Saturday, 29 June 2013

A brief round-up

Wimbledon takes priority over these two weeks of the year.  My Aunty Mary always used to say that once Wimbledon was over it was downhill all the way to Christmas!  Sorry about mentioning that word because it becomes all the more obvious that quite shortly, in September, John Lewis will be getting out the tree decorations, twinkling lights and tinsel again.  Oh dear.  I think I might start this post again.

So Wimbledon, half way through, has been pretty exciting and as I write Laura Robson is through to the quarter finals.  She looks like an impressive young lady to me, with all the right qualities for being a strong and successful player for the UK over the coming years.  

It's been a quiet week in between bouts of time spent in front of the tennis.  However here are a few images of my week.  

I have been enjoying the line of trees shown in the photograph below. They are on a new route I have been taking when driving into Edinburgh and I find the spacing between the little trees rather pleasing!
The dogs and I have been enjoying our beach walk at Belhaven.  It's a great place and excellent for beachcombing.  My pockets are always pebbles and shells I can't resist, and the collection of of driftwood in the garden is ever growing.
The family of greater spotted woodpeckers has been extremely busy this week.  I think there are two babies who are now the same size as their parents.  Here's one being fed by Papa.  They are constantly zooming around the garden between feeders, trees and often on the garden path, picking out the moss between the paving slabs to find grubs underneath.  
This morning I spent a couple of hours precariously perched on the north side of Traprain Law, studiously studying two small areas of grassland, as part of the survey team recording the effect of Exmoor ponies grazing on the Law.  
This might look like a rather uninteresting area of grass but within this quadrat there are a surprising number of plants and we poked and prodded this bit of ground for a good hour recording key bits of information!   It was a very steep site and there was a certain amount of grovelling around and grabbing on to tufts of grass to avoid a tumble down the hill, but it was good fun!
On the way home I took a progress shot of the potato field.  The plants have really filled out and stems now touch across the furrows.  The flowers have appeared too which means something is definitely going on underground!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Transitory artwork

There are artists who work in a very transitory way.  Andy Goldsworthy is one.  He creates some magical pieces of work using natural materials, leaves for example, to make beautiful sculptures and images which may only last for a few hours, or even minutes.  They are there just long enough to be witnessed before being swept away downstream or blown with the next gust of wind. These art works have a fragility and a beauty which, I think, set them apart from creations hewn from wood or stone, because they only remain either in a photograph, or more ethereal still, in memory.

The beach seems to bring out the artist in more than the likes of Andy Goldsworthy!  I think we start when we are very young.  Who hasn't built a sandcastle during a summer holiday? The next tide washes them away but not before the hours of digging, slopping around with wet sand and seawater for the moat and trawling the beach for seaweed and shells for decoration must generate some of childhood's happiest times.
Heavy sea swells and high tides bring in driftwood which is great for a beach bonfire and barbecue during the long summer evenings, weather permitting of course, or it can stir the Robinson Crusoe amongst some.
I have also found little gems abandoned on the sand.  Tiny masterpieces made with bits and bobs from the beach and pretty things growing amongst the dunes.



Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Books, books and more books!


I have just had the most brilliant time at the Borders Book Festival (http://www.bordersbookfestival.org), surrounded by hundreds of books and a fantastic team of people.  Although I was working in the bookshop which meant long hours (about 09.30 am - 11 pm) on my feet over four days, it was just such fun.  I've been rubbing shoulders with the likes of Neil Oliver, Joanna Lumley, Tom Conti, Jim Naughtie, Hilary Mantel, Kirsty Waugh, Lauren Child, Sally Magnusson ..... have I impressed you yet?!

The Festival tenting was set up in the grounds of Harmony House which is a National Trust property in Melrose.  The town is delightful and the countryside around it creates a wonderful backdrop in every direction.  
 The marquee below housed the bookshop, box office and cafe bar.
This is another of the four marquees used for the event.  It is hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for a summer book festival!
There was a peaceful walk around the perimeter of the garden, behind all the tenting, which gave a little respite from the hubbub of the Festival.
Melrose Abbey was also a venue for some events.  It is just across the road from Harmony House.
The bookshop was well stocked with the latest titles by each visiting author.  There was also the announcement and presentation of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction which went to a young author from Malaysia, Tan Twan Eng, for his book 'The Garden of Evening Mists'.  He is a delightful man and absolutely over the moon to have won the £25,000 prize which was given by the Duke of Buccleuch.  He couldn't quite believe he had won, especially with Hilary Mantel in the final shortlist of six!
As each day progressed and authors came and went, we would move the books around to more prominent positions to promote their sales.  After their talks the authors would come and sign their books at the far end of the table from us.  It was amazing how easy it was to forget that someone like Joanna Lumley was sitting a few feet away!   The signing queues could be very long winded for some of the bigger names and after their initial arrival and the curiosity factor had been satisfied, I would get on with selling books and taking customers' hard earned cash and just forget that so and so was quietly getting on with their job too!

Joanna Lumley (obviously!) 
and Neil Oliver, accompanied by two of his children, during their book signing sessions.
On Friday we had several hundred primary schoolchildren visit the Festival and it was just brilliant to see them milling around in the bookshop and carefully  choosing their book.  I think sales were very good that day and the best bit was to see children with real books in their hands.  There has to be an assured future for the book.  It is looking a little bleak with the arrival of kindles, but we cannot let books fade away.  Kindles have their place but books have soul.
During our breaks we were able to go and get lunch and dinner in the house.  This involved a very enjoyable walk through part of the garden.  It was full of azaleas, their spicy sweet smell reminding me of my childhood garden in Hampshire.  How evocative smells can be! 
The whole garden at Harmony House is within beautiful sandstone walls.  High on the top in one corner was a little row of foxgloves!
 The flower beds were full of glorious colour
and old greenhouses sat alongside an immaculate vegetable garden.
 We had some rain but not enough to dampen spirits or warrant wellingtons.
The atmosphere over the whole period of the Festival was one of pure enjoyment, excitement, thrill, admiration and an overwhelming sense of positivity.  There were top class authors and celebrities, entertainers for children, a stall selling locally made ice cream (delicious - I paid that a few too many visits) all to keep everyone entertained and happy, and of course, books to buy.  
 All too soon it was over and the process of packing up began.  
The stage which had hosted the great and the good was reduced to just a pool of light and all the hand clapping, laughter and rapture was left floating around in the roof of the marquee. 
Everyone went home and then the Festival staff were able to enjoy the wrap party!  I got back to my B&B just before 1 am but I could still hear the younger ones enjoying themselves as I walked through the late night streets of Melrose.  They were finally able to relax and begin to recount various tales from a very successful four days. 
For my part, it was the biz!  I loved every minute of it and now can't wait until I am selling books once more at the Borders sister book festival, Lennoxlove, at the beginning of November. WAHOO!



Friday, 14 June 2013

Spud watch

Just a quick update on the burgeoning potato plants.  Here they are.
I am working at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose this weekend.  We are expecting 1,800 school children today ....  aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!

I've just noticed that this is my 100th post on therunningwave!  Writing this blog has completely changed the way I go about my day.  I am constantly on the lookout for photographs wherever I go and the words are always buzzing around in my head.  It's become a major part of my life and it's all good!  Thank you for visiting.  The number of page views is increasing and I do hope you will leave comments when you feel like it.  Feedback is always appreciated!

I am going for a stonking good breakfast now in my B&B, ready for a day surrounded by children, books, authors, beautiful surroundings and really lovely people to work with.  How lucky am I?

Monday, 10 June 2013

Another ordinary day

Saturday started off in the usual way and then turned into a day of surprise and absolute delight!  

I took the older grandchildren to meet up with my son and his girlfriend who were taking the two youngsters for a birthday rock climbing session on the other side of Edinburgh.  I drove home via Prestonpans and Port Seton.  The 3 Harbours Festival was still in full swing.  On my way through Prestonpans I saw a mural which has been painted on the end wall of a row of cottages which sit looking across the sea to the Kingdom of Fife.  It was a well executed mural so I stopped and walked back to photograph it.  
John Muir was an East Lothian born man who emigrated with his family to America when he was 11 and as an adult achieved amazing things.  He was an inspiring man and well worth reading about here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Muir .
Behind me, down on the beach, there was another mural which looked interesting so I gingerly clambered down some ancient steps and a rocky bit on to the sand to go and have a look.   This mural shows aspects of the local colliery in days gone by.
The mural continued around the corner, along the wall facing the sea. It is a little faded and weathered by all that the sea can throw at it, but perfectly visible and quite beautiful.  The murals were created by an Edinburgh artist called Andrew Crummy (http://www.smallandcrummy.co.uk). He has most recently worked on the much acclaimed Prestonpans Tapestry.  His website is worth exploring, he's a very talented chap!  The seawall mural, which you can see in more detail here http://www.prestoungrange.org/arts-festival/html/murals/muralstrail.html  depicts the town's industrial history and various aspects of local coal mining showing steam trains, horses and trams, mining pulleys, and images of men, women and even children hauling and carrying the coal.  
Work from the local potteries can be seen on this website http://www.prestoungrange.org/pottery/html/galleries.html 
Some of the pieces have inspired a few of the images portrayed in the mural.
Prestonpans has the most incredible history. The Wikipedia entry for the town gives a lot of information about this small coastal community (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prestonpans) which dates back to the 11th century.  During that time it has involved itself in salt panning, witchcraft, brewing, coal mining started by early 13th century monks, pottery and brickworks, soap works, fishing, harvesting oysters, and of course the Jacobite versus the Hanovarians Battle of Prestonpans in 1745.  These days it is bang up to date and became a Fairtrade Town 2011.

Moving on along the coast the 3 Harbours Festival was in full swing throughout Cockenzie and Port Seton.  The harbour in Port Seton was buzzing with activity.  Fishing boats were decked out with bunting and flags, jet skis were flying around on the other side of the seawall and visitors and seagulls were enjoying the bright sunshine and blue skies.  Magical!
So, as you can see, Saturday was far from being an ordinary day.  It was a voyage of discovery and visual delight!

Finally, this bumper sticker is for my son in Australia who checks in daily to therunningwave! Good morning J xx