Monday, December 31, 2007

Midwinter stillness

Midwinter stillness, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Having been at home for the past 10 days or so, I've tried to walk around the town at least a couple of times a day, and at least once along the beach. We have been blessed with a pleasant dry , cold and still spell of weather, and folk being at home the chimneys of Cromarty have had a busy wee spell.

Coal fires, wood fires, peat fires, the air along the beach has been redolent of all three, and in the still air the smoke hangs low and heavy.

However silhouetted against the setting sun, even the smoke of coal fires can make a pretty picture.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Frosted Family Tree

A Frosted Family Tree, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Taken at new year 2005 - This seaweed was just a few centimeters from the high water mark on the beach, but after two days of freezing fog it was covered in these small but dramatic ice crystals.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The boys

The boys, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Charlie and Hamish on the beach at Channory point - Christmas Morning 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The men

The men, originally uploaded by ccgd.

We scattered Ruth's Dad's ashes on Christmas Morning, off the beach at Chanory Point, on the South side of the Black Isle.

Derrick was a great man for sport and the outdoors, and a championship swimmer, as well as a Scottish level Cricketer and Hockey player (the Inverness Courier ran his obituary just a few days before Christmas)

He loved Christmas, and it was fitting that we scattered his ashes into the sea and on the beach on Christmas Morning, before going back to our house and drinking a rather nice champagne in his memory.

I took my camera - as always - but hung back as Dick - his son - and the Grandsons prepared to scatter the ashes themselves. Ruth, her Mum and Sister in law (and me) stayed further back on the beach, perhaps subconsciously following the Highland tradition of men - and blood relatives - at the graveside.

The weather was glorious, and I must say that if I was to choose a spot for my mortal remains, Chanory Point would be pretty close to the top of the list.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, originally uploaded by ccgd.

This years Christmas Card on the dresser.

A very Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all.....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Looking up the cromarty firth

Looking up the cromarty firth, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Trying to organise photos on my computer - as one does at this time of year - I came across a pile of old rig shots, from 2004, when the firth was full.

Here is one from the North Sutor, in February 2004, when the firth was full to capacity.

$100 a barrel has changed that completely.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Dawn, originally uploaded by ccgd.

After the longest night of the year. Ten past Nine, and the sun will not rise for another few minutes yet.

The Sutors of Cromarty and the Emigration stone.

Interesting to see how the blogger software copes with the panorama nature if this shot.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Looking over the Inverness Firth

Looking over the Inverness Firth, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Looking from the Eathie Road - just after Navity Farm towards Ardersier and Dalcross. And the Inverness Firth.

The number of people who will not believe that there is such a thing as the Inverness Firth is remarkable. For the record its the body of water between Channory Point/Fort George (where the Moray Firth finishes) to the mouth of the River Ness (where the Beauly Firth starts). So - and again for the record - the Kessock Bridge crosses the Inverness Firth - not the Moray Firth.

Here is what Wikipedia says about the Inverness Firth:-

"The Moray Firth is effectively two firths, the Inner Moray Firth, which was traditionally known as the Firth of Inverness, and the Outer Moray Firth which is more open North Sea water. The name "Firth of Inverness" is rarely found on modern maps, but extended from the Beauly Firth in the west, to Chanonry Point in the east."

So there........

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Misty sunset

Misty sunset, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Last nights sunset at Western end of Cromarty, looking down the Firth.

Its been cold and misty over the past 48 hours, but the low light gives a dramatic feel as we look west along the Shore Road to Balblair.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Warm hands cold hands?

Warm hands cold hands?, originally uploaded by ccgd.

All the cars in Shore Street had these hand prints melted into the frost, on a cold morning last week.

Some one must have had very cold hands at the end of the line.....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Purple light

Purple light, originally uploaded by ccgd.

I seem to remember promising more shots and comment from the Cromarty Fire weekend about a months ago.

Well here one is - a wonderful red and purple capture of the procession just about to turn onto the links, with Pete Clunas having such fun playing with time expired flares.

Oh the wee boy in all of us. I was so jealous that I was only taking photos.

My good pal K... is standing left. Brought up in Orkney and Cromarty he is now a paramedic in Embra, and has one of the most powerful, and emotive blogs you are ever likely to read.

It's called Trauma Queen - visit it now, this Lad is very very gifted.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cromarty sunrise

Cromarty sunrise, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Looking back over the town, as I walk along the beach.

I took this one last month - the past few weeks have been quite grey, and wet, and I must admit that I've not been so regular with my morning walk along the beach.

There is a strong east wind today, and the waves are crashing against the stone armouring in front of shore street with some vigour. Ruth and I are just about to brave the elements for a some fresh air, and to buy tickets for next weekends Cromarty Film Festival, which had a good plug on Radio Scotland this morning, as its billed as the smallest film festival in the world!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Derricks Grandsons

Derricks Grandsons, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Derrick, Ruth's Dad died last week, and the funeral was on Monday. I delivered the Eulogy, not as well as I could have, but Ruth's Mum, Brother and Sister seemed pleased enough. It was well written (even though I say so myself), but I was a bit emotional in the delivery.

One of the paradoxical things about funerals is the chance for all the family to get together. Here are all the Grandsons (no grand-daughters) captured together at the wake.

And here is what I said at the funeral.

"Derrick Henry Handford was born on the 12th of June 1926, in Edinburgh and died in Inverness on the 25th November 2007, aged 81. He was a husband, a brother, a father and a grandfather, loved by his family, and well respected as a friend, colleague and neighbour to many here today. I’d like to spend the next little while remembering Derrick the man, and sharing with you some glimpses of his life.

Derrick, with his older brother and sister attended George Watson’s College, a fact of which he was very proud, in his quiet way, all through his life. In 1943, aged 17, in volunteering for the Royal Navy, he followed his brother into the senior service. He served as a radio operator, but at the end of the war the recurrence of a serious disease from childhood meant that he spent some months in Hospital, until he was cured by a remarkable new scientific discovery called Penicillin.

After the war he joined the civil service in Edinburgh, like his father and uncle, and Derrick, Irene and a toddler named Ruth moved to Inverness in 1960, where he worked with the Red Deer Commission and Crofters commission. Judith was born later the same year, and Dick followed in 1962. They lived initially in Laggan Road, then Midmills Road, moving to Culduthel Gardens in the late 70’s, and finally to Wester Inches Drive just a few years ago.

Now some people live to work, but Derrick worked to live, which he did to the full through his family, his garden and his sport.

Derrick was the consummate all round sportsman, achieving excellence at whatever game he turned his hand to. A Scottish trialist, he played competitive hockey until he was 50. A championship swimmer, he would think nothing of disappearing for hours in sea and loch, frightening the life out of Irene and the kids as he swam into the distance. A keen Golfer, he was the handicap champion at Culcabock, and a long time member of Royal Dornoch. He was the Veteran Squash Champion at Bishop Road, and a serious Badminton opponent. He was a District level Cricketer, playing in Scottish Select sides, and in fact after 30 years he almost got me interested in that most noble of sports. My boys remember how Derrick taught them all how to play snooker on the half size table that lived in the attic of Culduthel Gardens. When he finally laid down his bat, stick and clubs, he and Irene took up bowls, winning numerous cups of course, and he was active until just a few years ago. When not playing sport, he watched it, with the TV invariably tuned to Sky Sports.

Of course as an active sportsman, he played his full part in the day to day running and organisation of the many clubs and teams of which of he belonged. Just yesterday Irene told me that she was touched by the many cards and letter she had received since Derrick’s death, and how many of them were from old friends with whom he had played sport with over the years. Indeed one, from an old school and hockey pal, recorded how Derrick had – with the utmost tact and decorum – quietly told him he was dropped from the first team.

His love of sport of course rubbed off on all those around him, Irene with her golf and bowls – if you can’t beat em, join em – Judith with her Horses, Ruth with her Squash, Dick, Craig and Dougie with their Hockey, Charlie and Hamish with their swimming and Football, Angus with his golf, and Magnus with his cycling. His love of sport was always gentlemanly and inclusive – it was the taking part, and doing your best that was important to Derrick, but he could not help but be pleased when Dick won his University Blue for Hockey, Judith her professional riding qualifications, and Magnus his success in the Scotland under 19 Cycling Squad, recalling Derrick’s own experience swimming and training with those who went on to represent their country in what was then called the Empire games.

When people say someone is a green fingered gardener, they could only have been talking about Derrick. Flowers or vegetables, lawns or Fruit trees, Derrick’s were always the biggest, the greenest or most colourful, the most productive and the most flavoursome. After eating his tomatoes or Strawberries, any other fruit or vegetable was a poor shadow of the everyday fair served in the Handford household. Visually he planned his garden so that there was always something of interest, whatever the season or weather, and no visit to Culduthel Gardens was complete without a guided tour of the garden, vegetable plot, greenhouse and compost heap.

I learnt a lot about compost heaps over the years.

Whilst Derrick could give the impression of being quiet and studious, nothing could be further form the truth when with his friends and family, and particularity in his own house. He had a wicked sense of humour, inordinately fond of puns – I remember once spending nearly 15 minutes playing a spontaneous game of pun tennis on the subject of sheep, which he won game, set and match – as well as gentle practical jokes, of which Irene and the grand sons were often at the receiving end. He also had a unique gardening dress style for sunny days, where he could be seen in Wellington boots and swimming trunks – occasionally accompanied by a bee helmet - watering the garden.

Derrick was also a keen photographer, and the house is of full of visual records of the Handford family growing up, invariably taken on a Sutherland Beach, or by a Highland loch. Now the photographer is usually always behind the lens, but Derrick was a dab hand with the self timer, long before most folk even knew they could be found on a camera. His approach to photography, to gardening, to home decoration – he could wall paper a room better than most professional decorator’s – summed up his approach to life.

If you are going to do something, do it properly, and do it well.

Finally, in remembering Derrick as a family man, I’ve thought a lot over the past week in how to describe his gentleness, his authority, and his love for his family. But anything I wrote could not match the words Irene quickly penned a week last Sunday, just a few hours after his death,

Let me just remind you of them now.

“Derrick Hendry Handford, a loving and much loved husband to Irene, a loving Father to Ruth, Judith and Dick, and a proud Grandfather to Angus, Dougie, Magnus, Craig, Hamish and Charlie.”

And also the finest Father-in-Law any man could as for."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Chris and Wanda

chris and wanda, originally uploaded by ccgd.

I like the colours, and their expressions in this shot.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ghosts in the commute

Ghosts in the commute, originally uploaded by ccgd.

An early morning in Copenhagen, walking over a bridge to my meeting.

I work a lot with differing regions in Scandinavia, and Copenhagen is a convenient meeting city for almost all parts of the Northern bits of Europe. We also have access to meeting rooms in a fantastic converted warehouse overlooking the harbour, which houses all sorts of "Northern" offices - the Icelandic embassy, the Fareose and Greenland representatives, the EU's Northern Periphery Programme offices etc

It does however seem a dark city in the morning in the winter.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

John Bain Duncan

John Bain Duncan, originally uploaded by ccgd.

As part of the See Cromarty Sparkle Exhibition, photos of the towns residents were projected onto buildings over a November weekend.