600 Years and More – of Wisdom and Beauty

They say oak trees grow for 300 years, and stay in their glory for another 300 years, and then decay and die their last 300 years.

One of my favourite places to meet a 600 years old friend, is Gökalv in Blekinge, Sweden.

We have many things to talk about, and I have learned so much about life from him. He may be rugged to touch, but his wrinkles are mild and forgiving.

I visited last week again, and found him standing there as usual, waiting for me. This time in splendid evening light.

His advice I always follow – stay true to yourself and help others to do the same. Be kind and helpful to all living beings on this earth. That is why we are here together.

When I looked at my photos, now uploaded…I realized his voice was not just in my head or in my mind –

 

 

Annonser

Bernina Express and Alp Grüm – Turquoise and Red

At the railwaystation in Pontresina we caught the Bernina Express – a classic train on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. (From Chur to Tirano in Italy)

On our way from 1850 m to 2091 m above sea level, there were many interesting and beautiful views. People were standing up in the train so it was not that easy to get good photos.

Lago Bianco is the name of the great dam up here, famous for its turqouise water.

…and the train for being red!

On reaching Alp Grüm, we had the majestic glacier right in front of us – but the sun made it impossible to photograph it – we half planned to come back in the morning to get a better view…but never realized it.

Going down again – and the water suddenly changed colours when looking back. Light is certainly essential to how you interpret a scenery. We really had enjoyed this trip.

Weissfluhjoch and Weissfluhgipfel – Cool and Windless White

In famous winter sports’ Davos – in fact 8 communities instead of one – we took the Parsennbahn up to Weissfluhjoch, 2662 metres, and from there to Weissfluhgipfel, 2844 metres – still snowcapped.

About 5 pm, but still warm… no wind, no people. Stunning views in all directions.

Silence

A harsh area for plants and flowers to survive in, but still, they are here. I was happy to find Ranunculus glacialis – isranunkel…

…and Saxifraga – purpurbräcka, hidden in the crevices.

The buildings here includes of course a restaurant, but also a meteorological station and a centre for research on snow and avalanches. There is a daily forecast on avalanches sent from here all over Switzerland.

Oh, the Silence – and the Air

The distant views …

…and the clouds of white

Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard – A Hot Hike

Switzerland, St Moritz alps. At 2456 m. we started our hike at Muottas Muragl – a panorama walk filled with majestic views and stunning flowers.

A very easy walk with no steep climbing, but still 24 degrees C…I met some wise elderly people who just walked for maybe half a mile to see the views and the flowers.

Alp clover and hikers – we all tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. Not easy in an open landscape.

Soon the views were opening up, and the valleys revealing all their secrets. And we could see St Moritz down there.

Leaving the morning dew and lovely coolness for beating sun as it rose higher in the sky.

Drinking water – fresh and clear. But also for putting our feet in. Not many degrees in glacier water – hardly for bathing. Every brook or flow offers a welcome break.

Majestic mountains and some rest in the shadows…when possible. My hat was very useful.

As this is an easy walk, many families had a delightful day out. Holding hands is a good idea when it is too steep.

Crossing an area where water had undermined the path and falling stones and mud slides made it dangerous to hike, we had to pass through a tunnel of corrugated sheet metal. Some holes were made in it for the view.

And we were richly rewarded in the end. Alp Languard in all its beauty – and cows! The end of a spectacular walk

On our way down with the lift (15 minutes), we met this lovely family…(Can you spot the dog?)

Some of the many flowers on the road…a feast to the eye. I found it rather difficult to focus my shots as the heat made drops fall onto the camera as well – but when we arrived at 1800 meters, the heat was 30 degrees C and more. So the day was well spent. I hope you enjoyed the trip too.

Edinburgh II – The Castle and… Inside

Our last day in Edinburgh we spent a bit more looking inside…windows and alleys at least. On the walk up to the castle, the sun bestowed us with its warming glory – hot!

We walked through Greyfriar’ s beautiful Kirkyard to see Bobby once more. He was a Skye terrier born in the middle of the 19th C. His Master died when Bobby was only two, and legend has it that he stayed by his Master’s grave for 14 years. A Lord payed the city of Edinburgh to build Bobby a little house and to feed him. He was buried close to his master in 1872.

Many people came to see him while we were there. The little ”hut’s” name shows some of the Scottish humour…it’s really inside the gates!

Some ”insides” too on the way…

Colourful clothes and tartans, but also a soft pink and blue tartan made especially to the memory of Princess Diana.

I love signs, and Scotland and Edinburgh has got many of those – my camera was full of them…This one close to Camera Obscura.

And – there my dream came true…to be divided into two and able to do double the things I would like to do, help, visit, create, experience…a.s.o….

Just inside the gates, they were preparing for the Tattoo. This year we didn’t make it, but hopefully next year we will be able to see it!

 

We’ll be back next year – for the Edinburgh Tattoo!

Edinburgh Part I – Old and New

Last time we visited, in the 70’s, the city met us with a gloomy drizzle – this time with it’s most delightful face! A warning – ancient history and the beauty of the old is best found with Seonaid at breathofgreenair. Do enjoy her stories and poetry! Here I will only give you my impressions on this bright summer’s day in August. You are welcome to enjoy it with me too.

Our hostel was not far from Greyfriars, and I guess, being a dog person, the story of Bobby has never left my heart. I will tell you more about him in next part of Edinburgh. We went to see him the first night – and returned our last day too.

The morning after, we started out in glorious weather, walking the Royal Mile. This is the main street between Edinburgh Castle and Palace of Holyrood House – the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

An endless row of old stone buildings, very well kept. And in the windows – everything from typical kilts to magnificent wedding dresses. If I were to remarry – I would be wearing this! But, I guess this photo is the closest I will ever get …

 

The Parliament building was not here in the 70’s, but was built in 1999 by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles. I read it was both hated and much loved, and won many awards. It is said that he wanted to create a building uniting the Scotish landscape and culture with the Scotish poetry.

I think he succeeded. Colours, materials, structures…I love it. What do you think? Is it that controversial? Maybe it was 15 years ago…

Close by the Parliament is ”Our Dynamic Earth”. On the city map – and in reality – it looks like a cocoon or a monstruous caterpillar. It’s a scientific centre with ”Arthur’s Seat” in the fond.

Here you can for example make a virtual tour inside the Earth, and there is also a visitors’ and conference centre inside. It’s mostly about geology. Very elaborate.

Scotland II 513

This little guy was posing for his mother by the globe with – Our dynamic earth. They work very well together…

Of course we had to stop by here…

…at The Writers’ Museum, and go looking for famous names on the ground. Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

And at world famous Elephant House, where J.K. Rowling had a table overlooking (underlooking?) Edinburgh Castle.

We had coffee and a muffin – very tasty and delicious. Then I followed my blogging friend’s (Seonaid) advice to have a look at the toilets… More about what I found of Harry Potter here.

While we were having fun, we continued with Museum of Childhood. Not very big, but very charming and conjuring up old memories – at least for people my age. Enjoy!

 

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From Perth to Edinburgh – S:t Andrews and East Neuk

My husband is a poor golf player, but of course we had to go to S:t Andrews – all golfers’ ”Mecca”. They say golf was born on the dunes by the sea here, and on the Old Course there’s been golf played for  about 600 years. Unfortunately the British Golf Museum was closed because of construction work.

We continued to the ruins of the old Cathedral, which once was the biggest building in Scotland when finished in 1318.

Walking here among these old stones, feeling their stories surrounding us, made me quiet and contemplating. So many souls resting here…what did their lives look like?

Along the shore and further on to Crail, my favourite little village in East Neuk. This area was a wealthy place already in the Middle Ages, because of the trade  with Europe.

Crail has been a town since 1310 and is the oldest community here. Very picturesque with great atmosphere.

In the little harbour dark clouds were sailing in. But with warm winds swirling,  we slowly strolled around enjoying the beauty.

In Pittenweem the harbour offered a charming walk. Now the clouds grew even darker and we could hear thunder far away.

Then the rain came. Heavy drops at first – soon storming in like wild horses. We found a roof and stayed dry, silently watching the scenery of light and darkness.

Leaving as fast as it came – the winds took the storm away to sea.

And we headed for Edinburgh – feeling light hearted after a very pleasant tour.

From Aberdeen to Perth – Balmoral Castle

Balmoral is of course a must when you are here – and we were not disappointed. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the castle, and Prince Albert renovated it around 1855. They spent much time here and the Queen was very well liked as she showed great interest in the Scots and their traditions.

Prince Albert also planted the trees in the park and was the architect behind the garden. I was extremely pleased to find the Beware of squirrels sign! As my love for animals – and particularly dogs – is great, I very much loved the gallery of pets in the Royal family. Queen Victoria’s favourites were collies and Queen Elisabeth’s is of course welsh corgies.

We also found a snow trac made in Sweden – and still in use!

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The gardens were very grand and both flowers and vegetables very fresh and colourful. I spent some time enjoying the little greenhouse given as a present to Queen Elisabeth.

The sign above the door says:  One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else. A most delightful thought.

We enjoyed the walk through the gardens, visited the Ballroom, and then headed for Perth. A road of beautiful, serene  views – a landscape of green hills, meandering rivers and grazing cattle.

In the evening we reached Perth and found it very beautiful and welcoming. A lovely evening walk. In fact we would have liked to stay longer – so, maybe next time!

Beautiful houses and intriguing sculptures – a truly interesting city, once the capital of Scotland. In the vicinity is Scone Palace where the Stone of Scone once was kept in the Abbey. (Also known as the Stone of Destiny, and often referred to in England as The Coronation Stone,  used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland.)

The river Tay in blue evening gown.

Time to walk back to our house for a good night’s sleep. Roses find a certain glow in the light of street lamps – almost magical… Good night.

Going North – the road to Isle of Skye

From Oban we headed north to reach Isle of Skye. Castle Stalker, in the header, was built about 1440 and has figured in many movies – among others: ”Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

Från Oban åkte vi vidare norrut – målet var Isle of Skye. Castle Stalker, i headern, byggdes runt 1440 och har figurerat i flera filmer, bland annat i Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The road taking us to Isle of Skye is very beautiful – even when foggy and rainy. A short stop at Fort William only – and we noticed how many shops that had been closed down here. Empty windows glaring at us. This is not what we remembered from 35 years ago – but things change over the years…

Vägen dit är mycket vacker – även i dimma och regn. Vi gjorde ett kort provianteringsstopp i Fort William, och förskräcktes över hur många affärer som gapade tomma här. Det såg inte ut så när vi var här för 35 år sedan. Allting förändras…

 

On reaching Mallaig for the ferry, we realised we had to wait for some hours. A nice opportunity to return to Morar’s white beaches. Passing the Hogwart’s Express…

När vi kom fram till Mallaig för att ta färjan över till Isle of Skye var vi flera timmar för tidiga – eller rättare sagt färjorna var fullbokade. Detta blev ett fint tillfälle att återvända till Morar – berömt för sina vita stränder. På vägen mötte vi Hogwartsexpressen! Scener från Harry Potter spelades in här.

Morar is famous for its white beaches, and it was here some scenes were shot for Lars von Triers’ ”Breaking the Waves”. The colours were amazing.

Här spelades scener från Lars von Triers Breaking the Waves in. Färgerna var fantastiska.

A thin drizzle made the light very special and we longed to walk on those dreamy beaches…but then the raining increased in intensity and we had to drop that intention.

Ett tunt dimregn gjorde ljuset mycket speciellt och vi förberedde oss för att vandra på de vita stränderna här…men så ökade regnandet och vi fick överge den drömmen.

Back to Mallaig and the ferry. We could barely see the islands out there, but kept looking  eagerly for our dream destiny…Isle of Skye.

Tillbaka i Mallaig och färjan. Vi kunde inte se mycket av öarna därute, men spanade ändå ivrigt efter drömmen – Isle of Skye.

Somewhere out there …it is…

Någonstans därute finns den…

For more of Isle of Skye – just click the last picture above!

Going West – Dunoon, Inveraray and Oban

Leaving Borders and going westward on roads of beauty. We took the ferry from Greenock to Dunoon, then the road to  Inveraray and Oban.

Vi lämnade Borders och drog västerut. Vi tog färjan från Greenock till Dunoon och sedan landsvägen till Inveraray och Oban.

Following the rolling green hills west, we tried to imagine what Ayr would look like. Knowing we had a long way to go, we soon ruled out Burn’s Cottage and another castle.

Vi siktade på Ayr, och vägen dit var grön och vacker. Eftersom vi visste att den här dagen var den längsta kördagen, blev vi tvungna att räkna bort Burns stuga och ytterligare ett slott.

On reaching the west coast, we made a short stop and wandered along the beach to stretch our legs. Only the gulls kept us company.

När vi nått västkusten stannade vi vid stranden och sträckte på benen. Här var tomt. Bara måsarna höll oss sällskap.

Ferry to Dunoon – delightful weather and many beautiful views. The harbour too, where the houses reminded me of something Dickensian…

Vi tog färjan till Dunoon – en fin tur i vackert väder. Hamnens byggnader kändes som tagna direkt ur en Dickensfilm.

Inveraray Castle, owned by the Campbell Clan,  is very beautiful – inside as well – but we had to drive on. This was our longest driving day. A photo of the exterior was the option, but we found out that the best shot was to be had from the little narrow bridge we had to pass together with numerous cars and other heavy traffic. Impossible to stop there. In fact the photo beneath finally exists because we passed that bridge four times with me hanging out of the window…

Det här fotot har sin egen historia. Exteriörfoto av Inveraray Castle var allt vi skulle hinna med…och bästa platsen att fotografera ifrån var den smala, hårt trafikerade bron. Vi körde fram och tillbaka fyra gånger över bron med mig hängande utanför fönstret med tre kameror…

Driving on to Oban, we passed one of the longest lakes in Scotland, Loch Awe.  We made a short stop admiring the ruins of Kilchurn Castle. The castle was abandoned in the 18th century after being hit by lightning.

På väg mot Oban passerade vi Kilchurn Castles ruiner. Slottet övergavs på 1700-talet efter ett kraftigt åsknedslag.

Just before Oban there were some magnificent Highland Cattle grazing . I sat watching them for rather a long time…they are my real favourites! I was rewarded by many lovely glares and tails, and of course MANY shots. Some of them here:

Strax före Oban mötte vi de här fina exemplaren av Highland Cattle. Jag stannade en god stund och njöt av mina favoriter. Många foton blev det – några här:

Finally – Oban. Oban is gaelic, meaning ”the little bay”. 10% of the inhabitants here are gaelic speaking. Oban is also called the ”Gateway to the Isles” so the harbour is important.

Slutligen målet – Oban. Namnet Oban är gaeliska och betyder ”den lilla viken”. 10% av befolkningen här talar gaeliska. Staden kallas också för ”Gateway to the Isles” – porten till öarna.

McCaigs Tower is an unfinished attempt to copy the Colosseum of Rome. It towers above the harbour and  I later discovered that on almost all of my photos from here I can see a glimpse of it…

McCaigs Tower är en ofullbordad kopia av Roms Colosseum.  Den har smugit sig in i de flesta av mina bilder härifrån.

Of course we had to visit the Oban Whiskey Distillery before leaving. Whiskey is a gigantic industry in Scotland and this distillery is one of the oldest. Very interesting and a lovely guide. When waiting outside there were gorgeous begonias in the little square in front. Gently showered with glittering droplets…

Naturligtvis måste vi besöka ett destilleri – whiskey är en jätteindustri i Skottland. Just detta destilleri är ganska litet, men ett av de äldsta i landet. Det blev en mycket trevlig och lärorik tur. På torget utanför hade man otroligt stora begonior som just duschats fint av regnet.

…of a totally different kind from those inside the building.

Glittrande sköna droppar – av ett helt annat slag än de vi fick smaka inomhus…