Sunday, 31 May 2015


I have been choosing the photos for this blog over the last couple of days.  As I write now, I am listening to the current broadcast of Radio 3's lovely programme, Words and Music, which is exploring green (  Looking through my selection of photos, it occurs to me that green is the theme here too!  

I have been trying, for days, to get a good photo of a song thrush.  The recent rain has really encouraged them to come and peck around for the worms on the lawn, so I managed to get a snap of this beady eyed chap!
East Lothian's landscape is nothing if not varied.  The following five photographs are taken on the way to Haddington.  I take a slightly longer route than most, because I love this ridge, or maybe it's an escarpment?  Either way it is a strikingly different landscape, compared to the relatively rolling countryside around about it.
East Lothian has no less than 30 castles, in various states of ruin of course!  The one in the foreground of this photo is the 16th century Garleton Castle, with the Hopetoun Monument in the background.  
I went into Edinburgh on Friday, and here is one of the reasons why I love the city so much. The next two photos are taken a five minute walk from John Lewis!
and here is a lovely tangle of alexanders, on a steep, wooded slope above the Water of Leith, which runs about half a mile from Princes Street!  
This is the kind of city centre I like best!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A big day

Apart from being my granddaughter and grandson's eleventh birthday today, it is also the State Opening of Parliament.
I am not sure that just two ravens constitutes a parliament, but no matter.  There will be plenty of raucous crowing, calling and carrying on in the other place when the new intake is officially opened for business today.  Stand by - it could get quite interesting when all those reivers from north of the border get going.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Two new things

Yesterday morning, at 04.18, I was woken by the call of a cuckoo!!!!!!  This has never happened to me before, in my own home!  I was so astounded that I lay there with my mouth open in amazement and astonishment.  What excitement!  The call of the cuckoo is so evocative of springtime, so particular, and, sadly, increasingly rare.  When we were in Australia three years ago, my daughter told me she had heard the cuckoo here, in the wood, and I was slightly sceptical.  A misfiring pigeon can sometimes fool you into thinking you have heard half a cuck, without the ..oo. Last May there was no cuckoo.  And early this morning, from 4 am onwards there was no cuckoo - I was on alert - so maybe this one was just passing through.  But I am so happy that it did!  It made my day because I haven't heard one this year, and the sound always reminds me of my mother (for all the right reasons) and my childhood.

Another new bit of wildlife, and a new bug to me, was this little beauty, which I spied on the terrace this morning.   

It's colours are so amazing that although it is only 1 cm long, you couldn't very well miss it!  I can't identify it, so have emailed this photo to British Bugs, in the hope they can enlighten me!

PS : I've heard back from British Bugs who tell me that this little beastie is a jewel wasp.  Well named!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Out and about

A Sunday morning visit to another garden nursery, this one on the edge of the village.  It's set in an old walled garden.  In their heyday walled gardens, and their glasshouses, must have been fabulous places, providing an enormous range of vegetables, salads, fruit and flowers for the big house.  Now all that's left are the old espalier fruit trees, still growing with their arms outstretched along the garden walls.
I bought a Japanese Anemone, Wild Swan.  Lovely name, lovely plant.

This afternoon Tilly and I went for a beach walk, accompanied by my eldest grandson, who is always good company on a walk!  The lane leading up to the car park is lined on either side, for about quarter of a mile, with sweet cicely.  It creates a profusion of flowers and, here, next to the white of the May blossom, they are a frothy, delicious creamy colour.  
A walk with a boy has to involve climbing a tree.  He was up this beech tree in a matter of seconds,
 and then down again!
The tide was a long way out today, exposing all the rocks, and rock pools.  Lots to see in those!
We walked round the headland on to the other beach.  There's a multitude of different types of rock along this beach.  We were looking for fossils in the rocks.  We didn't find anything specific but there were some interesting rock forms.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Bird fair

I went to Scotland's Big Nature Festival today, also known as the Scottish Bird Fair.  It was held in East Lothian this year, just outside Musselburgh.  

You could be forgiven for thinking that this buzzard had just dropped in to pose for the cameras, but of course he's had his day, no more soaring over the fields of East Lothian for him.  He's now well and truly stuffed - but still pretty magnificent!
The event was held under canvas on Levenhall Links, and it couldn't have been a better day.  The sun shone from dawn till dusk, and when I got there, just before 11 o'clock, the visitors were arriving in healthy numbers.  It delights me that people are so interested in wildlife.  The countryside needs every bit of interest and love it can get.
I love all the different stalls at these events.  I had a good chat with the lady on her basketmaking stand.  She works with willow and rushes, producing some lovely work.
The bushcraft tent and teepee were popular with children, all eager to learn how to make fire by rubbing sticks together!

There were all sorts of exhibitors, including artists - see below my friend and art tutor Kittie Jones, who I have mentioned before on the running wave (
and a wonderful second hand bookshop, which always attracts me like a magnet!
There were bird watching related exhibitors from overseas - below a group from Texas, another next door from Spain.  Stands exhibiting cameras, binoculars, telescopes, outdoor clothing, wildlife rescue and conservation groups.  Anything and everything to do with the countryside.
There was a tent dedicated to the East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service, which is the council department running the grassland surveying volunteer work I am involved with. 
 There was a spot of pond dipping,
and in the RSPB tent I made a little newspaper pot and filled it with compost and a selection of wild flower seeds, corn poppy, corn marigold, cornflower and mayweed, to grow in the garden!
There was a chap from the National Trust for Scotland, making sticks of charcoal - twigs of willow, stripped of their bark and placed inside a tin and 'cooked' on an open fire for a while.  I love charcoal.  It's one of my favourite things to draw with!

There were talks and demonstrations.  There was a queue a mile long to listen to Bill Oddie, so I had to pass on that, but the programme offered lots of really great stuff.  I hope the weather holds for tomorrow.  The organisers should go home tomorrow night, feeling pretty pleased with the whole event.

On the way home I visited one of my favourite garden nurseries, Macplants, at the gloriously named hamlet of Bogg's Holdings.  It's a proper nursery, where they grown lovely things themselves.  They were busy getting stuff ready for next week's big Gardening Scotland exhibition.