Sunday, 30 December 2012
After our Boxing Day walk on the beach we stopped off at Duffus Castle. For all that it lies just off the road between Hopeman and Elgin, I had never visited the castle. The daylight was dying as we explored, so there was a lot of detail that wouldn't come out in photos. But just to give you a quick historical sketch - the original wooden castle was built around 1140 in the Norman motte and bailey style by a Flemish merchant called Freskin. It's presumed that he was given the land by King David 1. The wooden structure was burned down in 1297 by Andrew Moray, who descended on the castle with 'a very large body of rogues' because it held a garrison of troops of King Edward 1 of England. A stone castle was then built in the early 1300s, and was occupied until around 1705. Latterly the castle's tower slid down into the motte, and this is the lump you can see on the right hand side of the shot above.
We experienced contrasting fly pasts while we walked about the castle and grounds. The first was announced by approaching engine noise, followed by a yellow Sea King search and rescue helicopter emerging just behind the castle. I wasn't quick enough with my camera to get a close-up - we stood and gaped at the close proximity of 12th century castle and 21st century flying machine - but here it is as it heads in to land at RAF Lossiemouth, just beyond the line of trees.
The second was quieter, but no less absorbing: skeins of wild geese heading towards the sunset. They were probably greylag geese, which overwinter from Iceland along the Moray coast.
Friday, 28 December 2012
We came down from the hills on Boxing Day to walk along the beach at Hopeman. Fifteen miles takes us from river valley enclosed by hills down to the rich farmland of the Laich of Moray and the Moray Firth coast.
Cloud formations marched in from the North.
A little bit of Google Map to help you locate Hopeman. Just in case the red Google blob thingy doesn't show up, it's just at the top left hand corner of the 'E' of Elgin.
Paddling in the sea is still possible in December, as long as you're wearing wellies.
The line of hills behind my welly-booted son are on the other side of the Moray Firth. On the map, follow a line straight up from Elgin to the next bit of land.
Below, my daughter waits for those of us to catch up who had been dawdling around taking photos. Despite the calm skies it was pretty chilly - the grass was frosted, even close beside the shore.
Sunday, 23 December 2012
A collection of images to illustrate our run-up to Christmas.
Above, endless Brussels sprouts in the Elgin branch of Tesco this morning.
Below, a handknittted tree decoration made by a dear Norwegian friend, and the Norwegian flag bunting that is an essential part of our Christmas decorations.
The wee chap in more detail, for the knitters among you and especially Christine and Judy.
As we drove north yesterday through the gales and rain which have battered Scotland recently the motorway signs were warning of ferry cancellations to Shetland. The islands' Tesco store (Tesco again!) ran out of food as a result, but re-stocked by dint of chartering a Hercules transport plane.
My attempts to get an in-focus shot of the signs failed - not for want of advice from my family. "Zoom out, OUT, Mum!" "NOW, take the shot NOW!"
After a stormy night today was calmer. My daughter and I walked by the Spey in the last of the daylight. The shots below were taken just after 3pm.
On these short days any glimpse of blue sky is precious.
Thursday, 13 December 2012
Spot the Edinburgh landmark in the shot below.
A real live Christmas card taking shape before your eyes is a bit of a surprise at 8.30 am on a chilly walk to work. The camera flash makes it seem daylight, but at this time of year we are in midwinter half-light then. Sunrise tomorrow is 8. 37 am, and sunset is 3.38 pm.
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Over the past couple of weeks we've attended our children's respective university orchestra concerts. First was St Andrews - an after-work dash from the city up through the Fife countryside. It felt as if we'd travelled hundreds of miles rather than fifty, so great was the contrast between rush hour Edinburgh and the university town on the edge of the winter darkness of the North Sea.
The following week was Glasgow, on a night of 'bitter chill'. It was rather wonderful to go into the Students' Union and find a large fireplace on the main landing, with a glowing coal fire. Of course I had to take a photo - somewhat blurred because of the desperate uncoolness of being a mother taking a photo - of anything really - but most of all of a coal fire.