Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A blustery Wednesday walk

On a whim I thought it would be good to walk the 4.5 miles back from North Berwick this morning. Mr Gaucho had to go to NB on a minor mission, and that provided a perfect opportunity for Tilly and me to be dropped off near the Law and put our best feet forward in the direction of home.

It was windy, cold and grey, spits and spots of rain in the air, and over to the west I could see the wet weather heading our way.  But we were not deterred. We set off to follow the John Muir Way, which is a good path with great views.

There is a short stretch along a lane and the hedge on the right hand side was predominantly ash. The original young trees must have been trained in a similar way to the pleaching of fruit trees, because all the upright trunks you can see in the photo below are coming from one plant, branching out from two horizontal branches, a bit like a candelabra.  It is a different technique from the traditional laying down of a new hedge but equally effective.
Two fields away to the west there is the remains of a 17th century windmill.  By 1799 it became a dovecot, or a doocot as they call them here.
Further on we walked along a hedgerow which is exclusively hawthorn.  It will be a picture in May when the blossom is out, but just now the only sign of new life are tiny red buds, barely visible amongst the cadmium-yellow lichen.
 And then into the woods, out of the wind and rain, and amongst the snowdrops.
By the time we emerged from the woods the rain had cleared through and blown out to sea.  The view across the fields to the south to the Lammermuirs was clear and above there was a skylark. What an optimistic little bird it is!  Singing away about thirty feet above ground.  It was right to be positive, because within about ten minutes Tilly and I were on the home-straight, walking in bright sunshine.  To hear what the skylark has to say go here, the BBC Tweet of the Day website, click on play and shut your eyes.  Instant summer.

Monday, 17 February 2014

A bonus day

Scottish children had half term last week.  However for reasons best understood by the education folk, teachers have an in-service training day always arranged for the Monday of the week following half term, so the children get an extra day's holiday.  A bonus for pupils but it is an ill-thought-out arrangement because of the difficulties created for working mothers.  They are the ones who are inconvenienced the most because they have to find an extra day of child care. More money from their salary and more searching around for someone to help out.  Why on earth the teachers cannot do their quota of 5 in-service days a year during half term or the long school holidays beats me.  They are not exactly short on holiday during the course of a year.

So today is an extra day for the crew next door and amid much whingeing and whining I managed to prize them away from gadgets with screens and get them out of the house and down to the beach in North Berwick.  There is a coastal path which makes life a bit more interesting, especially with steep drops to rocks below, and children never want to listen to warnings about walking sensibly, but, amazingly, we all survived and they enjoyed themselves.  They marked out a rectangle on the beach for a game of rugby, 
had a half time break for hot chocolate and a snack 
and then some hide and seek amongst rocks followed by the second half of the rugby match.  

There were some good bits and pieces for me to photograph.  The cormorants on the rocks weren't interested in the rugby, they were too busy looking across the Firth of Forth to Pittenweem on the far side.  
On a dull day the yellow of lichen on the rocks brightened things up a bit.
And best of all I have finally found something to concentrate my efforts on for the second half of the term at Leith School of Art.  I have dragged a broken lobster pot home.  I will take it into the school next Thursday and hopefully explore all it's twists and turns during the course of the next few weeks.  That journey should start with an interesting interlude on the bus down Leith Walk and along to the school!  

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Just for the record

I heard the first skylark of the year.  It was hovering low over the salt marshes behind the beach at Belhaven.  Bliss, and a wonderful way to start the week.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A real winter treat

One of our routes into North Berwick is currently a favourite with me.  There is steep twisty bit where the road turns sharply to the left.  Just before it becomes dark and shady there are carpets of snowdrops on either side of the road.  They are just so delicious to see and definitely enough to make my heart sing.  I keep thinking about all the poor souls in the south and south west of England, battling with such appalling weather and the devastation of their homes.  Over the past few weeks, in this little corner of south east Scotland, we have come off remarkably lightly, weatherwise, but down south it just seems to go from bad to worse.  So these snowdrops are for those dealing with all the ghastliness.
And here is this evening's sunset, because the colours through the bare trees were so amazing.

Monday, 10 February 2014

On top of the world

Tilly and I have had a great new walk today.  It's a route I have wanted to explore for a while and as the sun was shining this afternoon, and Tilly was dropping hints, we put our best feet forward.  

I drove to the small village of Athelstaneford, which is little more than a string of cottages along the main street.  It has a very good primary school, a church, a doocot and is reputed to be the home of the Saltire, the Scottish flag.  I parked the car and we set off down a grassy path between cottages and then began the climb up to the track which runs westward along the ridge towards the Garleton Hills.  There is an old ruin along the route which looks impressive from down below.  Close up it is a sad place and now that I have read up a little about it, I am sorry that it is not being cared for in any way at all.  It is Barnes Castle built in 1587 but now a wreck, housing some tatty old bits of agricultural machinery.
The building certainly has incredible views across East Lothian, the Firth of Forth to Fife in the north.  There's the landmark lumps of rock in the area, North Berwick Law, the Bass Rock and Traprain Law to the east, and all along the Lammermuir Hills as they head inland towards the Pentlands.

Having taken in the wonderful panorama we turned and walked back into the village and then I noticed the telephone box near the car.  It was a lovely surprise - look ....
Isn't that brilliant!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Another good walk

The weekend starts here!
Well, mine has!  That's my shadow taking in the wonderful view.  Tilly and I had a blissful walk this afternoon.  We and six others had the whole beach to ourselves.  Magic! 

This picture looks west towards North Berwick and the Bass Rock,
and this one looks back the other way in an easterly direction.
We walked around the headland and sat on a sandstone bench which looks out to sea and across the bay to Dunbar and Belhaven Beach.  It is a place to sit, ponder and dream.  The curlews were calling and an impressive selection of seabirds were busy on the rocks below.
The final stretch of our walk today was along a very different beach.  I always enjoy the contrast between the vast expanse of sand of Ravensheugh and this other beach which is rocky, full of shells and tree-lined

The daylight hours are definitely lengthening now.  As I write it is 16.45 and the light is still good and the sky is duck-egg blue.  A good start to the weekend!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A sunny Sunday walk

I promise I am not gloating because my heart goes out to those parts of Britain where the weather is diabolical this weekend, but we have had a beautiful day today.  Lots of sunshine and as I write, a delicate and pretty sunset.

Tilly and I went to Ravensheugh Sands today.  It is my favourite beach.  It was looking magnificent and the waves were wonderful.  I can't resist them so I am sorry but there are more photos of waves.  But, hey, this is the running wave!

There are some great rock formations around the small headland at the eastern end of the beach. There is some wonderful colour in the rocks and also in the lichens.  I pulled a little cube of red out of the rock face below, at the same time very conscious of the fact it had been there for millions of years.  I felt like a bit of a vandal.  The colour is intense and I want to see if I can draw with it, without tearing the paper to shreds!
There is a handsome steading building by the parking area for Tyninghame Links and Ravensheugh beach.  It has been for sale for years and is slowly sinking into sad disrepair.  The fabric of the building is red sandstone, which has been used a lot throughout farms buildings and villages in this part of the world.  It is a glorious colour and glows warmly in the sunshine. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

1 February 2014

The first day of February and already there are minuscule but perceptible changes in the length of the daylight hours, and this morning the sun had a little warmth in it at last.  Tilly and I went for a walk on Belhaven Beach.  It was beautiful, as always.  The tide was low just after nine o'clock and the fine weather had called to a number of dog walkers, parents with young children and about half a dozen surfers to come and enjoy the vast expanse of sand and the magnificent waves.  

This is where Biel Water runs out into the sea.
The photo above isn't looking sharp because it's water and not sky!  Very painterly and rather lovely I thought!  However the one below is the sky but taken by mistake!  My new camera takes photos all by itself!  If I touch the viewing screen it takes a snap!  So far they have all been deleted but I quite liked this one.