Friday, August 31, 2007


The village of Dalrymple splits into two parts. The first, of which there are two photographs of part of below, dates back to around the 1800's when it was supporting an agricultural community.

The second part is mainly council housing which was set up mid 1900s to cater for the ex-mining communities which were dying on their feet. I say mainly, because again there is now significant development of private housing.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ayrshire Coalmining - 02

In contrast to yesterday's photograph, Rankinston, which is only 4 miles from Drongan, has not fared so well. It may be sited amidst beautiful countryside, but it is up a dead-end road and so gets no through traffic.

The only signs of it's reason for existence, the spoil tips, are slowly being levelled and removed for other land-fill purposes. This is the only bing (a good Scottish word) still visible and even for that you have to go a mile or so away.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ayrshire Coalmining - 01

Katya's question re use of coal in Scotland got me thinking.

In 1869, there were 87 listed collieries in Ayrshire.

In the 1913 report, Ayrshire had 14,000 coal miners producing 4 million tons annually.

In 1996 some 3.6 million tonnes was produced from Ayrshire's 10 opencast mines. No deep pits survived at that time.

In 2006 some 648 people were employed in Ayrshire's 8 opencast mines.

These changes have had a considerable impact on the Ayrshire Communities which had grown up in support of the Coal Mining activities.

Until recently, Drongan was a very deprived area with a collection of Local Authority Houses in the middle of beautiful countryside with no 'raison d'etre' and not much more.

However, now a considerable amount of private house-building is taking place, albeit for commuter families, and the village is beginning to live again

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cumbrae Ferry

Whilst at the Largs Pencil, I took this photograph of the Calmac Largs to Cumbrae Ferry at the Cumbrae Slipway.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Largs Pencil

Today's pictures are of the Largs Pencil, a monument celebrating the victory of the Scots over the Norwegians in the Battle of Largs in 1263. In fact modern historians think this was much more of a skirmish than a battle and the result would be more correctly identified as a draw.

The monument is actually a round tower with a conical top, but everyone thought, and thinks, it looks like a pencil; so the name has stuck.

The first view is from the South looking North.

The second view is from the North looking South. The large pier in the background is Clydeport, Hunterston, mainly used for coal imports. If you enlarge the photograph, you will also see on the shore beyond the pier, the buildings of Hunterston Nuclear Power Stations.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Something different

Just as a change from the usual, I've just finished reading these two books and would heartily recommend them to you all. Both are based on true stories.

Jennifer Donnelly is an American-born writer (the US title of the book is 'A Northern Light'), but I'll forgive her that! The story is set in the early 1900's in the Adirondack, revolves round an infamous murder which actually occurred there and is told from the viewpoint of an aspiring young female writer. I was hooked from the first page.

Julian Barnes is a 61 year old English-born writer, but I'll forgive him that as well! I found this book a bit less engaging at the start; it continually switches back and forth between Arthur and George. I am however glad I persevered as it drew me in .

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Once upon a time we had a large pink Lavaterra bush in our front garden, but a few years ago a strong gust of wind removed it bodily from the earth; breaking it into pieces at the same time.

I managed to rescue a bit and coaxed it into growing again in the back garden. Now we get small white flowers! I wonder if, over time, it will flower larger and pinker?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cawdor Castle

Today's set of photographs are from Cawdor Castle; outside shots since photography inside is not allowe)and shots in the walled garden.

William Shakespeare has made this castle famous as a result of Macbeth, the play, however it seems that the real Macbeth was possibly a totally different character.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I've turned the camera round a bit from where yesterday's photographs were taken and showed you Rosemarkie, another village in the Black Isle. I won't go into detail on it, the link gives everything you need to know, except to say that it is indeed a beautiful place.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fort George

Both these photographs were taken from Fortrose, in the Black Isle, across the Moray Firth. The soldiers used to row over to here with their blankets for washing.

Fort George sits behind its massive grass-topped artillery defences on an isolated spit of land jutting into the Moray Firth at Ardersier, 11 miles north east of Inverness. Following the 1745 uprising and the nearby Battle of Culloden that effectively ended it, Fort George was intended to be a final solution to the threat posed by the Highlanders, particularly the Jacobites.

Fort George was the brainchild of King George II's Military Engineer, William Skinner, who began work in 1748, finally completing the Fort in 1769, well over budget (at today's prices it would cost nearly £1 billion), but possibly the strongest fortification ever built in the UK. Unfortunately by the time he finished it was no longer needed. However Fort George is still an operational army barracks, having changed little since its completion.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oakwood Restaurant

This is a photograph of the roof inside the Oakwood Restaurant at Dochgarroch, by Inverness. (Tel: 01463 861481; email:

It's to be found beside the Caledonian Canal about 3 miles out of Inverness off the A82 Fort William road if you are going by car, but by far the best way to get there is on foot along the Canal - you feel you've earned your treat when you get there!

It also sells Curios, Antiques and Collectables which account for the roof decoration and you may be tempted to purchase something, but don't miss the opportunity to eat there.

There is a wide selection of excellent home-cooked dishes adapted to the season, or snacks of sandwiches, pates, soups, baked potatoes ....... It isn't licensed, but they are happy for you to bring your own bottle and DON'T charge corkage. I've eaten there a few times and I'll guarantee that you won't be disappointed. If you are in that vicinity, make an effort to get there; in fact even if you aren't, still make the effort.

Despite the notice on the banks of the Canal at Inverness, the restaurant doesn't open at 10.00, but at 12.00, and unless someone has reserved a table before 18.00 it will close then; otherwise it will stay open for later dining.

Definitely somewhere to visit.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Back home again and everything working. Before I post any pictures from my time in Inverness, I thought I'd let you see a photo of the latest addition to our extended family - my great-niece Catriona Louise, born in Edinburgh last night.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Sorry for the lack of posting. I'm away from home and, though I have my laptop and an internet connection, what I didn't do was load the Sony software on my laptop so I can't download my photographs. The above one was taken with my small HP camera. I'll leave you to work out where I am!

I'm leaving tomorrow, but I'll post whenever possible.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cattle Breeds

An unusual, but not rare, cattle breed you see around Ayrshire is the belted Galloway, so called because of the large white 'belt' round it's middle.

It is presumed that it is an offshoot from the black Galloway, but it does look very much nicer - to my mind anyway.

Friday, August 10, 2007

River Ayr

Two scenes in one on this photo.

The background is the flying roof of Ayr College. I must admit I'm quite taken with this design, but I know that not everybody likes it.

The foreground shows the work being done to rebuild/repair the weir which used to serve one of the mills which lined the river in days gone bye. They did the one half and are now working on the other, but the number of times the shuttering which is holding back the water has collapsed under the strain is quite something!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I was in Rozelle Estate this afternoon and thought the trees looked particularly beautiful. The white construction you can see in the background of the second photo is the skeleton of one of the large tents which housed the Ayr Flower Show,

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Calmer Water

This photograph is of the River Doon, taken from the main road bridge over the Doon in Alloway looking towards the bridge which carried the now defunct Ayr / Turnberry / Girvan light railway.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Water, water

Today's pictures show the after-effects of the rain we've been having. They were taken at the River Ayr, just above the Bypass, where there are stepping stones from one bank to the other.

The first shows the 'weir' effect that the stepping stones have, whilst the second is a close shot of the back-current caused when the water reaches it's lower level.

Don't think I'll go paddling today!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Crosbie Church and Graveyard

The church and churchyard of Crosbie (or Crossby or Corsby) once was in a village just over a mile removed from the modern Troon town. There is no trace of the village left. The church is mentioned in 1229, but the current ruins only date from 1681. It was ruined on 25th January 1759, the same day Robert Burns was born, when strong gales blew off the roof and blew down the gable end.

Until 1863 the churchyard was the only burial site for Troon and neighbourhood.

It has in it a gravestone of one Janet McFadzean buried in Crosbie Kirkyard in 1761.
The front reads,

Here lyes the corps of Janet McFadzean,
Spous of William McFadzean,
Quarter-Master Sergean in Lovetenan General Homs Regiment of Sol.,
who died August 22, 1761,
aged 27 years.

The back reads,

Twenty-four years i lived a maiden life,
And three years i was a married wife,
In which time i lived a hapie life,
I trevld with him from toun to toun,
Until by death i was cut down.
In my sister's hous did die,
And here at Crosbie Kirk i ly,
Where i my rest and sleep will take,
Until at last i be awaked.
It will not be with tuk of drum,
But it will be when the trumpet sound,
And while ile my Redeemer see,
Who shed his preshios blood for me.

Buried somewhat earlier, in 1619, was David Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, a suggested assassin of the Regent Earl of Murray. His inscription reads,
Heir lye corpis of ane honovrabel man callt David Hamiltove of Bothelhavghe, spous to Elesone Sinclair in his time, qvha desist the 14th of Merche, 1619.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I thought I saw an Ark go by

OK, so that's a massive exaggeration. We've had nothing in comparison to our English compatriots, but there are flood warnings out for the whole of Ayrshire. However the constant vertical rain (no drops on the windows even) is very depressing and comes at the 'Gardens Open' weekend for some of the large Ayrshire properties as well as on the last day of the Ayrshire Flower Show.

Since I wasn't in the mood to get myself or my camera wet, I took a photograph of the puddles in the street.

Actually, it makes the weeds growing there very visible. Must contact the local council!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hidden away

This photograph is of the frontage of buildings at the bottom of the High Street in Ayr - a part of the town which become more run down as businesses migrate away towards the shopping arcades at the top of the town. As you can see it's a fairly nondescript frontage.

This photo is of the back of part of it. It rather looks like an old church building still exists behind the frontage!

Friday, August 03, 2007


This picture is of the Girvan lifeboat at her moorings. She's a 12 metre Mersey Class boat, the Silvia Burrell, with a range of 140 naultical miles and a top speed of 17 knots.

The UK lifeboat service is run by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, staffed mainly by volunteers and reliant on charity for funding - is this a peculiarly British tradition?

I urge you to use the link and visit their site - there can't be many of us who haven't been in some situation where we might have need their help - and see what they do and how they do it. You never know, you might just feel like donating something!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Old Wives Tale

It is folklore in these parts that if there is a heavy berry crop on the trees, then there will be a hard winter ahead.

According to this Rowan tree, it looks like winter is just round the corner and it's going to be nasty.

Personally I think it means that the growing season has been very good for Rowan Trees so far!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Symington Church

Symington Church was founded in the 12th Century by the Norman Knight Simon Loccard, possibly giving rise to the name of the village as a corruption of Simon's Town.

It belonged in it's time to the Trinitarian Monastery of Failford.

It's main architectural features are the three lancet windows in the east wall of the church, the piscina set in the South Window of the chancel area and the open-work timber roof.

The later fine stained glass windows are the work of Dr. Douglas Strachan.