Monday 17 March 2008

Castle Sween

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I'm back from a relaxing trip to my favorite place! I spent a few days at my parents caravan situated at the Castle Sween Holiday Park on Loch Sween in Argyll with my friends Claire and Adrian. It's a beautiful place and is so quiet and removed from the world, The nearest shop is a 45 minute drive away in Lochgilphead which gives you a real sense of being cut off from everything. Normally the site has a wee shop and a pub but they were still closed for the winter. The site surrounds the castle which is a ruin dating back to the 12th century and looks over the loch, on a clear day you can see the Paps of Jura peeping out over the hills. I have been coming here since I was little and it holds lots of happy memories for me. Adrian had been before but it was Claire's first time which was exciting as I love showing people the place and watching them fall in love with it.

The weather was a bit of everything as usual. It was forecast for storms but we managed to miss the worst of it and the sun shone in between the rain and clouds. We walked up the hill behind the campsite which is where the first three photos are taken from. The hill was a lot easier to climb without the usual covering of bracken that is there in the summer. Being there at this time of year is interesting as the landscape is quite different without all the bracken and leaves on tree, you can explore places that would normally be hard to reach.

In the first photo you can see the castle at the bottom of the picture. It has some scaffolding on it at the moment, Historic Scotland are doing what they do to hold the thing up for a few more years.

The sun came out for the second photo, we are eating our sandwiches now! I love how the light has brought out the colours in the hills and how it lights up the the piece of land across the loch.

You can see the rain coming towards us over the loch in this photo. I love the brightness in the water as the sun shines through a gap in the clouds and lights up the loan cloud.

Down the coast a couple of miles there is a little place called Kilmory. There is a few stone cottages that recently have been converted, I think they are holiday cottages now and an small medieval chapel which houses some of the old grave slabs found in the area. It also has a sandy beach which is great for swimming and sunbathing, in the summer of course! We cycled down here one day and had a picnic in the chapel to shelter from the rain which was now horizontal. Here's a few pictures of the stones and Claire taking some photographs beside the MacMillan Cross.

After looking at the stones we headed down a very muddy path to the beach. The tide was up really high and the normally clean white sand was covered with seaweed. We walked towards the sand dunes at the north of the beach and continued round to the rocks to watch the waves crashing off them.

The sky was doing funny things again on the way home.

Since there was scaffolding up the side of the castle we decided to use this to our advantage and climbed up to the battlements which are unreachable since I lost my youthful fearlessness.

It was great to be on top of the old thick stone walls and get a different view of the place. I love the castle and feeling the history inside it, it would be amazing to see it as it was when people lived there.

So I'm now well rested, so well rested it's taken me three days to put up this post! Back to work work work!

Friday 7 March 2008

It's Friday!!

I spent the day in my workshop making bits and pieces to send away for hallmarking. I send the pieces away half finished. This makes them easier to hallmark and prevents a finished piece getting damaged, especially the pieces with resin in them. I find this quite a distruption in the making process but I suppose that's just the way things are. It does mean that loads of pieces get finished at the same time which is always fun!

I'm going out tonight to see my friend Sam playing some techno in the City Function Suite in Dundee. Looking forward to a dance! But first I have to go to band practice so must dash!

Thursday 6 March 2008

First Post

Well here goes.... my first post, a bit like the first page in a new sketchbook!

I suppose I should start by introducing myself. My name is Islay Spalding and I am a jewellery designer and maker based in Broughty Ferry, Scotland. I studied Jewellery and Metalwork at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor of Design Honours. I am now living back with my (very supportive!) parents in Broughty Ferry while I try and making a living out of my jewellery. I play the side drum with the Tayforth UOTC Pipes and Drums and have recently joined the MacKenzie Caledonian Pipe Band. This will be my first year playing with a competing pipe band since I started university and I'm really excited about getting out to all the contests and (hopefully!) winning lots! I also play the fiddle which came in really handy throughout my student years. Thanks to the people of Dundee it meant I didn't have to get a job, I went busking instead!

The aim of this blog is mainly to let people see what goes into creating the jewellery I make. I find it so interesting to see other jewellers workshops and how they work and I'm assuming other people do to. It's also a diary for myself, I used to keep a diary but now I feel I never have time and when I do I can't be bothered. I'm also very fussy about the kind of notebook I like to write a diary in and have yet to find the perfect one. Even if I did I would probably change my mind or decide I wanted a different pen! I suppose I've got very used to typing on my computer as well. I have an apple macbook and it is my baby, it makes me really enjoy using a computer and even inspired me to learn HTML to build my own website. The internet still amazes me, I don't know how I would go about doing what I do without it. Another aim of this blog is simply to get me writing more, something which I've never been much good at. I've always found it really hard to find the word or way of putting things I'm looking for out of my head and down onto paper or out of my mouth, but practice makes perfect!

I think that's all for now, I will post some photos of the jewellery I'm working on tomorrow, once my camera battery is charged!