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A day trip to the

Orkney Islands

 

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The high point of which was a visit to the 5000 year old Stone Age settlement at

Skara Brea

Unearthed in the 1850's after a fierce storm, this 3000 BC fishing and farming settlement has a number of single room dwellings linked together with narrow passageways.  Rooms contain sleeping areas along the walls as well as a stone "cupboard" to house household implements.  Also found were numerous items for the preparation and storing of food as well as ornamentation for the inhabitants.

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We were amazed at the similarity of interiors with those at Catal Huyuk in Turkey - which were 4000 years older.

 

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The Ring of Brodgar

One of the largest of all the Stone Circles in north west Europe, measuring over 200 yards across, and set atop an elevated rise overlooking the bay and fields beyond.

Today only 27 of the more than 60 stones remain.  A walk around it takes you back to the time of the builders - 2000 BC.

Stone circles can be found in the United Kingdom, France and Scandinavia.

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Northwest Highlands

 

Some views from the road of a delightful countryside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Apprentice

 

He came from a small town, nameless at this time, as is he.  He was to become a stone cutter or even more - a Master Mason - a designer and builder of soaring stone structures for the glory of God and of man.

For 7 years he chipped and shaped and polished the various stones placed before him.  He learned the tone and temper of each stone and the magic within his tools.  He carefully watched and mimicked the others and his Master to learn the secrets within the art.  And he thought about his "Masterpiece", that one craving that he would submit to the Masons Guild for their approval and recognition that he too was now a Master Craftsmen, a Master Mason.

And he began this great column while his master was away to other lands to learn other techniques.  And he worked alone as he must to become a Master himself.  And the day finally arrived when his master returned and he could present his work and in turn be presented to the Guild.

And the Master was deeply moved.  But in a negative way.  He was extremely jealous that the apprentice's work was superior to his own.

And so he killed him.

The Apprentice's Pillar stands within the highly decorated Rosslyn Chapel, south of Edinburgh.

Today the Chapel has gained popular notoriety because of its inclusion as a setting in the highly successful best seller - The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.  If you have seen the film this particular chapel will be foreign to you as it is not the structure that was shown in the film.  This chapel has been undergoing massive rehabilitation for the past 10 years and has a large metal roof over it since that time.

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This is something that you have never seen before!!!

 

Falkirk Wheel

In the 1800's Scotland, like many locales, began to develop a canal network in order to facilitate the movement of goods in large quantities.  These canals were built shortly before the development of steam railroads which soon out paced the canals in ease and quantity of transportation.  In short, the canal networks soon began a slow decline to oblivion.

In the 1990's Scotland decided to bring back a couple of canals, primarily to support recreational boating and tourism.  First and foremost were the 2 canals that linked the east and west coasts of the land between Edinburgh and Glasgow.  These two canals joined near the town of Falkirk, where there originally had been series of 11 locks to bring them to the same level.

Since the original locks were long since demolished the planners had a blank slate.  And they needed it because there was an issue with water supply.  Eleven locks "waste" a lot of water in moving one boat up or down, and the water supply at the topmost level was not going to be sufficient to operate the envisioned waterways.

Their solution is breath taking in both concept and execution. 

 

Use a giant wheel to raise and lower the boats.

There are 2 gondolas - one at each end - into which you put as many boats as can fit, these gondolas then rotate within there respective spindles.  Thus you can raise and lower a number of boats at the same time.  And it does not use any water at all, other than the water in the gondola.

And you can transport different numbers in each gondola.  The loads do not have to be "balanced" by the operators because it is self balancing.  How you ask?  A boat displaces its weight in water regardless of size.  Thus each gondola weighs the same regardless of "load". 

 

 

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E D I N B U R G H

We rode the bus into the center of the city and stepped out into the middle of a 

FREAK  SHOW

 

 

We had arrived during the month long "Fringe" art festival - literally hundreds of "shows" were being put on throughout the city.  Mostly by young folks beginning their "performance" careers.  And all were in the streets promoting their show.

And the streets were full.

Raucous, weird, exciting, exhilarating.

Yes and much more.

But all in good clean fun.

 

 

And it went on for a whole month.

 

 

{{{{{     }}}}}

 

The World Renowned

EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO

And we were fortunate enough to obtained tickets

 

Sadly my cheap camera failed to properly capture the movement under the night time lighting conditions.  Thus I refer you to this fine site.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xgwRitTgU4

And the featured group this year was the Top Secret Drum Corps from Basel, Switzerland.  You may see their 2006 Tattoo performance  at this site

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7k6VYGtm8g

I encourage you to visit the site, as this years show was even more spectacular with Flaming Drum Sticks

 

 

Haste ye back

to Scotland

Oh we certainly hope so.

 

Next - Ireland

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