Looking over at the Christmas market in Edinburgh – December 2018 – on the walk back to Waverley Railway Station.
The Quiraing, on the Isle of Skye, isn’t exactly the first place you’d think of when it comes to sunbathing, but on returning to the car, i came across this chap trying to catch some rays. Then again, maybe he was just getting some rest after walking the Quiraing.
The fabulous mountains in the background are the Torridon hills on the Scottish Mainland, an area of Scotland that I’ve never visited before but would love to explore.
I’m currently going through my Scotland images and came across this one taken in 2013. It certainly lives up to the Darker Skies name!
The tree has appeared in a number of my photographs including the one below that has been used as my twitter header image, on and off, since 2012. I have to say that i’m rather fond of that little tree.
Both photographs were taken at a location near Dornie, Highlands of Scotland.
A colour version of this image, taken in Cowgate in the atmospheric old town area of Edinburgh, was posted on Instagram a couple of days ago, but i rather like the black and white version too.
One thing i didn’t notice at the time was the CCTV camera mounted on the pole! Looks like I myself was on camera later when i walked through on my way to the Grass Market.
Sterling Castle is one of the most impressive landmarks in Scotland and one that i’d passed for quite a few years without stopping for a closer look. Fortunately i managed to get that closer look last weekend and both the castle and the views were fantastic.
Sterling sits in the central Scotland and has played a key role in shaping the country over the years. It’s strategic position, combined with the near impregnability of the castle, has caused invading armies many problems over the years. Often they would bypass it rather than try and take it.
The visibility was fantastic on the Sunday i visited. The cold November air was beautifully clear enabling visitors to see the mountains, located 30 or 40 miles away near Tyndrum, at the edge of Stirlingshire. A sprinkle of snow could be seen on the peaks.
One thing that did surprise me during my castle visit was the number of tourists, though i suppose that the tourism season never really stops now. I’ve always loved the reactions and behaviour of those on holiday. We all do it, but in the social media age we seem to need to prove, more than ever, that we have visited a location. The selfie stick must be the ultimate symbol of that desire. The postcard, at one time a critical part of communicating holiday news, has been dying over the years due to social media, to the point that Salmon postcards, who have been publishing postcards and calendars since 1880, are to close after over 100 years of trading.
Coach tours are my favourite tourism activity to watch though. The large scale and yet fleeting visits they make are popular, seem to only give a tantalising taste of the location. People seem to love the convenience though, even though there doesn’t appear to be the time to stand and soak in the place. Two coach tours pulled up below the castle and i took the image below. While the castle appears to be the main focus of attention, the field also contained Highland cattle that also got their photo taken. Highland cows do love having their picture though 🙂 Note the photographers who have climbed over a gate to get a clearer view.
The image of the Wallace Monument has to be my favourite from the visit. The tower stands on the Abbey Craig from which William Wallace was said to have watched the gathering of the army of King Edward I of England, just before the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. The tower also has a great view looking back at Sterling Castle, so the next visit will probably include a climb up the Wallace Monument to see the view.
The Autumnal colours are an added bonus along with the clear visibility. The light in the summer can be wonderful but it can also bring some atmospheric conditions that can hamper the photographer . The colder air, combined with the late autumn light, really helped capture the magnificent views from the castle walls.
An out-take from last year’s trip to Edinburgh. Going through the images again recently i noticed someone waving back at me – so much for not being spotted!
Slightly fuzzy? Well… yes does though it appears to be movement blur. They walk fast on Princes Street! It made me smile though and they seem happy to be in the photo. Obviously i was concentrating so much on taking the image i failed to notice them.
Sadly this year’s trip, due to start yesterday, had to be cancelled due to my mother’s illness and the deterioration in her health. Another time. For now, it’s about planning future trips and thinking about the photography i want to create.
I can’t remember ever posting about politics before on this blog – i don’t think i ever have – but after the events of the last few days it seems as good a place as any to put down some thoughts. I’ve started and deleted this post several times. I’m certainly no great writer but hopefully i can at least put down how i feel. Lost is probably as good a description as any. So here it is… warts and all.
Over the last few years, I’ve been an increasingly passionate admirer of all things Scottish. I love the landscape, the people, the history and even the politics. It seems a well balance country, at ease with itself and confident of being a modern diverse nation. At this current time i have never wished more than to be a Scot residing in Scotland. The recent EU referendum reinforced this view with two ancient countries, sitting next to each other, voting in entirely different ways. One ancient country voted looking forward to a modern, secure future, free of hate and prejudice, while the other ancient country looked back towards a mythical version that has never really existed and blaming foreigners for all the ills of the land. One ancient country has a strong sense of identity and place whereas the other has had an identity crisis for years, always looking back on its rose tinted glory days and glorious past that is fast slipping beyond living memory. Oh we should be like we were back in the war – what? nearly bankrupt and alone? Many forget that as a nation, Great Britain got virtually nothing out of winning WWII.
The ineptitude and incompetence of politicians has never been more startlingly evident in this country. The circus is truly being run by the clowns. During the referendum campaign personalities were attacked rather than policies, debate turned into farce and the whole conduct of the campaigns was poor. The only unity came when Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen constituency in Yorkshire was murdered. Even worse was the fact that Jo Cox was in politics for the right reasons – to tackle issues that she felt passionate about. It looks like it was that issue, campaigning for refugees, that led to her murder. Both sides of the argument came out with ridiculous claims rather than use political debate to inform voters. Proper information was scarce which makes me wonder if the actual politicians were that well informed themselves. I came out of the referendum no wiser as why we should remain or leave. It was like being talked at, rather than being talked to. Engagement with voters was non-existent. It summed up everything wrong with politics in the UK in the 21st century and yet the British people were supposed to make an informed decision?
To have the weakest parties and most divisive politicians for years try and deal with a political issue as complicated and important as EU membership seems reckless to say the least. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at the result. Maybe we deserve it. This has been building up for years. For good politics you need good politicians and the UK currently has few with the intelligence, foresight and statesmanship needed for good governance. The British are also terrible at holding their politicians to account. With the media training politicians now receive, they have been able to mislead, dupe and avoid with remarkable skill. Time after time. Year after year. Why don’t we get rid of them? It’s probably because we think they are all tarred with the same brush. Vote for him, her or him… doesn’t matter which really. For years the reputation of politicians and politics in general has been plummeting in the UK. As the quote by Joseph de Maistre rightly says ‘Every nation gets the government it deserves‘. Only in Scotland does there appear to be some sort of order, calm and leadership at the moment. It’s ironic that currently the most obvious choice for the Prime minster’s job in London is currently Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland.
So what of the future? A good question and one that no one seems to have the answers. Personally i see the country weakened by the leave vote rather than strengthened. I could be wrong but the decision to leave just appears to add even more instability when we should be trying to reduce it. Worse still is the divisive nature of the referendum. In 2014, i was in Scotland around a week before the independence vote took place and the tension was palpable. The Yes pro independence campaign were everywhere on Skye and the first No campaign sign i saw was down near Stirling and had been smashed up quite violently with a fence post. By the time you got to the Scottish borders, the Yes signs had been replaced with No. Geography did play its part. For some Yes voters the No vote was a betrayal of country. You were a traitor, plain and simple. Sadly some of that attitude seems to have been present in the EU referendum. There is a lot of anger about and bad feeling on both sides which may linger and intensify if things don’t go well. We are not a United Kingdom.
There is some doubt creeping in about the leave decision though. Already UK regions have started to count the potential cost of leaving with Cornwall already starting to look for where the 60 million pounds of funding will come from. We want to leave but we also want to keep receiving the cash seems to be the message. That might be a tough call. The Union of England and Scotland, created in 1707, has been weakened as a result of Scotland deciding on independence – a vote it would most probably win now. How things can change in 18 months. What looked as though a decisive decision on Scotland’s future for several generations has now been put into doubt yet again. No big deal if Scotland goes? Well if the Union was broken up, the idea of the country still being called the United Kingdom would be ludicrous and we could lose the iconic Union flag, better known as the Union Jack. How could we keep it?
There is a long road ahead and no-one has a map. What it will bring is anyone’s guess. One thing that it will bring is a lot of uncertainty for the next few years.