Grey, Dull, and Still

It’s been a really grey, dull, still day today – warm enough temperature-wise, but not sunny at all so no shadows or highlights to be seen anywhere. But I enjoyed my walk along the canal this afternoon anyway, and wondered if I could maybe try to take a few deliberately grey, dull, still images to see how that worked out?

Quite happy with these, actually! 🙂

Seeing Red

Instead of my usual lockdown walk of along the canal with its same old, same old repertoire (however lovely) of water, sky, footpath, boats I decided today to walk towards town to see what I could find to photograph that was a bit different from my usual offering of flowers and landscapes.

The first thing that caught my eye was peeling red paint low down on a wall, so I decided to carry on in the same vein and look for the colour red on old buildings. And as a bonus, two of my favourite images are actually back access doors of business premises, so I can even manage a hot-off-the-press, on time Thursday Doors post this week – hooray! 🙂

The Empty Streets of Lockdown Limbo

It’s eerily quiet in Inverness town centre just now.

There are still a couple of essential shops open – shops selling food like Marks and Spencer and the Co-Op, and of course Boots the chemist (which was the main reason for my necessary walk through town the other day) but usually at this time of year Inverness is full of colours and sounds, full of tourists and locals alike mingling with occasional street performers like singers and kilted pipers adding to the general buzz of everyday life.

I took my camera with me, as I realised this would possibly be my only chance to record the empty streets of lockdown limbo – photographing a temporarily moth-balled ghost-town felt like an opportunity not to be missed. I didn’t wander while I was out, but I did deliberately walk back home a different way, creating a circular route that took in both the chemist and the supermarket without doubling back on myself.

It felt really strange and surreal to feel so alone and exposed in such a public space, like one of those weird nightmarish dreams where everyone has disappeared expect you. I did see a few other people out and about, walking as if on errands like myself, cautiously and considerately in the main, some with face masks and some without, but with everyone doing their best to keep a respectful distance from each other.

We’ve been in lockdown for six weeks now, and I’m hoping things will start moving again soon and restrictions can start to be lifted slowly but surely, allowing life to open up a little more each month while maintaining appropriate distancing measures. We still need to manage this deadly virus, without a doubt, but we need to achieve that in a way that is more manageable longterm.

Fingers crossed for a fledgling post-pandemic future for all of us, starting sooner rather than later, taking things one baby step at a time… One thing’s for sure, one way or another this current Covid 19 pandemic is certainly turning out to be an eye-opening education for all of us…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Education

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: 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: O is for Old High Church

The base of the tower of the Old High Church dates to around the 15th Century, making the lower tower the oldest structure in Inverness – I wonder if that includes this lovely little wooden door inserted half way up the wall?

The rest of the current church itself was built in the late 1700s, but apparently there have been multiple churches on this hilly spot since the times of St Columba, who reputedly brought Christianity to the Pictish peoples who lived at that time in what is now Inverness, preaching from St Michael’s Mount here on the banks of the River Ness in AD565.

Since the early 1700s there has been a curfew bell rung every evening – originally at 5pm but nowadays at 8pm – as when Inverness was built mainly of timber structures, walking with an open flame would have been a definite fire hazard and without a lamp it was deemed too dangerous to be out and about in the dark.

From our house we can actually hear the curfew bell ringing in the distance but it’s quickly become one of those everyday background noises you just seem to filter out because it’s just always there. Obviously there’s no actual legal curfew due to fire risk any more, just a stay at home strategy due to coronavirus, but 300 years on it’s nice to have that continuity of tradition.

When I was young I used to think it was called the High Church simply because it was on a high hill, and I was almost right – apparently in the days when the church steeple would easily have been the highest building around, it literally was the high church! 🙂

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: F is for Farraline Park Bus Station

For as long as I can remember, the functional rather than pretty bus station in Inverness has been called Farraline Park, although confusingly the street address for the bus station is actually Margaret Street. The white concrete building to the left is (and always was in my memory) the Rose Street multi-storey car-park, and the old stone building along the back was first built as a school (known as Bell’s Institution) in 1841, with the original school playground area out front now laid out as several bus station stances.

I’d never really thought about it before, but I had absolutely no idea what the name ‘Farraline Park’ actually refers to – so I’ve been searching online and found an old map from 1874 showing the old school building itself and its grounds clearly marked as ‘Farraline Park Institution’ so I guess that’s my answer… I’d normally go to check it out at the local library but as with everything else, the library is closed for the time being and Google is being surprisingly elusive on the subject…

Actually, just before I left school in 1981 I remember the public library being housed in that building for a while before it moved to its current location. And I understand that before housing the library, it was used as a temporary Police Headquarters in the late 1960s and through the 1970s while new premises were being built. No idea of its current use, if any. Hmmm… Definitely some local history to be looked up at a later date though.

And I remember directly below the multi-storey car park (incorprated into the stark grey concrete facade at ground level) was located the old registry office, where at the time all births, marriages and deaths were recorded, including my own children’s births, and also that of my eldest grandson – although by the time my other grandchildren came along, thankfully the registry office had moved to its current, much more pleasant situation along by the river. Not exactly the most romantic place for a civil wedding ceremony, underneath a multi-story car-park and next to the bus station! 🙂

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!