Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Moray Firth

We are temporarily up on Speyside, as my father is in hospital and quite seriously ill.  This is where our attention is concentrated at the moment, but at the end of a weekend of hospital visiting we headed for the coast to breathe deeply of the sea air.

Looking north, above,  as the waves crash onto the shingle.  Below, the coast curves east towards Buckie.

Looking west now, to where the River Spey meets the sea.

And south-west, back up the course of the river and into the sunset.

Oystercatchers were calling, a curlew piped, and all the while the waves broke on the shore.  It was what we needed.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


One of the things I miss in Edinburgh is the sea.  That may sound strange, as Edinburgh lies on a wide estuary, the Firth of Forth, and a short walk from our house brings us within sight and sound of its tidal reaches.  But for all its whitecaps and wheeling seabirds it's a tame sea.  The fields and hills of Fife lie just across the water.

By contrast from Stonehaven, to the south of Aberdeen,  there is only the wide horizon of the North Sea.

Below, Stonehaven's setting on a sheltered bay.

Even in the town centre, the 'real' sea is always present.  In the gap between the buildings below, a working ships of the North Sea is a counterpoint to land-based traffic.

Can you detect that I'm feeling homesick for the North?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Skywatch Friday - de-countrified in Barcelona

I'm pushing it a bit with the 'sky' aspect of this post, at least in this first photo.  Classic how-not-to-do-it white-out sky behind the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.  Shooting into the sun is never a good idea.  The guide books advise visiting the cathedral before 8 am - while the sun is on this facade and before the tour buses have arrived.  But having jumped in a taxi at the end of the conference I was attending, jumped out to take photos, and then jumped in to another taxi and headed for the airport, high quality light was never going to be the main consideration.

The detail was astounding - and for me, disturbing. I'm not a great fan of the 'melting' school of art, as in Dali, and the detail below evoked for me a monstrous mouth, with echoes of giant squid along the lines of Davy Jones in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End'

It would take many return visits to absorb all the detail.  And building work continues, as can be seen by the attendant cranes and scaffolding.  The completion date is estimated at 2026, the centenary of the death of Gaudi, the original architect.

A different Barcelona landmark now, seen from our conference venue of the Open University of Catalonia.  The 'Torre Agbar' is very similar to the London 'Gherkin', but outdoes it in terms of nicknames.  Wikipedia notes that it's known as 'the suppository', and then coyly says that it's also known by more scatological names.  A Spanish delegate we we were chatting to about it giggled when we asked her for more detail, but refused to divulge.

Another view, this time from beside our hotel.  It came in very handy for navigating, including at night when it's illuminated.

Not only was I de-countrified, but my trip away combined with demands of work have completely put me 'off my stot'  with blogging.  A very useful Scots expression, it means to be thrown out of your routine, to be off-balance in some way.  To 'stot' means to bounce.  Hopefully I'll bounce back soon. 

More skies from around the world are at Skywatch Friday.


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