Sunday, 27 April 2014

The treasures of Athelstaneford

I made my first visit to Athelstaneford's Book Nook yesterday.  I took some books along and came away with one which I am looking forward to reading, once I have finished Donna Tartt's 'The Goldfinch'.  
Every time I drive through Athelstaneford I make a mental note to visit the little building, Hepburn's Doocot, which sits behind the church, housing an exhibition about the Saltire, the Scottish flag.  Having dropped off my books I went to see what goes on in the doocot!  

We have misty grey days at the moment but one of my favourite line of trees was just visible in the gloaming, viewed from the back wall of the churchyard.
To enter the Hepburn Doocot you have to bend in half to get through a tiny door.  
Once inside there was a little gem of an exhibition.  
Press a button and a rich deep Scots voice recounts a local battle which took place in 832 AD.  
The day before the battle, the story goes, there was a cross of white cloud set against a blue sky (without the trickery of aircraft vapour trails in those days) which the Picts saw as a good omen. One thing led to another (read all about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athelstanefordand we now have the Saltire as Scotland's flag


Saturday, 26 April 2014

Behold ….

…. the haar.

Obliterated is the immediate view, the Bass Rock beyond, the Kingdom of Fife on the far side of the Firth of Forth, all removed from sight by the sea fret, the fog, the local phenomena known as the haar.  It can hang around for days.  A few minutes after taking this photograph the visibility was further reduced as the haar closed in.  In Edinburgh I have watched it rolling in from the river, moving up Dundas Street and encroaching like something evil in a horror film, all-enveloping, a real wet blanket.  Travel a mile or two south and the sun is shining and the sky is blue.

Yesterday Tilly and I walked along Belhaven Beach.  The waves crashed noisily on the sand and four surfers frolicked about in the cold grey North Sea.  By the time we got back to the car we were very wet and soggy, and when I took my specs off I realised I had been peering through a fine layer of mist which had accumulated on the lenses.  It was not a pleasant walk for me but Tilly enjoyed it, and it was her outing so that was fine!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Beach walk

We had a great start to our day, walking on my favourite beach this morning.  Easter holidays have started and a few families were there too, enjoying the sunshine, bracing wind, and the terrific expanse of beach (that's someone having a gallop along the water's edge).
 Fabulous waves of course!
And I love the random things people make on beaches!  Someone must have spent their Sunday creating this structure!  Maybe they threw a cover over it and made a tent for the day.   

Friday, 11 April 2014

Friday walk

Tilly and I had a good walk this morning.  We got a lift to the other side of the village and walked home.  The skylarks endless trilling and twittering high above was constant from start to finish!  A summery sound to accompany us as we walked along in the sunshine.  

Just outside the village there is a pre-historic standing stone in the middle of a field at Pencraig Brae.  This photo isn't of the best quality.  I was using my old camera which has a mental blockage about zooming in on a subject.  Nevertheless I rather liked the presence of the very old and the present day in one photo.  I hope you can see the hazy outline of modern technology in the background, the huge sails of a few wind turbines, and the ancient standing stone in the foreground.  
As well as the skylarks we saw fieldfares, yellowhammers, blackcaps and a couple of hares! A good start to the weekend!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A walk in the woods

When we were in Devon a couple of years ago I found a few wild garlic plants, lying by the roadside - as you do, and I brought them home and planted them in a damp, shady spot in the garden.  They reappeared last Spring and I am delighted to see them again this year, and even better, some tiny seedlings growing alongside.  There is not enough to pick to cook with yet, maybe next year.  However, in Pressmennan Wood, across the valley from us, there is masses of wild garlic, so Tilly and I went for a wander yesterday, complete with carrier bag for a pungent green harvest!

We took a good circular route starting along a track which cuts through the middle of the wood.  There was no-one else around.  The wood was peaceful and the birdsong was wonderful.
The leaves are not on the trees yet so I could see down the steep slope to a small lake below.  
There is a path which turns left, off the track, and winds its way down to run alongside the lake. 
Across the lake an old fallen foak tree languishes in the water.
Before going home I picked a big bag of wild garlic leaves which has now been turned into some delicious pesto, which we enjoyed with tagliatelli last night, and some wild garlic soup for lunch tomorrow!  It was an enjoyable and productive afternoon!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Bird song

The dawn chorus has really kicked off recently.  It's lovely to wake up to all that joy going on outside, throughout the garden and wood.  

We were in an Edinburgh cafe last Saturday afternoon and this was on the wall.  I hope you can read the wording.  I thought it was rather apt for the time of year!

Hidden Door

Edinburgh is currently hosting a brief and slightly off-the-wall arts festival.  Hidden Door is taking place in a series of vaults along Market Street, just along from the back entrance into Waverley Station.  These are unused cavernous areas, hidden behind arched doorways, which have been transformed for nine days into exhibition and performance spaces.  
There's some fairly whacky stuff!  An explosion of everyday bits of plastic - just hanging around, 
a small selection of items which formed an exhibit covering the back wall of one vault,
and some cybernetic sunflowers, which responded to torches being shone in their faces, and they turned their heads to follow the light!  Quite cute actually!   That's probably not a description their creators would enjoy but there was something rather endearing about them, sitting there in pitch black until someone came along to give them some attention!

One of my tutors at Leith School of Art is part of the team which put the festival together and he is exhibiting some of his work in this vault.
The street is on a hill.  As the road rises up, going westwards in the direction of the Castle, the ceiling height in the vaults diminishes.  The larger vaults were housing large pieces of work like this one,
 with a selection of smaller pieces on the side walls.
 There are some great wall paintings too.

 And I rather liked some of the walls just as they are!  
One of the vaults is particularly damp.  
One artist specifically requested it so that he could use some of the dripping water percolating through the back wall to create an exhibit!
There is even a cinema showing an entertaining, quirky cartoon which children were thoroughly enjoying!
The last two or three vaults at the top of the street were really quite shallow and claustrophobic!
All the daytime events are free and then in the evening there are ticketed events with live music and all sorts of fun and games, no doubt!