Monday, 25 March 2013

Mother nature at her best and worst!

House of Machrie
Well scrap the blog I had written and here are some photo's from today - day 4 of the crisis?  It is an island of two halves, the east have no electric and the west has 6 foot of snow, no electric, no phones, and in most cases no water (requires a pump to get it to the houses!).  I managed to get about, with extreme care and some help from the services.

Snow right down to the sea

Day one, Friday, the electric went off about 7am (ish) I was still in bed and I did not get my butt into gear but fully expected it to be restored in a couple of hours.  Without the news I had no idea of the extent of the developing crisis!  By mid afternoon news had drifted through that we would be off overnight, no worries, camping stove out, fire lit and watched a DVD on the laptop and off to bed with a hot waterbottle.
Outside the Lamlash fire station, hot food and drinks for free.
Day two, oh how I wish I had got into gear yesterday, now there is no gas to be had (not of the type I use), and I had to brave a cold shower.  But good news, feeding stations have sprung up,,, free burger and chips! Then I spent the afternoon out on the 'mog' (a new Arran business), and we really got stuck into the snow side of the island.  All normal roads across are shut.
The Mogabout vehicle
The retro phone, next to the defunct digital one!
Day three, Pancakes for breakfast, and I now have a phone.  Ok, its a bit retro, but it doesn't need electric.  Supplies are being helicoptered to Lochranza - roads still blocked.  Got a phone call from the dark side (west of island) - snow plough has cleared some of the road from Blackwaterfoot to Machrie.  Actually a nice day.  Read a horror story before bed, probably not a good idea!
Digging out the sub station
Day four, truly bad hair day!  More pancakes, and off to the dark side!  Thermostat in house reads 5c,,brrr.  Fantastic views and snow on the west side.  Got over before they closed the roads again! Then back to Brodick to try to source a generator for the Dougarie water pump (thank you Billy Bennett), and a lovely shower in the Fire station.
Why the cables come down
But the photo's say it all, snow right down to the sea.  So beautiful, it sort of makes you forget how cold it is!

Seascape with lots of snow

Lots of these popping up..

The dogs after a walk in the snow.

Lots of snow, even deep in the forest.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Kilwinning Abbey

Kilwinning Abbey Ruins

 Well last week I found myself having to kill a few hours while I waited for my car to be mended at the garage in Kilwinning, just across the water from our lovely Isle of Arran.  ‘Killing time’, now that phrase sort of highlighted how many towns around this part of Scotland start with ‘Kil’.  I was in Kilwinning, then there’s Kilmarnock, Kilbride, Kilbirnie, to name a few.  The name ‘Kil’ links back to the Celtic Church, so there was no surprise to find that Kilwinning has an old Abbey. The ‘winning’ part is believed to have been taken from the name of a preacher, Winin, from the 6th century, who built a church here and was later canonised.

Stone arches are a major feature of the remains
Despite the dull, wet and grey weather, old buildings can be great subjects for photography and so I went off in search of some inspiration.
Decorative window arches
The Abbey has a fascinating history directly linked to the first war for Scottish Independence. Bernard Linton, the Abbot of Kilwinning is credited with writing the Declaration of Arbroath (the first statement of nationhood in history).  He died in 1331 and is buried in a vault under the ruins.

“For we fight, not for glory, nor for riches, nor for honour,
but only and alone for freedom, 
which no good man gives up but with his life"

Detail remains in the stonework

The vaults under the abbey ruins are no longer accessible due to the rebuilding and extension the current Parish Church.  Occasionally archaeological digs still take place.
The new tower - built 1814
The original Abbey had three steeples, two were destroyed during the Reformation and the third by lightening 200 years later.  However, a new tower, known as the Clock tower was built between 1814 – 1816 (at a cost of £1590).  This tower was refurbished by the District Council in 1995 and is now open to visitors at limited times during the summer.  It is even possible to climb the 143 steps to the roof of the tower for great views of Ayrshire (on a fine day).  Needless to say the tower was firmly shut during my visit!

Also of interest to historians (but not photographed) is the ‘Head lodge of Scotland’.  Built in 1140, around the same time as the Abbey, this Lodge was given the number ‘0’.  The Lodge is just round the corner from the Abbey on Main Street.

A more spooky image....