A Bonny Time In Scotland

September 21, 2011

We have been very fortunate to have had a few days in which to drive to Scotland to visit family again. I can remember the first time I had learned that my uncle Colin was wanting to do a family tree and wanted to make contact with the family members who had immigrated to Australia over 40 years ago…me being the youngest member of that family. With a little trepidation I sent him an email and promptly got an email back and that was the beginning of a wonderful ‘relationship’ long-distance style.

I had always hoped that one day I might get to visit them, and low and behold I’ve just had my third visit to Scotland; I can hardly believe it. Sadly, we lost uncle Colin before we made our first visit but I’ve loved meeting my relatives on each visit…there are still some I haven’t met so I guess we’re just going to have to go back again one day. :-)

I vaguely remember my Aunty Isobel telling me that her house was over 100 years old but it seems my memory is a little unreliable…it is in fact over 200 years old! It was built between 1773 and 1776…I can’t remember the exact year…but what has stunned me about this is that Australia was settled in 1788…which means my aunties house is older than Australia’s birthday. Extraordinary.

The weather for our first day was glorious, a very unexpected blessing to be sure. We visited Culzean Castle…pronounced ‘Kullane’ and it doesn’t have a royal history, it’s more of a residential castle that was owned by various earls and was passed down from generation to generation.

It has a fascinating history, it was added to and adapted over the years and like so many big homes and castles on privately owned estates that covered multiple generations and centuries, there were some very responsible earls who maintained and extended the family fortunes and land and there were the scoundrels who squandered the family wealth through gambling and increased debts which following generations had to deal with. Finally, death duties brought and end to the family ownership and the property is now maintained by the national trust.

So here are some of the photos we took on the day…unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any inside the castle, but the gardens and the outside of the castle are very beautiful.

The Scottish countryside has a rugged beauty all it’s own as is the case with Scottish castles, they have a rugged elegance about them and most were built during the time when the clans ruled the land and there were a great many family feuds between them; the castles were really fortifications for protection and defence from feuding families and clans. It’s a fascinating history.

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Stoke On Trent

September 19, 2011

I really want to share what UCB UK is like, at least the outside and surrounding countryside. They are situated at Stoke On Trent which historically is known for all the pottery that has been made here. Stoke On Trent is the home of Wedgewood, Royal Doulton and others. Stoke is in the Staffordshire region which also had considerable coal mining and that meant the the skies over this region were particularly black…the potteries and coal combined to make Stoke a rather unpleasant place to live. Some of the potteries are still here, others have left and the coal mines are all closed and the skies over England in general are much cleaner now since the clean air bill was passed in Parliament years ago and coal is no longer burned in fireplaces and stoves, everything is gas and electric these days. So living in Stoke On Trent isn’t as gloomy as it used to be.

It’s true that there isn’t a huge amount of things to do in Stoke, but it’s a nicer place to visit these days nonetheless and this is the home base for UCB UK. They have a fabulous facility, an amazing testimony to what God can do with willing people without any money…it is without a doubt a miracle.

So here are a few photos of the grounds around the UCB facility (the broadcasting facility that is) and the immediate countryside that they’re in the middle of.

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Pretty As A Picture

September 16, 2011

The Brit’s really do know how to make beautiful gardens and I’ve really enjoyed photographing the flowers that are in bloom right now at the tail end of the summer. After we trekked to Trafalga Square we walked under the 3 arches that lead up to Buckingham Palace but we took a left turn and walked through the stunning parklands instead and walked the longer way around and I’m so glad we did. The parklands were really beautiful with lovely duck ponds and beautifully tended gardens and we even met a few squirrels along the way as well. That was a real treat because squirrels are not something you see in Oz.

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