Saturday, 25 January 2014

Saturday, 25 January - Burns Night

It was a fine start to Burns Night.  The sky was clear and the palest of blues, and then, before I knew it, the rain was coming down in stair rods.  Nevertheless we ventured out, driving through huge puddles of water along the back roads to Haddington.  The Farmers' Market was a complete washout with few customers.  The blue and white striped tenting over each stall was sagging, heavy with bucket loads of water gathering, ready to catch out unsuspecting souls!  

The rain was still pouring down by the time we got home again.  It really was a dreadful morning, but nothing compared to the rainwater dominating the lives of those on the Somerset Levels.  I have a friend living near Burrowbridge and I must contact her to make sure she is OK.  The flood management system they have in that part of the world means that flood water is released into the fields alongside her house. She can go to bed at night looking out across green pastures and wake up in the morning with a lakeside view.

By about 3.30 this afternoon the rain had stopped and Tilly was looking optimistic.  I put my walking boots on and she knew she was in business.  We set off down the drive.  In the big field on the right hand side I saw four deer grazing peacefully.  There are some young self-sown broad bean plants in that field and they will be providing some juicy treats for the deer.  Tilly and I turned off left to walk around another field.  A hare ran across in front of us and then disappeared out of sight.  The field was much muddier than yesterday.  The rain had filled the hollows between old furrows and the going was very sticky.  Then suddenly, from just a few feet away - about a lead's length - the hare shot up and off at a hundred miles an hour!  Tilly didn't know what to do with herself.  The excitement!  Just as well she was on her lead otherwise she would have given it a good run for its money.  The hare would have won the race.  He was a big beast and very handsome indeed.

On the far side of the field, by the Howden Burn, there is an old crab apple tree.  If you are a regular visitor to the running wave you may remember this frothy blossom from last May. (http://therunningwave.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/corrugated-countryside.html)
Well now the tree looks like this, with just a few little yellow apples remaining from last Autumn's crop. 
When Tilly and I walked down the drive yesterday afternoon, there was no sign of any snowdrops in some of the usual places.  So imagine my surprise, and delight, to see these today!  
There's plenty more to come throughout the wood, but for now these few make my heart sing! Robert Burns would have enjoyed them too, on his birthday.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Signs of life

Tilly and I just walked home from the village.  Despite a forecast for rain the sun was shining, and we had a very enjoyable walk which took us just over an hour.

It was very wet underfoot.  Muddy and mucky.  Despite the fact the countryside is largely still lying dormant I found a few bits to pick.  Some hawthorn twigs with promising little wine-coloured buds and, unexpectedly, eucalyptus. On the south side of the wood there is a plantation of rather randomly chosen trees, including two gum trees.  They look totally out of place and whilst I am not keen on seeing the species growing in the UK because I don't think they belong here, I rather like these two trees.  They bring a little of Australia to my neighbourhood and that makes me feel less remote from my wee Australian princess.   I also picked up some dead ash twigs which I found amongst the grass.  They had some lime green lichen on them which is vivid and beautiful.
It will be some weeks, or even two or three months, before the haze of green appears on the trees and in the hedgerows.  Promise of Spring and new life, but at the end of my walk, on the edge of a field, I found these.  
Perfection!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

A study in grey

I took the dogs to Belhaven Beach on Friday morning.  When we left home the sky was an impenetrable grey and it didn't look as though it was going to lift so, stupidly, I chose not to take my camera with me.  How many times have I done that and regretted it?  I have lost count, but enough times to have learnt the lesson - though clearly not!  I cannot, therefore, show you anything of yesterday's walk, which is a shame because behind me there was a brief but beautiful rift in the clouds and a weak gleam of winter sunshine lit up the sky and brought a sheen to the wet sand.  It would have been a good photograph.  

When we arrived it was low tide.  The beach was vast, a sea mist sitting on top of the waves as they ran over the sand.  They were now innocent ripples, all that remained of the massive mountains of water which were gathering and breaking further out to sea.  The waves were huge.  They were North Sea grey, powerful and menacing.  Amazingly there was a sole surfer.  An inexperienced soul who just didn't seem to have the hang of catching a wave because he missed every one.  

Tilly, the camera and I went back this morning to see if the sea was still churning.  The waves were crashing in, but the light was not in the sky today.  It was grey, raining and cold.  However there were plenty of surfers, a few horses and riders galloping the long stretch of beach, and a healthy quota of dog walkers.  
There must be an attraction to getting in amongst these salty, icy cold walls of water but I can't see it personally.  Tootling about at its lacy edges is enough for me,
even better with my camera in my hand.  Lesson learnt now.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Let's go fly a kite!

We have had a really beautiful day today, sunshine, some wind but we are getting used to that, blue sky and, bonus, the washing dried in double-quick time.  By comparison the weather reports from the south coast, particularly Dorset, are dire.  Wild seas and the beaches are dangerous places to be.  

This is not gloating or anything but North Berwick's east beach today was lovely.  Bass Rock sat and basked in the January sunshine.  There were a few dog walkers on the beach and a mum with her two little girls.  Their bright pink and red coats reflected in the wet sand and they were running around squealing with delight as their kite flitted back and forth in the sky.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sunday afternoon

We have thoroughly enjoyed a visit today from a friend who lives in Edinburgh.  She's a very busy girl and so we were doubly delighted to have her here for lunch before she and I went for a walk on the beach and around the headland near Tyninghame.  

Our friend is a very talented artist and I know she loves colour so I couldn't resist trotting out this grated veggie salad with HFW's Asian slaw dressing.  The candy stripe beetroot is enough to knock your socks off, especially sitting next to the orange of a grated carrot.  
It's been a fine day today.  This is across to the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth.  The sea was looking remarkably peaceful after a week of whipped up white horses and crashing waves.
Further round the headland, as the late blast of sunlight began to fade, the skies were wonderful 

with a beautiful light on the sea, which was fast approaching high tide as we stepped back into the wood on the way back to the car.

Friday, 3 January 2014

A walk on the wild side

I had a prescription to collect from the surgery this afternoon so I thought I would walk into the village with Tilly.  It's a five minute drive but on foot it takes about 45 minutes.  However, the wind was so strong and it was wet and heavy going underfoot, that I was still walking an hour later!  

On the way we pass a marshy area and today the wind was whooshing through last year's desiccated reeds and rushes.  You can just see their tops being held in a horizontal position by the blast, otherwise I'm afraid the photo doesn't give a real sense of the buffeting they were getting.
A little further on and we put up a large gaggle of geese who were spending the afternoon in a field away to our right.
 That's the top of Traprain Law in the background.  
We certainly blew the cobwebs away and hopefully disposed of a few calories too.  I have acquired rather too many of those over the last week.  More walking is required and I am sure Tilly won't be complaining.