Sunday, 31 May 2009

Ballindalloch Castle, Buckie and Portnockie

The remainder of May has been beautiful with lots of sunshine, although until the last few days it has been pretty cold. The gardens, countryside and seaside are all looking wonderful in this my favourite month of the year. It could be because my birthday is this month. The rhododendrons are in full bloom at Ballindalloch castle and with my annual pass have made several visits this month. I am always delighted with the range of colours in these beautiful plants. The rock garden and the path to the rose garden are looking exceptional this year. It was lovely to spend sometime there with family and friends. Ballindalloch castle in April and May is a must for any photographer from happy snapper to professional as the landscape goes from the daffodils of early spring to the array of flowers in summer. The colours are fantastic. The next day as the weather was still looking good, we decided to head for the coast and visited Buckie. One of the few remaining fishing villages or towns in the region. We arrived in the late afternoon in time to see several fishing boats returning with their catch. I spoke to one of the fishermen and asked about his catch of prawns. He said it was very poor. Buckie is also where the RNLI lifeboat lives which has saved many lives along the Moray Firth. As the sun was still shining we headed further east and ended up at Portnockie. Where a short walk along the coastal path took us to views of the Bow Fiddle rock. Again it is a magical place for photographers, but it is also a great place for walking along the coast on the coastal path. While we were there we saw many gulls nesting, watched a few yachts pass by and ships further out to sea. We were not lucky enough to see seals, but there are many places along the coast where you can see them as well. This is the time of year to also visit Troup Head which is along past MacDuff to see the gannets, razorbills, guillemots and puffins nesting. This site is now protected by the RSPB who have a warden on duty daily who will tell you the best places to see your favourite bird and let you know which ones have chicks. It is great to live in an area where we have the mountains, countryside and sea all within an easy drive.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Whisky Festival - Cavalcade and Music

The most amazing day of the festival for photographers. It was great to see something different happening on Speyside. The first time that a horse cavalcade has been involved and the new Spirit of Speyside Flag. After following the horses for the afternoon and watching them ride behind the band through Aberlour it was the turn of the River Spey to be the central focus for the flag. A heavy shower of rain did not detract from the Flag being brought down the Spey by the Ghillies and handed over for the Musical Even finale of the Festival. I guess Pipe Bands are used to getting wet - the Dufftown band certainly did while playing manfully as the boat passed under the Penny Bridge. The Evening concert including the Broxburn Pipe Bands, dancers, Fochabers Fiddlers and finally Capercaillie was a magical end to the day culminating in a fantastic firework display.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Smugglers Walk in Glenlivet

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival lasted 10 fun filled days this year with many distilleries not usually open to the public throwing there doors wide. As well as lots of whisky tasting in Dufftown, Elgin, Keith and many places in between. There was also a Whisky Fair in the Memorial Hall in Dufftown which was incredibly busy this year. There were ceilidhs and stramashes, Robin Laing and the Final Music Event was in the Alice Littler Park in Aberlour. This was a spectacular evening of music ending with a wonderful firework display sponsored by Walkers of Aberlour. It was a fitting finale. On Sunday we went out to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery of Glenlivet following the Smugglers Walk guided by David Newland. It was a beautiful day and everywhere looked really green and fresh. It was great to learn about the edible plants that we see on walks without realising how important they used to be to people living in a remote area like this. Visiting Drumin Castle and sampling a dram of Benromach where the barley for the whisky was grown locally was good for the whisky lovers. I love to walk beside the River Livet and it was great to share the chance to see little dippers, ducks and other birds as we walked along. We saw a little dipper feeding her 2 chicks. We walked to the Packhorse bridge and met up with a photographer from Homecoming Scotland who wanted to record our walk. It was interesting watching him work and I got the opportunity to take some interesting photos as well. Steve gave a nosing and tasting here with The Glenlivet Nadurra which everyone enjoyed. We then walked by the Falls of Glenlivet (small, but beautifully formed) along to the Glenlivet Hall and then on a small side road round to the Croft Inn for a delicious lunch of homemade soup and delicious sandwiches. It was a wonderful walk. After lunch, I went with my Swedish friends, Paul and Kerstin to Tombae to see the primroses, dog violets and lots of other wild flowers.