Thursday, September 25, 2014

British Isles trip, part 27: Odds and ends 3

More unthemed, one-off photos.

This is Martyrs' Monument in St. Andrew, Scotland, just outside the famous golf course. It honors four Protestants who were burned at the stake in the 16th century by officials of the Catholic church for ghastly crimes such as owning a copy of the New Testament in English. But torturing and executing fellow Christians who have slightly different doctrinal beliefs is what Jesus commanded his followers to do, so we can't judge the Catholics too harshly. What? Jesus didn't teach that? Oh, I'm afraid I've been misinformed. Sorry about that.

But never fear. The Protestants eventually won. When they did, they desecrated the Catholic cathedral, also following the precepts of Jesus. Wait--what? Jesus didn't teach that, either? Man, I have got to brush up on this whole Christianity thing a little more. Anyway, here's what's left of the cathedral in St. Andrews:

While most of the rest of our tour group was off exploring St. Andrews, my father and I sat on a park bench, enjoying the beautiful weather and a local orchestra in the bandstand. Just for kicks, I decided to try the panorama feature on my camera. This was the result:

You can see how it distorts things, because that sidewalk is actually completely straight. For geographic orientation, the Martyrs' monument is just out of frame on the far right. (In fact, I took the picture of it from the same spot as I took this panorama.) If you open the photo in a new tab to get its maximum size, then look toward the left end of the panorama, you can see a six-legged dog on a leash. This is a rare breed, seen only in Scotland, the Highlands Hexapedal Terrier.

Sometimes a sign says everything that needs to be said. This one was in a little town called Bushmills, near Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland.

We had time to kill in Bushmills because the other coach had broken down, so we had to wait while the coach company sent a replacement out. The most famous thing in the town is its distillery, the oldest licensed distillery in the world, having been granted a license by King James (yes, he of the King James Bible) in 1608. I was excessively amused by the fact that an etching of the distillery's main building is featured on the Irish version of the five-pound note, and I that I could therefore stand there and look at the very building while simultaneously looking at the note:

Sadly, I couldn't figure out how to get to the same vantage point as the artist used. Oh well. I had considerable difficulty taking that picture, first because I had to fiddle with the camera to get an f-stop that would allow both the note and the writing on the building to be in clear enough focus to read them, and, second, because it was extremely windy, and the paper money kept flapping in the breeze. (I have a large number of version of this picture with the bill folded up, moving, or out of focus.)

I shot this picture from the window of our coach on the way to Glendalough. It appears that there is a disturbing amount of clear-cutting of forest happening on that hill. It's an ugly spot in an otherwise gorgeous stretch of countryside.

For you fans of Game of Thrones, here's Titanic Studios in Belfast, where they film many of the scenes:

This is one of the two massive cranes built by Harland and Wolff to make possible the construction of the Titanic and its sister ships (Belfast):

Our tour guide pointed out sights in Belfast that strongly suggest that "the troubles," far from being resolved by the 1998 peace accord, are actually roiling just under the surface. Here's an example:

I saw this article on Reason magazine's web site last week, which says the same thing, in more detail, if you're interested.

I didn't go to the interactive Beatles experience while we were in Liverpool because it cost too much and we didn't really have enough time to enjoy it properly. But I saw this nice display at the natural history museum in Dublin, which was almost as good.

Monuments like this one in Loch Lomond were all over the place, honoring the dead from World War I, World War II, or both.

It's nice to remember those who died in our wars, but it would sure be a hell of a lot nicer to just stop killing each other.

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