|Saddell Castle in Kintyre is one of the historic buildings which the
Landmark Trust runs as self-catering accommodation. Never stayed in an
ancient castle? Or an old water mill? Or one of Charles Rennie Macintosh's
buildings? Check out the Landmark
Saddell Castle dates from about 1515, and is right next to the beach. We've stayed there twice. It's a great place, with everything you'd expect from a castle - the Hall, battlements, a dungeon...
|Eric Gill was a remarkable artist who excelled in fields as diverse
as sculpture, type design, drawing, and wood engraving. His writing is
usually opinionated, sometimes hypocritical or at least inconsistent, but
always lively and thought-provoking.
He designed some of the finest type faces and illustrated books of the 20th Century, and his sculpture is very expressive, if not so radical as that of Epstein and Henry Moore. His sculpture of "Prospero and Arial" is above the main entrance to the BBC in London. On his tombstone (designed by himself, of course) he described himself simply as "Stone Carver"
|I took up sailing rather late in life, but have been making up for lost
time! I particularly enjoy sailing along the coasts of places I know well from
land trips (including anchoring for lunch in Saddell bay, see above). The
perspective is so different, and you have the feeling of knowing the place for
the first time.
Most of my sailing has been in the west of Scotland, one of the finest sailing areas in every respect except weather! I've also sailed a bit in the Caribbean, most recently in Belize. Here's a couple of logs of my trips:
|Old maps are fun. When travelling, I often have an old map of the place so I
can see what was there a hundred or two hundred years ago - or often what
wasn't there, like King's Cross Station in London...
I've put quite a few of these maps onto my Android tablet, with location information so that I can use them with GPS. I had a bit of a struggle to find all the information I needed to do this, there are tutorials that cover bits of the process, but not one that takes you though from start to finish. So I wrote one. Here it is
|This is Carrifran in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. Two thousand
years ago, this valley was forest. We know what kind of trees grew here
from the evidence of pollen preserved in the soil. Now the valley is being
replanted with the original species, and in due course (longer than my
lifetime!) will look much as it did before intensive grazing stripped it
If you would like to join in supporting this project, contact Carrifran Wildwood
|I have long been fascinated by Gothic vaulting, and its logical extension,
the flying buttress. This engraving of Amiens from Viollet-le-Duc
shows the relationship between vault and buttress with typical clarity.
These high vaults allow a solid stone edifice to appear to soar heavenwards. It is the combination of clear logical structure with the spiritual purpose of the building that give these cathedrals such impact. Analogies here to the music of Bach?
|I rubbed this inscription on Ling Gill Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales
in 1976. It must have been an important route in 1768 - the bridge
is wide enough for two vehicles to pass.
Now it is a farm track, and the Pennine Way. You cross it as you head north from Horton-in-Ribblesdale, just as you emerge onto the open fells of Camm.
More on the Yorkshire dales here
|This labyrinth is in the Ghent
City Hall, in Belgium, and dates from 1528. It is a typical labyrinth,
starting from the outside, and ending in the centre. There are no branches,
unlike a maze, so if you keep on the track you will always make it to the
The labyrinth has many meanings. It can be a protection against evil spirits, which are supposed to be able to fly only in a straight line. It may symbolise rebirth or salvation, the devious path representing the soul's journey to a higher form of existence. It may be associated with fertility rites, and penetration into the womb of mother earth. Or it may have cosmological significance, as many labyrinths have seven circuits. Or all of the above...
Ariadne gets mixed up in all of this, of course, because she gave Theseus the golden thread with which he was able to find his way in and out of the Cretan labyrinth (or maze?). And to her is attributed the last interpretation of the labyrinth, the dance, with the dancers following the marked path on the floor, possibly representing the seven young men and women of Athens freed from the labyrinth by Theseus.
And yes, it does looks a bit like my Maze task on the Apple Newton. Which isn't a maze either, of course....
|Orvieto in Umbria is one of the few places where a resident of Edinburgh
is likely to feel outclassed. Like Edinburgh, its rock is volcanic, but
while Edinburgh's has room for a Castle and a few medieval streets, Orvieto's
rock, sheer on three sides and very steep on the fourth, is home to a good-sized
city, with a cathedral, numerous smaller churches, palaces... the effect
is stunning, even by Italian standards.
One of the highlights (lowdarks?) is the well, 180 ft deep with a double helix of ramps cut from its sides for mules to descend and ascend with their water gourds. It was built for the papal court on one of the numerous occasions when they took refuge in Orvieto when Rome got too hot for them (and I don't mean the weather!)
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