Scottie's Monthly Photo Diary

- May 2012

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 occasion. This is a selection of the best photographs I took in May 2012 with a commentary on each one. It thus forms a pictorial diary of my travels during the month which can be shared by everyone!


This is the ceiling of the newly refurbished Palace within Stirling Castle. The room was used as the bedchamber by King James V and alternating panels on the ceiling have his royal cipher "I5" - the letter "I" comes from Iacobus, the Latin form of James. Other designs on the ceiling record the investiture of James into the great European chivalric orders such as the Golden Fleece (Burgundy). St Michael(France), the Garter (England) and the Scottish heraldic thistle. The overmantle to the fireplace is decorated with a unicorn, adopted by Scottish kings as a symbol of purity and strength. Elsewhere in the palace at Stirling there are reproductions of tapestries incorporating representations of more unicorns. The pillars on each side of the fireplace have thistles carved on them. Somewhat disappointingly, it is thought that the king didn't normally sleep in this ornate room but in a smaller side room.

In keeping with his impressive apartments, King James V also had expensive clothing, including a gown of crimson satin from Venice, lined with the finest fur, a jerkin or sleeveless coat, made with black satin and edged with gold braid, a padded jacket, called a doublet, stitched with jewels and gold embroidery, an embroidered shirt, poking through the slashes on his doublet and a floppy velvet bonnet with a beautiful gold and pearl brooch. Quite a dandy!

The Queen's bedchamber was next door to the king, with a huge four-poster bed, near the large fireplace (for those cold Scottish winters!). The walls were hung with rich, brocaded cloth of gold. These were hung on rings onto rods high on the walls, making it easier to take the hangings to another palace when the king and queen moved as they did on a fairly frequent basis between Edinburgh, Linlithgow, Falkland and Stirling. The lass in the red dress is not meant to represent the queen but rather one of her ladies-in-waiting

This suit of armour which now stands in the King's Outer Hall would have been used by one of the French "Warman" or knight in the court of Mary of Guise, the wife of King James V. He would show off his skills at arms on horseback during the jousting season (March to October). The jousting area at Stirling Castle is now a graveyard for the adjacent Church of the Holy Rude.

Perched on the top of a volcanic plug, Stirling Castle has great views of the surrounding valley of the river Forth. In the distance, to the north, is the Highland Fault Line, marking the start of the Highlands. Stirling has been described as the "brooch that pins the Highlands and Lowlands together."

To the north-east of Stirling are the Ochill Hills and even near is Abbey Craig, with the Wallace Monument on its summit. Although not in this picture, the Ochil Hills are now scarred by a large wind farm complex which somewhat diminishes the grandeur of the southernmost edge of the Highlands.


I know this "Battlefield Rest" very well as I went to school in the area from the age of 9 to 12. It is located at a road junction near the old Victoria Infirmary and now the ultra modern New Victoria Hospital occupies the site of the former Queens Park Secondary School. The Battlefield Rest was built as a transport shelter for the tram drivers and conductors and its exterior is tiled in the (then) Glasgow Corporation Transport colours of green and cream. It opened in 1915 and there was a well used news kiosk. The interior featured a huge mural of Glasgow Corporation Transport. It lay empty and unused for many years and was under threat of being demolished but got a new lease of life as a restaurant in the early 1990's.

Bingham's Pond is just over a low wall from Great Western Road, one of the busiest arteries in Glasgow. For a long time it was a neglected area, but a pond naturalisation project was carried out in 2003 by the city's parks department. It has been transformed into a wildlife haven, with water birds happily breeding there for the first time and with damselflies and aquatic plants thriving. That's the Pond Hotel in the middle of this picture and to the right are buildings forming part of the huge Gartnavel General Hospital which serves the whole of north-west Glasgow

Feral pigeons are numerous and commonplace in our towns and cities and I'm used to them coming in all sorts of colours, though they are mainly blue and gray. So when I saw this one with brown feathers at Bingham's Pond I just had to take its picture!

As their name implies, Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris or Kingcup) are usually found in wet, marshy ground, ditches and wet woodland in temperate regions and is a herbaceous perennial of the buttercup family. So it was no surprise to see large numbers of them at Bingham's Pond. It becomes most luxuriant in partial shade. In the UK, it is probably one of the most ancient British native plants, surviving the glaciations and flourishing after the last retreat of the ice, in a landscape inundated with glacial meltwaters. Other names found for this plant in the UK are Mayflower, May Blobs, Mollyblobs, Pollyblobs, Horse Blob, Water Blobs, Water Bubbles, Gollins, Balfae (in Caithness) and the Publican.

Kilmardinny Loch and My Own Garden

The storms in January brought down a lot of trees and most of the wood was chopped up to be used as logs or turned into woodchips. But some of the fallen trees around our local Kilmardinny Loch have been transformed instead into sculptures by some enterprising and skilled woodsman. The most ambitious carving is this large seat decorated with all sorts of wildlife found in this woodland area, including a fish, a butterfly. a dragonfly and a frog!

Here's a close-up of part of that seat showing some of the fine detail that has been carved into the wood. I didn't actually try to sit on this seat (it was a bit damp after some earlier rain) but I don't think it would be particularly comfortable! But it is certainly eye-catching and a great addition to this popular area.

While the seat used a large fallen tree, this owl has been carved out of a much smaller piece of wood. I don't know what tools were used to create this work of art but the result is very realistic!

I knew that this plant was off the path around Kilmardinny Loch because I could smell it some distance away! It's wild garlic and there was a large swathe of it growing in a sheltered part of the wood. Wild garlic is a popular plant for butterflies such as the Orange Tip to lay its eggs.

Kilmardinny produced my first sighting of ducklings for this spring. It's always a delight to see the little balls of fluff being shepherded by the mother. Although there are only four ducklings in this picture, she had no less than nine of a family! It's just as well that she doesn't have to actually feed a brood of that size - she shows them where to feed and they get on with it themselves. The young are able to swim, dive and feed themselves soon after hatching. Which is just as well as their mother is likely to compete with them for food. But she will chase off any other birds which are threatening her brood (which can be as many as 13 youngsters). The male mallard takes no part in looking after the young ducklings.

We planted a number of this variety of Wallflower (Bowles Mauve) to provide nectar for any passing butterfly last year. We did see butterflies late last year when the wallflower was the only plant in our garden with suitable flowers. The flowers lasted well into the winter and it is already sprouting new flower stalks. We've planted a few more in the hope that the butterflies will flock to our garden this summer!

This Belgian Laurel was planted soon after we moved into our present house so it has been growing for over 25 years. It has spread to a bout ten feet high and over ten feet wide. The white spikes of its flowers contrast very well with the dark green of its evergreen leaves.

Dicentra (also known as bleeding-heart) is a genus of 8 species of perennial herbaceous plants in the fumitory family, many with heart-shaped flowers, native to eastern Asia and North America. The flowers are on leafless stalks. which grow in an arch from the base each year.

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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