Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Wedding in Scotland

(Above:  Mathias and Laura-Jane's wedding party.)

I started blogging in 2006 and don't think there's been a time when I've not blogged in a week ... much less a month.  July 2015 was a very different story!  Yet, there's a very good reason!  I've been busier than ever!  After leaving home in Columbia on April 30th for three, back-to-back art residencies and conducting a workshop at the Craft Alliance in St. Louis, Steve and I flew to Scotland for our son's wedding!

It was a fairy tale event on the heels of Mathias' promotion to the rank of principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet.  He married the love of his life, Laura-Jane Gibson, who is also a first artist in the same ballet company.  The ceremony took place in the 15th century tapestry room at the Dumfries House, a stately mansion that just happens to own 10% of world's documented, original Chippendale furniture.

The groomsmen all wore kilts.  Bagpipes were played and the evening ended with fireworks ... for real ... FIREWORKS!  (Steve and I are quite relieved that we don't have a daughter with expectations for such a totally beautiful, extravagant, memorable day in such gorgeous surroundings! LOL!)

The wedding was beautiful and included a few customs we'd not experienced before … like a formal signing of the marriage certificate during the ceremony and tying the bride and groom's wrists together with a wide, satin sash … as in “tying the knot”.

(Above:  Mathias "golfing" the day before the wedding.  Steve golfed too!)

The reception started after more than an hour of photography with a professional crew. Dinner included the traditional Scottish haggis and neeps as an appetizer.  The dancing went on until midnight … ending with three Scottish songs … Five Hundred Miles, Loch Lomand, and Auld Lang Syne. Everyone held hands, sang, and moved to the music.

(Steve and one of the giant trees.)

The day before the wedding was spent touring the Dumfries House, walking the beautiful gardens, and admiring the estate, especially the giant Wellingtonian trees!

 (Above:  Me on the swing!)

Steve and I went to the playground and try out the zip line, tunneled slide, and various swings! What a blast! My parents and our friend Dolly Patton and her daughter Sims also came for the wedding … and we all stayed in the three-bedroom cottage right on the grounds.

(Above:  The Jacobite Steam train ... aka "The Harry Potter Train".)

Now … going to the wedding was the reason for the trip but not the only thing we did. Steve and I each picked something “special”. For Steve, we drove to Fort Williams and took the Jacobite steam train to Malleig.

Our seats were in the last car (since 1st Class was sold out!).  It was a great place to be as we could see the train's front as it snaked over the giant viaduct (which is also featured in all the Harry Potter movies.)
 I love taking photos of people taking photos. 

We saw Scottish “hairy cows” and deer, brilliant vistas, lots of countryside, and had salmon for dinner, fresh off the boat.

 The local beer was good too!

 The harbor and pier were active and colorful. It was a great day.

(Above:  Fishing nets in Malleig.)

This is one of dozens of great snapshots taken of assorted fishing nets, floats, and other sea-going fibers!

(Above:  IONA!  One of my "bucket list" locations ... and so worth the trip!)

(Above:  Oban, the port from which we ferried on a one-day trip to Mull and Iona.)

For me, we drove to Oban on the west coast and took a day-trip to the island of Iona. This is the place where the Book of Kells was probably penned, a stronghold of early Christianity for the British Isles, and where sheep freely roam. Salt air, ocean waves, lighthouses, ruins, faith, simplicity, history, and quiet contemplation made the day special. 

 (Above:  St. Martin's Cross ... as it has stood for 1200 years!  Yes ... that's a rain drop on my camera lens.  It rains a lot in Scotland but not enough to ruin a perfect day!)

Plus, I finally got to see the enormous, carved St. Martin's Cross, a marker that has been standing on the same spot for over 1200 years. I am indebted to Margaret Blank in Canada for suggesting the St. Martin's cross as a motif for my Lancet Window series … and for putting Iona onto my “bucket list”. Iona lived up to and beyond my expectations.

We took a guided tour of the monastery ...

... which blended ancient architecture with modern restorations.

I took bunches of photos ... but unfortunately most aren't as good as I'd like.  Once again my camera's fine focusing isn't working properly.  It's still under warranty and has been sent for repairs.  (I am currently using Steve's camera ... which isn't nearly as "good" but focuses very well!)

(Above:  The museum on Iona.)

(Above:  Ruins of the abbey on Iona.)

(Above:  Natural tokens left on the window sill of the cemetery chapel on Iona.)

We had to take two ferries and a guided bus over the island of Mull to get to Iona.

It was a great adventure ... and, yes ... this is a Scottish summer.  Everyone had to wear coats and sweaters and hats but enjoyed the sun when it did shine!

The ferry ride out was very, very rainy ... but the return trip was glorious as we past this lighthouse ...

... and this castle which is still a family home!

(Above:  Culzean Castle.)

Other sight-seeing included Culzean Castle ...


The grounds were as lovely as the architecture.


I took scores and scores of photos in the magnificent walled garden.


 But we also visited the coastline, beaches, and several ruins that overlooked the ocean ...

 (Above:  The western Scottish coastline.)

We hiked over the rocky coast, collected sea shells, and tried not to get blown away in the wind! 

The vegetation was wonderful, wild, and in full bloom.

Our coastal drive took us to this ancient fortress site near Denure ...

 (My Dad surveying the incredible, historic architecture.)

... and on another day we visited a very large abbey in ruins with my parents.

(Above:  The historic and very well maintained Kirkoswald cemetery.)

One of our favorite places was undoubtedly the tiny village of Kirkoswald. This enchanted town is steeped in the history of poet Robert Burns.  Burns' mother's family came from Kirkoswald and Burns spent a couple youthful years in school here.

(Above: Souter Johnnie's cobbler shop in Kirkoswald.)

Characters such as the Tam 'O Shanter and Souter Johnnie were real people, not just figures from a poet's imagination.  Thatched and slate roofs, flower gardens, and a perfectly maintained cemetery entertained us for hours.

 (Ruins of the Kirkoswald parish church.)

Steve and I also arranged a nice dinner at a great restaurant … a way to introduce my parents to Laura-Jane's family as there was no rehearsal dinner. A great evening it was!

All these day trips did require a rental car, one large enough to transport four adults with lots of luggage. Steve decided that I ought to be the one driving the seven passenger Ford mini van… behind the steering wheel located on the right-hand side of the car … down the left-hand side of the very narrow roads … with giant trucks and buses whizzing by only inches away. While the trip was wonderful, I don't care if I never have to drive in the British Isles ever again. Steve took videos on the winding road beside Loch Lomond … so there might be a YouTube entry in coming weeks … scary!

(Above:  At an overlook near Culzean Castle and Denure!)

Once back home, I had to tackle all the waiting custom picture framing, but I also had to unpack everything, reestablish my studio (much of which went with me for the residencies), transfer hundreds of photos and word documents from the laptop to the PC, and start to prepare for some of the great things that have happened since then.

Although I'm determined to “catch up” on my blog, there's no way I can manage it all in one post. Thus, I'll be blogging “the rest of the story” in upcoming entries!  These will include the workshop in St. Louis (from May!), the finished pieces for Lagerquist Gallery, a "scouting trip" to Carrollton, Georgia to see the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum (where I have both a workshop and a solo show next month!), a scouting trip to USC-Aiken (University of South Carolina) where my solo show travels to after Carrollton, new work, and a day of taping with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims for an upcoming episode of The Quilt Show!  By the way, I'm actually writing this blog post from Birmingham, England.  I just arrived today for The Festival of Quilts!  So ... Please ... Keep reading! Leave me a comment … and THANK YOU to all who have supported this blog and me, especially Linda Laird who wrote me a message asking if everything was “okay” since I hadn't been blogging. Really and honestly, this one message promoted me to return. I am totally indebted to her kind words of encouragement and caring. Thank you, Linda.


Glen QuiltSwissy said...

Beautiful couple, exciting trip. My godsister's son married a Scottish lass in Scotland and is living there now. With the new grandson, she travels there several times a year. It is truly a beautiful country

Margaret said...

Dear friend,

Such beauty! Such joy! Lang may yir lum reek!

So many sweet memories you brought back to me of my trip to Iona...and the impetus for my visiting Skye and Shetland next (that, and the fact my cousin James lives on Skye)...

What a happy occasion...I'll bet you are still pinching yourselves. May Matthias and his bride live long, happy and healthy lives together. Blessings to them, and to you and Steve and to the bride's parents as well.

Sherrie Spangler said...

What a great travelogue and beautiful wedding! Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Yay! So good to see the photos and hear that all is well. Our best to the newlyweds!

Wanda said...

Oh such gorgeous, wonderful pictures! Isn't the sky amazing....it changed so often! Thank you for sharing these! And good luck installing today and with the upcoming show!!! I am so very proud of you!!!

Alicia Merrett said...

Congratulations on all your achievements, and your son's wedding! Scotland is beautiful - we've travelled all over it, but never crossed to Iona. See you on Thursday at Festival.

Chyfey said...

Oh my goodness what a few months you have had .Im so enjoying the photos and accompanying tale ,just remember to take a big breathe every now and then.

Jackie said...

I've been to various bits of Scotland in the past (Including Iona and Mull) but its lovely to see it from your point of view. I find Iona so peaceful and refreshing, and I've driven the 'road to the isles' alongside your steam train journey .
I actually made a piece of embroidery from the crosses on Iona, quite some time ago.
Thank you for sharing your lovely wedding journey.

PJ Howard said...


Julie said...

What an amazing family holiday you all had while celebrating Mathias wedding to Laura-Jane. I'm so glad you got to Iona, it's a magical place. We were they on a day trip a couple of years ago. Precious memories made and shared.


Really amazing photos. These were great!