Island of Skye

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Skye is around five hours drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow and you would want to spend at least one full day on the island. The first day we were there it was misty and we visited the fairy pools. The next day, as often happens in Scotland, the weather had changed and we had sunshine all day. We visited the Kilt Rock waterfall the next day on our way round the north of the island. The main attraction is Dunvegan Castle and they have boat trips to visit the seal colony there.

Aurora borealis and Steve

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This is a great time for the dramatic displays of the aurora borealis, though there is too much light pollution where I live to see anything. You need to go north or south of the central belt for dark skies.

There is also Steve. Steve stands for Strong Thermal Emission Velcoity Enhancement and has been around for a while, but has only been named recently.

STEVE appears as a thin purple ribbon in the sky. Scientists studying it say it gives them a better understanding how the earths magnetic fields work. That’s Steve on the left.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has announced a 25-strong shortlist of buildings for its 2018 awards.

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Stirling Castle

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Stirling in another favourite place in Scottish history, being the site of the two other famous Scottish victories, against our favourite enemy,the English. That is the battles of Stirling Bridge (1297) and Bannockburn (1314).

Winter sunshine, giving fine views of the Ochill Hills.

Robert the Bruce
View of the Ochill Hills

Battle of Largs?

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Largs is famous for the Scottish victory over Haakon and the Norwegians in the battle of Largs, 1263. Historians differ on the significance of the battle, but as it certainly not a defeat, we are happy to call it a Scottish victory. We can't afford to be fussy. The Norwegians did relinquish their claims to the western isles and Haakon died not long after. A late colleague of mine was taught history at Glasgow University and when it came to 1263 the lecturer shouted 'the battle of Largs was a mere skirmish!' and flung the chalk duster at the wall as hard as he could. Effective teaching!

The sun setting behind the island of Cumbrae, where the Norse fleet sheltered in 1263.

The sun setting behind the island of Cumbrae, where the Norse fleet sheltered in 1263.
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The bridge over the Gogo Burn in Largs. The 'o' endingis suggestive of a Pictish place name, though there is little evidence of Pictish settlement on the Firth of Clyde. We do know for sure that the bridge is named after Thomas MacDougall Brisbane, of subsequent Australian fame.

MacDougall Brisbane bridge over the Gogo burn.