Sunday, July 12, 2020

A Tale of Two Gardens

Still not much travel even though Oregon, like other places, tries to open up a little. Anne and I are being very conservative—no sit-in restaurants, very little shopping, no real trips. We have been on the lookout for ways to get out of the house. We’re not fans of wild camping, but we did consider taking Morse, the travel trailer, to a formal RV resort on the coast. We stopped considering it when the Oregon coast became a Covid-19 Hot Spot and we saw pictures of filled campgrounds crowded with campers with no masks and not maintaining social distancing. We did finally decide a trip to The Oregon Garden with friends Scott and Jane Thompson (in separate cars) would be doable. That three hour visit is the kernel of this post, along with telling about a Scottish garden we’ve visited several times. Mostly pictures without much commentary.

If nothing else, I hope this post bring a little color and brightness to a quite dark time.

The Oregon Garden, Silverton, OR.

Opened in 1999, The Oregon Garden is an 80-acre botanical garden with more than 20 specialty gardens (such as the Evergreen Garden and the Children’s Garden). The garden has four miles of ADA paths and usually operates a guided tram ride. The garden is open 365 days a year and is lovely any time of year. 
I usually visit the garden two or three times a year for flower photos, but this time I was particularly interested in the garden’s Covid-19 adaptions, including

Visitor’s Center was closed until July 10th,
This isn't the Visitor's Center; it's a garden shed.

Hours restricted to 10 to 4 daily, 
For a while I had my ducks in a row.

Only 300 guests in the garden at any one time, 

The tram is not operating, 

Drinking fountains are turned off (bring your own water), 
The crow on the right was teaching the young one how to feed.

Only restrooms by the entrance and the Children’s Garden are open, and

Masks are required in indoor public areas and six foot social distancing is expected in all areas.
Using a special photo program.

The local statue of Nessie.

The four of us maintained appropriate social distancing and then enjoyed a picnic lunch (we each brought our own) at different ends of the picnic table. A lovely and successful trip.

Kailzie Gardens, 2.5 miles from Peebles in Scotland’s Borders region,

In better times when Anne and I have visited the Scottish Borders we have spent time at Kailzie Gardens  (pronounced kay-lae), a private garden in the Tweed Valley. The garden dates from 1812 and is currently owned by Lady Buchan-Hepburn of Peebles. 

This is a spectacular 17-acre garden consisting of both woodlands and walled formal gardens, including greenhouses. Kailzie also hosts Tweed Valley Ospreys (an osprey observation area open Easter to the end of August) and Kailzie Courtyard Cafe.  The gardens are usually open all year, but this year closed in March and didn’t reopen until July 3rd.

These two gardens are very different, but we enjoy both and hope the photos will help brighten your day.

NEXT: Stay Safe and Find Out.

Sunday, June 7, 2020


Here are a couple of photos that I’ve recently taken on backyard safaris. At least I’ve been able to get out into the yard, but I must tell you…

I really MISS SCOTLAND.  We didn’t have a fall trip to Scotland last year and this year’s spring trip had to be rescheduled because of the pandemic. We are now rebooked for the end of August. I give that trip, though, less than 10% chance to happen—we’re basically still closed, Scotland is closed, and the virus is expected to still be with us. So, I really MISS SCOTLAND. That’s the topic of this simple photo essay: What I miss about Scotland.

  I miss the friends we’ve made in 34 trips to Scotland since 2000.
Our Scottish family (John & Jacky Clifford), Yann & Sharri Gosweiller (neighbors), and in the back is Ollie (guest from Germany).

Jim Craig is a famous champion Scottish footballer.

Andrew Cuthbert, whisky shop owner and guru, and motorcycle mechanic extraordinaire.

I miss the breakfasts and special dinners in the B&Bs.
At Merlindale B&B the breakfasts are fantastic and the special dinners for friends and family are legendary.
I miss the sheep in the road--whenever I can.

I miss the special birthday celebrations in Scotland.
Jonathan, Jacky, and Ailsa Clifford celebrating Jon's and Jacky's birthday (a day apart) with a cake Anne made.

I miss the golf in Scotland—golf is good here, but better there.
The 18th at Old Moray is a great finishing hole.
Late afternoon light gives Ballatter GC a  special feel.

The challenging bunkers at Panmure GC near Carnoustie.

The wild Durness GC in the far northwest corner of Scotland.

I love the testing 9th at Durness GC where I have to hit over the Atlantic Ocean.

I miss the chance to meet fans of my writing in the B&Bs.
Holly and her daughter from Chicago booked into the B&B just for a chance to meet  Bob and Anne, the travel writers.

I miss the friends we’ve made on the golf courses in Scotland.
Grahame Linnie, golf professional at Crail GC

With Anne are Wendy and Roger Baily, golf club manager from Colvend GC, who came up to join us playing our course, St Fillans GC.

Gordon Hibbert is the Super Golf Manager of St Fillans GC (the club we belong to) and now a good friend.

I miss the call of the cuckoos in the spring.
A real cuckoo on Carrbridge GC. We hear them on most courses in the spring, but have only seen a couple.

I miss competitions at Scotland’s golf courses.
John celebrates his huge win while Anne stares on in disbelief--his prize,,,magnificent bragging rights.

Anne and I love playing in Scottish club competitions. We meet great people in the competitions, such as Leslie and John from Minto GC in the Borders. 

At our club, St Fillans GC, there is almost always an informal competition. Teams are drawn at random and the entry of £2 buys coffee after the round and gives a little to the winner--on a good day you can win enough for a bacon roll for lunch.

Even though we have spectacular scenery here, I miss the special scenery of Scotland we don’t get here. 
Dunnottar Castle on Scotland's east coast along the North Sea.

The mountains of Glen Coe

The view from Isle of Skye GC includes the ferry to Raasay, Loch Sligachan, and Ben Lee (Ben is Scottish for mountain).

Gorse or whine and the north Scottish coast from Royal Tarlair GC.

Interesting landscape in  the Orkney Islands.

The heather is lovely, but is hard to get golf balls out of.

Threave Castle on one of Scotland's five River Dees.

Most of all, I miss the adventure of travel. I hope you all keep safe and maybe soon we can travel together. Keep traveling even if they are small roads.
The main road of the Isle of Arran

Here’s a note of hope. After selling 60 or more books a month through the winter, we went to selling none—nobody was traveling or wanted travel books. But now we’ve started selling again. Not as many as before, but enough to show that some people are at least thinking about traveling again.
Our newest revision

Saturday, May 16, 2020

May Travel Blog Update

Ardvreck Castle, Highlands

Anstruther Harbour Light, Fife Coast

The disappeared blog post. The last post to this blog is gone. After about a week and half I checked on the post and found that most of the photos from the blog were missing—they’d been posted, looked okay when I first put them up, but now they were just gone. I tried to get them back and when that didn’t work I tried to repost them. That was difficult as well. But through all of this nobody told me the pictures were gone. That led me to consider and question the future of the travel blog: for whom was I writing the blog? My analysis led me to the conclusion that although I hoped an audience of readers would be entertained and maybe informed by the photos and stories, the real reason I produce the blog is because I feel good writing it and sharing it. So, readers or no, on I go with a new post, and hopefully the photos will stay in place.
One of the (living) residents of the Muthill Graveyard

Falls of Dochart, Killin

But what to write about—I’m not traveling and I’m not taking significant pictures? What am I doing? The answer to that is the topic for this post.
The William Wallace (Braveheart) Monument--photo taken from Stirling Castle

Cottage in Shadow, Boat of Garten
   To keep busy and kill sheltered time I’ve started working on a new book. When I produced Scotland in Black and White: 90 Photos I really liked the results. The book, I think, is attractive, produced well, interesting, and is a bargain ($25 if bought from me, rather than from Amazon at $37.50). Scotland, though, is quite a colorful country, so why not produce a book of Colorful Scotland? That’s the project I’m working on now. This post is about that project; my process of putting it together along with some photo examples.
The White Church and River Earn, Comrie

A Close (Alley) in Edinburgh

The first step was to gather a stock of my Scotland photographs and cull those down to  a reasonable size for a book. I picked out approximately 500 photos from our Scotland trips since about 2012—photos before that tended to be not of a high enough quality because of my equipment and/or photo skills. With the mass of photos selected I went to step two; categorizing the photos into groups which fit telling the story of travel to Scotland and of the country itself. As I reviewed my stock I decided on nine categories which would help me tell my story:  Ancient Sites, Castles and Churches,
Burleigh Castle, Milnathort

Flora and Fauna, Golf,
Kellie Castle and Gardens, Fife

Pheasant on the Run

Bothy and Fifth Fairway at St Fillans GC

Harbors and Seascapes, Villages,
Crail Harbour, Fife

Pennan, a Clearance Village on the North Coast

Landscapes, Scottish Culture,
Glen Lyon Road, the Longest Glen in Scotland (34 miles)

Kilted Barbarian on the Streets of Edinburgh

and Something Different (whatever doesn’t fit in other categories). Step next was to cull the 500 photos down to about 200 which fit the various categories and group them together in files. With each group I then had to pick out the best 11 or so photos so that I’d have a total of about 100. That was harder than I thought—I had too many I wanted to share. I finally selected 110 as the number I could live with which made groups of between 8 and 15 photos per category. That process, from the decision to produce the book to the large group of 110 photos in nine categories, took about three weeks.
Liquid Gold
It has taken about two weeks  now to get the photos into condition to be printed in a book—cleaned up and enhanced from the raw images. With that done I have a stock of photos that almost made the cut list and those are the images I’m using in this post. You’ll have to wait for the book to be able to see the better photos. 
Sunset in Elie on Fife's North Coast

That’s where I am now with the book after five or six week's work at about an hour or two a day. The jobs still to come are to organize each section, decide on and write commentary on each individual photo, put everything into the book template, and proof a dozen times. I certainly hope we are NOT in shut down long enough for me finish the project. I’d love to be able to go work in my usual office, the local coffee shop, to finish the book. In the meantime, it keeps me off the street and out of trouble. I hope you too can find suitable endeavors, Stay safe.

NEXT: I am rereading the journals I write for each trip looking for stories worth sharing. Hopefully I will find a few.