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Gardens Tour Scotland

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today, I have ben preoccupied in researching a Scotland gardens tour including Greenbank, Benmore, Inveraray, Crarae, Arduaine, An Cala, Abriachan, Cawdor Castle, Explorers, Branklyn and Bell's Cherrybank. This will be undertaken over four days. Have also been working on a golf tour for 2011.

Image above was taken at Grantown-on-Spey a few days ago. Unusual to see pheasant and duck feeding together.

Posted information on White family history to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog.

Weather in Glasgow is cold with a hint of snow. Far worse conditions elsewhere in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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The Macallan Malt Whisky, Scotland

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This evening, my theme is Macallan Scotch Whisky which has been distilled on Speyside since 1824.

Macallan is positioned at the top end of the market and promoted as a 'luxury' brand. Water is sourced below ground from boreholes and the malted barley is lightly peated. To accommodate demand a former 'mothballed' section of the distillery has been brought back into use and adapted to latest technology. Macallan is noted for its small, onion shaped stills. The oak casks for maturation are critically important and here Macallan works in close cooperation with the Spanish Government which controls the oak forests from which casks are made in which oloroso sherry is first matured before being recycled into the whisky industry.

The visitor centre is very well presented with latest visual aids to help understanding of the whisky making process. Unfortunately, photography inside the distillery is very restricted.

Here is an image of snow capped Ben Rinnes taken from the distillery.

Barrel making exhibition at the Visitor Centre.

Another view from the distillery.

Elsewhere today, I have been very busy with tour enquiries covering:

  • Isle of Skye
  • Hadrian's Wall
  • Scottish Gardens
  • Ireland
  • Self-Drive tours
Also, posted information to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog on Arthur White who died in
1796.

Weather in Glasgow has deteriorated with low temperatures and snow. Worse to come over the next 24 hours! May have to reconfigure upcoming private tour.

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Glenfarclas Distillery, Speyside, Scotland

Monday, March 29, 2010

This evening, my theme is Glenfarclas whisky distillery which sits on open farmland beneath Ben Rinnes. This distillery was originally founded in 1836 and has remained independent under ownership of the J&G Grant family.

Key feature of this distillery is the six, very large direct pot stills and use of outside condensers. The whisky is matured in, predominantly, sherry casks and matured for 10, 12, 21, 25 and 30 years. The malt is very lightly peated.

An interesting aspect of this distillery is the black mould-covered walls of the warehouses. The mould is a form of lichen which thrives on then whisky fumes.

This distillery is open to the public and offers good value tours.

Elsewhere today:

  • I have been extremely busy working on a wide range of tours including garden themed, whisky and ancestry.
  • I have posted information on Curtis genealogy to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog.
  • Weather here in Glasgow has edged back toward winter with cold temperatures and some rain. Apparently worse is to come!

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Rare Highland Cow, Scotland

Sunday, March 28, 2010

This morning I went off to Pollock Park, Glasgow to view and photograph a rare calf known as a silver dunn. The animal about 1 month old now. He is part of a family of Highland Cows called 'Chorrach'. The calf is unusual because of its silver colour. His mother is yellow and father pure red. The following two images show the calf, which seemed a little nervous notwithstanding which I managed to obtain the images.


This could be the mother.

Here is a typical, red coloured, mother and calf which form part of the same herd.


Elsewhere today:

  • I am currently occupied with new tour enquiries including a gardens tour of Scotland and a Sinclair Clan themed tour.
  • Will be posting information to my separate Glasgow Ancestry blog information on Jamieson from a very old burial ground in Glasgow.
  • Weather in Glasgow is dry but on the cool side.

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Aberlour, Speyside, Scotland

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This evening, my focus is on the small town of Aberlour (full name Charlestown of Aberlour) which sits on the banks of the River Spey between Inverness and Aberdeen in the north of Scotland.

Aberlour is famous for two products: whisky and shortbread. There are some 50 whisky distilleries within a 15 mile radius of the town and Walkers have a major plant in the town producing the famous shortbread. The town has its own Aberlour Distillery.

Here is the Aberlour Hotel

Aberlour Church and War Memorial

Main Street, Aberlour


River Spey at Aberlour. Famous for salmon fishing.


Overall, a pleasant enough small country town. A useful stop when touring the whisky distilleries.

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Speyside Distillery Tour, Scotland

Friday, March 26, 2010

Today, was the third and final day of our Speyside whisky themed tour.

First stop, by way of variety, was the ruins of Drumin Castle via a tour taking in Speyside scenery and the River Avon. Around the castle ruins was a good display of seasonal snowdrops. We also took pics of Highland Cattle in a nearby field.

Unfortunately, this visit took longer than planned but, fortunately, our first distillery, Glenfarclas, were able to accommodate our late arrival and we went on to avail of the standard distillery tour with some other visitors. Glenfarclas is family owned and very independent. A surprisingly large production capacity for a private distillery.

Next we went to Aberlour for some lunch and shopping. This is a nice enough town on the banks of the Spey.

Our final call of the day was Macallan, part of the Edrington Group. To accommodate extra demand Macallan has brought back into production a formerly mothballed section of the distillery with updated technology. New warehouses have also been built. Macallan is positioned at the top end of the market and sees itself as one of the finest malts on Speyside. The visitor experience (as manifested in the various aids to understanding the whisky making process) is one of the best I have encountered. Macallan malts are shown below.

After the Macallan tour we said farewell to glorious Speyside and started the long trek south back to Glasgow thereby concluding a whisky tour comprising 7 distilleries in 3 days.

Drumin Castle

Washbacks at Glenfarclas

View from Macallan-Ben Rinnes (2759ft.)


Finished product at Macallan



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Speyside Whiskey Tour, Scotland

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This evening, I am collating today's whiskey tour activities.

After a leisurely breakfast at our Grantown on Spey Guest House we drove about 30 mins north to Aberlour Distillery where we availed of an excellent two hour plus tasting tour with genial host, Julian.Image below shows guests filling own bottle of Aberlour single malt for purchase. A notable feature of this distillery is the blackened trees and vegetation close to the distillery which is attributable to a non-lethal fungus growing on the branches which in turn feeds on the alcohol fumes.
After leaving Aberlour we drove to nearby Glenfiddich Distillery. Firstly, we availed of a spot of lunch at the distillery restaurant and then joined the 2.15 Connoisseurs Tour which lasted about two hours and culminated in a tasting of Glenfiddich's principal single malts. This was a quality experience.

Next we drove to nearby Craigellachie Hotel to visit the famous Whiskey Bar which boasts about 700 single malts daring from as far back as 1919!

After a few samples at Craigellachie we drove back to Grantown for an evening meal and our lodgings for the night.

Stills at Glenfiddich

Bottling own whisky at Aberlour



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Whiskey Tour Scotland

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This evening, I am summarising today's whiskey themed tour.

Starting from Glasgow we first drove to Auchentoshan, a Lowland ( triple distillation) category distillery where we availed of a tour exclusive to our group.The guide (see image below) talked us through the entire process from malting and mashing through to fermentation and distillation. The distillery was in full production which added an extra dimension-including noise! A good tour rounded off with samples of the Auchentoshan single malt.

Next we drove north to Blackford in Perthshire where we had a spot of lunch and then joined the 1.00pm tour of Tullibardine Distillery. This is a Highland category distillery (double distillation) which dates from 1949, albeit on a site used for brewing for about 800 years. Again distillery was in full production with associated noise, steam and odours. Another competent tour guide with tour rounded off with usual sample.

After Tullibardine we were off again, this time to Edradour at Pitlochry in central Scotland.This is Scotland's smallest distillery under ownership of a businessman who specialises in rare and unusual whiskies. Again, we had benefit of a private tour which proved of good quality. After some purchases in the shop we headed north up the A9 to Grantown on Spey to our lodgings for the night at An Cala Guest House.

Guests availed of evening meal at Craggan Mill restaurant which is renowned for its whiskey themed meals.

Overall, a successful day, notwithstanding the mixed weather. Snow still on the mountain tops in the Highlands.

Inspecting the Mash Tun at Tullibardine


Inspecting the washbacks at Auchentoshan

Learning about the distillation process at Auchentoshan



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Holmwood House, Glasgow, Scotland

Tuesday, March 23, 2010






This morning, I again ventured off on my bike in a quest for signs of emerging Spring. This time I chose Holmwood House in Cathcart, Glasgow. Unfortunately ( and somewhat unusually for a Victoria grand house) the garden is mainly lawn with only a handful of emerging daffodils and the like. On the plus side it was nice to admire the architecture which was possibly the finest domestic design by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson, Glasgow's greatest Victorian era architect.

Holmwood House dates from 1857-8 and was a mansion with a dual purpose. It was a high status family house combined with a showroom with aim of impressing potential clients of the paper mill owner. The actual paper mill was just a few hundred feet away, powered by the White Cart (river).

Holmwood House is a heritage property open to the public. Inside visitors can view restoration work in progress on Thomson's rich neo-classical ornamentation and decoration.

Elsewhere today, I have been working on the planning of various Scotland tours and responding to tour enquiries from around the world. Posted information on a memorial stone dating from 1796 to my GlasgowAncestry blog.




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Signs of Spring at Pollock House, Glasgow, Scotland

Monday, March 22, 2010


This afternoon, benefiting from some Spring sunshine, I went off to Pollock House to find more signs of emerging Spring.

Pollock House is an 18th century Palladian Mansion built for the Maxwell family who occupied the site via a succession of castles and grand houses, from the 13th century through to the 21 century. Today, I explored the woodlands and walled garden dating from 1741 which are heavily dominated by Rhododendron, a shrub which is not native to Scotland.

Sir John Stirling Maxwell (1866-1956) had a great impact of the Pollock House gardens. He was an expert horticulturist and a keen collector of new and exotic plants from around the world. The many beautiful trees at Pollock are a legacy of Sir John.

This image shows some early Rhododendron flowers.

I was pleased to find some early daffodils. This species has been held back by the extreme winter 2009-2010.

This is the 250 year old Pollock Beech located on site of the former castle.



Woodland crocus

Rhododendron

Daffodils
Polyanthus
Overall, an interesting and successful trip with lost of emerging Spring colours in evidence.

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Colors of Spring at Greenbank, Scotland

Sunday, March 21, 2010

After last night's exertions ( Ceilidh) I decided to take a bit of gentle exercise and cycle round to nearby Greenbank House which is a heritage building dating from the 18th century and well known for its elaborate and extensive garden. At time of my last visit, on March 5th, the garden was still blanketed in snow and ice with only the most tenuous hints of Spring. However, today I found the situation transformed. There was not exactly a riot of colour but definite signs of life-as manifested in the images below. Another week or so should see much more color, particularly daffodils and narcissus for which this garden is particularly well known.

The image at the top shows Greenbank House with some visitors having fun throwing a Frisbee around in the afternoon sunshine.

This is a narcissus- 'Miss Muffet'

I am not sure what of the official name for these white bells.

Presume this solitary flower to be a crocus.

Another narcissus-'Spring Dawn'


This was a surprise. A rose poking through intense vegetation of a yew or privet like shrub.


An unusual narcissus- 'Beryl'


Snowdrops
More snowdrops.

Crocus
Quite a pleasant sojourn this afternoon. The garden is very peaceful yet just a few miles from the hurly-burly of Glasgow City. A quiet place for contemplation!

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Ceilidh, Scotland

Saturday, March 20, 2010


This evening, I attended a community evening at Neilston, a small town about 10 miles from Glasgow. The event was centred around energy saving and reducing the carbon footprint. During the evening, the community benefited from entertainment including a group of 'exotic' drummers, the local Neilston & District Pipe Band and a Ceilidh Band.

Image below shows the drummers in action.

Pipe Band
Drummers
The following two images shows the locals on a group march around the town with (battery powered) lanterns.

Pipe Band in action
Ceilidh Band in full flow.
Specialist Irish Dancer in action.

This proved an enjoyable evening with the Ceilidh attended by some 200 persons- a very successful and well organised event.

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Glasgow Architecture: McLennan Arch, Scotland

Friday, March 19, 2010

This evening, my theme is the McLennan Arch which is located at the entrance to Glasgow Green, quite close to the City Centre. This structure has always interested me, sitting in isolation in somewhat of no-man's land, between the Glasgow City Centre and Glasgow Green. As described below, it transpires that the structure has been relocated a few times in course of its 200 year plus life.

The structure was designed in 1792 by leading Scottish architects of their day, Robert and James Adam. It formed the centrepiece of the facade of the Adams designed Assembly Rooms in Ingram Street and was subsequently moved ( at expense of Baillie James McLennan) to the London Road entrance of Glasgow Green and thence to the bottom of Charlotte Street in 1922.

The Arch was moved to its present location in 1991.

The carving on the sculptural panels depicts Apollo playing his lyre and the Three Graces dancing to the rhythm of a tambourine.


Elsewhere today, I have been busy researching various tours including fishing on the Tay in Perthshire and a Scottish Borders tour.

Posted information on Finlayson to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog.

Weather in Glasgow today has been relatively mild, maybe about 10 C, dry but overcast.

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St. Andrew's in the Square, Glasgow, Scotland

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This posting is by way of follow-up to that of March 14th. The interior is open to the public on Thursdays so I availed of the opportunity for a visit, an endeavour which proved quite rewarding.

The building dates from 1739-1755. It is an approximate copy of St. Martins in the Fields, London. Architect was Allan Dreghorn, a local entrepreneur working in association with Mungo Nasmith (Master mason) and Thomas Clayton ( Plasterer).

The interior features Corinthian columns, rococo plasterwork, stucco work (by Clayton), gilded plasterwork, pulpit built from Spanish mahogany and oak floor. At the back of the church is a marble panel dating from 1906 which at the time was described as being composed of 'marbles, agates and mosaics...a border of black marble is of mossy-green Grecian marble brightened by two medallions in mosaic with the two Greek symbols, Alpha and Omega-the beginning and the ending saith the Lord.'

Here is a video clip of the interior.





On the way home I visited nearby St. Martins in the Green which has a burial ground containing some very old and interesting memorial stones. I took photographs of the stones for future inclusion in my GlasgowAncestry blog.

On the way back I noticed this intriguing piece of art work on what appears to be a hoarding relating to some building work. I am not sure if the art work is official or otherwise but it does add a bit of colour to the urban scenery.

Closer to home I encountered these crocus and snowdrops. Spring is just about here!

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Finnieston Crane, Glasgow, Scotland

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This evening, I have selected the Glasgow landmark Finnieston Crane as my blog theme.

This now Category 'A' listed magnificent pice of engineering dates from 1932 when it was constructed by Cowans Sheldon & Company of Carlisle, England at cost about GBP52,000.

During Glasgow's heyday as major ship builder the crane was used to lift heavy items into new build ships and also items such as locomotives onto ships for export.

The crane is of the cantilever category and extends to 195 feet in height.

The name Finnieston is a misnomer as the crane is actually sited on Stobcross Quay.

The crane is now rarely used for lifting but forms an integral part of the Glasgow skyline.


Elsewhere today:

  • I have busy with tour related work. Helping guests from the U.S. find sheepdog trials to watch and also fish and clay shoot.
  • Posted information on Macvean family history to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog.
  • Glasgow weather mild and overcast with just a hint of rain.

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Glasgow Architecture: Armadillo

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This morning, I cycled down to the centre of Glasgow to photograph the Clyde Auditorium which is known locally as the 'Armadillo' for obvious reasons.



This building, a 3000 seat conference centre, was designed by Foster & Partners and completed 1995-1997. It occupies a site close to the River Clyde which is West of Glasgow City Centre.

From a design perspective, the structure has superficial similarities with Sydney Opera House. It is defined by soaring sails, a connection with Glasgow's maritime past. Inside there are very few windows.
This innovative, modern design is consistent with architectural trends in Glasgow.

Elsewhere today:

  • I have been working on a couple of Scotland Tours scheduled for the summer period.
  • Posted information on Anderson family history to my Glasgow Ancestry blog. During late 19th and early 20th centuries this family suffered the deaths of 7 children at average age of 20 years. Almost unthinkable nowadays.
  • Weather dry but overcast with temperature around 10 C.

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Sculling on River Clyde, Scotland

Monday, March 15, 2010

This evening, my theme is rowing and sculling on the River Clyde at Glasgow, Scotland. This activity has been formalised for at least 150 years using a course between the Tidal Weir at Glasgow Green and Belvidere Straight. Sculling is not permitted in the commercial river channel between Greenock and Glasgow.

Participants of rowing and sculling must comply with the River Clyde Rowing Rules.

Clubs include the Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club and the Glasgow University Boat Club.

There is an annual regatta in May.

Here is the stretch of river looking towards Glasgow City from Glasgow Green.


Single Scull

Double Scull
Elsewhere today, I have been busy collating a vast portfolio of photograph images from the last year or so and posting a selection to my Flickr account, a task which will take some to complete.

On the ancestry research side, posted information on Hunter family history to my Glasgow Ancestry blog. Pleased also to see that I have linked up a couple of folks from the States researching their Glasgow, Harper, family history.

Working on a few small group Scotland tours, one of which has now been confirmed.

I am keen to obtain some images of new born lambs but so far have been unsuccessful in finding any in the fields.

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Anonymous Dan Claiborn said...

Nigel....your blog is impressive...we can't wait to meet you in June...Dan Claiborn

March 16, 2010  

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Glasgow Architecture: St. Andrews in the Square

Sunday, March 14, 2010




This morning I cycled down to Glasgow centre to indulge my interest in architecture. The building featured today is St. Andrews in the Square, a Category 'A' listed heritage building which was built between 1739-1756 and modelled on St. Martins-in-the Fields, London.

The building is clearly of neo-classical design and of particular note is the scale of the portico featuring giant Corinthian columns to support the structure. There is also a hand modelled baroque facade.

This building operated as a church until 1993 when, as a consequence of a declining congregation, the building was transferred to the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, a charity which specialises in redundant historic buildings. The Trust proceeded with an extensive refurbishment and restoration programme which was completed in 2000.

The building now acts as a centre for Scottish culture and is also used for entertainment purposes. It is open for visitors for a few hours most Thursdays. Telephone 44(0) 141 559-5902 for information.

This building is regarded as one of the finest churches in the U.K. I plan to see the interior when opportunity arises.

Elsewhere today:

  • I discovered a very old burial ground not far from the above building with some interesting memorial stones. I plan to go back and obtain videos and information for my separate Glasgow Ancestry blog.
  • Posted information on Corbet family history to the ancestry blog.
  • Spent time uploading a selection of my images to Flickr. Still many more to process.
  • Weather fine and dry in Glasgow, about 10 degrees C.

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Scotland Activity Holidays

Saturday, March 13, 2010



This evening, my blog theme is adventure and activity holidays in Scotland.There is a wide range on offer and these fall into four main categories comprising land, water, air and snow. The image above shows the skiing centre at Nevis Range near to Fort William whilst the images below show the White Water Centre at Grandtully in Perthshire on the River Tay. Here is a video clip of White Water Rafting in progress whilst a video clip of skiing at Nevis Range can be found here.


Here is a brief overview of the various types of activities:

LAND: Includes indoor and outdoor climbing, quad biking, paintball and karting.

WATER: Includes whitewater rafting, canyoning, cliff jumping, sea kayaking, surfing, open conoeing and river-bugging.

AIR: includes skydiving, microlighting and paragliding.

SNOW: Skiing and snowboarding at Aviemore, Glencoe, Nevis Range (Fort William), Glenshee and the Lecht. There is also an indoor real snow venue at Glasgow.

Elsewhere today I have kept busy with:

  • Tour enquiries
  • Uploads to Flickr.
  • Designing a new web page
  • Robertson family history with details posted to my GlasgowAncestry blog.

Weather has been benign in Glasgow with some sunshine. However, temperature has dropped this evening.

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Fish River Tay, Scotland

Friday, March 12, 2010


This evening, my theme is the River Tay which is key part of a very extensive Scottish river system which includes the rivers Garry, Tummel, Earn, Isla, Ericht, Dochart, Lyon and Eden.

The Tay salmon season runs from Januray 15th to October 15th. The above images were taken at Dunkeld, Perthshire (central Scotland) a few days ago. Apart from the actual fishing experience, there is the stunning scenery to admire all year round. I am a great fan of Perthshire and have a web page dedicated to the county on my separate Catswhiskerstours website.

Last year I arranged for a visiting American family to fish the Tay and this year I have an Australian gentleman who is booked to fish at Kinnaird.

There is a strict angling conduct code to respect, which works in the interest of all parties. Also great care is required to prevent the parasite Gyrodactylus Salaris reaching the U.K. from Europe and Asia where is has decimated fish stocks.

I understand that fish stocks on the Tay are running low at present and because of this anglers are encouraged to return a high proportion of their catches to the river.

Elsewhere today, I have concentrated on acquiring more material for my Glasgow Ancestry blog. In this context received an enquiry in from a gent requiring more information on details from a memorial stone at Port Glasgow which I published during January.

Weather here in Glasgow is dry but temperature still errs on the cold side.

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Glencoe, Scottish Highlands

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This evening, my theme is Glencoe, possibly the most famous of the Scottish glens (valleys) which offers spectacular scenery throughout all seasons. Glencoe is actually a deep glacial trough bounded by steep slopes rising steeply to over 3000 feet. For the geologist, there is a mix of rocks including metamorphic, granite and extrusive volcanic. The landforms were moulded by glacial action which finally ended about 10,000 years ago.

In addition to the images below here are a couple of video clips taken about 8 months apart in different parts of the glen:

Video 1

Video 2



In course of my Scotland tours I invariably visit Glencoe about 5 times each year.

Elsewhere today, I have busy as usual, designing tours and responding to numerous new tour enquiries including a family of eight who desire a one day trip to the Trossachs from Glasgow.

Noticed an interesting report in the national press today commenting on the increasingly tacky appearance and product offering of Edinburgh's Royal Mile. I agree entirely. Edinburgh is really on a slippery slope at present aggravated by the debacle of the new tramway system which is now years behind schedule and fraught with conflict between the principal contracting parties.

On the ancestry side, posted information on Inglis family to my Glasgow Ancestry blog.

Weather here is relatively dry but still cold.

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Inverness, Scotland

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This evening, my focus is on the Capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness which is locate at the junction where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth and North Sea.

This is a pleasant enough city and a convenient location for a touring base of the Highlands including the famous Loch Ness which is just a few miles to the south.

Places to see in and around Inverness include Moniack Castle, Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, Dalmore Whisky Distillery, Culloden Battlefield, Cawdor Castle, Brodie Castle, Beauly Priory, Corrimony Chambered Cairn, Clava Cairns, Inverness Cathedral, Munlochy Clootie Well and Castle Urquhart on Loch Ness. Within the city can be found some interesting architecture dating back to 1593 as manifested in the form of Abertarff House.

This video clip was taken from a high elevation overlooking the city.

This is a former church on the banks of the Ness.

Town House (1882)

View of River Ness looking north with snow capped mountains in distance.

Elsewhere today, I have been busy handling a wide range of tour enquiries including private ancestry tour, family tour of Scotland, self-drive tour and more. A guest from last year touched base through the medium of a social networking site.

I also posted another tranche of names ( WW1 casualties) from the Barrhead War Memorial to my GlasgowAncestry blog.

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Ski-Scotland

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

This evening, my theme is skiing in Scotland. The recent harsh winter has served to highlight Scotland's ski and board runs which extend to some 130km of pisted runs and have attracted many patrons this season. The principal ski centres are:

  • Cairngorm, close to Aviemore.
  • Glencoe in the Highlands set amongst stunning scenery.
  • Glenshee, situated between Blairgowrie and Braemar.
  • Nevis Range at Aonach Mor near to Fort William.
  • The Lecht in the eastern Cairngorms between Corgarff and Tomintoul.
  • SNO!zone, an indoor snow venue just outside Glasgow.
The following images and this video clip were taken at Nevis Range.


Casualty being taken down the mountain.


Elsewhere today, I have been very busy responding to tour enquiries and designing tour itineraries for both escorted tours and self-drive tours covering both Scotland and England. Similar work on the schedule for tomorrow.

I have also posted to my GlasgowAncestry blog information on Grier family history.

Weather has been fine and dry. However, a dip in temperature is noted this evening-we may even have a frost tonight.

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Falls of Braan, Scotland

Monday, March 08, 2010

This evening, I am focusing on the Falls of Braan near Dunkeld in Perthshire. This is a popular visitor attraction which receives some 200, 000 visitors each year.

Originally, the falls were the centre piece of a private 'finger' of landscape garden owned by the Duke of Atholl. To approach the falls visitors enjoy a gentle walk along the banks of the River Braan, then through the tallest grove of Douglas Firs in the UK and finally to the viewing platform at Ossian's Hall which was originally built as summer house in 1758 (for afternoon tea and the like).

The images together with this video clip were taken just recently with the layer of snow and ice reflecting the tail end of a very harsh winter.

The Braan, which at about 80 miles in length, is quite short. It contains salmon but, regrettably, and despite heroic attempts, the fish are unable to leap up the falls.

This site is owned by Scotland's National Trust and entrance is free. I usually bring touring guests to the site when I am in the area.




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Private Tour Scottish Highlands.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

This evening, I am posting a record of today's tour (which benefited significantly from fine, dry weather with sunshine). Here are a couple of views of Inverness. First image is the River Ness.


This view of Inverness was taken from a high elevation with the snow covered hills of Easter Ross in the background.


Next, we drove down to Loch Ness for numerous photo opps including the Loch Ness Monster representation at the Clansman Hotel. Then on to Castle Urquhart on the banks of Loch Ness. Great views of the loch and Highlands scenery. We spent about one hour here.

Here is a trebuchet (type of giant catapult) used in castle sieges in medieval times.


View of Loch Ness from Castle Urquhart.

Next we drove south, tracking Loch Ness to Aonach Mor, close to Fort William, where we ascended up the mountain in the chairlift to watch the many people skiing, and observe the views of the mountains of the Nevis Range covered in snow. An excellent experience.

Here is the chairlift.


This is 'Base Camp'.

Our next objective was rugged Glencoe. We arrived at the Visitor Centre just as it was closing but managed to purchase some refreshments in the nick of time!

We then drove through Glencoe ( valley of the River Coe) stopping on a number of occasions for picture opportunties. The visibility, evening sunlight and extensive snow covering proved a compelling combination for photographs and videos.





Stop for family picture shoot.


Finally, we embarked on the long journey back to Edinburgh, firstly journeying across desolate Rannoch Moor and then on down to Stirling District (driving past Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, both of which stood out with benefit of floodlighting).

We eventually arrived at central Edinburgh about 8.45pm and then fond farewells after a very satisfying day in the Scottish Highlands.


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Private Scotland Tour

Saturday, March 06, 2010

This evening, I am posting a record of today's tour:

Collected group of guests at Edinburgh and then drove across Forth Bridge to Dunfermline Abbey. This was a former Royal Palace and effective capital of Scotland until 1603. Together, the Abbey and Palace comprise one of the most impressive building complexes in medieval Scotland. Good views over the surrounding area as the elevation is high. Inside the modern church is the burial place of King Robert the Bruce who died in 1329.


Inside the Nave which was the abbey church.


At Dunfermline Abbey burial ground there is a friendly peacock in residence which afforded some photo opps. The Peacock is the National Bird of India.

At Dunkeld we visited the ancient Cathedral and took pictures of the locality including the River Tay, Scotland's longest river. Weather was benevolent.

Fishing on the River Tay close to Dunkeld Cathedral.



Next, a few miles up the A9 (highway) we stopped and followed a trail along the River Braan to see the falls at Ossian's Hall. Quite stunning, with lots of snow and ice around.Lots of photo opps.

This is Ossian's Hall.The viewing platform overlooks the Falls of Braan which can be spectacular.


Next, we drove 15 mins up the A9 to Pitlochry where we stopped for refreshments. Then we continued our journey north to Inverness via Aviemore, a town focused on outdoor activities in the Cairngorms.Lots of snow in evidence but roads were clear.

Before arriving at Inverness, we paid a short visit to Clava Cairns, one of Scotland's top prehistoric sites dating back about 5000 years. It was quite eery in the late evening sunlight with the snow covering adding another dimension. Here there is a collection of large stone burial chambers and stone circles.


Finally we moved on to Inverness via the battlefield site of Culloden (1746) arriving at our lodgings about 6.15pm.



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Signs of Spring in Scotland

Friday, March 05, 2010

This afternoon, I ventured off to Greenbank Garden, Glasgow in a quest for signs of Spring in an endeavour which proved only marginally successful at best. The very hard winter has taken its toll.

Greenbank is an 18th century walled garden, with the walling intended to protect against the frost and snow. However, this year the wall concept seems to have worked in reverse, because in the nearby fields and roads the worst of the snow and ice has gone yet inside the walls there still remains good quantities of snow, ice and a frozen pond!

Here are a few snowdrops sneaking through the snow. Greenbank is renowned for its collection of 350 daffodil varieties but none of these were evident today.

This view gives a feel for the still prevailing wintry conditions. The foreground shows a sheet of ice which is normally a pool in the lower garden with waterlilies and a selection of aquatic and marginal plants. Hopefully, the plants will re-assert themselves when the temperature rises.

This tree caught my eye. It is a Pinus Sylvestris which, with its soft green foliage, is quite attractive.

These light green/yellow flowers are from the a Hamamelis Mollis


The next two images show the only vibrant pieces of colour I could find. The flowers belong to Viburnum Bodnantense


These rose hips caught my eye; they are from Rosa Scharlachglut

In a field close to the garden are few young Highland Cow specimens. Nothing to do with Spring per se but just quintessentially Scottish and the staple of thousands of picture postcards.

An interesting morning. Weather dry with good visibility but temperature not far from freezing.

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Mackintosh's House for Art Lover, Glasgow,

Thursday, March 04, 2010

This afternoon, I went off to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's House for Art Lover at Bellahouston Park with principal objective of obtaining images of emerging seasonal plants and flowers in the well kept garden which adjoins the House For Art Lover. Unfortunately, the recent very severe winter seems to have taken its toll. However, by way of consolation, I was pleased to see a good display of snowdrops emerging from the ravages of the frost and ice.


This building, although designed at turn of the 20th century, was not completed until 1996, the design having languished for some 90 years. Rooms include the Main Room, Oval Room, Music Room and Margaret MacDonald Room. The Glasgow School of Art (principal building also designed by Mackintosh) has space and facilities at House for Art Lover. The public can tour the building for a modest fee; a worthwhile experience. Here is a video clip from last year.

In the grounds of the House I found this sculpture of a foot.

Here are the snowdrops


Elsewhere today, I have been working on various tour enquiries for upcoming season. Next task is to post another tranche of WW1 casualties as recorded at the Barrhead War Memorial to my GlasgowAncestry blog. The loss of life from this town was horrendous.

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Scottish Sheep in Winter

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

This morning was cold but dry and somewhat overcast. I had in mind to get out into the country and photograph young lambs which are usually in abundance at this time of year. However, the conditions out of the city proved something of a surprise. It was evident I was suddenly in a different micro-climate with the fields still covered in a thick layer of snow and the sheep reliant on hay and other feeds to keep them going. This winter must have proved a big drain on the farmers' cash flow.

I failed to find any lambs. This is not surprising considering the harsh weather conditions. Assume the youngsters are kept safe and warm in barns or similar.

This is actually a black sheep. Just one member of a small flock a few miles from my home. Image not brilliant because of distance. If I tried to get any closer the animal would run off.

Not many people realise that sheep were the catalyst behind huge migrations (deportations) from Scotland to North America, Australasia and elsewhere in the 18th and 19th century when landowners ruthlessly moved their tenants off the land resulting in many communities being shipped overseas or to U.K. industrial cities in a movement known as the Highland Clearances. Sheep proved more profitable than traditional tenant farming at that time.

Today, sheep are mainly reared for lamb meat with wool just a barely profitable sideline.

Elsewhere, I have been able to firm up a couple more tours and try to help a US couple with a Scotland tour on a fixed price budget, including air fair. A nice little challenge.

On the ancestry research side, posted another tranche of names to my GlasgowAncestry blog from the World War 1 memorial at Barrhead, near Glasgow.

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Tour Gorbals, Glasgow, Scotland

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

This morning with temperature well below zero but blue skies and bright sunshine I went of for a stroll around the Gorbals area of Glasgow. Back in the 18th and early 19th century the Gorbals was a relatively posh (High End) part of Glasgow but subsequently slid down the socio-economic scale to become, by the 1950s, a byword across the U.K. for social deprivation and poor housing. Whilst today, the average income in the area is probably below the national average, the tenor of the place as manifested in buildings, architecture and facilities has been transformed to the extent that a visitor from Mars might scratch his/her head and wonder why the Gorbals name has such a bad aura.

Here is an image of the Caledonia Road Church which was designed by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson , a brilliant Victorian era architect who has left a huge legacy of his work around Glasgow. Unfortunately, the church was burned by vandals in the 1960s but news was recently announced of plans to use the remaining shell as heart of a new Greek Thomson Visitor Centre, a development which, in my view is excellent news and should prove a fillip for the area. In fact, I have recently set up a new Greek Thomson page on my website.

This is a view of the Gorbals Rose Garden which is also the only public orchard in Scotland.


Great colour scheme for these apartments.

Interesting street art. This is called the 'Gorbals Boys' by Liz Pedes of Gorbals Arts Project. The statues are named Joe, Nicky and Lee.

This is an unnamed statue. Appears to be a Victorian era boy who is off to sea.

More interesting design
Here is some more impressive modern architecture.


Interesting design feature outside a residential block.

Back to real world! Here is an image of 'gritty' Gorbals. A workshop under a defunct railway line.

Defunct railway station. Wonder why the City Fathers don't try and make use of the closed rail line which runs above the streets? Sell it off to the private sector as a toll road and relieve traffic congestion?

When I get some more time later in the year I plan to research the architecture and set up a dedicated web page for the Gorbals area. One heck of a brand name coupled with history and modern design.

Upon returning to base I was able to finalise two new small group tour bookings. Its nice to see the enquiries coming in from around the world.

On the Glasgow Ancestry side, continued with another tranche of names from the Barrhead War Memorial.

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Glasgow and Paisley Winter Panorama, Scotland

Monday, March 01, 2010

This morning, I was reminded that there is still some snow an them thar hills so wheeled out my bike and ventured of to one of my favourite local vantage points which is 'The Craigie' (aka Duncarnock Fort) near Barrhead. The site has never been excavated but, as a defensive point, may date from the Iron-Age ( 1st century AD).

With local roads now almost clear of snow I was able to travel easily. However, the hills and farmland still retain good coverings of snow. With the air temperature at or below zero, I was able to walk on top of the snow cover (as opposed to sinking into it), an experience which proved quite exhilarating when augmented by the bright sunlight reflecting off the snow crystals.

The 204m high elevation of The Craigie afforded a superb platform for photographing Glasgow and Paisley, reflecting the winter sunlight against backdrop of the snow covered Kilpatrick Hills and Campsie Fells, It was also possible to catch a glimpse of Ben Lomond in the distance.

To supplement the still images, here is a video clip of the vista.

Tours: Elsewhere, I have been busy with tour enquiries and am very close to finalising a short Highlands for later this month. Provided the weather holds we should obtain some great images of the Scottish Highlands in winter.

GlasgowAncestry Blog: This separate blog is now attracting some useful (favourable) comments and feedback, which is nice. Today I photographed Barrhead War Memorial. In this town the loss of life was high: WW1 about 300 casualties and WW2 about 150. There were 27 WW1 names beginning just beginning with letters A and B which I have posted today.

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