Monday, 5 October 2015

Tobermory, Scotland
a colourful jewel in the Isle of Mull.

Tobermory (Gaelic: Tobar Mhoire) is the only town on the Isle of Mull, one of the Scottish Inner Hebrides.

It is located in the northeastern part of the island, near the northern entrance of the Sound of Mull, and is the starting port to visit Staffa and Iona.

The pier divides Tobermory Bay in two, as well as the waterfront houses on Main Stret.

Tobermory was founded as a fishing port in 1788; its location, landscape and unique seafront deserve to be highlighted here at Ultima Thule

Population ~ 700  (up to 1500 in summer)
Coordinates: 56° N, 06° W 

Brightly painted buildings line up along the main street to the pier, backed by tree-lined hills surrounding the bay.

Also on main street by the harbour pier, the Clock Tower from 1905 is now the town's symbol.

The waterfront Main Street is the most animated shopping area. For such a small town, Tobermory's economy has benefited a lot from tourism.

The Main Street runs by the bay to the Caledonian Macbrayne ferry pier. Back and upwords, Argyll Terrace is the historic Victorian street.

Tobermory owes its origins to the British Fisheries Society and their search for likely sites for fishing communities in western Scotland in the 1700s. A distillery was later founded there as Ledaig distillery, in 1798

Downtown, on the seafront, mirrored in the waters are little shops, restaurants, guest houses and even a local museum.

Some of the best historic houses by the pier, like the Clydesdale Bank and the Museum (right).

Tackle and Books

Not many bookshops have such a pretty front facing a bay's calm waters.

Books, computer and officeware, as well as artist material for painting.

Guest houses on Main Street.

The Tobermory Hotel.

Blue, red and pink are the most frequent colours in the waterfront.

The Museum

Run by volunteers, it is quite small but well documented on Mull's History.

Seafare: waterproof clothing, diving and fishing equipment, some gifts too.

The central bakery, now also a tea room.

A long time favourite.

MacGochans Pub, the most well-known.

Uptown Tobermory has less shops but the best views. Back Brae and them Argyll Terrace are also first choice residential areas.

From Back Brae, the roof chimneys and the bay:

Argyll Terrace, away from downtown bustle, is quiet and full of character.

A B&B on Argyll Terrace.

The Paris Church

Also located on Argyll Terrace, on upper Tobermory, the Parish Church (Church of Scotland) is a Victorian gothic-style building, opened in 1897.

Music concerts are frequently held at the church, under the rose window.

An Tobar

On a corner of Argyll Terrace, close to the Church, An Tobar is one of the main attractions in Tobermory.

Opened in 1997, An Tobar is Mull’s Arts Centre, a focus for arts activities on the island. An art gallery (the only one in Argyll), a small concert hall, cafe, shop and workshop area.

An Tobar is installed in the refurbished Victorian primary school.

An Tobar has a cycle of concerts at the Church during the annual Mendelssohn festival.

With a terrace overlooking the splendour of Tobermory bay, An Tobar is always worth a visit.

The harbour

Tobermory's little harbour is always busy with fishing boats and yachts.

Other visitors are the ferry to and from Kilchoan and some cruise ship in Summer.

The ferry at the "Cal Mac" pier.

The Waverley, a steamer from Glasgow - the last steam ship to take passengers - is a summer visitor to Tobermory.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Arvo Pärt, Passacaglia

Arvo Pärt is undoubtfully the greatest composer of our times. He was born is Estonia, in 1935, and works mainly on sacred classical music, in a minimalist style.

Somehow I find him adequated to our purposes here at Ultima Thule: the music of Pärt talks of remoteness and distance, isolation and meditation, but also of discovery and new horizons.

This short Passacaglia is one of his most brilliant musical works; dissonations in a crescendo rythm, like in a breathless ride, away from or to reach something, leave a final feeling of fulfillment.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Inuit Arts,
a short presentation

I´m not, of course, an art expert, nor am I someone who deeply studied the Inuit native peoples of Alaska, Arctic Canada or Greenland.

I just collected some of the arts and craft examples I love the most - and my eyes are those of an European, biased by western culture. That said, enjoy and I hope it can motivate to research for more.

Note that some of the works are from unknown authors.

Inuit Artsfrom Mario Ricca

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Seyðisfjörður, one of those Icelandic names... amazing !

Seyðisfjörður or Seydisfjoerdur is a town and municipality in Iceland's Eastfjords region, at the innermost point of the fjord of the same name.

Connected to Scotland and the Faröe, this is a typical icelandic tiny village, with a tiny port deep into the fjord, surrounded by mountains and wild waterfalls.

Settled at the sandy bottom of the fjord, it's almost unreally pretty in the unspoiled breathtaking landscape.

Coordinates: 65°15′ N, 14°0′ W, just one degree below the arctic circle.

Population:  ~ 668 inhabitants.

The town was settled by fishermen from Norway in 1848, on the lowlands of the fjord, where a few farms had existed for centuries. These settlers also built some of the present day wooden buildings.

Seyðisfjörður is now well known for those wooden buildings of the 19th century, and has remnants of old street configurations within its urban fabric.

The town offers a library, hospital, the post office, some retail activity, a visual arts centre, a Technical Museum and local heritage museum, the only two cinemas in the east of Iceland, three small hotels, a swimming pool. Not so tiny, so.

The Blue Church (Bláa Kirkjan) is the absolute central landmark.

Legend says the church, from the 13th century and dedicated to St. Mary, has been moved several times; it was surely moved into Seyðisfjörður in 1921, but after so many changes and a fire no one knows what remains from the original medieval church, maybe just some of the wooden walls.

A praised concert season takes place each summer at the Blue Church.

As tourism is replacing the traditional fishing activity, hotels are growing in number:

Hotel Altan has a terrace café with the best view in town.

Wooden house in blue (the old Pharmacy)

19th century, norwegian style.

One of the few shops in town - the Gullabuid: crafts, decoration, gifts and utilities.

Wooden house in red...

Wooden house in red and white: the Town Hall.

Blue and white too:
The Snaefell Hotel.

The other café in town - this is Kaffi Lara, at the Snaefell.

The small harbour is still active with a few fishing ships, but presently it is mainly dedicated to tourism and leisure.

They fish mostly for herring.

No better place to sit watching the amazing but quiet scenery as the time go by, a warm blanket over the knees...

As Seyðisfjörður is rather isolated by land roads, regular ships provide most of the transport into and from the town. One of them is MV Norröna, from Tórshavn, Faröe Islands.

Seydisfjordur is also connected by ship to Scotland.

The Skaftfell Art Centre

Amazingly, the town also has an Arts Centre:

Skaftfell is a visual art center to encourage the development of contemporary art. It is a meeting point for artists and locals and its activities are based on exhibitions and events, and also an international residency program.

The first telegraph cable connecting Iceland to Europe started in 1906 from Seyðisfjörður, built by Great Nordic Telephone Company.
For several years this was a hub for international telecommunications.

Seyðisfjörður is almost an arctic town, just some 60 km south of the circle.
The longest day and the longest night are close to 21h long.

Some of Iceland´s best waterfalls are located in the vicinity of Seyðisfjörður.

This is Gufufoss:

Gufufoss, 19 m high