Dunnottar Castle (iii)

Cistern in courtyard. This ensured the castle’s water supply:-

Cistern, Dunnottar Castle

Cistern from upper floor of main building:-

Dunnottar Castle Cistern from Upper Floor

Interior (with windows):-

Interior, Dunnottar Castle

Window seat:-

Dunnottar Castle  windowseat

View from a window:-

Window, Dunnottar Castle,

Sundial and Lintel:-

Dunnottar Castle, Sundial and Lintel

Sundial and coat of arms information board:-

Dunnottar Castle, Sundial and Coat of Arms

Fireplace. Inscribed, “In commemoration of the defence of the honours of Scotland Sep 1651 – Aug 1652 by George Ogilvy of Barras, Governor of Dunnottar and of the help given by his wife Elizabeth Douglas and her kinswoman Anne Lindsay.” Scroll down for the story.

Dunnottar Castle chair + Fireplace

Part of Restored Ceiling (Regi et Regno):-

Part of Restored Ceiling, Dunnottar Castle

Restored ceiling (In Defens):-

Dunnottar Castle  restored ceiling 1

Dunnottar Castle (ii)

Castle buildings:-

Dunnottar Castle

Part of Dunnottar Castle

Castle Building, Dunnottar Castle,

Small window in above:-

Small Window, Dunnottar Castle

From sea end of site:-

Dunnottar Castle Interior

Courtyard area from outside its wall:-

Dunnottar Castle , Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Remains of chapel:-

Dunnottar Castle Chapel

Interior of chapel:-

Chapel, Dunnottar Castle,

Remains (with arch; garden area in foreground):-

Part of Dunnottar Castle

Garden area with buildings beyond. (Stonehaven War Memorial on hill in background):-

Dunnottar Castle, Interior Ruins

Buildings (chapel to right):-

Buildings inside Dunnottar Castle

Late afternoon shadows (sea beyond):-

Part of Dunnottar Castle and Sea Beyond

Dunnottar Castle (i)

Dunnottar Castle lies just south of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. We had been meaning to visit there for some time but it wasn’t till January last year we finally made it.

Dunnottar Castle from approach path:-

Dunnottar Castle from path

Dunnottar Castle from Approach Path

Dunnottar Castle

As luck would have it we visited the National Gallery of Scotland shortly after and saw this stunning painting of the castle by Waller Hugh Paton:

Dunnottar Castle

As you can see it is perfectly situated from a defensive point of view, as it is perched on a rock poking out into the sea.

Castle entrance:-

Dunnottar Castle  entrance

Pattern in Stones on path leading up to castle:-

Pattern in Stones, Dunnottar Castle,

There’s a small tunnel like construction to go through before you reach the interior and the castle buildings:-

Dunnottar Castle from path

Commonwealth War Graves, Hebburn Cemetery (iii)

Private H Dobson, The East Surrey Regiment, 1/6/1940, aged 21:-
Hebburn, Second World War Grave

Sapper J McCarty, Royal Engineers, 8/11/1942, aged 20:-
Second World War Grave, Hebburn

Private R Binnie, Royal Defence Corps, 10/2/1918, aged 46:-
Great War Grave, Hebburn

Private J Lacey, Royal Army Medical Corps, 12/3/1918, aged 25:-
Hebburn, Great War Grave

Sapper J T Marshall, Royal Engineers, 23/4/1916, aged 34:-
Great War Grave, Hebburn

2nd Corporal J Trodden, Royal Engineers, 21/2/1921, aged 23:-
Hebburn, Great War Grave

Private H Herries, Durham Light Infantry, 14/3/1917, aged 23:-
Hebburn, Great War Grave

Groups of Commonwealth War Graves, Hebburn Cemetery

Sapper W E Milne, Royal Engineers, 16/11/1945, aged 28 ; Private W Shone, The Seaforth Highlanders, 29/3/1946, aged 17; Gunner J Stubbings, Royal Artillery, 1/5/1947:-

Hebburn, Group of War Graves

Private W J Jackson, Durham Light Infantry, 25/12/1942; Private I Richardson, The Border Regiment, 9/11/1943, aged 24; Corporal J J Taylor, RAF, 24/11/1944, aged 44:-

Group of Second World War Graves, Hebburn

Sergeant W Watson, Wireless Operator/Rear Gunner, RAF, 14/11/1941, aged 21; WO B 11 (BSM) T W Picken, Royal Artillery, 1/8/1942, aged 34; J Weatherstone, Observer, RAF, 9/8/1947, aged 23:-

Group of Second World War Graves, Hebburn

Private W Hall, The Buffs, 5/5/1941, aged 18; W T H Oliver, Military Provost Staff Corps, 11/5/1941, aged 48; Guardsman C Hope, Grenadier Guards, 10-11/5/1941:-

Hebburn, Second World War Graves

Commonwealth War Graves, Hebburn Cemetery (ii)

P Moran, Air Mechanic First Class, Royal Navy, HMS Heron, 18/4/1943, aged 29:-
asecond World War Grave, Hebburn

Corporal J McDonnack, RAF, Auxiliary Air Force, 1/5/1941:-
Hebburn, Second World War Grave

Gunner A Keegan, Royal Artillery, 11/12/1939, aged 30:-
Second World War Grave, Hebburn

Private J Lydon, Durham Light Infantry, 2/12/1915:-
Hebburn, Great War Grave

Private T McKeown, Northumberland Fusiliers, 1/11/1918, aged 34:-
Hebburn, Great War Grave

Sergeant J G Forrest, Flight Engineer, RAF, 14/1/1945, aged 19:-
Hebburn Second World War Grave

Bruno Joseph Turcotte, Petty Officer Royal Canadian Navy, HMCS Provider, 16/6/1964, aged 36:-
War Grave, Hebburn

Commonwealth War Graves, Hebburn Cemetery (i)

As I mentioned before Hebburn Cemetery contains 41 War Graves, from both World Wars.

Sapper T C Brown, Royal Engineers, 7/4/1916:-

Great War Grave, Hebburn

Serjeant W W Norrie, Corps of Military Police, 27/2/1945, aged 42:-
Second World War Grave, Hebburn

Lance Corporal W G Nicholson, Royal Engineers, 4/3/1941, aged 30:-
Hebburn, War Grave

Private J Adair, Durham Light Infantry, 29/9/1942, aged 32:-
Hebburn, Second World War Grave

Able Seaman A Cottrell, Royal Navy, HMS “President III”, 14/5/1942:-
Hebburn, Second World War Grave

Private O Ward, The Border Rgiment, 2/12/1940, aged 25:-
Seecond World War Grave, Hebbrun

J Wilson, Stoker, Petty Officer, Royal Navy, HMS Zephyr, 31/12/1944, aged 27:-
Hebburn, Second World War Grave

Light by Margaret Elphinstone

Canongate, 2007, 429 p.

It is May 1831. The lighthouse on Ellan Bride, a small island south of the Isle of Man, was once owned and run by the Duke of Atholl but its care has recently passed into that of the Scottish based Commissioners of Northern Lights. The Ellan Bride light is obsolescent and a team to survey the island for the purpose of replacing it is about to arrive. For the past five years since the death of Jim Geddes, his unmarried sister Lucy has been lightkeeper, assisted by Jim’s widow Diya and the three children they have between them. Diya is of Indian extraction, brought to the Isle of Man by her father, an official of the East India Company, but reduced in circumstances after both he and his mother had died. The mechanics of keeping the light going, lighting the lantern, the daily cleaning of the lenses and windows, the care the Geddeses take, are revealed in detail as are the exigencies of everyday life in an isolated location. The news of the survey and the likelihood of their imminent removal from their living – the idea of a female lightkeeper is unlikely to recommend itself to the Commissioners – has perturbed the Geddeses, whose ancestral responsibility the light has been for generations.

The main surveyor is Archie Buchanan, who has an invitation to join Captain Fitzroy on HMS Beagle, and therefore the promise of adventure, in his pocket but his surveying commission to fulfil in the meantime. He is accompanied by Benjamin Groat who does most of the groundwork while Buchanan records notes, an activity for which the children dub him the Writing Man.The third member of the party, Drew Scott, got himself in bother and put in jail in Castletown on the Isle so they are a man short, allowing Lucy’s son Billy the chance of paid employment (twopence a day; a man’s wage even though he is only ten years old) for the first time. This puts a crack into the relationship between the Geddes children who had formed a pact to frustrate the surveyors if possible.

We see events from many viewpoints – all the above save Diya’s younger daughter Mally, who mainly because of her youth is the only one not to impact on the unfolding story – and what plot there is is packed into the three-day spell for which the surveyors are on the island but through their reminiscences and thoughts the past histories of all the characters are also unfolded. Elphinstone evokes her scenes well, the transition from sail to steam, the evolution of lighthouse keeping, the remoteness of the island – Ireland, England and even the Mull of Galloway are the far lands, sometimes lost in the mists – Diya’s awareness that position once lost cannot be regained, the class-consciousness of all the adults, the breakthrough to a hitherto unlikely communication when Buchanan reveales a particular enthusiasm. The tale may be small scale – the impact of the strangers on the Geddes family dynamics and of them on the members of the survey party – but universal human drives, fear, love, hope, compassion, are all conjured up. Each of the characters is an individual, each has a different way of expressing her- or himself.

Elphinstone again displays the Scottish novelist’s flair for evoking landscape – and necessarily in this case seascape. Added to this are descriptions of the island’s flowers, the local wildlife, particularly the seals and seabirds, the never-ending shifts of the tides and the passing shipping near or far. Indeed, the island is so well brought to mind that it is almost a character in its own right and its topography as revealed to Buchanan through his survey and laid down to Billy via the map he has drawn is crucial to a sub-plot.

My only caveats are that one of the relationships which evolve in the novel perhaps develops too quickly and that maybe on occasion the narrative lingers a little too long on the surroundings. But that last is an indicator of how involved Elphinstone makes the reader in the characters’ interactions, how eager to know what happens to them.

Pedant’s corner:- Master Forbes’ (Forbes’s,) Wells’ (x 4, Wells’s,) Geddes’ (Geddes’s,) some missing commas before pieces of direct speech, “‘I wish no hear no more about it.’” (wish to hear,) “Et in Arcadia ego. Even this must pass.” (Yes, the “I” is usually taken to mean death but Et in Arcadia Ego translates as, “Even in Arcadia I am here,” rather than “Even this must pass.”

The Menace From Farside by Ian McDonald

Tor.com, 2019, 153 p. Published in Interzone 285, Jan-Feb 2020.

 The Menace From Farside cover

This novella is set in the milieu of McDonald’s Luna series of books which might have been designed to illustrate the mantra that “Lady Luna knows a thousand ways to kill you.” As an aphorism this calls to mind The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I don’t know whether McDonald has read that book (I confess I haven’t) but it could be a possible inspiration.

In The Menace From Farside our narrator is Emer Corcoran who hates her name and prefers to be called Cariad. Initially it appears that she may be addressing the reader directly – on first sight a fine literary touch – but it turns out that these interludes in which she gives her views on the intricacies of story-telling and construction, relationships, the forever beyond reach lure of Earth, among other things, she is talking to a psychiatric bot as a kind of debriefing after an escapade in which she was involved (and incidentally made her famous on the Moon) and which her narrative goes on to describe.

A background sociological aspect of McDonald’s tale (but with a tangential impact on the plot) is the existence on the Moon of the arrangement of the ring marriage, wherein each member is married to two spouses, a derecho/a and an iz, left and right. This provides an SSSS, super-stable support system, said to be great for kids as it provides a network of ceegees (care givers.) When Cariad opines, “‘when it comes to love, rings are the craziest of all possible families, apart from all the others,’” McDonald manages to allude to both Tolstoy and Churchill in the one sentence.

The introduction to Cariad’s ring of a new “husband” for her mother, also brought into her life his daughter Sidibe Sissay. Cariad rather resents this intrusion into her “family.” Cariad fears heights and Sidibe’s effortless use of a special winged suit to fly from Osman Tower on a visit to the cavernous centre of the habitat of Queen of the South compounds her feelings. As a result Cariad conceives a scheme to take her “siblings” to visit the site of the first human footprint on the Moon – almost half the Moon distant – as a way for her to take back control. (Those last three words have a particular resonance for contemporary British readers. For the more general SF audience McDonald also explicitly references the phrase, ‘Make it so,’ as a sentence which leaders are supposed to utter.)

The scenes on the Moon’s surface are vaguely reminiscent of Arthur C Clarke’s novel A Fall of Moondust and short story Robin Hood FRS mainly because of that background. In McDonald’s vision, however, less untrammelled considerations intrude. At Queen of the South, the sun only ever appears to crawl around the rim of the crater in which the habitat is sited. On their journey, our group of adventurers find its full glare unsettling, their possible vulnerability to cosmic ray impacts troubling. And this Moon being McDonald’s Luna, things do not go entirely smoothly for them.

Quite what transpires, and the contribution to that of the dog-eat-dog nature of Luna’s overall organisation, plus the importance of the Moonloop – a sort of slingshot orbiting at very low level to wheech cargoes off into space or capture them on the way down – to the resolution of Cariad’s story I’ll leave to the reader to discover.

Through Cariad, McDonald adds in another comment about writing. “You know what makes storytellers laugh? That people really think their story reveals something about the person who tells it. It doesn’t. Stories are control. First, last, always. It tells you something about who’s hearing it.”

McDonald’s control is never in doubt.

The following did not appear in the published review.
Pedant’s corner:- My copy was an ARC (proof.) Some or all of these may have been corrected for the final print run.)
ass (it’s arse,) “your shine up your image” (you shine up your image,) “‘your idea of family and parents are so ancient’” (your idea …… is so ancient,) “with radarand seismics” (radar and seismics,) “a ring of warning lights flash” (a ring …. flashes,) “the thing not do” (not to do,) “that’s what makes the gut lurches” (lurch would seem more grammatical,) “onto bridge” (onto the bridge,) “There’ dusters” (There’s dusters or, more preferably, there’re dusters,) “pulled into chest” (into his chest,) “is going notice” (going to notice,) “it’s won’t be open wide enough” (it won’t be open.) “‘Do want me to count off …’” (Do you want me to count off,) phosphorous (phosphorus,) Tranquility base (Tranquillity, please,) “humanity’s first steps on the moon” (humanity’s first steps on the Moon,) “tells Kobe to told her left arm” (to hold her left arm,) “the smiles goes out of me” (the smiles go out of me,) “the moon want to kill you” (the Moon wants to kill you,) “his right arms swings” (his right arm swings,) “how to they get back” (how do they.) “That when the consequences arrive.” (That’s when..,) heard-earned (hard-earned.)

Friday on my Mind 200: House of the Rising Sun – RIP Hilton Valentine

I heard on the radio news on Sunday that Hilton Valentine, guitar player in the Animals, one of the signature mid-1960s British bands, has died.

The group’s arrangement of an old folk song, to which Valentine made no mean contribution with his guitar arpeggio introduction, was their breakthrough single, reaching no 1 on both sides of the Atlantic. (As I recall, though, the record label attributed the song to Trad: arr Price.)

The Animals: The House of the Rising Sun

Hilton Stewart Paterson Valentine: 21/5/ 1943 – 29/1/2021. So it goes.

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