"Scotland Week by Week" contains a selection of flowers, animals, birds and scenery typical of the time of year. The photographs were previously part of a regular "Colour Supplement" which ran for nearly four years as part of the original Scottish Snippets newsletter. While seasons do vary from year to year, this collection gives a good idea of the flora and fauna typical of central Scotland at each week of year.
The weak winter sun is here slipping below the horizon just after 3.30pm, its orange rays reflected from the clouds at Lochend Loch in Drumpellier Country Park in North Lanarkshire, just as a flock of seagulls passes over. This location has produced a number of good sunsets in recent weeks - though the sun does not penetrate the clouds every day!
Like all the birds and animals, raptors such as this Kestrel find it harder to find food in winter. So they spend more time sitting on the top of bare branches, watching with their keen eyes for any movement that might mean a tasty meal! Those keen eyes also mean that they can see humans approaching with cameras - I needed to stay hidden by some other hawthorn trees to be able to get close enough.
The peanut "brick" was put out for the small birds. But the defences of a long piece of thin wire proved to be an easy obstacle for this grey squirrel to overcome and it gorged itself on the tasty meal. Fortunately, after over-indulging, it departed and the birds got a (small) share too!
The bright berries and evergreen leaves of this holly tree seemed to fit in well with the approach of Christmas.
Small lochs - such as the one at Drumpellier Country Park freeze over more easily than larger stretches of water. But it is surprising to see many of the local birds, such as this female Mallard, choosing to sit on the cold ice rather than floating on the water.
Orchids in Scotland? Well, yes, grown in the warm and humid atmosphere of the glass houses at the Kelvingrove Botanic Gardens in Glasgow. Just the place to go on a chilly December day!
Kelvingrove Botanic Garden has a huge collections of tropical orchids, begonia, tree ferns, trees and shrubs in its glass houses. In April, the buildings host an orchid fair with displays and sales of orchids and other plants.
Pelargoniums (also known as geraniums) are popular house plants but few homes will have blooms quite as large or attractive as these ones grown under glass at Kelvingrove Botanic Gardens.
Earlier this year, Blair Castle in the heart of Perthshire won a gold award for green tourism for meeting a range of environmental and sustainability criteria. The recent fall of snow has turned the estate white, of course, but that doesn't stop the staff reusing and recycling! Unlike many other tourist attractions in Scotland in the winter, Blair Castle still welcomes visitors - on Tuesdays and Saturdays, from 9.30am to 2pm. At this time of year the inside of the castle is as festive as the outside snow scene. There are Christmas decorations, including the grandeur of the State Dining Room set for a festive banquet. Visitors can warm themselves by the roaring open fire in the ballroom whilst enjoying a complimentary glass of mulled wine. And the Tullibardine Restaurant is open for a spot of festive refreshment. For further details visit http://www.blair-castle.co.uk
Picture of Blair Castle via Ginny Lawson PR.
It's hard to believe that the pretty Fife village of Limekilns (seen here) and the adjacent Charlestown were two of the earliest industrial locations in Scotland. Limekilns gets its name from the kilns that processed the lime (found near the surface) and coal to produce lime for lime mortar and to improve the soil. In the 13th century, Limekilns (known then as Gallets) was the main port for inland Dunfermline. Initially the lime was converted to using charcoal. Around 1750, the processing moved a mile along the coast to Charlestown where huge kilns were built into a cliff face, with coal and lime loaded in at the top and various types of lime removed at the foot.
Although Limekilns is a only a small village, it has an impressively large parish church, built in 1825. No church tower, but a two-storey building with classical pilasters, supporting a full-width pediment. The present population of Limekilns is around 1,300.
The Bruce Arms in Limekilns is the main hotel in the village. Like the harbour (named Bruce Haven), it is named after King Robert the Bruce (who is buried at Dunfermline Abbey, three miles to the north. For those not familiar with Scottish scenes, the red box to the left is a public telephone box - numbers of these are declining as a result of mobile phones.
This unusual sundial on a corner of "Hope Cottage" in Limekilns bears the date 1689. But the building itself is an 18th century construction and the earlier sundial was probably added to give Hope Cottage an appearance of greater age.
Calton Hill is another volcanic plug near the centre of Edinburgh, which is seen from Princes Street, the main shopping area of the Capital. On the left is the spire of the Tolbooth Kirk (also known as St John's Highland Church). It has the highest steeple of all the churches in Edinburgh (73 metres, 240 feet) but is now the ticket office and meeting place for the Edinburgh Festival. Next is the outline of Edinburgh Castle, followed by the clock tower on top of the Balmoral Hotel. To the right of that is the top of the Scott Monument in Princes Street. The large, Grecian style monument on Calton Hill itself commemorates Dugald Stewart (1753-1828). He was a son of the Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University. From 1775, father and son held the Professorship jointly. The monument was designed by Sir William Playfair and is modelled on one erected by Lysicrates in Athens in the 4th century.
Seen in the setting sun earlier this week, are two of the buildings on top of Calton Hill. The twelve Grecian columns are all that were built of a "National Monument" to those who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Finance for the project ran out, leaving this prominent section as an inspiration for other architects to be more successful in creating the "Athens of the North." To the right, is the Nelson Monument, which was dedicated in 1807, two years after the Battle of Trafalgar. The 108 foot tower was designed by Robert Burn to resemble an inverted telescope and houses a museum to Nelson.
Jenners Department Store - the "Harrods of Edinburgh" - was built in 1895. The ornate decoration is typical of the opulent detail of the Victorians. There is a tea-room on one of the upper floors which looks out over Princes Street and the castle - a unique view.
The Ferris wheel (covered in coloured lights at night) rotates beside the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens as part of Edinburgh festive season. There are also merry-go-rounds and a large number of stalls in a German-style market (though the one selling Scottish cheese seemed to be doing a roaring trade).
This picture of Edinburgh Castle was taken as the rain swept over the esplanade (castle forecourt) and the wind threatened to blow away my umbrella which was sheltering me and the camera. In those conditions, a tripod was not feasible. So the picture is testimony to the "anti-shake" technology in cameras these days!
When the large Ferris Wheel was first installed in Prince Street Gardens for the festive season some years ago, the gondolas projecting over the pavement - and passing pedestrians - caused safety issues until a temporary roof over the pavement was built. The monument to Sir Walter Scott rises behind the wheel in this picture.
In this picture there is a traditional "merry-go-round" in front of the Ferris wheel. The first Ferris wheel (named after a Pennsylvania bridge-builder, George Ferris) was built for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois in 1893.
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