after the winter...

…that never really was

(it was just a long. long, wet, windy, frequently stormy and at least once hurricaned, autumn.

Then in late March came a balmy spring, which sent us scampering from our Glasgow hangout to the beach at Ayr

Ayr, March 28th 2012

This was the hottest March day in recoded Scottish meteo-history. Some rare sights for Ayrshire in spring:

Ayr, March 28th 2012

But within a week winter finally arrived. Snow fell overnight across Scotland on April 2nd, though here in the Great Glen we got off very light. Just a couple of inches in our garden and a picturesque powdering of the hilltops. By the end of Wednesday the 4th, we had a beautiful and summery gloaming light on the loch, below the snow-capped peaks:

Glenalbyn Gloaming 4/4/12



first serious fall of the winter, and first to reach the low altitude we live at


Widget says it’s here to stay a while

snow widget

a week after the storms

and the evenings are getting better

This is more like it.

More like we expect, and feel entitled to expect, in a late West Highland spring. Nice wee bit o’ gloaming - a.k.a. l’heure bleue

from afternoon darkness, to brightness at midnight

some spring, this is

This was yesterday, about twenty past two in the afternoon, in Glencoe. Waterfalls blown upwards, or dashed aside on the rocks, beneath a dark, wintery sky, and with winds close to hurricane force

Glencoe - darkness shortly after noon

Then tonight, about ten days overdue, our first bright midnight sky of 2011

Fort William's First Bright Midnight of 2011

Note the Pole Star shining.
More rain forecast for tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

could this be the last time

the last time we’ll look out the window and see

the world’s last ocean-going paddle steamer, the PS Waverley docking at the Fort William town pier?

Could be, because she’s under threat. The company of enthusiasts (Paddle Steamer Preservation Society) who bought the ship from Calmac for £1.00 in 1976 are having serious difficulty keeping her going with current fuel prices.

So this may be the last shot we’ll get of her reversing away from the pier, beginning her characteristic reverse U-turn across Loch Linnhe, before heading off down the loch to Oban and beyond. Let’s hope not….

You can see more about the PS Waverley, and maybe contribute to help her survive another year, here, and on her Facebook page here

back to the beach at sunset

it’s the eve of our 10th Wedding Anniversary

and here we are back at our old honeymoon haunts - and chasing again the sunset down to the beach at Traigh, by Arisaig. This time, though, there’s snow on the beach, right down to the high tide mark

Midwinter Sunset at Traigh 2010

back by the Clyde

for another stroll in the blue hour (aka roaming in the gloaming)

The Squinty Bridge and Lancefield Quay flats

just another winter sunset

in Fort William. Just one hour ago.

Sunset on Loch Linnhe at Fort William<br />Loses a bit in the jpeg compression, but still - hopefully gives some idea why we choose to be here...<br /><br />Loses a bit in the jpeg compression, but still - hopefully gives some idea why we choose to be here...<br /><br />Fort William : Sunset on Loch Linnhe

Loses a bit in the jpeg compression, but still - hopefully gives some idea why we choose to be here...

after the fireworks

it’s midnight in Glasgow

Another shot from our emerging “lookin’ oot ra windae” sequence


a short walk by the river

Really short. Just about 100 feet.

Nighttime in Glasgow


we're lookin' oot ra windae

across the river Clyde....

Glasgow sunset

More to follow, soon. Honest.

comment is free, again

you’ll notice that after a gap of a few months, now has comments available again on the Blog pages

Comments are now working via Disqus, and you’ll be invited to sign up to Disqus when you post a comment on the Blog. You don’t need to sign up, though, just click the “Guest” button and your comment will get through.

Want something to comment on? Try this...

...and this...

Loch Lochy, as seen by Jim’s Leica M8, March 2010. B&W conversion and tweaks in Lightroom 2.


www3? that's Winter Wonderland Week 3

And here were we, out by the bottom of the Glencoe ski run, by the Black Rock Cottage and looking towards the frozen slopes of the Buachaille Etive Mor (great herdsman of Etive)

One of the defining images of the Scottish highlands. Jim took this shot today with his Epson R-D1 and CV 25mm f4 lens.

Ruth was driving, but slowly and gently enough to allow a fairly sharp foreground

Forecast says we may have another two weeks of this wonderland still ahead of us. Can't be bad! There was a little rain today, though, for the first time in weeks, and the temperature leapt to a basking -1ºC in Fort William just as darkness fell. So could be the thaw is at hand, or not....



Picture taken 00.09, 01/01/10, as Fort William welcomes in the New Year

Still to come: pictures from 2009 in Scotland, Italy, Yorkshire and South Africa....


return to the stacks

so that meant no alternative. Next day was back to Duncansby Head...

this time to get across to take a look at the Duncansby Stacks. Wonderful, extraordinary stone pyramids carved by the sea from the sandstone cliffs at this point at the NE tip of mainland Scotland, mainland U.K.

Interesting enough as geomorphs...

Duncansby Stacks

...they also "harbour" some interesting wildlife, such as the seals' taxi-rank you'll see in this shot

Sealpark below Duncansby Stacks


the great puffin hunt...

...takes us back to the Far North

This time we stay a week in Thurso, and take a couple of trips out to Duncansby Head. Famed from the shipping forecasts, this is the far north east corner of the Scottish (and thus the British) mainland. The coastline is characterised by its cliffs, and by the stacks which the sea has carved from the sandstone. The deep inlets in the cliffs are home to massive numbers of sea birds, as are the stacks.
And the "stars" hereabouts are the puffins.
Conversation between passing strangers along the cliff-top paths concerns not the geological spleandour of the stacks - nor the diversity of the ornothology thereabouts. Instead it consists largely of variants on the Q&A: "have you seen any puffins?" and "there's puffins over there, and there, and there; or there were yesterday/ last week/ whenever..."

Here's one:


We'll post more - and more diversity - in the next few days. Check back...


voyage to the northern perimeter

between Saturday the 9th and Thursday the 14th of May

we took a trip up round the very north of Scotland - you'll see our route in Multimap form here - with overnight stops in Dornoch, Thurso, Tongue and Lochinver, and passing through - inter alia - Wick, John O'Groats, Assynt and Ullapool.

On the way out we stopped at Inverness Airport to pick up Peter Wareham who wanted to come along for the ride.

First night we stayed in Dornoch. Most famed in recent times for hosting Madonna's wedding the day before we got married in Morar (we owe her one for distracting the paparazzi from our nuptials). But as well as its cathedral Dornoch has a rather fantastic beach where we watched terns and diving gannetts

in the long-evening light.

We'll post a full gallery of pics as soon as other things allow - it's off to Yorkshire next weekend, and Ruth's computer screen's gone blank - but for now, here's a shot of John O'Groats (not nearly as crass and commercialised as people tell you)

and one of Thurso beach - which according to the Rough Guide doesn't exist!! - but which does, and to prove it hosts surfing championships (BRRR!!!)

Thurso, though, is a nice wee working town, and rightfully qualifies as Scotland's "Best Kept Secret".

One of the great surprises was Tongue - a genuinely pretty little village in Sutherland, and one with a dramatic setting, beneath Ben Loyal. Here is the view of the Ben from the village at sunset:

Come back soon for more pics from the far north!!