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The Lochs

BY YON BONNIE BANKS AND YON BONNIE BRAES

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

Early in the morning I walked up to the nearest ‘Passing Place’ above Inversnaid hotel to enjoy the view across Loch Lomond and the forest where feral goats were grazing. I then explored the other side of the hotel walking up to the bridge where it crosses the stream and the waterfall flows into the Loch. On the bridge was an ‘In memory of’ plaque of someone who had ‘crossed over to the other side’ so fitting.  It was difficult terrain to reach the last few steps to get level with the bridge to cross over the deep ravine, a reminder that the last stage of life can be the most difficult. This was where William Wordsworth penned “The Highland Maid,” a love poem to a woman he was smitten with in this place.

Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
Sweet Highland Girl! from thee to part;
For I, methinks, till I grow old,
As fair before me shall behold,
As I do now, the cabin small,
The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
And thee, the spirit of them all! 
(At Inversneyde, upon Loch Lomond)

Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower
Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
Twice seven consenting years have shed
Their utmost bounty on thy head:
And these grey rocks; that household lawn;
Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn;
This fall of water that doth make
A murmur near the silent lake;
This little bay; a quiet road
That holds in shelter thy Abode—
In truth together do ye seem
Like something fashioned in a dream;
Such Forms as from their covert peep
When earthly cares are laid asleep!
But, O fair Creature! in the light
Of common day, so heavenly bright,
I bless Thee, Vision as thou art,
I bless thee with a human heart;
God shield thee to thy latest years!
Thee, neither know I, nor thy peers;
And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

With earnest feeling I shall pray
For thee when I am far away:
For never saw I mien, or face,
In which more plainly I could trace
Benignity and home-bred sense
Ripening in perfect innocence.
Here scattered, like a random seed,
Remote from men, Thou dost not need
The embarrassed look of shy distress,
And maidenly shamefacedness:
Thou wear’st upon thy forehead clear
The freedom of a Mountaineer:
A face with gladness overspread!
Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
And seemliness complete, that sways
Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
With no restraint, but such as springs
From quick and eager visitings
Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach

Of thy few words of English speech:
A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
That gives thy gestures grace and life!
So have I, not unmoved in mind,
Seen birds of tempest-loving kind—
Thus beating up against the wind.

What hand but would a garland cull
For thee who art so beautiful?
O happy pleasure! here to dwell
Beside thee in some heathy dell;
Adopt your homely ways, and dress,
A Shepherd, thou a Shepherdess!
But I could frame a wish for thee
More like a grave reality:

Thou art to me but as a wave
Of the wild sea; and I would have
Some claim upon thee, if I could,
Though but of common neighbourhood.
What joy to hear thee, and to see!
Thy elder Brother I would be,
Thy Father—anything to thee!
Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace
Hath led me to this lonely place.
Joy have I had; and going hence
I bear away my recompense.
In spots like these it is we prize

Our Memory, feel that she hath eyes:
Then, why should I be loth to stir?
I feel this place was made for her;
To give new pleasure like the past,
Continued long as life shall last.
Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
Sweet Highland Girl! from thee to part;
For I, methinks, till I grow old,
As fair before me shall behold,
As I do now, the cabin small,
The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
And thee, the spirit of them all!

William Wordsworth

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Paddle steamers were the mode of transport in the old days so the original roads around Loch Lomond were very busy; there was a stage coach service from Inversnaid in those days when Queen Victoria travelled by paddle steamer. The steamer “Princess May” in 1812 built by David Napier and the “Marion” used to chug their way up and down the Loch. General Wolfe and the Duke of Montrose both had stayed in this area.

Not far from Loch Lomond is Lake Katrine which we visited. The first steam powered boat on Lake Katrine was the “Rob Roy” followed by the “Sir Walter Scott” in 1901. Queen Victoria had opened the valves of Loch Arklet which is the header tank to Lake Katrine which has been supplying water since 1851.

We chugged our way down Lake Katrine, the throb of the engines and lapping of water in the wake of the “Sir Walter Scott,” which still had its original engines, fuelled now by diesel and not wood. We stood gazing at the highland cattle grazing on the open hillsides as the sun briefly lit up the dark rolling hills with their forest fringe and grey granite rocky outcrops. We chugged the length of the Loch from Stronachlachar to where the coaches were waiting for us at the Trossachs Pier. A variety of pines and birches and grew down to the water’s edge with luxuriant moss and ferns growing on the trees and on the banks.

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This area is full of stories of the legendary Rob Roy who was held a prisoner on one the islands. Sir Walter Scott wrote “The Lady of the Lake” and “Rob Roy”, making this area famous.  The original Drovers Route was made into a toll road by the Duke of Montrose and is now called the Duke’s Pass. We drove past Loch Achray, the cottage gardens along the route ablaze with colour and perennial borders.  The slopes down to Loch Venachar had open fields dotted with clumps of sedge grasses with sheep and cattle grazing amongst them.  The Rob Roy and Trossachs Walking Trail are in this area and walkers often overnight at Inversnaid. We stopped at Callander which meant, ‘road to the beach’ our driver told us, according to the geology of the area: the Highland Boundary Fault is near here. We stopped for lunch at a small café where we ate soup and bread. The High Street was very pretty with a river at running at the bottom with a lovely bridge and picnic area.

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We drove through the bracken clad hillsides of Strathshyre where foxgloves poked their head out of the greenery on the verges and hillsides.  In the past villages were built to discourage the clans from living in the hills and to make them a community in the villages where it would be easier to have control over them. We passed the viaducts of the old railway which was closed due to a rock fall, the site was declared unstable by geologists and was not repaired.  We drove through open meadowlands with buttercups and daisies, then on through LIX, which was named after the Roman 59th Legion which was stationed in the area.  A lot of the roads in Scotland were military roads, to enable troops to move quickly from one area to another.  We went past the old tollhouse on the way to Killen and the Dochart Falls, where we stopped off for a while to view the falls and the grave of the McNab family. The couple who sat at my table were McNabs so they took some photos and were obviously interested in this piece of history.  The old water Mill on the river (see photos) still turned as the waters flowed through it. The bridge over the river Dochart was a very narrow stone bridge which would only take traffic one way at a time.  I walked over the bridge to see a long stretch of very pretty rapids and falls as they chattered over the rocks and flowed away under the bridge.  I stood there meditating on the water that flows under the bridge which cannot return, I thought one has to keep going with the flow, not to try and swim upstream again; you can only cross over the bridge and move on.

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Rob Roy was a cattle drover, he became very successful and owed three properties along Loch Lomond.  The drovers used to travel great distances, so there was a system of Drovers Inns along the route. Not only did they drive cattle, but also carried money and documents (same idea as couriers today).  They were able to carry weapons to protect themselves so they would stay at a Drovers Inn, the one on the main road along Loch Lomond was built in 1705. Everybody behaved like Rob Roy in those days, it was not just him and his clansmen, one must not judge the past by today’s standards. He died in his house at Inverlochlarig Beg, Balquhidder,   We also went past the Pulpit Rock, which was a large rock with a niche cut out of it.  The law required that people had to attend Church on Sundays, and the nearest church was at Tabor, which took about 7 hours to reach, so the people made this an outdoor church in 1850.  There was also an entrepreneur who set up a stall at the back of the rock to sell whiskey and cheese!  There were probably as many people on both sides of the rock! The narrow road was upgraded to Arlui, extending over the Loch in places.  A new church was built at Arlui, to replace the Pulpit Rock but this also fell into disrepair and was later turned in to a home.

We arrived at Inveruglas in time to catch the “Loch Lomond” back to Inversnaid for dinner after an interesting day exploring Rob Roy country.

Retirement, Seasons of Life, Travel

Highlights from Morton Bay, Sunshine Coast and the Glasshouse Mountains

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After my return from Perth, the last three weeks of my stay in Australia was meant to be a bit of family time and return home, but the shut downs after the Corona virus put paid to those plans. I stayed on another three months to see out the worst of the pandemic after three flights were cancelled. In many ways it was a bonus for me being able to spend more time with the family helping out with normal household chores. Once I got my head around the uncertainty of it all, I caught up with my life, trying to live it on four continents, messaging back and forth, and getting on with my artwork and writing. 

2020-05-02 16.29.20The first Saturday back we had a lovely trip out to Wellington Point, Morton Bay, with Bribie Island nestled in the entrance to the Bay, this the main sea port for ships entering Brisbane Harbor. We picnicked under an indigenous Morton Bay Fig Tree with its huge grey trunk and extending branches which threw a good shade to protect us from the sun.  We walked along the boardwalk to the pier where we experienced a stiff breeze and the salty smell of the sea. We stood with the wind ruffling our hair watching red and white sailed yachts tacking their way back to the harbor with billowing sails, before going to the café for a cup of coffee. We drove home again around the outskirts of Brisbane where we were able to see a different view of the city than that from the top of Mt Coot-ha. 

20200315_1538371044997727639563647.jpgSunday saw us walking through the Botanical Gardens and the Biosphere, looking at exotic plants and ferns. We made our way down to the Japanese Gardens with their peaceful lily pads, ordered bushes and tinkling stream flowing through the stepping stones. We also encountered enormous lizards which fascinated me at nearly two feet long! 

20200504_1555174978138841950680901.jpgThe final weekend before the ban on travel we took a weekend trip to the Sunshine Coast.  We stopped along the way at the famous Pie Shop where I had a delicious curried chicken pie for lunch. We stayed at a self-catering cabin in Moochadoore, right near the beach. We headed off to the beach in the afternoon enjoying the sand between our toes and the waves lapping around our feet, watching the sun set over the ocean. 

20200321_1243013802703388053241495.jpgThe highlight of this trip was a drive to Maleny and Montville, right up in the Glasshouse Mountains. We had lunch at The Secret Place, it lives up to its name hidden deep in the forest on the shores of Lake Maroon. We sat on the deck enjoying the view, framed by tropical plants and the artworks and rustic carved furniture.  I was privileged to meet Gary Myers at his Maleny Studio, an artist I very much admire for his colorful paintings of the area.  He gave me a brief painting lesson on how he does his paintings, it turns out he was also a cartographer in his younger days!  I bought one of his Art books as a memento.  We went back to Moochadoory for dinner and walk along the beach. Sunday, we headed down to Maloolabah to walk around the harbor and beaches. It was quite warm so we did not stay too long, we were excited to find a flame lily growing alongside the road, a symbol of our country of origin! We then drove home via the Pie shop for lunch after a very pleasant and fruitful trip.   

20200321_1430013118447520155204852.jpgThis was the last trip before travel restrictions were lifted in Queensland. Thus, followed about six weeks of total self-isolation going nowhere except twice out to the shops for urgent supplies and my daily walk up the road to the little park by Hibiscus and Paperbark Rds, Moggill. On my walks I looked closely for interesting or exciting things as I observed the trees, plants and bird life around me. When you take the time to really look, it is amazing what will inspire you! I spent time sewing masks, painting and writing, so nothing really changed from my daily routine at home. 

Retirement, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel

Filling up My Creative Well in Margaret River

This is the second half of my trip to Western Australia, my hosts had planned the itinerary according to my love of nature and art. We often we travel with companions whose taste differs from ours, so what a treat to have friends who shared my interests and accommodated all my photo stops.

The following day we drive along a scenic route through the Margaret River Vineyards to the Chocolate Company.  I had never seen so much chocolate in my life, we watched them making these tasty treats and finished off experiencing the most exquisite Mocha coffee with chocolate buttons at the bottom which we had to stir to melt. It was too tempting to stay here much longer so we then took the Caves Road which took us to my host’s favorite place on earth, which he called Jerusalem Hollow, which is part of the Boranup Karri Forest in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. I could see why he enjoyed this so much it was a view to behold with the sunlight filtering through the leaves onto the trunks of these enormous Karri and Jarrah Trees, beautiful tall straight trees with mottled gold and grey bark, their wood is exceptionally hard and is quite often used for furniture and railway sleepers. In the days of sailing ships, they made good masts.

Jerusalem Hollow

We went up to the viewing point and appreciated this part of God’s creation, before heading on to the Boyanup Gallery where furniture and objects made from these woods was on exhibition, such beautiful grain in the polished surfaces of the wooden furniture. There were also paintings by local artists as well on Exhibition. We carried on back up the coast to Surfer’s Point and the Margaret River Mouth which was not as big as I had expected. Big surfing competitions are held in this area which had plenty of parking and view places for the competitors and supporters of the surfers. We saw someone skimming the waves on his orange surf kite, the wind was the strongest I had experienced in Australia at this point, so we sheltered in a very artistic shelter designed rather like a shell! 

Surfers Bay

Driving though Prevelly we saw the damage to the areas that had had fires two years before where several homes were lost, the vegetation had started to grow again, but the evidence of dead trees with their ghostly heads rising out of the carpet of green was a reminder and caution of the recent devastation of fires in Australia 

Cow Town

We drove into Margaret River town for lunch where we enjoyed a Subway Sandwich and then went for a taster at the Fudge Factory shop which we considered dessert, they had a large variety of fudges and nougat for sale. On the return drive home, we went through a place called Cowaramup “Cow Town”, this unique town that has 42 life-sized models of cows all around the town in different positions, grazing or sitting! I took some pictures to prove this! I am not sure how this came about. It is a wine growing area and in 2012 broke the Guiness World Record of largest gathering of people dressed as cows!

Kangaroos on the golf course

After a cup of tea at home, we walked to the local golf course to see the kangaroos, which had obviously made this their home, they were quite comfortable with us walking past them as they lay about the greens, bounding off when they were bored of watching us. Spooky fire burnt trees lined the golf course evidence of a fire in previous years as well.  

Canal Rock

The next day we drove to Canal Rock, a geological masterpiece of fault lines bisecting the rocks in two directions, leaving channels for the sea to flow through as the water crashes through the gaps.  A little wooden bridge crossed the channel to a viewing platform, this was a very special place for my hosts as their son had proposed to his girlfriend there.  They had put tea lights and rose petals along the bridge to lead her to the platform where their son went down on bended knee to propose – she accepted! We then drove down to Smith’s Beach which was a lovely Holiday Resort and caravan park, also with a nice surfing beach.  Our journey progressed to Yallinup where we looked at the town and then went to the Art Gallery which was quite extensive, with some lovely paintings and different styles. After lunch at home we walked into Dunsborough to look at the Christian Fletcher Gallery, a local nature photographer, with some amazing almost abstract photographs which had had put onto products. We competed the day at the Dunsborough Tavern, where I had a very nice meal of vegetarian hamburger.  

Bussleton Jetty

As all good things come to an end so did this wonderful artsy time away. We packed up and left Dunsborough behind us driving along the coastal road to Bussleton where we stopped and walked along the foreshore and Jetty.  The historical Jetty is 1.50 miles long and has a train that runs along its length so you can enjoy the ride and go out to see the corals. This was quite expensive and would take up a bit of time so we just went into the museum where we could enjoy looking at the history on an interactive map, which was really interesting. The Bussleton Iron Man Triathlons are held here and one can hire bikes if required, as there are many good cycle paths around the area, and the ocean around the jetty is where the swim takes place, with grandstands built into the beach for spectators. 

The jetty

After a coffee we walked along the esplanade for a bit licking our ice creams before setting off again back to Perth. We drove past the Vasse Estuary which was enormous with its cute settlement just outside of Bussleton. Then it was time to hit the highway again breaking our journey at the Miami Bakehouse with its award-winning pies, where I had the most delicious croissant. The gardens were decorated with brightly colored Art Kangaroos. We arrived back to Perth, and after a cup of tea we walked along the shore of the lagoon in the opposite direction to what we have previously done, enjoying the views of the marina and open water.    

Saturday morning, we took an early trip to Cottesloe Beach to see the Sculptures by the Sea Exhibition, Elizabeth Gilbert the author had been here the day before! We had an inspiring time looking at this extensive Exhibition with its large works of art placed along the beach and the jetty, some pieces were quite moving, especially one by an Iraqi artist symbolizing the freedom of relationships in Australia. My hosts had invited some of their family over in the afternoon where we had a good catch up chat on our life in Rhodesia and the good old days at the Geological Survey before my farewell dinner at the Bull Creek Chinese Restaurant. We had a delicious meal, I had my favorite Chicken and Cashew, they served such big portions we had to take some home with us.  We were up very early next morning to head for the airport and my flight back to Brisbane after my creative well had been well and truly filled thanks to my awesome hosts. 

Retirement, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Travel

Rhodesia by the Sea in Perth!

Elizabeth Quay -Perth

LIfe’s Journey takes us through many transitions, one of which is immigration. My generation grew up in a time of political turmoil in Africa, when the winds of change forced many of my friends and I to seek lands where we could once again put our shoulder to the wheel and flourish and bring up our families in safety. One of the purposes of this journey was to reconnect with old friends.

My visit to Perth was to spend time with long standing friends and a colleague from my first job at the Rhodesian Geological Survey, fifty-seven years ago! They met me at the airport and after taking me home for a cup of tea, we went out to Freemantle to look at The Sculptures by the Beach, it was a lovely evening with the sun slowly sinking on the horizon behind the sculptures. This was quite magical as one of the sculptures was of the sunset, so viewing them side by side was special!. When we had completed our viewing of the sculptures, we enjoyed fish and chips at the famous Kailois Restaurant on the quay, before heading home to bed. 

Saturday was spent with other ex-Rhodesian friends, who had been our neighbors; our children had grown up together.  We had a very pleasant lunch at the LoQuay Restaurant with a view over the lagoon. It was so good to catch up on the past forty odd years, the good, the bad and the struggles. They had arrived in Perth with four children, a tent and $500.00 dollars to start their new life. We had fun reminiscing over our children’s adventures in Rhodesia, very special memories! 

In the evening, I walked along the Carring-Swan River walkway with my hosts as far as the Dome Restaurant, a local landmark.  It was a very enjoyable walk as we chatted and looked at the beautiful scenery, catching a glimpse of jelly fish near the Jetty and other sea fowl along the beaches. Apparently, dolphins are also seen in this lagoon at times! We spent the evening talking about our travel adventures! 

Sunday, we caught the train to Elisabeth Quay, a new development cut into the bank of the river in the City, making it a good place for the ferry to pick up and set down passengers. It is also a wonderful place to hang out with friends at the coffee shops and eateries. We looked around the main precinct at the Bell Tower and lovely bougainvillea arches. The children’s playground had a wall with all the children’s names written into it who were at school on a specific day in Perth – what a great idea!

First Contact Statue inspired by the Aboriginal people’s first sighting of European Settlers sailing boats.

After a delicious cup of Cappuccino at the Ritz Carlton my friends left me at the Railway station to catch the train to Joondelup where I met up with another ex- Rhodesian friend, I had not seen since she was a child! She met me at the station and we ate lunch the Dome, where we caught up on the intervening forty odd years. She also had interesting stories of finding family members she never knew existed! She then took me to Ocean Reef,a fairly new small harbor and new development, which was near her house.

I enjoyed seeing where she spent her leisure time, and had a breath of ocean breezes at the same time. We then headed over to Sorrento Quay and Hillary’s Boatyard which we explored, taking in the holiday atmosphere of the place and watching children jump from the Jetty and island into the water. We finished the day with another cup of coffee before she took me back to the station to catch the train back to Bull Creek.  The train was very busy as the Road to Hell Highway had been closed, for a parade in honor of ACDC whose one band member was born in Freemantle. My hosts met me at the station, where we shared more memories of our common history, before packing for our road trip to Dunsborough and Margaret River region. 

Divorce, Retirement, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel

LOVING LIFE AND SHARING IT

I love the life I have been given where I get to travel and see new places, family and friends – turning strangers into friends. I love the thrill of seeing nature in all its diversity in new places and wonder at the majesty of Creation.  I get to spend time with precious family members and friends who once were part of our tightly knit community in Rhodesia, now scattered over the four corners of the globe.  I get to meet the new families and friends they have created in different cultures and settings. I am inspired by their stories and resilience to hardships. In turn this inspires me to share our common stories and my passion for travel, art and writing with you my friends and followers.

My adventurous life may sound romantic, colorful and exciting and it is, but it is also scary – going into the unknown, making decisions, not knowing if they are the best. On this trip to Australia, I chose an airline that goes through Hong Kong, never having been there before, not having a clue what to expect, and not knowing that the coronavirus was just about to break loose! My stress levels were heading through the ceiling at the prospect of finding my way around with a seven-hour layover at the start of Chinese New Year! Eventually I took my pride in my pocket and asked for Airport Assistance! What a blessing, lovely people met me and took me through the right routes to get me to my destination with minimum stress and I was delivered safely to the bosom of my family in Brisbane.

This was a new thing for me to start to trust other people to guide me through difficult terrain I had never been before, yet it was the very thing that I needed to help me keep calm and enjoy my journey.  How often do we hold back on asking for help when we think we can do it all ourselves, or we are to prideful to say we can’t do it alone? I know I have been the mistress of independence for many years, but somehow age seems to bring a certain vulnerability too.

I also realized I could not do my blog justice while on the road, as I am busy gathering material for the next few of years’ worth of stories.  I did not want to leave you without contact for several months, so again I have asked for help! I have asked one of my very first clients at one of the Divorce Recovery Workshops I ran, Denise Mclaughlin, to be my guest blogger, sharing her “Festive Journey” with you.

I have been so proud of the way that Denise got on with her life after divorce. It has not been easy for her most of the time, but she has with faith, rebuilt a life she enjoys and can be proud of. She inspires me with her adventures (much more adventurous than I, travelling alone in her converted Mazda) and I am hoping she will inspire you too.  Life can throw us curved balls and bad experiences, but I love to share other perspectives on what could have been a disaster and upset for us in these difficulties and show that God is able to work all things together for good, for His purposes. Sometimes it is a point of new growth and where once we were stunted, the dead wood had been trimmed away allowing new heathy growth to take place. Sometimes we just need a bit of help and guidance through the difficult places before we get that breakthrough.

I am hoping that you will be inspired by Denise’s’ Festive Journey, please leave your comments and feed back in the contact form, we would love to hear from you.  Denise writes in both English and Afrikaans, her personal blog is written mainly in Afrikaans one of the twelve official languages of South Africa.  I will leave her to introduce herself in my next blog.

www.crossingmybridges.com

https://myfestivejourney.blogspot.com/