Comet Neowise I

Comet Neowise. Viewed from the summit of Gyrn Wigau (643 m above sea level) in the Carneddau mountain range, looking down onto Bangor, Anglesey and the Menai strait.

Date

19 July 2020

Location

Gyrn Wigau, Caneddau mountain range
SH 65415 67531; 53.18778°N, 4.01570°W

Information

Comet Neowise was discovered on 27 March 2020 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) space telescope mission. The comet’s nucleus has an estimated diameter of 5 km and at it’s closest (on 23 July 2020) it was 103 million km from Earth. It was visible with the naked eye during July 2020. Don’t worry if you missed it though – it will be back around again in 6,800 years time.

Further Reading

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) (Wikipedia);
You can see Comet NEOWISE this month (CNN)

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The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

Date

24 December 2015

Location

Helix Park, Falkirk
NS 90621 82170; 56.01990°N, 3.75630°W

Information

The Kelpies are a pair of 30-metre-high, 300-tonne steel horse-head sculptures standing at the entrance to the Forth and Clyde Canal in Helix Park, Falkirk next to the M9 motorway.

The work was designed by Glasgow-based sculptor Andy Scott (b 1964), who specialises in public art, and it opened to the public in April 2014. The name, which refers to the Scottish folkloric malevolent shape-shifting water spirit often taking the appearance of a horse, was chosen by Scottish Canals at the outset of the project in 2005. Scott, however, developed the theme as a tribute to the heavy draft animals that played such a prominent role in the industrial history of the area. He modelled his 1:10 scale, hand-welded maquettes for the sculptures on two Clydesdale horses, Duke and Baron, who made a guest appearance at the official ‘topping out’ ceremony at the end of construction in November 2013.

The three-metre-high maquettes were laser scanned in order to fabricate the corresponding full-scale steel components. These were manufactured by Yorkshire-based SH Structures Ltd, who also erected the sculptures on site in 90 days. The sculptures stand by the new ‘Kelpies Hub’ turning basin and extension to the canal linking it to the North Sea, both of which opened for boating at the same time as the sculptures opened to the public. The Kelpies cost £5 million and were funded by the National Lottery, Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals.

The £1.8 million visitor centre was designed by Dundee architects Nicol Russell Studios and opened to the public in October 2015.

On 1 April 2015 The Scotsman newspaper ran an April Fool’s story stating that £2 million of remedial work, which would involved closing the attraction for up to a year, would be necessary to repair rust damage to the foundations of the sculptures. The problem was first discovered, so the story claimed, when American tourist Flora Pilo (an anagram of April Fool!) noticed the horses’ heads sinking downwards in a ten-minute time-lapse video she had recorded on a visit to the site.

Further Reading

The Kelpies (The Helix)

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Cockpen Churchyard

Cockpen Churchyard

Cockpen Churchyard

Date

25 December 2015

Location

Cockpen, Bonnyrigg
NT 31906 64223; 55.86633°N, 3.08963°W

Information

Cockpen Parish Church, situated to the south of the town of Bonnyrigg, was designed in 1816 by Scottish architect Richard Crichton (c 1771-1817), who had trained under John and Robert Adam and was a burgess of the city of Edinburgh. Following his death, however, the church was built between 1817 and 1820 by his former apprentices the brothers Richard and Robert Dickson, who took over his practice and completed a number of other unfinished projects.

In 1975 the nearby parish of Carrington, whose church building was later converted for commercial use, was merged with Cockpen. Cockpen Church is owned by The Church of Scotland and is still in use, although the position of Minister is currently vacant. The church is a Category A listed building.

Further Reading

Cockpen and Carrington Parish Church (Wikipedia)

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Edinburgh’s Christmas 2015

Edinburgh's Christmas 2015, Princes Street Gardens

Edinburgh’s Christmas 2015, Princes Street Gardens

Date

26 December 2015

Location

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
NT 25411 73849; 55.95184°N, 3.19604°W

St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh
NT 25571 74115; 55.95425°N, 3.19355°W

Information

Edinburgh’s Christmas is a programme of events and activities taking place in a number of sites in the city centre from 20 November 2015 until 4 January 2016. St Andrew’s Square hosts the Scottish Market, an ice rink and a show venue The Spiegeltent. Located in East Princes Street Gardens are various funfair attractions – including a Ferris wheel, helter skelter and ice rink – together with a traditional European Christmas market.

Further Reading

Edinburgh’s Christmas

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Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle

Looking over the mouth of the Afon Seiont to Caernarfon Castle, built by Edward I in the late 13th century

Date

2 January 2015
Location

Caernarfon, Gwynedd

SH 47827 62667; 53.13935°N, 4.27639°W

Information

Caernarfon has had a long history as a military stronghold and administrative centre. Around the year 77 CE the Romans built Segontium fort in a strategically important position close to the Menai Strait and between the natural boundaries provided by the rivers Seiont and Cadnant. The fort served as a base for a large administrative district in north-west Wales and was occupied until the late 4th century. In 1090 the Norman Earl of Chester, Hugh d’Avranches, built a motte-and-bailey castle on the banks of the strait not far from the site of the Roman fort. The area was regained in 1115 by the Welsh, who held it until the 13th-century English invasion of Gwynedd. Following the 1282-83 war between England and Wales, Edward I (1239-1307) set about constructing an imposing stone castle symbolic of English rule as a successor to the previous Norman timber-and-earthwork fortification.

Edward destroyed the existing Welsh settlement and in 1285 started building the new town and castle as a royal palace and seat of government for north Wales. The first phase of construction was overseen by Master James of St George (c 1230 – c 1309), a master mason from Savoy who was also responsible for the design of many of Edward’s castles, including Conwy, Harlech and Beaumaris in Wales. The castle was designed with large polygonal towers connected by immense curtain walls, 20 feet thick at the base. The banded stonework was a decorative feature copied from the great walls of Constantinople.

The castle was occupied by Madog ap Llywelyn during the Welsh uprising in 1294, but was re-captured by Edward in 1295. These events provoked a second phase of construction in which the north wall was built – the castle had previously only been protected to the north by a ditch and by the town walls. Although construction came to an end around 1330, the castle was never fully completed.

The castle was besieged by Owain Glyndwr’s forces in the Welsh revolt of 1400-15 and the last time it played a role in an armed conflict was during the English Civil War (1642-51). The castle was held then by Royalists until it was surrendered to Parliamentarians in 1646.

Caernarfon Castle was abandoned following the Civil War and fell into disrepair until being restored in the 19th century. It has been part of a World Heritage Site since 1986 and is currently in the care of Cadw.

Edward I’s son, who in 1301 was created the first English Prince of Wales and who later became Edward II, was born in Caernarfon Castle in 1284. The castle also played a symbolic role in the 20th century as the site for the investiture of two Princes of Wales: in 1911 Prince Edward, later Edward VIII who in 1936, less than a year after taking the throne, abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson; and in1969 the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.

Further Reading

Caernarfon Castle

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Port Penrhyn

Port Penrhyn, Bangor

Mussel dredgers B-932 Mare Gratia, BS-8 Valente and BS-12 Lottie Holly, Port Penrhyn, Bangor

Date

28 December 2014
Location

Port Penrhyn, Bangor

SH 59187 72847; 53.23392°N, 4.11117°W

Information

Mussels harvested from the Menai Strait account for more than half of the total UK production from farming of this shellfish. The ‘bottom cultivation’ method is employed, with wild seed mussels being collected from the Irish Sea and laid in sheltered beds in the Menai Strait where they grow for up to three years before being harvested.

The 43m B-932 Mare Gratia was launched in 2003, registered in Belfast, and belongs to Holyhead-based Deepdock Ltd. The Beaumaris registered dredgers the BS-8 Valente (43m) and BS-12 Lottie Holly (24m) both belong to Bangor-based Myti Mussels Ltd. The latter two vessels were built by Maaskant Shipyards in the Netherlands in 2003 and 2013, respectively. Myti Mussels’ catch is landed in 1200kg bags packed onboard after flushing and is transported by truck overnight to the Dutch fishing port Yerseke in Zeeland.

Further Reading

Bangor Mussel Producers;
Myti Mussels commissions fourth Maaskant-built dredger (Damen)

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