Posted by: brigid benson | January 1, 2018

Music To My Soul!

 

My home made mini movie and just some of the places I find inspiration!  ❤️

 

Posted by: brigid benson | December 11, 2018

Escape for a moment!

Here’s just a tiny flavour of extraordinary and magical far north Scottish highland places I invite you to discover and experience with my acclaimed new book North Coast Journey.

Discover fantastic people, vibrant communities, intriguing history, mouthwatering flavours and fresh food and characterful places to rest your head! There’s all of this and more!

Relax, dip in and be inspired!

Posted by: brigid benson | December 5, 2018

Inchnadamph Remembers

The road to Inchnadamph

The tiny highland settlement of Inchnadamph hosts a whitewashed church at the edge of a loch in the mountainous landscape of Assynt.

On the summit of nearby Ben Mor Assynt,  the young crew of an Avro Anson aircraft were killed when their plane crashed in poor weather on April 13 1941. The snow storm was so fierce the crash site was not easily discovered and the wreckage was reached by a shepherd some six weeks later. Ultimately the six man crew, from Scotland, England and South Africa, were buried on the mountain. A simple granite memorial was airlifted to the site in recent years to mark their mountain top graves.

Another memorial to the airman served prior to the more recent mountain memorial and this remains in the wall of the churchyard at Inchnadamph. On Remembrance Day local people – traditionally RAF cadets from Ullapool – place poppies at both sites, on the mountain and at the church.

The 1941 crash site is one of Britain’s most remote war graves. The site at the church is a more accessible way to honour the aircrew who lost their lives in the harsh and extended winter of 1941.

Posted by: brigid benson | November 30, 2018

Gathered In

Crofters on the west coast of Scotland are gathering in their sheep to put them to the ram. All around the townships are pens, or fanks, where the ewes are safely gathered in. Some are curious and wonder what’s going on! A happy few enjoy being stroked!

Posted by: brigid benson | November 25, 2018

Far from Black Friday!

Lochinver Winter Market

The hurly burly of congested shopping streets and frantic online festive purchases is not for me, much as I love to be in cities, towns and villages when they are aglow with sparkling lights.

But when it comes to buying meaningful gifts, I do love to visit markets where local people have created unique treasures, whether it’s an exquisitely crafted piece of jewellery or daffodil bulbs in a pot individually painted by the community group.

Among the other treasures at yesterday’s Lochinver Winter Market were hand knitted socks and fabulous jewellery made by Barbara Macleod

Barbara Macleod’s beautiful enamelled work

Another craftswoman showing her work was Clare Hawley 

Close by the fabulous jewellery were wondrous hand knitted socks!

Hand knitted traditional socks

Refreshments were great too; nourishing soup and spectacular homemade cakes. The tables were decorated with tartan cloths and homegrown flowers. A pot of jam awaited scones!

While people gathered in the cosy village hall, in the harbour beyond, fish was being unloaded from ships and into lorries for delivery to fish markets in Britain and Europe.

Posted by: brigid benson | November 24, 2018

Autumn gold in the northwest highlands of Scotland

The setting sun weaves a spell in the days of shortening autumn light.

The scenery is gilded and glowing; ancient, spectacular, joyful and peaceful!

Posted by: brigid benson | November 23, 2018

The Pity of War

Window honouring the war poet Wilfred Owen, Birkenhead Library

November 2018 has marked 100 years of remembrance since the end of World War 1, which raged from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Much of the despair and brutality of battle rings out in the words of war poet Wilfred Owen who attended school in Birkenhead. And in the local library, a poignant window shows the experience of war. Helpless men, blinded by gas, lead each other into the unknown.

The artwork honours the courageous truth of the poet soldier who pulled no punches when it came to describing the experience of the front line.

The tragic beauty is the work of artist David Hillhouse. More recently, another visual telling of the Wilfred Owen story is The Burying Party, an international award winning crowd funded film.

I attended a screening of the film where the director, Richard Weston, described how the experience of seeing war memorials in small Scottish villages impacted him deeply. The wartime loss of many men ravaged rural communities especially.

The fishing township of Lochinver celebrates those who gave their lives for their country. The war memorial is in a seafront position, overlooking the bay from where boats steam to hunt in fishing grounds for many weeks at a time.

Lochinver war memorial


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Many of those who left this remote landscape for fierce battle came from small and peaceful family crofts, like this one.

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For many, there was no recounting the experience of war. Yet Wilfred Owen, much encouraged by fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon, treads fearlessly in his verse. ‘My subject is war and the pity of war.‘ he wrote. ‘The poetry is in the pity.’

A deeply moving new statue in Hamilton Square, Birkenhead, expresses that pity.  A despairing World War One soldier is lost in futility and despair.

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Might he have been one of the boys who attended school with Owen? One of those whose names are listed on the shiny memorial in the library where the Owen window dominates the staircase?

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Close by the library is one of the Owen family homes. Here Wilfred lived with siblings Harold, Colin and Mary. His father worked on the railways, which caused the family to move several times, and his devoted mother was deeply protective of her children. Tragically, the news of Wilfred’s death reached his parents on Armistice Day 1918.

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Birkenhead Institute was Wilfred’s school and The Visor, a history of the the establishment and pupils, recalls with pride the poetic boy who went to war. Dulce et decorum est.

This comes from one Owen’s most famous poems, the title is inspired by a line from the Roman poet Horace. The translation: ‘It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.’

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Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

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Posted by: brigid benson | November 23, 2018

Tupping Time!

My crofter friend in the northwest highlands has been rounding up his sheep to put them to the ram; tupping time. Over several days, with his sheep dogs Joe and Tess, he gathers the free roaming flock, herding the animals along single track highland lanes.

Here’s a brief meeting with him and Joe. Twelve year old Tess is weary and riding in the vehicle!

Posted by: brigid benson | November 21, 2018

Wild Days and Nights!

The setting sun quits the day at around 4pm in the far northwest highlands in late November. The grip of tawny autumn slips.

Quiet nights become wild nights! Winter’s seduction is a time of firelight, flickering candles and snuggling as we ride together through the close of this year into the next.

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Posted by: brigid benson | August 23, 2018

North Coast Journey

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The Magic of Scotland’s Northern Highlands

My new book is published!

Further to my award winning books in my ‘52 Weekends‘ series, North Coast Journey is a richly illustrated, magical odyssey through the highlands of Scotland’s far north.

The dramatically changing coastline, awesome mountain scenery, scattered cottages in sparsely populated landscape, abundant wildlife and birdlife, and welcoming community hubs make this a very special adventure for people of all ages.

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The discoveries I share are diverse. I invite you to travel routes taken by skilled drovers herding hundreds of cattle through wild scenery. Weave your way through ancient landscape to spine tingling settlements and monuments made by our ancestors in prehistory times. Surf some of the finest cold water waves in the world. Visit crofts and castles were you will be made most warmly welcome. Explore at ease through 10 clear stages; each offering the bonus optional detours to yet more fantastic discoveries.

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The essence of the book is to slow down, to connect with the north highlands in a meaningful and respectful way.

I invite you to nourish your spirit in nature, to be inspired by driech damp weather and golden sunshine days, to observe mountains express moods of light and shade through veils of mist and drifting cloud. To enjoy the tang of salty sea air as wild wind whips surging white horses and to peer into the ocean mirror as it reflects passing boats and romantic sunsets in the bewitching hush of calm, flat days.

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I invite you to feast  – on simple pleasures! To connect with local people in diverse communities, to reach dreamy beaches and secluded coves off the beaten track, to saunter footpaths with heart-stopping island views, to be still, to hear bird song, the rhythm of softly lapping waves, the uplifting sound of silence, and so much more!

North Coast Journey is based on my authentic, first-hand experience, my knowledge and extensive research. I am thrilled to share this beautiful, romantic and magical new adventure with you.

Whatever you do, don’t rush it!

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Posted by: brigid benson | August 1, 2018

Happy Birthday Glasgow Central!

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The glassy wonder of Glasgow Central station is 139 years old today. I love this busy place! I love the city too! There are more images of it on my Facebook page but here is a hidden beauty that some people never notice in the city railway hub.

IMG_4534This beautiful mosaic celebrating Glasgow as The cultural Capital of Europe in 1990  is installed in the station below eye level so you have to seek it out carefully, but it’s well worth it.

I especially love the left hand panel that depicts a sunrise over the west of Britain and a return of the light to the land. The mural, commissioned by British Rail, is the inspired work of Jude Burkhauser an artist and curator with a huge passion for Glasgow. She was born in Trenton, New Jersey 10 September 1947 and died 19 September 1998.

If you are visiting the station, take a few special minutes to experience her beautiful work. It feels, to me, a meditation on journeys in life.

The installation was achieved by Fiorino Pallisco (1932-2008) a brilliantly skilled artisan mosaic specialist at DeCecco Ltd. Fiorino was a native of Italy who lived in Scotland and created murals around the world.

So happy birthday to the beautiful station, made ever lovelier by inspired and creative souls!

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