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Our English Language School in Scotland hosts a sewing demo!
Photo credit: Blue Noun

An English Language Class | Photography Trip to Fife 

Hello friends of Blue Noun English Language School!

We’ve stepped outside Perthshire a couple of times recently, including to the beautiful Fife town of Culross (pronounced Coo-Ross) – so picturesque that it regularly appears in a variety of period TV shows, including Outlander.
 

When you visit and wander along charming, peaceful streets -imagine them as they were once were – full of the hustle and bustle of a thriving 16th-century port on the River Forth.  

See the white-harled houses with red-tiled roofs that line the steep cobbled streets, which run from the market cross to the hilltop abbey.

It’s undeniably pretty, but they represent a traditional Scottish harbour-side way of life that is all but dying (second homes, declining fish stocks…)

Look across the water and the view is different again…


Culross is an amazing town for a photography trip: it’s scenic – if that’s your bag,  but s
cratch the surface to find the local culture, stories and history and there’s some pretty interesting stuff to capture with a camera. 


In this blog I’ll guide you around some of the sights.

What would YOU chose to capture on an English language class photography trip?

Comment below!  

 

 

Wandering around this charming town is about as close to stepping back in time to the 16th century as possible. The whitewashed, red-tiled buildings are well preserved, such as the Town House, where witches were tried and held while awaiting execution.

Visit Scotland Website

English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife
English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife
Traditionally beautiful, Culross, Fife
Photo credit: Blue Noun

Community Action and Activism

Don’t miss visiting Culross jetty!

In a wonderful local initiative it is being rebuilt stone by stone: signage invites all who walk on it to drop a single stone when they visit.

Over the few years that we’ve been visiting Culross, it has emerged out of the sea once more.

It’s a powerful metaphor and example of what a community united can achieve. 

Culross Jetty, with post-production colour manipulation (Lunapics)
Photo credit: Blue Noun
English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife

Traditionally Scenic?

Culross is a spectacular place to view a sunset.

Look down the River Forth at an industrial scene: The (disused) Longannet Power Station was the last coal-fired power station in Scotland.


In its heyday, Longannet was the largest coal-fired station in Europe.

 

It was also one of the most polluting in the UK, with tonnes of ash produces daily.

What didn’t hit the atmosphere was scraped up and piled on a local island, changing the landscape (and ecosystem) there completely.

 
English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife

English Language Class Photography Trip – Other Highlights

You don’t miss a visit to the Red Lion pub, some of the best – and most generous – pub food.
 
Culross Pottery and Gallery cram an amazing selection of quality Scottish artwork (originals and prints) and jewellery into an impossibly small space: it’s a real treasure trove of fabulous – but be warned, it’s hard to leave empty-handed!
 

Uneasy Bedfellows 

The picturesque town also looks across the water at Grangemouth’s huge Petroineos Oil Refinery, which is one of the UK’s largest manufacturing sites.

 

The Petroineos Oil Refinery is Scotland’s only crude oil refinery (where the bulk of fuel used in Scotland is produced) and where an array of petrochemical plants twinkle quite prettily in the evening light.
 

In contrast to the little fishing town of Culross, Ineos has an annual turnover of £46 billion and is chaired by Britain’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

FIY, Ineos actively champion fracking in England and Wales (currently on hold in Scotland, thanks to Scotland’s largest political party, the SNP).
English Language Class Photography Trip Culross Fife
Grangemouth Oil Refinery from Ben Shee,
Post-production editing (Lunapics)
Photo credit: Blue Noun

Other Things to Capture on Film

16th century Culross is unusually preserved and has old-world charm in spades.

Within its streets you may forget that the recent story of the River Forth is an industrial one: the Forth Rail Bridge spans the river mouth at Edinburgh in glorious testament to the ingenuity of engineering and industrial ironwork.

 

Unfortunately, the river and its shores are seriously polluted by contemporary industry.
 

A quarter of the population of Scotland lives by the shores of the Forth.

Levels of some harmful chemicals are high and, due to the plastic industry around the Forth, the ecosystem is menaced by millions of tiny plastic beads (cutely named ‘nurdles’) spilling into waterways and spreading across the beaches and mudflats to be ingested by molluscs, sea birds and estuary wildlife.

 

 

“Last April a young humped backed whale was spotted in the Forth Estuary. Unknown to all who joyously glimpsed it, it had already been entangled in fishing ropes for some weeks, which ultimately caused it infection and death.”

Ruth, 2020

“This is a Funny Kind of Tourism!”

Exactly, we’re an alternative English language school. 

Join us on an English language class photography trip and we’ll try to show you the real places.

Our clients are artists and designers and want to learn about the culture of contemporary Scotland – not the silly postcard version trotted out for tourists unwilling to see deeper than the surface.

 

We don’t believe that it will make you love a place any less. Knowledge is enriching. 
 
It’s a pleasure to visit Culross, dip into the 17th century and see the best of what Scottish tourism can offer visitors in terms of the built environment, landscape, art and hospitality.
 
At Blue Noun, we believe now is the time to address the pollution of the Forth with strict new laws controlling shipping and handling of plastics for industry, increased industry inspections (with serious financial penalties for breaches of health and safety, security and environmental standards) and a nationwide reduction of single-use plastic (domestic rubbish easily blows into waterways – even after it has been placed in the right recycling bin).
 
Without urgent action, what we offer our tourists may still retain the charm of a film set and be nostalgic for a romanticised past, but it criminally disregards contemporary Scotland and offers the poorest of futures.
 

Thank you for reading our blog. I hope we have pointed out a few things of cultural interest in Culross – some things that might make you want to pick up a camera – and use it as a tool for making art in some way.  

What do you think? If you were on one of our English language school photography trips – which subject you like to work with?

Let us know in the comments!

 
text Perthshire Open Studios blog

Want to read more about Culross? We recommend the Visit Scotland website here.

A quick note from the author

We began the Blue Noun blog back in 2019, when we called ourselves a ‘language school’ (we now call ourselves a language hub) and we were building up our business completely from scratch.

Our first few months were spent making friends in the community, researching homestay hosts for our language guests and finding out about all the good local places and activities to take our language learning guests.

In 2021 we moved the Blue Noun website to a different platform. We had the option of deleting these old blogs – they are very different form our current, more pedagogic style of posting, but I think they are quite charming to see how our young business grew, turning from a language school run by an artist – into a language hub which really began to focus on coaching artists in English by immersing them in creative environments.