April A-Z: Reflections on 2020

A-Z Challenge Reflections

I had such great plans for this year’s April A-Z, with the idea of sharing brand new photographs taken in real time of Inverness in Scotland, where we now live. But being in lockdown throughout the full month of April with no real advance notice whatsoever left me stuck without access to many of the people-filled public places I’d hoped to show.

But rather than change my theme altogether, I decided either to use some of those few images I already had (we’ve only been living here for six months) or to find alternative, pandemic-friendly topics to photograph in real time – and to my surprise I succeeded, 26 posts on 26 alphabetical topics posted in good time on each given day.

As you can see from the image gallery above, there were a few buildings, a few bridges, and a lot of landscape shots, and although it wasn’t my original intention I can see in retrospect I’ve probably shown you less of a generic busy tourist’s view of Inverness and more of my own personal, quiet experience of living here. So maybe no bad thing…

One thing I do feel bad about is not visiting enough new A-Z blogs this year – it just felt one step too far for me. I’m not in a particularly happy place right now and for me, and focusing mainly on my own posts and those of bloggers I already follow had to be enough. But I’ve done it, I feel a sense of achievement to have got through it all in such difficult circumstances, and look, I even have a badge to prove it! 🙂

Anyway, here are the links to my individual daily posts, just incase anyone wants another look back, or missed some of them at the time – welcome to my Inverness! 🙂

A is for Abertarff House

B is for Ben Wyvis

C is for Castle

D is for Department Store

E is for Eastgate

F is for Farraline Park

G is for Greig Street Bridge

H is for Home

I is for infirmary Bridge

J is for Jacobite Cruises

K is for Kessock Bridge

L is for Landscape

M is for Muirtown Locks

N is for Ness Islands

O is for Old High Church

P is for People in Passing in a Pandemic

Q is for Quotations

R is for River

S is for Swing Bridge

T is for Tomnahurich Hill

U is for University of Highlands and Islands

V is for View

W is for Waterways

X is for Level Crossing

Y is for Years Ago

Z is for Zero Regrets

April A-Z: Z is for Zero Regrets

Z is always such a difficult letter for April A-Z, and this year is no exception, so I’m using a little creative artistic licence and going with ‘Zero Regrets’.

Zero regrets for having persevered with my alphabetical posts throughout lockdown – 26 out of 26 in a timely manner is a decent achievement, and even though I had to change quite a few of my planned posts to fit my new restricted circumstances I stuck with my original topic.

Zero regrets for having moved back to Inverness at the end of last summer, and for having bought our lovely 1930s bungalow – it’s such a huge change from our little Victorian one-bed first-floor flat in London, but is all the more welcome due to the current stay-at-home strategy.

Zero regrets for the precious back garden view from our kitchen window, and for the peaceful enjoyment of sitting quietly in my plant-lined conservatory with a cup of tea and a good book, listening to the birds outside singing their hearts out for spring…

There are certainly a lot worse places to be stuck at home during a pandemic than here in Inverness 🙂

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

April A-Z: Y is for Years Ago

Years ago… or rather centuries ago… actually a couple of millennia ago (around 300 BC or thereabouts), Iron Age people built a hill fort on the crown of what is now Craig Phadrig hill (literally Patrick’s Rock) on the western outskirts of Inverness, and then at some point apparently burned it when it went out of use, effectively fusing the rocky ramparts together.

According to history (or maybe just heresay, who knows) the site was used again as a stronghold much later in the 6th Century by the Pictish King Brude, at around the same time he was supposedly converted to Christianity by St Columba.

All that’s left of it today is an oval perimeter earthwork of vitrified rocks lying solid underneath the grassy soil, but the flat top of the hill is still an impressive vantage point for miles around – or at least it would be if there weren’t so many tall trees blocking the view! There is a well-maintained forest path all the way up to the hill fort, but it gets a bit steep at times towards the top – I really enjoyed my walk, though, and it certainly got my heart-rate going for some proper aerobic exercise.

I see the tree-covered hillside of Craig Phadrig every morning when I open my bedroom curtains, so after wracking my brains all month to work out what to do for a ‘Y’ post this year I finally decided some photographs of what remains of the old half-hidden hill fort at the top would perhaps make a good ‘Y is for Years Ago’ piece of ancient history from before there was even an Inverness!

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

April A-Z: X is for Level Crossing

Although the Kessock Bridge carries the main A9 trunk road across the Beauly Firth, the single track railway line travelling north from Inverness still follows the coastline along the water’s edge towards Beauly, past Clachnaharry Sea Lock.

As there is still a towpath along the full length of the canal, it is necessary to cross the railway via one of two pedestrian level crossings placed on either side of the swing bridge crossing the canal.

But don’t worry, trains pass infrequently and cross the bridge really slowly, and on approach train drivers always sound their horn so you have plenty of warning to clear the line before the train appears.

It’s a great opportunity to get a few shots looking along the tracks, but sadly I never seem to catch the light just right 🙂

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

April A-Z: W is for Waterways

The northernmost section of the Caledonian Canal finally meets the open waters of the Beauly Firth at the Clachnaharry Sea Lock in Inverness. It always makes for such a beautiful walk up one side of the canal, across the last lock gate, and back down the other side, but particularly right now with our continued stay-at-home strategy due to Covid-19 this is a favoured form of outside exercise for many locals 🙂

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

April A-Z: V is for View

I had always intended having ‘V is for View’ for this year’s A-Z but the views in question were originally going to be taken from the viewpoint on top of Inverness Castle, looking out over the city centre. But of course the castle viewpoint, along with all other tourist locations, is closed for the duration due to the current coronavirus crisis, so as the month has progressed I’ve been wondering if I could find an alternative vantage point?

However, as I climbed Tomnahurich Hill the other day for my ‘T’ post I was absolutely amazed by the wonderful view looking towards the Black Isle through a deliberate gap in the trees so took these images specifically to use for today’s post. The images show the views to the north from left to right, looking out from west to east, taken with the telephoto end of my standard kit lens, followed by a wide angle view looking straight ahead.

Our house is somewhere in there, but is hidden behind other buildings so is not actually visible in any of the shots. At the top end of the wide street in the middle of the wide angle image, slightly to the left and up is a dark green tree – our house is very close to there.

And lastly, I cropped another wide angle image to create a kind of panoramic view from the Kessock Bridge on the left to the Inverness Castle on the right, covering the city centre in the middle – Failte Gu Inbhir Nis – welcome to Inverness 🙂

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

April A-Z: U is for University of Highlands and Islands

The new Inverness College building on the outskirts of the city is the largest of the 13 partnership colleges and research centres that make up the University of Highlands and Islands, which is the newest University in Scotland, having only been granted university status in 2012.

When I was growing up there was no higher education provision at all within the Highlands, and anyone wanting to study for a degree had to move away. All further education was delivered from the original Inverness Technical College building on Longman Road, which was in the process of being demolished when we arrived back in Inverness last August.

As an adult I actually studied a pre-nursing course at the old college, and my work placement on that course was at the old Royal Northern Infirmary hospital along the river, which at that time provided all geriatric nursing provision but now houses the UHI Executive Offices.

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

April A-Z: T is for Tomnahurich Hill

Tomnahurich Hill by the canal in Inverness looks all the world as if someone has deliberately made a rounded oval mound in the middle of a relatively flat river valley, but it’s actually a natural esker, created by a glacier during the last ice age.

The 70m (230ft) high wooded hill itself is home to the city’s cemetery, currently extended outwards to include the flat land skirting around the base. There is an old carriage track that still winds at a reasonable gradient from the eastern side around the hill to the top, or if you’re feeling more energetic there are several narrow woodland footpaths linked here and there by steep concrete steps to help your ascent.

But however you decide to get yourself up there, reaching the secluded old gravestones lining the flat hilltop and taking in the wonderful view beyond is a wonderful surprise. Because at either end the otherwise heavy treetops have been thinned out and cut down enough to be able to look out easily across towards the Black Isle to the north (those particular images I’ve saved for later) and past the large WWI War Memorial cross towards Loch Ness along the Caledonian Canal to the south.

Back down the hill again (using a different set of steps and paths) and walking around the western perimeter on my way home I came across a stone entrance dug into the steep hillside with a lovely metal door which I couldn’t resist photographing for today’s Thursday Doors – result! 🙂

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

April A-Z: S is for Swing Bridge

There are three white-painted metal swing bridges that cross over the Caledonian Canal here in Inverness.

A road bridge at Tomnahurich, carrying the main road from Inverness along the banks of Loch Ness South West towards Fort Augustus; a road bridge at Muirtown carrying the ‘old’ road North-West out towards Beauly (it too used to be the main road before the Kessock Bridge was opened; and finally a small single track railway bridge carrying all trains in both directions that travel North of Inverness.

The two road bridges are pretty much identical, so I’ve shown the road surface view of the bridge at Tomnahurich, and the side view of its sister bridge at Muirtown. The smaller bridge with the red circle is the rail bridge at Clachnaharry.

These swing bridges literally swing open on a pivot, and a small wheel slides the entire central structure at right angles to allow boats through, before swinging closed again.

PS I’ve actually posted photographs before of the swing bridge at Muirtown in action, if anyone is interested 🙂

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

April A-Z: R is for River

The River Ness runs right through the City of Inverness, the name itself coming from the Scottish Gaelic Inbhir Nis, basically meaning ‘Mouth of the River Ness’. The river flows about 10km (6 miles) from Dochgarroch Weir at the northern end of Loch Ness down to the Beauly Firth, so it’s a relatively short distance but nevertheless carries quite a lot of water out to sea.

And now I have to write a whole post about the river, I find I have absolutely no idea what else to say about it! Still, I’ve managed to find some images I haven’t posted before, so all is not lost… 🙂

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!