Beijing to Xi’an and the Terracotta Army

December 8, 2017

To get to the ancient imperial capital of Xi’an we chose to travel on the incredibly fast bullet train.  It was very slick and efficient and the six hour journey was comfortable.  I had been looking forward to viewing the Chinese countryside but a combination of grey misty weather and the speed of travel reduced that possibility.  Our fellow passengers were intriguing to watch and we did see a number of huge cities as the train slowed through their suburbs.

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Fast train to Xi’an

The strange weather continued for the short time we spent in Xi’an.  It was not too cold but the tops of the huge skyscrapers disappeared in the mist.  I think this was a meteorological condition rather than the pollution we had expected.  My throat and lungs never felt irritated.

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Throughout our stay in China it was obvious that it was compulsory for the guides to take us to large ‘official tourist’ shops.  In Xi’an this resulted in the odd experience of having to traipse through a vast emporium selling replica Terracotta Warriors in all sizes before we had visited the real thing.

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The American tourist’s hat gives the game away that these are not the real thing.

Difficult to pack but would have made a ‘talking point’ garden ornament.  The shop also sold lacquered furniture, silk carpets, calligraphy banners and paintings.  Some of the goods were very beautiful but we did not come to China to shop.  At last we arrived at the site of the Terracotta Army, those iconic and mysterious soldiers who have been guarding the tomb of Qin Shi Huang for nearly 2,500 years.

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The elderly gentleman in the middle above is Yang Zhifa who first came across the multitude of statues in 1974 when he was digging a well on his family farm.  Now retired on a government pension he drops into the Museum shop for photo ops with visitors.

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The Terracotta Warriors

They are such an awesome sight in real life – all lined up in this enormous building which has been built over and around them.  You can’t make out either the visitors or the soldiers at the far end as they are so far away.

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The statues were arranged in great columns, four abreast in deep pits separated by thick, rammed earth walls.  Then ‘roofs’ of logs were laid across on top.  In the picture above you can see the regular indents on the tops of the walls where these were fitted.

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Horses in amongst the warriors.

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The army was set up in battle formation with a vanguard at the front.  All the men are facing the same way except for a line down both flanks where they look outwards.

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The old photograph above was on display in the adjoining museum and shows some of the very early excavation work.  The photograph below is of an area where the 3D jigsaws of shattered statues are being meticulously reassembled.

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A continuing work in progress.

There is a much smaller pit with about 70 statues and it is now thought that this is the ‘command centre’ for the army.

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Charioteers, the one on the left would be holding reins.

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There is still a huge amount of work to be done as can be seen above, in some of the trenches the soldiers are no longer intact or indeed standing upright.  But why are these amazing sculptures here?

It is all down to Qin Shi Huang who has been designated the first Emperor of China.  Qin lived from 259 BC – 210 BC and has left a very mixed legacy.  Setting aside the incredible ‘army’, he had a profound influence on the newly formed ‘country’ of China, causing huge cultural and and intellectual growth and also much destruction.

From my guide book – “In order to consolidate the nascent empire, Qin Shi Huang reformed politics, economy and culture.  In politics, he abolished the hereditary vassal enfeoffment  system and established prefectures and counties, ruled directly by the emperor.  Based on the original rules of the Qin State, the emperor adopted some regulations of other rival states to form a workable law of the Qin Dynasty.  In economy, he claimed that both the agriculture and commerce were very important.  Besides, tax systems began to function and coinage and metrology were all standardised.  In culture, the emperor unified the Chinese characters in writing, which promoted the development of culture.  However, he also surpassed scholars who were not to his liking.”

Another very notable, and very visible ‘artefact’ Qin left was that his early defensive wall building in the north of the country turned out to be the start of the Great Wall of China.

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Kneeling archer

Particularly good examples of individual warriors are displayed in the museum.  Amazingly each of the statues is different.  The bodies and arms are all made from a small set of moulds but each head and the adornment details were added by sculptors.  The detail is amazing – the hairstyles, complete with braiding, the moustaches, and buckles and bows on higher ranks.

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Kneeling archer from behind – note the tread pattern on the sole of his shoe.

The next example is a high ranking officer, one of 7 ‘generals’ found – defined by his double layered robe decorated with many bows, his ornate headgear tied with a bow under his chin and shoes with turned up toes.

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General

Near to the main pit was found a series of beautiful bronze carriages and horses.  These are half size models of the deluxe sedans used by Emperor Qin when he made inspection tours.  It took decades of painstaking work to re-assemble the shattered remains.

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In his later years Qin became paranoid and feared death.  His doctors and scholars were frantically helping him in his search for the elixir of immortality when, ironically, he died as the result of imbibing mercury in one of their experiments.  At the same time Qin  had been building his immense mausoleum almost since he took control (some think it is ‘city size’).  The site of the mausoleum is known but there is continuing debate as to how this should be explored / opened.  Test probes have revealed that there are abnormally high levels of mercury, possibly as much as 100 times the normal.

The awesome Terracotta Army I had the privilege to view, and, I hope to have described to you, were put in place over 2,000 years ago to guard Emperor Qin from the evil spirits in the afterlife.  He didn’t achieve immortality in the recognised human understanding of that word but he did leave an amazing legacy in historical terms.

 

 

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Tiananmen Square to the Great Wall

November 21, 2017

At each of the important sites we visited in China we had a local guide.  They were quite different personalities, all spoke excellent English, were knowledgeable and caring, and firmly stuck to the ‘party line’.  This was quite noticeable in our ‘compulsory’ rickshaw ride and visit to the Hutongs in Beijing.

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No one but gullible western tourists would ever ride in a rickshaw in the shiny, polluted mega metropolis that is modern Beijing.  The estimated population is about 22 million but both Shanghai and Chongqing have even more people.

The enjoyable bit about this mode of transport was going down the narrow little alleyways of the Hutong area and catching a glimpse of even narrower passages to the side.

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The name Hutong is thought to come from an ancient Mongol term for a passageway and in modern Beijing, as most have been bulldozed to make way for apartment blocks and shopping malls, they are desirable areas to live in for aspirational yuppies.  Where we visited there was a brand new Chinese flag (still with the folds visible) flying beside every doorway – possibly for the imminent, and hugely important, 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

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I would have loved to see behind these austere grey walls, but our ‘Gok Wan look alike’ guide hustled us on to our compulsory ‘home visit’.  This turned out to be a demonstration of painting inside snuff bottles in a very strange ‘house’.  The work of the woman artist was very, very beautiful but the setting was no more a normal house than the high tech, luxury hotel we were staying in.  I didn’t take any photographs because I always feel very uncomfortable in situations like this – intrusive and voyeuristic, although it was an opportunity for the painter  to sell her work.

Equally intriguing was the time we spent on our own visiting Tiananmen Square.

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The vastness of Tiananmen Square

Colin was very keen to get here as he last visited it nearly twenty years ago when in Beijing on business.  ‘Gok’ wasn’t very happy and tried to put us off with predictions of the hours long queue to get through security but we went on our own anyway.  Security was particularly strict as it was only a few days before the big Party Congress.  We thought we were going to be thwarted as we realised that, as well as bags being scanned and pat downs, everyone’s ID was being checked and we didn’t have our passports on us.  Eventually, after a lot of smiling,  our UK photo Driving Licences were accepted as suitable ID.  The wait was only about 15 minutes and provided an up close people watching opportunity.  It is definitely not true that all Chinese look alike.

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Monument to the People’s Heroes

This huge granite monument, with carvings of key patriotic and revolutionary events, is plonked right in the middle of the square but is quite dwarfed by the vast empty space all around.  Everything was so big I find it difficult to estimate how many other people were there – 99% of them Chinese tourists.

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Tiananmen Square

If you are going to have a vase of flowers why not have a big one – no idea what this was about.

The gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen) was once the main entrance to the Forbidden City but is now known world wide as the place where the iconic enormous portrait of Mao Zedong hangs. If you are as old as me you will know him as Mao Tse-Tung.

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From this angle you can’t see the six lane highway, lined with barriers, between the people and the Tiananmen Gate.  For me the next photograph sums up my confused picture of China and her people today ….

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… a vast open space, controlling barriers, ancient 15th century building, portrait of a still revered despot and a young man riding the equivalent of a ‘Boris’ bike whilst taking a ‘selfie’.

The last day of our time in Beijing was spent visiting the Great Wall of China – just as awesome but in a different way.  My reaction was as so often previously when I have had the privilege to visit very famous places  (eg Moai Statues on Easter Island) – no amount of prior knowledge, photos and articles studied, documentaries watched, etc could prepare me for the ‘standing on the spot’ experience.

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The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu, near Beijing

The section we visited was at Mutianyu, a 3.5 mile long restored section which is about 90 minutes drive from central Beijing.  There is a very slick system of organising the huge numbers of tourists who visit here every day of the year – multi storey car park, pleasant walk through area of new tourist restaurants and souvenir  shops, managed queuing for the shuttle bus, efficient ticketing and then an exhilarating 6 minute chair lift to get up onto the ridge where the wall is built.  My heart sank when I saw the scale of the infrastructure but up on the Wall it never felt crowded.

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From my guide book : “The Wall wasn’t built in one go.  Rather, there are four distinct Walls.  Work on the ‘original’ began during the Qin dynasty (221-207 BC), when hundreds of thousands of workers laboured for ten years to construct it.  Work continued during the Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 220) but it took the impending threat of Genghis Khan to spur further construction in the Jin dynasty (1115-1234).  The Wall’s final incarnation, the one we see today, came during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), when it was re-inforced  with stone, brick and battlements over a period of 100 years.”

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At Mutianyu the Wall switchbacks along a spectacular ridge making some very steep steps in places but also affording beautiful views over the woodland below and to the far distant soaring peaks.

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The enormous Chinese characters marked on the distant hillside say ‘loyalty to Chairman Mao’.  I loved walking on this tiny section of the 8851 kilometre long  Wan Li Changcheng – the Great Wall.  In spite of this awesome length it is a myth that the structure can be seen from outer space.

Again from my guide book : “Despite being home to around one million soldiers, the great irony of the Wall is that it rarely stopped China’s enemies from invading.  It was never one continuous structure; there were inevitable gaps and it was through those that Genghis Khan rode in to take Beijing in 1215.  Nor could the Wall stop the Manchus sweeping down from what is now northeasters China and overthrowing the Ming dynasty in 1644.”  Nowadays the Walls infamy encourages a new invading horde – tourists.

In the next episode – a bullet train to the ancient capital, Xi’an, and the Tarracotta Warriors.


China

November 18, 2017

This is just the start of what could turn out to be a lengthy series of posts about our recent trip to China.  It has taken  a few weeks since our return to sift through the 1500 photographs, identify proper place names and choose a small enough selection not to bore our friends rigid.  We started our visit in Beijing, travelled south through Xi’an to Chengdu and then east via the Three Gorges onto Shanghai – many cars, trains, planes,  one boat and, of course, a rickshaw.

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Wumen (Meridian Gate), Forbidden City

It would take a week to really do justice to the amazing architecture and layout of the Forbidden City in Beijing but we did enjoy our whizz around visit in bright, cold sunshine.  Originally the Wumen was reserved for the Emperor’s sole use but even we were allowed entry now and through into the first of many awesome sights.

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Jinshui He (the Golden Water Stream)

We were now in a vast paved courtyard cut across by the Golden Water Stream.  The water wasn’t actually gold but still reflected the five marble bridges spanning it with their ornate marble balustrades.

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This imposing bronze lion was one of a pair guarding the next gate, Taiheman (Gate of Supreme Harmony).  He is positioned on the east side and his paw on a globe denotes that imperial power extended world wide.

If you have the seen the film The Last Emperor you will recognise this enormous space as  the largest of the interior courtyards – it could accommodate the entire court of up to one hundred thousand people.  As you see there were a lot fewer people the day we visited – almost entirely large parties of Chinese tourists.

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On the right is the Taihe Dan (Hall of Supreme Harmony)

As well as the sweeping vistas I was entranced by some of the close up details and particularly their symbolism.

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Main entrance doors always had large studs arranged in rows, the number indicating ranks in the feudal hierarchy.  The ones above were made of brass and then gold plated.  The pattern of 9 X 9 implies a gate used only by the Emperor as the number nine represented the supremacy of the monarchy.  Other titled people, princes and barons had fewer studs on their gates, and the lower ranks had studs made of iron.

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The Palace of Earthly Honour

The bronze crane above is featured often throughout the Forbidden City, and indeed all China, as cranes were venerated as the prince of all feathered creatures and had the legendary status embodying longevity and peace.  There were hundreds of the huge water vats scattered close to the main buildings.  As well as being decorative they also had a very practical purpose – filled with water against a fire emergency.  In winter they were covered and wrapped around with quilts and, when necessary, heated from below with charcoal to prevent the water from freezing.

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Wenshou (ornaments on roof ridges)

I loved these mythical little creatures adorning the ridges of every roof in the Forbidden City.  Again there is intriguing symbolism and mythology involved.  The largest one on the right is a son of the Dragon King who rules the seas therefore he could stir up the waves  and change them to rains – yet another fire precaution.  The size and number of the smaller ‘animals’ would be decided by the status of the owner or occupier of the building.  The above ridge has only five creatures and is on one of the twelve halls in the side courtyard which were used to house the imperial concubines of different grades.  The most important building has a series of eleven mythical animals.

Sadly and tiredly we left the Forbidden City and travelled the few kilometres to the Summer palace.

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The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, Summer Palace, Beijing

This beautiful, colourful, ornately decorated palace was first built in the Qing Dynasty in 1750 by Emperor Qianlong.  It was rebuilt in 1886 and was the place where the infamous Empress Dowager Cixi handled court affairs, accepted laudations and received foreign diplomats when she stayed at the Summer palace.

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The Long Corridor of the Summer Palace

Emperor Qianlong built this kilometre long covered walkway for his mother’s 60th birthday.  It goes along the shore of Kunming Lake and was to allow the lady to enjoy the view even if it was raining or snowing.  The inside of the roof was painted with delightful little scenes along its entire length.

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The Hall of Prayer, Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Inside was where prayers were said for a good harvest.

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Inside the Hall of Prayer

To be continued.


How Did That Happen?

October 9, 2017

I hinted in my last post about the slightly scary feeling that time has been speeding up.  This time warp experience was confirmed in August when it was noticed that we have been married for fifty years.  How can all that time have passed so quickly?  Anyway it was time to celebrate.  I believe in making celebrations last as long as possible so we started with a superb little dinner party at Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery in Glasgow – the food was exquisite, a bit different from gammon steak and pineapple half a century ago at our wedding reception.

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The ladies have moved on from a wee sweet sherry to exotic cocktails.

A few days later was our main party at the Kingarth Hotel on Bute.

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Founder members of the newly formed ‘Stripy Gang’

It was a great night filled with laughter, food, champagne and good friends.

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“On behalf of my husband and myself ……”

As a wonderful gift to us, our two children, plus wife and partner, arranged a family weekend away crammed with very carefully chosen activities to fit with individual and collective tastes and interests.

We were booked into the Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey near Skipton – equidistant for the journeys for both the Scottish and English travellers.  It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when we arrived and a joy to stroll down to the ruined abbey.

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The late afternoon sunshine was pouring through the stained glass windows onto the ancient stonework.

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The weather on Saturday was mixed but we managed to avoid the heaviest of the showers and enjoy the sunny spells.  The day’s activities started with a visit to Ingrow Loco Museum & Workshop.  An interesting little place absolutely crammed with steam trains and artefacts and jolly volunteers.

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You are never too old to dream of being a train driver.

Of course the next step had to be a ride on a steam train – on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway from Ingrow to Haworth.

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I think Jane was the most excited of us all, as, strangely, she had never been on a steam train before.

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Hanging out the window in the smoke.

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Very evocative sounds and smells.

Our destination had also been carefully chosen – this one very specifically for me, a visit to the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth.

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The tour group at Haworth Parsonage

The family were very kind and waited quite patiently while I went a lot more slowly than them, soaking up a perfect mixture of history and literature.

Back at the hotel this was the idyllic view from our room as we changed for dinner.  Colin and Keith went out and watched for a bit – a change from a muddy shinty pitch.

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Our meal  in the hotel on Saturday night was an amazing ‘tasting menu’.  Counting in various amuse bouche, it ran to about ten courses, all of them quite small quantities so that we did not feel stuffed.  Similarly the accompanying different wines for each plateful were only a couple of mouthfuls so no one ended up legless.  We are all interested in food and cooking so it was great fun.

Saturday was a whole day activity and a totally new experience for us – a trip to York Races.  We had tickets for the County Stand and in advance had discussions about what to wear – did the ladies need hats a la Ladies Day at Ascot?  Fortunately it was Family Day so the dress code was relaxed a bit.  We all scrubbed up well, with the girls in frocks and high heels but no headgear, and the boys with smart casual jackets but no ties.  It was quite a cool blustery day with a few showers which caused all the scantily clad young race goers to stick closely to the bars inside.  Some of the outfits were astounding!

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Studying the Odds

I enjoyed learning a new ‘skill’ and having betting explained to me but I found it all a bit tense, as if I was sitting a test all the time – there was not a lot of time to relax between races.  It was fun but I am too mean to get carried away – I don’t like handing out money and getting nothing back!  I preferred to watch the assorted people and the beautiful horses, and drink more champagne.

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I would have been better off simply choosing my favourite colour than trying to work out odds, starting prices and all the other information available.  It was fun and exciting at times but I am clearly not a natural punter.

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The thunder of hooves.

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First Past the Post

Our Golden Wedding celebrations were all wonderful in their different ways.  We are so blessed  to be surrounded by such loving, caring, and thoughtful family and friends and to have had each other for such a long time no matter how fast or slow time passed.


Was That Summer Then

October 5, 2017

It is two months since I last wrote a post and when I look back and sift through the hundreds of photographs I get a feeling that time is definitely speeding up.  Is this a sign of impending old age (not there yet, although see the next blog).  Life has been busy, Rothesay has been busy – unfortunately a disproportionate amount of time was spent dodging rain.  The summer weather was …. unkind.  After the glorious fortnight way back in May we haven’t had two really good days in a row – the pattern was more a lovely warm, sunny day sandwiched between two dreich wet ones.  Life went on, of course.

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On many days we watched the Waverley paddling past with a small handful of cagoule clad aficionados huddled together around the funnels for warmth.  Fortunately the day we chose for our annual trip was bright with a stiff breeze.

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Leaving Arran

I watch the Waverley from our house so it was a change to watch our house from the Waverley.

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Since the beginning of ‘summer’, as the tide recedes, this amazing creature crawls onto the shore a hundred yards along from us – so far he hasn’t managed to get up and over the bank (where’s yer Nessie noo).

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The Butefest Festival at the end of July was very successful and brought a lot of happy, appreciative visitors to the island – but it also suffered from the dreaded precipitation.  The resultant quagmire conditions left at the Public Park, mostly caused by the heavy lorries used to dismantle all the marquees, stages, fencing etc, had a serious knock on effect.

To everyone’s horror the Cattle Show (Agricultural Society) a few weeks later had to be ‘cancelled’ because yet more incessant rain meant no drying out of the ground together with a forecast of yet more rain on he day.  This decision caused much despondency and disappointment.  Later the Society managed to reschedule a much truncated version of the Show, more of which later.

A week later the Highland Games committee were still faced with weather related problems, but with some judicial rearranging of the positioning of individual events they went ahead.  The day was blustery with occasional vicious squalls!!!!  The crowds were noticeably thinner, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, as did I.

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It was a bit of a struggle to raise the games flag.

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Normally I love to wander around the area where the Highland Dancing competitors gather.  A hundred or so, tinies to teenagers, mostly girls but with a sprinkling of boys, complete with their entourages of teachers, Mums and Grannies all chatting, practising, doing stretching exercises.  This year the adults were squeezed into the wee grandstand and the dancers were clad in long waterproof coats and wellies and the normally colourful ‘encampment’ looked like this –

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– but they kept dancing under those leaden skies.

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The new much larger dancing platforms meant the dancers were under cover and the floor dry and safe but the poor judges sat there in the rain with their hoods up.

Both the competitor and visitor numbers were way down on previous years but there were participants in every event.

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Dancing or wrestling?

The weather didn’t seem to faze the large turn out of runners for the 10K race.  Within minutes of starting, still within the ‘stadium’, they were running into the most spectacular of the afternoon’s horizontal downpours.  When they started to return to the Park about 45 minutes later I was helping hand out the medals and goodie bags.

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The weel kent face of Tommy the Clown

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Another weel kent face.

Not every runner got a great big hug as well as a medal.

Sorry to go on so much about the weather but it did have a great impact – the Highland Games committee are much to be congratulated for soldiering on.  I have to confess we eventually wimped out and didn’t stay for the Grand March down through Rothesay.

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The many shades of green.

The Cattle Show was rescheduled for the second last Saturday in September – again a hard working committee did their best.  What have the weather gods got against Rothesay this year.  Another day of drizzle, downpours and mud, glorious, mud.  I enjoyed myself.  Not so many photographs this time as I struggled to keep the camera dry and from slipping in the glaur.

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At long last I can name some of the colourful sheep breeds.

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Glad he was fenced in.

The next photograph is quite dark but it does give a glimpse of the heavy grey sky and a hint of the muddy ground – the worst areas were fenced off because if you strayed into the very deep parts a tractor would have been the only way to escape again.

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It was dry inside the show tents but surprisingly if anything the mud underfoot was worse – none of the following ‘creatures’ were at all bothered.

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Add your own caption!

As at the Highland Games the numbers attending the Cattle Show were very small compared to ‘normal’ years but, again, congratulations to all involved.

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Even in a steady drizzle you can look good.


Gardens, Cousins and Other Things

July 28, 2017

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Not really a ‘picture’ but a ‘view’ – as seen from our bedroom.

We have had a very busy few weeks with rushing to get the garden make over finished before welcoming the cousins from far flung places – New Zealand, Spain and London.  The work in our ‘back green’ took much, much longer than anticipated and we felt we were living on a building site for months.

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M and his team of garden gnomes undertook a big task – removing about 10 tens of red chips, turning all the slabs through 90 degrees, excavating various enormous lumps of concrete and much more….

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… old clothes poles removed and the ‘lawn’ reshaped.

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It is still not quite finished but at least we are able to enjoy coffee (or something stronger)  on the new deck area.

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I am really pleased with the curved palisade fence – in spite of all the jokes about Cowboys and Indians.

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Really should have brought the washing in before getting the camera out.  There are still two features to be added to complete the garden – a curving, stepping stone path diagonally across the grass and two diamond shaped, raised herb beds on the biggest pebbled area.  Then all I need to do is keep on top of the ‘wild flowers in the wrong place’ aka weeds!

We were too busy when my cousins were staying for a few days to sit about much – eating, talking, drinking, talking, sightseeing, talking, drinking etc.  I love showing people around this beautiful island we have chosen to live on because I invariably spot things I haven’t noticed before.

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Dinner at Harry Haw’s – that’s Rothesay Castle across the road.

The weather was a bit grey and chilly but the sun did shine occasionally.

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The visit to Ardencraig Gardens came with a severe warning from the Council ….

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A trip to Bute is never complete without visiting Mountstuart – no matter how often I have been there I always happily return.

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The garden here is a bit grander than mine.

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The Marble Chapel, Mountstuart

I wasn’t too sad when I waved goodbye to my cousins – I hasten to add they were delightful guests – because we were meeting up again a few days later with yet more cousins.

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Seven of Grannie Walker’s 14 granddaughters (only one grandson)

The seven cousins able to meet up in Glasgow had a hilarious afternoon reminiscing – we all spent many childhood holidays together with Grannie in Whiting Bay.  Most conversations started with ‘my Grannie said ….’ to be instantly shouted down with ‘our grannie ….’

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Be proud – Isabella Walker nee McMunigal 1892 – 1978

Apart from my cousins there have been many more visitors to Rothesay, it being Glasgow Fair.  There is a tradition here that all the Christian congregations hold an ecumenical evening service at the ruins of St Blane’s Chapel on the middle Sunday of the Fair.  Last year it had to be cancelled because of near gale force winds and torrential rain but the weather was much kinder last weekend.

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St Blane’s was tranquil in the early evening sunshine – fortunately with just enough of a breeze to keep the midges at bay.

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The Rev Owain Jones preaching in his ‘church without walls’

The cloud was really beginning to thicken as we all strolled back down the hill – creating wonderful effects with the sun shining through over Dunagoil with Arran on the left and Kintyre behind.

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Tractors, Scooters and … the Waverley

July 10, 2017

Bute was buzzing on Saturday when in glorious sunshine we had an influx of very interesting visitors.  The annual Vintage Tractor Club rally mustered on the Promenade.  A mix of elderly, grey workhorses (tractors or owners?) and shiny high tech modern.  The officials of the  Club were very, very pleased that about 120 entries had made the journey to join in.

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Little and Large

I think perhaps the huge rear tyre on the red tractor cost as much as the whole of the little grey one when it was new.  It is a very sociable event with groups of boiler suited gentlemen deep in conversation, holidaymakers with ice-cream smeared weans and local dog walkers enjoying the sun.

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Our beautiful gardens with tractors lined up behind.

I am not a connoisseur of tractors but I think most of the historic vehicles were Massey Ferguson models.

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But there were other ‘decorations’ on display …

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Every year the Club sets a different route for the parade to follow, always incorporating a drive through Rothesay, in and out of Mountstuart grounds and then across some farm tracks and roads before returning to the Yacht Club for a barbecue.

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One of the ‘passenger’ tractors

Every year the convoy passes our house at some point on their journey – so here is ‘my View’ with added tractors.

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There was another group of very colourful visitors taking to the roads of the Island.  Fifty or so Vespa scooters, their drivers and passengers, from The Animals Fae Naboombu Scooter Club were buzzing around like busy wee wasps.  Earlier in the morning as we walked into town there were happy little coteries of scooters parked outside a number of the B&B establishments.

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Other Scooter visitors were camping.

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Although the tractors and scooters were not out on the public roads at the same time – imagine traffic snarl ups in Rothesay!!?? – I did manage to capture a representative of each group in the same photograph.

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Of course, on a sunny Saturday in July there is no show without Punch and our favourite paddle steamer came swooping into Rothesay to join the fun.

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PS Waverley in Rothesay Bay

Altogether a great day and I hope all the visitors enjoyed it as much as I did.