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Showing posts from September, 2013

A tale of the unexpected

I had a big jug of chicken stock in the fridge and decided to make a minestrone for supper over the weekend.  We love big soupy suppers.  You can pile lots of bits and pieces into them without the recipe losing too much of its integrity!  They can lean in the general direction of all sorts of places - Thailand, the American North Eastern seaboard or the deep South amongst others, and of course Italy.  A generous grating of Parmesan, a drizzle of good olive oil and some fresh basil or pesto on top and you are away.  I like to put shredded cabbage in my minestrones and I noticed recently that the farm shop just outside the village has started PYO veg.  Just the ticket.

We had a lovely family walk with the dogs on Belhaven Beach.  It was warm and sunny and, as always, we came back with all sorts of bits and pieces in our pockets, most of which ended up on my ever-increasing pile of shells, rocks and driftwood.  

On our way back from the beach our young weekend guest and I dropped in to the…

Little Sparta

Last week we enjoyed the wonderful company of my cousin from South Devon.  It's always so good to see her and our time together is always happily spent.

When you are in the company of a kindred spirit it is an excellent incentive to go and do things that perhaps we don't get round to doing at any other time.  For many years I have been meaning to visit Little Sparta, an inspirational and unusual garden in Lanarkshire.  My cousin's visit provided the perfect opportunity to make the effort and go.  

To reach Little Sparta, just outside Dunsyre, we drove first from East Linton to West Linton which sits just inside the Borders.  It is a place with a lot of history and some interesting characters.  In the churchyard we saw a monumental headstone to a local poet Robert Sanderson (1836-1902).   It is not easy to find much of his poetry but I have excavated this little extract from a series of verses he wrote in dedication to the River Lyne which runs through the village.


Here where …

A new challenge

I have embarked on a new journey in life - as a part-time art student.  It's a real challenge for me but one which, I think, will allow me to dig around and find out how deep my ability to draw and paint really goes.  I am attending a one day a week painting and drawing class at the Leith School of Art.  We are blessed with two outstanding tutors and currently they have us spending time in Port Seton.  We were there last week and will visit again this Thursday and once more the week after.  

Port Seton is a fishing community along the Firth of Forth coastline, east of Edinburgh.  It is a sprawling village, dominated by the now decommissioned power station at Cockenzie.  The two chimneys from the plant dominate the skyline from miles around.  It is not a beautiful building by any stretch of the imagination but the towering chimneys have a curious grace and certainly a presence which adds a very significant dimension to almost any drawing you might undertake. The power station draws …

Rainbow

Look what I found on one of the kitchen cupboard doors yesterday morning.
If there is a pot of gold lurking around nearby, it's mine!

Ling and sprouts

I took the above photograph on our walk this afternoon.  You can see the ever present North Berwick Law in the background.  It would not be an East Lothian landscape without it!  In the foreground is small patch of heather.  Now is its time and the Scottish hills, moors and mountains are softly purple with ling.  I just recalled that ling is another name for heather and I rather like it.  Ling. Wikipedia has a very good entry for Calluna vulgaris (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calluna).  It's a plant with an interesting history and, in my opinion, produces the best flavoured honey in the world.  Just a whiff from the honey pot and I am transported to the moors.  Delicious.  

We walked past a huge field of young Brussel sprouts.  They are also beautiful plants and quite statuesque.   Tiny young sprouts are beginning to form on the stems, sweet and nutty.  

Sunny September Sunday

It is a gloriously sunny morning.  I have just had a wander in the vegetable garden and it was a very enjoyable interlude, lovely warm sunshine, a washed clear blue sky and a rewarding haul.
It's amazing what goes on when you turn your back for a few windy, grey days. Vegetables are a thing of beauty as well as diverse and delicious flavour.  I can't wait to tuck into this lot!  Some of them will accompany a joint of pork I have put in the oven, to slow roast with fennel seeds and lemon, which should be wonderful by this evening.

It's low tide at the moment so we are off to the beach.

Late summer colour

The weather has definitely changed today!   It's pretty miserable outside but the garden will be welcoming the rain.  Everything is so dry, even the leaves on trees are drooping which I don't think I have ever seen before.  In the fields around here the farmers are harvesting like mad, trying to get everything in before the weekend because the forecast is not good.  

I have tried to keep up with the sweet peas in the garden.  They have been blooming for weeks now and I have lost count of how many heavenly smelling bunches I have picked.  We have had some strong winds over the last week so I have had to put some extra stakes in the ground to stop the cloud of colour from blowing over.  So far so good.
Two or three sturdy sunflower plants have sprung up in the garden, sewn by the birds taking seeds from the feeders earlier in the year.  They have grown in random places but this one chose to grow next to the sweet peas.
I have been blackberrying again and today made some jelly.  Two…

Turning heads

Look at these dancing girls!  
It's been blowing a gale for the last couple of days and today I drove past this lovely row of sunflowers and as the wind was whipping across their field they looked like a troupe of dancers, heads being thrown back and forth, up and down.  They couldn't keep still for two seconds!