Tuesday, 28 June 2016

All very umbel

While Ted, the pup, was asleep and unaware of our absence, Tilly and I had a walk along a short section of the John Muir Way this morning.  The cow parsley has gone over now, but the hedgerows are still full of lovely things.  At the moment, there are three other members of the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family in flower - hogweed, pignut and ground elder.  This is the same family as carrot, parsley and fennel.  The word umbel comes from the Latin umbella "parasol, sunshade".  Wikipedia gives a good description of an umbel as an "inflorescence which consists of a number of short flower stalks (called pedicels) which spread from a common point, somewhat like umbrella ribs". The website does not mention that the young leaves are also edible, and apparently very delicious.  I haven't tried them, and not sure I am inclined to - well, maybe!

Hogweed curls its flowerhead up inside a sort of packet which bursts open to allow its lovely lacy umbel to unfurl.
In the photo below the flowerhead on the left is pignut, and elderflower on the right.
 This one is the flower of ground elder.
We passed some delicious wild honeysuckle, one of my favourite flowers in the June hedgerow.


I think it's time to introduce you to the newest member of our household.  Meet Ted, our almost 10 week old Border Terrier pup.  
He has an 'on' button, and an 'off' button.  He is highly entertaining with his puppy antics, very exhausting with his lack of house training, and completely blissful when he is asleep!  He has already developed the endearing habit of putting his head on my foot and falling asleep, whenever I stand still for two minutes - usually in the kitchen!
Tilly has been surprisingly tolerant, bearing in mind she is a grumpy nine year old terrier!  The cat is seriously unimpressed, but Ted has put many a smile on our faces since he moved in last week, and already we can't imagine life without him!

Just pondering

There cannot be many people in the UK who are not talking/debating/arguing/pondering the state of the nation, following the decision to leave the EU.  the running wave is not intended to be my soapbox.  Its mission is quite the opposite - more to find somewhere to relax and enjoy the good things around us.  But as we live in extraordinary times, I am going to indulge myself and have a little rant - because I can!

There seems little doubt that confusion reigns in the corridors of power, particularly in Westminster (and no doubt in the headquarters of England's football team today - nice one Iceland!).  You don't need to listen carefully to the news to get the gist of things.  No-one really seems to be in charge, at least no-one who should be in charge.  And it seems to me that not one of the political parties are in a position to put forward a single person, who would be able to walk the world's stage as a statesman, worthy of representing the UK.  I can't think of anyone at all.  What a complete shambles.  No longer Great Britain, more Laughing Stock Britain I suspect.

In Scotland the overwhelming majority of us voted to remain in the EU.  On the back of that, it seems we are going to be saddled with yet another independence referendum.  If Scotland becomes independent I will have a Scottish passport (although with an English mother, I will presumably have an English passport too), and keeping in mind our First Minister is in talks with Gibraltar, wanting to create an EU alliance, in this rather surreal world, do you think those of us living in Scotland could become some kind of hybrid nationality?  A Gibbish, or better still, a Gibberish?  It's a thought.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Front row seat

Glastonbury, Coldplay and the lovely Chris Martin.  Part of me wishes I was there, but most of me is quite happy to watch from the comfort of the sofa!  I've got a pretty good view from here.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Rubus chamaemorus

The mysterious flower on top of Miekle Says in the Lammermuirs, referred to in my last post, is not mountain aven, but cloudberry.  A very beautiful plant, and worth reading about here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubus_chamaemorus
I've got to go now because Adele has just come on stage at Glastonbury.  My brother lives within earshot of the stage, but I am content with being four hundred miles away from all those swaying people, and the mud (there's probably mud).  Adele's clearly very excited to be on that stage, she's jumping around like a spring lamb!

Friday, 24 June 2016

If all else fails

If all else fails, come and live in East Lothian.  It has everything a body could want, and it's a good place to be, in order to forget about London/Brussels/anywhere else that is bothering you.

There was a cracking view of the sunset in North Berwick last night.  The late pink sunlight enriched the red sandstone of our dinner destination, and then Tilly and I had a wander along the beach, and I took another photo of the Bass Rock at 10.15 pm, when the daylight was still good and strong.
At 4.30 this morning I set off with five others to walk up Meikle Says Law in the Lammermuirs, to count mountain hares.  At 532m it is the highest of the hills and certainly provides the distance and remoteness one needs the day after a ghastly referendum.  Not a soul in sight.  We spotted 40+ mountain hares, and the walk was certainly a good workout for moi!
Apart from seeing the hares, I was also happy to see a wild flower which is new to me.  I was told it was a mountain aven, Dryas octopetela, a member of the Rosacea family.  The flower I saw has only six petals, but as you can tell from the Latin name, normally there are eight.  The other thing about it, which makes me wonder if it is in fact a geum, is the leaf.  It differs from the wild flower book illustrations - so I must do some research!  I'll be back.

Oh dear

That's it.  Nothing more to be said.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Decision time

Thursday, 23 June 2016.  Today is the day when 40+ million Britons decide whether they want to stay in the European Community or give it the big heave-ho.  

The debate has been endless, painful, infuriating, confusing, and as far as I am concerned, not the least bit illuminating, because I don't really trust much of what we have heard over the last few months.  There has been nothing to give me a clear and truthful indication of what life would be like if we left the EU, in this 21st century world.  Those of a certain age know what it was like before the Common Market came into being, and in the aftermath of the WW2, as I understand it, the coming together of European nations was to provide unity and strength, to stand as one and face the world as such.  Is it really a good idea to fragment things now, with such a dangerous, different kind of world all around us?  But then the attraction of being our own bosses and making our own decisions, to be governed by those we have chosen to govern us, has its strong attraction.  
What's a girl to do?  I don't really know, but I think I have my suspicions.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

See green

Gentle stroll or 6 mile hike - well, actually, both.  Tilly and I had a bit of catching up to do, now that I am back from the book festival, so we spent the morning on one of our favourite walks.

We walked alongside this barley field, with a glimpse of the sea in the distance.
 Here we have a lovely jumble of barley and wild grasses.  The barley is just beginning to ripen.  No sign yet of the red-gold hue it will take on, as the summer goes by.
 Looking south towards the Lammermuirs
and north, across a field of peas and along Becky's Strip, to North Berwick Law.
And when we got home, look who was waiting for us!  The jay is now a frequent visitor to our peanut feeder.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Highlight of my year

With the obvious exception of the arrival of new grandchildren (one down, one to go) this year, the Borders Book Festival is the highlight of my year - every year actually!  I work in the bookshop. Long hours (9 am to 11 pm), very tired feet, but I wouldn't miss it for the world.  We have a stream of wonderful people - festival goers, authors, and celebrities alike, under our marquee roof, and it's great.  I love every minute.

The gardens at Harmony House, in Melrose are looking wonderful.  The weather was not kind on Thursday or Friday, but yesterday the sun shone and everyone warmed up a bit!  
There is a little foodie festival running alongside the book festival.  Local producers of all sorts of wonderful things from raspberry vodka to fresh pats of butter.  The Crema Caravan above, was well worth a visit!  Delicious creme brûlées, 'bruleed' to order.  Yum!
 This year we have been lucky enough to have had an event starring Dame Evelyn Glennie https://www.evelyn.co.uk, with Christopher Lloyd, performing Sounds of Science, https://www.whatonearthbooks.com/blog/2016/03/the-sounds-of-science/  Here she is setting up for the performance, alongside her sound technicians.
I didn't manage to get into the performance because I was working in the bookshop, but I did manage to briefly peer through the window.  And of course we could hear a lot of the sounds coming from the big marquee.  Amazing stuff, phenomenally talented woman.
The next big event was Mike Rutherford, lead guitarist and founding member of the rock band, Genesis.  He had a very long line of adoring fans, waiting for him to sign copies of his autobiography.  So many happy people!
The highlight of the festival for me was the announcement of the winning author of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2016.  It is one of the biggest book prizes, awarded by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, and I enjoy the privilege of being one of the administrators of the Prize.  I deal with the submissions which involves liaising with publishers, the readers, and the judges.  It is an absolute joy, and to watch the prize giving ceremony was great fun. The photo below is not sharp, but captures the moment the Duke congratulates Simon Mawer on winning with his terrific book 'Tightrope'.
Here is the line up of 3 of the runners up, winner and also the two winners of the newly created Young Walter Scott Prize.
For me, the Borders Book Festival is always an extraordinary few days.  It is a book festival with a wonderful atmosphere.  Everyone loves it, visitors and authors alike.  Each year I see familiar faces coming to buy books, always with big happy smiles.  This time round I have shaken hands with Celia Imrie, watched childrens' adoring faces looking up at Michael Morpurgo, been awe-inspired by Evelyn Glennie, and had brunch alongside the likes of Albert Roux, Frederick Forsyth, Jay Rayner, James Naughtie, Kirsty Wark and any number of authors.  Have I name dropped enough?  I could go on, but I won't!  It's all too bizarre.  And now it is over, and I have a whole year to wait for it to come round again;  but it is always worth the wait!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Long weekend

I am away this weekend, more of which later, but I am just thinking of Mr Gaucho and Tilly, holding the fort at home!
I'll be back tomorrow!

Friday, 17 June 2016

A welcome guest

We had a rather special visitor to one of the peanut feeders yesterday morning.  A jay.  A big and handsome bird, who comes into the garden quite often, but this is the first time we have seen him so close to the house.  He more or less joined us for breakfast!