Sunday, 8 March 2015

Northern Gothic. The Black Isle. Inverness. A traveller's tale.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
A trip up north with John,his wife Gail and Alex started off well. Despite it being only the first days of March a lush carpet of multi-coloured crocus sprang out from the rich dark earth of Glasgow, Scotland's largest city.
A sign of  good times ahead perhaps?
We set off up the grey carpet of the A9 heading for Inverness. I was introduced to Gail and informed she was a necromancer... or a geocacher... something along those lines anyway and that she hunted for small buried objects hidden underground or in dark holes in trees... six thousand souls she has captured thus far. Her companions in the car hunted hills so we would be going our separate ways at Inverness. The Captial of the Scottish Highlands which lies further north than Moscow and level with the Sea of Okhotsk.

They have strange folklore in these northern parts and the magical power of unicorns feature strongly in their beliefs. A bitter wind tugged the car as we approached this heathen city and I prayed for guidance.
We left Gail in the warm surroundings and comfortable sanctuary of a modern chapel to St Purchase where she would meet her like minded friends then carried on.
This is the chapel. A haven of heat in this pagan landscape. They practice magic in these parts. They have cunningly designed a football stadium in a wind tunnel out on a flat, bleak coastal plain that defeats the footballing abilities of the best of teams. I.C.T. the name they go under.
They like to swim in the frozen waters of their main river in mid winter where monsters once roamed in towards deep lochs from the open north sea but most were turned back.
Even the birds are different here.
Ancient villages where dark magic fights against light. The age old battle of Sunshine Vs Obsidian.
Although my companions didn't seem all that perturbed we had been invited to stay at a local house. The abode of the infamous B and M.
It was a strange place but cosy enough with the wind howling outside. This Scaramouche mask from the Commedia dell' arte put me at ease with its memories of  Columbina and Harlequin, who later became the Pied Piper of fiction who reputedly captured children's souls in more modern times.Maybe he was just misunderstood though. Did anyone bother to ask the children their opinion? I drifted further back in time to the merchants and bewildered town folk of Northern Italy who were forced to abandon their solid hard packed streets in terror, fleeing into the deep salt marshes of the Venetian lagoon, running once more from the savagery of the Huns under their new leader Attila. The great city of Venice grew from successive waves of uprooted refugees. Thankfully, we live in modern times now where that no longer happens...
Settling down I plucked a random book from this bookcase, above, and began to read. It was a weird tale concerning a dark storm, an empty ancient ship with no one left aboard to steer her clear of the rocks and a menacing yet unseen presence at the helm.Even the ship's rats had disappeared during the voyage.
Surely this couldn't happen here. The weather was calm. Dredger ship Causeway off the Black Isle.
Later that night though, in my troubled dreams, after many helpings of a spicy, blood red and white, but lovely cheese and something crunchy pizza laid on by our hosts I had visions of dark seas and shipwrecks. A feeling of foreboding and impending doom slowly deepened, as my dreams darkened further and something inhuman emerged from the ruins of that ship and seemed to float across the water towards the shore.
Avoiding the nearby houses of fisher- folk it crept down a dark tunnel and vanished.

A former merchants house. Black Isle Gothic.
The next day M and myself headed to the graveyard in Cromarty to visit some underground crypts.
Where I had an unusual feeling of being watched.
A strange croaking could be heard in many a garden.
Swampy creatures were everywhere and the local gulls seemed to have weird Liquorice Allsort eyes I,d never noticed before.
They seemed well fed and happy here though.
Snowdrops covered the graveyard in places.
In the Firth huge structures loomed offshore.
And some dominated the town.
The rugged cliffs of North Sutor.
"She sleeps with ravens"  A fine start to our little Gothic Adventure.  To be continued....

A strange unsettling post deserves a strange unsettling video. Nemesis. A song named perhaps after the hypothetical star theory which was put forward to try and explain the series of mass extinctions occurring throughout our planet's history, the cause of which is still largely unknown. Recent theories in the half life of facts and fiction now tend to shift the blame towards our own gas giant Jupiter, which may not have enjoyed as stable an orbit as it has now. Fascinating stuff for a pop record. I like Shriekback. Not your average group by any means. Who else could turn technical subject matter like this into catchy tunes. A pop song about the fossil record. You couldn't make it up.


Linda W. said...

What beautiful crocuses! Glad to see you have flowers blooming where you are too. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! :)

The Glebe Blog said...

Having been born close by in Forres, this post was like going home Bob.
Thank you.
Love the frogs, I must take a walk to Loch Moan and see them.

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Linda,
I enjoy looking at different places I,m not familiar with. Nice photos on your blog.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim,
I used to know the proud city of Inverness fairly well but it's been 30 years since I had a proper visit other than just passing through the outskirts to get a fish supper on the way to the mountains. A lot of changes as I remember catching the ferry between Black Isle and Inverness before they built the bridge across. That's how long it's been :o)More Northern Gothic to come as it was an eventful trip.

Carol said...

Our crocuses are quite sad-looking around here this year - not sure why. Those are lovely though,

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Yes, It's the best photo of massed crocus I've taken yet. Sometimes you take a photo that you think is a winner and it's nothing special once it's blown up full screen but I'm pleased with the Inverness set.

Kay G. said...

I really love the photos of the croci! (HA! I just asked my husband the plural of crocus and that is what he told me...I don't know if I have ever had to think about it before.)
And I also like the stained glass photo very much.
I have fond memories of seeing the first crocus in England after a long, cold winter, quite a welcome sight.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Kay,
As it was a rolling carpet without gaps or clusters I thought "Crocus" was a better collective term. Although I love the English Language and word play in general certain words grate with me, even though they are correct and "crocuses" or particularly "croci" I've always hated.
I am currently and patiently re-teaching my American spell checker to spell words correctly again as in favourite instead of favorite and bank cheque instead of check. I could download an English spellchecker but I,m learning more this way as I never realized so many words were different. Two nations separated by a common language is very true :o) I,ll soon have it back to working in the mother tongue again though and I'll feel I've achieved something... if only in a small way :o)
Just call me eccentric...