Monday, 21 March 2011

Visit to Melrose Abbey

Today is the first day of Spring according to the calendar and the sun was shining. I also finished a large quilt (1M square) yesterday so a treat was in order, specially as it was all done and dusted in 29 days which is a record for me (sorry no pics till it goes to an exhibition), and it's a very happy quilt, despite being made during difficult days. How does that happen?

And finally I realized it was about time to get on with taking more pictures with my disposable camera. This was send to me after I signed up to become a participant in the A Million Little Pictures (AMLP) and although I took quite a few pictures with it before winter, it has been rather neglected since then. The pictures in this post were taken with my digital camera but I took the same ones with the disposable one.

All in all those factors combined, led me to climb in my car and drive off through the beautiful Borders landscape to the ruins of Melrose Abbey. There has been an abbey on this spot since about the 12th Century but it was destroyed by the English king Richard II in 1385. Rebuilding started almost immediately incorporating what was left of the old abbey, however the building was probably never completed. It was used by Cistercian monks (otherwise known as white monks after the colour of their habits), who strived for monasteries "far from the concourse of men". The very last monk died in 1590 and the building was subsequently used as a protestant church till well into the 19th Century. Most gravestones date from that Protestant period although there are graves within the abbey which are much older than that. And of course the heart of the Scottish king Robert the Bruce is buried here.

A little door in the side of the abbey pointed the way upstairs and after a pretty dizzy making climb I reached the top, where the views (seen above) were spectacular but taking pictures was rather difficult due to the fact that the wind almost whipped me off my feet, so not only did I have to hold on to the side to keep standing but I also had an additional problem with the disposable camera as my hair kept blowing in front of the lense. I had forgotten this used to happen lots in the olden days when I used a box brownie but in our digital days we can hold the camera away from our face. Just hope I clicked the disposable shutter at the right moments!

The sun made Melrose Abbey seem a brooding presence at times and also provided me with wonderful contrasts such as this silhouette seen above. If you look closely you can see the pigeons perched high up there! They must be able to cope with the wind better than I did!
I also loved the patterns of the shadows on the ground and the picture at the top of this blog was the best one I found and I knew as soon as I took it that it would be my blip for today! Through the window on that picture you can see the Eildon Hills. The same view as seen by the monks in the Middle Ages, isn't that thought enough to take your breath away?
One of my final pictures with the AMLP disposable camera was of this gravestone which lay hidden in the ground. I just caught a glimpse of the skull and of course that was enough to warrant a closer look. What is it with me and gravestones? I do have an obsession with them.
But it did illustrate my theme for the AMLP project (Captured in Time) so well and of course like the ruins of the abbey itself is a clear illustration of the transcience of life. Seeing such signs reminds me that in the grand scheme of things our short human lifes matter little. This abbey has been around for almost 1000 years so my life span pales into insignificance in comparison. What ever troubles we humans might have, they will soon be over and we will be gone, just like the monks who used to call this place home.

To some people this might seem morbid but for me it puts things into perspective and yes, indeed, makes me feel so much better about life as well as teaching me to stop worrying about problems. All will be well eventually!


Lenna Young Andrews said...

Thank you for taking me to the Abbey with you, Frieda. What a wonderful visit I've had! You've got me thinking about my disposable camera for AMLP too, good job!!! : ))

Mary Ann said...

Love the pictures....I do family tree research and my husband's family is from the Borders area (Kirkandrews-upon-Esk). I would love to visit the area one day:)

Susan said...

Your photos are stunning. I love this in particular. I have ancestors from Wales, Scotland and others, but there is something that draws me to photos from this area. I also am a quilter & your quilts are beautiful. Thanks for sharing your work. Regards Sue


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