Scottie's Photo Diary

- January to March 2017

I never go anywhere in Scotland without my camera and I take photographs wherever I go. Sometimes I go somewhere specifically to take photographs with a view to adding another page to the Rampant Scotland site. On other occasions I just see something that makes an attractive picture or else it's another graphic to add to the library to perhaps use on a future project. It thus forms a pictorial diary of my travels which can be shared by everyone!

This is a selection of photographs I took in January to March 2017.

Stirling Castle

I've been to Stirling Castle many times - the graphics have appeared on earlier Photo Diaries. On this occasion I was there with my two grandsons and they were the subject of lots of photos that day but there were some of more general interest. I often steer clear of the statue of King Robert the Bruce in front of the castle as it is usually surrounded by lots of other tourists taking its picture but on this occasion he was almost on his own - for once!

From Stirling Castle there is a good view of the Wallace Monument on Abbey Craig on the other side of the river Forth at Stirling. Wallace had a famous victory at Stirling Bridge in September 1297 when the Scottish army led by William Wallace and Andrew Moray defeated an English force attempting to relieve the town of Dundee. The English attempted to cross the river at a narrow bridge but the Scots attacked when perhaps only 2,000 of the English had reached the north side of the river. The English forces were decimated and retreated south, leaving the Scots in command of most of the country.

Historic Scotland have been undertaking a major refurbishment of the Palace within the castle at Stirling. It was originally built by King James IV and V of Scotland and was the first Renaissance palace in the British Isles. The Palace has apartments for the king and his queen (Mary of Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots).

I always enjoy the re-creation of the Royal kitchen at Stirling - there is enough light there to allow photography without flash. Since the kitchen are not directly connected to the Great Hall at Stirling, it must have been difficult to keep the food warm before reaching the tables!

There is a focus in Scotland on increasing the amount of power generated from sources which do not increase Global warming and so there has been a major increase across the country in the number of wind farms which reduces the need for using power generation that create carbon emissions into the atmosphere. While most of us support such efforts there is an adverse reaction when they are located in areas of scenic and historical significance - such as the Ochil Hills within sight of Stirling Castle!

Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove, Glasgow

The Botanic Gardens at Kelvingrove in Glasgow provided my grandsons with more entertainment - and provided me with more photo opportunities both inside the extensive glass houses (such as the "Kibble Palace" seen here) and also outside in the open air.

The sprays of bright yellow flowers of Mahonia can appear in autumn, winter and early spring creating a splash of colour at times of the year when there are few other plants in bloom in the open air. The name Mahonia comes from a Philadelphia horticulturist Bernard McMahon who introduced the plant from materials collected by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The waxy flowers of Chaenomeles come into bloom in late winter or early spring. They are related to quince but certainly in the UK are grown for their bright red (sometimes white) flowers rather than their fruit. The plants originated in western China although there is also a variety which is native to Japan.

This primrose or Polyanthus was growing inside the Kibble Palace Greenhouse though it could also have been found flowering in the gardens outside as it has been a relatively mild winter.

Strelitzia is very definitely an indoor plant in Scotland - it is a native of South Africa. Its common name is bird of paradise flower, because of a resemblance of the flowers to birds-of-paradise. In South Africa it is known as a crane flower. It is also the floral emblem of the City of Los Angeles (where they would have the climate to be able to grow it in the open air).

Camellias do flower in the open air in Scotland - but not at this time of year. This one was growing in one of the extensive series of greenhouses at the Botanic Gardens at Kelvingrove.


We don't go into the centre of Glasgow as much as we used to (peripheral shopping centres with free parking have all the major retail chains so we don't need to go to the city centre as frequently as before). On a recent visit, however, I took the opportunity to take a few pictures as the sun was shining brightly. The Glasgow City Chambers (essentially the "City Hall" where the City Council meet and a number of administration functions are based). It was built in Victorian times is an attractive building - and is also great inside with its marble halls and stairways. See Places to Visit - Glasgow City Chambers.

St Andrew's in the Square, near Glasgow Cross and Glasgow Green is considered to be one of the finest classical churches in Britain. It is no longer used as a church but now houses Glasgow's Centre for Scottish Culture, promoting Scottish music, song and dance. Originally Constructed between 1739 and 1756, it is one of the oldest church buildings left in the city. It is now owned by the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust which took it over in 1993 for the sum of just £1.

The Tolbooth Steeple is all that remains of the original 17th century Tolbooth buildings at Glasgow Cross, a junction of five streets running from it in different directions - High Street to the north, Gallowgate and London Road heading east, Saltmarket to the south, and the Trongate running west to the Merchant City. The Tolbooth was the site of an early Glasgow City Chambers. The Tolbooth Steeple is 126 feet tall and nowadays marks the start of the area of Glasgow designated as the "Merchant City" (see the tall vertical sign on the left).

My Own Garden, East Dunbartonshire

Snowdrops are one of the first of the spring bulbs to burst into bloom. Each plant usually produces only two leaves with the single bell-shaped flower between them. The illustration here is part of a large clump of snowdrops that were planted there many years ago and the carpet of white does look a bit like snow!

Snowdrops used to be thought of as being introduced in Britain by the Romans but they are now considered to have probably been introduced here around the early 16th century - it was first recorded as naturalised in the UK in 1770.

While Snowdrops are basically white with a small patch of (usually) green on the petals, over the years horticuluralists have created a wide variety of colours and sizes for crocus bulbs although lilac, mauve, yellow, and white predominate. And as can be seen here, the central stamens add their own splash of colour

Some crocus grow quite tall, like this purple striped variety. They look quite impressive - until rain and wind batters them to the ground!

Helleborus is sometimes called "winter rose" or "Christmas rose" or even "Lenten rose", but they are not related to the rose family. But they can start flowering around Christmas. This one was planted in a sheltered, shady spot protected by a high hedge. But the low growing white flowers often get spattered with spots of earth splashed up by heavy rain, spoiling the look of them. But there have been long dry spells this year and so they have remained pristine white.

The Burns Supper season at the end of January brought the subject of haggis to the fore again with the usual circulation of Internet stories of wild Haggis being divided into two varieties - one with the left legs longer than the right and the other with their right legs longer than the left so they could run round the hills faster (but in opposite directions). These stories seem to ignore what happens when they run up and down the hills/mountains... I don't know which of the two breeds of haggis this one belonged to as he/she was deep in a heather plant in my garden and so his legs were not visible. (Maybe I should have kept this one till April 1st?)

This variety of daffodils produces quite small trumpets on short stems but they were planted a few years ago and now create a good splash of colour in another shady corner. At least the wind doesn't blow over these small sturdy stems.

This is the trumpet of one of the larger flowered varieties, taken with a close-up lens attached to the camera on my mobile phone. In the past, I've not used many of the pictures from my mobile phone but these lens attachments (also with a wide angle and close up capability) may encourage me to experiment a bit more with this device.

This is another close-up, this time of a white heather. The belief that white heather brings good luck became popular in Victorian times. Queen Victoria noted in her diary that her servant John Brown would always pick any white heather he spotted when out on the Highland hills as he considered it a bearer of good luck. In those days the rarity of white heather might have added to its value - in the same way as four-leaf clovers.

We have two pairs of competing Robins in our garden (as well as at least two pairs of blackbirds). From time to time both the robin and blackbirds will have a furious dispute about any food lying on the ground. It is now necessary to throw the "nibbles" food in different directions to create a separation between them!

Hogganfield Loch, Glasgow

This frog looked rather pleased with himself - and so he should as it was a peak event in his life - when large numbers of frogs all gather in the local pond to produce or fertilise the next generation of frogs! The males were doing a lot of loud croaking to attract a female and the females were producing masses of eggs (frog spawn). I clicked the shutter on the camera for this picture just as the frog was puffing out his cheeks to make another loud croak!

I've often seen frog spawn and tadpoles and small, hordes of young frogs, but this was the first time I had been at the side of a pond when scores of male and female frogs had gathered to lay and fertilise their eggs. It seems that depending on temperature and rainfall the frogs will often return to the pond where they had been born to start the cycle over again. We first became aware of them because of the loud croaking noises being made by the male frogs and then saw the thrashing around in the water. There were large clumps of spawn - a jelly-like substance that protects the eggs inside (which will in turn develop into tadpoles (unless some other creature in the food chain eats them first!)

When we went back to the pond a few days later the clumps of frog spawn was still very much in evidence but all the adult frogs had disappeared leaving the eggs to hatch out their tadpoles on their own.

In an earlier part of the year when the daylight hours were shorter, we visited Hogganfield Loch when the sun was setting and I took this quick picture of the tranquil scene. Hogganfield is not just a public park but also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), not just because of the frogs but because of the variety of birds that over-winter or nest there.

If you want to read the other Diary entries going back to 2009, there is an Index page.

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

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