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Archive for July, 2012

A you may be aware, there’s a large sporting event taking place in London at the moment.

This week’s Quotes from the Masters challenge from Robin at Bringing Europe Home is dedicated to the 4 yearly marvel that is the Olympic Games, and her quote is one that I think I could do with applying to myself when I get frustrated by my inordinate sloth and inability to complete projects or learn things as quickly as I think I should. Here it is:

“Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” – Plato

When I read this at first, however, I thought not of myself but of delightful assistant no.1 (aka my mum).

My mum has a bit of bother with her right knee, and ideally she would have it operated on so that she can be without pain and with a straighter leg that doesn’t slow her walking pace down as much. However, due to medical complications she has been advised against this and so instead she hirples along and does the best she can.

When we go out together on little tea-taking adventures, we often try to include a walk for exercise and enjoyment of the outdoors, and she is forever apologising to me for being so slow with her gammy leg. She never complains about my antics, running up and down steps and dashing around, when I know she wishes she could still do these things herself. She’s just grateful that she can still walk, and she pushes herself to go up hills and is determined not to miss out just because she’s slow.

This is a picture I took after dashing up a flight of steps in Culross, Fife (post to follow – it’s a truly glorious place), while she walked more sedately along the street.

Watching this year’s Olympics, I am constantly amazed by the feats of the incredible athletes. Whether it’s swimming, weightlifting, running or any other sport, their dedication to the cause is awe-inspiring and I find the whole thing very uplifting.

In her own small way, to me, my mum is just as inspirational as any Olympian.

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“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.”

Ovid

The above quote forms this week’s Quotes from the Masters challenge from Robin at Bringing Europe Home. Her photos of the sunny Californian coast are spectacular and make me want to go and drive along Highway 1.

Closer to home for me, there is a wonderful place where I like to go to clear the cobwebs. When I’m a bit tense or in need of revitalisation, a visit to Drumderg windfarm soothes me and gets me back on the right track with a clear mind.

I find the turning of these enormous turbines (each one is 107 metres tall) mesmerising and very relaxing. I visited them a few days ago on quite a windy day, and was so taken with them that I sat down in the road and just enjoyed their revolutions. The road is a very quiet one and there was no traffic at all while I was there.

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Yesterday I felt the need of an adventure involving tea, cakes, and a bit of Scottish heritage (I have to do this for my next book, it’s all work, work, work…) so I whisked my delightful assistant off to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of New Lanark, in South Lanarkshire (roughly central southern Scotland).

New Lanark is one of 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland (the only other one I’ve seen is Edinburgh’s old and new towns, so I think I should make the effort to visit the rest). It consists of a small village and series of cotton mills that were built in 1786 by a Scottish businessman called David Dale.  It sits low in a valley of the River Clyde, and was built there because of its situation next to the only waterfalls on the Clyde (water power being needed for running the mills).

The reason it’s now a World Heritage Site is due to the innovation and industry of David Dale’s son-in-law, Robert Owen. Owen was a social reformer ahead of his time, and came into partnership with Dale at New Lanark when he married Dale’s daughter.

This is the first glimpse you get of New Lanark if you park at the upper car park and walk down towards the village:

I don’t know if the bunting had been put up for the Jubilee, the Olympics, some other celebration, or if it’s always there, but in any case there were lots of brightly coloured little flags fluttering in the breeze:

Having travelled for more than 2.5 hours to get here, the cafe was calling our names loud and clear (I admit, we had stopped for refreshments en route, but it felt like a long time beforehand).  The cafe was the sort you find in a large visitor centre, not terribly inspiring but providing much-needed refreshments to weary visitors. Having had previous refreshments (hot chocolate and biscotti for me, coffee and croissant for delightful assistant), we decided to share a sandwich and then have a cake each.

The sandwich selection was very carnivore-orientated, but we found a cream cheese and cucumber option that suited us both. I was absolutely desperate for tea by this time and was delighted to find that the tea was just the way I like it – strong, flavourful and Fairtrade:

My only complaint about the tea was that there was only enough for one cup each in the pot for two. However, that was remedied by ordering another pot, along with a coconut tart, a piece of Mars Bar slice and a small pot of grapes:

The cafe had been almost empty when we arrived:

But was very busy when we left, it being the lunchtime rush, and we were glad to get away from all the noise.  It also meant that the exhibitions were nice and quiet for us while our fellow visitors noshed in the cafe.

The first bit we went to was an audio-visual display and we were taken round in little pods seating two people in each one. The pods were suspended from a track in the ceiling that took us slowly round the exhibition, with the voice of ghost child Annie McLeod telling us her story along the way. At the end of the ride I had my picture taken with Annie McLeod and two faceless ghosts:

At the moment, New Lanark is forming Chapter 2 of my book, and I intend to visit it again and see the bits we didn’t manage to get round (there’s a lot to see – too much for one visit, but thankfully the ticket allows you to revisit and see the things you missed before).

Since I haven’t seen it all yet I can’t be sure of my favourite bit of it, but certainly from my first visit the part I liked best was the roof garden on top of one of the mill buildings:

We spent a long time up in the roof garden, having it to ourselves for a while, and it was a welcome relief from the exhibitions. Unfortunately, I had quite a headache all day, and being up there at the treetops with the breeze and the sunshine coming out a little now and then, was blissful.

One of the features of New Lanark, at least that we found, was that it had a claustrophobic feel, due to its situation down in the valley. There is no doubt that it’s a fascinating and amazing place, and I’m looking forward to visiting again, but it was nice to get out of it after spending 3 hours there.

When we left the village and were walking back up to the car park, we saw a grassy path leading off entincingly above the valley, and felt an overwhelming urge to investigate:

It was beautiful, with very fresh air, an earthy smell and lots of wild foxgloves:

Looking down on New Lanark, I felt free up there amongst the trees:

Next time perhaps we’ll visit in a different season and see what else is growing along the enticing path.

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One of life’s little pleasures, and something I find very rewarding, is finding hidden gems in my own neck of the woods.

I used to enjoy voyages of discovery of this sort when I lived in Edinburgh, wandering through the streets and taking turnings that I hadn’t taken before, just to see what lay beyond my usual route. I was often delighted by surprising details – a nice architectural feature here, a beautiful garden there.

This afternoon, since we were both in need of a bit of fresh air and exercise, I whisked my delightful assistant off towards Kirriemuir and took a turn off the road that I had seen many times before but never investigated.

The road was marked ‘Silvie’, although I didn’t see any further signs of anywhere with that name. It was a very pleasant discovery; here are a few photos of what we saw:

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tearoomdelights:

I’m joining in this little challenge, because even when I don’t feel like it, I know I have a lot to be grateful for.

Originally posted on Cauldrons and Cupcakes:

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” ~Meister Eckhart

Welcome to Day 1 of our 30 Day Gratitude Program.  If you’re only just catching up with us today go here first to find out what you need to do to get ready.

Gratitude is a powerful tool in any Lightworker’s kit.  In fact, it forms an essential part of my Daily Habits. When we say thank you to the Universe, in effect we are placing an order where we are saying more please of all this good stuff, or other things equally as wonderful, or even better!

Today we’re going to initiate our gratitude habit using three primary tools – our hands, a journal and a gratitude rock. Then for the next 30 days we are going to continue this practice. Of course, I shall be spicing it up with extra…

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Having published my first tearoom guidebook a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been feeling a bit lost.

It was great to get the book published after writing it, but there was a feeling of deflation once it had rolled off the presses. I’ve spent the past two weeks distributing and selling it (which I don’t find easy, or particularly pleasant) and now I want to get back to writing again.

I fully intend to continue my series of Tearoom Delights, but after spending 6 months on the first one, I feel I’d like to do something a bit different before the next one.

I’d been puzzling over this, wondering what to write next, when I had the idea of writing a travel book.

The book, as it’s shaping up so far (I’ve only written the introduction and the first chapter) is a bit about tearooms and a bit about other things that interest me on my little outings hither and thither. It’s rather like this blog I suppose, but without the supporting photographs, so I’ll be relying on descriptive text more than I do with my blog.

I’m a big fan of armchair travelling, letting someone else go and see places and report back through the pages of a book, although admittedly such books are usually full of thrills and spills, hardship and endurance, and a dearth of reliable cups of tea.

The sort of travel book I’m writing is slightly different from that, considerably less alarming and eventful, and quite possibly more dull.

Is there a market for this sort of book? I have no idea, but then I had no idea if there was much of a market for a guidebook to tearooms and I wrote it anyway. Sometimes, when something grabs you, you feel compelled to run with it, whether or not it looks like a good idea to anyone else. This has, admittedly, been my downfall on many occasions, but my thinking is that if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

Chapter 1 is all about Aberdour, a village in the Kingdom of Fife that boasts many interesting attractions, including one of the oldest castles in Scotland, one of the oldest churches in Scotland, and a prize-winning railway station. Here are a few pictures to give a taste of the place.

St Fillan’s Church, dating back to 1123:

Inside the church:

The lovely lane leading to the church from the street:

An exquisite bit of stone carving on one of the many interesting headstones in St Fillan’s graveyard:

An impessive beehive-shaped dovecot in the garden of Aberdour Castle:

What’s left of Aberdour Castle, the oldest parts dating back to the 12th Century. The big chunk in the foreground fell off at some point:

The most complete part of the castle:

One of the beautifully kept platforms at Aberdour railway station:

A street leading down to the beach:

Stormy clouds over the Black Sands of Aberdour (the more well-known Silver Sands are just around the coast from here):

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“Nature, like a kind and smiling mother, lends herself to our dreams and cherishes our fancies.”

Victor Hugo

The above quote comes as Robin’s most recent challenge on Bringing Europe Home (thank you Robin!).

I really like this quote and it could apply to so many of my photographs of nature, particularly those that remind me of a strong connection with my environment.

I’ve chosen to interpret it with a photograph taken 2 years ago while I was camping in Galloway, south-west Scotland. Galloway is an area I spent many childhood holidays in, camping and having adventures, and it has furnished me with many happy memories.

I was working in Dubai in 2010, 5 weeks away at a time, with 5 week break periods between each work stint, and this was taken during one of my breaks.

Having become soft and desirous of home comforts in my adulthood, I don’t go camping much nowadays, but I had a real desire to get away on my own in an tent on this occasion and I remember lying there looking out at the view with the warm breeze gently flapping at the tent, the smell of freshly cut grass, and the wonderful peace and tranquility of the setting. I did, indeed, feel that nature was lending herself to my dreams and cherishing my fancies.

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