29 September 2016

Hermitage Castle, Liddesdale, The Borders, Scotland

Hermitage Castle, our second castle visited during our Scotland Adventure. Okay, we did visit more than just Scotland on this adventure......Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland. Sorry, Wales.....we will try to visit next time.

Our day trip on this day was average by Canadian standards, start in Peebles travel South on minor highways, visit Hermitage Castle - take lots of photos, continue across the border into England, visit Hadrian's Wall, walk on the wall - a little dance in memory of our Caledonian ancestors and their love of the Romans and then return to Edinburgh for the Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle. Afterwards, return to where we parked the rental car & drive back to Peebles. Just a day trip. 

It was a lot of fun driving in Scotland again.....if I keep telling myself this, I may even believe it. It was, however, necessary.
Hermitage Castle, A Hint......
As our adventure in Scotland was not going to follow the trainlines, tramlines or buslines, we needed to be able to visit locations off the beaten path.

Hermitage Castle, is not along a major route.....if you do not come looking for this majestic, stone sentinel you will not accidently bump into it. As you will see, a visit here is well worth the effort to find this hidden gem.

Currently, Hermitage Castle is managed by Historic Scotland. They do a very good job of preserving the past and letting you experience what it must have been like to reside here.   
Hermitage Castle, The Approach

Hermitage Castle, Worth Exploring

Hermitage Castle, Solid & Stoic
Access to many areas of the castle are possible, while still respecting this stone history piece. So long as visitor do respect this beautiful building, I expect this access will continue to be extended to future visitors.  So, if you do visit - remember to respect the history and those who will visit after you. 
Hermitage Castle, Strong Silent Type

Hermitage Castle, Strong & Defiant
As a castle photo-snob, I really enjoyed my visit here. Only, one other photographer to work around. Our family had almost a private visit. It was a good day.

The main access to the castle follow well kept grass walkways. The rough grass borders keep most foot-traffic on the cut grass paths. 

I continued to use my technique of circling the castle taking photos every so many paces to try to capture just the right image.

I found Hermitage Castle a worthy photo subject. This castle is bold and contrasts strikingly against the rolling hills surrounding it.

I am more an artist with a camera than a history purist. I did not and do not know the whole history of this castle. I am not really concerned with who owned the castle, but I am grateful that this ruin is in such great condition. Compared to say Urquhart Castle or Sinclair-Girncoe  Castle, Hermitage is in a condition that many museums wish they could restore a castle to. Yes, the roof is missing and same with windows and wooden structures inside, but the stonework that survives....it speaks volumes.
Hermitage Castle, an Artistic Shot
Yes, I did get to test out the different features of the camera on this visit. Depth of field was certainly fun to experiment with.

Although, Hermitage Castle is in a location I do not have family connections with, I would return to do another photo-shoot in the future. 

I sure hope you enjoy these photos. We had a great visit and we will have these pictures and our memories of this great day trip.

Until next time.......Get out and stay out!!! Explore something, near or far, go explore!!!

The Local Terrain, The Borders, Scotland

26 September 2016

Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Well, the adventure to the UK is now behind us, but the work is just beginning.......time to post some of the sights we have seen during August 2016.

First of the castles will be: Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. We were on a rail and coach tour from Dublin, Ireland to The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland. Our first stop after departing Belfast, Northern Ireland was Carrickfergus to see the castle.
Carrickfergus Main Gate

Carrickfergus, Port Side
I did enjoy this rail & coach tour as I did not have to do the driving, what a relaxing change. (Do not worry, when we arrived in Scotland I would get plenty of practice driving.) The train system in the UK is a pleasant experience. Not the crammed sardine can of rush hour C-Train trips in Calgary. Alas, I am getting off-topic......

I like castles and I enjoy taking their photographs. Castles and churches make excellent photo subjects, they hold their smiles so long & they do not move or blink.
Carrickfergus Castle, Northern Ireland

I must be becoming a photo-snob....I really do prefer to photograph castles with as few people in the frame as possible. Thus, a challenge when 48 persons exit a coach/bus and all rush to take pictures before the coach must depart for the next point of call.

For the record, we were not late returning to the coach after this photo-shoot......we still had 4 minutes before the agreed upon departure time.

Until next time,
Go see the world and take some pictures!!


10 September 2016

Old Pine Yurt, near Tomintoul, Scotland

Old Pine Yurt - Sign at Parking Area
The Old Pine Yurt, located near Tomintoul, Scotland. On the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains. This truly is Heaven on Earth.

Visit: http://www.oldpineyurt.co.uk to learn how to book your stay in Heaven.

This outstanding facility is owned & operated by Donald & Fenella. Great hosts. They label their operation as a "Glamping" facility, which if you are unfamiliar with the term glamping, is simply glamour camping. In the woods, but not roughing it.

To that end, this facility excels. The Yurt is more than enough room for a couple. Complete with a full size bed, sofa, chair, woodstove and bistro table & chairs. Romantic candlelight adds mood lighting and the skylight allows you to keep an eye on the stars on a clear night.

In addition, there is also the "Wood Shed" Cabin, which has enough room on its own to comfortably sleep 3 - 4. This was once the woodshed on the property, but I believe it was Donald's father who converted it to a cabin.

Old Pine Yurt - Cooking Area in Foreground

Cooking Fire

 Close by the Yurt is the cooking fire area. Complete, with its own cooking grill, pans, tongs and wood pile. Enhanced with slab benches and a large block of wood covered with a thick Slate top cut and shaped by Donald. This Donald fellow is a very handy guy indeed. He has built many of the fixtures and designed many of the creature comforts. More about that later.

We found an ad for this location on: http://www.visitscotland.com
"The Wood Shed" Cabin

And, yes, we have stayed here. 

Now, hopefully the text stay aligned with the pictures. To the left is the image "The Wood Shed Cabin" and this shows the covered entrance, as well as, the kitchenette area. This veranda allows the enjoyment of the outdoors even when it rains.

At the back of the kitchenette area is the washroom and the shower. Now, the wonderful part of the Old Pine Yurt is the perfect blending of comfort and being in touch with reality. Hot water is very comforting, but learning just how much effort is required to make water hot is priceless.

Shower, Washroom & Kitchenette Area

Hot Water Tank Access
Cauldron "Hot Water Heater"
You have to make your own hot water here at the Old Pine Yurt, and this is a valuable lesson in life. So, if there is ever a day when the convenience of gas or electric water heating become interrupted, it is good to know how to make water hot for cleaning your body or your clothes. So, in the luxury of comfy beds, decadent chocolates in the welcome basket and beautiful landscapes you can practice the simple things in life. And fire made it good.......

The cauldron is used to make the water hot, but first you must fill the cauldron with cold water from the tap. Then build a proper sized fire under the cauldron. Once the water is hot enough, 25 - 40 minutes later, you must move the hot water, one pail at a time to the hot water tank located above the shower. There is a step ladder and rest platform to assist this task. Donald has fashioned a filter screen unit from a stainless steel kitchen strainer, I hope Fenella doesn't notice it missing.

Once filled with four pails of hot water, you can now enjoy one 10 minute shower or two 5 minute showers. A little longer if you use the navy shower method, rinse - lather - rinse, next!!

The Showerhead
The Shower

Of course, this combo of luxury and basics, may not appeal to all. I will assume, if you are still reading you are interested to know more.

Some of the roofing panels have been replaced over the years, with translucent panels that provide plenty of light while the sun is up. This makes everything bright and reduces the need for artificial lighting and thus reduced need for the consumption of electricity. 

We did not make full use of this facility in the context it was intended. We will next time. This is a special place to go, relax, recharge, and regain that which is lost in the daily activities of the rat-race of normal life.

We used the Old Pine Yurt to stage a number of day long adventures to see the sites in Aberdeenshire, Inverness-shire and Speyside. Those were long days with many miles traveled. Many meals were eaten on the run or in pubs along the way. Speaking of pubs....The Glen Avon and The Gordon Public House in Tomintoul, both served excellent food. 

The last two pictures are the woodstoves. The first is in the cabin, 
while the second one is in the Yurt.
Both were easy to heat the spaces that surrounded them.

I will post more in the coming days.

Until next time, get out and see the World!!


Woodstove in the Yurt