Thursday, 28 January 2016

A beautiful and talented lady

Quite a few years ago, when we lived in town, we had a lodger - an American PhD student, studying at the University of Edinburgh.  He had a very beautiful girlfriend - the young Rhiannon Giddens.  She stayed with him/us for a month one summer.  How we enjoyed getting to know her, hearing her amazing voice around the house, and discovering what an incredibly talented girl she is.  She plays the fiddle, banjo, her voice is trained for the opera, she can dance, and she even does beautiful beadwork.  I have a necklace she made me, to prove it!  She also sings in Gaelic, and if you pick up this link, you can hear her singing in French.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl64j0-fieY

Her singing career is really flying now.  She was on Jools Holland's New Year show at Hogmanay (I missed that, dang it - I don't like Jools Holland much!), and last night my daughter and I went through to the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow, to hear her performing, for one night, at the Celtic Connections music festival.  Needless to say, she didn't disappoint.  

After the rain

By Wednesday lunchtime, the heavy rain had finally stopped, and the sun came out.  The wood shimmered with diamonds, raindrops hanging from every single bough and twig.  It was breathtaking.
In the garden, the hellebores are beginning to bloom, and the snowdrops have started to appear.  Hooray!

Filling in time

Once a year we have to take the car into Edinburgh, for its MOT and service.  On Tuesday morning, MOT day, it was very windy and the rain was lashing down, bouncing off the pavements and blowing about in gusts, highlighted by the car's headlamps.  It was just the most awful weather. But we checked the car in, found our way into town, milled around in John Lewis for a bit, and then walked through to the wonderful National Portrait Gallery, for some coffee and a leisurely read of the newspaper.

Then, with lots of time to kill, we had a look round the gallery, admiring the handiwork of English artist William Hole, who moved to Edinburgh at the age of three, in about 1850.  In 1889 he began painting a processional frieze for the gallery's entrance hall.  It depicts famous battles fought through Scotland, over the centuries, featuring over 150 figures or "heroes" from the country’s history.  The work was described as "one of the most notable essays in mural decoration ever accomplished in this country".   It is certainly very decorative.




Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sunday walk

Winter has slipped away, again, and in 13 degrees C we headed for the beach today.  I rather wished we had taken a disposable barbecue and the grandchildren because, although it wasn't particularly sunny, it was balmy and very enjoyable.

I know I repeat myself a lot with photographs of this beach, but it is my favourite place, and I love the colours, especially on a quiet day, like today.



Loving it!

If you feel in need of a little lift today, have a look at this clip!  You will smile!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/must_see/35392623


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Riverbank walk

The River Tyne (not as in Newcastle Upon) runs through the village, and then weaves its way through fields until it runs out into the sea, at the far end of the beach at Belhaven.  After all the rain of the past weeks, the water level has been up to the gunnels, carrying and dumping all sorts of debris along the edge of the riverbank, as it has swept through the countryside.  However, there is a good path to follow, out of the village, which we walked today.  

As you leave the village, there is a weir which the National Trust for Scotland skilfully repaired during the course of last year.  There is a very pleasing contrast in texture of rippling glassy water and then a foamy choppy cascade as it tumbles over the edge of the weir.
Along the riverbank there are some signs of new life in the willow, and further along, the violet catkins of the alder.
We walked as far as an old farmhouse, which has an ancient, ruined watermill.  The red sandstone blocks have weathered into all sorts of interesting shapes and textures.
By the time we got back to the weir there was handsome heron sitting, waiting for lunch to come by.  We went home for a mug of hot soup.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Friday walk

A strange light appeared in the sky this afternoon, and it brightened things up so much that Tilly and I decided to go for a good walk.  

The wind is a lot warmer today than of late.  Winter has slipped away - again.  But the combination of sunshine and a light wind on my face was really very uplifting.  The walk was taken to another level when I spied the first snowdrops I have seen this year.  We have a lot growing in the wood around us, but I haven't even seen any shoots from those yet.  However, less than a mile away we saw these.
Annoyingly I picked up my old camera before I left the house, so the focus on these two photos is not good.  The buzzard was sitting, with a superior air, in a tree on the other side of our boundary, and I couldn't resist taking a snap;  it just about picks up the glint in his eye.  Then he lifted off and languidly flew through the wood to another branch.

Call me old fashioned

I am not sure if it's a characteristic of my generation - a baby boomer - but I do appreciate and enjoy tradition, and I am very attached to following the seasons, embracing those things which can only happen at certain times of the year.  Hence my habit to make marmalade in January, when the Seville oranges appear in the shops.  It's a time consuming task, but women have been boiling and shredding up bitter oranges, and cooking them with ridiculous amounts of sugar, since the mid 1600s, so why stop now!
And here's another thing I love about this time of year, and reminds me of the nature table at school when I was about six - catkins!  I know the Junior Oxford English Dictionary has done its best to banish them from the English language, but the lamb's tails will still be hanging from the hazel trees long after play stations and smart phones are old technology.  

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Tuesday walk

In three weeks I am leading a walking group walk.  We will start from the house and the route I have worked out should take two hours.  I thought that I would check it all out again today, to see how the paths have fared after so much rain.  To say it was muddy and heavy going would be an understatement, but it took Tilly and me exactly two hours and five minutes, including Tilly's endless pauses to sniff bits of grass and twigs.

The focus of the walk will be wonderful views.  At the start they will be to the south, to the Lammermuirs.  Today it was misty and the hills were barely visible.  I am really hoping that on 11 February they will be sitting under clear blue skies!!
On the way home we passed a lovely sprinkling of yellow aconites, one of the first flowers to come out in the new year.  A promise of good things to come.


Sunday, 17 January 2016

The snowfields of the Lammermuirs

I think the beauty of the snow-covered hills of the Lammermuirs speak for themselves, so no words necessary from me today!

Friday, 15 January 2016

A frosty celebration

All hail Re, sun god.  I stood for a few minutes, to feel the warmth of the sun on my face - at long last.  True, it was barely more than blood temperature, but the light was there, and the clear blue sky.  Hallelujah! 
While I stood with my eyes shut, I zoned in on the surrounding sounds.  An alarmed blackbird, the rumble of a lorry carting top soil along the lane, pigeons flapping through the wood, the crack of a shotgun taking pot shots in the far distance, and the single, chirpy call of a greater spotted woodpecker, sitting in a tree behind me.
We walked around last year's barley field.  We spooked three deer who leapt off through the strip of woodland on the south side of the field, and we also put up two beautiful hares.  As always, I felt bad about disturbing these lovely creatures in their own environment.  It is a joy to see them though!

Now for a little celebration of the fleeting designs only winter can bring.