Wester Ross

Years ago, during my undergraduate years, I used to take a break with my father in September for a week. It was usually to go somewhere hill walking as he had a week off from work in September and it coincided nicely before I left for university each year.

I have great memories from these trips and usually came back super fit from just a week of hillwalking or Munro Bagging as it is commonly known. I am keenly aware of how fortunate I am to have this time with my father and it has been the source of many memories I have thought about over the years since then.

Although it had nothing to do with hill walking, one of my fondest memories the second year that we went together was phoning home to find out that I had got into The University of St Andrews. It had been a stressful summer waiting to find out as it was the only university I had applied to. Putting all your eggs in one basket? Moi? It started the ball rolling towards my higher education. Little did I know at the time that I would still be in higher education for the next eight years.

This year, as I had accumulated a little too much vacation time from my own work, I had the opportunity to rekindle the September get away with my father. We visited Wester Ross, in particular the Gairloch area. I used to spend a lot of time in this area when I was younger as it was a favourite holiday location of my parents and I had become very attached to the area as I grew up.

Click to see the larger image.

Although no hillwalking was taken on this trip we did spend a lot of time walking and travelling around the area, and booking dinner at the Old Inn every night! It was a welcome break from the central region and it was nice that there is no cellular reception whatsoever. Like, none. But there was wifi at the campsite and the Old Inn, as long as 512kb/s is your thing. This isn’t a complaint, but it is reality in this area.

We also had the worst coffee in all of Scotland at Mountain Coffee, primarily because it was close to the campsite. It is perfect if you like Starbucks prices and dishwater tasting coffee. I also had a nice surprise at the Gale Centre, they have an amazing Rain Garden which I must add to the 10000 Rain Gardens for Scotland Project.

Anyway, I did take some photos, primarily to see what the iPhone 11 Pro could do with the new cameras, which did not disappoint me especially in low light. I have a lot of landscape photographs below because it is hard to take photographs in such a beautiful place without being in landscape :-)

Gairloch Bay from Strath.

Gairloch Bay at dusk.

Across Gairloch Bay towards Free Church of Scotland

From Cove looking back towards Poolewe and the Isle of Ewe

Stac Pollaidh in the middle with Beinn an Eoin on the left with its summit covered in cloud.

Netherlands II

During my recent trip to The Netherlands I also visited De Hoge Veluwe National Park (The Hoge Veluwe National Park), a national park in the province of Gelderland. It is approximately 55 square kilometers in area, consisting of heathlands, sand dunes, and woodlands. It is situated in the Veluwe, the area of the largest terminal moraine in the Netherlands. Most of the landscape of the park and the Veluwe was created during the last Ice Age. The park forms one of the largest continuous nature reserves in the Netherlands. I have previously visited the park many years ago to look around the Kröller-Müller Museum, founded by art collector Helene Kröller-Müller and opened in 1938. It has the second-largest collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh, after the Van Gogh Museum.

I didn’t take many photographs while I was there, but I can recommend visiting the area for both the museum and the walks around the park.

I also found some other photographs from The Hague that I thought were worth posting here as well, these four are from Zevenhuizen. The village actually has its own flag and coat of arms due to it being its own municipality until 1991. The area is slightly spoiled by the power pylons running in the background. I tried to take photographs that hid them, but you can see the clearly in the third photo.

And one last shot from the beach, it’s starting to become my favourite place in The Hague.

Slow shutter speed at the beach.

Netherlands

it has been almost a week since I have from the Netherlands and I have spent much of that time contemplating my future. At least once every year I have to visit The Hague to take care of various pieces of administration and almost always visit for longer than I really need to, it provides a welcome break from work and the madness of Brexit.

I haven’t posted much on this journal this year primarily because I have very few positive thoughts as most of my thinking has been swallowed up by the constant noise that the current political situation is providing in Britain. It has been unbelievably polarising and I cannot remember any other time that I have been so embarrassed for British politicians when I have travelled. It seems that much of the western world is lurching to the right and it feels like a course correction is required.

Still, a week away from that madness in a place where I can't read the news, or can at least escape it, provided some much needed relaxation. As The Hague is an ever evolving city with new buildings going up and older buildings being renovated. Even Den Haag Centraal Station has been finished (after around ten years of reconstruction). It is always nice to wander around and see what is different or new. One of my favourite discoveries was Kaafi, a new brasserie on Prinsestraat. Apparently it has been open since 2017 but I have somehow missed it on previous trips. Shockingly I have to say that it has the best coffee (and selection) that I have tasted in The Hague.

I was resenting carrying my camera around in the heat so most of my photographs were taken on my iPhone. I am sure that I have taken these photographs many times over the years but these are still some of my favourite places in The Hague. Holland Spoor has changed so much in the past few years it is now completely pedestrianised and has lots of restaurants to eat out in, it has become really pleasant to spend time at when I compare it to when I first moved to The Hague.

Of course no visit to The Netherlands would be complete without a visit to a windmill or two (in this case seven). My companion for the week ( @catwith8lives ) took me out to Sevenuizen which is situated between Zoetermeer and Gouda.

Two of the Windmills at Sevenuizen

I also visited Amsterdam Pride when it was parading through the canals, I was apprehensive about going as I could only imagine the carnage that would be Amsterdaam Centraal Station but to my surprise it wasn’t so bad. The pride march makes a route through some of the canals on boats that have been turned into floats, it was amazingly well organised and was a lot of fun to watch.

So I have returned to Scotland for the moment and am still enjoying the stroopwaffels that I brought back with me and if I close my eyes I could almost be back there, if I block out the rain and the politicians.

Sheds

I have been taking photographs of the Sheds at the new(ish) attractions of the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel the past week. At this time of the year these attractions are crazy busy with tourists, even at night. The shot at the Kelpies was taken just after sunset which was around 10pm. I must have counted at least 40-50 people there.

Cargo Yard Sheds at the Falkirk Wheel

Sheds at the Kelpies

Summertime trips

Summer, this year, has stalled several times. Most days are a mix of everything, hail, rain, sunshine and cloudy can be expected anywhere at anytime!

With a friend (@catwith8lives) visiting last weekend we were lucky to at least get a day with some sunshine and managed to visit a few of the local attractions along the John Muir Way and later drove north into the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

I live close enough to the Falkirk Wheel to be able to walk there along the canal tow path, a walk that can be extended along the John Muir Way via Rough Castle and back into Bonnybridge at the Forth & Clyde Canal. The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. It opened in 2002, reconnecting the two canals for the first time since the 1930s as part of the Millennium Link project.

Driving into the Trossachs is always a bit arduous, the amount of traffic that is in that area on such tight roads is amazing. Making it to Loch Katrine was worth it though, there is a great walk around Loch Katrine that has splendid views of the surrounding hills and if you are lucky you will also see the Sir Walter Scott steamship. Trips on steamships have been going since 1859 and the Sir Walter Scott has been cruising Loch Katrine since 1899.

Visiting the Trossachs was also a great opportunity to eat at Venachar Lochside Restaurant, which I highly recommend and as luck would have it they were able to host us after our visit to Loch Katrine. Usually it’s very busy at the weekends and during the summer they close for wedding receptions, so it’s worth checking their website beforehand. Have added a photograph that I took before in winter from the garden of the restaurant, it is a great location to take photographs of Loch Achray and the surrounding countryside.

Loch Achray, winter 2017/18