Rampant Scotland

Scotland in Colour Week By Week

December - Weeks 3/4

"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.

Sunset at Castle Semple Loch

Tuesday of this week was a bright sunny and cold day in many parts of the country. This photograph of Castle Semple Loch in Renfrewshire was taken just after the sun had set (around 3.45pm) in a cloudless sky.


The low winter sun adds an extra glow to these Cotoneaster berries near Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire. It was surprising that the local birds had not eaten them all up by now!


This male Goosander in Hogganfield Loch Nature Reserve is probably a young one, judging by its plumage. It has not yet developed the sleek black and white of the adult.

Venus at Sunset

In recent weeks, the planet Venus has been clearly visible as the sun sets, so long as the sky is clear. This picture was taken at Drumpellier Country Park in North Lanarkshire on Wednesday - Venus is that small spot in the upper left of the picture.


You may be wondering at a photograph of a rhododendron to illustrate the current week, when it's the middle of December. But this is one of the very early flowering varieties and indeed it has been in bloom for a few weeks. But the flowers then were at the top of the high shrub and it was only this week that some appeared lower down, allowing a close-up to be taken.


Regular readers may recall the contortions of the local grey squirrel in my garden, which successfully reached the peanut block and the seed-feeder, which had been set up for the birds. At last, I seem to have found something which is thwarting even the most dexterous squirrels - allowing these greenfinches and many other birds to nibble away at the peanuts. Of course, Vaseline spread on the branch above is also part of the successful defences... (If you are a supporter of squirrels, I should point out that there are nuts and seeds on the grass too!)

Poinsettia is very much in evidence around Christmas time, though in Scotland it has to be grown indoors as a house plant. Poinsettia is one of the large family of Euphorbia called "Pulcherrima". The flowers are actually the small yellow petals in the centre, the blood red colour being provided by bracts that look like brightly coloured leaves.

The Bank of Scotland (now part of the Lloyds Banking Group) has overlooked Princes Street and its gardens from The Mound since 1801. It was extended in the Scottish baroque style in 1865-70. Internally, the building is palatial.

The 19th century "Kibble Palace" in Kelvingrove Botanic Gardens has recently had a major facelift with its iron-work cleaned and repainted and the glass removed. It contains a fine collection of exotic tree ferns, which was started in 1881.

The latest shopping mall which will help to maintain Glasgow's position as the largest and best retail centre in the UK outside of London is this one at Silverburn, which opened at the end of 2007. Silverburn is a 350 million retail park of a million square feet, making it one of the largest retail centres in Scotland. City centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen have more retail space, but not all under one roof. It is located in the Pollok district of the city, a large local authority housing area. The developers claim it will provide "the very best of high street shopping but with the convenience of having it under one roof."

This variety of Viburnum starts to produce its delicate-looking flowers in the autumn and continues to bloom into the winter. Unlike the Poinsettia above, it grows outside, rather than under cover. It has a delicate perfume, too.

King Malcolm III (known as "Canmore") and his wife Margaret were married in Dunfermline in 1070 and it was Margaret (later canonised as St Margaret) who established a Benedictine priory there before the end of the 11th century. However, it was their youngest son, when he became King David I, who enlarged the priory to the status of an abbey during his reign from 1124 to 1153. Because of St Margaret (a chapel to her was completed in the middle of the 13th century), Dunfermline became a place of pilgrimage and its abbey became one of the richest in the country.

After the Reformation of the church in Scotland in the middle of the 16th century, the Roman Catholic abbeys across Scotland, including Dunfermline, were no longer used as places of worship and were not maintained. Even so, massive buttresses were added in the 1620s to strengthen the walls of the nave. But during the 17th and 18th centuries St Margaret's chapel, a tower and the gable of the choir all collapsed. In the early 19th century, it was decided to build a new church on the site of the eastern limb of the abbey. That building, with its tower dedicated to King Robert the Bruce, is seen in the picture above.

In more recent times, it is King Robert I (The Bruce) who is commemorated most at Dunfermline Abbey with the words "King Robert the Bruce" carved round the central tower. This was built in the early 19th century after the original tower fell in a violent storm. During restoration work, human remains considered to be those of King Robert the Bruce were found and reburied in a position later occupied by the pulpit. There is a commemorative plaque and spotlights marking the spot. At his request, King Robert's heart was taken on a Crusade by James Douglas. In a fight against the Moors in Spain, Douglas was killed and the embalmed heart was returned to Scotland. It was later buried in Melrose Abbey.

Adjacent to Dunfermline Abbey is Abbot's House, which incorporates parts of an earlier 15th century house and is thus the oldest dwelling in Dunfermline. Although within the original grounds of the abbey, there is no evidence to suggest that it was occupied by the abbot - the earliest reference to 'Abbot House' is in the 19th century. It is now the Abbot House Heritage Centre, with displays covering many of the events of Scotland's history.

If you want to look back at other editions of these photos of Scotland week by week, there is an Index Page

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