There is real magic to Shetland - the northernmost islands of the United Kingdom. Anu took these spectacular photographs. Brilliant!!
We also saw gannets, curlew, a great skua, and heard (and occasionally saw) lots of sky larks - and among mammals, we saw hares and stoats (though perhaps that was Orkney) as well as the seals. Quite a menagerie!
It's vanishingly rare to find sculpted figures of working men at work. But here's a striking and wonderful exception.
These figures of the engineer and the shipwright flank the entrance to what was the offices of the Fairfield shipyard in the Govan district of Glasgow.
This elegant red sandstone building, completed in 1890, is now a successful community museum. We visited earlier this month and would encourage you to do so.
The building was designed in part by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the sculptor of our two working men was James Pittendrigh Macgillivray. He was a prolific artist and a Scottish nationalist and the Fairfield figures are powerful representations of skilled workers and the wealth they brought to Victorian Clydeside.
The shipyard was building boats from the 1860s - it took the Fairfield name in the 1880s - and in 1968, it became part of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, the site of the renowned work-in of 1971.
The yard is still in some use but the offices were derelict and in a very poor state before the local initiative that saved the building and set-up the heritage project.
Form the photo below, taken in 1932, you can see the locations of the offices (bottom right fronting the main road) and the yards behind on the Clyde.
There was a personal aspect to my visit to Fairfield. At the time the photo above was taken, my maternal grandfather, Thomas Graham, worked there. He was born and brought up in Belfast and apprenticed at Harland and Wolff as a boilermaker. He moved to Glasgow in the early 1920s, got a job in the Govan shipyard, and lived nearby at Copland Place in Ibrox, which is where my mother spent much of her early childhood.
A little before the Second World War, when my mother was aged about nine, her father got a job at a steel plant in Gildersome and the family moved down to Yorkshire. This photo of my mother's parents, Betty and Tommy, was taken at their wedding in (I think) Paisley in July 1928
I never met Tommy - he emigrated to South Africa and died there when I was very young. But I am pleased to have, in some measure, trodden in his footsteps.
This wonderful photo shows shipyard workers spilling out of Fairfield - the main facade of the offices is hidden behind the tram.
The photo below is from the mid-1950s, long after Tommy's years as a boilermaker, and shows Fairfield workers on the staging of a ship under construction watching the Queen launch another ship. What a great image!
The 48-feet tall stone tower on top of these dramatic Atlantic-facing sea cliffs on Orkney is the Kitchener Memorial. I chanced across it (yes, really!) last week when going for a walk from Birsay in the north-west corner of Orkney's mainland to see the spectacular seabirds which nest on these cliffs.
There's quite a story attached. Here it is!
The memorial is to Horatio Herbert Kitchener - the guy with the splendid moustache, who featured on the 'Your Country Needs You!' poster (though that's not quite how the original read).
He was an arch imperialist and rather brutal military figure, serving in Egypt, Sudan, South Africa and India. On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, already in his mid-60s, Kitchener was made Secretary of State for War, a senior cabinet post.
On 5 June 1916, Kitchener embarked on the HMS Hampshire - an armed cruiser launched in 1903 and shown below - at Scapa Flow in Orkney. He was part of a secret mission to discuss the prosecution of the war with Tsarist Russia - a story that's told here.
That same day, in stormy conditions, HMS Hampshire hit a mine laid by a German U-Boat and sank.
Kitchener drowned and his body was never retrieved. A total of 737 - let me repeat that, 737 - men were lost with the Hampshire, including all the members of the mission to Russia.
There were just twelve survivors.
The memorial was placed here looking out at the spot where the HMS Hampshire went down with such heavy loss of life.
The Kitchener Memorial was unveiled about a decade after the tragedy it commemorates. A century after the Hampshire went down, the Orkney Heritage Society raised money for a very effective curved commemorative wall which lists all those who lost their lives on the Hampshire.
It is a windswept but wonderful spot - the tower is visible from some distance away, but it's quite a hike getting up their from Birsay village. It's worth the effort!
Derby now has, at long last, a tribute to one of its most distinguished daughters. Freda Bedi - who became a prominent Indian nationalist and later the leading Tibetan Buddhist nun of her time - was born in the back streets of Derby 111 years ago.
She was born Freda Marie Houlston and spent her childhood in Derby, and even after moving to India with her Punjabi husband, Freda kept in touch with her home city and visited when she could.
The memorial is the initiative of, and has been crafted by, Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa. He is a Derby man, a serious Derby County fan and a social and community activist. Kal's done a huge amount to burnish the memory of Freda Bedi in her home city - and of course he shares with Freda a sense of belonging to both Derby and Punjab.
The photo shows Kal with the Freda Bedi tribute - on the left - and another piece which he has also hand crafted. Impressive!
Kal says: 'The tribute is made from a cutaway cross section of a large Derbyshire tree. The great thing about the Freda Bedi Tribute is that the pattern of the 'heartwood' in the centre around the pith does not conform to the usual circular ring pattern of most trees. The Freda Tribute suggests that the early stages of the tree's life might have been a difficult period. Very much like Freda's own life due to the devastating loss of her father during the First World War.'
'From the photo you can see the 'heartwood' looks almost like a leaf shape or even a tree. Definitely not concentric circles moving outward uniformly. As soon as I saw this piece of wood I knew it was perfect to represent the life of Freda Bedi. A non conformist rule breaker, forging her own path in life. The Freda Tribute has an image of a cedar tree within its pith. This is a nod to Freda's old School, Parkfields Cedars.
'I pass this spot regularly on my walks. So do many locals and school children. It's nice to see folk stop to read the plaque. Although initially many folk would not be too aware of who Freda was, when finding some time to research her name or ask further questions, they'll no doubt be amazed to discover what an amazing life this Derby born girl lived.'
If you want to find the tribute, it's in a community garden on Carlisle Avenue in Littleover. This is close to Freda's principal childhood home on Wade Avenue and to the parish church where Freda's father, Frank Houlston, is honoured on a war memorial as a local man who gave his life in the First World War.
Against the odds, Freda Houlston got to Oxford University where she met B.P.L. Bedi. They married at Oxford in 1933. The couple moved to Lahore where both became prominent leftists and nationalists and published at various times an impressive quarterly review and a much more activist-minded weekly paper.
During the Second World War, B.P.L. Bedi was interned so that he couldn't disturb British military recruitment in Punjab. Freda took the huge step of offering herself up for arrest as part of a passive resistance campaign led by Mahatma Gandhi and spent several months in a Lahore jail.
The photograph below was taken in Mickleover in 1947 when Freda was visiting her mother. The baby in her arms is her third child, Kabir Bedi - who became a hugely successful star of film and small screen.
After India's independence, the Bedis lived for several years in Kashmir where they were influential figures in the new nationalist movement which came to power after the eclipse of the local maharajah.
Later they moved to Delhi, and Freda's association with Tibetan Buddhism started when she worked to improve facilities in the camps set up in north-east India for Tibetan refugees who followed the Dalai Lama across the Himalayas to escape Chinese rule. She became probably the first ever woman in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to receive full ordination as a nun.
I have written Freda Bedi's biography, The Lives of Freda.
Freda Bedi's birthplace on Monk Street is still standing. Last time I visited, it was a tanning and beauty salon.
What a marvellous spot this would be for a civic tribute to this inspiring Derby woman!
I have a new favourite food - and this is it! The sausage and mustard croissant from the Tufnell Park Bakery is entirely scrumptious.
What is it? Well, a croissant version of toad-in-the-hole I suppose, but with just a tang of gallic mischief (or moutarde).
I though I'd share this tasty titbit with you.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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