palace is dated 1672 and survives in full detail.








The Palace is located at the foot of the Royal Mile and definitely worth a visit. The interior is very grand .

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Roman Antiquities

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This evening, I am continuing my Roman theme, providing images of my recent visit to Cyprus.

The following pictures are from the Salamis Ruins in Northern Cyprus. The development of this city was interrupted by earthquakes, particularly in the 1st and 4th centuries AD. After the earthquakes, the city was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor, Constantius II ( 337-361 AD) and renamed it Constantia. The city was abandoned in AD 648 following a raid by Arab pirates.

Here is an impressive buttress


Mosaics in archway at the baths

A 3rd century fresco piece showing Hylas as he refuses the water nymphs.

Hypocaust heating system at the baths

Swimming pool with columned courtyard in the background

Gymnasium

Another view of the gymnasium which served as an exercising ground for the military.

Ancient Greek script


Local tour guide in full flow
Entrance
Ancient Greek script at the theatre
More Greek script
The theatre which dates from the time of Augustus. It was destroyed by earthquakes in the 4th century and was never rebuilt

Overall, this proved a fascinating site where I would have liked to spend more time.

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Roman Ruins and Monuments

Monday, October 13, 2008

This evening, I am departing from my usual Scotland/Britain theme to cover a photo record of my recent visit to Roman sites on Cyprus. Touring Roman Britain is one of my passions and I guess there is some overlap as the Romans did occupy Britain for about 400 years.

The site covered below is that of Kourion which is an ancient Cypriot city the remains of which comprise a Theatre, House of Eustolios, an early Christian Basilica, Roman Forum, Public Baths, House of the Gladiators, House of Achilles and House with Earthquake evidence.




These Y signs indicate Christianity, Yios is Greek for Jesus.

Mosaic at House of the Gladiators-Hellenikos and Margerites in combat.

Mosaic of gladiator Lytras separated from his opponent by the referee, Darios.


Hypocaust system at the public baths


Unusual shell carving

Decorated mosaic floor
Corinthian Column

Slightly surreal view of the site with a para glider in the background. This is the early Christian Basilica.


View of the coast from the site. A superb location with benefit of cool breezes.

The Theatre

House of Eustolios
The bust of KTICIC on the mosaic floor of the rectangular hall at House of Eustolios


Mosaic inscription on the floor of the east portico which reads;

'In place of big stones and solid iron,
gleaming bronze and even adamant,
this house is girt by the much venerated signs of Christ.'

Mosaic floor inscription welcoming the visitors- 'Enter for the good luck of the house'



Hypocaust heating system
I found Kourion a truly stunning site. It would be nice if guided tours by experts were available to enhance the experience. However, wondering round at own speed does help one connect with the past.

Tomorrow, I will be presenting information and photos of another Cypriot site, at Salamis in the north of the island.

Contact me if interested in tours of Roman Britain or other Roman themed tours.

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St. Andrews Kingdom of Fife Scotland

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Th's morning, I am providing summary information on the 'Golf Town' of St. Andrews. Key aspects are:

Overall, a great spot to visit-and to use as a base for touring Central and Eastern Scotland.

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Visit West Kilbride Scotland

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This evening, I am providing some summary information on an unusual Ayrshire town named West Kilbride.

In the late 1990s the business community took a decision to promote the town as an art and design centre, an initiative which proved a success.There are now five craft studios and an art gallery with the latter acting as the focus of a changing programme of events lasting thrughout the year.

So, for visitors interested in art, craft and design a visit to this interesting small town should be on the agenda when in Sotland.

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Visit Dufftown Scotland

Friday, October 10, 2008

This evening, I am presenting some information on the "whisky town" of Dufftown in Moray.

Very briefly Dufftown boasts:

  • the flagship Glenfidditch Distillery
  • a whisky museum and
  • several whisky and antique shops.

Closeby is the Speyside Cooperage where barrels used in the whisky industry are either re-assembled (on importation from the U.S.) or manufactured new on site. It should be remembered that Scotch Whisky must be matured in oak barrels for a minimum of 3 years and one day.

Dufftown is definitely worth a stop en route to/from Inverness.

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Visit Wigtown Scotland

Thursday, October 09, 2008

This evening, I am posting some information in the country town of Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway.

This is a fascinating little town given over to the second hand book trade, similar to Hay on Wye in England.

Local traders decided to reinvent the town and adopted the book strategy which appears to have worked well.There are now some 15 book-related businesses. To attract visitors the town has Spring and Autumn (Fall) Book Festivals.

Wigtown is located in a scenic area near the Solway and worthy of a visit.

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Visit Moffat Scotland

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This evening, I am providing a summary of places of interest in and around the former Victorian spa town of Moffat near Dumfries in the Scottish Borders, viz:

  • Gardens
  • Shops
  • Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall
  • Fountain
  • Boating Pond
  • Sweet Shop/Candy Store

Overall, worth a visit in context of a visit to the Borders and/or a Robert Burns themed tour

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Visit Nairn Scotland

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

This evening I am presenting some information on Nairn, a town located east of Inverness and named after the River Nairn. This town's main feattures are:
  • 9th 10th and 18th golf holes
  • Book Fest
  • Cricket
  • Museum
  • Quality seaside resort
  • Ruin
  • Fishing
  • Viaduct
  • Cake Shop

Nairn is relatively close to Inverness and provides access to Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle.

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Dunkeld Perthshire Scotland

Monday, October 06, 2008

This evening I am posting some comment on one of my favourite small Scottish towns, namely Dunkeld. This village/town has much offer the visitor and tourist including:

  • Traditional Scottish Music
  • Historic Cathedral
  • Beatrix Potter
  • Ossian's Hall with its wondeful view of the Falls of Braan
  • Many and varied shops
  • River Tay - Scotland's longest
  • Golfing
  • Fishing
  • Bird watching, particularly Ospreys on Loch of the Lowes
  • Central location for touring
  • Many and varied hotels, Guest Houses and B and Bs

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Visit Biggar Scotland

Sunday, October 05, 2008

This evening, I am focusing on the heritage rich town of Biggar which is some 15 miles south of Edinburgh.Places to visit include the Moat Park Heritage Center and the Gladstone Court Museum. For those visitors interested in Scotland's turbulent religious history there is the Greenhill Covenanters House. For those of a literary disposition, Biggar boasts the John Buchan Centre, When refreshment is required why not try the acclaimed Townhead Cafe which offers excellent fish and chip meals.

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Private Tour from Glasgow Scotland

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Today, I am posting some images from a just-completed two day tour

First stop was at Glengoyne Distillery (whiskey) where we enjoyed an exclusive tour, learning all about the whiskey making process from malting to mashing to fermentation to distillation to maturation. Glengoyne is one of the few Scottish distilleries still in private hands and is best known for its 12 year old single malt.

Here is a view of the distillery. In the foreground are the sheds where the whisky is held to maturity.

Distillery tour guide in full flow.


This pagoda type building is the old malting barn. Malted barley is now brought in from a third party supplier but in the old days was produced on site in a very labour intensive manner.



View of the copper stills. Photos are not allowed inside the Distillery for safety reasons.


After the Distillery we moved on to Aberfoyle for some shopping and then Callander where we encountered Hamish, the famous Highland Cow (or bull!).


After lunch at Lake of Menteith we moved to visit Stirling Castle. This is very popular with visitors and offers outstanding views over the local countryside due to elevation atop an extinct volcano.
This is an image of the former Royal palace built by King James V and dates from 1538-42. These former royal apartments are in process of an extensive refurbishment to restore to near original condition.


This is the Forework Gatehouse built by King James IV in 1503. Originally, there were four round towers, each with a conical top.



View from Stirling Castle looking towards the Wallace Monument of 'Braveheart' fame.


View of the Bowling Green and garden at Stirling Castle


Inside the refurbished Great Hall at Stirling Castle. This was built by Kin g James IV between 1501 and 1504. There is a spectacular hammer beam roof made from local grown oak.


Stained glass in the Great Hall
Another aspect of the Palace

The following two images are of the exterior of the Great Hall. The gold exterior has been re-created to replicate the original colour which was intended to stand out in the local landscape as a symbol of power and wealth.


Tapestries in the Chapel Royal. These were made locally on-site and it is possible to view the weavers undertaking their skilled work.


The first stop of Day 2 was a visit to Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh. This was founded in 1446 as the Collegiate Chapel of St. Matthew by Sir William St. Clair. The chapel took some 40 years to complete. The heavily carved ornate interior attracts visitors from all around the world and gives rise to much speculation on meanings of the carvings.More recently, the chapel was associated with the Da Vinci Code which has contributed to a big uplift in visitor numbers.Images below were taken in 2007, prior to the current ban on photography in the Chapel.


This is the famous Apprentice Pillar at Rosslyn


After Rosslyn, we visited Edinburgh. Here is the interior of St. Giles Cathedral.This mainly dates from the 14th century. Being a Presbyterian Church the building can longer technically be described as a Cathedral, but the old name lingers on.

Here is a view of the Firth (bay) of Forth from Calton Hill. Visibility was unusually clear at time of our visit, although temperature was not conducive to sunbathing! The image shows where the River Forth enters the sea near Edinburgh. In the distance can be seen the Fife Coast. Immediately below is the industrial port of Leith.


This is the National Monument at Calton Hill. This dates to 1822 and was designed as a church whose exterior was intended to be a replica of the Parthenon, although funding dried up prior to completion.


View of Edinburgh form Calton Hill. Note the famous Castle on the middle distance.

Palace of Holyrood House. This is the official residence of H.M.the Queen in Edinburgh and mainly dates from the 17th century to the design of Sir William Bruce. We enjoyed a tour of this interesting and historic building which has connections with Mary Queen of Scots.


This is the ruined Abbey of Holyrood, which was one of Scotland's richest ecclesiastical foundations and became the Chapel Royal in the 16th century. Both Abbey and Palace are located in very pleasant gardens.


This is a view of the Palace Yard with fountain in foreground. This fountain was constructed in 1859 using the fountain at Linlithgow Palace as a model.


Here is the World's End pub on the Royal Mile. We enjoyed some fish and chips here in a very traditional atmosphere.


Overall, an interesting tour providing an interesting insight into Scotland's heritage and culture.

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posted by Catswhiskers @ 6:43 AM  1 comments

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Anonymous jean said...

Mmm....very interesting. Like the different insight from the private tour.

http://www.ourexplorer.com
local guides, local wisdom

October 08, 2008  

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Hamish the Highland Cow Scotland

Friday, October 03, 2008

This evening, I am presenting an image of Hamish, a Highland cow (actually a bull!) who is probably one of the most photographed animals in Scotland. He resides in his own pen at a tourist attraction near Callander in Perthshire.

He is about 15 years old and appears very friendly and placid. His present 'pampered' lifestye means he will probably live until age about 40 years.

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Golden Eagle Callander Scotland

Thursday, October 02, 2008

This evening, I am posting some images of a captive Golden Eagle taken at a tourist attraction in Callander, near Stirling. These images were taken about lunchtime today.

This is a very impressive, 3 year old bird and apparently worth a considerable sum.



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Edinburgh Architecture Royal High School

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This evening, I am presenting a couple of images of the impressive Royal High School at Edinburgh.

This is attributed to Thomas Hamilton 1825-29 and is considered a building of international stature that most justified Edinburgh's sobriquet Athens of the North.

There is evidence to suggest that this building was designed to be integrated with the nearby National Monument to create an Edinburgh Acropolis. The central Doric temple contains the splendid oval hall with shallow coffered ceiling, and cast iron columns supporting the balcony.







A fine piece of architecture with a superb aspect facing Salisbury Crags

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