Great Britain

Ode to Preservation

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A copse of gorse has been planted by time, wind and birds atop the monument

“Culloden is a war grave.  We ask that you treat it with respect.”

So indicated the sign to visitors upon entering Culloden Battlefield in Scotland.  After a moving video, where we stood in the middle of the battlefield as the fight began and ended so quickly and tragically, we slowly and silently exited the visitor center and stepped out into history.  This treasure, this field is listed in the National Trust of Scotland.  Red flags indicate British troops.  Blue flags indicate Scottish clans.  It is sobering to stand where people died in battle, where lives were lost, where the Scottish clans were decimated. In that foggy, overcast, damp day we were all humbled by the experience.  Blue and red flags snapped in the breeze.  This battlefield had no monuments but the one above. Stones marked the spot where various clans had stood; McLeod, Fraser, MacGillivray…

I write about this today because of a burning issue currently going on in Scotland.  The Highland Council voted to allow a housing development close to this historic place. From the BBC “The site is about half a mile from the location of the battle, fought between Jacobite and government forces in April 1746, it is within the battlefield’s conservation area.”  According to another report, “A campaign set up to protect the area argue that the land forms part of the historic Culloden Battlefield site and had hoped the committee would give archaeologists a chance to examine the location before making a decision.”  The National Trust of Scotland believes the battlefield may be larger than the current battlefield site that exists.

I’m not anti-growth, but instead prefer “smart growth.”  Why in heaven’s name would Scottish developers wish to do this?  Purely greed, I”m afraid.  Even my beloved Scotland holds greedy Scots.  This is my vent today.

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Tower of London Remembers

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Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

We just returned from a month in London with side trips to Paris and Wales.  My hands-down favorite place in London is the Tower of London.  Since my last trip to London in 1986 this historical iconic site is now framed by modern buildings.  Offices across from the Thames are all glass in odd shapes, and reminds me a lot of downtown Dallas.  The sight created within me a dichotomy of emotions.  On the one hand, I’m at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge with all that bloody history, and overlooking it all are these slick, glass buildings that reflect the history away, acting as though it never existed.  That’s just the way it struck me.

 

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Sea of Red Poppies (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

The Tower of London is in the process of installing an exhibit called Tower of London Remembers the First World War.  888,246 ceramic poppies are being placed all around the Tower of London in what used to be the moat.  This number represents the number of Commonwealth fatalities during World War I.

 

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The Tower Bleeds (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

Ceramic artist Paul Cummins and Stage Designer Tom Piper were commissioned to create the exhibit.  Volunteers began placing the poppies August 5th.  The last poppy will be placed on November 11, 2014.  After the exhibit is over poppies can be purchased with proceeds going to charities.  Google the Tower Of London for details.

 

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A Volunteer Places a Poppy (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

The exhibit can be best seen from walkways on Tower Hill surrounding the Tower of London.  It was very crowded the day we visited.  However, except for low murmurs and the clicking of cameras observers were quiet and reflective.  It is quite a sight, hundreds of thousands of red poppies pouring out of the tower and pooling around its base.  One poppy per Life Lost.  Let that sink in as you look at these images.

 

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The Tower and the Poppies (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

Each day in the moat at sundown the names of 180 Commonwealth troops killed during World War I are read aloud as part of the Roll of Honor.  I’ve never seen a more moving display.

 

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Closeup of Poppies (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

888,246 poppies = 888,246 lives lost in World War I by the British Commonwealth.

I’m back

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Orkney Island Stones (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

I’ve returned from the land of Ents, fairies and elves.

I understand there are also trolls, mermaids and various monsters of great legend in its mountains and lochs.

Ancient cobblestones beneath my feet

I toured castles and cathedrals,

a 5,000+ year settlement,

circles of standing stone,

falconry and sheep herding,

rode ferries to isles,

and back again,

sipped decadent Orkney ales

and touched peat from a bog.

Nearly 4,000 photos must be culled through,

named,

and most importantly,

identified!

Scotland is nothing short of magical.

I love Scotland.

I knew I would.

 Scotland is an incredibly GREEN country and its people are warm and friendly.

Time to get back to work but

I’m BACK!