It has been a while since posting - apologies! We've been away for a while (5 days in Scotland, and then the following weekend down to the in-laws), so I've not had much of a chance for posting.
Scotland was amazing. Every time I visit, I am struck by the beauty of the country - I have been in love with it since my first visit about 15 years ago. If it wasn't for the fact that it gets so cold (I don't *do* cold at all...), I would be up there permanently.
We were there for the wedding of two of our friends, at a gorgeous location right on the edge of Loch Lomond. John and I were very lucky - our room at the hotel looked out over the loch...
This was the view from our bedroom window.
This was the sunset on the Friday evening two minutes' walk from the hotel.
The wedding itself was brilliant - Sarah looked amazing in her dress, complete with grey cloak and elven circlet, and she turned into a warrior princess whilst weilding the knife for cutting the cake! (I'm sure she scared the photographer...) She went up the aisle to the Dance Macabre, and I really hope that she has the same reflex grin that I get when listening to the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.
There was a ceilidh afterwards, and John and I danced our socks off! Obviously, as the wedding was in Scotland, there were a few experts, and I don't think that the caller was quite prepared for the number of people who really didn't know what they were doing (as evinced by the fact that he had to stop calling at one point because he was laughing so much!) But it was great fun - the first time I've ever seen people dancing the Gay Gordons to "Postman Pat" - the music mutated in the middle of the dance, and watching the "It can't be... It is!" look spread across people's faces was fantastic.
After the wedding, the group of six of us from the South West stayed in the Loch Lomond area for a couple of days, having hired a car, to make the most of our time in Scotland. We stayed at the Oak Tree Inn, a pub/hotel that I can't recommend highly enough. The staff were so friendly and helpful, the food was amazing (I am determined to ferret out their recipe for Mars Bar Cheesecake...), and the location was stunning. And, as we were there out of season, there were very few people around - once we strolled down to the loch, the only sounds we could hear were the birds singing. Even better, from my wildlife loving mindset, was that the birds had not had enough negative contact with people to be scared of them. We were used as chasing posts for a male chaffinch determined to catch up with his lady love (sadly no picture of this - they were too fast), a robin guarding his territory:
a very inquisitive raven:
two swans who wanted to dabble like ducks:
A chicken who wanted to cross the road:
an island full of cormorants:
as well as wrens, blackbirds, ducks and gulls.
The loch was just gorgeous, and we were so lucky with the weather - blue skies and sunshine for pretty much the whole holiday. I think we all turned into slight artists with our cameras, all looking out for good shots :-) The scenery was so peaceful - the landscape really humbles you, the mountains telling you, "We were here a thousand years ago, we will be here in a thousand years' time. Your day to day stresses and strains really don't make a difference to us." It really helped to be able to wrap that peace around me, and to think that whatever happens, the mountains will always be here. (and yes, for the pedants amongst us, I know that geologically speaking, they won't, but for a recordable period of time, they will...)
Here are some of my favourite photos, capturing the peace and the colour of Loch Lomond.
PS - I worked out how to get photos working in posts! ;-)