(Him, I meant. Clearly I am.)
(Him, I meant. Clearly I am.)
I took a photographic trip to the old Castle Lachlan today to take some images for use in their publicity materials. It was a fairly decent day for photos, could although I made the rookie error of only taking one camera battery, which ran out. I will have to go back, which is no hardship.
Here are a few of the pics;
Written from word-sketches done during a recent poetry workshop I led out at Castle Lachlan.
September, Castle Lachlan
The surface of the water holds a muted print
Inked by all these early autumn colours
Leached from trees, from sky
Until a fish leaps
Rips a dripping hole in this perfect picture
Then plops back on a belly laugh
Something buzzes by
Lacquered like a Chinese cabinet
The air still warm enough for the burn of tiny insect engine
Converting speed to sound in this
The last gasp of a summer almost
Meanwhile in the ragged edge of the old wood
Small things claw and clatter by
Moving in sudden squirts to trick the hungry eye
Clinging leaves filter and flick at the low sunlight
They have not quite
The ragged old castle leans on its ivy Zimmer
Watching it all go by through watered eyes
Wondering where it all went
Leaking dark memories through those broken curtain walls
The canons roars
Autumn is close. You can feel it in the evening as the cold tickles the hairs in your nose. Or perhaps it is the wood smoke. The fact of sunny days just makes the end of the summer that much more poignant.
Something is coming to an end. But it was glorious.
Nothing lives for ever but perhaps every change of season leaves behind a record of its passing, left like a tree ring on our souls; a record of our living- some good years, others lean and hard.
Life is beautiful both in the coming in, and the going out…
I finished my contract working in Inverness, and am back home catching up on all sorts of jobs. I have just been reviewed some photos I took up there. I went out to Chanonry point to sneek a peek at the dolphins that the Scottish Tourist Board pay to entertain tourists…
Of course, I was NOT a tourist. I stood back from the mob, aloof, alone and superior. Or at least that is how I like to see it. A dog was laughing at me though which was rather unsettling.
The performing dolphins did not disappoint. Shrieks of excitement in twenty different accents competed with the sound of the sea and the cry of seagulls.
I suspect one of them was mine.
We are just back from a trip out to the MacCormaig Islands with a group of friends along with their kids. The idea for the trip arose from discussions about taking young people out to experience wild places, away from electricity, screens, amenities.
The island we chose was one that offered some protection from the elements (and as it happens, the midges) as it had a well maintained bothy. It is also a little less wild than some- having generally less severe terrain. It is not without interest though- having an ancient chapel, a hermits cave and a beautiful cove ideal for swimming. We were accompanied by a pair of otters, seals and countless sea birds.
It worked. All out kids, ranging in age from 6 to 14 seemed captivated by the place, despite the challenges of weather, wet boots and of course the midges.
I will reflect on this some more in the future, but for now, here are some photos;
We are buying a new car at the moment- my current work pattern involves driving a lot of hard miles, and our current car is managing poor fuel economy, high emissions and the car itself is getting rather tired. The next car will do almost double the miles per gallon and be much ‘greener’.
Although these things are all relative.
How much longer will we be so dependent on burning oil?
How long before all these rusting engineering statements of desire and ascendancy be condemned to the scrapheap?
How long before the giant rigs will be just flotsam, bobbing in a slick of their own making?
Two generations perhaps? Three?
I hope that we learn our lessons- let the grand correction commence…
I love old church buildings, so what else would I do to fill my solitary evenings but to go and find one? I took a drive out over the Black Isle to Cromarty, a lovely old town overshadowed slightly by looming oil rigs being repaired out in the firth. There I discovered Cromarty East Church.
The East Church, the former Parish Church of Cromarty is a remarkable building of national importance, not only for its architecture but also for its representation of ecclesiastical and social change. The physical additions, alterations and remodellings carried out at the church bear witness to speciﬁc periods in the history of Cromarty and of Scotland with times of prosperity, rises in population, the inﬂuence of individuals and changes in liturgical practice.
It is principally the events of the 18th century that have given the East Church the outward appearance we see today. The survival of the interior in such an unaltered fashion has led to the East Church’s reputation as ‘unquestionably one of the finest 18th century parish churches in Scotland, the epitome of the development of Presbyterian worship during that century. There is something satisfying about its long, low form with its simple clear-glazed windows and its intimate interior, bringing preacher and congregation together in a very direct way.’ [John Hume, former Principal Inspector of Historic Buildings for Historic Scotland, describing the East Church in 1999.]
The origins of the church, however, are more ancient and complex than might at ﬁrst be apparent and recent excavations have confirmed that it stands on the site of the medieval parish church. A large number of burials were uncovered beneath the floor of the church, together with a 15th century grave slab which had been re-used as a step or kerb within the pre-Reformation church to demarcate the approach to the altar. The post-Reformation church was significantly enlarged in 1739 when Alexander Mitchell and Donald Robson, masons, and David Sandieson and John Keith, wrights, added a north aisle to create a T-plan church. Further alterations followed in 1756 and 1798-9, the latter being carried out by Andrew Hossack who added porches to each of the three gable ends and the birdcage bellcote on the east gable.
The interior dates principally from the 18th century, with galleries or lofts added to the north (Poors Loft), west and east (Laird’s Loft) to accommodate the growing congregation. The most elaborate of these is the Laird’s Loft dating from1756 with its paired Ionic columns and Doric frieze. The loft also contains a ﬁne funeral hatchment on the ceiling, painted with the arms of George Ross of Pitkerrie and Cromarty.
Also of note are a series of wooden panels, re-used and incorporated into a number of pews, most notably at the front of the north loft with a sunburst motif and Mackenzie coat of arms.
It is not a Church any more- it is redundant, but better preserved than many that are still in use as it has been restored by the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust. It stands as a museum to religious observance.
The early rituals of the mass, mixed in with the colour and patronage of the rich, which was then replaced by a focus on the pulpit. More pews and galleries were added in to accommodate the sinners now saved, before the numbers dwindled away again.
Along the way the walls took on monuments to men who died in distant colonial wars- Afghanistan, or at sea fighting the French. Their stone tablets sit at ease with those commemorating faithful long serving ministers of religion.
Faith is not contained by buildings, but they come to be like fossils of what once was. Beautiful fossils they are but new life takes on new shapes…
Why did they die
-these northern lads
On Culloden field?
Sets of bones
Embrace in a peat blanket
Mingled by moles
Stained brown by
Some say they died for noble things;
That they charged into bloody mist
To rid this hallowed soil
Of the English
I say they died like all poor soldiers do;
To make rich men richer
They died at the string
Of some puppet king
Their blood was paid for power
Perhaps like ours,
Their culture held in high esteem
The glory of a killing
They like we thrilled to see
The gushing blood of the other
There will be more massed graves before we are through
More mixed clans to fill them