According to the locals, weather in the Scottish Highlands can be described in one of three ways:
A steady mist kept our windshield peppered with tiny drops as we passed the rugged landscape in Glencoe. The vivid green ground cover attests to the fact that most days here are either atmospheric or dramatic with steady precipitation and rapidly changing conditions.
While this region may look like a hiker’s dream, we heard cautionary tales of hikers who grew fatigued on long treks through thin air who treated themselves to a nap, hoping to awaken refreshed. Many hikers who nap succumb to hypothermia.
The ruins of Saint Andrew’s Cathedral might tell stories better than a perfectly restored monument. Wandering through here on a quiet afternoon, one cannot hear the organ or the choir. One cannot see the stained windows that glimmer in other Cathedrals, or gaze up the columns to the arches in the high ceiling.
But you can walk up what was the center aisle, now overgrown with grass and feel the breeze off the North Sea. You can wonder what happened to the missing walls and ceiling.
The town’s people plundered this enormous 12th century Cathedral to build the town? Yes, they did. The 16-century Scottish reformation inspired zealots to dismantle and destroy Catholic churches and abbeys. Today 40% of Scots follow the Church of Scotland, while 20% of Scots are Catholics. Most Catholics are Irish immigrants who live in the Western Highlands.*
My observation is that religion plays a far smaller role in the life of most people today.
The relics of martyr Saint Andrew, who was crucified on a diagonal cross, made Saint Andrews an important pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages. Today, we mainly know of Saint Andrews for its fine university and its 19 century golf course.
If you want to see and hear more about Scotland and northern England, go ahead and subscribe to my blog. There is much more to come from my recent trip there.
Iceland owes its rugged landscape to volcanic origin, dark and bitter cold winters on the Arctic Circle and deforestation by the Vikings. There are a few equally rugged farmers and fishermen who live in rustic isolation. It’s hard to imagine this life in the summer, not to mention the winter.
Iceland is a hot destination now, and for good reason. Airline bargains abound, and the scenery is amazing. If you haven’t discovered this beautiful country for yourself yet, I highly recommend making the trip. Whether you have just been or hope to go, you will be interested in the ASMP Photography exhibit in Pittsburgh this Friday July 9 at 803 Liberty Avenue. I will be exhibiting some large works from my recent trip to Iceland.
Volcanic eruptions are in the news now with action in both Hawaii and Guatemala. Iceland has been formed by volcanoes, and it has experienced recent eruptions. The Icelandic fishing center Heimaey Island, just southwest of the mainland, has recovered from a two-year eruption beginning in the 1973. You can learn all about it at the Museum of Remembrance and walk its quiet streets now lined with new homes.
If you like hiking, landscape photography and exploring quiet places on your own, you will enjoy a visit to Iceland.
I’ve been busy reading and preparing for my upcoming trip to Edinburgh, Scotland and Newcastle, England. Ideas were swirling ’round and ’round in my head as I was trying to fall asleep last night. How many castles, cathedrals and closes will I explore? Will I rely on the train, or will I be bumbling ’round Northumberland on the left side of the road? Will I have time to see the Firth of Forth, or will I be distracted by cashmere on Princes Street?
If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, now might be a good time. I’m feeling inspired!
Next week, I’ll be back in the Big Apple, and I’m looking forward to seeing New York’s iconic sights again. Looking back at the images I have made in past years, I came across this 2013 black and white photograph that celebrates the geometry of the Brooklyn Bridge.
This style is a departure from the vibrant sunsets and colorful birds I have been shooting in Florida, but this subject begs for black-and-white interpretation with its emphasis on pattern.
Next week, I’ll wander no farther than Central Park with my young grandchildren, newborn and not yet 2. But Central Park in the Spring is something special. Stay tuned!