Monday, 18 April 2011


You can think through many thoughts whilst watching a sunset. Here are some of mine from last night as I enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen over the Firth of Forth. Waves gently breaking on the shore, the welcome sound of Eider ducks calling to each other, a blackbird singing from a tree - a magical end to a beautiful day.

I love how the colours of the sky can change so quickly. For me, no one picture can ever truly capture a sunset. The whole sky, an ever changing work of art, the canvas on which Mother Nature works her magic. Illuminated by natural light, an ever constant creation. Subtle changes as we watch, as our eye scans the horizon to observe one part and then, when we cast our gaze back, the colours where we looked have changed. A unique work of art to end our day. Colours moving, changing, deepening and then - gone. Only the sparkle of stars in a clear night's sky, the potential promise of a sunrise to alight a fresh picture painted by nature's pallet of glowing colours.

Tonight, as the sun slipped far below the horizon, the deeping colours stilled me to sit a while and soak in the tranquility. And, as I watched, the sparkle of Fidra Lighthouse shone out across the waters. Fidra, the  island whose shape is said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson in his most famous book "Treasure Island." The lighthouse was actually built in 1885 by members of Stevenson's family - David and Thomas Stevenson. Indeed, around the coast of Scotland there are more than 200 lighthouses, the majority of these lighthouses built by the civil engineering genuises which were the Stevesons but - not Robert Louis Stevenson, he carved his own path.

Born in 1850, Robert was expected to follow in his family's footsteps but after three years as a civil engineer apprentice he changed to legal studies. Yet still, it was writing which was his passion.  Developing a debilitating respiratory illness, early in life he became determined to become a professional writer. Much of his work was written from his sick bed and finally, poor health encouraged him to travel away from the harsh Scottish climate. At 26 he met, fell in love with and went on to marry an American art student.  Finally, they settled on the island of Upolu in Samoan where locals called him "Tusitala" (teller of tales). He continued to write but in 1890, at 44, Stevenson died of a stroke - but what he had made of his short life!

A quote by him is posted on my kitchen wall: "Never underate the duty of being happy". Despite his illness, RLS became famous in his own lifetime and respect for his work has continued to grow through time. His first steps away from his family's path, his desire to be a writer was not encouraged. Yet, from history, he is probably now more famous than the civil enginners of his family who mariners owe so much gratitude too. For me, the story of RLS serves to indicate that everyone is different and that the world is all the better for that. Great civil engineers are much required but so too are the creative talents of those who make the world a better place through work which can be shared and enjoyed.

Sat on the hill above North Berwick, looking to Fidra and up along the Forth, I reflected on Robert Louis Stevenson's life. For a time he had tried to become a civil engineer but that was not for him... How fortunate for us all that he broke away from the path of conformity and followed his heart. Too often the cautious voice inside can be silenced by the "wise words of those who know better" (?). I think we are more likely to have a better understanding of our heart's desire than the view of an outsider looking in BUT it can be difficult to find the confidence required to go it alone. Just over five years ago "some friend" said to me I was wasting my time with photography, I would never be any good and it was boring to watch me try - what crushing words these were at that time. Yet, I was a fool to take them to heart. A more appropriate response would have been to have said "so what?" If we really love something then the happiness that comes from that creative pursuit should not be ignored. Thankfully, it was encouragement from my mum who got me to look again at photography as a hobby. I absolutely adore it so thank goodness she did! and tonight, standing up from the bench on my scenic view point, I decided to take this  photo to share with others here.

So, what were my Celtic Reflections tonight? What conclusions did I reach? As I looked out at the dark waters of the Firth of Forth I thought about the fishermen and sailors who need the light that shines from Fidra lighthouse. I thought too of Robert Louis Stevenson, the courage he found to carve out his own path, his literary work which still shines today. As he said, never under rate the duty to be happy and I would add to that - if you have a creative hobby which lights your soul then, don't neglect that either. At the end of the day, when you look back on life you can pretty much see that it doesn't matter what others think or simply - let there be light. 

Listen to your own heart and "Let Your Light Shine"

:-D SMILE and pass it on!


  1. Thank you Shona, this is a wonderful, thought-provoking post!! :)

  2. Glad you liked my blog Nicola. Yes, I think it is important (in a busy world) to take time to relax and reflect. If you don't know where you are going then any road will do - better to think things through and for me the work life balance is important. Balance and Self-discipline are two key factors in living a happy, successful life and having ethusiasm for both work and hobbies.

  3. Stunning words and photos. As a recent resident of North Berwick, I found your page because of the Fidra referencs and am so glad I did. Are any of these photos for sale anywhere? With respect and gratitude for all that you do, Kathleen

    1. my thoughts exactly...those sunset photos are exquisite!!! wish I was there in person!!