Thursday, 29 September 2011

Castle Panorama !

You might not believe this, but it was only on my third trip to Balintore Castle - the first after I had bought it - that I realised that the view from the building was something pretty special. Before this I had always been looking "inwards" towards the building fretting about its state of disrepair.

Anyhow, on this occasion my advising architect for the restoration and myself were carrying out the necessary survey of the building that Angus Council has stipulated. OK, all I was doing was holding the end of my architect's 50m tape measure - he did the rest. :-)

As we finished one measurement, my architect said "David, look behind you.". The intensely white cloud was lying in a layer far below us at the bottom of the glen. The sky was an brilliant blue, and the sun was glinting obliquely across this white ocean. The instant thought went through my head "I know why they built the castle here". Without a shadow of a doubt, the castle had been strategically placed not just to command the landscape but to afford the residents a transcendent view. The view is even more spectacular from the viewing platform at the top of the great tower: so incredible in fact that one is never quite sure if it is actually real. Needless to say, it took a couple of years before scaffolding was erected to even get to the top of the great tower.

I mentioned to my friend Bert, that I had never managed to capture this view in a photograph, as the main vista, to the south, extends over 180 degrees.  To the north one is looking close-up at the side of a mountain! Anyhow, Bert has just sent me this panorama, stitched-together from three photographs. Thanks Bert!

view directly south from Balintore Castle

The currently proposed Carrach wind farm would extend from the tree on the left to the edge of the frame. :-(

Monday, 19 September 2011

Freeze Frame that WC

On my hunt for bogettes of distinction, a certain 1980's repro Dolphin-themed model appeared time and time again. I couldn't make up my mind if I liked the somewhat-overpowering design or not. It was certainly fun, but was it authentically Victorian?

1980's repro
However, one evening as I was watching the delightful Lucy Worsley present the history of the bathroom (part of the documentary series "If Walls Could Talk"), I spotted the self-same loo in a museum of the WC that she was visiting. See bottom right in the freeze-frame below.

Victorian original (bottom right)

You will, at one stroke, be overawed by the sharpness of my porcelainic observation and appalled at the utter sadness of one who freeze-frames said items. Personal tragedies aside, what do make of this loo? Is it a bad sign or a blessing that so many appear to be on the market? Feedback welcome.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Stylish Illumination in Wetherspoons Dundee

One of the most rewarding aspects of restoring a castle, is that one's powers of observations grow as one is always on the look out for successful period looks - especially on the cheap! While visiting Wetherspoons (The Counting House) in Dundee after a yoga class, I noticed how the lighting astonishingly outclasses even the rather fine venue. In fact, mere probity prevented me from immediately detaching the lights from the ceiling, and installing them at the castle.

Forsooth,  these are gilded French Empire style chandeliers with ne plus ultra alabaster shades. Alabaster shades are carved from solid rock (alabaster is like a translucent marble), and produce a wonderfully warm diffused glow often enriched by a deep-textured geological veining. You can get "alabaster glass" shades which emulate the look but those at Wetherspoons are the real deal - you just don't want to know how much such chandeliers can cost.

French Empire Chandelier with Alabaster Shades

Classy Lighting at Wetherspoons in Dundee