The Real Scotland!

This is my vision of the true Scotland, the misty mountain, moor and glen of the Highlands. These were taken from the summit of the Ben Nevis range near Fort William, loved by hikers, mountain bikers and skiers, to the beautiful glens of Glencoe known for the infamous story where the Campbells invited the MacDonald clan for supper and then murdered them all as they were sleeping. So life imitated art -reminiscent of the play about MacBeth’s ambitious treachery written in the 1600s!!

There is still a pub somewhere in the vicinity whose sign reads “Campbell’s are not welcome” over 350 years later!

At the moment the Scottish referendum is a resounding YES amongst highlanders and we shall soon see the historic outcome and ramifications. I am wishing the best for them on all fronts.

I also visited the beautiful island of Arran on the Firth of Clyde where Robert the Bruce is said to have encountered the spider (Try, try and try again) while hiding in one of the sea caves. It inspired him onward in his fight. Also the beautiful Macrie Moor with the standing stones and Fingal’s cauldron is there.

Castles and churches will follow in another post!  Travelling can be tiring and am not always able to get on line! I hope you enjoy my Scotland!

This will be my contribution to Leanne’s Monochrome Madness

The Chapel at Rosslyn, of Holy Grail and Knights’ Templar fame, outside of Edinburgh

Rosslyn Chapel

Scotland’s got light!! and much more!

I am at my B&B in a state of exalted exhaustion and a chance to catch up a little with emails and  posts as I can – and a post of my own.  My notebook is painstakingly slow so this will be it for awhile!!

One thing that strikes you in Scotland is the wonderful light!! I saw it the very first time I visited. It truly is a photographer’s dream and I’ve been taking lots of pictures. Even when the sky is stormy there is a radiance going on and a light show amidst the clouds. Here and there beacons of light are flung out from the tumultuous gallop.

Scotland’s stories are many and brave; from the stone of destiny and the throne of Scone* mentioned in Shakespeare’s Macbeth “when we are crowned at Scone,” to the poignant loyalty of a little dog; Greyfriar’s Bobby.  There is the tragic battle and defeat at Culloden where the Highlanders, supported by Ireland and France, were outnumbered and out-weaponed  by the English troops during the last Jacobite rebellion. After, there followed a brutal repression and the devastating land clearances of the highlands.

The stories and courage of the Black Watch Regiment of the 19th and 20th century are also legendary

The referendum and vote of yes or no to an independent Scotland will be later this month. I’ll be in Ireland then but will be following that with interest.


A few Scottish landscape impressions and I’m off to the fairy glen on the Black Isle tomorrow.

*(Scone is pronounced Scune and not to be confused with scones!)


And here is my contribution to Leanne Cole and Laura Macky’s Monochrome Madness this week

memento mori

memento mori

from Greyfrars Kirk in Edinburgh

Bon Voyage and Happy Labour Day Weekend to all

And we’re off – first stop Scotland



The land of golf, haggis, and men in kilts

some of my favourite Scots


 and the late, great Robin Williams on Golf

(some profanity of course)





Our favourite road sign in Dublin















and some lovely Irishmen

and our favourite bus driver Stephen

and our favourite bus driver Stephen

Tales of the Tuatha ( a little background) – and Monochrome Madness


After posting the latest chapters of the Tales yesterday,  I was thinking that perhaps by now some of you may have guessed that my story of the lovely maiden of the mound is a take on the Gaelic  legend of Oisin told from an entirely different perspective and with a few changes.  Click on the Oisin & Niamh stamp final lo res_edited-1stamp (by J.P. Lynch) to a very truncated version of the original tale.

Thank you for your support in  the following and reading of my tales and for the very touching and positive responses!!

Niamh’s adventures are a travel through dreams and through time which seem to have taken on a life of their own from a head full of  floating images,words and magical things, along with the daily distractions of being a visitor in a strange land ( this planet). These thoughts eventually connect to my fingers which can then never keep up on the keyboard but which I always hope “unjumble” it all. The tale will have a conclusion I promise.


the beginning of the journey


And Now  On To

Monochrome Madness

MM 26 with Leanne Cole and Laura Macky

I blew it this week as I wasn’t paying attention!!  It was supposed to be monochrome colour!!  nevertheless it is included:

For the latest MM I am presenting an image of a piece of sculpture my father did many years ago.  Both my parents are gone, my mother the more recent.  My father had been given the name of an Italian poet and was an artist and sculptor in his spare time and truly, a man of many talents. When I was quite young I remember him asking my mother to drop whatever she was doing and sit as he lovingly ran his hands over the beautiful contours of her face which were then born again out of the moist clay. Though the sculptures were of varied subjects my sister and I always chuckled because so many had a stamp of mom on them. So, she was definitely his celtic muse. I inherited this bust and it stands in my living room where the morning sun blesses it.  It’s quite a classic piece so I used a layered texture to give it an older look.

Silvio's muse -my father's heart

Silvio’s Muse


monochrome colour!!

Tales of the Tuatha (chapters 29 & 30) of the keep it sweet and short tales

 Dear readers, writers, photographers, philosophers, poets  and friends!  Only a few days left!!  I’m starting to lose it ( as I always do before a big trip) I’ll try to check in when I can!!  In the meantime I managed to finish two more chapters of  my sweet Niamh’s journey.

 The Danger of Dreams

dream of the sacred spring

The dream


Niamh’s eyes were riveted on the rider galloping along the path. Suddenly up ahead on the opposite side she spotted the Morrigan who stepped out from behind the trees. Niamh sensed a great danger. She wanted to cry out a warning but it was too late.  The Morrigan was holding the dream in her hand.  She flung it upward into the air and over the road in a great arc.  It hovered against the sun for a few moments  and shattered into rainbow shards. Each one rang out in a different tone but Niamh could not utter the corresponding words. Time had slowed down.  Her tongue clove to the roof of her mouth and her voice failed her. As the pieces converged into a whole again and fell to the ground she knew that the rider had seen it too. A look of joyful recognition transfigured his face as he drew his horse up and dismounted.

A kelpie

The Women of Ireland

The Onerous Gift

The dream slowly rolled to a stop at her feet and she bent down with great effort to pick it up. She thought her body was becoming a tree trunk and her legs and feet were taking root in the earth. When she looked up, the traveler had undergone a shocking transformation. The long black curls that had flowed like a river on the wind were now silver. His back was bent and his hands trembled.  He took a step  and stumbled against his steed.

The sun fled. A dark roiling sky was sweeping like a tide through the morning.  It was then she noticed another man who stood on the hill watching the road. He carried a staff and his cloak swelled like a sail. He had the look of a knower of trees. Niamh  knew something powerful had happened and was overcome with emotion.   She felt herself falling backward into the bracken. There was a droning murmur in her ears as time adjusted itself,  but she was already somewhere between waking and dreaming. “What is this strange torpor?” she thought, and then she heard the Morrigan’s voice on the tempest just before her eyes closed, “Rest my child.  The gift of sight is never easy.  It is as heavy as an ocean of your tears, and as deep.”

following the stream

Following the stream


Background:  A druid sorcerer was sometimes called a knower of trees because of their association with groves and especially the oak.

The music is by the Chieftains.

 To my friend Susan, for her encouragement and  because she is someone who knows that it’s always late summer and late afternoon in Fairyland

The Ghostly Gardens of Hatley Castle

Hatley Park Castle was designed in 1907  by the well known architect  Sam MacLure for James Dunsmuir, son of the famous coal baron of Vancouver Island, Robert Dunsmuir.  The last Dunsmuir  grandchild, Dola, lived there for many years. She died under rather sad circumstances in 1966.

I never tire of the place and it’s a perfect photographic subject. Bring a lunch but hang onto it tightly. Woodland spirits like racoons and those more ephemeral, are about. Sometimes you may catch glimpses of other worlds as you wander the many, meandering paths.  You can take a nap in the little grove by the stream but you must wake up shortly before the sun goes down and when the light is folding like a shutter.  If the season is right,  carry a dandelion puff and look through that. Try not to sneeze. You don’t want to scare away the ghosts.

sleeping sun by Nightwish

haunted garden

Haunted Garden

 “Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind

Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,

Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,

Above, beneath, betwixt, between.- Neil Gaimon

I do believe the lady in the garden is Dola Dunsmuir in happier times.

More Hatley Park:


Background music:  Nightwish is a folk rock group from Finland. Many of their ballads have a dark or mythological theme.

Another chapter of Monochrome Madness and a Mayan Journey

Though busy, no way I’ll miss  Leanne Cole and Laura Macky‘s  weekly Monochrome Madness See all the wonderful submissions on Leanne’s site.(Tues, Aug 19)

I  revisited my journey through the Yucatan in 2012 for my choice (though it’s a spooky one).

tomb of ek balam (star jaguar)

the tomb of Ek’ Balam ( star jaguar)

I have an interest in the civilizations of the pre columbian New World, and especially the Mayan, which I have written about in an earlier post and in my travel journal (In the Jaws of Kukulkan). Their art and architecture were astonishing, along with their mathematics and calendar. They were governed by kings and powerful astronomer/priests ( like in the Vatican observatory!) who interpreted cosmic events and seasons into sacred ritual.

Both terrifying and beautiful, their mythology begins in deep caves,  the underworld known as Xibalba (place of fear) where the dark gods live. There, the tree of life takes root and eventually reaches the heavens.  In some accounts Xibalba is also said to be found in the dark rift of the milky way. The tree of life is a journey of souls. Their mysterious culture of which we know only a little, and their mythology captured my imagination.

In the jaws of Kukulkan

In the jaws of Kukulkan

They had written codices –  which sadly were burned and destroyed by the Spanish monks. Mayans did embrace Christianity, partly because they could relate to a god who was willing to die in a blood sacrifice.

A small piece of their poetic writing did survive as a sacred text called the Popol Vu and their glyphs have only recently been deciphered. In spite of the desperate darkness of the bloody sacrifices that marked the post classic period I found and  find their story very compelling.

I didn’t have a great camera at that time but I think I was able to capture some of  the magnificence and mystery anyway. Besides the well known Chichen Itza and Tulum, the ruins of their many cities are hidden in jungles all through the Yucutan and Guatemala. I traveled on the old Mayan road called the sac be and on the ruta puuc. The god Chac filled the skies with ominous clouds, jungle rain and finally appeased, allowed hot sun to pour down.

I think monochrome is very effective for these. I hope you think so too.

PS: For all who wonder, I did climb the pyramid- damn near killed me! and in Mayan my name is “Monkey Cloud” along with all their wonderful names of Star Jaguar, Smoke Mirror and 19 Rabbit!!  The god Kukulkan, was the feathered serpent.