Ness Island Walk

This afternoon my husband and I went for a walk along the Ness Islands – little low islands of trees and winding paths sitting slap bang in the middle of the River Ness, linked together by a series of small ironwork footbridges stretching across from bank to bank. Another dull grey day weather-wise, but we had a lovely enjoyable walk anyway 🙂

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

Along the River Ness

Todays’ outdoor exercise took me along the river for a change, instead of along the canal, so I thought I’d share some images with you on this lovely Sunday afternoon 🙂

River Ness, Inverness, Scotland

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!

Lockdown Meltdown Averted

This morning I had a bit of a lockdown meltdown threatening – it’s been five weeks today – so I took myself off for a walk in the woods nearby. Yes, I know I live in a town but it’s close to home so I walked there first (uphill all the way), then had my walk in the woods, then walked home again (downhill all the way) and felt so much better afterwards.

Walking in nature always makes me feel rejuvenated somehow, so the earthy forest smells and the everyday woodland sounds and the dusty feel of well-trodden hard-packed ground beneath my feet today worked wonders, releasing the tension in my body and amazingly even putting the slightest hint of a relaxed smile on my face 🙂

Weekly Smile