2013 creeped silently into my life bringing with it some sadness and introspection. As I grew another year older I had the sad news that I had lost two of my friends. One very special friend, who was living in Scotland, died after losing a short battle with lung cancer in February. Though I know the eventual outcome of living is not living, the pain from losing someone so quickly is deep felt.
While sitting in my living room looking out at a most spectacular sunrise I realized it’s all good. I will miss my friends, but I will have memories that no one will ever be able to take from me. So it was with these thoughts in mind that I purchased a ticket to Scotland only two short weeks ago, to say a final goodbye to my riding pal and good friend, William Bill Robinson and meet some of those he had so loved in life. I am now so much richer having gone to his homeland.
Over the years I knew Bill, he had told me about his children, his ex-wives, his artist buddies, his riding friends and those he loved and he had shared so much of himself. Scotland gave me the opportunity to actually put faces to names and tales and share in the joy of friendship. Another thing for which to thank my friend.
This photograph was from Chere’s wedding from last summer. Bill was looking particularly wonderful in his traditional garb. The girls used this photo to blow up and have at the funeral, giving us a wonderful visual as words were spoken and music was played. It was a beautiful life affirming funeral dedicated to a man who lived life to the fullest and never went without fun!
Let me backtrack…
The flight to Scotland was never ending and I was fighting a cold from the beginning, but I arrived late on a Friday evening and checked into my room at the Globe Inn and Pub amid live music and a huge crowd. How appropriate! Now that I was housed I knew I’d be ready to rise in the morning striking out onto the streets, knowdemenshea.comas only a block away. I had seen Bill’s house in Aberdeen, UK through photographs, but nothing really prepared me for the actual building. The original structure was a small granite church build in 1865. He remodeled it, making it what he called the largest one bedroom, open plan flat/house he’d ever seen. 70’ long, 35’ wide, 35’ high with bedroom and main bath on the balcony. It was brilliant!
The Globe Inn
The loft bedroom with its amazing leaded window of a 5 toed dragon that Bill commissioned to replace the original religious window.
Bill Jr and me hanging out after a wonderful meal delivered by Bill’s friend, Rory.
Rory and Bill’s daughter Jen putting the finishing touches on the meal.
The meal of a potato pie, tandouri chicken and bean salad.
Rory’s dog, Paddy, who was adorable!
Bill’s daughter, Chere.
Bill’s son, Bill
Three of Bill’s close friends,Adam, Alejandro, and Michelle
One of my favorite shots of Bill’ daughter, Jen and his son Bill and Alejandro in front of the amazing stainless steel doors allowing entrance into Bill’s home.
Bill was an avid collector of art and had some beautiful pieces. I had the chance to shoot a few of his artworks. This was one of my favorite pieces, an oil painting that was transferred onto silk that hung in front of the actual painting so you got lots of movement when air passed through the room.
Bill’s ex-wife Nyk Zietera is an artist and the next couple of pieces are hers.
The glass door entrance a few feet inside of the stainless steel doors.
A good friend, Jaki Sinclair painted this piece. It’s a gorgeous piece and sadly I didn’t get a better photograph.
Bill’s daughter, Chere had mentioned the possibility of riding Bill’s bikes, so I came prepared with riding gear, but the weather simply did not play out for any opportunity to actually get the bikes out onto the streets. It’s sad, because I know Bill would have loved us to do that, but mother nature kept the temperatures cold and wet and my interest in riding in that weather had certainly waned. But it didn’t stop me from exploring Aberdeen on foot. Aberdeen is known as the city of granite. I believe this is well illustrated.
RCA pigeons ( you remember them, right? )
As cold as it was, the city was beginning to plant the spring flowers.
The ubiquitous McDonalds
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this shot, taken in an old cemetery in the center of Aberdeen.
If a man’s wealth is judged by his friends, then William was indeed a very wealthy man. His friends came from far and wide to celebrate his life. And celebrate we did.
Bill’s beautiful Ducati 1098
Friends and family celebrate the life of William Robinson!
Ricky and Jean Paul
Bill always surrounded himself with beautiful women.
Just look at all those smiles!
Kiko and Jess
Bill, Andrew and Nyk
Bill’s grand daughter Sophie and friend John
Good mate and riding buddy, Janey
Bill in the loft. Here you can see the amazing woodwork that was a surprise when William began remodeling the church. It had been covered in sheetrock and when they were taking the old sheetrock out, they discovered this underneath. Wow!
Chick, Bill’s son in law and best mate, Peter.
Adam, Michelle and Alejandro
Someone even more drunk than me tried using my camera…hahahaha
The following day, hangover in full regalia, Alastair, one of Bill’s mates showed up at 9:15 am to give me a Scottish castle tour. When the bar called to tell me that I had a “gentleman caller”, they also informed me that I would have to check out as no reservations has opened up for that evening. Great, so now I not only had to get ready to go, but had to pack to move out. Tuesday and Wednesday are crew change days for the North Sea oil crews and there are virtually NO rooms for let in Aberdeen. I knew I was screwed for another room, but packed up to go touring knowing I’d end up somewhere! Somehow, I actually made it and Alastair was not only a great host, but a wonderful historian for Aberdeen. The day, as foggy as it was in my head was wonderful.
Crathes Castle 1596
This is a countryside church
In the seaport town of Stonehaven we stopped for a bit of lunch.
Meet Alastair, my white knight of the day!
After a fine lunch of fresh scallops, we headed to one of the oldest castles in Scotland and certainly one with the most colorful past, Dunnottar Castle.
Here I will refer you to Bill’s own words as he wrote in a ride report after touring castles in Aberdeenshire.
“Two later incidents have ensured that Dunnottar holds a place in Scottish history that is both famous and infamous. By May 1652 Dunnottar Castle was the only place left in Scotland holding out for Charles II against Cromwell’s forces.
Parliamentary forces were particularly keen to take the castle because it was being used for the safe keeping of the Honours of Scotland, the Sword of Scotland, the Crown Jewels, and for Charles II’s personal papers. But when the castle surrendered on 26 May after an eight month siege Cromwell’s men found the cupboard was bare. The King’s papers has been smuggled through their lines hidden in the clothing of a woman, and the Honours had been lowered down the cliffs to a local woman pretending to be collecting seaweed. These irreplaceable treasures were hidden under the floor of the nearby Kineff Old Church until the Restoration of the Monarchy.
Dunnottar’s darkest moment came in May 1685 when 167 Covenanter prisoners, 122 men and 45 women, were locked in the Whig’s Vault below one of the buildings in the Quadrangle with little food and no sanitation. Some died of starvation and disease, while others were killed after trying to escape. The survivors were transported to the colonies (where 70 died enroute and most of fever afterwards) after two months in the castle.
In 1715 the tenth Earl Marischal backed the losing side in the Jacobite uprising and was condemned for treason. His estates were forfeited and Dunnottar Castle was sold to the York Building Company, who removed everything that was transportable and usable. From 1925 efforts have been under way to consolidate the structure and today a visit offers an insight into one of the most fascinating castles in Scotland.
Recently, Dunnottar Castle was the set for Zefferelli’s 1990 Hamlet with a superb cast of Mel Gibson, Glen Close, Alan Bates, Paul Scofield, Ian Holm and Helen Botham Carter (as Ophilia). Dunnotter’s brooding, dusky, damp, dark and rock wall setting could not have been more perfect for Shakespeare’s tragedy.
The Dunnottar Castle ruins outside Stonehaven sits high on a huge solo rock crag surrounded on three sides by the North Sea and is a foreboding place and historically significant to Scotland.”
Walking out to Dunnottar and climbing all the stairs both in and out finished me off. My hangover had now gone full circle and I needed some sleep and a pint. We had a pint then rode back to Aberdeen in a sort of dull silence as we both felt in about the same straights. Alastair took me to Bill’s house and as we brought in my luggage, he yelled into the house, “is this the place that takes in stray Americans?”. Yep, I was going to be on one of Bill’s couches this night.
The final couple of days in Aberdeen, were quiet, as people headed home, carrying with them a melancholy and cloudy wet days, but fine memories. I was able to check back in to the Globe Inn for my final two nights. One day, I spend walking Aberdeen, visiting the fantastic Art Museum there, and trying to stay warm. My cold had moved into my chest and I had those wonderful overall aches and pains that come with being ill, but I made the best of being in Scotland taking photos and seeing as much as I could. I also spent some time in the Globe Inn pub. Yes, of course I did.
Some final shots of Aberdeen.
The working harbor
The Aberdeen Art Gallery (shot with my phone for which I apologize in advance!)
I got to see one of my favorite English painters, John Waterhouse. He was considered in the school of the Pre-Raphaelite style. His work is exquisite.
This was another sensual piece painted by William Etty known for his nudes.
With those beautiful sensual artworks, I close this trip to Scotland and the celebration of my friend, William Bill Robinson. May he forever be remembered as the remarkable man that he was, the good father, friend and rider. I toast thee, William and will think of you always with love.