Tuesday, 6 November 2012

November poppies

It may be November but there are still a few poppies flowering along the edges of fields nearby. They are rather bedraggled but probably no more so than those that grew up and bloomed in the decimated and muddy battle fields of the First World War.  
November is the month we remember those members of the Commonwealth's Armed Forces who have fallen as a result of war, terrorist attack and in times of turmoil and violent struggle over the last almost 100 years.  My post of 12 May shows a photo of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne (http://www.shrine.org.au).  It is an awesome edifice and a memorial to the men and women of the state of Victoria, who served Australia in both armed conflict and peacekeeping operations throughout their nation's history.  
The entry courtyard to the visitor centre, underneath the Shrine has the words 'Lest We Forget' etched into one wall.  The form of the courtyard was inspired by a bomb crater.  
In one corner of the 'bomb crater' some poppies have sprung up.  
As you enter the Visitor Centre there is a display of 4,000 service medals,
and inside a mass of written information as well as photographs, newsreel and artefacts to record Australia's history of service and sacrifice in times of war and peace.

In the days following the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916 rescuers recovered some 300 men from the 5th Australian Division, lying wounded in no-man's-land.  As one soldier carried a wounded companion from the field he heard a call for help "Don't forget me, cobber".  In one night at Fromelles the Australian casualties were equivalent to those they lost in the Boer, Korean and Vietnam wars combined.  This bronze, Cobbers, was sculptured by Peter Corlett.  You can really feel the dead weight of the wounded soldier as he was carried to safety by his fellow soldier.  The image, all it conveys and stands for, stays with you for a long time.
The Australian poppy of remembrance is delicate and more like the real thing than ours!  I've got mine and I will be wearing it this year.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Viking alert!

On the way back from the school bus yesterday I encountered a couple of Vikings, slogging it out with their terrible weapons!
It was probably a little local difficulty concerning a conker.

Autumn numero 2

This is my second Autumn this year!  Australia provided lots of autumnal colour during May and now I am enjoying the gentler, golden colours of October in the northern hemisphere!  Scotland can match the rest of the world with scarlets and but, as I have said before, I love our beautiful tawny colours.  Beech trees are my favourite, any time of the year!
The hedgerows are a tangle of berries and the holly is revving up for Christmas!
We have had some very misty, grey days this week but amid the murk and gloom this stand of rosebay willow herb have really glowed.  Yesterday the sun came out and although the plants still look great, I admired them more in the mist!
On clear days the early morning light is now golden.
And the evening light is soft and rosy.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Sunday morning lie in!

I thought that the sight of this cow sleeping so soundly in the sunshine was very endearing!  I don't think I have ever seen a cow so totally out for the count!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Alnwick Garden

My cousin from Devon has been staying this week and because the weather has been pretty good we have been outside most of the time, which has been great!  

On Monday we drove down to Northumberland to visit The Alnwick Garden.  Mr Gaucho and I visited when the gardens were in their infancy and I was mightily impressed by how much has happened since then!  The bamboo and beech labyrinth was fun as was the Serpent Garden with it's amazing water features illustrating all sorts of watery scientific principles.  The visiting troupes of school children were loving them!  
My cousin and I took photos of each other from either side of a curtain of water!  The whirlpool was rather beautiful too.
The Grand Cascade is just wonderful.  It plays a symphony of water every half an hour.  I loved the criss cross water spouts.
There is water performing on a grand scale and also delightful little rills, water bubbling over pebbles and granite and now catching the leaves as autumn begins to kick in.
There is so much to see and admire.  I will let the images speak for themselves!  We loved it and I am hoping to go back soon to visit the Treehouse, which is great fun!  No photos of that though, my camera battery ran out, so more of that another time.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A turbulent time

After the mayhem wreaked by the elements across these parts during the course of the week, Tilly and I eventually ventured out for a walk yesterday.  It felt safe to go out!  The wind had subsided and the wood had stopped roaring around us.

We went to the beach at Belhaven, near Dunbar.  It is a great favourite with surfers but yesterday there was no-one to be seen.  I am not surprised.  The waves were paltry but that aside, the beach was wrecked.  It is normally a huge expanse of lovely sand coloured sand but now at least half of its length is black sand which has been dredged up from somewhere.  Strewn across the beach there is seaweed galore, mostly cuvie kelp, tree trunks from goodness knows where, and a distressing number of dead sea creatures - starfish of all sizes, large and small crabs, lobsters which had been smashed to bits, sea urchins, fish and some kind of soft coral I have had trouble identifying.  It was an apocalyptic scene.
We got so far along the beach and it really wasn't an enjoyable scene, death and detritus everywhere!  So we turned round and headed back.  Then the wind picked up and the fine, dry sand at the top of the beach was blown in vapoury ribbons across the wet sand, streaming towards the sea.  
We got back to the car and I wiped the sand from Tilly's eyes and emptied out my walking boots!  

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Our sanctuary!

We have just been up to Applecross on the north west coast of Scotland.  It is our most favourite place.  We haven't been there for two years and withdrawal symptoms were beginning to set in.  

We have had many holidays along this stunningly beautiful stretch of coastline.  It is really hard to imagine why we could possibly want to go through the rigmarole of booking flights, ordering foreign currency, remembering passports, dealing with airport security, weight restrictions on luggage, etc etc etc when we have this a few hours drive away.  
As Mr Gaucho always says "Who needs the Bahamas?".

We were only there for a three nights, staying in a lovely B&B, Ragged Acre, three miles along the road from the wonderful Applecross Inn.  The real excitement sets in as we start to drive up and over the Bealach Na Ba - the Pass of the Cattle.  It is a hairy scary road, better these days with a few more barriers along the route, especially the alpine hairpin bends at the top!  As you drive down the other side, into Applecross, you really have left "all that" behind.  As we pass the Applecross sign Mr Gaucho always shouts out "Yeessss" and we have arrived back again. Lovely!

Over the weekend I took 500 photographs!  It's so easy to do with a digital camera but it does take time to trawl through them all and find the ones I like best.  So, here's a pictorial account of our weekend!  I hope you enjoy them.
Heading up the Bealach Na Ba
A'Chomraich - "the sanctuary" - Applecross
Applecross Bay
Applecross Bay running waves
Over the sea to Skye
Clachan Church
7th century AD partly carved celtic cross-slab from St. Maol Rubha’s sanctuary in the churchyard  
Sand Beach 
Our favourite spot on the planet - the holiday cottage we have rented many times
Roadside department store.  I bought the eggs shown below from here!
There is little doubt in my mind that this is where Bilbo Baggins lives.
We walked through a wood of hazel nut trees.
Hobbit playground
Going home blues