Monday, 21 July 2014

Rosslyn Chapel

I'm working in a summer school in the University of Heriot-Watt, just outside Edinburgh. I arrived on Monday and, apart from a curry supper with the other teachers on Friday night, I hadn't left the campus until today, sunday, when I got an early bus (number 25 into the city, had a quick breakfast in Costa (because it was open) and then caught bus 37-the kindly driver of the 25 found out for me-way out of town, past park and rides, past rough areas, until we were in what looked like rural Scotland. The bus driver again told me where to get off and where to catch the final bus, the number 40, which arrived a brief 10 minutes later. Arriving in the small village of Rosslyn I discovered I was too early. It was 9.30 and the café wouldn't open for 30 minutes. The morning eucharist was at 10.30; I normally go to church on a Sunday morning and this was a way to kill two birds with one stone- church service and see the famous chapel which wouldn't open for tourists until midday.
The coffee from the guest house was not good.
Then back to the chapel.
My photos can't possibly do it justice. You're not allowed to take any inside.

Here's a link to the official site:
The service was like other Anglican eucharist, organ a bit iffy, but the interior of the building was like nothing I've seen before.
Here are some photos I've found online. If anyone doesn't want me to use them, please tell me and I'll take them off.

Do you see what I mean? There can't have been more than 25 of us in this amazingly nubbly 15th century interior, listening to wonderful texts from the Song of Solomon 12: 13, 16-19, Romans 8 and the parable of the wheat and tares (weeds) from the Gospel of Matthew. It was a lovely experience.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A Sunday in the Tena valley

It's almost July and it's been pretty hot here. Today we drove up the Tena valley (parallel to the Aragón valley) In formigal it was quite windy and spitting with rain.
From Formigal looking down to Lanuza
Down the road to Santa Elena. A quick picnic in the lay-by and then a walk up the track to the fort and chapel of Santa Elena. According to the legend, Saint Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine hid from the Moors in a cave up there, covered in cobwebs. The doorway of chapel was decorated with flowers for a wedding which had probably taken place the day before. Nice flowers, nice views.
View of the dolmen from above

Wild dianthus

Two dolmen (or dolmens) were discovered in the 1930s and destroyed in the civil war

This one was later rebuilt

Amazing flowers in the lay-by

Two colours! Maybe it is "fragrant orchid gymnadenia conopsea"

It's too late for the pyramidal saxifrage

Wednesday, 18 June 2014


I think these are pyramidal orchids (anacamptis pyramidalis)

I took the photos through a wire fence. They are in a patch of uncared-for land in the Military Mountain School, a short way down the hill from where I live. Such a lovely sight!

Monday, 16 June 2014

More Zaragoza sights

Well actually it's updates on the same traffic "island"
Pomegranate and catalpa

fruit well-formed

Some little pomegranates!

I've been working in Zaragoza for nearly six months so I have only seen country life in passing. However, even in the city there are some great sights!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Zaragoza sights

Zaragoza is a large and busy city, with traffic everywhere, but there are some worthwhile sights.

Ornamental blossom in March

Regeneration: tree stumps sprouting round the edges.

The wonderful pomegranate tree.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Tulipa silvestris

We went on a walk to the top of Monte Oroel yesterday. It's a bit of a climb; you go up a zig-zagging path through the trees for an hour, and then walk on top of the ridge for another half-three quarters of an hour. The views along the ridge are amazing! For me, the best thing was the wild flowers. Lovely gentians, and best of all, something I've never seen before: wild tulips! They are a lot smaller than the cultivated ones, all red and yellow and not very many of them. I couldn't find them in any of my flower books, but they are in various websites online.
Just a couple of photos of the group:

At the top we are at 1,769m above sea level.

The pathway to the top is like a motorway in that it's really busy with people going up and down. Speeds vary enormously, some people jogging there and back, others going in stops and starts. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014


I got a request the other day to take a group on a guided tour of some of the churches of the Serrablo. These are little thousand-year-old chapels in tiny or in some cases non-existent villages in the hills near Sabiñánigo. We drove there to have a look; although we'd visited two of the three before, it's one thing to wander around on your own and quite another to take a group there. Being the second of May, the countryside was at its absolute best.
Larrede. The tower on the hill is a 16th century watchtower

at San Juan de Busa, a carpet of scillas