For our first full day in the NW of Scotland, Judith and I took Aaron and Jo on a tour of the Applecross peninsular – taking in the famous Bealach Na Ba (one of Britain’s steepest roads), the beautiful village of Shieldaig, a sandy beach at a place actually called Sand, a short walk to the ‘remote’ Coillieghillie beach and, finally, the multi-award winning Applecross Inn to watch the sun go down. Quite simply, a fabulous day out! 😊
After 10 days just outside Sheffield, in Hathersage, our next port of call would be the west coast of Scotland. My elder daughter, Jo(anne), now lives in Melboune with her Australian partner, Aaron, and he had mentioned that his ancestors (named MacRae) probably came from somewhere near Applecross. So we set off in the hope of making some family connections.
On our journey we stopped to take photos of Glen Coe and (possibly the most photographed building in Scotland) Eilean Donan Castle, which was founded in the 13th century and was the stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies, the Clan MacRae. (Sadly that was about as close as we got to any connection, as there are so many strands to the MacRaes in that part of Scotland and we had very little information to start with).
I’m normally quite strict in posting things in chronological order and so, at this point, I should be blogging about my daughter’s wedding. However, as things turned out, I didn’t get the chance to take many photographs (and the ones that I did take were quite ordinary). So I (and you) will have to wait until the newly weds return from honeymoon (in Houston, New Orleans and Miami) for me to post some of the best official photos.
So, in the meantime, I’ll get you up to date on the rest of our time in the UK…
You may recall that Judith and I had rented a cottage in Hathersage and on our last day there, before heading up to Scotland with my other daughter, Joanne, and her partner, Aaron, (see post tomorrow), we went for a quiet stroll along the River Derwent. (Regular followers may recall this post nearly 2 weeks ago).
This week we go back to the disco beat with a tune by Phil Fearon and Galaxy called Dancing Tight. Born in Jamaica in 1956, Fearon moved to London when he was 5 and eventually set up a recording studio in his North London house. Together with backing singers, Julie and Dorothy, he had his first hit with this record, reaching no. 4 in the UK in 1983 (according to Wiki). However, the video below says 1984 and was probably taken from the UK’s infamous Top of the Pops TV programme. I’m not sure if he made it in the States, but he did have 2 other UK Top 10 hits ‘Do What I Do’ and ‘Everybody’s Laughing’ (the video for which is worth watching in itself).
Don’t miss the forward flip half way through the song. Impressive or what!?
After the Celebrations of last week, I’m afraid I have to be a bit more serious this week as it will be a year since my dad died, aged 94 and a half. He liked halves, whenever you asked him how long he would be he’d always say “5ft 8½”. He liked his little jokes.
Anyway, his favourite song was, ironically enough, Take My Breath Away by Berlin. Released in 1986, it shot to fame as one of the soundtracks in the film Top Gun. (My dad used to work in the Aircraft Industry, so maybe that’s why he liked it). It reached no. 1 in Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. So, he wasn’t alone in liking this song.
By the time most of you read this I will probably be at my daughter’s wedding. Eventually I will post pictures of said event, if I’m allowed, but for the time being, I’m trying to keep up to date with recent events, otherwise you will all be bombarded with an even longer series of posts when I get back home…
So, on Thursday, while my wife was enjoying herself baking cakes and finishing off her dress for the wedding, I set out to do a loop from Castleton. It started by walking south west up Cave Dale, before striking north west and over Mam Tor (at the dizzy height of 517m / 1,696 ft), to follow the ridge or crest north east over Hollins Hill and Back Tor to Lose Hill, (which is also called Ward’s Piece for some reason) and then returning to Castleton for a well earned refreshment. 🍺
The forecast was for ‘good’ weather, but the sun seemed to take an age to burn off the early morning mist, so the pictures below are a little murky. Being pretty much in the middle of England, the Peak District is easily accessible to many and, as such, the paths can get very eroded. So the powers that be have placed massive paving stones to help alleviate the problem.
P.S. Re pic 10: Don’t worry, I do plan to have a shave and smarten myself up for the wedding. You may not even recognise me! 😊
It’s funny how certain places crop up again in your life. It was only last year that Colin and I started and finished our Inn Way to the Peak District walk in Hathersage and, this week, Jude and I just happen to be staying in a small cottage on the outskirts of the village.
On Tuesday, I had a little time to spare and so decided to do a walk, which didn’t cover the same ground as Colin and I along all the ‘Edges’. My route would take me south along the River Derwent as far as Calver, where I turned west to the ‘plague village’* of Eyam, before heading back across the moor to Hathersage.
Along the way I saw many birds, including 3 nuthatches (not captured on camera unfortunately). But just to forewarn any slightly squeamish readers, I’ve included a series of 3 pictures below of a European Robin taking care, as it were, of a huge worm.
*In 1665 the plague hit the small town of Eyam and, led by the Reverend William Monpesson, the locals agreed to a self-imposed quarantine to stop it spreading. At the top of the hill, I passed a well, where food and medicines were left in exchange for the villager’s money. The coins were subsequently disinfected with vinegar. Figures vary but around 270 villagers died, with anywhere between 83 and 430 surviving.
As previously mentioned, my wife and I are in the UK at the moment and on Monday we went to visit Judith’s parents, Angela and Lawrence. After a delicious lunch, Angela took us on another wonderful walk, this time around the Limeworks Heritage Area at Llanymynech. (I’ve never understood how to pronounce these Welsh names, but I understand the first y is as you might expect, like an ‘ee’ sound, but the second y is more like a u, as in bun. It’s no wonder I’m confused!)
Anyway the village straddles the border between England and Wales and the old Limeworks does the same, such that there is an English Quarry and a Welsh Quarry. As you might expect, the two were fiercely competitive, until a tunnel was made which connected the two and they decided to merge. However, the Limeworks eventually became uneconomic and closed in 1914.
The Offa’s Dyke long distance path also runs alongside.
This week is a double celebration for me, with my birthday last Saturday and my daughter Sarah’s wedding this coming Saturday. So there was only one song that I could pick for this week and that’s Celebration by Kool and the Gang. I love this song. I could play it all day.
Released in 1980, it reached no. 1 in the United States in February 1981, but only no. 7 in the UK, though it was in the charts for 13 weeks. I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do. 🙂
I’m not usually prone to make a big fuss about ‘key’ birthdays. Like when I turned 50, I was on holiday in Majorca with my two daughters, Joanne and Sarah, and only they knew it was my birthday (otherwise the compere in the hotel might have had me up on stage doing something silly, which was the last thing I wanted!) On my 60th birthday, I ran the Vienna marathon. The idea of running a marathon when I was ‘old’ always appealed to me as a challenge, especially when I knew I would be 60 on a Sunday, so it had to be done. Again Sarah was there, but this time with my wife, Jude.
Today, I’m 65 years old and I thought it worth a mention, purely because you readers are all my friends and I think you should know. I am writing this in advance, as I’ll be in the UK for Sarah’s wedding next week, so I’ll have no time to be blogging! All things being equal, I will have been out for a meal last night with my brother, Steve, and his wife, Beverley, and my sister, Karen, and her partner, Paul. Tonight I will be having a quiet meal at a local hostelry in Hathersage, near Sheffield (and a few beers no doubt) with my lovely wife, Jude. 😍
As is customary, it seems, on these occasions, I’ve dug out some old, and I mean old, photos of me as a child, plus two more ‘grown up’ pictures that I came across recently.
See if you can spot me in the group photos… (Answers at the foot of the page).
Football photo: Back row, second from right. Rugby photo: Front right.