DAPPLED LIGHT AND LEAVES

corona times

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Still staying at home, but enjoying being out and around the garden, this being an unusually long spell of good weather (until today) for the time of year. All this sunshine certainly helps to keep one’s  spirits up while being confined.

This garden is not beautiful, it’s rather untidy and wild, recovering slowly from dereliction.

I was just thinking of that old adage “The camera never lies”, but every person who uses a camera knows you can be selective with the viewfinder.

So with a selective eye I have attempted to capture garden images that express this lovely sunshine and shadows of the trees in the garden, and also I have taken a close look at some of the beautiful delicate new leaves of the season.

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The fruit trees are over at the other side, looking rather small and insignificant.

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I love the sun shining through these fresh new ash leaves, against the blue sky.

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New sycamore leaves.

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Dappled light on the bright new sycamore leaves.

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Thanks so much for visiting. STAY SAFE!

 

WILD AND FREE

corona times

Wild and free as we would like to be – just now! This post features more wild flowers and insects, in and around my garden, where I search for inspiration to create interesting images, while I’m staying at home.

There are reports of people getting complacent and stealing out and about where they should not go, and I completely understand them. The longer we are restricted, the harder it is. But wandering around the garden with my camera is very absorbing and I have enjoyed being more observant about the little things that appear around my home.

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These delightful white flowers are actually very small and they are called cuckoo flowers.

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Known as speedwell apparently, these very small blue ones, but when I was a child we called them sore eyes, for some reason. I may have been misinformed. There is another little white flower called eyebright. Perhaps it was confused with that one.

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Primroses, above

 

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There is at least a few varieties of dragon fly in my garden. This is the first I’ve seen this year. It’s a very skinny fellow, blue and black. I love the large all blues, but I haven’t seen any yet this year. I find it very difficult to capture them – they don’t like you to get too close, and my lens is not particularly suitable for this type of photography.

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Mid flight, above.

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A lovely speckled wood butterfly on the apple blossom.

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Dandelion seed heads.

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In my youth we used to blow the seeds off these, saying – he loves me – he loves me not -he loves me….. whatever happens on the last blow would be the truth. I don’t think we ever believed it and certainly not if it turned up a negative final statement! We had fun that cost nothing, and didn’t require any digital technology – there wasn’t any!

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Buttercups, of course, and with a fly below.

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Red clover.

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Ribwort plantain, above and below. It has a brown insect on it in these photos.

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Ragged dandelions, just for the variety. I’ll have to get better images of these next time.

One thought that often occurs to me is that for the first time in my living memory, there are people all over the world now who are living the same restricted lifestyle, coping with the same difficulties that come with those restrictions, listening to the same WHO reports and advice and extending themselves in terms of creativity and development in ways that otherwise may never have happened. In the most unexpected way we have a common uniting force, we are communicating more than we did before Covid-19 arrived, albeit digitally. We can understand the issues affecting others in far away countries from ourselves, in a much more empathetic way than ever before, I think.

DO STAY SAFE!

WILD THINGS

corona times

I heard recently of a number of Covid-19 cases in this area, within a couple of kilometers of my home. Mostly they are kept hush, hush, until it eventually leaks out. It really is uncomfortably close.  An employee of the shop that delivers my groceries was infected.  That’s very close!  Best not to dwell on it, but it’s a fact to be aware of.

DSC_2702 bee and flower I’m still continuing with exploring around the garden for subjects to photograph, in the absence of opportunities to go out and about on the beaches and cliffs etc., due to the Covid-19 restrictions.  These wild yellow rapeseed flowers are so attractive to bees that I happily encourage it in the garden. Currently there are apparently several varieties of bees around it.DSC_2701 bee and flower

 

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The bee in the picture below looks different from the usual bee visitors.

DSC_2731 beeI just love these fellows with their fancy hats below, ribwort plantain, they are called. They commonly grow wild all over the country, as far as I know. I would be delighted if someone could tell me their name.  As kids, we used to play a game with these, each child holding one by the stalk and trying to bash hell out of the head of the other’s to knock the head off.  At the time it never occurred to me that they were so pretty.

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DSC_2722 butterflyThis poor butterfly appears to have had a lucky escape from some pair of claws or jaws, I think.

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Above are wild bluebells by the roadside outside my home.

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I don’t have a clue what type of insect is on the apple blossom above and below, it’s possibly some type of bee mimicking fly.

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Buttercup with insect above. Below is some skinny type of fly, like a gnat, on a red currant bush.

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Wild primroses above.

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Wild daisies colonising the rockery, choking out a delicate campanula. I’ve left it for now, being such a pretty flower.

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Captured through the double glazed window. Not an ideal method for wildlife photography, but good to record the images of the birds on the patio feeder.

 

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Below is another recording of garden birdsong.  The picture brightens when you click it. The purpose of the video is to play the sounds of birdsong in the garden. You can see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, yet with a northerly wind the sound of the incoming waves, normally nice to hear, makes a louder hiss than desirable on these recordings. I’m surprised at just how sensitive the camera recorder is.

And just to end this post I would just like to mention that I saw my first swallow of the year today! It’a great to see them return.

STAY SAFE!

 

BLOSSOMS, BIRDS AND BEES

corona times

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I’m continuing to search for inspiration in my own garden, while under restrictions imposed because of Covid-19. The apple trees are breaking into blossom and they look so gorgeous! This year they have a different significance. These photos will always remind me of the time I was confined to my home for fear of catching or spreading the dangerous corona virus. I never thought I would be prevented from walking on the beaches, but it has happened. Some of the beaches were getting too busy for safety, so they were closed.

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The weather has been just wonderful, most of the time, which makes it so much more bearable to be confined and out in the garden.

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I look forward to the apples. No sign of a blossom on the other fruit trees – cherries, plums and pears; but the apples trees are developing nicely.

Below is a video recording of birdsong at sunset. This one is a bit of a cacophony of sounds, from grasshoppers or crickets (or both), to various birds all chirruping together, some cattle in the distance, and all blurred by the white noise of the sea, which seemed particularly noisy on this occasion for some reason. One day I may get up and make a dawn chorus recording – but to be honest, it’s rare for me to be such an early bird.

This is for those of you who are confined to apartments, and who might be missing the sounds of nature.

STAY WELL FOLKS!

STILL PASSING TIME…

corona times

I’m losing track of time, but since my last post on this topic the restrictions have tightened and I’m limited to staying around my house.  So, I am trying to find subjects in my garden and very close by. No more cliff or beach walks, and another three weeks minimum of this has recently been announced. 

A local covid-19 case was diagnosed recently, a mile or two from here, with a holiday home visitor contact, I believe. This was the first I know of on the peninsula. It illustrates the importance of staying put and not travelling to holiday homes, running the risk of bringing the virus with you. Most people are observing this advice, but some do not.

The good news is that our government has announced a reduction in transmission rate of the virus and it’s now down to one or less than one per infected case, which mean the restrictions are working. The total number of cases in Ireland is 13,271, with 486 deaths.

I’m trying to get on with some painting; I procrastinate a lot, but it’s hard when the weather is so nice – I prefer to be in the garden topping up my vitamin D and doing a few jobs outside, in this wild unruly space, where the birds are happy and unfortunately so too are the brambles, rushes, rampant yellow iris, montbretia and fast growing indestructive willow. I’m so glad the japanese knotweed hasn’t found its way down here yet, although it’s not too far away! Any ambitions I might have about growing pretty wildflowers are fairly swamped by the over aggressive growth of these highly invasive species, which refuse to be controlled, so far.

I have however managed to complete some paintings; here is one of them. It shows the Tiaracht Island, one of the Blasket Island group, viewed from Clogher on the Dingle Peninsula. It’s an oil painting on canvas, 70 x 50 cms.

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Sunsets still happen, of course, although they have different levels of beauty.  I’ve previously captured and posted several from outside my home. Here are some recents.

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Above is Sybil Head, and I like to remind people that this was a location of the Star Wars movie The Last Jedi. The set, a replica of the ancient stone beehives on Skellig Michael, was placed on top of this headland for the entire summer during that filming.

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Above and below you can see the Three Sisters, iconic images of the Dingle Peninsula. Here they are at sunset and in bright daylight.

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Below is a photo of the recent pink moon – not looking so pink here – just a tinge, perhaps. It was covered with clouds within seconds after this. I barely had time to grab this.  Atlantic clouds! It was clear over the rest of the country

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Like thousands of others at this time the birds are attracting my attention. There was a newcomer to the garden feeder recently; I’m still trying to discover whether he is a redpoll or a linnet.

I decided to have a  bit of fun recording myself playing some tunes with my flute along with the birdsong in the garden. The birds don’t always perform to order, and you have to take whatever type is active at the time, but there is usually some kind of peeping and chirruping. At first I tried sound files only, not wishing to video myself playing, but WordPress didn’t accept those files, so I had to start all over again using  video, which was difficult in terms of where to place the phone to get some kind of half pleasing image on it. The result shows an upside down image and the cold breeze did nothing for the tone or the tuning of my concert flute, but it was only for fun. I’d never have thought of doing it were it not for Covid-19. 

I tried a couple of bird related slow airs, here is The Lark in the Clear Air .

When you click on it the image it seem to right itself.  Don’t know why it won’t stay upright then! But the purpose of the exercise was really just to record the sound.

 

I consider myself lucky to have a peaceful environment and a good outdoor space in which to take some exercise and fresh air. It must be so hard for some people who have less comfortable surroundings in which to be confined, especially if they are trying to keep children entertained, or deal with stress and conflict –  even domestic violence.  I really feel for them, and especially those who are confined to apartments.  I’m not religious so I don’t pray, but I sincerely wish the best for everyone in these very unusual and (for some people) very difficult times. KEEP SAFE, all of you!

 

 

 

 

 

THE FORTH BRIDGES

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The Firth of Forth in the South East of Scotland has three remarkable bridges, of world class design, construction and scale. The three of them are fairly close together and all three can be seen at once.

This first one here is the Forth Rail Bridge, the oldest of the three, which was opened in 1890, and is now world famous and a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This Bridge has featured in Hollywood movies including Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps.

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Inchcolm Island, on the Firth of Forth, can be seen in the above photo. It’s a popular spot for visitors, with its ancient Augustine Abbey. A boat trip to the island treats visitors to a journey under all three bridges.

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Three bridges can be seen in the above photo.

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The Forth Road Bridge, a suspension bridge, which was opened to traffic on 4 September 1964.  At the time of its construction, it was the fourth longest bridge of its kind in the world and it was also the longest outside of the USA.

The Forth Road Bridge is now exclusively used by pedestrians, cyclists, emergency services and public transport, since the third bridge was opened.

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This third bridge is known as the Queensferry Crossing. Traffic congestion dictated the need for another road bridge across the Forth. This latest and very modern bridge is a three tower cable stayed bridge opened in 2017. It is 1.7 miles long.

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Thanks for viewing my post on these super-impressive bridges in Scotland. I would be happy to respond to any queries etc about my photos. Please use the contact facility on my website:

https://www.helene-brennan.com/c867-photos-of-scotland

KEEP SAFE!

 

 

ART AND ENGINEERING, AT FALKIRK

This is at Falkirk, Fife, in Scotland, continuing with my last year’s trip to that region.

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These magnificent structures are called Kelpies. In local Scottish mythology  Kelpies are aquatic spirits that can alter their appearance. They are said to haunt rivers and would often be seen in the shape of a horse.

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These amazing 30 meters high sculptures, composed of steel plates attached to underlying supporting structures, are situated at a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal, in the Helix a Parkland Project connecting 16 communities in the Falkirk Council Area. Lottery funding was granted for the sculptures.  They were designed by Scottish Sculptor Andy Scott and they are truly awsome!

The scale and complexity of this project required the  involvement of consultant and structural engineers and steelwork contractors to finally build these huge and perfectly formed heads, which can be seen from a wide surrounding area.

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Very nearby is the Falkirk Wheel, another wonderful invention and awe-inspiring engineering achievement which attracts hordes of visitors.  There is of course a visitors centre with a cafe and one can sit in comfort and watch the wheel working through the glass front of the building.

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The purpose of this wheel – the only one of its kind in the world, is to lift boats from one canal level to another.  It is a rotating boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.  It reconnects the two canals for the first time since the 1930s (when several time consuming locks were involved) and opened in 2002.

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The design of the wheel was primarily by the Architect Tony Kettle, who worked with a team of others on the project.

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In this photo above, there are boats in both the top and bottom pans –  or gondolas – as they are called.

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The wheel raises and drops boats by 24 metres (79 ft). The gondolas, in which the boats are sitting, each contain as much water as an olympic swimming pool.

Below I have inserted two videos, one of Andy Scott talking about the Kelpies and the other is describing the working of the Falkirk wheel.

 

Thanks for visiting my post. I hope you enjoyed it.  Do visit my website:

https://www.helene-brennan.com/c867-photos-of-scotland?

CULROSS, SCOTLAND

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Culross is a really charming village in Fife, Scotland. A former royal burgh and parish, the village has a population of around 400.  Culross was once  a bustling industrial centre of the coal mining and salt panning industries during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and many of its buildings are from this era. Originally it is believed that a religious community was founded here by Saint Serf during the 6th century.

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The building above is surely one of the most picturesque in the village.

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The National Trust for Scotland is involved in the conservation of this historic place and owns several of the buildings.

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Stepped gables and outdoor stairs to the top floor are very typical of houses in this area. I was told the reason for the stairs was that animals were kept on the ground floor but I can’t quite believe that, looking at the style of the ground floor windows. Perhaps they were two separate houses.

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Above, the incongruous appearance of a petro-chemical works can be seen from the village.

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Of course every sweet well kept village has its share of doorstep flowers.

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I was slightly surprised at the red roof tiles but then I read that it is thought that the collier ships carried them on return from Holland as ballast, and that’s how they were introduced to the area.

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This building above and below is known as Culross Palace – not actually a royal palace, it was built by a very successful merchant, Sir George Bruce, the Laird of Carnock, between 1597 and 1611.  James VI is believed to have visited in 1617.  It is open to the public and there is a cafe there, which I didn’t manage to have time to try.

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Getting a bit out of date now, the above two notices were displayed on either side of someone’s front door, giving a flavour of local sentiment.

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Culross Abbey was founded in 1217. The monastery is now a ruin but the remaining part of the building is used by the Church of Scotland as a local Parish Church.

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This village has been a film location for several films, not surprisingly, the most recent being the popular TV series Outlander.

There are other notable buildings but I have lost several photos.

The name Culross is generally pronounced Cooriss locally.

These photos are from June 2019.  I have more Scotland photos to come. Do come back again. Thanks for visiting.

I can be contacted via my website:

https://www.helene-brennan.com/c867-photos-of-scotland

 

 

 

FALKLAND VILLAGE, SCOTLAND

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The village of Falkland in Fife, Scotland is a really pretty, well presented conservation village. The village houses are mostly built of cut stone, with  attractive but simple geometric styling.  The village also is home to the impressive Falkland Palace. This area was a location of the TV series ‘Outlander’.

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Shop window in Falkland village, above.

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Falkland Palace, a royal palace of Scottish Kings, a favourite place to visit of Mary Queen of Scots, originated in the 12th/13th centuries, and underwent various transformations in the centuries that followed. It was used in the filming of the TV series ‘Outlander’ and is a popular place for visitors now, being open to the public and maintained by the National Trust for Scotland.

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I love the stepped effect on the gable walls that can be seen on many houses in this area.

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This is the gate house at the Falkland Estate. Just look at those chimneys!

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The Falkland Estate is now a place of learning and recreation and there is a network of walks and cycle paths around the estate. Mine was a short visit, so I just have photos of the places I happened to see.

Below are some black and white photos I took while on a forest trail on the estate.

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This was last June, 2019. You might expect a good number of tourists around, but it was fairly quiet. A great place to visit if you don’t like crowds, and you can generally expect less rain and more sunshine here than in the more popular west of the country.  I mean, one day I really hope to see Skye – I’ve been there three times and each time it was shrouded in heavy mist and rain!

More from this region will follow. But there are more photos on my website:

https://www.helene-brennan.com/c867-photos-of-scotland

STAY WELL!

CHARLESTOWN, ITS LIMEKILNS etc.

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I visited Scotland last summer, where I visited friends in Charlestown, Fife,  but haven’t got round to showing these photos until now. Staying at home more due to the corona virus restrictions has finally motivated me to try to get it done.

Charlestown was a planned village created by Charles Bruce, the 5th Earl of Elgin in the 1750s.  The village cottages were built to house the workers operating the limekilns, intending to make the estate a major producer of lime for building purposes and fertiliser. Coal and limestone were resources already available on the estate. The lime industry was previously located in the neighbouring village called Limekilns.

Charlestown soon became one of the most important industrial centres in Scotland, served by a railway and harbour. It’s located on the coast of the Forth estuary, which flows into the North Sea on the East of Scotland.

But from the 1930s lime production diminished and the limekilns at Charlestown finally closed in 1956.  They quickly became derelict and neglected but work on their restoration began in about 1990 and today they represent an amazing bit of history and industrial architecture.

Here are my photos of those wonderful architectural old lime kilns at Charlestown.

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The harbour, now a rather sleepy place compared with it’s once hustle and bustle.

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An old type of houseboat, moored at the harbour.

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DSC_8832 Houseboat Charleston

 

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The old worker’s cottages on the Elgin estate, now desirable residences. The tiny stone cottages, with their spacious gardens, all appear to have extensions built now.  Most of them have fabulous gardens, some in the front and back.  I was so impressed with my friend’s garden, above. You couldn’t do that in many parts of West Kerry.

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The above rooftops and chimneys are of houses on the coast road, Charleston.

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A view of the Queensferry Bridge, with the evening sun illuminating the cables, one of three bridges over the Firth of Forth. Another bridge can be glimpsed in the background. I will show more of these bridges in another post.

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The area is amazingly colourful with flowers – wild and cultivated, everywhere. Above is a field of wild poppies, close to the village. I was amazed to see how much more flowerful the area is compared with back in West Kerry, and the foliage growth on the trees much more advanced, in spite of the more northerly latitude, and also on the cold North Sea. The windy Atlantic coast at home does seem to shorten our summer. They also get more sunshine in this part of Scotland than in West Kerry.

I have more Scotland to show. I hope to do so soon, now that more severe Corona Virus restrictions are keeping me at home.

There are more photos of Scotland on my website, I’m still in the process of adding to that:

http://www.helene-brennan.com/c867-photos-of-scotland

It’s possible to contact me from the website.

Thanks for visiting my post. BE SAFE!