Monday, May 13, 2013

Day Fourteen, 29 April 2013

The final day of the tour takes us from Inverness via Stirling, back to Glasgow where we started. 2013 will stand out as the tour we traveled on the most B roads, the latest arrival of spring, the most prompt group of travelers to date, and a plethora of newborn lambs, After 6 tours, give me a week to regroup, and I'm looking forward to next year. Join me April 29-May 12, 2014!

Scotland is a cheese lover's paradise. We stopped at the House of Bruar food hall to purchase picnic food.

Rudy has been weaving on the Unicorn tapestry project at Stirling Castle for 7 years

A section of the last tapestry being woven at the castle.

When we visited the castle in 2012, this piece had been been started Oct 2011.  See the ink around on the warps with cartoon in the background. This is the same section as the now woven piece above.

The color print out from the final piece being woven . Only fragments of the 7th original tapestry remained at the Cloisters Museum in New York. Historic Scotland wanted an entire piece, so the tapestry titled "Sight" from the
Cluny Museum's set of Unicorn tapestries was used for this design.
The weaving studio was built at Stirling Castle for the 13 year long project. Some of the tapestries were woven at West Dean Tapestry Studio in England.
Sharolene with the animated castle guide

"The Start of the Hunt" now hangs with the other completed tapestries in King James V  Royal Palace at Stirling. The tapestries were woven for the refurbishing of the palace. There are records King James V had many tapestries in the palace. However, none remain. The original Unicorn tapestries are from the same time frame, earyly 1500's , so were chosen as the set to reproduce.
One  of the oak Stirling Heads in the Royal Palace. Tapestries were not the only things recreated for the palace restoration. All 56 heads were carved anew based on 38 originals and drawings. 
Sad goodbyes were said by all to our wonderful driver/guide Karen from Rabbies Trailburners. Just a few days after our trip Karen and coach mascot, Callie, were back on the road taking a group of photographers on a wee wander around the country.

All photography and text by Nadine Sanders.

Day Thirteen, 28 April 2013

Goodbye to the islands as today we headed back to the mainland and made our way south from Scrabster to Inverness along the North Sea. We stop to visit the studios of
Steve Clark and Joan Baxter. Joan will be teaching in the U.S. in 2013. If you enjoy tapestries, Joan's website is worth a visit.

The Emigrant Statue in Helmsdale honors the Scottish people who were forced off the land by the Highland clearances and emigrated to countries all over the world.

We visit Ford House where Steve Clarke fashions beautiful blades from recycled steel.

Tools of the bladesmith's trade

Steve is also a master gardner and has created a woodland paradise and garden on their property
Joan's winter trees with sticks

Joan Baxter is a most innovative tapestry artist. She has started dyeing her warps and leaving unwoven areas as part of the design. Joan dyes all the yarns in her tapestries.

Joan is doing a body of work, 24 small pieces based on a story by Orkadian poet, George Mackay Brown, for each month of the year.

Steve Clarke and Joan Baxter

Jane touches the stone wall of rembrance at the Culloden Battlefield visitor centre. The centre commorates the final defeat of the Jacobites on 16 April, 1746.  

Day Twelve, 27 April 2013

Kirkwall on main island, Orkney, was our home base for two days.  The artists of Orkney have long published a craft trail guide  to studios around the islands.  The Orkney Islands are also known for the vast amount of archeological sites .  During WW1 the British Fleet  used Orkney as their base of operation. 

Jackie and Marlene Miller craft Orkney chairs from oatstraw and driftwood

The straw backs are tied into the wood frame.

Clare sitting in her new chair

Dot tries the child's chair which unlike Goldilocks wee bear chair attempt, does not break. Orkney chairs are made to last for decades.

Kathleen holds an actual skull found by her father in a burial tomb on their croft. The family operates the visitor center and tmob, and bronze age site as Tomb of the Eagles.

Lee pulling himself on the trolley into the tomb

Carol Fletcher runs Skerries Bistro, an annual stop for a yummy lunch.

A block ship next to one of the Churchhill barriers, now causeways between islands, is a popular dive site

Glynn, my Glaswegian friend joined us on Orkney . She was fascinated by  the Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war from 2 Nissan huts and recycled items. 

Melissa, Glynn, and Dot,observe a design for new Sheila Fleet ring. Martin, Sheila's son, is the business manger for the family run business his mom started 20 years ago.  Sheila will receive an OBE, Order of British Empire in June from the Queen in London.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Day Eleven, 25 April 2013

The Pentland Ferry saved the day when rival Northlink Ferry broke down and canceled sailings to Orkney.  We visited Skara Brae which pre-dates the pyramids, strolled around Stromness , viewed the Ring of Brodgar and finished at Highland Park Distillery. 
Pit Dwelling at Skara Brae

The ancient settlement sets on the edge of the sea.

Stromness once known as a fishing port , is the home to current tidal energy research.

Jane Navigating the Ring of Brodgar

Jennifer Sampling the Amber Nectar

Day Ten, 25 April 2013

Catching the early ferry off the Isle of Lewis got us back to mainland Scotland by 9:30. We took a scenic B road back into the highlands.  Except for sheep, the  northwest is the least populated area of mainland Scotland. We drove through the Assynt, the newest geo park in Scotland. 
Stac  Poly

The Merry Band  of Travelers

Clare With the Infamous Cocoa  Mountain Deluxe Beverage

Smoo Cave has a sea cliff entrance with the cavern  extending several miles back inland.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Near Dunnet Head

Jennifer in  Castle Varrick Ruins

The Twins. Farmers mark all  newborn lambs with paint  to match with the mother..

Marilyn  in Her New Plaid

Day Nine, 24 April 2013

Gaelic is still spoken by the locals in the Hebridean islands.  We visit Scalpay Linen on croft #37 on the Isle of Scalpay. John Finlay Ferguson's anscestors settled here after they left St. Kilda. 

The Isle of Lewis is not a separate island from Harris, just divided by a river and in earlier days, owned by a different landowner and had a different form of governance than Harris.  We visit a blackhouse village, a broch, and a stone circle.

The public toilet in Scalpay village is useful an in a very scenic location
John Finlay at morning feeding time his flock

Sheila Roderick weaves linen and experiments with fabrics containing their Hebridean wool on a Hattersly loom. Fabric Sheila wove can be seen in some costuming from the recent  The Hobbit movie.

Sheila's linen fabrics

A peat fire burning in one of the blackhouses at Gearrann village

Gearrannan was inhabited until the 1970's.  Now restored, the village has a museum, cafe, youth hostel, and self-catering cottages.

Sharolene between the double layered walls of Dun Carloway broch

Dun Carloway Broch dates back to the Iron Age

Resident archeologist Margaret Curtis has studied the stone circles on Lewis for 40 years

Margaret points out many details on the stones and about the alignment of the stones at Callenish

Callenish Stone Circe