On a day of bright sunshine that would disappear and be replaced by a heavy shower, only for the sun to reappear, I stopped the car to take this photo over the water at Gadloch near Lenzie. There was a fiery red sunset in the west - and threatening dark clouds (out of the picture) to the north.
This photo was taken at Colzium Estate, near Kilsyth in North Lanarkshire. The trees are still without their leaves but the first of the many snowdrops at Colzium had burst into flower.
The walled garden at Colzium is attractive at most times of the year but especially so in the spring when a huge number of snowdrops of different varieties come into flower. There are not huge drifts of them (unlike the daffodils which will burst forth later in another part of the estate. Instead, there are small groups of speciality snowdrops, each with its label showing which variety is showing. I used to think snowdrops were snowdrops - until I saw Colzium in the spring!
There was only this one, delicate crocus in flower at Colzium last week, presumably an early-flowering variety as most of the crocus bulbs in the west of Scotland are only showing green leaves just now. The label beside this crocus said it was "Tourneforth".
As the weeks go by, the colours of the feathers on chaffinches are beginning to get stronger and brighter. This fellow was gulping down the seeds in my garden - before another 20+ of his clan also descended!
The sun was shining brightly in the greenhouses at the Kelvingrove Botanic Gardens in Glasgow when this picture was taken on Wednesday. The orchid house there is a popular place for locals and tourists alike - particularly when it's cold outside!
The delicate flowers of Iris Reticulata seem quite large on the screen, but are in reality quite small, only about an inch across.
Whenever you see a shrub with pink or white flowers in winter time in central Scotland, the chances are that it will be one of the many varieties of Viburnum. The flowers of this one at Colzium Lennox Estate stand out against the blue sky.
The Assembly Hall in Edinburgh is located near Edinburgh Castle, overlooking Princes Street Gardens and the National Gallery of Scotland. It was built in 1858 to 1863, to a design by Sir William Playfair, as colleges and offices by the Free Church of Scotland. The soaring neo-Jacobean architecture creates a skyline of towers, turrets and windows. After the reunion of the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland, it was used each year for the church's General Assembly and as the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Edinburgh. It was used for a time to house the Scottish Parliament when it was re-convened in 1999.
Within the courtyard of the Assembly Hall (above) stands an imposing statue of John Knox (1513-1572), arm upraised in a suitably declamatory pose. Knox was influenced by the Protestant ideas of Calvin in Switzerland. He came back to Scotland in 1559 and became minister at St Giles in Edinburgh. In 1560 the Scottish Parliament, with guidance from Knox, drew up the "Confession of Faith" which established Protestantism and government of the Church of Scotland along the lines he had learned in Geneva.
The fine equestrian statue of Earl Haig, the commander-in-chief of the British army from December 1915 to the end of the First World War, stands on the esplanade (forecourt) of Edinburgh Castle. He was regarded as a calm optimist but because of his shyness he never addressed his troops and indeed was not often seen by them. His statue in Edinburgh was donated by a Bombay parsee, Sir Dhumjibhoy Bomanzi.
The lion rampant and the motto "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit" are displayed above the entrance to Edinburgh Castle. The Latin can be translated roughly as "Nobody provokes me unpunished" but is often rendered in Scots as "Wha daur meddle wi me." The motto is used on the Royal coat of arms in Scotland. It is also the motto of the Order of the Thistle, the Scottish chivalrous order and of the British Army regiments The Royal Regiment of Scotland and Scots Guards.
On either side of the entrance (over a drawbridge) to Edinburgh Castle are these fine statues of the Scottish heroes King Robert the Bruce (on the left) and Sir William Wallace. The bronze statues were placed on niches in the gatehouse of the castle in 1929.
Often overlooked by the many tourists who visit Edinburgh Castle, this bronze fountain at the eastern end of the esplanade is near the site on which hundreds of "witches" were burned at the stake in the 16th century. The last witch was hanged in Scotland in 1728. The design of the memorial fountain incorporates a wicked head and a serene head to signify that while some used their knowledge for evil purposes, others were misunderstood. The serpent also has a dual significance of evil and wisdom, while the spray of Foxglove flowers further emphasises the dual purpose of many common objects. Since water no longer comes from the fountain, the trough has been filled (rather incongruously) with a plastic plant trough and primrose plants.
We can get snow in February though it usually doesn't last long but enough was left in Princes Street Gardens and the castle rock here to add to the picturesque scene.
Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh is located beside Waverley Station, the main railway terminus in the Capital. It has to be one of the most attractive buildings in the city. It was built originally as the North British Hotel for the railway company which used Waverley. It opened its doors for the first time on October 15, 1902. The clock is traditionally kept two minutes fast to ensure that tardy travellers hurry up and catch their train!
The way that even in the winter months there are plants in Scotland producing their flowers is always a delight. The crinkly strap-shaped petals of Hamamelis (also known as Witch Hazel) are only about ½ inch long, but the clusters appearing on leafless branches create a vivid show. The flowers survive even the harshest frosts and most have a slight fragrance.
This 19th century, Tudor Gothic styled mansion house originates from 1895. It was built by the Schaw family and gifted to Glasgow as a convalescence home attached to the city’s Royal Infirmary. It later became a nursing home but when that folded it was converted into high quality flats.
Since St Valentine's Day is on 14 February, I thought including this display in the window of a branch of Bradford's bakery would be appropriate. Who says we Scots aren't romantic?
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