Pictures by Walter

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Adventures with Susan – A Walk In The Park October 2005

As 2005 wound it way to 2006 our friendship was deepening.  Having discovered digital photography I always took a small camera into work with me.  On days that I walk to work I would stop and take photos of Sunrise, how the light changed the shape of trees and images which pleased me.  At this time I was using a simple point and shoot Nikon E7900 a 7 mega pixel camera that fitted into my pocket. In fact that little camera was responsible in re-awakening my interest in photography.  Looking back to 2005 images I rediscovered a set taken on the Wednesday 5th October 2005 during a lunchtime stroll along the river Almond (Now Almondale Park.   Looking at the images I realised that the landscape then was a lot different as were the amenities.  Under the  Livingston Development Corporation (LDC) the town was developed in stages.  The riverside was retained as natural as possible with an open air bandstand/Antitheater, Pitch & Putt course (Now the site of the Civic Centre). Walkways, seats placed alongside the river. In 2005 a lot of the sites were dilapidated and in need of restoration/replacement.

However, the walk along the river was a pleasant walk on a nice with plenty to see if one looked carefully.  I found to my pleasure that Susan like to listen to the birdsongs, and nature watch  We were slowly finding out that we did have a lot in common as well has having different interests from each other.

Being Autumn the foliage was autumnal in colour, gold, bronze and the birds were singing or even trilling their songs. Squirrels were dashing up and down trunks, scampering along branches looking for nuts etc to take to their store for the oncoming winter.  I found on these walks that Susan loved nature in all its forms,  she was perfectly happy to sit and just listen to the sounds that surrounded us.

During good weather days we would take many walks along side the river Almond and the many country parks surrounding Livingston over the 14 years we were together.  Our last trip was on the 14th June 2019 when we went to look at the changes made to the old weir at the road bridge on the B7015 Calder Road.  They had made changes to reduce the force of the water flow from the weir and creat salmon ladders and pools to allow salmon to get up river.  We had seen the Almond change from a dirty, frothy, contaminated river to a cleaner river that salmon had returned to.  That was just the latest change we had witnessed over the 14 years.

Link to the album of our walk on 5th October 2005


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Adventures with Susan – Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre October 2005

Perthshire hills

Looking back at pictures taken in 2005 it would appear to have been avery good year weather

Susan acting her age.

wise.  I am judging by the fact that on the 2nd of October 2015 Susan along with my young cousin Caitlynn headed off to Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre.  If I recall correctly it was known as Auchingarrich Wildlife Park then and the sky was blue and the sun shone.   I had found out about this hitherto unknown wee gem of a place in Undiscovered Scotland.  The park was nestled in the Perthshire Hills near Comrie.  It was a wee bit of an eye opener, in more ways than one.  As well as the park it was also a farm, a Bird of Prey Centre with indoor playing areas where kids of all ages can have fun.  I discovered then that Susan had a zest for life and refused to let decorum or other restrictions on how adults should behave stop her from releasing her “inner child” (see picture on left).  Caitlynn was surprised at first as was I.. shocking behavior in front of my young cousin  ;).  We headed to the cafe (which would always be our first port of call on any visit), to enjoy coffee and a bite to eat before we set off exploring.

Susan posing at Standing Stone

Outsider the cafe to the left as you leave is a small hillock with a standing stone on a small hillock. I forget how old it is, but it has been there since the year dot as we say.  I posed Susan next to the stone to proved scale, and as I suspect that many of use would do, Susan reached out and touched it (see image on right).  As she turned her back to the stone, I looked up with a look of horror on my face and indicated that the

Kookaburra

stone was falling…..   I got laldy from her – she discovered I had retained my service humour.  We did have a good laugh over that over the years.  It was here we both saw our first Kookaburra – the Australian King Fisher, funny it would be another 8 years before we say the British Kingfisher and that was on our trip to Bath via Stratford on Avon.   We had a right laugh at the sign pointing “This way for the Tartan Sheep”, we ignored as we were sure were were not tartan sheep or that gullible.    There are many exotic animals at the centre/park and all well looked after.  We wandered among geese, ducks, hairy heiland coo (that ate bananas as a treat), the outdoor play park where the kids had fun:

Susan on the ball, Caitlynn the catcher

Sited among the Perthshire Hills Auchingarrich provides good opportunity for landscape photography as well as wildlife (captive or otherwise).  What of our younger member Caitlynn?  Apart from attempting to keep Susan under control she was enjoying the experience apart from birds flying near her.  She told us that she had a fear of birds as did her mother.  However, she had no objections to walking through the Birds of Prey section as she was assured there would be no birds flying loose there.   As we wandered around the central arena Caitlynn spotted a small “Kestrel” it was being held by its handler.  She backed away from the bird which had fluttered as it was startled by some noise.  The handler placed the bird on its perch, amd went to reassure Caitlynn that the bird was more afraid of her the she of it.  Susan and I looked on as the handler slowly talked Caitlynn into approaching the bird, but not too near.  As the handler told of the life of the bird Caitlynn began to relax and ask questions about the birds in general.  After a while the handler asked Caitlynn if she would like to have the bird on her hand?  Hmm, bad idea I though as I had experienced the effects of her phobia when a wee budgie escaped from the cage at home.  To my surprise and to her credit Caitlynn did indeed hold allow the bird to perch on her hand, but as the picture shows she was still wary of it.  Susan and I were so proud of my young cousin that day.  Mind you she went with Susan to the cafe as I took a few shots of a  falcon in a flying display.  In all we had a great day out and as the weather was beginning to change we decided to head home after we had some tea of course.  As we left the cafe and headed for the car I took one last picture.

A promise for the Future

 

 

 


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Adventures with Susan Part 3B – Deep Seaworld (2005)

As our ramble around Kinross Gardens was a bit too quick and the day was sunny we decided to spend a little time in a cooler place.  After a short discussion we headed for  North Queensferry and Deep Seaworld as Caitlynn and, if truth be known, Susan wanted to walk under the sharks.  So we headed back south and entered the undersea world.

Walter walking under the sharks at Deep SeaWorld

I am saddened to state I have very little memory of the visit, I know I was there and took pictures in very trying conditions.  Susan took a few, one of which is me walking under the sea tunnel with camera glued to eye as I attempted to take pictures.

I do wish I had more memory of the visit and I’m positive we did go back on another day. I do know Caitlynn and Susan were really excited, no surprise there with Caitlynn, but Susan displayed the joy and wonder she felt so openly in her face.  I came to know that look as so often she showed it on our outings, sometimes the simplest thing would light up her face.

One thing – we found Nemo before he was officially lost, as the picture below reveals: (click on image to see album of visit)

Nemo Found

In all we had a good day visiting Kinross House Gardens and Deep SeaWorld.


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Adventures with Susan Part 3a- Kinross House Gardens

Susan, Catelynn and Debbie

Having enjoyed our inauguration adventure on The jacobite we looked forward to our next adventure which turned out to be in two parts.

On this adventure we had the company of my cousin Debbie and her daughter Caitlynn.  I have heard that the days remembered always appear to have been warm and sunny, all I can say is that 7th August 2005 was very hot and sunny.    Our first stop was Kinross House to wander round the formal gardens. I had discovered the gardens some time previously and told Susan about them.  No entry to the house, just the gardens and it was an honesty box system.   I understand that the house and gardens were sold in 2012 and one can no longer visit the gardens.

As you may have noticed Susan had her camera with her and  looking at her archives I found some pictures she took of the day:

Susan was a good photographer but she really enjoyed doing videos.  However she would always take a few shots – but tended to use mine in preference to hers own.

I particularly like this one of my young cousin Caitlynn that she took:

If it is true that one can no longer walk around the garden it is a sad loss. The history of the gardens was interesting as was the layout.  From the garden you could see across Loch Leven to the ruins of Loch Leven Castle

Ruins of Loch Leven Castle

From Wikipedia:

Loch Leven Castle is a ruined castle on an island in Loch Leven, in the Perth and Kinross local authority area of Scotland. Possibly built around 1300, the castle was the location of military action during the Wars of Scottish Independence (1296–1357). In the latter part of the 14th century, the castle was granted by his uncle to William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas, and remained in Douglases’ hands for the next 300 years. Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned here in 1567–68, and forced to abdicate as queen, before escaping with the help of her gaoler‘s family. In 1588, the Queen’s gaoler inherited the title Earl of Morton, and moved away from the castle. It was bought, in 1675, by Sir William Bruce, who used the castle as a focal point in his garden; it was never again used as a residence.

Today, the remains of the castle are protected as a scheduled monument in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.[1] Loch Leven Castle is accessible in summer by the public via a ferry.

Click on image to see Album.


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Adventures with Susan – Beginnings

Susan Wales

Susan Ann Wales 2005

I first met Susan Wales near the start of my Civilian life.  Like all I had a childhood, then reality dawned and childhood ended I began to earn a living, still at home.  I started as a delivery lad for local co-op. then got a Job as messenger at British Rail Hope Street office, thence Signalbox lad at Glasgow Central Signal Box, Trainee Signalman, Porter at Williamswood, finally Passenger Guard (I had just turned 18) at Central Station.  I stayed with British Rail for 3 years then enlisted in the Royal Air Force at the age of 21.  I re-entered civilian life in 1993 and had 3 jobs before I was became temporary maternity cover for Assistant Licensing Officer at West Lothian Council in 1997.  It was there I first met Susan. We chatted as work colleagues do.  She was at that time married to Bob Wales.  Susan was a Legal Assistant, tasked with processing traffic orders and looking after the legal library.   If I recall correctly Bob passed away in December 2003.  Susan then persuaded her mom, Mabel, to move from Manchester and live with her.  During this interlude Susan and I would chat as colleagues and meet at lunch

Bruce Monument – 1

with other friends and colleagues.

Among my many interests was photography, but I was never happy with film.  I could see the picture but no matter what I did it never transcribed to film.  I was always disappointed with the commercial processing, but I had learnt a painful lesson whilst serving at RAF Gan,  photographic chemicals and I do not mix.  Alas my interest waned and eventually died away. 1982 whilst stationed at RAF Stanbridge I became interested in the new fangled toy of the year the personal computer, a love affair which lasts to this day.  Two changes occured in 2005. The first was a spur of the moment purchase of a digital camera a Nikon E2000.  I still have it. My love of photography was re-ignited.  Combined with computer software I could at last get the images I saw and print them myself.  My favourite make of SLR was Pentax so I purchased a Pentax *isDS Digital Single Lens Reflex and began the learning curve of shooting in digital raw and “Developing” on digital software to create my final image.  My first ever digital image was taken on 2nd January 2005 at 15:04:24 at Bannockburn.  The bug had bitten, infected the blood and the brain was seduced…I have discovered digital photography which combined with computer software gave me control over my image processing.

Susan - Glencoe- Buachaille Etive Mòr

Susan on her last visit to Buachaille Etive Mòr

In fact it was photography that really brought Susan and I together.  When I left the RAF I lived with my mother, I had been given a compassionate posting after the death of my father owing to the fcat my mother was elderly and disabled.  This in effect killed any further promotion through the ranks.  As I stated earlier I retired from the RAF in 1993 after 22 years service with the Rank of Corporal.  Hey  I got a pension so I was happy. During the spring – Autumn I would walk to work and had camera with me.  I would stop and photograph flowers, birds trees etc. I was getting used to my camera.  Susan was already an avid photographer with her own Pentax SLR.  She, Bob and one of Bob’s workmates would go up to Glencoe and climb/hill walk – her love of one mountain stemmed from those days – her beloved Buachaille Etive Mòr.

Little did I realise or indeed did Susan, our lunchtime walks and chats were drawing us into a relationship.  Our first adventure was just around the corner or was on track so to speak.

Our Colleagues in 2005

Our Colleagues