Thursday, October 20, 2016

Facing the past in Helmsdale, Scotland

After my morning visit to Brora back in early May it was time to hop the bus and head further north to Helmsdale which took about twenty minutes. The purpose of my trip was to visit the Timespan Museum and learn more about the Highland Clearances.  The Highland Clearances were the forced removal of crofters from their rented land in order for English landlords to graze their newly acquired sheep. Sheep, it turned out were much more profitable than the rent the landowners received from their tenants. Tenants and their families were either moved to the coast to work or given one way tickets to Canada for a new life.  Families were forcibly separated never to see each other again. The museum had a fantastic virtual reality area where you could see what a croft would have looked like in the early 1800's.  It was really an amazing little museum and gave me a better understanding of what my ancestors' life would have been like before moving to Canada.  I must say that while the heartbreak of leaving their families and homeland behind must have been intense, in most instances I am sure a much better life in Canada awaited them.  That's not to say I agreed with the Highland Clearances; not at all!  They say that Scottish Canadians are more passionate about the bagpipes and all things Scottish than the Scottish are!  I love the bagpipes and "Scotland the Brave" gives me the shivers so I plead guilty to that sentiment. Even if we aren't physically there a little bit of Scotland is still in all of us.

I then headed off to explore the town. An interesting note is that Helmsdale was planned and created to create accommodation and employment for those that were forced off their land. Many crofters became fishermen.  My first stop was at the 10 foot Emigrant statue which overlooks the town and is dedicated to those who were forced to leave the Highlands.  I sat there for quite a while just thinking about how terrible it must have been for families to be torn apart.  My father's paternal family relocated to Canada in 1815 first settling in Nova Scotia and then Ontario. The same statue is in Winnipeg, Manitoba so yet another reason to revisit that nearby prairie city soon.

The Emigrants

Commemorates the people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland who, in the face of great adversity, sought freedom, hope and justice beyond these shores. They and their descendants went forth and explored continents, built great countries and cities and gave their enterprise and culture to the world. This is their legacy.

Their voices will echo forever thro the empty straths and glens of their homeland. 

The text above is what is written on the side of the monument.  Very moving.

The River Helmsdale

Isn't the gorse spectacular?  A much welcomed sign of Spring for the Highlanders.

I walked around the harbour area as well.

By this time (mid afternoon) I was getting hungry so stopped at Thyme and Place bistro for a lamb shank and veggies.  Nom, nom!!!

Time to go for a walk so I headed over to the river and walked along this path for some gorgeous views.

More daffodils!!!

I could have sat on that bench for an hour or so just enjoying the view but time was a wastin'.

One last look down the main street and then it was time for the bus...buses in these parts only run every few hours so you don't dare miss one.

View from the bus going back to Golspie.

Another view..

When I got off the bus in Golspie I decided it was much too early to go back to the B and B and I still had lamb shank to burn I walked over to the sea and headed south this time.

The Golspie pier

I walked along this path chatting with a woman walking with her child and three dogs - all were rescues. (well not the kid I assume)  I decided I wanted to cut across to the highway so she told me how to get there however it involved trespassing across a golf course.  I was convinced I was going to get whacked with a ball but luckily the golfers were calling it quits for the day. (yes there were only three of them..this is Golspie after all!)  I dithered on about it - I kept asking her if it was okay and I am sure she thought I was a nut case. (probably not too far off)

This is the view from the road to the main highway.

I stopped and had a staring contest with this lady - I won!  I am surprised I could look her in the eyes after what I had eaten a couple of hours earlier but I could and I did!  I actually blew this photo up and framed it.  You know, with my sheep obsession and all...

And that was my day!!!  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Jaunting around Jersey Part 3

 I guess it's time to finally finish talking about my trip to Jersey nearly six months ago!!! (eek!)   I am actually going to talk about two days because..well a rainy day that I spent in the capital city of St Helier isn't really worth a blog post of its own!!!

I love museums especially when it's to do with history, so I decided on the first rainy day I would visit the Jersey Museum and Maritime Museum as well as the covered market.   The first rainy day came the second day I was in Jersey - the first day of my trip which was gloriously sunny I spent at the Durrell Wildlife Park. 

So off I headed into town - I know I've said it before but in my opinion the Jersey bus service is wonderful.

My first stop was the Central Market.

The famous Jersey Royal potatoes

That's not something you see in every market!

Central Market opened in 1882 and features Victorian architecture.

I then visited the nearby Beresford fish market as well.

Attractive aren't they?

Then it was off to the Jersey Museum and Gallery which showcased the history of Jersey as well as activities in its present times.  Adjoining the museum on its upper floors are the restored rooms of the Merchants House.

This was outside the museum.

Jersey is known as a tax haven.

I didn't take many photos inside the museum but it was fascinating with so much information.  Definitely recommended.  I would go back again next time I visit Jersey because believe you me there will be a next time.

The sculpture outside the Maritime Museum.

I loved these nautical figure heads that were used on the front of ships.

I loved this interactive globe of the world.

The highlight for me was the Tapestries done by the island people to commemorate 50 years of liberation from the Germans.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Jersey was occupied by the Germans for five years of the Second World War.

Another enjoyable museum which is much more hands on than the Jersey museum.  Both well worth visiting.

As a dreamer, I love this!

This statue of Queen Elizabeth stands opposite the causeway to Elizabeth Castle on St Aubin's Bay just outside St Helier.

Elizabeth Castle is connected to land by a causeway.  When the causeway is flooded by the tide a ride in this strange contraption is required - the amphibious Castle Ferry! It was so much fun especially as they played the James Bond theme going over - a thrill for this huge Bond fan!  I felt like I was going on a secret mission. (I've always harboured a secret dream to be a British secret service agent!)

As I mentioned in my Mont Orgueil post this castle was ordered built in the late 1500's by Queen Elizabeth I to defend Jersey as Mont Orgueil was increasingly becoming fragile.  Elizabeth Castle defended Jersey for over 300 years including being used by the Germans during their occupation in the Second World War.

The noon gun was about to go off as we arrived.

BOOM!!!  He picked a tourist to set the explosion off - thank goodness it wasn't me!

The garrison building

I climbed up to the top of the castle and this was the view.  It was better looking towards the sea!!!

Soon it was time to say goodbye to Elizabeth Castle and head off across the bay.

I hopped a bus to St Aubin's which is a resort town close to St. Helier.  And yes I do believe I had an ice cream...

I wandered around St Aubins for a while and found a wonderful art shop.  I really liked this little place and will return some day.  I wanted to eat something but just could not decide on what I wanted.  In the end I headed back to St. Helier.

I read about this cow sculpture (a salute to the famouse Jersey cows) and finally found it.

The main pedestrian shopping street - after hours!!!

Some of the goodies you can buy in Jersey.

I settled on fish and chips at the Seafish Cafe which is downtown right in Liberation Square.  I had the healthy option - not battered!

One more goodbye to the famous Liberation statue...

Then it was back to my little home in Gorey Harbour.  The next morning I stayed in Gorey and after a hearty breakfast I wandered around exploring the harbour and streets of the village before taking the bus to the airport to catch my flight to Newcastle.

Jersey, you stole my heart and I'll be back!