Sunday, 29 August 2010

Castles in the Air

A few weeks ago hubby and I met up with a friend in Edinburgh and then went down to look at Rosslyn chapel. We first visited Rosslyn before it was made famous by the Da Vinci Code movie/book. Back then it was a quiet magical place. Nowadays it's a bit too crowded for my tastes, and you're no longer allowed to take photos inside, but it still an incredible place to visit. The magic is still there... but you need to find a spot to be still in, to find it.

I've always been drawn to the land around Rosslyn. Here's the view from the back of the chapel, looking over the wall and down into the river valley below...
Before we drove down I had a look online to find out more about the area. It turns out that you can visit Rosslyn castle for free, but most people don't even know it exists. I can understand why - from the chapel and village itself there's not a sign of a castle. We had to ask for directions and were told to leave the chapel and go on past the cemetery...
The trees in the valley are so big and lush you can't see much as you walk along...
Then you turn a corner... and there it is - the ruins of Rosslyn Castle. Home of the St Clair family since 1304.
You have to cross that "drawbridge" (an arched bridge) to get to the castle. Yes, that is a house in the background. It was built in the centre of the ruins and is now available as a holiday rental. That bridge is VERY high. It's hard to get an idea how high from photos. It took hubby two photos to get from the walkway and tree tops to the ground. I joined them together...
Which also means that those trees some of the biggest I have ever seen in my life, since some of these trees rise up from that valley floor, up at least three storeys and then on more to a height of about two storeys ABOVE the walkway level! They are HUGE.
Here's a view of the walkway to the castle from within the castle walls, or at least what's left of the walls on that side...
The pinkish sandstone has eroded into the most lovely ripples over time. It's like the stones each have their own fingerprint.

You can see why the castle is barely visible from these photos below - Nature is the mistress of Rosslyn these days...


Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Lion Squeaks Tonight

Recently I was talking about cultural differences with a friend and it reminded me of the night the "lion" squeaked.

It actually was only one event in an exceptionally strange weekend. It started with a proposal and a party and ended with a serenade and a squeak. ;-)

The party was a regular invite from a Xhosa friend of mine, back in South Africa. I remember the first one I went to - I was the only white person invited. It was so funny when I walked in, all conversation stopped dead and everyone STARED. You could almost hear everyone in the room thinking, "OMG... a WHITE person."

Once that first awkward moment was over we all had a great time, although I missed out on some good jokes and funny stories by either not speaking Xhosa or just not getting the cultural joke-in-the-joke. Having the joke explained (like the frog on the pillow being a "dig" at a person's lack of sexual experience) really does take away from the punch line moment.

I always had a great time at those parties, but there was one cultural difference that I had to adjust to - the decibel level.

I've had to watch that cultural difference here in the UK as well. I scared a few English friends before I learnt to turn my inner "volume" down. In Africa everyone is louder than they are in the UK, but the native peoples of Africa are even louder. They yell conversations to each other across fields, roads... city blocks. In some African cultures this loudness is deliberate form of good manners. It is considered rude to say anything that others cannot hear clearly.

Now, you can't be at a party where everyone is set at LOUD and not end up... well.. LOUD. Every time I went to one of Z's parties I'd come home set at a whole new decibel level. I'd usually take a few hours to tune back down to my own everyday level again, but this particular night I went straight from Z's party to a celebratory dinner with my parents. It was celebratory because a certain Scotsman on the far side of the world had just asked me to marry him -that proposal I mentioned. ;-)

We went to this cosy bar and restaurant place that was a family favourite. We were sitting waiting for our meal and I was telling a story... without realising I was still set at Xhosa party decibel level.
I start laughing and realised I was LOUD, so I tried to turn down the volume in mid roar of laughter and for some reason that turned my roar... into a squeak. But this wasn't your average squeak. This wasn't a mouse squeak - this was a mega-tyrannosaurmouse...


Everyone in the place turned to stare at me, including all the men at the bar in the far corner. One man stood up, a little wobbly from a long afternoon enjoying himself, but still firm enough on his feet to make his way across to our table.

In a most charming Irish accent he tells me that was, "The most incredibly impressive squeak" he has ever heard.... and in honour of such an incredible impressive squeak he is going to sing me a song. ..

Actually, he sang four Irish ballads. I remember, "Old Flames can't hold a Candle to You" and "I'll Take you Home again Cathleen", but not the other two. He did try kneeling by the table, but nearly ended up concussing himself on the table edge. So he sang one ballad beside our table, swaying gently to the tune, and the other three he sang sitting at the table while we ate our meal. The owners were aware of him pestering us (I gather they knew him well), but we never complained. How often do you get to eat your meal to live music sung in honour of your squeak?

Only an Irishman could manage to sing beautifully, and be perfectly charming, whilst crashingly drunk... and only a Xhosa party decibel level could create a megasaurmouse squeak out of my Leonine roaring laughter! ;-)


Sunday, 22 August 2010

Change Your Perception

It's the stuff we think we know
That stops us all from learning.
It's the wood that needs to grow
That keeps your fires burning.

You can educate a fool,
You can wrap him up in learnin',
You can read him all rules,
But you can never make him think...

With an instant radical change of perception
A hundred and eighty degrees in direction
Inoculate against the infection
And set a new course on a brand new trajection
In a brand new direction

It's the greenhouse that we're heating
That makes tomorrow colder,
And doomsday drums are beating
A tattoo upon your shoulder.

You can educate a fool,
He could be a title holder.
You could read him all the rules,
But you can never make him think...

With an instant radical change of perception
A hundred and eighty degrees in direction
Inoculate against the infection
And set a new course on a brand new trajection

In a brand new direction
A change of perception
On a brand new trajection

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Crow's Feet Revisited

This month I gave my blog a revamp. I finally got around to updating to the new templates, chose a new background (after trying out hundreds, like a typical woman in a shoe shop!) and then...

I stuck.

I looked at my name, "Crow's Feet" and felt frustrated. With a new look, new background, new pages (check out Scenic Scotland) the name suddenly looked OLD. It felt out of date and not relevant anymore. :-\

Then last week we drove down so that I could meet up with an Internet friend. The first thing she did when we met was hand me a little bag and say, "Happy Birthday! This is meant for you."

I opened it up and inside was...
the most wonderful silver bird on a chain.

Not a crow. This bird is a water bird, but I took one look at those adorable dangly feet and even though these are webbed I got the message - BIRD FEET. Goofy bird feet, smart feet, funny feet... crow's feet.

This weekend I started remembering why I chose that name in the first place. My blog title states that my writing is "a journey" that I'm taking with "crow's feet, in more ways than one."

What were those original ways?

The first one relates to how many crows I've come into contact with here in Scotland. Of the four houses we have lived in, three have come with resident crows. I'd forgotten to mention that the crow family are all still alive and well here at this house.

The second one is another I haven't mentioned on my blog in a long time - how Crow was given to me as a spiritual guide. I'd forgotten the blessings of Crow.

The third is a fairly obvious one - crow's feet wrinkles denote aging and (hopefully) maturity and experience. I'd forgotten that experience is an ongoing adventure. Sometimes the only way to tell how much progress we've made in life is to look back at our footprints trailing away behind us.

I looked back yesterday and was surprised to see how far I have come. It doesn't always feel like I'm getting anywhere, especially when I'm so busy struggling forwards that I forget to check my footprints.... which leads me to the fourth way.

This is one I've never blogged about... and had completely forgotten about. I started writing my first blog post in hospital. While I was in hospital I dreamt a crow landed on my bed, handed me a quill pen (crow feather, of course!) and told me, "Write!"

I'd forgotten that crow's feet are crow's words.

Thank you Ritva, for reminding me of who I am and how I fly.


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Rug Rabbit

I've had a busy week and have loads of good stuff to post, but before I get there I have to update everyone on the latest adventures of Flopsy and Cottontail.

It was hubby who saw it all from the start. He called me to the window and my heart sank... there was a rabbit lying on the edge of the road.
Had someone run over one of our buns? :-(

Then I realised the ears were upright. Dead rabbits do not have upright twitchy ears. We took a closer look and what did we see? We saw Flopsy doing what he does best - SNOOZING. He looks more like a rug than a rabbit!
Here below is a close up of Cottontail. Being a sensible wild rabbit he is nibbling the plants beside the road, not on it!
...while Flopsy stretches out for maximum warm-tar tummy bliss.
That rabbit just gets cuter (and lazier!) every time I see him. :-)

Monday, 9 August 2010

Going to the Dentist

No-one likes going to the dentist, but ours has on thing in their favour... this is the view from the dentist's car park. Lossiemouth beach front with a wooden bridge/walkway going across the lagoon to the beach sand dunes.
The beach is beyond these green dunes. What a view to look at as you go to work each day!
This last photo was taken across the road, looking back at the shops. Our dentist is in a house behind the one on the right.
Lossie is very charming, but exceptionally noisy! There's an air base just on the edge of town. Planes, helicopters and jets are constantly roaring overhead. Going to the dentist was never this much fun anywhere else I've lived. ;-)