Thursday, 25 February 2016

A galanthophile ... maybe?

I think I am turning into a galanthophile.  A snowdrop fanatic.  I just can't resist them, and at the moment they are everywhere - carpets of snow, strewn throughout the woods around here. 
And by way of a change - an early pink blossom.  
Across the valley, on the skewbald hills of the Lammermuirs, I think they were burning off areas of heather.  When I took this photograph I hadn't noticed the lovely range of late winter colour, throughout the trees in the foreground.    


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

Walking group morning today.  We have had two or three days of wall to wall sunshine, which has been such a treat.  Yesterday I spent most of the day in the garden, retrieving it from the grips of winter, but today I walked through Pressmennan Woods, which nestles at the foot of the Lammermuirs, and up behind the pretty village of Stenton.

I have walked through the wood quite a few times.  It's where I go to pick wild garlic, later in the Spring.  But today we walked much further afield than I have been before, up to the top of the woods, with great views through the trees (which this photo doesn't show!), and then down through the trees to walk along the lakeside, on a lovely mossy path, to a boat house. 

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Spying

When we were in Majorca for my son's wedding, last June, we did a spot of celebrity spotting.  Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston and others, were lounging around on the jetty in Port de Soller, by two rather flash speed boats, in between shooting scenes for the John le Carre's 'The Night Manager', which starts on BBC television tomorrow evening.

If you want to know what colour trousers Hugh Laurie wears between shots, I can let you in on the secret.
I rather like the trousers.  Not sure about the shoes though.


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Another sunny day!

After such relentless wet and windy weather throughout the whole of winter so far, to have two or three sunny days in ONE WEEK, is really very special.  I find it almost impossible to stay indoors when it is so bright and sunny outside, so Tilly and I were off and out this morning, for another tramp around the fields.

As it was such a lovely morning I thought it would make a good outing to walk across the fields to Smeaton, a lovely garden nursery set within a walled garden, with an excellent cafe, and of course, cake.  We slid, splashed, slithered and squelched our way along the saturated field margins, stopping a few times to tune in to the song of the larks, high in the blue above.  They were enjoying the good weather too!
The Smeaton Estate has a walk around a small lake, and the woodland beyond, at the moment, is full of snowdrops.  They are a joy to see!
And then on to the garden nursery, which was looking wonderful with delicious hellebores, witch hazels in bloom, a carpet of colourful polyanthus and all sorts of lovely things.  
Tilly and I sat outside in the sunshine, while I enjoyed a mug of hot chocolate and we tucked into a large slice of Victoria sponge.  I didn't just share it with Tilly, a cheeky little robin came and scoffed a few cake crumbs from the plate, inches away from me!  
I think I might have to go back to the nursery and buy one of these hellebores.  Looking at them again, here, I think they are rather irresistible!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Sunny side up

In stark contrast to this morning (which is grey and windy), yesterday dawned bright and sunny. We had clear blue sky and sunshine all day long, from dawn till dusk.  Tilly and I had a magical walk. The route was nothing new, but the weather was such a treat, that it was all wonderful. I stood for a while, the sun warming my back, the cool air on my face, listening to the rustling sound of the wind as it moved through the bleached stems of last year's common reed.  A peaceful few moments.
Walking past a small paddock, I could hear a hissing sound.  A tap was leaking and the fine spray of water had frozen overnight, creating icicles.
To the south, the Lammermuirs are covered in snow again.  The mountain hares will be happy, nicely camouflaged once more!
The sunshine has brought out the cheery yellow gorse.  It is too soon for the delicious spicy coconut scent from the flowers, but that is something to look forward to, in the warmer months to come.


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Before the hail storm!

Today dawned bright and sunny.  Eventually Tilly and I got out for a walk, but not before, to the north, dark grey clouds were beginning to encroach upon the heavenly blue.

However, we set off in sunshine, to take a stroll around the old barley field.  It is one of my favourite walks.  Our neighbour's garden borders one corner of the field, and on the other side of his fence there is this wonderful patch of red dogwood.  It is especially delicious at this time of the year, with the snowdrops growing at its feet.
As we cut through the narrow stretch of woodland, between the drive and the field, two hares started up and nipped off ahead of us, at high speed.  I felt bad.  They had been lying in the sunshine, amongst warm dry leaves, and then we disturbed them.  One shot off to the right and out of sight;  the other I could see, hunkered down in the middle of the field, still with the sun on his back.
We walked around the field, to the furthest corner, by which time the sky had turned to an impressive iron grey.  I knew what that meant, and by the time we had retraced our steps back around the field, because that is a nicer route than completing the circle, we were being sandblasted with hailstones.  We were really quite wet by the time we reached home!
 Time for tea, and a slice of Valentine's Day chocolate brownie cake!

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here is my Valentine offering to Mr Gaucho, and, no, I did not nick the plate from Le Caprice in London.  They gave it to me with a beautiful birthday cake on it, donkey's years ago!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Friday walk

Overnight, temperatures plummeted and, following yesterday's rain, every surface became coated in a thin layer of ice.  Every stone, blade of grass, tree and plant, the terrace and garden benches, everything.  Black ice on local roads resulted in mayhem during the rush hour this morning, cars sliding off into hedges and ditches, head on collisions, and tragically even one fatality.  Winter came back today, with a vengeance.  So we waited for the sun to melt the ice and raise the temperature a bit, and then went for a walk from home, rather than venture out on to the roads.  

The woods around the house are now full of snowdrops.  They are probably at their best now.  
Further afield, the Lammermuirs had a dusting of snow last night, but in the sunshine the trees in the wood are just beginning to show a flush of colour, as their leaf buds begin to swell.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A prayer answered!

Today it was my turn to lead a walk with the walking group.  It was a five mile, 2 hour walk, starting from our house.  I planned a big circular walk to take full advantage of the wonderful views across the valley to the Lammermuirs, a good glimpse of the sea, and then later, north to the Bass Rock and North Berwick Law.  Lots of wonderful landmarks, but - and here could have been the catch - only visible with fine weather!  All the planning in the world couldn't have brought the sun out, but some suitably worded prayers did, and we walked all morning beneath clear blue skies and in brilliant sunshine.  Perfect!
A little band of deer ran across this field.  I caught three of them in my photo, but there were about eight, including a stag with a very impressive set of antlers!  In the distance you can see the Garleton Hills and the Hopetoun Monument.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Nosey parkers

Not too far from here there are some rather engaging little Thelwell ponies.  They love a visit, jostling for a handful of grass from passers by!
And I can't resist leaving you with the Arabian proverb "The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears".  Just to set you up for a new week.


Saturday, 6 February 2016

Barns Ness

Tilly and I took a chilly, rain-spotted walk at Barns Ness this afternoon.  It's quite an exposed part of the coastline, with a lighthouse, which sits just a mile or so north of Torness, the nuclear power station.   Its proximity to the brooding power station means that it doesn't appeal to me hugely, but I go there from time to time, because it is one of the four sites forming part of the local authority grazing survey project I am part of.  
We had a hasty walk along the grasslands behind the beach, I got a wet foot in the mire, and then finally we found a way down on to the beach, where the oyster catchers were doing the hokey cokey, and Tilly munched her way through too much seaweed than is good for her.
The highlight of the walk was this kestrel, perched on a fence post.  The photograph is taken through the car windscreen so it's not as sharp as it could be, but what a handsome bird!