WPC : Silence

This week’s theme of silence has left me with an earworm to “The Sound of Silence”… the Disturbed version though.

As for a photo to match the theme – this is a portrait I took a couple of years ago and is still one of my favourites. He’s actually a pretty smiley guy but I asked him to look melancholy and despairing which he happily did. Listening to the lyrics from The Sound of Silence just seems to fit with this portrait. What do you think?

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“Hello darkness my old friend”

Silence

WPC: Weathered

How fortuitous that this week’s photography challenge came in my email the same day I got an message from STV (a Scottish Television Channel) asking my permission to use one of my photographs in a programme about doors. Yes, sounds rivetting, doesn’t it? But it’s still nice to be appreciated, even if it is only watched by 50 or 60 people in the country.

Newmilns Keep Front Door
A nicely weathered door

Newmilns Keep is a fortified tower and the oldest building in the town – built in the 16th century c1530. It was in the possession of John Campbell of Newmilns, who was summoned to appear before King James IV as one of the Lollards of Kyle. In 1685 it was being used as a barracks for dragoons and a prison for Covenanters when it was attacked by local men who succeeded in freeing 8 prisoners. It has been used as a grain store, a doocot, a band hall and a beer cellar and is now a private residence.
Weathered

New Year (new me?)… Nah!

Greeting Bloggers,

How goes it in the land of Blog? I have missed all your lovely blogs lately but hopefully I’ll do better now (sounds like my school report card – Alba could do better!) I’m definitely going to go back to the Weekly Photo Challenge and hoping to blog in-between as well. No New Year resolutions for me this year though, they just get broken… although last year I did manage to log into MyFitnessPal every single day. Every. Single. Day. Are you impressed? I’m not saying I actually lost any weight, plus some days I might only have logged my breakfast, but I did it, and still am. I’m currently at 375 days in a row. Go me!! This year I just intend to eat healthily, work out a couple of times a week (I’m just back in from my first cycle ride in months today and even though it was a close-run thing, I didn’t puke up my lunchtime lentil soup. It was touch and go for a moment, but I didn’t disgrace myself. I do have jelly legs now, but stomach is fine) plus keep working away. I would love to say I could make enough money for my husband to retire, but that isn’t going to happen. Not that I want him hanging around the house God forbid, but he can go get a less stressful job as a golf-course greenkeeper, tiling bathrooms or raising chickens (all things he’d be pretty good at but won’t make us rich).

Anyway as this is supposed to be a photography blog here’s a few pics from my Ne’erday celebrations and a short trip we had to Chicago to meet up with 4 Scottish friends who came over to the US to celebrate one of their birthdays. Unfortunately the birthday boy got stopped at the US Immigration in Dublin and got questioned so long him and his wife missed the flight (thanks Immigration!) but they manged to get here the next day in time for the train back down to my house. They’ll laugh about it eventually….

We made up for it on Hogmanay with a party night at a local hotel and loads of fun, laughter, (bad) singing and good food (when I wasn’t cooking anyway). Christmas was also good – spending time with my wee family, Skyping or FaceTiming my extended family and of course eating far too much (that would have been one of my breakfast only days on MyFitnessPal)

I hope you all had a lovely festive season and are raring to go in 2018. Cheers everyone!

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Hogmanay Shenanigans
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Kinda ironic this was the view from my hotel window seeing as one of my friends wasn’t allowed through US Immigration!
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Chicago at night
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Celebrations

 

Leibster Award

I’d like to thank Ciara for nominating me for a Leibster Award and am constantly surprised when anyone thinks my blog is interesting enough to read. I’d also like to thank those who land on here by accident and push my figures up into double-digits. Y’all rock!

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Y’know I’m not one to follow rules much, but this time I’ll be good and stick to the proper formula for this award and answer the questions Ciara posted as sensibly as I know how. Plus as this is (supposed to be) a photography blog how can I incorporate a pic into each question? Well, I can’t so I’m just throwing up a random shot of a Blue Bunting that crash landed into my window a while back. I get it Blue Bunting. I crash-land into things quite regularly. I sympathise with you. It lived btw.

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Anyway Questions. Here we go.

1) Why do you write?
Emm, I really only write to talk about my photographs. Sometimes I go off on tangents, but mostly it’s related to the pic. Well sometimes. Maybe. Oh all right, I just talk about whatever. I don’t know…. so much pressure!!!

2) Which of your own blog posts should people read if they want to really know you?
Wow, these are hard! This one kind of sums up my life pretty well though Accidents and nekkidness

3) Best hybrid animal and why?
Penguin and Giraffe. Why not?

4) Flowers or chocolate?
Can’t I have both? *sad face* I do love getting flowers (or buying them for myself) but I guess if I really have to choose it would be chocolate.

5) What was your favorite childhood toy?
Roller skates. I used to wear them everywhere, even to the library where I would pretend to walk in them until the librarian wasn’t watching then I’d skate around the bookshelves.

6) What is one thing about your life that you would change?
The fact that Star Trek-style Transporters aren’t real. I wish I could instantly travel halfway across the world to meet up with friends for coffee. Oh, you want a real answer. Well, I don’t think I’d change anything. Maybe I’d like to be able to sing.

7) Who is your favorite writer?
Now that really IS an impossible answer. I’m a total book-nerd. I’m in two book clubs and I will read just about anything. I probably love fantasy and sci-fi best, followed by mysteries and don’t really enjoy non-fiction as much. I like to escape from reality and fighting dragons and flying half-way across the universe is pretty much the best way to escape I can think of. A friend sent me this quote the other day there, which pretty much sums me up.

To the girl who reads by flashlight, who sees dragons in the clouds, who feels most alive in worlds that never were, who knows magic is real, who dreams. This is for you.

Nice eh?

8) Are you crafty? (Either ‘cunning’ or ‘able to make crafts’)
Yes I am. The second version.

9) What movie do you like to watch over and over? Why?
The Matrix. Because there is no spoon and you’ve always got to watch out for those black cats!

10) What makes you laugh?
My friends, my family, funny dog memes on the internet.

 

So now I have to nominate people to answer my questions – Go on, go on, go on. You know you want to Rover, Dookes, Mike, Miriam, Curtis, Silver Fox, Lili, Pete, Abrie and anyone else I’ve forgotten or who just wants to answer my questions (you’re supposed to nominate 11).

Questions

  1. Why do you blog? (have to throw in a blogging questions, seeing as this IS a blog after all!)
  2. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
  3. Star Wars or Star Trek (remember this might be the most important question on here!)
  4. Favourite movie?
  5. Favourite book?
  6. Favourite song? (not being lazy, I’m genuinely curious)
  7. Do you like to cook and what do is your best dish?
  8. What makes you laugh?
  9. Most embarassing moment?
  10. Singing or dancing?
  11. T-Rex or Dragons?

Hello Blogging friends from me and my dog

Where have you been I hear you ask? (humour me!) We missed you (as we say in Scotland – Aye Right! – where two positives make a negative)

Well I’ve been busy with work (boring) and life but it seems to be slightly slowing down now (work, not life), maybe it’s the lead up to Christmas but I’m expecting to be extremely busy come the New Year, so thought I’d throw up a post (or two) in December incase I can’t get online much next year.  That just shows you how messed up my brain is at the moment. I wrote the post, then checked it over for spelling mistakes and noticed that I wrote December but we’re actually still in November!

I even tried (and failed) to do the Facebook challenge that’s going around just now – 7 days in your life, black and white photographs, no people, no explanations. I decided to take all the photographs with my phone to speed up processing time, but again, FAIL.

The photographs I did take though seemed to all be following a theme of….. my dog, or as my human children call him, my favourite child! Anyway in the interests of writing a blog for the sake of it, here are my black and white photographs of my dog’s life (and mine).

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High Five Dawg! He was sleeping (snoring) when I snuck up on him to photograph his paw. Oh mighty paw, with claws like a lions, how many times have you scratched me down my face when I happen to put my head too close and you decide to give me a paw?

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I read somewhere that sleeping Airedales resemble a train wreck. It looks like someone picked them up and threw them against the wall (couch) and they fell asleep where they landed. The stinker woke up when he heard me approaching and moved though. I still love this shot as you can see him thinking “Party! Is it time for a party? Woohooo, just give me two minutes to untangle myself and I’ll be right there!” Cutie pie.

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Then when I’m not working and being the dog’s servant I’m actually walking him. Our (my) favourite place to walk is at a local state park, especially now that all the leaves have fallen and it makes for a crunchy (smelly) (for him, not me) walk. Autumn trails.

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Head pat and ear scratches. For the dog. Not me. I don’t mind the head pats, but I’m not very particular about ear scratches. Thanks all the same. A friend said to me recently that I should love him with everything I have so when he is gone I can feel good about what I had. Well I do. And I appreciate every minute I have with him, even when he pesters the life out of me (or scratches my face). There’s nothing nicer than snuggles from an 80lb lap dog. ❤

WPC: Scale

Sorry I’ve been MIA from the Weekly Photo Challenge. It’s all down to work – I have so much of it that I don’t get as much time as I would like to mess about on the internet, which is good as I work free-lance. Anyway I’m in it this week with one old photograph (the butterfly) and two new ones (the Praying Mantis).

Butterfly

I found this beauty lurking in a folder unedited in my bugs and beasties folder on my PC (I’m currently clearing out my folders as I’m eagerly awaiting a new PC being delivered this week) Anyway a quick levels and sharpening and we have a lovely butterfly.

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This not so pretty beastie has decided that the back of my bench is a good place to live. Now I can no longer sit on the bench… He flew (jumped?) onto my hair the first time I saw him so I think he thinks we’re friends now. He’s wrong.

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But I did name him Eric. Don’t you think he looks like an Eric? No, just me?
Scale

 

Crossraguel Abbey

My recent trip home to Scotland wasn’t all party-party ye ken. Oh all right, MOST of it was party-party, but I did do some sightseeing and cultural stuff too. Despite Crossraguel Abbey being right on my doorstep (25 miles or so away) I had never visited before. I had driven past it many times, but never stopped and went in to explore. We have so much history and heritage around us we get kind of blasé about ancient buildings. It’s only now that I no longer live there that I appreciate how fabulous all of these buildings are what a great job organisations like Historic Scotland do at maintaining them.

I’m not going to go into the history of Crossraguel, mainly because I’d probably get it all wrong and this is a photography blog. I recommend you read about it here:

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/crossraguel-abbey/history/

or here

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/maybole/crossraguel/index.html

Anyway I had a fabulous time exploring all the rooms and photographing everything I could. Unfortunately the main building (the church) was under scaffolding so I didn’t get any photographs of that, but if you Google Crossraguel you can see how impressive it is when not covered in scaffolding.

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Stonework, door and window details at Crossraguel
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Details of the Tower House

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View of part of the Abbey and the Tower House with the beautiful Ayrshire countryside in the background.

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The Dovecote

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Coo’s oan the wa’…. or translated to cows on the wall. Hah, not actually. They’re on the hill behind the Abbey but I liked how they seemed to be walking along the wall. the plaque on the wall here reads “ABOTT’S HOUSE. A series of cellars at ground level originally supported the Abbot’s apartments above.”

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Gravestone

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Actually I’m not sure what this was – I should have photographed the plaque and not just the hole. At first I thought it was a well, but I think I remember reading that it was actually a tomb and it’s just filled with water. I told you I’d get it wrong….

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Inside the Chapter House. How fabulous is the stonework, the windows and the arched ceiling?

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Some broken stone and pieces of carving dating back to the 12th century.

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The plaque on the left reads “A double tomb marker, with two elaborate crosses, a sword, shield and pike. The shield bore a chevron as the main charge, suggesting that the tomb commemorated members of the House of Kennedy.”

The plaque on the righ reads “The tombstone of Sir William Geruan, Priest, who died 9th April 1340. Sir William may have been vicar of one of the Abbey’s churches in Carrick. Note the chalice and paten.”

With the arrival of the Reformation in 1560, Crossraguel’s life as an active religious community came to an end. The last abbot, Quintin Kennedy, died in 1564 and a commendator, Alan Stewart, was appointed by the Crown to oversee the land and property owned by the abbey.

In 1569 Stewart signed over the abbey, its lands and revenues to Gilbert Kennedy, the 4th Earl of Cassilis. According to a complaint later made by Stewart to the Privy Council, his agreement was only extracted by the Earl by roasting him over a fire at Dunur Castle.

Turnberry (more Scottish photographs)

Last month when I was home in Scotland on holiday (vacation for US bloggers) some friends took us out for the day to a lovely restaurant (Wildings in Maidens, Ayrshire – highly recommended!)

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Walking along the harbour wall in Maidens – I’ve always loved being near water, as a kid I was always coming home soaked to the skin!

We decided to have a wee walk along the Ayrshire coast to Turnberry.

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Looking towards Maidens from Turnberry

I have wanted to photograph the lighthouse for years and I finally got the chance.

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Turnberry Lighthouse

We were very lucky with the weather as you can see from the photographs because we got there before the storm came in.

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Turnberry Lighthouse

While I was wandering about the cliffs, deciding on the best place to photograph from, the rest of the gang were being impressed by a couple of cars driving up to the lighthouse – the first was a Bently and the second was a McLaren which really impressed the guys.  I couldn’t have told you what it was… next photograph is one my friend took with her phone of the McLaren and Mr. Alba trying not to look impressed as the car passed him by…

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McLaren, or if you’re like me, ‘A sporty black car’

So we got talking to a caddy, who told us for 3,000 GBPounds a night! you could rent a room in the lighthouse, which comes with it’s own private butler and chef. No wonder they’re driving McLarens and Bentleys!

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Turnberry with the isle of Arran in the background

All of the accents of the golfers we could hear were Americans btw. I’m not sure how much it costs to play golf at Turnberry, but probably the locals can’t afford it!

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Turnberry Golf Course (I think there’s 3 courses here but I’m not sure which one this is)

And of course there’s Turnberry Hotel itself. Beautiful and now owned by Mr. Trump, but I refuse to call it ‘Trump Turnberry’. This blog isn’t political at all and I am aware I’m a foreigner living in the USA but still it’s my blog and I can say it if I want – he’s an eejit….. but he does own a fabulous hotel and golf course!

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Turnberry Hotel

WPC Structure: Wings

For the past 7 years since I moved to the USA I’ve become ever so slightly obsessed by hummingbirds. They’re absolutely amazing! They’re so small, fast, squabbly (is that a real word?), colourful, noisy and un-afraid. I saw one take on a titmouse the other day!

Anyway this weeks WPC of structure is a good excuse to use my weekend shots of the hummingbirds and in particular their wings and the structure of their feathers.

Technical jargon if anyone is interested: the shutter speed I needed to capture these shots was 1/3000 of a second with an ISO of 1600 at F6.3. I was using an 18-300mm Sigma lens on my Pentax K5 at full zoom and when editing I used a huge crop as well. I’m pretty pleased they turned out as sharp as they did (not counting all the binned blurry efforts btw).

I love how they fly right up to you and look you in the face as if to say “Hey giant thingy, what are you?” Now if I could only get one to perch on my finger.

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Structure