Sunday, 17 September 2017

Little miracles

By my very approximate estimation, Ted's summer playmates, the swallows, will be approaching the Pyrenees by now.  I think they left here about five days ago, embarking on their miraculous journey to South Africa.  Covering about 200 miles a day, they fly through western France, across the Pyrenees, down eastern Spain into Morocco, and then across the Sahara to reach their final destination, where they will overwinter in the sunshine, before coming all the way back again.  Their departure leaves me in no doubt that summer is over and the year is moving on.  But Ted and I will be looking out for them again in the spring, and frankly we can't wait for their return.  Everything about a swallow is joyous.

On 5 September they were beginning to gather along wires and amongst small trees across the golf course.  By the middle of last week, the skies were empty where previously they had been habitually swooping and soaring.
By contrast, starlings are now arriving here from Northern Europe, to spend their winter in warmer climes!  They will be kicking around until about March next year, minding the shop until the swallows return.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Saturday evening stroll .....

which turned into a sprint home!

In the vanishing daylight, once the golfers have all gone away, I can take the dogs out on to the neighbouring 9 hole golf course.  The coast is clear.  This evening there was an amazing sunset, which distracted me from the looming rain storm fast approaching from the north!  We had to make a very hasty retreat, soaked, but with one or two photos to remind me of the range of beautiful colours in the sky!

Monday, 11 September 2017

A changing landscape

It is almost mid-September and the countryside is looking very different from only one month ago.  The cereal crops are being harvested and the fields are criss-crossed with tractor tracks, carving through the fine lines drilled with the crop earlier in the year.  Tilly is not keen on walking in newly cut fields.  The stubble is prickly and uncomfortable for her, so she trots along the track made by one giant tractor tyre and I walk along the other.  Ted isn't bothered either way!

The neighbouring field of barley was still in the process of being cut when I went to photograph the straw megaliths, which had been left across the landscape.  
In the far distance you can see the three Forth bridges, 
and behind the combine harvester, Arthur's Seat looms.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Hedgerow berries

This is a wonderful time of year for walking along the hedgerows.  They are laden with glorious berries.  Happy days for the birds, and happy days for those of us who love to forage.
This is a great year for blackberries.  The unwelcome amount of rain which fell almost every day in August has redeemed itself (slightly), by translating into the biggest and juiciest blackberries I have ever seen.  And there are masses of them.  What I don't understand is why they are still on the bushes.  Could it be that it is just easier to reach for a punnet of berries in Tesco than to go out with a bowl and pick your own?  That's a bit of a sign of the times.  A very sad sign.  What happened to the family-sized blackberry and apple crumble for pudding?  Blackberries picked in the sunshine from a hedgerow bordering a newly harvested field, paired with some cooking apples from a neighbour's apple tree.  What could be better?
There are also other good things in the hedgerow at the moment.  Beautiful red cob nuts, and deliciously fragrant honeysuckle.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Queensferry Crossing

I remember crossing over the Firth of Forth on the brand new Forth Road Bridge, on the day it opened on 4 September 1964.  We were on holiday, staying with family in Edinburgh.  And now, fifty three years later, to the day, the Queen has opened the ethereally beautiful Queensferry Crossing, which spans the river a short distance upstream from the old road bridge.

The new bridge has set a number of records already,  One staggering statistic is that the length of cabling used to support the span of the bridge would very nearly stretch all the way round the world.  The bridge has taken six years to complete, and amazingly came in under budget.  Scotland is not generally known for its under budget projects - the Scottish Parliament building and also the Edinburgh trams spring to mind!!!  Last July I took a few photographs of work in progress.
The finished item really is a thing of beauty.  The white cabling gives a ghostly appearance, and on a bright day, in the early morning sun, I can see the bridge in the far distance, when I am out walking with the dogs.  

Friday, 1 September 2017


There are two little Victoria plum trees along the drive.  One has had a very generous crop and the other one hasn't done badly.  We've had stewed plums, I've got more in the fridge ready to make a Chinese style plum sauce, and of course, there's jam.  

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Flights of fancy

When I was a young child, I thought the feathered seeds of rosebay willow herb, drifting along on the late summer breeze, were fairies.  
 It still seems a reasonable assumption to me.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Little Shop of Colours

To be perfectly honest, there is not a huge amount that draws me to London these days.  Living in Scotland spoils us in terms of living without hoards of people, traffic and life moving at high speed. Been there, done that.  But this morning I have just been listening to a delightful programme on Radio 4, Little Shop of Colours, which makes me want to get on the next train going south, to visit a little art supplies shop, close to the British Museum.
L. Cornelissen & Son has been selling colour in various forms (oil paint, oil pastels, acrylics, chalks, powdered pigments) with a multitude of fabulous names (Lapis Lazuli, Rose Madder, Naples Yellow, Mars Violet Deep, Potters Pink, Egyptian Blue, Antwerp Blue, Caput Mortuum), to artists since the 19th century.  The shop sounds amazing, and as I LOVE colour, I think a visit has to be a bit of a priority now.  Good opportunity to catch up with some old friends too, and that can't be a bad thing either!