Saturday, 30 July 2016

Worlds apart

I was listening to an interview with an American orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Samer Attar from Chicago, on Radio 4 this week .  He has made several visits to Aleppo, working to try and save lives and patch up the bodies of the poor injured, miserable souls who live there, under continual aerial bombardment.  If you feel as though you having a bad day, listen to this interview http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p042rbj5 and you will very quickly realise how blessed you are, however bad things may seem.  Dr Attar's account of how he spends his days in Aleppo will break your heart.  Even more heartbreaking is the reason why he is spending his time there, one of many selfless people, trying to make a difference to a tragic, war-torn part of the world.

By total contrast, and with a heightened sense of how blessed I am, I spent my morning today messing around with wild flowers, sedges, mosses and grasses in the Aberlady Bay.  We have about four more designated sites to measure before this year's grassland survey is complete. There are eighteen sites altogether.  Some of them take about twenty minutes or more to walk to, but the trek is delightful, starting with a footbridge over the tidal channel.
out along the path lined with meadow sweet, and further along, wild thyme, bird's foot trefoil and harebells.
I am not good with butterflies.  I can only recognise a handful of the best known ones, but I do know the glorious common blue
and this is the dark green fritillary butterfly.  It doesn't look remotely green to me, but I believe it takes its name from the colour on the underside of the wing, as opposed to the top, which starts off as a lovely orange, and then fades as the butterfly ages - as this one has done.
It was a beautiful clear morning, after heavy overnight rain, and Edinburgh and Arthur's Seat were easily visible, about eighteen miles away.
Then along grassy paths

before striking off into the undergrowth to reach the OS co-ordinates, accurately tracked by the GPS gadget thingy, guiding us to the location of today's survey site.  Left to my own devices I would never find it, but luckily survey colleagues are much more clued up than I am with these bits of technology.  My forte is confined to identifying the wild plants!  Today's site was full of pennywort, ragged robin, marsh bedstraw, yellow rattle, hairy vetch, grass of Parnassas, yellow vetchling, marsh orchid, sedges, grasses and all sorts of other lovely stuff.
On the far side of the dunes, we could hear the surf breaking.  With the sun on our backs, wild flowers at our feet and seabirds calling, we were lucky to be in one of the most blissful places on the planet.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em


When Ted the pup has taken over your bed, and the cat has moved into your chair, the only thing left is to join them
OR .... nick Ted's favourite toy.


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Two wonders of the world

It's extraordinary to me, how one day can bring so much.  Today I had two unforgettable experiences.  The first was to meet our youngest grandson, not yet one day old.  How wonderful to be able to be with him, on his very first day on this crazy planet.  
It makes me realise how much we have missed by not yet seeing our little eight week old grandson, who lives in Melbourne.  We watch him growing and changing weekly, via Skype.  It's a cracking invention, but not like being able to be there with him in person.  I hope it is not too long before we can manage to do that.

The second amazing thing was to go on a trip around the Bass Rock.  David Attenborough described it as one of the wildlife wonders of the world, and it sits just three miles off the coast of North Berwick, which is barely five miles from here.  The gannets swoop and swirl around - all 150,000 of them.  It really is an extraordinary sight.  We also had a chug around the little island of Craigleith, which is home to all sorts of seabirds including puffins.  Today I saw puffins for the first time!  Delightful little birds which always remind me of clowns!  There were hundreds of them, bobbing about on the water and flying around the island.  
All this in one day!  

Little tearaway!

So much for the Sunday papers!  Not much chance of reading them now ...
Oh, the joy of a 13 week old puppy!  Every evening Ted gets the wind in his tail, and hurtles around the house like a complete lunatic!  He moves so fast he is barely there at all!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Hot off the press!!

We have a new grandson!!!  Born this evening, in Edinburgh!  Hooray!  Our blessings just keep on coming!  

Here they come again!

I can hardly believe that it's been a year since we stood in a good vantage point to watch the Red Arrows come zooming in overhead to entertain the onlookers at the East Fortune Air Show.  They came at us, on a direct course from Edinburgh, and then threw themselves around the skies above us, with their usual supreme skill and precision.  Wonderful!
I used a setting on my camera which was supposed to reduce blurriness when photographing fast moving things, but all that seems to have happened is that photos have a rather painterly effect. Actually, I rather like it!
Fifteen minutes later they regrouped and headed off out over the North Sea, leaving behind them their patriotic vapour trails.  Adios Red Arrows, until next year!

Birthday treats

I clocked up another year this week.  I don't feel any different from when I was a young woman, and my days are just as busy and diverse.  I am very lucky to have the health and energy to live the life I do.

I had a very good day on Wednesday, even though it started with apocalyptic weather, as I drove the pup to see the vet nurse in Haddington.  Black as night, thunder, lightening and torrential rain.  It was quite something.  But then the sun came out later on, and Tilly and I enjoyed a stroll along a short stretch of the John Muir Way.  
The highlight of my day was listening to my favourite musician, Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, with his group and featuring an extraordinary Indian percussionist, Trilock Gurtu.  The concert was part of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, and it was fabulous!  Dinner afterwards, at a great little French restaurant in Edinburgh, rounded off a wonderful day.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

A couple of new acquaintances, and an old enemy

Tilly and I did a bit of a reccy this morning, researching the next walk I am leading for the walking group.  I wanted to see whether we would be permitted to walk up the drive and past the mansion house at Tyninghame.  The answer was no, but never mind.  

As we walked along the immaculately kept driveway we passed happy sheep, grazing in the parkland either side of the drive.  This is a Zwartbles sheep, from Holland,
and if my research is right, this is a Dorset Down.  Please let me know if I've got that one wrong.
We walked back along a short stretch of the River Tyne.  I was a bit fed up to see a large number of giant hogweed plants growing along the riverbank.  Heracleum mantegazzianum, is an invasive species, which originates from Southern Georgia and Russia.  Although it is a statuesque and impressive plant, those I saw today stood a good 15' - 18' in height, we don't want them here.   Skin reacts violently to the sap and it is best to keep well away from them.

All change

So, once again we have a woman Prime Minister.  We live in interesting times.  I am not a political animal, so couldn't possibly comment on any of it, except to say the prospect of Boris Johnson shambling around the world stage on our behalf is dis-may-ing, to say the least.  

Sunday, 10 July 2016

A Wimbledon win!

A wonderful Wimbledon win for Andy Murray and Scotland!  What a great Finals match this afternoon, and what a very delightful and worthy opponent Milos Raonic has proven to be. Hooray for both of them. 

From my front row seat I was able to record the triumphant scene.  I thought it was very poignant to see Andy Murray in reflective mood, with that hard won trophy in his arms.  It goes to show how much it really means to win it.  Congratulations Andy!!

Oh, what a beautiful evening

Last night, a beautiful evening, 
with the corn as high as an elephant's eye!