August 28, 2014 2 Comments
“No spring or winter has such grace as I have seen in one little face…“ This little verse is dedicated to the memory of Maeve Craven, much loved Mother of Karen who died in June 2014.
June 30, 2014 3 Comments
We awoke to a grey rainy morning the skies the colour of old gun metal. My heart felt heavy although I knew nothing of course would spoil this special day but how lovely would it be if the sun shone down on this little village of ours, warming the colours of the pasture land and sending the dapple rays we know so well across the lanes and up to the path of our little church.
Much preparation had been done in the days and weeks before when the weather had been unusually warm for May and in all our minds the sun just had to be shining at least for the most important time of our beautiful bride arriving and the departure from the church to the perfect green carpet walkway winding its way through the grounds of this beautiful garden to the Marquee…
I had fed my house-guests well – a large breakfast to set them-up for the day and after clearing away the dishes I took myself off to my room to prepare for the wedding of dear Ellie and Stuart. The rain continued to pour, running off the gutters and down the drive so forcibly that even Noah would have been proud. Perhaps a prayer might help an imploring to the heavens, maybe if I begged earnestly the almighty would listen? So placing a disc of favourite music and something appropriate for the occasion I selected Al Giochi - Romeo & Juliet sung by the powerful Luciano Pavarotti, this strong robust tenor at a suitably high volume would certainly do the trick and a quiet prayer to my Hamada-who loved this song -to have a word with the Almighty to change his designs on the weather for today, just this once please but the rain continued to pour…
At about mid-day I thought a nice Bucks-Fizz would go down well. I prepared these and then continued with my intonations when a lovely voice came from the front of the house “I can see a small patch of blue over towards the west!” We dared not to hope but slowly the rain eased and the watery sun appeared. And so this perfect day unfolded like a beautiful wished for flower forming from a bud into perfection.
I have a job not to cry at weddings being the eternal optimist in all things romantic and this wedding was no exception. Ellie my much loved niece, had found her perfect man in Stuart. Tall and handsome, kind and compassionate they were entirely perfect for each other in every way. Her natural beauty and the gasps of admiration for this stunning bride in her exquisite lace wedding gown could be heard in the intake of breath from all assembled. The service was quite perfect the Rev Avril in her amazingly charming and confident manner guiding the way. More tears from me when I saw my fourteen year old Grandson Manu resplendent in tuxedo, looking so mature and handsome bearing the rings. How very smart and stylish the best men, the brides father/bridegroom’s father looked in their tux. How very beautiful the Matrons of Honour in their delicate pale green dresses, serenely matching the foliage in their bouquets of cream roses and blending with the sweet smelling newly mown, rain fresh grass and the beautiful trees surrounding this now sunlit churchyard. We sang with gusto, we sang with praise and thanked the lord for giving us the sunlit rays now coming through the old mauve leaded lights of the arched windows that were filled with wide masses of cream roses We sang to bless this beautiful couple. We sang in praise of how lucky we are to be together to rejoice in their love and joy.
I had tears in my eyes as I watch my dear sister lift back Ellie’s veil and then again when her father Ian laid his hands gently over the hands of this lovely couple as prayers were said. And lastly the beautiful singing and guitar playing of my youngest son Jo, his voice lifted and soared to new heights echoing his rich tones over our heads so even the Almighty could hear the praising of the day and the love that filled this church of ours. Thank goodness for the white linen handkerchief my dear friend passed to me, which was damp with joyous emotion.
The assembled guests, family and many friends stopped for photographs outside the little church and in the courtyard of the nearby country house, as the sun came out to greet us, delicious perfectly chilled champagne and canapés were served by the many waiters and waitress’s weaving cleverly and skilfully amongst the guests.. Ellie and Stuart left for a quiet moment together and for private special photos and arrived to joined us all in the garden in a fabulous 30′s Beauford Bentley-Styled beauty of a car, entering slowly through the main gates of this stunning house and gardens.
The trees hung with white wicker hearts and the rails of the churchyard were festooned with handmade celebration flag bunting, perfectly made by Ellies mum Jenny and lining the length of the gardens. Beautiful young woman in an array of pretty summery frocks walked arm in arm with their handsome partners along the pale green carpet that laid across the grass. Close family all dressed in their finest attire with loving smiles on their faces so happy to greet relatives not seen for a while. Jenny and Ian, Ellie parents, looking resplendent in their superb wedding clothes beaming with pride at their gorgeous Ellie and her charming Prince. A storybook affair of magical visionary arrangements and just as a country wedding should be and something conjured-up only in the dreams of young girls.
The large Marquee continued the pale green theme, sharp white tablecloths with pale green fine linen napkins, silver cutlery, sparkling silver candelabras on each of the five long tables, holding long white candles, the crystal chandeliers shone enchantingly. The whole marquee twinkling in its simplicity and design. The long tables reaching from end to end of the Marquee given the names of chateaus in honour of Ellie and Stuarts engagement in France. Perfectly written name places and a menu better than the finest restaurant. Superb French wines and champagne continued this theme. There was a cocktail bar to one-side and a chill-out area comprising of curved backed wicker sofas and again the matching colour of the pale green cushions set the scene. A wooden dance floor with a DJ ready for action. A pianist greeted us as he played gentle music while we took our seats for a very special ‘wedding breakfast’ How difficult to describe how enchanting it all was, perhaps my photos may help in some way.
The speeches were wonderful!! Totally entertaining and amusing too. Stuart recalling how they met and fell in love, with some amusing tales of the early days of their romance, spoken clearly and with great confidence and such a pleasing way he played with his words of love! The father of the bride making us laugh with tales of Ellie’s younger years – especially her girlfriends who’s chuckles could be heard around the marquee as they listen to the recalling of fun girly days of the past and remembered their teenage years, all friends growing-up together. Then my eldest son Matt stood, an important role as Ellie’s Godfather, consummate in delivery of an amusing and in places poignant gathering of clever phrases and words that made us smile as he recalled many special family moments. But the speech that stole the show entirely was from my Grandson Manu who spoke of his love for Ellie and Stuart and for the fun they enjoy together and a perfectly funny tale about Stuart, when he was staying over at their home – we laugh and laughed at the funny antics of this time, delivered so confidently and with such great aplomb and even ad-libbing that brought much laughter and the ‘house down’ with clapping and cheering at the end. Manu is just fourteen years of age!
We ate wonderful culinary delights, we dance with gay abandon well into the early hours. We drank cocktails, raspberry mojitos! We chatted with family and friends enjoying every single moment. I looked and listened and drank-in the atmosphere of this perfect day – for this was my beloved family who had planned and worked hard to achieve perfection and if only I could convey to you my readers, just how very special it all was.
The love of this gorgeous couple will last the test of time of that I’m sure. For when love is found it is seen in the depths of the eyes and faces of those that truly love. The effort of romance starts with small seeds of devotion to each other that grow and cultivate into the years of all our tomorrows.
Celebrate your loved one in creating memories of kindness and of respect. In nurture of each other, praise and thank them daily for the joy they bring to you, for this will create a life of harmony and a love that will grow into longevity. Life brings ups and downs to us all but bonds made strong in the early days and in the new flush of romance build the strength to carry you through the tough times. Be kind to each other daily, taking time to listen to each others needs and most of all rejoice in your love.
Dreams are made of perfect days like this, love brings so much, for it is the greatest of all life’s gifts…
Specially Remembered Things: Bowls of Love-Heart Sweets- Soft Pashmina’s for the ladies just in case they needed to get cosy. REAL bathrooms in a Marquee!- with every imaginable cosmetic you just might need. A long Mirror, Special hangers for your precious hats. Oh and so much more…
More Photos of this lovely day can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/susiehemingway/
June 1, 2014 21 Comments
It has been a glorious week. A week of sunny balmy days with little puffs of gentle breeze, a cloudless blue sky which cast a Midas touch across this pasture land. How good this has been for us as we start to count down the days to the wedding of my dear niece Ellie and her beloved Stuart here in the village next Saturday.
Much must be done and the excitement is mounting as my dear Sister Jenny and Brother-in-Law Ian and others too, go about the many preparations to make this a most memorable day. Our village church will have an extra special clean, windows will shine, pews will be polished with vigour, brasses will be cleaned, and flowers skilfully made into bouquets and beautiful displays to decorate this tiny church. The churchyard will be mown, borders and edges trimmed, telephone and post boxes in the village will be given a good wipe clean and a ‘once-over’ and slowly during the coming week folk will travel from all corners of this treasured land and some even further to celebrate the marriage of this lovely couple who have chosen to have their wedding here in this pretty Lincolnshire village
Of course not everyone can be here, some who loved her dearly are no longer with us. I think now of my Hamada whose love for Ellie was continuous throughout his life. As a little tot he would always take time to gently chatter with her, her sweetness and eager need for knowledge always brought a huge smile to his lovely face, he always had time for this little beauty. How very proud he was when she graduated from Reading University.
Still he will be close-by in his resting place here in the churchyard, just a step away from the old church door and the footsteps of this beautiful bride and her handsome groom will be but a pace away. I wish he could see this scene, I wish he could see her now but I’m sure he will know we are all here. His memorial stone will be bedecked in the flowers of the wedding decorations in honour of a good and much loved Uncle who would be so proud of the woman his niece has become today. I will drink-in every single moment of this glorious day, I will whisper all the details into the breeze for him to know all, perhaps if I try hard enough…he will hear?
I will feel his absence greatly, his quiet manner and his lovely smile and the love he had for his family and I know at some time during this fabulous celebration,that Ellie and Stuart will think of him too.
I wonder also of Ellie’s Grandparents and the perfect love they all had for her. How thrilled they would be about this union and the love this unique couple so obviously have for each other. How proud they would be for the woman Ellie has become today, for her choices and for this family celebration that continues to keep together this close family for which they created.
The circle of life continues to turn, a life of love and change and of courage too. How lucky I am to be here with them and my two sons, their families and partners to enjoy this marvellous day to the full. I am sure I will shed a tear or two of joy for I am truly blessed indeed.
May 19, 2014 8 Comments
The Wedding of Miriam and Hubert – Reposted with love for Ellie and Stuart who are to be married in May.
All rights reserved with no reproduction of Photo.
Copyright @ August 2009.
With special thanks to Ged Tucker for the 1911 Family Photo
and also to Janey Johnson for the restoration of this wonderful Photo
April 11, 2014 6 Comments
March 31, 2014 6 Comments
January 26, 2014 6 Comments
“Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through, to guess about what is seen during a moment” Carl Sandburg
I Missed You.I missed you, when the heated rhythm of Salsa that feels so like chillies when they touch your tongue drifted across the dance floor. I missed you as this enticing music reached my jewelled pinned ears. Where were you? when the luscious sounds of Sax blues caught my needy toes so carefully encased in high dancing shoes. Where were those slim ‘sun touched’ hands that would reach to twirl me to the dance floor. Where was the graceful dancer whose gentle persuasion could spin me like a whirlpool, making me turn and sway to the sounds of Latin beats and bluesy tones. Tell me, where were those magical eyes those sparkling rays of light, that always laughed with me. Where was that smile, those breathy movements on the dance floor, those feet that could glide and coax the dancer from my soul. How my heart wants to dance with you once more, instead of standing alone when the music calls to me. I watched the others spin and whirl but my arms were empty, sadness for your charms that made me feel like sixteen again. I was never a wallflower but she has found me now. Where were you… when the deliciously heated sound of Salsa reached my ears… where were you?
@ Copyright 2009 Susie Hemingway.
January 19, 2014 2 Comments
Happy New Year All – Seems I’ve been away from the computer far too long. A lovely festive holiday break in Buckinghamshire starting with an excellent meal with my eldest Son Matt, his beautiful Wife Sandrine and of course my dear Grandson Manu. A superb evening with a wonderfully delicious meal starting with Goat’s cheese tartlets and then a marvellous almost peasant dish of braised chicken with spicy chorizo sausage and then a super chocolate pudding followed, also some very good cheese! All this set in beautiful twinkling Christmas surroundings. They were then leaving for France the following day. A gorgeous meal with them and a perfect start to the holidays.
I then spent the rest of Christmas with my youngest son Jo at his house in the Chilterns. There was a crowd of us, fifteen in all, so much preparation took place in the lead-up to this special day.
Lots of food shopping and preparing and decorating of the Xmas table – a lovely jolly atmosphere prevailed the whole time and we settled to a warm cosy Christmas Eve around a lovely open fire in this beautiful old farmhouse high-up in the Chiltern Hills.
A simply super special celebration meal followed on Christmas Day with fun , many smiles and much laughter, the children enjoying their new gifts and delighting in each other and the games played.
So special for me amongst our Christmas party was the arrival and sharing of Christmas day with a very dear Niece and her two beautiful children all the way from Cairo. We spent so much time catching up and chatting and recalling old times together, it made this Christmas very special to me as we talked about her dear Uncle Hamada bringing back lovely memories for me of times past spent in Egypt at Christmas time, time spent out in the desert under the stars. It was truly wonderful to spend time with such a delightful group of people. I arrived back to the Lincolnshire Wolds a week later with lovely memories to recall and mull over. The perfect ending to a good year.
And now we are well into 2014 I wonder what it will bring? What it will bring for all of us? The weather has been playing such a big part right from the start with the UK in the grip of many storms and bringing with it floods to many areas. Daily storm warnings of quite frightening proportions and then sadness seeing the loss and damage to so many properties. And further afield across the ’big pond’ three quarters of America is engulfed in the coldest weather for more than twenty years with unbelievably low temperatures causing such problems and a danger to lives.
Wherever you are whatever you are doing or however you are feeling – I wish you a joyous, healthy, safe and happy 2014 – with much love and heaps of fun too. Sx
January 7, 2014 4 Comments
December 18, 2013 2 Comments
December 8, 2013 3 Comments
Good sensible words – a little mantra perhaps (“it is the price of love”) for those struggling to go forward. Thoughts of my friends during this festive month, to all those who read here and who find it even harder at this time of the year. I’m sending a positive prayer to let you know that I am thinking of you, my very best wishes that you continue well, and hope too that you find much needed solace.
December 7, 2013 No Comments
Having recently been reading the blogs of several of my widowed friends who lost their husbands about the time of the loss of my dear Hamada and their continued surprise that after three years or more, they are still feeling so much pain. My heart goes out to them daily and I understand their dismay at not being able to ‘move on’. Grief is so different from person to person, just as days are different for us all. Days that are filled with fun and busyness with not much time for reflection are good when you are grieving but they do not happen everyday and are so much more preferable to the days of quiet thoughtfulness. Why do we need I ask, to concern ourselves so much with ‘moving on?’ Yes, we have a duty to show a good cheerful face to the world and to our families and friends. For who wants to spend time with a sad-sack who is constantly looking backwards, casts a shadow on every occasion and not really much fun to be with?
We must try at least to continue well and be supportive friends and a nice person without sadness to be with. But privately you cannot always ‘swallow your grief ‘ and why should you? It is so intrinsically bound up with who you are now and how you feel deep inside. It would be fool-hardy to deny these feelings when they emerge and engulf us.
These feelings of loss help me to continue well in my daily life and I must have these moments of deep quiet reflection and I use this time to pull the good memories and sometimes the not so good, out to ‘lay in front of me’ for a time, to clear my head and my heart of the loss I still feel.
I love to read books and sonnets of powerful overwhelming love that has been lost. We are not the first or will we be the last to feel acute pain. I use favourite books and quotes that bring comfort to me, that if I am completely honest make me understand the pain I often feel even three years further on. I miss my special man – will that ever change I doubt it and nothing will bring him back to me. But I refuse on occasions not to acknowledge the deep pain of missing him on those quiet reflective days I talk about.
Occasionally I post quotes that mean a lot to me. Words that I would have loved to have written myself, words I believe, that sum up the way many of us who have lost our special person are feeling now. Words that many of you who read here, will understand well. I would like if I may to share them with you:
Grief is different, Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehension that weakens the knees and blinds the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. – Joan Didion – The Year of Magical Thinking.
A single person is missing you and the whole world is empty – Philippe Aries – Western Attitudes Towards Death
To mourn is to be eaten alive with homesickness for the person – Olive Ann Burns, Cold sassy tree.
My wind is turned to bitter north that was so soft a south before… Arthur Hugh Clough – A Song of Autumn
People imagine that missing a loved one is kind of like missing cigarettes. The first day is really hard but the next day is less hard and so forth, easier and easier the longer you go on. But instead it’s like missing water. Every day you notice the person’s absence more - Anne Tyler, Back to when we were grown-ups.
A bird sings, but they have no song that I can hear – Beryl Markham – West with the Night.
Yes words of sadness they certainly are, but I believe helpful in the understanding of the grieving process that so many of us have difficulty in absorbing, often desire to wish away, and to think we should not be feeling now. But I believe profoundly that we have a private right to grieve, and should not wish this pain away – embrace it, for your heart will never heal if you deny it the time to do so.
Continue to feel your loss my friends without apologies and yes succumb to it on occasions – it is after all our biggest connection to those we loved and must never be under-estimated in the healing process.
Blessings and Peace my friends.
October 23, 2013 4 Comments
We returned to Marbella again my friends. And again I was lured by the seductive notes of bergamot, oranges and sunshine, charmed by the beauty of the panoramic mountain views, the dripping pink and white bougainvillea, the deep blue of the Mediterranean that matched the cloudless sky. High up in the Sierra de Ronda’s in magical Andalusia this hot October of 2013 was sublime.
As my readers here know, Marbella and Puerto Banus are favourite places of mine, not I might add in the summer months when it is too crowded and these very pretty places change like a chameleon when the majority of its five million annual visitors arrive during the months of July and August. I dislike crowds at any time, so prefer to visit in October and if lucky to have as we did the most agreeable weather, then it becomes a perfect paradise.
Our luxury modern apartment sitting high above the world or so it seemed to me afforded us a magnificent view from the large terrace as far as our eyes could see, looking forward to the Mediterranean Sea and down on landscaped gardens of topiary and vivid green lawns across the deep verdant valley of exotic trees and to the side a mountain range with added injections of huge white and terracotta villas scattered across the hills which could if allowed, take your breath away!
Each day on the large terrace we would enjoy our breakfast of delicious fruits, croissants, cheeses and rich olives, sometimes a gentle omelette and always good strong coffee whilst breathing in this sweet smelling air and admiring this fabulous view.
We would sit out in the warm evening air with only the glow from candles to light us and after a very good dinner either in Marbella or Puerto Banus or sometimes cooked up high in our own special heavenly world and with our delicious wine we would settle to watch the stars and the fast moving satellites well into the night. What could be better than that I ask?
Marbella if literally translated would mean beautiful sea and it is just that. These days, the city is internationally known for its jet-set ambience and superb variety of activities offered to visiting tourists. Perhaps my love for Marbella has arrived from its valuable richness in the Arab culture. It draws me in, is charming, seductive and the town and green parks are supremely attractive. Now fast becoming our favourite place and visited every year is the wonderful seaside Grand Café which is known as Cappuccino.
Situated on the Calle de Jose Melia at the base of the fabulous luxury “Hotel Gran Melia Don Pepe” The enchanting Cappuccino is set amongst lush green pine and palm trees, this for me is the place to take time to absorbed the ambiance and the aroma that is perfectly Marbella. To sit quietly with friends or in jovial fun to ‘drink-in’ the warmth of the sun, the beautiful surroundings with its mixture of classic beauty and its own vibes of Latin rhythms, soft jazz and bossanova sounds that make this the place of relaxation that it truly is. With its lively selection of cocktails, superb coffees, delicate teas, delicious cakes and pastries and a marvellous selection of outstanding lunches and dinners. It is an outstanding place of relaxation. Where else is the service so fine, so attentive, where else could you sit in comfortable reverie better than this, enjoying your own Marbella.
Then of course no trip to Marbella could be complete without a visit to Puerto Jose Banus, now more commonly known as Puerto Banus. It is situated southwest of Marbella and has since the days of the 1970′s become one of the largest entertainment centres in the Costa del Sol, so very popular with international celebrities, the rich and famous, royalty and just you and I.
Developed around this once tiny fishing village, Puerto Banus now contains expensive shopping malls, restaurants, bars set around the beautiful Marina where the mega wealthy own large seafaring yachts of magnificence The scene at most times of the day but especially at night, of many exotic cars; Ferrari’s, Lamborghinis and the latest Mercedes are common place, viewed with great interest and driven with much pride and sometimes much arrogance! It is a people watching paradise and if like me you love to do this – it is second to none. It is fun to stroll either in the morning when it takes on a fresh clean feel as the front of the designer shops receive their daily wash and brush-up and the views back to the Sierras are sublime from the Harbour House. Perhaps later in the evening make your selection from the many good restaurants along the boardwalk, to sit and digest this ambience which still holds much charm especially out of season if the weather is as good as we have enjoyed this October then it can’t be bettered.
A short drive away and not to be missed even if you are usually a beach lover is the amazing little town of Casarabonela now commonly known as Casara – it is still part of the municipality of Malaga and is situated 48km from the capital of Malaga so quite nearby to visit when in Marbella. It has a population of approximately 2,500 residents which seems impossible to me but not I suppose when you think of all the tiny alleyways and steps up and down that lead to these tiny homes. The name derives from the Arabicقصر بنيرة – QaSr Bunayra – The Alcazar or Palace of Bonera.
The scenery is picturesque, so take your time on the drive. Suddenly you turn a bend in the road and are treated to a spectacular view of this tiny village with its medieval fortress. This tiny village set like sugar cubes piled high precariously gripping the mountain side is a picture postcard village. Many white villages in Spain are beautiful for sure but the view when sighting Casara is spectacular causing the visitor to simply stare and the wish to walk its tiny lanes. We found it had a rather strange feel- shall we say watchful residents, perhaps something was going-on the day we visited but never-the-less it is well worth a look-see and I would like to return again to study this pretty little village even more.
No holiday to Marbella would be complete without a stroll around old Marbella, I have spoken of my love for this place in a previous post but just to repeat once again that this magical place still delights me so and is simply a must-do.
We rambled and searched out the quaint little shops of lace, having such fun in one tiny shop when it appeared that the only changing room was the pulling together and fixing with a pin to make a privacy curtain, of just two hanging dresses at the main door!
We rooted out the antique costume jewellery, we wandered the tiny white lanes of tapas bars and street cafes, stopped to view the enticing courtyards beyond the old doors of tiny spotless white houses. No hurry here as we admired the churches and the architecture, no hurry Old Marbella is after all, to be relished.
As usual it was a splendid holiday but do things become more poignant when your are older? I believe they do. I drink-in the views, absorb the culture of old Marbella, breathe-in the jasmine and sweet eucalyptus filled air and consume the many memories that for me are sun related; I am alive and very comfortable with the warmth of the sun, a feathery touch on my back, bringing a glow to my heart. Swimming in the twinkly infinity pool made diamonds of joy pour forth. The company was fabulous and our laughter echoed daily across the Sierras. A perfect holiday…yes. And it was much more besides.
October 16, 2013 8 Comments
In September I took a little trip to the highlands of Scotland. Having never travelled so far north west before this was something excitingly new for me. Making a round journey of approximately 950 miles over four days was a busy scenic filled time. It is surprising how much you can pack into a few well chosen days with good planning and an excellent driver. Leaving Lincolnshire in the very early hours of the morning was obligatory to cover a large part of the miles before the roads became busy and the world awakens, strange for me at a time when I am usually just falling asleep but exciting just the same.
A little stop on the way for some walking and climbing at Thirlmere in the Lake District broke the journey well and then onwards towards Scotland by passing Carlisle and with a little diversion to Gretna Green for a visit to the Famous Old Blacksmiths Shop, the very place of high emotion’s felt by the countless thousands who have rushed to Gretna Green, some as young as twelve for girls and fourteen for boys starting as early as the 17th Century. Young lovers dashing in the dead of night with frenzied horsemen in hot pursuit passed my mind. This place of all those romantic novels, all those stories of ‘love’ in haste, rushing to be joined together in matrimony. Gretna Green has changed now of course with up-market places to stay, restaurants, shops and even a maze! Taking away in my opinion the romantic feel that had so drawn folk to this place for all those many years. Still as I stood there, it was good to try to recall how many had travelled to be married in this unique place. And I was glad to have seen it.
Onwards on this marvellous journey passing the town of Lockerbie and quietly remembering the tragedy and devastation that was the Pan Am Flight 103 of 21st December 1988 but let’s not talk of that now. So on to Beattock Nr the Town of Moffett for the first over-night stop, a super country house so perfectly set amongst tall trees at the end of a very long single-track drive, high above Beattock. Just the perfect place to unwind for a short time. The lovely home of Sally and her sweet Collie dog Meg who welcomed us like old friends. The tall high ceilinged rooms with spacious bedrooms and bathrooms made this quite the perfect house and the huge wonderful Scottish breakfast in the lovely sun-lit drawing room the next morning completed the start of this good trip.
Destination today was Fort William in the Western Highlands. Fort William is the largest town in the Highlands and situated at the southern end of the Great Glen. It lies in the shadow of Ben Nevis. Fort William is a fine location to use as a base to discover the Western Highlands. The scenic Edinburgh route was chosen, so up to Stirling, onwards via Loch Lomond, passing outstanding views along the way, through Lochearnhead, Crianlarich and across the Bridge of Orchy and on to Glencoe. Glencoe is probably Scotland’s most famous and most scenic Glen and rightly so. The sheer scale and grandeur of the surrounding mountains is totally awe inspiring and Glencoe being Scotland’s oldest Ski Centre has a great reputation as a venue for the more experienced skier, it was established in 1956.
Thoughts came to mind of Glencoe’s turbulent past. As early in the morning of the 13 February 1692 in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution and the Jacobite uprising of 1689, a massacre took place in Glencoe. You can imagine it all as you raise your eyes to the crags and epic mountains surrounding this special place. Visitors from all over the world flock here to appreciate this majestic place.
I spent the whole time while travelling gazing in awe at the mountains on either side of me and at the changing scenery and the shadows, casting light and darkness at every bend in the road. Having never travelled to the Highlands before this was a totally new experience for me and it filled my heart with its power and darkly rich colours, as my eyes drunk-in amazing scenes before me.
And so it was. as stopping for the second night at a super guest house facing the spectacular blue views of Loch Linnhe on the outskirts of Fort William, I stood and breathed in the sharp crisp air of the Western Highlands. Then time for stretching legs, a good shower then off to look for something nice for supper. For tomorrow was to be a most exciting day with the long awaited 84 mile journey on the stupendous magical steam train “The Jacobite” (Hogworts of the Harry Potter Fame)
Described as one of the great railway journeys of the world The Jacobite Steam train takes you past a list of very impressive extremes. It starts with much excitement as passengers take their seats after admiring the black steely beast.
Starting near the highest mountain in Britain Ben Nevis, which stands hugely proud against a bold backdrop, excitement mounts as the train builds steam and soon you are passing the most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig; then to pass close- by to the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar and then on to the shortest river River Morar, finally arriving alongside the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis. The train stops on route at the village of Glenfinnan before passing over the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct – now is the time for the best photo you can muster as the train almost turns on itself above this marvellous feat of engineering!
Beyond Glenfinnan are the so very beautiful villages of Lochailort, Morar and then the small quaint fishing village and final stop the village of Mallaig. From hear on a clear crystal day you can see the “Small Isles” of Rum, Eigg, Muck, Canna and the southern tip of Skye. The train passes Mora and the silvery beaches used in the films “Highlander” and “Local Hero”.
The sun shone all the way, the scenery was as beautiful as I have ever seen in all of my life and my heart soared at the delight of it all. The fishing village and small port of Mallaig was so picture perfect, the small houses resting gently on the side of the hills perched above the quay, the colours of the small boats and the huge fat well fed seagulls with their cries of anguish content completed the scene. Time for a warming coffee before the return journey, a stroll and for picture taking, no rush; for I believe no one rushes here. I visited St Patrick’s RC Church for Fishermen just at the base of the village which was open and unafraid of crime, something most unusual these days. It was peaceful, it was pretty there at Mallaig.
An exciting journey back with bustle and happy folk capturing their last photos of this special trip, drinking-in the last of the spectacular views and soon we arrived at Fort William, my head and heart filled with visions of this enchanting part of our lovely Island. This was a special trip of light and love, how lucky I am…
October 1, 2013 4 Comments