Saturday, April 29, 2006

April Sunburst

April Sunburst, originally uploaded by ccgd.

I took this last night on a walk along the beach - a very very low tide, so I was able to get angles and shots that are not easy for photographs of Cromarty.

It's part of my "In the style of JD Ratter" set. His were shot in B&W, and then coloured yellow. No need with this one.

Just back from a day in Fort William and Laggan. This is the first time in 20 years that I did not spent the May Bank Holiday at Coldbackie - cutting peat - as Magnus is racing tomorrow (Sunday) on the World Cup course in a Scottish Series Race - and important one as its a qualifier for the Scotland Youth Team. We were at Anoch Mor by 10:15, rode the course and then went to the Laggan course, where there was an open "demo" day. Mountain biking in Scotland is a very friendly sport, so it was a catch up with lots of pals, and the chance to ride expensive demo bikes on Laggans fun downhills.

The Bizarre thing was that I took no photos - the weather was perfect - indeed better than perfect, it was the Highlands at their very very best, blue skies, snow capped mountains, no breeze and cool - but pleasant - temperatures so that every peak was reflected in every loch.

But I did not stop to take a single photo.

I'm still not sure why......

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Glimpse of snow from the East Church

Glimpse of snow from the East Church, originally uploaded by ccgd.

The East Church is now a subject for the BBC Restoration programme More filming on Monday, so watch this space.

Cromarty Sunset

Cromarty Sunset, originally uploaded by ccgd.

From the Sutor - I managed to cycle up non stop for the first time in years. This fitness thing is really working.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Golden Shaft

Golden Shaft, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Over the Victoria Park - Cromarty

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Peek a Boo

Peek a Boo, originally uploaded by ccgd.

The cruise liner Nordkapp (11,386 tonnes), with 300 passengers, leaves the Cromarty Firth. The second liner this year. Fifty cruise ships plan to visit the Firth this season...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The first glimpse of day

The first glimpse of day, originally uploaded by ccgd.

This a reworked, re-cropped version of

I love the colours in this sunrise shot.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Farewell to the Petrolia

Farewell to the Petrolia, originally uploaded by ccgd.

The anchors of the SS Petrolia are being lifted, and she is on the move for the first time in seven years. Oil prices are high, and the Firth is almost empty of Rigs, for the first time in 10 years or so.

I'll miss this rig. She has been a constant presence for my walks - and photographs- for so long now that I'm not sure what to focus on when I come round the corner of the beach and the links.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ben Loyal from Castle Varrich

Ben Loyal from Castle Varrich, originally uploaded by ccgd.

The Queen of Scottish Mountains - allegedly...

Taken from Castle Varrich, a few years ago.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tankers at the Nigg Oil Terminal

Two Tankers swap loads, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Taken from the Nigg slip in October 2003, this photo shows the view down the Cromarty Firth towards Invergordon and Ben Wyvis. It also shows two rather large Oil Tankers busy loading/unloading large amounts of Oil from one to the other.

I like the light and angles of the vessels in this one.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Calum

Happy Birthday Calum, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Well it was a few days ago, but Ruth took us all out to Sutor Creek on Saturday night. Magnus's cycling pal Hamish Creber was up for a few days from Edinburgh, and our Hamish's girlfriend Kyrene came over from Fortrose.

The meal and the crack were great, it was one of those nights when all the guests were neighbours or pals, and the staff all old friends. Now I never eat a pudding - I'm a double espresso type of guy - but the staff insisted that I would "like to share Ruth's so I'd better have a spoon".

Then Andrea, the chef - surprised me with this pudding, and then everyone in the place sang Happy Birthday...

It was great and I was quite touched.

Afterwards it occurred to me that Sutor Creek was the sort of restaurant that if you were on Holiday in France, Italy or Spain, and if you had stumbled in, and found that all the customers and staff knew each other, and that that the chef had brought out a special Birthday dish for one of the guests you would have thought - what a brilliant local, undiscovered, special restaurant - and the food is great too.

And you would be absolutely spot on.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Green Isle of the Great Deep

Bales and Sky, originally uploaded by ccgd.

If you type “The Green Isle of the Great Deep” into Google this blog comes out at the top of the list. To be honest I find that a bit spooky, as of course it is named after the quite wonderful book of the same name by Neil M Gunn, a mystical, spiritual yet earthy novel written in the 40’s.

When setting up this blog before Christmas – which was mainly as an experiment in blog establishment, as I wanted to create the flickr Scotland blog (now fully operational and showcasing great photos from all over Scotland) – I struggled for a name. Calums Blog was a bit, well unimaginative, and I as I tend not to use Pen Names (ccgd are just my initials) anything else would be, well dishonest. I am a fairly voracious reader, with catholic tastes but clear preferences, one of which is 20th Century Scottish writers. Neil Gunn is perhaps the one author that I return to time and again. The Silver Darlings is perhaps his best known, and most mainstream novel, but nonetheless a most wonderful piece of prose. This is what Wikipedia says about Gunn:-

Neil Miller Gunn (November 8, 1891 - January 15, 1973) was a prolific novelist, critic, and dramatist who emerged as one of the leading lights of the Scottish Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. With over twenty novels to his credit, Gunn was arguably the most influential Scottish fiction writer of the first half of the 20th century (with the possible exception of Lewis Grassic Gibbon (James Leslie Mitchell)). Like his contemporary, Hugh MacDiarmid, Gunn was politically committed to the ideals of both Scottish nationalism and socialism (a difficult balance to maintain for a writer of his time). Gunn's fiction deals primarily with the Highland communities and landscapes of his youth, though the author chose (contra MacDiarmid and his followers) to write almost exclusively in English rather than Scots or Gaelic (a language he lamented never having learned).

In later years his writings were heavily influenced by Zen, indeed his final work was a discursive autobiography entitled The Atom of Delight, which I cannot read but be reminded of a Caithness version of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. But the Green Isle of the Great Deep is perhaps is most thoughtful (and now dated) work. A sequel to the novel “Young Art and Old Hector” it starts when when Old Hector takes Young Art on a poaching trip and the two accidentally tumble into the depths of a salmon pool. They wake to find themselves in a bright yet strangely brittle countryside, not unlike their own but with an eerie, nightmarish quality. They are in fact in heaven, but a land where God is distracted, and men have taken over, running paradise with control, order and a search for “systems”. It’s an obvious allergy for fascism (and Stalinism) which explores some of the same themes as Orwells 1984.

Unlike Orwell though the story has a happy ending with the unlikely adventurers, who cherish creativity and free will above all else, overcoming the forces of mindlessness and order, and through their struggle discover the true meaning of freedom. A weird book, it has some great prose, not least where Old Art describes heaven as being like the view of the Black Isle from behind Conon “where the fine farms slope to the sea, and you see the mountains far away beyond the gleaming firth. I thought it very beautiful in Autumn….”

Just like the above photo then.

All in all it’s a very Highland take on heaven, tolitarianism Zen and the wee guy winning against the overpowering power of the state, by asking God for a audience. If only it was that simple......

A good read, highly recommended.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Morning lighthouse

Morning lighthouse, originally uploaded by ccgd.

The lighthouse in Cromarty. Taken last September and framed in the early morning light. Walking along the links, or the beach, in the winter you could always see it blinking it's light across the Firth.

I must admit that I always wondered what purpose it served these days, with the town being so brightly lit, and with the yard at Nigg, and the oil terminal, having more navigation lights than you could shake a stick at. Not to mention every little vessel now having GPS....

Well now it is switched off. For ever. Decommissioned. Dark. One wonders what it's future will be.

And they only painted the roof last summer.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Invergordon Sunset

Invergordon Sunset, originally uploaded by ccgd.

The Ardross windfarm in the distance, over the steam from the Invergordon Distillery.