The weather varies a lot.. well mainly rainy / overcast recently.. but there is a lot to recommend Stirling.  I am not going to post a tour guide to Stirling.   There is already a large number of good guides available ( Visit Stirling ).   It’s more a random selection of photos from the last couple of weeks.

In my recent work at Joan’s social enterprise (Talking Mats) I have had the great hardship of a 15 minute cycle to work up a quiet country road, from which this is the view (obviously without the snow now that we are in July):

view from Ladysneuk Road winter 2011

It runs across the other side of the River Forth, towards the Wallace Monument, then on from there to the University.   Phnom Penh it’s not, but that has not stopped me from occasionally performing the Cambodian ‘inside turn’, a neat manouevre on a bike, unfortunately dangerous for any drivers susceptible to irascible road rage, with its attendant risks of heart attacks or temporary blindness caused by a red mist.

Wallace Monument as seen from the River Forth

The centre of Stirling is much like many other small towns, with its indoor shopping mall, ubiquitous charity shops, coffee houses and national chain stores.  Most businesses seem to be holding up, despite the bleak economic climate.  This store was empty, but the owners have allowed a great use of the display space, with a local primary school displaying photos of all the things that children did to find creative uses of an old newspaper:

Riverside Primary creative newspaper display

shop front

what a good way to use a shop!

I recently paid a visit up to Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s most visited tourist sites.  Although I have taken many groups of pupils, and many visitors, to the castle in the past, this was my first visit for a good while and I was very pleasantly surprised by the additional exhibitions and displays that have been developed recently, particularly around the Royal Palace of James V and the famous ‘Stirling Heads’, oak carvings of famous contemporary and historical figures which decorated the ceiling of the Palace in the 16th Century:

Replica 'heads', painted back to original colour

Only some of the ‘heads’ survive, but this one of Julius Caeasar bears an uncanny resemblance to a 20th Century political figure:

Margaret Thatcher carved in oak 400 years before she was born!

The castle is well worth a visit for its many internal exhibitions, but the interior courtyards and stunning views in all directions make this a full day experience:

The Queen Anne garden

The view west from the palace window

The view east across the river to the Ochils

The view north from the ramparts to the Highlands

This commanding castle site guarded the first point at which the Forth could be crossed in Mediaeval times. The wooden bridge which saw the slaughter inflicted by Wallace and Murray on the occupying English army was replaced in the 15th Century by this stone bridge, which still provides tourists, or locals, with many a pretty picture:

Stirling Bridge

Nice sky too!

I’m still settling.

VSO sent me a questionnaire about my experience as a volunteer the other day.   It was easy to reply in positive mode.   I believe I gained enormously from the experience.  What did I contribute?   My drop of water in the development barrel was as important, or unimportant, as any individual contribution, I guess, but I’m still ‘shredding’ it in my mind.   Such a complex but fascinating experience.

My days at Talking Mats are now numbered and I will be working at Edinburgh University over the summer. .. maybe I’ll get round to my much postponed Cambodia retrospective then.


3 thoughts on “Stirling

  1. Great photos and I know about the battle of sterling so I may very well come and visit when my time is up here. Also I really want to get a look at this 400 yr old Margaret Thatcher item…….they did believe in witches 400 yrs ago didn’t they

  2. You can always be tourguide if you get bored…hahahaha. Great environment, really want to see that “live”! Will send you an e-mail about the meeting with the ministry yesterday, so you know what you don’t have to miss in Cambodia 😉

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