Category Archives: Photography

Has it really been a year?

Posted on 15 September, 2013

Hello there. I’m Amanda and I am probably the worst blogger in Blogland.
It’s been almost a year since my last post and so much has happened since then. We’ve moved house again, (we moved house twice in six months last year), my beloved and I got married in October 2012 (our 1st wedding anniversary is approaching fast and I’m eagerly looking for something to make), I now have a beautiful, baby grandson called Harley, I turned 40 (in the most fabulous fashion in the Big Apple) and our wee girl has left home to pursue her dream of becoming a farrier (very emotional time . . . lots of tears . . . thankfully all mine and not hers).

Wedding BabyH NewYork

For our Wedding Day, I knitted my top using Rowan Kidsilk Haze and I also made the lace covered skirt myself too.  The knitting part was easy peasy, but sewing that skirt was more difficult than I had thought it would be.  I had only been sewing for six months when I decided to make a skirt to wear for our wedding, and I underestimated just how complicated pattern reading can be!  Even trying to interpret what size to make was a challenge.  However, I got there in the end and I was delighted with my outfit.

For my 40th birthday last month, hubby flew us off to New York for 2 weeks.  I took thousands of pics and I still haven’t sorted through/photoshopped them all.

Anyway, I’ll go back to the house move part and tell you a bit more about where we are living.  We’re now in Galston, the ‘Historical Heart of Ayrshire’.  Galston means the place of strangers and it comes from the Gaelic word Gall (stranger) and the Anglican word tun (hamlet or enclosure).  Galston’s ‘Historical Heart of Ayrshire’ title comes from its associations with William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and the Campbells of Loudoun and Cessnock.

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This is the road into Galston.  Can you guess which supermarket are building a new store here?  The Balmoral Mill can be found on the road into town.  It may not look like much from the outside, but inside there’s a wonderful shop selling various brands of knitwear and also a Coffee Shop too.

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There has been a knitwear business on the Balmoral Mill site since 1899.  Galston was once a thriving textile town inhabited by handloom weavers, stocking makers and Ayrshire White Needleworkers.  There were four lint mills producing linen yarn for the weavers and there were also two lace and madras factories in the town too.  As well as the textile industries, there was also a thriving mining industry.  The men of the town would ‘go down the pits’, and the women worked in the textile factories.

Loudoun Castle, the family home of the Campbells of Loudoun is on the north side of the town.  The castle was built in 1807 (around an earlier keep dating from the 15th/16th century) and was tragically destroyed by fire in 1941 leaving a roofless walled structure.  Loudoun Castle was once known as the ‘Windsor of Scotland’.  Drafts for The Treaty of Union 1707 were discussed in the gardens (under the Auld Yew Tree) and the Wallace Sword once hung on the castle walls.

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This is all that can be seen of the castle ruins from the main road.  The castle sits in the grounds of the now closed Loudoun Castle Theme Park, and I don’t think the castle is accessible by the public.  I will look into this though, as I would love to take a walk up to the castle ruins.

Barr Castle is another castle in Galston.  Unfortunately no-one knows exactly when it was built, but architecturally it dates back to around the 15th century.  The castle is 3 floors high and is now a museum.  It used to be known as Lockhart’s Tower.  One of the Lockharts from Galston is supposed to have returned the heart of Robert the Bruce to Scotland after it was lost while being carried to the Crusades (this was a dying wish of the King).

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The castle is very prominent on the drive into town and I have to pass it to get to my street.  I still haven’t made it inside yet (it is open by appointment only), as unfortunately I didn’t make it to the Door’s Open Day event last weekend.

Two local legends are associated with this castle.  William Wallace was said to have jumped from a window into the branches of a tree to escape from English soldiers (historians believe it to be an earlier tower as Wallace lived during the 13th century).  Wallace’s men were also supposed to have played a handball game against the walls (again probably an earlier tower) to help them keep fit for battle.  The people of Galston still played this handball game until quite recently and were World Champions at this sport.  It was last recorded being played in 1939 with players using a clenched fist to hit a hard ball off the side wall of Barr Castle.  Other famous people to have visited this castle are George Wishart and John Knox who both preached from within the castle.

And this is where we are living now:

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It’s a wonderful house.  Maybe not as grand as Lainshaw House, but it’s perfect for us.  There’s a little burn along the side of my neighbour’s house and a local walking route goes right past the back garden.  The house has a converted double garage that we all use as a hobby room.  I’ve got all my yarn and fabric in there.  It’s such a great space for sewing as it is so bright and airy (although it doesn’t stop me leaving knitting/crochet/sewing projects lying around the rest of the house).

A week after my last blog post, our landlord decided to sell up and we found out we had to leave Stewarton . . . just 6 days before we were getting married.  We are hoping to stay here a bit longer – but you never know, maybe I’ll have moved house again before I get another blog post done!

 

 

 

 

Welcome to The Bonnet Toun

Posted on 24 September, 2012

It’s been quite a while since my last blog entry!  It’s been over 9 months since my last post, but I have been really busy since then.  So far this year, I’ve got engaged, my fiance has started his own business, we’ve bought a new car and we’ve also moved home too.  Phew!

We moved to a neighbouring town called Stewarton (aka The Bonnet Toun).

This sign is on the road from Kilmarnock into Stewarton, and I can see my house from here.  This is Lainshaw House (no, it’s not all mine!):

Stewarton was once a prosperous ‘bonnet-making’ town.  Bonnet making can be traced back over 400 years in Stewarton.  Glengarry Hats have been made here since 1845 by Robert Mackie of Scotland and are still being made today.

In the 1700s, there were numerous mills along the Annick Water, but today it’s mostly houses along the river bank with only the one knitwear mill still remaining.

Stewarton has a population of 6,500 and for it’s size it has a really good selection of local shops.  There’s a farm shop which sells the best local produce that I’ve ever tasted, a bakers, a greengrocer, a butchers, an antique shop, a few boutiques (a couple of these sell handmade cards by a knitting friend of mine, The Bumble Bee), a newsagent, a few take-away food places, a supermarket, a deli that sells that most delicious brie and cranberry sandwiches and an award winning chippy.

Walking away from the town centre and out towards the Lainshaw area, one of the streets  is called David Dale Avenue.

 

This street is named after David Dale, who was a Scottish merchant and businessman born in Stewarton in 1739.  He is well known for founding the weaving community of New Lanark in 1786.

David Dale Avenue is one of the routes that I walk along to get from my house to the town centre.  If I don’t walk along here, then it’s the river walk that I take through Lainshaw Woods.

Lainshaw Woods are a picturesque and well-maintained area of woodland with good paths.  The paths were recently refurbished by the Stewarton Woodland Action Trust. It’s a lovely area to stroll through and there are a few characters along the way like this crocodile carved into a fallen tree.

The new Stewarton allotments can be seen from the path in Lainshaw Woods.  The allotments had just been opened when I moved to Stewarton 4 months ago and it has been lovely walking by and watching each area being established and start to grow.

As it’s autumn here now, some of the leaves are just starting to change colour.

Lainshaw Woods are divided into 2 sections by Lainshaw House within the Lainshaw Estate, and this is where I live now.  Montgomerie Drive is a relatively new street in Stewarton, and I think the new houses built in this area are only about 5 years old.

At the start of the estate are the two original gatehouses, one on either side of the road.  Both have been extended and converted into houses now.  And once you walk past the gatehouses, you come to Lainshaw House.

This is my home now.  There are 8 apartments within the house.  I live in one on the 2nd floor, which unlike the rest has an ‘upstairs’ too – our bedrooms are in what was once the attic space.

Lainshaw House is a Grade B listed mansion and was once the main residence of the Cunninghame family.  The house was purchased in 1779 by William Cunninghame from Sir Walter Montgomerie-Cuninghame after Sir Walter lost a fortune as result of the American War of Independence. William (aka the ‘Tobacco Lord’), who had made his fortune in America between 1748 and 1762, proceeded to improve the Estate under an agreement whereby the Montgomeries could reclaim the estate only if they could reimburse William for the cost of his improvements, which they never could. 

William Cunninghame also owned a townhouse in Glasgow which is now the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) today.

Within Lainshaw House is the much older Lainshaw Castle.  The tower is contained within several later building phases, which is easier to see at the back of the building.

The middle section of the house is the oldest part of the building and most probably dates back to the late 15th to early 16th century.

As well as the main house, there are a few other later additions to the property including a mews house and cottages.

During WW2 the mansion was commandeered as a military barracks.  Since 1945 the house and it’s estate have been used as a refugee encampment, a school, a retirement home and now, after a period of ruin, it has been converted into private residential apartments.  This website has a lot of information about Lainshaw House and how it has been used over the centuries.  I loved reading the bit about local schoolchildren being allowed into Lainshaw Woods on one Saturday each year in autumn for one hour to collect chestnuts.  I found these photos online of what the house looked like as a ruin, before being converted into apartments.

The first picture is looking into my kitchen and part of my living room and the second photo is the roof of my daughter’s bedroom.  It’s amazing what they’ve done when renovating the building.

I found out online that the fire escape to my apartment, which you can see on the left of this picture (the grey bit), was added when the building was being renovated:

I also found these old floor layouts online showing what every room in the house used to be when it was still a mansion house.

Being on the second floor, we have some beautiful views over the Annick Water.  This is what we see from our living room window.

I was very surprised one morning last week to see a few visitors just in front of the trees.

Can you see them?  By the time I got my telephoto lens, they had walked back into the trees.

But one of the best views we get has to be from my bathroom window . . . we see the most amazing sunsets from that side of the house.

And with that I am going to say goodbye . . . and promise not to leave it so long before I post again xx

Horsey, Horsey don’t you stop!

Posted on 31 October, 2011

Just let your feet go clippity clop
Your tail goes swish and the wheels go round
Giddy up we’re homeward bound

I went for my first horse riding lesson at the weekend!  It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite sometime, as my daughter has been riding horses since she was six (she’s now fifteen).  My daughter makes it look so easy . . . I wasn’t long in finding out, it is anything but!

This is Charlie from Darwhilling Equestrian and he was the pony that I rode for my first lesson.  He has such beautiful eyes, doesn’t he?  He doesn’t look very big, but when I sat in that saddle for the first time it seemed a very long way up!

After leading him into the indoor school, the first difficult task was climbing on.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.  I almost had a panic attack when the instructor told me to take my feet back out of the stirrups so that she could adjust them and then again when she had to tighten the girth.  Sitting way up there just didn’t feel natural at all.  It probably didn’t help that I had that one piece of advice my daughter had given me beforehand ringing in my ears:

“The hardest part of riding a horse is the GROUND!”

I know it was covered in sand, but I’ll bet it’s still hard when you hit it!

Stirrups and girth adjusted and we were off.  After a few times round the school with the instructor by our side, me and Charlie were allowed to go round on our own.  I thought we were going at a good pace, but when I watched the videos later that night I realised that there were snails moving around that school faster!

After walking around the school a few times with Charlie on my own, we went for a little trot, led by the instructor of course.  I was too much of a big fearty to go on my own!  I must’ve looked like a big sack of tatties getting thrown about at first, but I got the hang of that rising trot in the end (I think).

It was a very quick half hour with so much to take in and try to remember . . . straighten your shoulders, push your heels down, try to stay relaxed, keep your thumbs pointing up, look ahead and not down at the horse . . . I hope I haven’t forgotten it all when I next go along.

A final wee pic of me with Charlie . . . see, I didn’t break him!

My daughter had a lesson on him the next day, and that wee show-off had him cantering and jumping over poles.

I had a great time and can’t wait to go for my next lesson xx

The Glasgow School of Yarn

Posted on 15 October, 2011


It’s less than a week until this event takes place, and there’s only a few days left before I need to hand in my knitted designs for their Design Competition.

I’ve been working on a few different designs over the last two months and have four completed items.  Unfortunately we can only hand in three designs, so I now have to decide which one to leave out!

I’ve been very busy over the last couple of weeks knitting up my designs, writing up the patterns and taking photographs of the completed designs.

I went over to Eglinton Country Park with my OH yesterday to take photos.  It wasn’t the best of days weatherwise, but the park has lots of nice areas.

There’s the ruins of the old Eglinton Castle,

a beautiful tree lined walkway,

and also the recently renovated Tournament Bridge.

This bridge is one of my favourite spots within this park and I was delighted to see that it has been renovated.   Eglinton Castle was the scene of the last great medieval tournament in Britain in 1839 and Tournament Bridge is the only surviving relic from the time of the Eglinton Tournaments.

They’ve made a fantastic job of the renovations, and have even re-decked the walking surface of the bridge.

It must have been a magnificent sight during the medieval tournaments to see the knights coming across this bridge on horseback heading to the jousting field next to the castle.

Now when I publish my patterns, you’ll be able to spot all the areas where the photos were taken inside Eglinton Country Park! x

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Posted on 5 October, 2011

On the final weekend of ‘Doors Open Days‘ (Saturday 24th September), I went to Edinburgh with my OH and daughter to visit some of the buildings open on Calton Hill.

As we looked up to the top of Calton Hill from Waverley Station, we could see the Martyrs’ Monument in Old Calton Burial Ground and the Governor’s House.

To get to the top of Calton Hill, we walked up the steps of Jacob’s Ladder.

This is one of the things that I love about Edinburgh . . . these little hidden staircases that transport you from one area to another.

As we were walking up the east side of Calton Hill, we came across this cairn built by the keepers of the Vigil for a Scottish Parliament.

And just past the cairn, were the Nelson Monument and the National Monument.

Yes, you are seeing that photo correctly . . . it’s a little elephant!  Isn’t he lovely?

The views from the top of Calton Hill are stunning and I was surprised by how far we were able to see that day.  Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags in the first photo and if you look closely at the second photo, you can see the Forth Bridge (in the middle, along the horizon).

The first building we were there to visit that day was the Old City Observatory.

This building was designed by Scottish architect William Henry Playfair in 1818 and was inspired by the Greek temple of the Four Winds.  This observatory is where the first Astronomer Royal, Professor Thomas Henderson worked from 1834 until his death in 1844.

Inside there was so much to see: the original telescope, the original pulley system for moving the telescope and observatory dome and the original clock.

I was particularly fond of the old photographic plate at the end of the telescope.

You wouldn’t believe how much I learned in this observatory!  First of all, that astronomers use stars to tell time as the sun isn’t always precise, but the stars are.  I also found out that there was a time ball installed in 1853 on the top of the Nelson Monument that drops every day at one o’clock and was originally used by ships in the Firth of Forth to set the time on their clocks.  I did know about the One O’Clock Gun that is fired most days from Edinburgh Castle, but hadn’t realised that this was added later as ships couldn’t see the time ball on foggy days.

On one of the outer walls of the observatory, there’s a memorial plaque for Professor Thomas Henderson, first Astronomer Royal appointed in 1834.

Not only is the observatory itself beautiful, but the view of the city from the side of Old Observatory House is quite something, too.

As we walked from the observatory and onto our next location, we passed these two monuments:

The first one is the Dugald Stewart Monument.  Another design by architect William Henry Playfair, this time inspired by the Greek Monument of Lysicrates in Athens.  Dugald Stewart was a famous writer and philosopher and was also a key player in the Scottish Enlightenment.  The second one is the Nelson Monument, a commemorative tower built in honour of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson to commemorate his victory over the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and his own death at the same battle.  The time ball was installed on top of here in 1853.

Next building on our agenda that day was the Burns Monument.

This monument was completed in 1831 to house a life-size marble statue of Robert Burns.  The statue is no longer inside the monument and is now kept in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  The design for this monument was again based on the Greek Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, but this time the architect was Thomas Hamilton who had designed the Burns Monument in Alloway.

Next stop was the Old Calton Burial Ground.

The burial ground was opened in 1718 and is the resting place of several notable Edinburgh persons.

The burial ground is also the site of the Political Martyrs’ Monument . . . a 90 ft obelisk of grey-black sandstone inscribed with the names of the Scottish Martyrs (five men who were imprisoned for campaigning for parliamentary reform in the late 18th and early 19th centuries).

The last building we had planned on visiting that day was the Old Observatory House.

This was was built by James Craig between 1776 and 1793.  It was the home of the Astronomer Royals after briefly being used as an observatory before the completion of the new building (Old City Observatory).  It was based on the idea of a romantic picturesque castle occupying the site of the present walled enclosure.

I fell in love with this building and took a lot of photos of the interior!  This is the downstairs sitting room:

I don’t think I could get fed up looking at the views from those windows.

The other two rooms on this floor were the dining room and the kitchen.  The dining room was a large circular shaped room with windows all around and a large table in the middle.  The kitchen was fairly small though.

Upstairs on the top floor, there was a second sitting room

and two bedrooms

I would love to sleep in that 2nd bedroom . . . the view out of the windows are just wonderful!  The next three photos were also taken on the top floor and show the hallway between the sitting room and one of the bedrooms, the bathroom and the staircase.

Down on the ground floor, there’s another two bedrooms

This building is available to rent through the Vivat Trust, so if any of my knitting friends would like to book it and invite me there for a knitting retreat, I would be most grateful!

After lunch, we walked down through North Gray’s Close to get back to the car.

Just like Jacob’s Ladder, this is another one of the things that I love about Edinburgh.  I could wander up and down these closes in the Old Town all day long.  I always find myself peering in the buildings and wondering how old they are and what it must have been like to live there.  This probably isn’t the best close to show off, but there was a bit of a ‘disagreement’ taking place in the next one along, so we couldn’t walk through there.  One of the better known closes is Mary King’s Close under the Royal Mile.

And the last couple of photos of Calton Hill, taken as we were walking across North Bridge.

Tramway & Scottish Ballet

Posted on 30 September, 2011

After visiting the three Charles Rennie Mackintosh buildings on Saturday 10th September (see previous post), we made our way over to the Tramway.

There were a few different activities taking place in The Hidden Gardens that day as part of ‘Doors Open Days‘.

We had a stroll around the gardens, which are so pretty and tranquil, before heading back inside the Tramway to the Scottish Ballet headquarters.

We had booked places on the tour around the ballet headquarters.  I was really excited about this tour, and from the moment we stepped inside it was jaw-droppingly amazing!

Inside the wardrobe department . . . I couldn’t help myself from squeeeing just a little at the sight of all those tutus!  They make all the costumes here and also make any repairs or alterations required.

We then got a peek inside the shoe cupboard before heading into the costume store room.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to pick out costumes and try them on?  I could’ve spent the whole day in there looking through them all.  Next, we got to look inside one of the practice areas and also see the balcony were the dancers can relax between rehearsals.

Then onto one of the dance studios.  Now if I remember correctly, this is the biggest dedicated dance studio in Europe and allows the full company of dancers to rehearse in here all at the one time.  I loved the piles of tutus lying just outside.

Each dancer has their own area along the bar and their shoes were still hanging there.

There’s a health and fitness centre on the premises too.  Now, this apparatus may look like a torture device to the untrained eye, but it is actually used to stretch and build the dancer’s muscles.

What an amazing purpose-built dance area.  If you haven’t been to see it . . . you should!  And if you haven’t been to a performance by The Scottish Ballet, get along to their production of ‘The Sleeping Beauty‘ at the Theatre Royal later this year.

If you would like to see a visual tour of the Scottish ballet headquarters at the Tramway, watch this walkthrough video.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Buildings

Posted on 29 September, 2011

On Saturday 17th September (3rd weekend of Doors Open Days), I went with my family to visit some of the buildings opened free of charge in the Glasgow area.  The first three places we went to were all designed by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  I’ve been looking at a lot of his designs lately, looking for inspiration for the The Glasgow School of Yarn’s Design Competition organised by The Yarn Cake as part of their 1st birthday celebrations.

The first building we visited was the Glasgow School of Art.

Unfortunately they don’t allow any photography inside the building as it’s a working school of art, but I can assure you that it is amazing inside and would recommend visiting.

On our way to the next Mackintosh building, we strolled through the Botanic Gardens.

I love Kibble Palace . . . I’ve spent many a glorious afternoon knitting here with the Glasgow PicKnitters.  Passing through the Botanics gave me the chance to try out my Bronica medium format film camera.  I bought this camera five years ago and this is the first time I’ve ran a roll of film through it.  It’s been an expensive paperweight up till now!

I’ve still to develop the roll of film . . . fingers crossed there’s something exposed on it.

Onto the next location after my quick photo stop . . . The Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Museum.  This is a reproduction of the house once owned by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh.  Their house was demolished in the early 1960s but the original fixtures were preserved and reassembled here.  The interiors have been furnished with the furniture once owned by Mackintoshes.

Again, no photography allowed inside this building, but take a look at The Mackintosh House website as it has information and some photos of the inside off the house.

The third Mackintosh building we visited that day was The Mackintosh Church.

It doesn’t look that impressive from the outside, but when we walk inside the first thing I noticed were the beautiful stained glass windows.

The pulpit was exquisite and had some very intricate carvings.

There’s lots of little Mackintosh features to be found all over the interior.

I loved these windows along the side of the pews.

The few from the upstairs galleries was beautiful.  I thought those little pink/red coloured windows under the upstairs seated gallery were just delightful.

After visiting this church, I’m even more excited about The Glasgow School of Yarn event that will be taking place here in a few weeks time.  What a wonderful location for this two day knitting event.

New Lanark World Heritage Site

Posted on 28 September, 2011

New Lanark World Heritage Site in South Lanarkshire was one of the locations taking part in the second weekend of events organised by ‘Doors Open Days‘.  I was really looking forward to visiting here, as I had birthday money put aside specially for this trip.  So, on Saturday 10th September, I set off with my daughter to visit New Lanark (OH had abandoned us that day in favour of the Air Show at RAF Leuchars).

The weather wasn’t very nice that afternoon . . . t’was right dreich on the walk down into the village.

There were a few buildings opened that day to the public free of charge:

  • Village Hall
  • Counting House
  • Museum Stair
  • Turbine House
  • School for Children Scottish Archaeology Month Activities

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it inside any of them.  We spent a fair bit of time in the shop . . . a wee bit over an hour . . . and it wasn’t all spent with me drooling over the yarns! After visiting the shop we decided to walk along to the Scottish Wildlife Trust Centre (where there was more yarn for sale) and then along the path to the Falls of the Clyde.

We walked out of the village and along the river walkway.


I’d forgotten just how much I loved this walk along the side of the river, with its wooden walkway and benches.  On the way we found a very pretty, pink coloured toadstool complete with a few little white spots.

Finally we made it to the viewpoint overlooking the Falls of the Clyde.

The first photo was taken on the day we visited, but the second photo was one that was taken on our last visit when the waterfall was in full spate.  The nearby hydro-electric power station’s water draw off means that the waterfalls are not always in full spate.  Last time we visited was on a ‘Waterfall Day’ which allows visitors to see the falls in their natural state.

When we were heading back along to the village, the sun decided to come out.

Just a few of the buildings we passed as we walked through the village

  • Robert Owen’s School, Film Theatre and Interactive Gallery
  • Water Mill Wheel
  • Looking along past Mill 2 to the New Lanark Mill Hotel and Warehouses
  • The Roof Top Garden on top of Mill 2

One of the highlights of that day has to be the afternoon tea we had in the Coffee Shop.

We felt very posh as we were seated at one of the reserved tables.  It was sooo delicious and didn’t last long!

I couldn’t resist posing with Annie McLeod before heading home.  Those 2 bags are full of yarn . . . oh, and a couple of wooden spools.

 

14 balls of Cherry Red Chunky New Lanark yarn to knit Sylvi by Mari Muinonen and 3 balls of Flying Flock yarn in a natural grey colour.  The Flying Flock yarn is quite interesting as it’s spun from the fleece of Shetland and Hebridean sheep which are moved around Scotland to help the Scottish Wildlife Trust preserve grassland habitat. The Flying Flock fleece is spun at New Lanark World Heritage Site Mill for The Wool Shed.

Hunterston Castle

Posted on 27 September, 2011

The 3rd (and final) castle that we visited during ‘Doors Open Days‘ in Ayrshire was Hunterston Castle.

Neither myself nor my other half knew that this castle existed until we saw it listed on the Doors Open Days website. Such a beautiful castle built by Hunter, Laird of Hunterston in the 13th century.  It’s a wee gem tucked away in the Ayrshire countryside.

The first room we were shown was the Barrel Vault on the ground floor.

This room is also known as the Dungeon and would have been used to store foods and grain to keep them fresh.  That circle area on the floor is where the well would have been.

Upstairs and into the Main Hall.

As you can see, the castle was very busy that day.  The Main Hall has a large fireplace with the coat of arms above it and also a long table displaying weapons and armour.


That last photo is the sandstone spiral staircase that leads from the ground floor up to Main Hall on the first floor.

Just off the Main Hall (up a few steps) is the Living Room.

This room would have been the Main Room when the castle was originally built.  It has a large fireplace, antler chairs and is that a spinning wheel too?  Those antler chairs were beautifully made and on the table there were some original cups and jugs.

The Living Room also has it’s own toilet . . . Ayrshire’s oldest indoor toilet.  It was quite scary sitting on there, especially when the guide tries to shut the door on you!

There’s a second floor to this castle with a Bedroom and New Attic and also the Roof with the Ramparts and Attic, but unfortunately we weren’t allowed up there on Doors Open Day.

The castle has lovely gardens with lots of fruits and vegetables growing.

 

Those wasps were having a right good feast on those peaches.  I never noticed that one of them had been watching me as I was taking photos of the raspberries.

The hydrangeas were so pretty.  I must get some of these for my own garden next Summer.

I’m not sure how often Hunterston Castle is open to the public, but it is well worth a visit.

More info about Hunterston Castle can be found on these websites:

 

Portencross Castle

Posted on 21 September, 2011

Sunday 4th September was the 2nd day of ‘Doors Open Days‘ in Ayrshire and one of the places we visited that day was Portencross Castle.

Portencross Castle overlooks the Firth of Clyde near West Kilbride.  Portencross has been inhabited for thousands of years.  Evidence of an Iron Age settlement (800 BC to 100 BC) has been discovered during an archaeological dig just behind the castle.

Lots more info about the castle can be found on the Portencross Castle website.  This is one of my favourite quotes taken from there:

It is said that Portencross Castle was the last resting place of the great kings of Scotland. Legend has it that they were transported via the castle on their way to Iona, for burial. They lay in state at Portencross Castle for a short time.

The first room that we went into had a lot of information on display about the castle and its history.  There was also a video clip from the 2004 BBC TV programme ‘Restoration’ which had featured Portencross Castle.  I remember watching that programme on the TV at the time, but would never have guessed it was that long ago!  I also remember recording it on a VHS video recorder . . . now that was a while back!!

These two pictures were taken in the first room and show part of the stem of ‘The Lady Margaret’, which was a three masted sailing vessel built in Glasgow and wrecked in Ardneil Bay, Portencross in 1770.

On the way upstairs we felt something tickling our heads and looked up to find some dangling toy spiders, which we found more of hanging next to windows in other parts of the castle too.

On the 1st floor, the first room that we went into was the Banqueting Hall.  This was a large room with high, vaulted ceilings, a large fireplace and also a guardrobe and window seat.

Straight across the hallway from the Banqueting Hall was the East Wing of the castle and looking up you could see remains of former bedrooms, fireplaces and areas where the crossbeams would have been supported.

We had to wait in the East Wing for about 15 minutes before we were allowed up onto the roof.  The numbers at any one time allowed up there are limited, but it was well worth the wait . . . the view was stunning!

I even had a little bit of a Geography lesson up there on the rooftop . . . I finally found out the names of the different peaks of Arran and I now know exactly where Goatfell is too!

This is me, looking very pleased to be at the top of the castle standing in front of ‘The Moffat View’.

Ailsa Craig (also known as Paddy’s Milestone) was just visible on the horizon . . . to the right and slightly above the wee boat.

We could see the Isle of Cumbrae across the water and also along the coast towards Hunterston.

This coastal walk along to Hunterston is a favourite of ours, and we’ve walked along there many a time looking at the castle and wondering what it looked like on the inside.  I never actually thought it would be as big inside.  I’m looking forward to visiting it again in the future and seeing what restoration work Friends of Portencross Castle do next.