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Showing posts from September, 2014

A saunter along the prom

I had a walk along the promenade at Portobello at the end of last week.  Portobello is now a sort of suburb of Edinburgh, and a place with a long and interesting history.  Wikipedia can tell you more.,_Edinburgh .   In 1742 a seaman called George Hamilton, who served under Admiral Edward Vernon in the 1739 capture of Porto Bello in Panama, built a cottage where the high street runs now.  He called his new home  Portobello Hut,  in commemoration of the battle.  In time the name was taken for the community.  Portobello means 'beautiful port or harbour', and in the early days of the settlement it would have been very beautiful, looking across the Firth of Forth to the hills of Fife beyond.  Portobello Road in London has been named after the same battle, so it must have been quite a memorable tussle. I walked from one end to the other, heading west towards Edinburgh.   At the east end there are some curved steps leading down on to t

Volly Jolly

If you follow my blog from time to time, you will know that I am a volunteer for the East Lothian Council Conservation team - see my previous post Today the Countryside Officer and his team provided a wonderful day of countryside related entertainment, as thank you to the volunteers who have contributed this year, in one form or another.  We gathered in the Scout Hut in Longniddry!   The ice breaker!   A game of conkers!!!  Great fun! My conker remained unbeaten, I am pleased to say!  Apart from providing some fun the Council wanted to offer us the chance to get to know a bit about some of the natural history, and different aspects of the countryside, their Ranger service is involved with.  We could choose a taster session on 'What's that feather?', 'Butterflies and bumblebees', 'Breaking the law in the countryside', Rocks - the stones and landforms of East Lothian', '

Things I have enjoyed this week

I am just posting a few photographs from things I have enjoyed seeing this week.  Why not! Here is my cat Pippi, in all her furry loveliness. We have quite a wide variety of fungi in the garden.  Some of it is positively evil-looking, with puffs of khaki-coloured spores when punctured, others are black and slimy, and then under a bench I found this.  It's a huge mushroom, 9" in diameter.  (Those of you who work in metric will have to work that out!  Sorry). On Wednesday, as I headed off down the drive to the first meeting of our little book club (that should probably read 'wine club'), the early evening light, looking towards North Berwick law, was beautiful.  The lavender strip across the middle is a field of red cabbages.   A flypast of geese this morning, chattering all the way, as they flew from east to west. I am enjoying the field margins which are becoming more and more a feature of the countryside these days.  I am delighted because it can only

Tuesday morning sunshine

Tilly and I had a very enjoyable walk in the sunshine this morning.  The sun filtered through the trees and we walked down the drive, passing a family of young deer, grazing peacefully in a field on the edge of the wood. The John Muir Way runs along the edge of a field further down the drive, and we walked a short distance along there, turning left at the bottom to carry on round the field.  We haven't circumnavigated that field before.  It's a lovely walk, with a wide strip set aside for wildlife.  At the moment there are some ethereal, straw-coloured grasses waving in the wind, the sun gleaming off their fine stems. A large hare shot out from the undergrowth, running across Tilly's bows before she realised what was happening!  She went nuts, of course!  What self-respecting Border Terrier wouldn't?  But before you could say "whizz kid" the hare was on the far side of the field.  I always feel bad when we disturb these lovely creatures.  They don'


I have a row of small bottles and jars on my kitchen worktop, glowing with autumn colour.  Three orange nasturtium flowers, an aster, softly purple with a bright yellow centre.  There are two heads of dainty young green fennel seeds, replacing the tiny yellow umbel flowers of summer. A drying sprig of purple Scottish heather, two leaves from a plane tree, rich in shades of red and orange ribbed with green, and a solitary William Shakespeare rose of velvet crimson, smelling gorgeous.  In the garden, looking upward as I hang out my washing, the quality of light has changed since summer and the surrounding sounds are different.  The blue of the sky has lost its intensity.  The colour is thinner, delicate and, today, wispily streaked with white cloud.  In contrast to the tart green of spring, the leaves of the lime trees are mellowing to soft butter yellow.  In summer the buzzards languidly soar and mew.  Now, in autumn, skeins of geese start their daily commute to and from a lake

Healthy competition

My three young grandsons played in a rugby tournament today.   They all did really well, although the oldest boy got a finger trampled on, which caused him to withdraw from the competition half way through.  He played well, though, scoring a try in the early stages of his first game for his new school club.  The younger two and their team got through to the final in their group.  They were runners-up, which didn't impress them much, but they received a medal each for their effort, so that placated them a little! It was a lovely afternoon.  Golden autumn sunshine warmed our backs and, best of all, the Act of Union Beeches, on the east side of North Berwick law, are still standing!!!  Hooray! And to start the week off in colourful fashion, here is some delicious Autumn colour from the garden.

Last few days of the hols

Our last day in Devon dawned rather differently for me.  I was going to make my debut on national radio!  Three weeks before I had responded to a request from the presenters of Radio 3's Breakfast programme, for the piece of music which had stopped listeners in their tracks, a heart stopper, life changer.  I have such a piece.   Parce mihi, Domine , music composed by Cristobal de Morales and performed by Norwegian saxophonist, Jan Gabarek, together with the choral group, the Hilliard Ensemble.  I emailed the BBC, didn't hear anything, but I am used to that!  I quite often drop them an email which gets swallowed up in the myriad of communications they must receive.  Anyway, on Wednesday last week, we returned from a walk and I found an email from Breakfast's producer, inviting me to introduce the piece on the programme on Friday morning.   I was all of a twitter, rather dumbfounded, but I had a short conversation with Petroc Trelawney, and made my rather faltering introducti