Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

Travel Bug Continued

Monday, May 17th, 2010

In my current urge to travel, I have been visiting some interesting sites.  There’s a great site called Daily Bute featuring a daily picture of the Isle of Bute, Scotland as well as pictures from some other locations in Scotland.  I’ve posted about the Isle of Bute before (look at my Scotland posts);  it’s where I got married and one of my favorite places to visit.

Click on the link above to see some lovely shots.

Here’s one of mine:

Rothesay Castle (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart

Inspirational Artist- Scottish Painter Ken Bushe

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

I was pining for the fjords today ; thinking about Scotland and surfing the internet.  I ran across this wonderful Scottish painter Ken Bushe.  He does lovely, lovely oil paintings of earth, sky and water.  His website  includes information on technique as well-presented with that quirky Scottish humor.  Enjoy!

Isle of Bute Part 3-St. Blanes Chapel and Mount Stuart

Thursday, June 11th, 2009
Rothesay Castle Moat

Rothesay Castle Moat

 

We never went into Rothesay Castle this trip (where we were married) but I did take some pictures of the moat:

 

Here’s the last of my pictures from Scotland.   I passed by this busty lady in town every day and she never failed to amuse me.  I’m not really sure why, but something about her teensy head and generous chest always brought a smile (yes, I am immature)

Busty Gal

Busty Gal

We took the bus down to Kilcatten Bay and started walking down to St. Blane’s chapel.   This beautiful rock formation is called Hawk’s Nib.  click on it to enlarge (as with all the pictures)

Hawk's Nib

Hawk's Nib

We also passed this lovely lighthouse:

Lighthouse

Lighthouse

I think that’s one of the Cumbrae islands behind.

Beautiful view of Cumbrae

Beautiful view of Cumbrae

 

Ken kept running into and scaring wildlife this trip:

Ken, the Cow Whisperer

Ken, the Cow Whisperer

St. Blane’s is a wonderful ruin of a 12th and 13th century church.  amazingly, quite a bit of it is still standing:

St. Blane's Chapel

St. Blane's Chapel

There are a surprising number of graves still standing.  The upper churchyard was reserved for clergy burial in Medieval times and men later.  The lower section was reserved for commoners in Medieval times and women later.

Here’s another shot:

More Chapel Pics

More Chapel Pics

Clergy section and wall to the commoners section above

Here’s another:

12th Century Section

12th Century Section

This section was reserved for clergy to worship.  The commoners had a separate section that was added later.

Here’s a gravestone from 1767.  It was in the church, so has held up amazingly well:

1767 gravestone

1767 gravestone

 

Another day we went up to Mount Stuart.  It’s the ancestral home of the Marquess of Bute.  The Marquess owns most of the island and has a grand home with amazing gardens.  The current Marquess apparently wants to be more accessible and refers to himself as “Johnny Bute”.  Here’s a little picture of his digs.  We didn’t do the house tour-I’d done it before.  Instead we did the gardens.  Here’s a picture of the outside.  The home is HUGE and I could only get a small bit of it without a wide angle lens.

A Teensy bit of Mount Stuart

A Teensy bit of Mount Stuart

 

Here’s a lovely pond just outside of the house:

Mount Stuart Pond

Mount Stuart Pond

 

Here are some shots of my favorite UK plant, the Gunnera.  It’s some kind of giant rhubarb.  It is really giant, each leaf can span 6 feet!  I wish I could grow it in Chicago, but, alas, it’ too cold here.

Gunnera

Gunnera

More Gunnera:

Gunnera Seed Pod Thingie

Gunnera Seed Pod Thingie

and some great shadows on this one:

Gunnera Shadows

Gunnera Shadows

Leave it to me to find animals!  There were a few of these cute burros:

Burros!

Burros!

and a beautiful Beech tree:

beech

 

I am going to try to get some actaul art work done today.  I WILL post art pictures again!

Circumnavigation of the Isle of Bute-Holiday Adventures with Ken

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

As I have posted about before, my husband, Ken does not feel it’s a good holiday until he has physically conquered something.    He goes from a completely sedentary job to biking 50 miles or hiking up 4000 feet while hardly breathing heavily.  I spend most of the day lagging behind and panting and  pretty tired.  If you put him in Scotland, he gets even nuttier about this because his brother is exactly the same way.  They get together and come up with outlandishly tiring plans.  There is usually a pint and a good meal afterwards, which makes up for most of it.  This year was fairly tame; they just decided we should bike around the island.  I did better than usual-25 miles without passing out  and remaining relatively cheery.  Ken and his brother Alan, decided that wasn’t enough and tacked on another 10 miles after that; I’m sure traveling at warp speed.  Here’s the family  at the beginning of the journey at Rothesay Pier.  Notice how all of the crazy Stewart men look happy about this trip and my brother in-law’s wife, Joyce’s look says,”Here we go again.”

Our band of happy travelers at the beginning of the trip

Our band of happy travelers at the beginning of the trip

I did stop for these cows because they seemed to be posing for me:

The cows pose for their close-up

The cows pose for their close-up

There are tons of cows on Bute-and sheep!

Rothesay

Rothesay

This was the view just biking out of Rothesay.  It’s truly beautiful on the whole island.

More gorgeous views

More gorgeous views

I forget what this is a view of.  The foreground is Bute, but I think the back landmass might be another island like Inchmarnock or Arran.

Calmac Ferry

Calmac Ferry

 

Here is the ever present ferry.  Mainland Scotland is the landmass behind it.  Bute is a really short crossing; about 30 minutes.  I took a bunch of pictures at Mount Stuart Gardens and St. Blane’s chapel.  I’ll put those up over the next few days.

Isle of Bute, Scotland Pictures-Part One

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Here’s some pictures of our fabulous trip to Scotland.  We stayed on the Isle of Bute (in the Inner Hebrides) for the trip, except for a few jaunts to the Glasgow suburbs to see family.   Bute had it’s heyday in Victorian times, were thousands of people would go to escape the grimy industrialism of Glasgow.  Many of the buildings still stand. 

I have always wondered what this pretty little building’s function was.  Apparently, it is too process poop!  Those Victorians sure made pretty municipal buildings:-)

Victorian Poop Hut

Victorian Poop Hut

Rothesay (the main town on the island) has a promenade walk by the seaside; complete with putting greens and palm trees:

Rothesay Putting Greens

Rothesay Putting Greens

Bute benefits from the Gulf stream which allows it to grow palms, etc.

Here’s Rothesay pier and the Calmac ferry which takes you on and off the island:

Calmac Ferry

Calmac Ferry

Lots of boats, too:

Rothesay Boats

Rothesay Boats

  Ken and I stayed in a fabulous B&B called the Munro House with the loveliest hosts, Joan and Andy Walters.  The B&B was owned by someone else 10 years ago.  We had our wedding reception there and decided to stay there for sentimental reasons.  We couldn’t have picked a nicer spot.  Joan and Andy were delightful.  Here’s the view from the terrace.  I don’t have a wide angle lens, so you can’t really appreciate how vast the view really is.  We spent quite a few evenings drinking wine on the terrace.

Terrace at the Munro House B&B-What a view!

Terrace at the Munro House B&B-What a view!

More later!

Miraculous Scottish Weather Prevents Blog Posting

Monday, June 1st, 2009

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here in Scotland, so I taken full advantage and spent my time hiking and biking aound the Isle of Bute.  We are walking part of the West Island Way tomorrow and going to see  the  ruins of St Blane’s Chapel. I will post pictures when the rain returns!

Inspirational fiber Artist Karin Franzen

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Man, do I love this woman’s art quilts.    As someone who has made an attempt myself to capture birds in fabric, I am awed by the creativity and skill Karin uses to create her “bird” pieces.   She seems to share my love/obsession with cranes.  Check out her work.  It is amazing!  http://www.karinfranzen.com/wp/ 

 

I’m off to Scotland today-first to Paisley (a burb of Glasgow) and then off to the Isle of Bute. I hope to post again in a day or two.

Bonny Scotland continued-The Isle of Bute

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

The Free Motions had an absolutely crap workday, so there aren’t really any pictures to show you.  Sometimes there is just too much personal stuff going on with all of us to get much work done and this group of friends focuses on personal, rather than artistic support.  This was definitely the case on Tuesday. 

In lieu of art pictures, I thought I’d post about my upcoming trip back to Scotland.  My husband, Ken, and I are going to spend a week on the Isle of Bute to celebrate our 10th anniversary.  

Bute map courtesy of Isle-of-bute.com

Bute map courtesy of Isle-of-bute.com

Here’s a few highlights from the wedding.    Though he’s from the Glasgow area, my husband’s family has a long history with Bute.  His paternal grandfather was the head gardener at Kames Castle and Ken spent quite a bit of time there as a child roaming around the castle grounds. 

Kames Castle-photo from wikipedia.com

Kames Castle-photo from wikipedia.com

  

When we decided to get married, my mother-in-law Agnes did the majority of planning for the wedding.  Bute was the perfect place.  We got married  in the ruins of Rothesay Castle.  

Rothesay Castle-photo from bestofbute.co.uk

Rothesay Castle-photo from bestofbute.co.uk

As an American unfamiliar with Scottish custom, this was an entire day of not knowing what the heck was coming next.  The Scots have many traditions that Americans don’t and the entire day I would here things like, “This is the part where you…….”.   I just rode along and had a marvelous time.  My mother-in-law planned the most beautiful and fun wedding I could have imagined.  

Some highlights of the day included:

Kilts!!!!!!:  God, I love a man in a kilt!  We had about 20 of them, including my handsome husband.

Bagpipes.  Wow.  I happen to really like the pipes, but they are LOUD.  Good thing the piper was outside. 

Lucky Horseshoe: my nephew presented this to me as part of the ceremony.  I did not realize that the tradition of this as much about fertility as luck: 

Lucky Horseshoes –Horseshoes have always been associated with luck. There is a nice myth about the devil asking a blacksmith to shoe a single hoof of his horse. When the blacksmith realised who his consumer was, he carried out the job as painfully as he could until the devil roared for mercy. The Blacksmith released the devil on the conditions that he would never enter a place that had a horseshoe on display. When a bride carries a horseshoe it is considered to be a symbol of fertility.-From Hubpages.com-Traditional Scottish Wedding

 

Scottish country dancing:  This is the most fun ever.  We had half Americans who didn’t know anything and half Scots trying to teach them the dances+ plenty of drink.  It was wonderful even though we butchered all of the dances.  I am amazed that there weren’t injuries.  Here’s a picture of some Canadians dancing.  They look much more coordinated than we did!

Picture by Jacques Surveyor-www.pixofcanada.com

Picture by Jacques Surveyor-www.pixofcanada.com

Wedding Scramble: I couldn’t figure out why there were a bunch of local children waiting outside Rothesay Castle for our ceremony to end.  Why would they care about strangers getting married?  It all came clear when I was told about the Wedding Scramble.  This is the scary tradition of throwing coins into the street for kids to gather as you are  leaving.  I am still amazed we didn’t run over everybody.  The kids were running everywhere to get the loot. 

 

Ending the evening with Auld Lang Syne:  This was the pinnacle of strangeness for me.  It’s the end of the evening, everyone has been drinking  and dancing for HOURS, and the guests gather in a circle around us and begin to sing Auld Lang Syne while widening and closing the circle.  Motor accuracy was a bit impaired at this point and I thought we would be crushed by those we love.  It was a perfect Scottish ending.

I am too technically challenged to have scanned and posted MY actual wedding pictures :-).  Maybe another time.

We plan to spend the week hiking and biking around; sitting in the pub if it rains.  I will take plenty of pictures!

I know there are a few of you Scots reading this blog.  Am I missing anthing?

Bonny Scotland (and parts of England)

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

 

I still have not gotten any real work done to post over the last few days and my friend Shelley was not exactly inspired by my last post of vulture pictures.  These pretty pictures are for you, Shelley!

As an introduction to these, I am married to a Scotsman (from Glasgow) and I am incredibly fortunate enough to return to the old country every now and then to visit my in-laws and to explore this incredible country.  Scotland is truly the most beautiful place I have ever been and after a half a dozen trips, I feel like I have just scratched the surface of what it has to offer.  I will happily be returning in May for my 10th anniversary. 

My husband, Ken’s idea of a vacation usually involves some sort of supreme exertion:  biking across Scotland, taking a sailing course, walking the West Highland Way, climbing mountains, etc.  He is not a ClubMed kind of guy; no beaches and drinks with fruit in them for us.  No matter how much I beg.    Truthfully, I wouldn’t want it any other way even though I often have to start Olympic training  for vacations months in advance and am often more tired after we return than I was before we left.    Ken seems to be able to go from his sedentary job to mountain climbing with no transition.  He’s up the mountain at light speed and I am usually trailing behind panting and  taking pictures.

We went out to for the incredibly fun wedding of one of Ken’s cousins in England.  For the record for formal occasions, Scottish men wear kilts, English men wear suits and most British women wear hats.  There was much drinking and dancing.   Fun was had by all.  Some of the relatives:

Love those Brits-kilts and hats!

Love those Brits-kilts and hats!

While in England went to Glastonbury; a lovely, but very touristy village with the famous Glastonbury Tor.  This town is VERY popular with the New Age set.  Glastonbury Tor is said to be a place of power.  Whatever you think of it, it’s quite beautiful:

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor

Here’s a view from the top:

View from the top of Glastonbury Tor

View from the top of Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury also has some incredible abbey ruins click on link for tons of pictures of the ruins

Abbey ruins

Abbey ruins

The incredible stone work is worn, but still really beautiful:

Glastonbury Abbey stonework

Glastonbury Abbey stonework

We went back up north to Scotland after the wedding.  Here are some pictures taken from the top of Ben Lomond, in the Scottish Highlands.  This was my first (and so far, only) Munro that I made it to the summit of:

View from the top of Ben Lomond

View from the top of Ben Lomond

From another direction:

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond

We also spent 3 days sailing the Scottish coast in a beautiful wooden boat called the Eda Fransen.   This was one of those extravagant life list excursions.  It ain’t cheap.I would post more pictures, but I am tired of editing photos and this has become the longest blog post in the history of the internet.  If there is some radical demand from my hordes (ha!) of readers, I will post more another day.

Click on the Eda Fransen link for more pictures of this incredibley beautiful vessel.  This was one of those non-fluffy things that Ken likes to do.  I did not actually expect to have to work the sails, but that was what we did.  Trusting me with a rope system this complicated was very brave of them.  I’m surprised I didn’t sink us.

The ropes were never that neat again

The ropes were never that neat again

We sailed around the Scottish islands of Rum, Eigg, and stopped off on the isle of Canna

Eda Fransen and Isle of Canna

Eda Fransen and Isle of Canna

That’s one of the bazillion old churches/ruins in Scotland.

 

I had never been on a real boat on anything but a lake before.  I loved the sailing except for barfing all of day2.  On the last day I had my sea legs and really loved it.  The people were lovely and the staff and food was first rate.  I could never do this for more than a couple of days;  the quarters are pretty cramped and I am a bit of a princess.  I didn’t get pictures of the berths (beds), but trust me, they are not even as big as an actual human body.  Ken and I were stacked like cordwood.   The showers are actually the room with the toilet; you just close the door, pull a shower curtain over the toilet (and your clothes) and the turn on the water.

Toilet/shower picture courtesy of travelblog.org

Toilet/shower picture courtesy of travelblog.org

 It was cramped for sleeping, but what an adventure.  seeing Scotland from the coastline was unbelievable.