Friday, 23 June 2017

Orkney the centre of the Viking world

We flew up to Orkney. Today, it is far away, but it was a key centre during Neolithic times. Here is a map of Britain to get you orientated :
The little location pointer at the top is Orkney. The islands are roughly on 59th Parallel,  roughly in line with Stockholm. The blue dot is where we live.

Here is a map of the Orkney showing some of the most important sites.

The Ring of Brodgar originally consisted of a 60 stone Neolithic Henge and is 4-4,500 years old. These stone circles are spread around Britain and had religious significance. Stonehenge is around 5,000 years old

Nearby to that is a Tomb, known as Maeshowe dated about 3,000BC

The tomb is aligned so that the Winter Solstice shines right in around the 22nd December

The Ness of Brodgar is still very much an Archaeological research. It consists of 14 structures and is dated from 3500 to 3200BC. Compare that with the earliest Pyramid dated 2630BC! This site is close to the Maeshowe Tomb, Ring of Brodgar and many other sites and clearly had a vibrant agrarian and trading community

Skara Brae is absolutely mind blowing. It was built in the sand dunes and housed around 120 people,. The roof was most probably covered with poles and turf. It was constructed around 3180BC and was lived in for around 600 years. We are talking over 5,000 years ago!

This is the largest house and has a stone Court Cupboard which would have displayed treasured objects.

Truly and utterly amazing to see.

The City of Kirkwall boasts St Magnus Cathedral which was built from beige and red Sandstone starting in 1137AD and building continued for 300 years.

We attended the St Magnus Music Festival and some performances were held in the Cathedral

The Bishop's Palace, built at the same time, is a ruin now.

Orkney played a big part in the World Wars. I can't go into that here, but one gem was left behind by the Italian Prisoner's of War. who were brought in to build the Churchill Barrier (concrete blocks put into the sea to block the Scarpa Flow. The Italian Chapel was built by the Italian POW's using the meagre materials to them. Two Nissen Huts were given to them and from this they built a beautiful Church. The lamps were made from Bully Beef cans, the interior is painted Trompe L' oel and the statues were made from concrete and barbed wire.

This Time Line might be of interest. Don't forget that history is now being challenged with recent proof that these structures are older  than Stonehedge.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Paula's Garden

In January, Jack Frost extends it's shards of ice over the grass.

Snowdrops brave the cold and start appearing at the end of January

Then, in February, the first Daffodils appear. We have masses of them all over the garden.

Tulips come out around the same time as the Daffs.

Closely behind come the Bluebells. We have a wooded area and this year has been the best display

The Viburnam comes along next

As the days get longer and warmer all plants start growing rapidly and all demand space!

Behind the garden is a rough area which we are still trying to do something with. We have established a meadow in a small part and the Rhododenrons  grow wild.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

5 Years in Scotland - retrospective

We arrived in the Scottish Highlands 5 years ago. One is always wrapped up in the moment, but I felt it is worthwhile to review what we have been doing.

We started out living in a static caravan on site in April 2012 whilst we started working on our derelict house which we had bought in 2008.

The house after gutting out the floors and ceilings

We finished restoring our house in December 2014

We then moved on to Pilmuir Gardens, Forres. A derelict Bar and Disco stood on the site which had to be demolished first

Then we started building the Flats
We have now sold two Flats and rented out two Flats

The Townhouses looked like this during the build
We have sold both Townhouses

Whilst this was going on, we purchased a Semi-detached house on Auction, which had been condemned (can you see a trend emerging?) in Fraserburgh and restored it and let it out. It is one minute's walk to the High Street.
We have been negotiating for some time to buy a Listed building in Elgin which was converted into Offices and is tenanted by two Firms of Solicitors (Attorneys). The pictures don't do it justice in that it has a Upper Ground floor, Lower Ground floor (with windows) and First floor. It is in good condition (surprise surprise)

The property was built in 1827 and is adjacent to large offices.

Putting this on paper has surprised us as we never thought we had been busy!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848. She fell in love with porridge and tartans and all the Royal Family seem to enjoy the rugged outdoors that this area affords, including fishing and stalking.

This part of the Highlands has a rugged beauty with lower temperatures than most parts and a very short Summer!

Prince Albert set about 'modernising' the old house, by building a new granite castle next to it, incorporating the Keep (original tower).

There is a charming glass house and vegetable garden which supplies potted plants in flower to every room in the Castle when the Royals are in residence, and changed weekly.

Going down to Balmoral I took a few pictures to show how this landscape looks!

The town below is Braemar which is close to Balmoral and is well known for the Braemar Highland Games which the Queen attends most years.

On the way we passed this very old Pack Horse bridge at Glenlivet.