Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sunday offering

Over twenty years ago, when we lived in Hampshire, we had a young Indonesian girl lodging with us.  She was the friend of a cousin, adopted by an American couple, and had just been expelled from her school in the UK, so needed a perch for a while!  She was a brilliant girl, full of beans and always bouncing, a bit like Tigger.  

Every so often she would land in the kitchen, first thing in the morning, and with eyes sparkling, announce that "It's a great to be alive day today!".  And today is one of those days.  Tilly and I have just walked round the barley field.  The sun is white-gold in a powder blue sky.  It's Sunday, and we have visitors coming for tea, so I have some baking to do this morning. Then, with a bit of luck, the sun will still be shining this afternoon, and we can sit in the garden.
Can't resist showing you this blackberry leaf, glowing in the wood as we passed.  
Delicious colour.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The annual village flower show

The annual village flower show was held in the community hall today.  I missed it last year, so resolved to go along today.  It's the kind of event which keeps Britain great!  I love the tradition of exhibiting vegetables, knitted baby bootees and soft toys, the competition for the best sweet peas and dahlias, the home baking, and the offerings from the local children.

However, before breakfast and the flower show, Tilly and I had another walk round the newly harvested field.  During the course of yesterday, the rows of billowing straw were baled up into giant cotton reels.  
In the background of the photograph below you can just see the purple heather on the Lammermuir Hills. 
So to the flower show.  I am not entirely sure what this creation was depicting, but it seems to have won no less than two trophies!
This was my favourite.  These jolly folk are just part of a long line of characters!
No village flower show would be complete without an obese leek, and I can't imagine that they could come much bigger than this one.  You could feed a small family for a week with this exhibit!
There were some pretty decent cakes, scones and tea loaves in the home baking category.  And Border tarts - a rather delicious creation comprising dried fruit, nuts, orange rind and cinnamon, mixed with dark brown sugar and butter and cooked in a pastry case, with a thin coating of icing on top.  Delish!
It wasn't a big show, but enjoyable (especially the butterfly cakes), and more importantly, very reassuring!  

Friday, 28 August 2015

A new architectural hero!

We went to Glasgow on Monday.  There was an exhibition at The Lighthouse of work by Australia's most celebrated architect, Glen Murcutt.  It had the inviting title 'Touch the Earth Lightly'.  

The Lighthouse was designed as a warehouse, in 1895, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  It was built behind the offices of the Glasgow Herald.
Since 1999 it has housed Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture, offering great exhibition space.
 Having travelled through from East Lothian, the first thing we looked for were the loos!
Mackintosh designed this water tower, which housed an 8,000 gallon water tank.  There are some lovely internal spaces in the building, which has woven in the new with the existing really well.
This is part of a glass balustrade, designed by Alexander Beleschenko.  He uses the gingko leaf in his design, which is blue on one side, and white on the other.
The Murcutt exhibition was held on the second floor.  The best part of the exhibit, for me, was the video which featured the very softly spoken Glen Murcutt, talking about his work, his influences, and most interestingly, how he keeps drawing until the design emerges from the page.  I very much enjoyed his philosophy and his sensitivity to the environment, the customs of the Aboriginal people, who he has designed for, and the materials he uses.  He came across as a very delightful man, thoughtful and mindful in his approach to new projects.
Here's a lovely little bit of information.  In Aboriginal culture, parents should sleep facing towards the setting sun, and children should sleep towards the rising sun.  That makes sense to me!
We also looked at the permanent exhibition dedicated to the many talents of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  He didn't just design buildings.  He designed furniture, interiors, and was also a fine water colourist.  His most famous building is probably the Glasgow School of Art, which was so badly damaged by fire in 2014.  My favourite aspect of his work, however, are his water colours of flowers.  They are stylised but accurate.
Out on to the streets of Glasgow again, and we met a panda,
the Duke of Wellington, looking very dapper with a traffic cone on his head
 a couple of red squirrels,
and a relation of Morris, our blue tit,
After a cup of coffee and a very yummy piece of rocky road, we walked back to Queen Street station, passed some extremely fine old buildings.  I do like Glasgow.  Perhaps its because my father and grandparents were Glaswegian.  By the time we got back to the wood, I felt as though I had visited another world.  I had certainly discovered a new architectural hero.  Glen Murcutt.  What a very nice, and talented, man.

There is a permanent exhibition, showing the talents of Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Two positive indicators

When so much in our world is unpredictable, you can always rely on the countryside to respond faithfully to the seasons.  As we inch towards the end of summer, the harvest began yesterday. This morning Tilly and I were able to walk round one of our favourite fields. They haven't baled up the straw yet, and it lay in long, soft pillows.  I could have thrown myself in one, but I had only just got out bed!  
The modern combine harvester, or combinester as my daughter called them when she about six, is a very sophisticated beast.  The driver now has a computer screen, with GPS, probably a sound system, and sits on a padded seat in an air conditioned cab, protected from the elements -  all a far cry from the farm worker of days gone by!
In the small lake, in one corner of the field, there were four pink patches of amphibious bistort, bobbing about on the ripples, as the wind blew across the water.
Along the western edge of the field, gathering on the telegraph wires, were dozens of swallows and house martins.  Another reliable indicator that summer is drawing to a close.  The birds chattered, excitedly, as they lined up along the wire.  They looked like notes on a musical score.  There was a sense of the departures hall in an airport.  I know that these bold little souls will soon be setting off on a long-haul flight, crossing continents, flying above seas, cities, war zones, to far away places.  I had a sense of fear and trepidation for them, a few tears for their leaving and the end of summer, and an overwhelming sense of admiration for their unswerving resolve to do what they must, come what may. 
Brave little miracles, I bid you farewell, fair winds for your journeying, and a safe return next spring.