Loch Lomond, Limericks and Life – Continued



‘The divine, the illegal, the insane and the eccentric have all found havens in these islands.’     Fiona Price, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority.  Communications Unit.


FraochEilean, Heather Island.  This picturesque island is shown on a 1792 map as ‘Luss Prison’.  As near as it is to Luss, it would be a convenient place to isolate offenders.  Reportedly, nagging wives were also banished here.  At only 150 metres long and 12 metres high, there couldn’t have been many wrongdoers.

Inchconnachan and Ben Lomond

Inchconnachan, Colquhoun’s Island, faces Inchtavannach across The Narrows.  There are several stories and some strange facts associated with it.  That there are still wallabys living happily on the island after being introduced there in the past, at a date unknown to the author, has been proved to be correct.

Unlike Inchtavannach, just a narrow strait away, Inchconnachan is not reknowned for church bells and saintly behaviour.  Other than the wallabys, the main claim to fame comes from the 1930s, once very secret, presence and operation of illegal stills that supplied whisky to the Vale of Leven and Glasgow.

Another story tells of one, Admiral Sullivan, a retired tea merchant, who, in the 1920s, built an Indian style bungalow on Inchconnachan.  It is still used by the present owners.  He also brought electricity to the island.  How he did this is unknown to the writer at this time.  When his business collapsed, the Admiral took himself off to live out his days in a dungeon on Eilean a Bho, Island Of The Cow, at the north end of the loch.  This island is more commonly known as ‘Island I Vow’, a corruption of the original Gaelic name.  In the Gaelic alphabet, there is no ‘v’.  The vee sound is written bh.  The ‘a’ would be sounded ee or  short i.  It is natural to assume,then, that, ‘Eilean a Bho’, ‘Island Of The Cow’, would become ‘Island I Vow’.  The name probably had something to do with the resident McFarlane clan members penchant for night raids of neighbouring cattle.  The moon was known in that area as ‘McFarlane’s lantern’.

Note:  The title of this portion of my blog is ‘Islands And Their Stories‘.  Said stories do not purport to be scholarly, historical accounts.  There are other tales and opinions about the origin of  the name, ‘Island I Vow’.  Readers are encouraged to consult more academic texts if they wish to engage in debate about which version is correct.  Living close to Loch Lomond, as I do, I chose to relate the local lore.

In the video following, as we sail along the west side of Inchconnachan, Admiral Sullivan’s bungalow can be clearly seen in a clearing near the shore.  The present residents have a boat moored close by.

Bucinch and Inchcruin

Bucinch, Island of Goats, (right) is unspoiled and covered in impenetrable trees and undergrowth.  Taking the name into consideration, there must have been goats farmed or kept there at one time.  I have, so far, been unable to find any record of this.  In fact, unlike most of the other islands, Bucinch seems devoid of known history.  Fishermen once had a small, stone shelter there, the foundations of which remain.  A plaque recording the death of a young man is fixed to a rock but no information about him is available.  Nearby, another memorial to four Clyde shipyard workers who drowned is the only clue that this small island was once a place of pleasant pastime.

Inchcruin, Round island (left) is mostly wooded and has two sandy bays at the south east end.  Unlike Bucinch, quite a lot is known about it.  Farmed until the mid 19th century, it has seen some colourful characters. One of the island’s owners kept an ex-US army truck which he used to get about, roads or no.  Round island may not be the correct translation from Gaelic.  According to a 19th century gazateer, in the 18th century, Inchcruin was used for ‘the confinement of insane people’, and may have got its name from a corruption of the Gaelic phrase ‘chan’eil e cruinn’ meaning ‘he is insane’.


Islands and their stories

Warrior Wave

September and October brought heavy rain almost every day.  Towards the end of September, then again at the end of October, the downpours held off for a day.  This allowed me to take a couple of trips on the Lomond Warrior which I boarded at Luss.  Blustery winds and cloudy skies made for very different images than those captured earlier in the year.  While the jewel-like shades of summer are more to most people’s taste, the loch has many moods and no two days have colours exactly alike.

There are about sixty islands in Loch Lomond but not all are always visible.  Water levels dictate how many are exposed at any given time.  Those that are constantly with us all have stories – varied and fascinating.  In this section, I’ll post photos or videos of a few that I’ve encountered on my travels and am able to identify.  I haven’t yet found a proper map naming them all, but my quest is to identify and record an image of all those that have a story.

I will document a little of my trip to from Luss to Balmaha and back, then post images captured along with accompanying information relating to a handful of islands.  These I am able, with some certainty, to identify.  Any viewers should feel free to leave a comment correcting me if I err

It was a blustery day, but the rapidly gathering clouds hung on to the rain until the end of the trip.

The next video was taken as we sailed through The Narrows, as is called the strip of water between Inchtavannach and Inchconnachan.  I was facing the latter as we progressed.  The narrow strait between these two islands is reputed to be the most beautiful part of Loch Lomond.  Someone long ago wrote. ‘Whosoever does not know this beautiful strip of water has entirely lived in vain.’  Strangely, although this water is not more than 2.5 fathoms deep, it never freezes, even when much deeper areas do.  When, in deeper parts, the ice has been thick enough to drive horses and and sleds about safely, this stretch has remained totally unfrozen.  This was so even during the great freeze of 1740.  Not only is the water shallow, it has no discernible current.

Inchconnachan, Colquhoun’s Island, shown in the video, has many interesting stories, the most famous not a story, it seems, but an actual reality.  Someone, I don’t know who, released some wallabys onto the island in times past.  Again, I am not aware of the date.  Some of the wallaby  ancestors still frequent the island and, while many thought this just a legend rather like the Big Foot sightings, a tourist really did get a photograph of one with her son in the foreground.

Inchtavannach, Island of Monks, not seen in the video, but opposite Inchconnachan across The Narrows, was home, in the 6th century, to St Kessogg .  He built a monastery and the ringing of the bell could be heard for miles around.  His stay was brief, a decade or so, cut short when he was murdered at Bandry Bay, near Luss.


Inchlonaig, meaning Island Of Yew Trees, is named for the trees found there.  It is believed that these were re-planted by King Robert The Bruce who used the yews for the bows of his archers.  The Colquhouns owned and resided on the island where they farmed deer.  In 1873, two Colquhoun family members, both gamekeepers were drowned while returning from a deer hunt.  A ruined cottage and lime kilns, as well as Mesolithic remains, are to be found on Inchlonaig.

Ellanderroch and Inchfad

Ellanderroch, the tiny island to the left of mile long Inchfad, is the Island of Oak, with some surprisingly large oaks growing there.  Good fishing attracts many fishermen who use Ellanderroch for shelter in bad weather.  For reasons unkown to the writer, a hollow oak was, at some time in the past, filled with concrete.  A lightening strike burnt away the wood, leaving a pillar of concrete as a lasting memorial to someone’s foolishness.

Inchfad, The Long Island, is a mile long and only 70ft. at its highest point.  A short canal near the north eastern tip was once used by distillery workers.  While this area abounded in illegal stills, the one on Inchfad was lawful.  Today, the canal is used by the island’s owners as a harbour.


An island story

In The Steps Of The Old Woman – Inchcailloch – A Journey Back In Time

View from the summit of Inchcailloch

It was late July when I visited Inchcailleach, the old name for this island, now known as Inchcailloch.  The name is Gaelic for ‘Island Of The Old Woman’.

I sailed from Balmaha on the Lady Jean, one of many small boats owned and operated by the MacFarlane’s  boatyard.

The Lady Jean

First, a couple of videos of my trip in the Lady Jean, a charming little wooden boat, one of several,  that sails from MacFarlane’s boatyard.

Immediately on landing, I felt the uncanny feeling of total peace that pervades this little paradise.

I divided my exploration into two consecutive afternoons.  The first day, contenting myself with visiting the old churchyard.  On the second, I climbed the island’s highest point, getting a photographic record along the way as I walked in the steps of the old woman.

The following information I got from the internet.  The old woman in question was St. Kentigema (mother of St Filan) who, in 717A.D., came from Ireland with her brother and son, settled on the island and made a big enough impression on the populace of the mainland to have, in the 12th century, a church built in her memory.  To this house of worship, for the next 500 years, the local mainlanders came each Sunday, rowing back and forth.

Inchcailloch from Balmaha

Churchyard Entrance

Here, the community graveyard was also situated.  The foundations of the church are still intact as are many of the more recent grave stones. Most of the ancient ones are long covered and overgrown with grass, but two old, if not ancient ones, remain above ground.

The  names most common in the graveyard are MacFarlane and MacGregor.  The two  oldest stones  still reportedly visible and identifiable are Gregor MacGregor 1623 and Duncan MacFarlane 1783.  However, I was unable to locate them, in part, because I did not have my reading glasses with me.  Gregor MacGregor was clan chief and an uncle of Rob Roy MacGregor, who, some claim, is also buried here.  Conflicting claims have him buried at his home town near Stirling.

In a corner of the churchyard is a covered storage area that houses remains of the original 12th century church building.  Below is a photograph of a few of these amazing relics.  In Scotland’s wet, inclement climate, it’s miraculous that they have survived in such perfect condition. The stones that were used to build the church proper would have been recycled when the farmhouse and other structures were erected shortly after the house of worship fell into disuse in the 17th century.

12th Century Remains

Below are a few photos I took on the return journey down to the Jetty where I boarded the ‘Margaret’, sister to the ‘Lady Jean’ for the return trip to Balmaha.

Conic Hill from Inchcailloch

For information about Loch Lomond And The Trossachs National Park, click on link below.



Another Winter on Loch Lomond

                                                            Moody Afternoon

The first photos and videos I posted in ‘Loch Lomond, Limericks And Life’ were taken in November and December of last year.  This posting sees the start of another winter; a very different winter.  While last year was arctic cold for months with much snow in early November, it is now late December and we have just had our first snowfall.

Rosy Winter Evening

High winds and torrential rain have been the extremes since September.  The wetlands video that follows is evidence of just how wet it has been.  Back in the Spring,  I walked on the ground that is now covered in water.

Loch Lomond, Limericks and Life



Islands And Their Stories


Finding ‘Wee Peter’


On returning from my island cruise on the Lomond Lass, I went in search of the statue of a boy situated offshore in the water of Loch Lomond.  The bus driver, whom I meet on my trips to Luss, knew where it was and dropped me off, breaking my homeward journey.  He showed me exactly where the statue stood, but did not know how to get near it.  I walked back a little ways to the bay pictured above – Alduchlay – thinking I would find a path along the shore line.  I did not, since access to the water ended at the spot pictured, giving way to private property.

Alduchlay Bay

Approach to Bandry Bay

After walking along the road, bordered by a stone wall and dense woodland sporting signs of ‘DANGER.  DEEP WATER’, I came to a place where the wall had been breached and a path led straight to the target area, another little cove called Bandry Bay.  At the far left of the photo above, you can just see the figure in the water.

Bandry Bay and ‘Wee Peter’

The following video has no sound track simply because there was no sound.  The place was totally silent.

A closer look at the statue.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Without a boat or a good telescopic lens, I was unable to get close enough to the statue to get a good image.  This one I borrowed, from Wikipedia.

So, whom does this statue represent?  No one called Peter, as far as is known.  The ‘Wee Peter’ title was conferred in recent times for reasons unknown.  Most people think it is a memorial to a boy who drowned here.  In fact, no such sad story is the case. The statue was made by William Kerr for a house in London he had been commissioned to build.  While he worked successfully in London during the 1870s and 80s, his childhood was spent in Luss.  When the statue was found to be ‘surplus to requirements’, Kerr brought it to the place where he had spent many happy hours as a child.  Few people, if any, expected it to remain standing for long and it became known as ‘Kerr’s Folly’.  Erected in 1890, it stands firm today, 121 years later, proving it wasn’t in the least ill advised and is a testament to Kerr’s skill as a builder.

I looked around, imagining a young boy playing happily in the water and in the surrounding woods.  As I stood there, lost in my imaginings, I heard the sound of a horses hooves, trotting, it sounded like.  When a horse and cart came into view on the road above, it was a surreal moment.

In spite of the origins of the statue being a happy tale, there is a definite air of melancholy at Bandry, perhaps leading to the belief in the drowned child.  One has to look much further back in history to find a possible reason for this.  The island bordering  The Bandry is Inchtavannach, sometimes referred to as ‘Monk’s Island’.   Here, in the 6th century, St Kessog founded a monastery, the bell of which could be heard for great distances around the loch and became a feature of the times.  The sainted Kessog was murdered at The Bandry in 520 A.D. by hired assasasins.  The identity of the person who gave the order has never been found.  Some think the Druids were the most likely culprits.  I will provide a link to a wondrfully informative history of the life and times of St. Kessog.

For me,the following video has a forlorn feel.   The fallen trees lack the charm such things usually have and instead, coupled with the mud in the water, they seemed to emanate an air of decrepitude.  No doubt it was siesta time for the birds in the area, but the total lack of life sounds, added to this feeling of  abandonment.  Or perhaps I have an over-active imagination.


St. Kessog?  The effigy found inside a cairn that was dismantled by soldiers building the nearby road, was thought to be a depiction of  St. Kessog, but some historians think it was hidden much later during the Reformation.  It is now housed in Luss Church.


An island cruise on the ‘Lomond Lass’   



Yesterday, I sailed from Luss on the independently operated Lomond Lass.  What this little boat lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in charm.  After boarding by climbing over the rail and down a small, household stepladder, we set off to cruise round some of the islands on Loch Lomond.  Unfortunately, most of my efforts as a photographer were dismal failures this time, but I’ll do it again on a day when the sun shines and get the parts I missed.  I did, however, get enough to show that, while only a half hour trip, it is still a wonderful experience and something I wouldn’t have missed.



Fraoch Eilean means ‘Heather Island’.  I think of it as ‘Island of Birds’ since it seems to have developed into a bird sanctuary.  However, when the heather is in bloom, it earns its name.  It is also often referred to as Inchfrielechan which is possibly derived from Inch-FraochEilean, meaning island-heather island in two languages – Scots and Gaelic.  Old maps show this island as ‘Luss Prison’ and at one time it was a place of banishment for nagging wives.

Between Islands

Barnie the barnowl sits atop the wheelhouse and does a great job of keeping seagulls away.

Conic Hill, Part of Highland Boundary Fault.

Today I went to Balmaha.  I came away sated with the beauty of it. Balmaha is situated on the East bank of Loch Lomond in Stirlingshire (the County of Stirling). This ancient and incredibly beautiful little village is of great geological significance,nestling as it does beneath Conic Hill and the forested ridge that are part of the Highland Boundary Fault which separates the Lowlands from the Highlands.  The fault continues with Inchcaillioch Island a short distance offshore.  Steeped in history, this island has a wealth of interesting ruins.   Unlike the rest of the area, and indeed most of Scotland, Inchcillioch is known for its peacefulness and lack of strife.  There is, I hear, a spiritual quality to the place. In an earlier post I give some details of its long-past history.

The fault runs from Arran to Stonehaven but only in Balmaha is the dramatic change in terrain so apparent.  The pier at the foot of the ridge, and a short distance from the village, marks the dividing line.  The videos and photos following illustrate this phenomenon. Before I muse about my time there and my thoughts since, I will post some photos and a couple of videos.  These were taken in the village centre and then on a hike to the point at the pier where Lowlands meet Highlands then north round the shore of the loch. The change in landscape is dramatic.

These first two videos were taken at the little park in the centre of the village.   The views show, on the left, MacFarlane’s Boatyard and, in the centre, Inchcaillioch Island.  Macfarlane’s operate a Royal Mail sevice on which members of the public can take a variety of cruises to the many islands in Loch Lomond.  They also have a ferry service to the beautiful and history-rich Inchcaillioch.

After spending a short while with the ducks, I set out along the road to the headland where the Lowlands meet the Highlands.  There is a headland there and a jetty where one can catch a waterbus run by Sweenie’s Tours.  They offer transport to Balloch or Luss.  Alternatively, one can take one of the cruise boats of Cruise Loch Lomond and sail, via Inchcaillioch, through The Narrows, the most beautiful part of Loch Lomond with Luss as the final destination.


The road to the jetty

The road to the pier.

The variety of scenery in the short distance from the village centre to the jetty is amazing.  After the pastoral feel of the little park, the road along the loch was wilder, with the densely wooded ridge that is part of the Highland Boundary Fault on the right and trees on the left making a leafy avenue.


Soon the road climbs above water level forming  a steep, tree covered bank on the left with peek-a- boo views of the water,at that time,  sparkling in the afternoon sun.

In the background of the photo above, beyond the observation point, the wooded ridge that is the Highland Boundary Fault slopes down to the water.  The video below shows the pier and, opposite, Inchcaillioch Island.  The boat seen heading there is the Lomond Warrior, one of several sister ships that Cruise Loch Lomond operates.  Towards the end of the video, you can see the difference in terrain – Highland rugged mountains to the right of Inchcaillioch and gentler rolling hills of the Lowlands to the left.  This sudden change is evident as soon as one heads north from the pier.


Rocky Trail

Simple Perfection

Bridge in dappled sunshine

Bridge Along The Trail

The Highlands

For anyone who wishes more information about the geological fault,go to the sidebar, top left of the page, and, under Highland Boundary Fault, click on Loch Lomond and Stirling – The Highland Line.  This gives you a site with a wealth of information without being beyond the grasp of non-geology students.


Luss Highland Gathering

Ben LomondBen Lomond

Luss highland Gathering

After a June with only one glorious day amid dark skies and pouring rain, the 2nd July was a welcome change with warm temperatures and a day free of the wet stuff.  Not having been to the Gathering before, I was unprepared for how like a school sports day it was  – sort of a cross between inter-schools sports competition and a village fair.  The setting was spectacular and I did get my Highland fix by staying with the solo  piping contest.  Young , budding pipers were being judged by old, seasoned experts.  I felt for the nervous contestants.  I’m posting some of my favourite images and three short, shorter and very short videos.


The Smile

Getting it Right  This young lady was one of the many piping contestants scattered around  the perimeter of the action while they found a spot to practise.   I love the little smile as she tunes her pipes.

Sad Song.   I wish this next very short video was longer but my attention was elsewhere for most of this piece – just caught it at the end.  Note the demeanor of the spectator to the left.  The music seems to be having a profound effect on him.


Last minute practise

A few moments alone

One can feel the concentration of this budding piper as he has one last practise before going before the judges.

Competing with a helicopter.

In the following video the poor piping contestant has a low flying helicopter accompanying him for the last part of his rendition.  He maintains very well for a while before appearing to get a bit rattled – or so it seems.  The judges in the tent watch impassively.


Loch Lomond in June

Summer begins – June

Yesterday, June 3rd, the cold, wet, windy weather of the past many weeks gave way to a glorious, warm, clear, still day.  Today, we’re back to ‘normal’ with dark skies and the temperature 10 degrees C cooler than yesterday.  Fearing the summer wouldn’t last, I took myself off for another trip to Luss.  This time, I took a boat, the Lomond Princess, to Balmaha, stopping at the nearby island of Inchcaillioch.  During our cruise through the most beautiful part of the loch, The Narrows, I was so carried away by the awesomeness, that I forgot to periodicaly stop and restart my camera video.  Consequently, I ended up with too big a file that is of no use.  If we ever get another day like yesterday, I’ll go back and do it right.  The shorter videos I did get are pretty lovely nevertheless.   The sound you hear is the boat’s engines.

The Island of Inchcaillioch  (Gaelic for ‘island of the old woman’)

The old woman in question lived on the island in 717A.D.  She was an Irish Christian missionary, later known as St. Kentigma. Much later, around the 13th century, a church was built on the island in her memory.  Worshipers from the mainland rowed accross the half mile stretch of water from Balmaha each Sunday for the next 500 years.

NOTE:  The information I previously gave about this island once being used as a prison and again as a place of banishment for nagging wives, in fact is true, not of Inchcaillioch, but of Fraoch Island, near Luss.

Island Calm


June reflections

The photos above show Loch Lomond at its very best, when it not only looks good but
is easily accessible.

Having completed the round trip from Luss to Balmaha and back, I ate a
picnic lunch on the beach then walked its length until stopped by a boundery
fence. There, in a secluded corner, I found a family of swans – parents and
five tiny cignets. Last week when I was on the beach, it was noisy with the
sound of seagulls, but this time, perhaps because of a greater number of
people, there were none around. The swan family and I were in a space of total stillness.  With the sun blanking out my camera screen, my aim was off now and then. The following still makes for a charming record of the moment.


Lomond Princess: For anyone wondering what kind of craft I was sailing in, here it
is. I got this picture from the website of the company that runs this and
several other tour boats on Loch Lomond and beyond. This one was built in 1973
by H. McLean, Renfrew, with engines by Perkins Marine Diesels, Peterborough.
For those who are speak boat language, the specs say – Propulsion: Diesel M6cy
95bhp 9.5kn. Tonnage: 39grt 37nrt. Length: 54ft. Breadth: 16.1ft.


Loch Lomond at Luss

This morning, I took the twenty-five minute bus ride up the loch to the village of Luss.  Foul weather this month has stopped me taken many pictures, so clouds aside, I took advantage of a couple of rain-free hours to finish my pictorial record of the month of May.  Storm clouds dominated, but the wind also gave it a rest.

Their has been a village on that site for at least a thousand years.  It used to be called ‘Clachan Dhor’, Gaelic for ‘Dark Village’.  Some say the present name came from the Gaelic word for a flower, but it more likely came from the French ‘Fleur de Luce’.  The story goes that a Frenchwoman , following her wishes, had her body brought to Clachan Dhor for buriel.  Fleur de Luce was her flower of choice for the interment.  The flowers reproduced and later bloomed atop her grave. It was believed they had healing properties that cured sickness in the village.


River Luss

At the edge of the village, the shallow River Luss flows out of the loch.  In the video below is the sound of a bird’s song.  I wish I knew what kind of bird it is.  If anyone viewing the video can tell me, I’d be obliged if that person could leave me the answer in the comment section at the end of the post.



April Afternoon

The Edge of the Loch

Having explored the end of the River Leven, I returned to its source, Loch Lomond.  I wanted to capture images of Spring’s new growth.  The best place to do this was on the banks and in the woods bordering the loch.  I’m posting some of my favourites.

Babbling Brook

One day, when it’s not windy, I’ll go back and make a video of this babbling brook. I just love the sound of it.  This little stream winds its way through the woods, ending in a cascade that empties into the loch.  Scroll down, and you’ll find the video I made of the waterfall in March.  Shortly, I’ll make a separate page for Spring On Loch Lomond as I have done for Winter.

Woodland Floor

When I look at this image, it evokes conflicting emotions.  Sometimes, there’s the joy that always comes when seeing the sprouting of  Spring’s new growth, particularly after this past, long, arctic winter;  admiration and wonder at the tenacity of the daffodils and an altogether ”peaceful, easy feeling”.  At other times, there’s a feeling of melancholy.  Having examined this, I think the aloneness and otherness of the flowers perhaps strikes a chord.  I do believe there is a story lurking somewhere.

Choppy Water

Woodland covers much of the banks of Loch Lomond, well named ”The Bonnie Banks” and immortalised in a universally recognised song.  The incessant winds of March and April have kept the water choppy.

New Leaves

A few feet away, a path follows the progress of the stream through the woods.  With no one else in sight, I was undisturbed and free from distractions.  I was conscious of a vague feeling of deja vu.  It wasn’t until I was home and checking out the many photos I’d uploaded into my computer, that I realised from where the feeling came. It was another stream, another path, another Spring, another time, many years ago.  I’ve started a new page to record that story.  It may be called  ”Fairy Gates”.  I’ll post it as soon as it’s finished.


Spring – more musings

It’s March now and, once again, snowy.  Yesterday, however was different – hail showers and gale force winds.  I took myself off to the loch to try to get some pictures of a different mood than the ones already posted.  While the images in the videos were fine, the wind was so strong it sounds like REALLY loud static as it rushed past the little microphone on my camera.  During a short lull I did manage to get one or two with only the sound of waves and water.   Here they are.  At the start of the first one, you may hear some wind for just a short time before the lovely sound of breaking waves takes over.


March Winds.

March really did live up to its reputation when I took this series of images. The hail clouds were being driven at such a pace across the sky that the colour of the water was changing rapidly, often by the moment.  My little camera was having difficulty keeping up with the rate of colour change.  You can see a marked example of this in the ‘Waterfall’ video following.


Swans on Loch Lomond

Photos and videos taken in Balloch, November/December, 2010

At twenty-six miles long, or thereabouts, Loch Lomond is the largest loch in Scotland.  In the weeks and months ahead I will share more photos and videos of the Scottish landscape in the area in which I live.  Balloch is situated at the south end of the loch where it narrows and becomes the River Leven.  I will bring you pictures and videos of its journey through Alexandria and Renton to Dumbarton.  However, this is not a travelogue.  I will only include sufficient historical and statistical information to give a sense of time and place.  There will be variety of offerings.  I have stories to tell plus limericks and scribblings that will bring laughter to those with a well-developed sense of the ridiculous.

The sunlit mountain in the background of the video above is Ben Lomond

Ice-covered Loch Lomond

Only the shallowest water froze.  This body of water has an average depth of 37 metres (121 ft) and, at it deepest, is 190 meters (620 ft).  It has the largest surface area of any loch/lake in the United Kingdom – 27 square miles.  Loch Ness boasts the highest volume of water putting Loch Lomond in second place.

Winter Wonderland

Above is one of a series of photos and videos I took in November and December. We had weeks of arctic weather when parts of the loch were frozen, as in this scene. Loch Lomond has many moods with faces to match.  In between creatively writing, I’ll post the best images.  Being a beginner at blogging, I’m afraid the content may not be too interesting as I concentrate on the mechanics of how to make it all work.  Bear with me if you can.  Things will become a lot more riveting when I get the hang of it.

Trees, Christie Park, Alexandria, Scotland

Trees in Christie Park, Alexandria, Scotland        

This is another of the pictures I took in December.  Alexandria is about two miles from Loch Lomond and Balloch.  I live midway between the two.

It strikes me as I post these recent photos that they are already history.  What, a short while ago was SO in the moment, the arctic weather, the new camera, Christmas approaching, is all past, a memory.  Since photos capture a moment, they’re history a minute later,  just some more ancient than others.   Of such stuff are stories born.



The Snow House continues below. The passage in blue type was previously posted.

THE SNOW HOUSE  author, lochsplus  (contd. from earlier posting.  Episode 2)

This year has seen a particularly cold winter in Scotland.  Weeks of snow and arctic temperatures  reminded me of  other long, harsh winters from my childhood.  One such was 1946.  I was seven years old and that was the year I found out firsthand about crime and punishment.

I presently live a few yards from the River Leven, about a mile from Loch Lomond.  Back then, my home was an orphanage about fifty miles from here.  It was cold, with snow on the ground, when I arrived there in January of 1943.  Early on, I realised that the whole of my existence would henceforth be a battle against the innate sinfulness that we unfortunate children brought with us when we exited the womb.   SIN would be ever- present in our lives.  Staying clear of eternal damnation was an uphill struggle.  The list of wickedness possible was endless.  Thinking of anything other than repentance and retribution was, well, sinful.   Warning cries of  ‘I am a God of wrath; I will repay!’ and, ‘Thou God see-est me!’, and ‘Lying lips are an ABOMINATION unto the Lord!’,  were heard loud and often.  And it was cold.

The list of punishable offences was long and varied.  Most of these were to be expected – all the ‘Thou shalt nots’ in the Commandments along with no lying; putting ones foot over the edge of the linoleum when waiting in line; speaking when silence was ordered; rolling down ones ‘Hairy Marys’ (black, scratchy,  woolen stockings) and umpteen more.  One sin I always thought was highly unreasonable.  We were reminded of it by the Head of the House, a.k.a., ‘Mother’, once a week on the evening before rubbish bin (garbage can) emptying day.  This was in the days of metal bins. The Bin Man was never given the courtesy of ‘Mr.’ before his name.  He was just ‘Farley’.  The reason for this was that Farley was a sinner of the first order.  He was going to suffer eternal damnation and burn forever in the fires of Hell.  There would be no redemption for this fellow and, if we were each not VERY careful on bin day, we would be right down there in the flames with him.  Unless, since ”The wages of sin is death” according to the Good Book, we got our comeuppance sooner than expected.  According to ‘The Word of God’, otherwise known as ‘The Bible’, ”He that winketh with the eye, thinketh evil in the heart.”  Farley was a winker, a smiler and a winker.  Whenever he met one of us children on his travels around bin-emptying land, forbidden to speak to we innocents, he would smile and WINK.  The problem was, and this is where the unfairness came in, it wasn’t just the WINKER who was on track for eternal damnation.  Any unsuspecting WINKEES were Hell bound also.  For this reason, a sharp lookout was kept for Farley.  The sight of him at the end of the road would send us all fearfully hiding as far from the bins as possible lest we became the subjects of the bin man’s drooping eyelid.  For three years I had successfully escaped Farley’s evil winky eye being cast upon me.  Then, on this snowy day in 1946, it happened.  I BECAME A WINKEE.

Looking back, I realise that we never ever built snowmen.  We didn’t talk about snowmen and I, for one, didn’t even think about snowmen.  Snowmen were a non-subject.  It’s not surprising really, given that, made of snow or not, they were MEN.  Perhaps an older girl had made, or Mother was afraid an older girl might make, an anatomically correct snowman by fashioning and adhering an appendage.  This would surely turn every last one of us twenty some girls into raging, sex mad, man-hungry monsters, fair riddled with sin.  So no snowmen.  This winter of 1946 gave us so much snow we were able to build something much more fitting.  We built a snow house, an igloo.  Since The Gravel, our play area, was being whipped by a bitter North East wind, we chose our site on the sheltered side of the house.  Unfortunately for me, as it turned out, this spot was overlooked by the side bay of Mother’s sitting room window.

Half a dozen or so of us younger girls worked diligently on the igloo.  It was almost completed, to the delight of we budding architects.  I can’t remember what exactly I was doing as I gave it some finishing touches.  Suffice to say, I was totally focused on my creative endeavour.  So much so, that I did not notice all the other girls had gone.  Suddenly, I was awakened from my dream state by the sound of bins rattling. (to be continued)

For the complete story, you will find it in the drop down menu above the blog title.  Click on the menu icon, (3 horizonal bars).

Now for something quite different – A Lomond Limerick (so called only because I was near Loch Lomond when writing it.


The wild ducks (mallards) shown came to visit the garden I was working in last year. I was planting the first of the summer flowers when the two males and a female appeared very close to me.  One male took off and left the pair.  I had help to name them ‘Marmaduck’ and ‘Mamalaid’   I had not yet a digital camera and took these with a little disposable one, hence the less than stellar quality.



A Nod To The Bard  

Farmer Jack went off on his tractor                    

To meet his good friend, a house factor

But instead of his buddy

With smiling face ruddy

He found a Shakespearean actor.

”Oh la!  Who art thou?”  quoth the peasant.

”I’m a farmer” said Jack, most unpleasant,

”And you?  Are those tights?

We are not the bright lights                                             

But a place where we hunt duck and pheasant”.

The actor said, ”Just call me Lee.

Before thee I bendeth my knee.

 Please spare me thy wrath

For I’m someone who hath

Quaffed a few drinks and barely can see.                  

Thy friend, when he saw me took fright

And took off running into the night.

He too had supped ale

And was squiffy and pale

‘Twas a pitiful, pitiful sight.

I fear he was bingeing like me

The liquor you see was all free                      

The knave was too weak

To remain here and speak

So he bid me, instead, meet with thee.”

”Oh, get up, fool”, the farmer did say

Forsooth, fol-de-rol, lack-a-day

Prithee please do not howl

We will go shoot some fowl                              

Thee and me we will have a nice day.”

Armed with guns and some bullets of brass

They wandered off into the grass

Then took aim and fired

But the actor was tired

Oh, I’d love to, but let’s just say, ”pass”.

Though well soused and all over the place

They came forth from the reeds with a brace        

Lee, a ruddy great cow

Farmer Jack an old sow

Of the pheasant and ducks not a trace.

They roasted the game on a fire

Then sang Hey-Nonny-No to a lyre

By the dancing fire-lights

Farmer Jack donned some tights

And to Stratford’s great bard did aspire.                    

”Fare thee well” and some tears he did squeeze.

”May you prosper and never get fleas”

He talked just like a toff

‘Til his wig did fall off

And his tights dribbled down round his knees.

The actor then squealed, ”Oh, no way

Wilt thou ever make this caper pay.

Thou might suffer and sob

But do keep the day job

And leave ME to do Shakespeare, I pray”.

With a sigh and a wave of his hand

Farmer Jack took off back to the land

But he still wore the tights

When real cold were the nights

And a skinful had left him quite canned.

One such evening when trying to dredge

Up some Shakespeare he fell of a ledge.

He was rescued of course

By a knackered old horse

And thereafter our Jack took The Pledge.

The moral is painfully clear.

Stay away from all spirits and beer.

Don’t go hunting in tights

 And forego the delights

Hitherto, heretofore of Shakespeare.


For more limericks and complete story, The Snow House, click on the menu icon above the blog title, (3 horizontal bars).

http://www.visionsof scotland.co.uk/EdinHistory.htm