Even though I am most definitely a ‘city boy’. I am from Texas where we have our share of cattle. In fact my Alma mater is The University of Texas and our mascot is the Texas Longhorn, a type of cow with (you guessed it), long horns.
Scotland has it’s own version of long horn cattle called Highland Cattle. They are beautiful animals with amazing long hair including long bangs that often completely cover their eyes. One day while driving in Scotland, I pulled off the road onto a drive leading up to a ranch house to try to get a few photos of what folks in Austin Texas might refer to as “Hippie Longhorns”. After a few minutes of unsuccessful shooting (the cattle were being very shy) , I noticed a truck approaching from the owners house. Concerned that the owner might see me as trespassing I prepared to explain what I was doing & pack up my camera. Again I had underestimated the kindness of the Scottish people. In fact Murray (the owner) had seen me photographing & brought some feed in order to get the cattle to come close to where I was photographing. As soon as they saw Murray approaching, the cattle all ran to my position in anticipation of getting fed & posed for their portraits.
Thank you Murray.
Another beautiful place in beautiful Scotland. This bridge is actually on the Balmoral Estate. Beverly & went on a great Land Rover tour of the estate & our wonderful guide John told us all about the bridge & the place. Unfortunately, I was focusing on making a beautiful image vs. what John was saying… so I did a better job on capturing the image than I did capturing th history. If I am not mistaken, the bridge was built as a gift to Queen Victoria, but don’t quote me on that…
Eilean Donan Castle is very near the bridge from the mainland of Scotland to the Isle of Skye. We arrived late in the afternoon when the tide happened to be out so where I was standing to take the photo is very often under water. I would love to go back when the tide is in the the light is a bit better to get a reflection of the castle in the loch. Eilean Donan Castle is quite possibly one of the most photographed Castles in the world. Unlike Dunnottar Castle from my earlier post, the Eilean Donan Castle was completely restored in the early 1900 & gives a glimpse of what it may have been like has been like to actually live in the castle.
When driving in Scotland on the northern portion of the Isle of Skye, the major highways consist of single lane roads with passing points every hundred yards or so to allow you or an oncoming vehicle to pull over so that another vehicle may pass. (You can see one in the distance near the sign in the lower photo.)
In the middle of this rural landscape amongst the sheep & green fields, in the middle of ‘nowhere’, stands this big red phone booth. Perhaps it’s for emergencies, perhaps it remains from a time when many of the local farm houses did not have phone service. In any case, it’s a great reminder of the wonderful simplicity of this beautiful Isle.
Perhaps it’s because she is pretty much a city girl, but Beverly found watching the lambs romp around the green fields of Scotland one of her favorite parts of our trip. There is something very maternal about this image of a few sheep & their lambs playing on a beautiful spring morning.
Perhaps in my earlier post I should have said “Scotland is the land of Sheep & Castles”. This particular lady was posing for us & showing off her nice coat & sexy legs. All she needs is some nice pretty stripped woolen socks.
Nearby, these adorable kids were playing.
You can’t drive far in Scotland without seeing a Castle. Some are ‘new’ (using the term ‘new’ rather loosely) , some are old, some are beautiful homes, some were designed as fortifications. Dunnottar Castle on the east coast in Kincardine near the town of Stonehaven falls into the relic category. At least to me, Dunnottar looks like a castle is ‘supposed’ to look. (Perhaps that’s why I took so many photos…) It sits on a large promontory overlooking the sea. It’s beautiful, yet somewhat ominous looking. At one time it was essentially a very small village for the members of the family of one of the most powerful families in Scotland. Dunnottar was one of the homes of the Earls Marischal, from the 14th century when Sir William Keith, the 1st Earl Marischal, built his Tower House, also known as the Keep. It also holds quite a history having been visited by William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots as well as many other including John Rogers & Beverly Straub. I would love to have seen it a few hundred years ago.
Since Dunnottar was so photogenic, I’ll go ahead & post a couple of more images… This one was taken looking out the “master bedroom” window.
And one more for today. This is a shot of what was once the ‘smithy’ or black smith shop.
(If you look closely, you’ll note he was a romantic & decorated his shop walls with flowers.)
There is something quite spiritual about a walk in the woods. In these days of urban sprawl I find it’s truly difficult to really remove yourself from society & just listen to the sounds, observe the colors, sense the scents of nature. So often when you try, you discover the sound of a nearby highway or a high flying jet overhead leaving its mark in the sky. Walking in the Ballochbuie Forest you are able remove yourself from all the urban distractions & hear only the breeze in the trees, smell nothing but fresh clean air, see nothing but clear skies overhead. No matter if you are an author, accountant, photographer, or monarch it’s so easy to get distracted by all we are trying to get done & forget about what we truly are. Over one hundred and fifty years ago Henry David Thoreau escaped to Walden & wrote: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” At the same time across the Atlantic, Queen Victoria was building her place in the Highlands of Scotland to escape to the woods. The need to experience nature is universal. We all need to protect these places that allow us to return. For those that don’t have the resources to own a 50,000 acre estate & open it to the public, (thank you Queen Elizabeth), consider contributing what you can to an organization such as the Sierra Club in America that helps to balance our ‘progress’ & protect our wild places.
While in Scotland we stayed at Balmoral, so spending some time at the Castle & surrounds seemed like an obvious way to spend a beautiful spring day in Scotland. (No, we didn’t say in the castle. We stayed in a wonderful little guest house. You can see a photo of our place here.) The grounds are beautiful & the Castle itself is wonderfully un-pretentious. The estate is virtually self sufficient with the organic gardens providing all the vegetables & floral decorations.
Beverly & I just returned from a wonderful trip in Scotland. Now that I am back in the land of technology, I’ll spend the next few days sharing a few images of that beautiful country.
We spent our first week of our vacation as a tenant of Queen Elizabeth II at one of her “Holiday Cottages” on her Balmoral Estate. Queen Victoria originally purchased the estate in 1848 and Balmoral has been the Scottish Home of the British Royal Family ever since. After spending a few days in and around Balmoral, I certainly understand why the Royals go to Balmoral to “get away”. The actual estate is over 50,000 acres and in addition to the Balmoral Castle, includes a half dozen Cottages that they rent out by the week. We stayed in The Old Schoolhouse. It’s a lovely cottage that overlooks the River Muick very near Ballater & it provided the perfect home base for our travels.