Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Howdy faithful adventurers!

I've been beavering away on another project the past few weeks so time has been a bit scarce for assembling pictures. I'm hoping to get caught up over the weekend. Watch this space next week.

I'll be hitting the trail again 29 June to 2 July - thinking of heading south to avoid the dreaded midges. As ever, I welcome suggestions and/or company.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


25 May 2007

I was starting to think I'd never get out of town! When I picked up the hire car, I fully intended on stopping in Queensferry for a few pictures of the Forth Road and Rail bridges. Unfortunately, road rage and the 90 minutes to get out of town got the best of me - I hit the bridge with a lead foot! Get outta my way!

I headed north with nothing more than a mental map of Scotland. Once I passed Perth, the majority of the drive was along B-roads so I could take it all in and stop for a wander.
No trip is complete without Heamus and Seamus, the highland cattle. Did you know, originally they were black but, Queen Victoria preferred the ginger ones hence their modern abundance?
I stopped in Pitlochry to enquire about the weekend weather and distance to Aviemore before rejoining the highway. A few miles outside Bruar I found this wonderful vista – windswept and ever changing due to the impending hailstorm. What I wouldn’t give for a quiet retreat such as this.

After winding around the River Spey and over the steep Northern slopes of the Cairngorms I arrived in Tomintoul, exactly 160-miles from my front door, just in time for dinner. Hidden in the Cairngorms at an altitude of 354m (1160ft), it is the highest village in the Highlands - a tranquil, one-horse town perfect for exploring Speyside.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Roads? . . .

Where we're going, we don't need roads."
-Doc Brown, Back to the Future (Amblin Entertainment, 1985)

Well, we might need roads, but burn the map!

In our fast paced, 24-7 global economy it can be hard to find stillness. Some find it behind a bolted front door, or a wee dram, or meditation. When I get a bit stir-crazy, I tend to head for the hills – fresh air, viridian landscapes, and vast cobalt skies. Nothing tops it for clearing the head and heart.

Over Memorial Day weekend (sorry to my Scots friends – the last weekend of May will forever be the start of summer and Memorial Day for me), Enterprise gladly handed me the keys to a brand new Ford Fiesta, black this time, and away I puttered. With only a mental map, and hopes of seeing dolphins at some point, I headed north on B-roads.

What follows is vintage Gnome… as soon as a couple of the panoramas are assembled. Needless to say, 567-miles and 4-days later, the trip was a fantastic success – cloths and trainers so dirty & smelly they could walk on their own, hoarse from singing with the radio/CD player, and some rather amusing antics in the wilds of Scotland...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Amsterdam III - Gables

It just wouldn’t be right to leave Amsterdam without a few more pictures.
I stayed at a smoky, but quiet, hotel in the Southern Canal Belt. Every morning started with a quiet stroll along Reguliergracht, culminating with a look down the canal at the 15 bridges that cross it. Often, tourists rent pedal boats to tour the canals (look toward the mid-left to see one).

The ornate detailing and variety of canal house gables was amazing. To my surprise, it was rare to see a straight building – most were leaning towards the canals or supported by their neighbors. Certainly never to pass a survey in the States!

But, grandeur didn’t stop at the door. Often restored to their 17th century glory these old houses remain jaw-droppingly beautiful – dining room of the Geelvinch Hinlopen Huis, now a business centre (left); garden room in the Museum Van Loon (right).

Through a tiny and unadorned doorway one might stumble into an hofjes or almshouse. The Beijnhof is a typical almshouse built in the 14th century for the Begijntes many of whom were unmarried or widowed women. Rent was paid by caring for the sick or educating the poor and the residents were required to follow three rules – no hens, no dogs, no men. Its hard to believe this quiet oasis is still inhabited by Begijntes less than 20 feet from Amsterdam’s biggest shopping street.

No trip is complete without at least on ‘kirk.’ It is said that genuine Jordaaners were born within earshot of the Westerkerk. Incidentally, Anne Frank took refuge next door.

Finally, for SCH… Blissfully pink tulips.

If you’d like more information, to hear more stories, or see more pictures drop me a note.