Not… A Bridge too Far

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Connel Bridge, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

There are not that many Bridge in the UK that have Listed Status, being of historic importance…. but Connel Bridge is justifiably one of them. When it was built in 1903, its 524ft cantilever span was the second longest in Scotland.  Only the famous Forth Railway Bridge was bigger, both having been constructed by Arrol Bridge Builders..

Connel Bridge stands at the mouth of Loch Etive where it joins the Firth of Lorne. It is at  times a tempestuous location,  the water flowing out of Loch Etive meets the incoming tides, which together with the deep channels, create the Falls of Lora.

As for the Bridge itself, it has had a chequered history.  Originally built as a Railway Bridge for the Callander and Oban Railway, it carried a single track line. Later a narrow roadway was built alongside the rail line.  For a time cars were conveyed on a wagon…..  for a Toll of course..  The Railway closed in 1966 and the line removed and replaced by a single track road.  Today,  a one way traffic system is controlled via Traffic lights.

Progress has seen a many, much bigger, bridge constructions. But Connel Bridge with its unique highland backdrop and the turbulent waters below, has a special magic of its own.

Whatever metaphorical bridges you have to negotiate today….

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

18th February

(C) David Oakes 2021

Valentine’s Day……..

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Valentine tokens were exchanged long before the Greetings Card Industry was invented. The commercialisation all  happened in the Victorian era, when  the printing techniques enable low cost mass production of coloured images.  Raphael Tuck & Sons, who had print works in London and also Saxony, were pioneers in developing the ‘Post Card’.  Many of the first Valentine Cards were just like postcards….. flat cards.  True they also produced folded cards with lace trim and other embellishments, but it was the flat cards, at a modest price that satisfied the mass market.  The Card above dates from circa 1885.

Three more cards, from my collection, are also samples of Victorian Valentine Cards.  Dated around 1900 and perhaps depict a further development in art style of the period.

Valentines senders were supposed to remain anonymous, which to me seemed rather strange…no point in ‘secret love’.  But I guess in the current Lockdown life we live, with many folk living lives apart, that many NEW methods of expressing ones “socially distanced” affectations have become the mode of conveyance.  I also guess the messages and the  intentions remain the same.

Valentines Day it may be but our message remains the same….

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

14th February

(C) David Oakes 2021

Silent Sunday…….. Off to Church

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St. Michaels Chapel, Rame Head, Cornwall

Many years ago, when we were walking a part of the Cornish Coastal Path, we approached Rams Head.  It is a rocky outcrop that protrudes into the English Chanel and because of it high elevation also has a clear view down to Plymouth Sound.

As we approached we could see a Stone building at the highest vantage point.  We were to discover that this building was in fact called St. Michaels Chapel.

But the Chapel was not the first construction on this summit.  As far back as the Bronze and Iron Ages there has been a Hill Fort on this very spot. Not a bad strategic position, commanding expansive views  across both sea and land.  The building of the Chapel is ascribed to St. German and dates back to 981.

The weather and age has taken its toll on the Chapel, but I suspect it has always been very utilitarian building.  Apart from a place for prayer, I guess it was also a place of sanctuary for travellers and pilgrims providing basic shelter from the weather.

St. Michaels may not be the most imposing of buildings, but what cannot be denied is its spectacular location. It has proven to be an important vantage point.  During the 2nd World War it played an important roll, as a Coastal Lookout Point, in the efforts to safeguard  Plymouth Sound and its Navel base.  But it is also said, that it was from here, in 1588, that the first sightings of the Spanish Armada was made.  Warning were sent down to Sir Francis Drake, who legend tells, was playing Bowls on Plymouth Sound and despite the imminent challenge,  insisted on finishing his game. True or not,… its great yarn.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

31st January

(C) David Oakes 2021

Wordless Wednesday….. Another Favourite Place

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Location:-   Dunrobin Castle, near Golspie, Sutherland, Scotland

It may be Wednesday …but….

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

27th January

(C) David Oakes 2021

Burns Night…… Haggis and Whisky

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Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland

I cannot let the 25th of January pass without acknowledging this special day.  It is Burns Night.  Not just across Scotland, but across the World, where ever those of Scottish heritage gather, there will be celebrations to commemorate Scotland Favourite Poet and Writer…. Robert (Rabbie) Burns.

Born in 1759 into a humble Farming Family Burns became know as the Ploughman Poet, The Bard of Ayrshire. The celebrations are  marked by a Burns Supper, usually a formal occasions, traditionally following a strict procedure…with the Guest of Honour being the Haggis.

Culzean Castle, above, built high on the Ayrshire Coast was built during the time that Burns was reputed to walk the Ayrshire coast and countryside gathering his inspiration.  Not sure what Burns would have thought of this obvious extravagance. A marked contrast to the homes of his fellow countryfolk and very different from the Farm House in which he was born in the village of Alloway.

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Both Farmhouse and Castle are very different and important buildings in Scotland’s History….   whilst being  different, each has its own special character and beauty.   Naturally both are high on the Tourist Trail.

No Formal Burns Supper for our household tonight…but we will still serve a Haggis and raise a glass (or maybe two) of Whisky as a toast to Rabbie Burns.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

25th January

(C) David Oakes 2021