Sunday, 25 August 2013

Strathaven Balloon Festival 2013 - Saturday Photographs

During the last weekend in August the small South Lanarkshire town of Strathaven (pronounced 'Stray-ven') hosts Scotland's only balloon festival. The Festival was introduced in 1999 to boost the economy of this picturesque market town and to encourage visitors to the area.

As usual the event was well supported and the good weather allowed the balloons to fly. On Saturday night there was a 'Night Glow' when the burners of the balloons were lit and there was a spectacular display with the balloons 'dancing' to music.

Below are some photographs of the event on Saturday.


Putting hot air into a balloon
Testing the Burner
Balloon in Flight
Balloon in Flight
Balloon in Flight
Balloon taking off


Balloon in Flight
Balloon in Flight
Balloon in Flight
Balloon in Flight
Balloons in Flight
Putting hot air into a balloon
Night Glow
Night Glow
More of my photographs can be seen at:

Photographs of Strathaven Balloon Festival 2013

More Information 

Strathaven Balloon Festival 

Strathaven Town 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Hamilton - South Lanarkshire

During the month of August my friends and I take a trip to the Edinburgh Festival to sample the atmosphere at this great event. However, today it was very wet so the visit was postponed until next Saturday when the forecast is for much brighter weather.

However, a bit of rain does not deter me from going out so I went to Chatelherault Country Park in Hamilton where the 'Scotland's Festival of History' event was being held. The rain was very heavy when I arrived there and the park was very quiet. While I was walking over to have a look at the history event I met a neighbour who had lost her dog in the park due to it being spooked by a loud noise. I felt obliged into helping her find the dog which we eventually succeeded in doing.

By this time the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. I looked round the event and took a photograph from the top of the hill in front of Chatelherault House. It looked poorly attended, which was probably due to the earlier wet weather and the charging of an entrance fee.

Scotland's Festival of History
 Cadzow White Cattle

Walking back to Hamilton, I saw some of the Cadzow White Cattle in a field. These cattle used to freely roam on the Duke of Hamilton's Estate. There are only two herds of these cattle left in the UK. The other herd is in Chillingham in Northumberland.


Cadzow White Cattle
 Avon Bridges

Further along I came to the Old Avon Bridge which was built before the 16th century and enlarged about the beginning of the 18th century. The bridge has been extensively restored and is said to have been built by the monks from Lesmahagow Priory.

This bridge has three segmental arches and the roadway averages 9ft in width. It has a cobbled surface which can be quite slippery when riding over it on a mountain bike. The bridge was once used by travellers to London.

Old Avon Bridge
From the Old Avon Bridge can be seen the new Avon Bridge which was built in the 19th Century and became the main bridge for travelling south.

Avon Bridge on the A72
Railway Bridge

From the other side of the Old Avon Bridge can be seen the railway bridge from Hamilton to Motherwell. The railway line was constructed in the 1840's and contributed to the growth of Motherwell to becoming one of the major steel producing areas in the world.

Railway Bridge over the River Avon
Avon Mill

In front on the railway bridge can be seen a small dam. This was to provide large quantities of water to power a mill which was situated near the present road bridge. Although a ruin at present, there is potential for this to be developed in the future.

Avon Lodge
On one side of Old Avon Bridge is a very old building which is still in use today both as a dwelling house and dog kennels. This was probably used in the past by weary travellers on their way south. The present owners have retained the character of the building, but this is probably due to it being a listed building. (A listed building in the United Kingdom is a building that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest).

Avon Water
 River Avon

The remainder of my walk was through woodland paths. A closer look at the water on the River Avon showed how clear it was - the brown colour is from the peat particles in the riverbed.

Butterfly
 Wild Flowers and Insects

There were plenty of butterflies and some Honey bees to be seen. The Honey bees were attracted to the Creeping Thistle plants which were growing in abundance along the riverbed.

Creeping Thistle
Although regarded as a nuisance by gardeners, the Creeping Thistle is important to many insects including Honey bees and their seeds form an important part of the diet of many farmland birds.

 Friendly Dogs

Just before  completing my walk I met two Labrador dogs - Weston and Quiver. Weston had been trained as a guide dog for the blind, but just before completing his training failed when he started eating food from the pavement.

Quiver was only 4 months old and was starting his training to become a guide dog. Both dogs were lovely and friendly. Hopefully Quiver makes it as a guide dog and allows a blind person to have some independence.

It had been a good day after all, considering the wet start.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Butterflies

During the summer months there is not much activity in the bird world but there are other things to observe in nature. 

Butterflies are quite numerous at this time of year so I went out with a friend in search of some unusual varieties of these colourful fluttering insects. We were in search of Comma butterflies, which are common in England but have become more widespread in Scotland due to the warmer weather in recent years.

Comma Butterfly
 After walking about in a meadow in Baron's Haugh in Motherwell we were rewarded with out first sight of the Comma butterfly. The Comma is called after the small white marking on the underside of the wing which resembles a comma. In the photograph above the white mark can be seen on the right wing.

Comma Butterfly
While there we also saw one of the most common butterflies in the UK - the Green-veined White. This butterfly can be found from spring through to autumn in parks, gardens, meadows and woodland. 

The so-called green veins on the underside of the adults are, in fact, an illusion created by a subtle combination of yellow and black scales.

Green-veined White
My friend provided me with an insight into butterflies and ignited my interest in these colourful fluttering summer insects. I will spend some time learning more about them.

It had a very interesting few hours learning about them.