River Tay, Perth, Scotland

For obvious reasons our travelling this year has been very much curtailed, but I’ve been coping well with having to keep within the guidelines for travelling around, even when we were only allowed out for an hour a day for exercise, and to go to the supermarket. But it looks like we in Fife will have to stick to our own county again soon as Covid stats rise again. So last Thursday we drove to Perth in the neighbouring county, just for a change – and while we could. I wasn’t interested in the shops – well – apart from the Oxfam bookshop, but the River Tay is right at the top of the High Street so we went to have a look at it. Unfortunately as you can see from the photos below we were a week or two too late for the best of the autumn colour.

Perth, River Tay at Perth

River Tay at Perth , River Tay, Scotland

There’s a nice old bridge over the river.
River Tay at Perth, Scotland

And a not quite so nice more modern bridge.
River Tay at Perth, Scotland

With my back to the river I took a few steps forward to take the photo below. The river is perilously close to the shops and the town has flooded in the past but I think they’ve solved that problem, for now anyway. I love towns with a river running through them, as all the old places do. The building on the left below with all the flags hanging from it is now the Perth County Council Headquarters. I really like that they are inclusive and happily fly the flags of so many other countries instead of just a Union Jack/flag or Saltire/St Andrews flag.

Perth, Scotland

You can see some great images of Perth here.

Yes I DID buy a couple of books in the Oxfam bookshop, but I’ll keep those for another time.

An Autumn Walk

Put your virtual walking shoes on and join me on my morning walk for the Guardian in rural Fife.

Autumn Trees

We’ve had so much rain recently, it’s very wet underfoot and my expensive wellies didn’t last long before the heel split so for me it’s a wet walk eventually as the dampness penetrates my two pairs of socks, at least virtual walkers don’t have that to contend with! I refuse to buy another pair of expensive but useless wellies.

Autumn Trees

The trees are probably at their best just now, soon the leaves will be battered to the ground by rain or wind.
Autumn Trees

Autumn Trees

It’s not only the trees that are providing interest at the moment, various fungi are doing their thing too. It has been a great year for them due to the very wet summer we had; puffballs appeared in my garden in June, they’re a pain in the neck.

mushrooms

I think these ones are Cantharellus cibarius, apparently edible but I’d be too scared to try them just in case they’re poisonous.

mushrooms , fungi

I think the one below is Grifola frondosa, edible but with a mouse-like smell!

fungus

I think the one below is a Coprinus comatus, edible unless the gills have started to liquefy! The camera didn’t pick it up but this one looked really beautiful as the raindrops encased all around it like diamonds and pearls, but even better.

mushrooms , fungi

Back to the path and the acers are looking grand.

acers

acer, Japanese Maple, autumn

acer, Japanese maple

Walking under the trees here is special and I can see why doctors have started to prescribe patients a course of woodland walks to help their mental health.

autumn trees

There aren’t quite enough leaves here to dance along while scuffing through them, I’ll have to wait a bit for that harmless but daft bit of seasonal fun. I hope you enjoyed your walk with me.

autumn leaves

Kinnoull Hill, Perthshire, Scotland

Last Thursday was a beautiful day, such a treat after the twelve hour long thunder and lightning storm of a few days previously, so we grabbed the day and drove to Kinnoull Hill in Perthshire. For decades we’ve driven past the rocky outcrop which towers above the M 90 motorway that takes you into the city of Perth and had just never got around to actually visiting the place, despite it being a really popular beauty spot.

Kinnoull Hill Path, Perth, woodland

The hill is covered with trees and the path is fairly steep but it only took us about 15 minutes to reach the top, we really needed the exercise anyway after being cooped up in the house hiding from the torrential rain of earlier in the week.

Kinnoull Hill Path,Perthshire, Scotland

There’s a wood carving of an owl in flight on the way up, but the woodland itself was bereft of birdlife. I’ve often been puzzled by this when walking in woods. Even when there’s nobody else around and it’s very quiet the woods never seem to have any wildlife in them. There are far more birds around my garden.

Kinnoull Eagle sculpture, Perthshire

Through a gap in the trees you can get quite a decent view of the historic village of Scone which is close to Perth.

Scone, from Kinnoull Hill, Perthshire

From the top of Kinnoull Hill you get a great view east to the Carse of Gowrie and over to Errol, even on what was a fairly hazy day. You can see why the River Tay is called the silvery Tay. Over the river are the hills of Fife.

Kinnoull Hill View , Distant Hills

The photo below is a stitch of three photos that I took looking over to the south side of the river and Fife beyond. The yellowy-gold coloured fields had just been harvested.

River Tay stitch, Perthshire, Scotland

The stitch below is from the top of what was a very blustery Kinnoull Hill, looking down towards the bend in the River Tay. It felt quite dangerous, in fact there are plenty of warning signs to tell you not to go too close to the edge as it just falls away and it would be easy to walk over by accident.

River Tay stitch, Perthshire, Kinnoull Hill

The one below is looking northwards towards Dunkeld and Birnam Wood of Macbeth fame.

View from Kinnoull Hill

Below is an information plaque which tells of all the instances of historical interest around this area.

information plaque, Kinnoull Hill, Perthshire, Scotland

After we walked back down the hill we had another look at the information board at the car park and realised that we had somehow missed a tower which has been built on the hill, so one day we’ll have to go back again and take a close look at it. Obviously we missed a path which leads over to that side of the hill. You can see images of it here.

We should have done our homework before setting out, such as visiting this Visit Scotland site.

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews, Fife, Shore and Castle

St Andrews in Fife is one of my favourite places to visit, but because of the lockdown we hadn’t been there for months, actually possibly we hadn’t been there at all this year. So on Saturday we took the opportunity to pay the town a visit. It was a bit daft doing it on a Saturday as it was bound to be busy but we were visiting family further along the coast so we killed two birds with one stone.

It looks a bit grey and cool but it was really quite a hot day, by Scottish standards. The queue for the ice cream shop was too long for us to stand in. The beach was packed, but we just sat on a bench (wearing our masks) and didn’t bother going on to the sands, we just people and dog watched, the dogs were more entertaining, chasing the waves.

St Andrews, sea, Fife

It was strange to see the gates around the cathedral closeed and padlocked, I had to tale photos through the railings.

St Andrews Cathedra, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral, Fife, Scotland

The archway below is over the road that leads down to the beach, down a steep road. If you want to read a bit more about the town then have a look here, there are some great photos.
St Andrews Archway, Fife, Scotland

If you are looking for tips on what to do around St Andrews have a look at My Voyage Scotland here.

Red sky at night – in Fife, Scotland

Fife evening sky

We’ve had some terrible weather this July, torrential rain lasting for ages, but we have also had some wonderful sunsets and cloud formations during our long summer gloamings.

Fife sky, evening sky, Scotland

I knew that we would have to pay for all that glorious weather we had in May – in the shape of poor June and July weather. I hope things become more settled in August, it probably will be better just as the schools begin to go back (however they’ve decided to do it) because that’s normally what happens, not that there’s anything normal about 2020.

Fife sky,sunset, Scotland

Beamish Folk Museum, County Durham, England

We are members of lots of arty and historical organisations such as the National Trust, Scottish Heritage, Friends of the Edinburgh Galleries and such AND we got annual passes to Beamish folk museum when we visited there last year, it’s situated near Stanley in County Durham. We were sure we would go back as we had such a good time there but we didn’t manage to get there as planned at Christmas and after the winter it didn’t open because of the Covid-19 situation of course. Anyway it turns out that I didn’t blog about it although I could have sworn that I did. Here are some of the photos I took. In the beginning Beamish was just farmland, you can read about the history of the place here. The buildings have all been moved to the site brick by brick and stone by stone to be saved for posterity rather than being demolished.

Beamish, Church + from waggonway

There are all sorts of buildings there, below is Pockersley Hall which has a lovely chocolate box garden.

Pockersley Hall, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

A teeny wee thatched cottage, this photo was taken from an ancient steam train as we were riding on it.

thatched cottage, Beamish from waggonway

And this is the train we were on, I remember seeing illustrations of a train like this one when I was ‘doing’ the Industrial Revolution at school, I never thought I’d actually have a trip on one!

Puffing Billy and train, Beamish, County Durham

You can go inside all the buildings, a few of them I would quite happily have lived in.

Farm terrace, Beamish, County Durham

Volunteers are on hand, living the life, rolling out pastry or whatever and answering questions.

1930s fireplace, Beamish, County Durham

Actually it all seemed very homely to me as most of the ‘stuff’ was very similar to the furniture that we had had to get rid of when we downsized to a more modern and manageable house – all of six years ago now. I looked at a Victorian bed chest and could have sworn it had been ours! And the gate below is exactly the same as the back gate of the 1930s house that I grew up in, except ours was in better condition and painted rural green.

1930s gate, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

1930s chairs, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

Do you remember those halcyon days when we didn’t have to worry about crowds and social distancing? Below is the queue for the working bakery at Beamish but we didn’t bother to join the queue, it looked like they might run out of stuff to sell anyway! I was really taking the photo of the lovely Edwardian?Victorian window. There’s also an old sweetie shop selling authentic sweets, we DID queue up for that one. Indian Limes anyone? They were delicious.

Beamish, Edwardian  windows,

We hope we’ll be able to visit again – sometime.

Pockersley Hall from road, Beamish, folk museum, County Durham

Largo’s Untold Stories by Leonard Low

Largo

Largo’s Untold Stories by Leonard Low is an interesting read. The author doesn’t stick rigidly to writing about the little coastal village of Largo in east Fife. I was very interested to read that there had been a big battle between the Romans and the Pictish tribes at the base of the Lomond Hills in Fife not far from where I live. If you live in the area or you intend to visit the ‘East Neuk’ it would be a good idea to read a book like this first.

Mind you given that some of the history features ‘witch’ burning and torturing I must admit that walking along Largo beach won’t ever be quite the same for me as it was the scene of some horrific acts carried out by jealous and crazed villagers.

He also writes about the real Robinson Crusoe (Alexander Selkirk) who came from Largo and about starvation and cannibalism on an expedition in search of the North West Passage which had links to the area.

Lots of stone cist burials have been found locally dating from the 420s AD and some earlier. The first one found was a woman who had been buried in a sitting position. Over the years jewellery has been found when major works have been taking place, such as the building of the railway line when two gold torques were discovered. The Pictish tribes buried their valuables before going to war.

Archaeologically, historically and geologically it’s a very interesting place.

If you are interested in seeing what the area looks like have a look at some images here.

Easter Daffodils at Balbirnie, Fife

Let’s go on a wee virtual walk on this lockdown Easter Sunday. When I took these photos of the daffodils on the Balbirnie Estate/Park in Fife last week the daffodils were in full bloom and as usual getting a bit battered by the wind, it always amazes me how much bad weather they can put up with, they’re obviously not as delicate as they look.

Balbirnie Daffodils

Balbirnie Daffodils, Fife

Some of the boundary stones that edge the Balbirnie driveway have faint ancient markings on them but most must have been placed there in fairly recent years. These stones aren’t far from the Balbirnie Standing Stones and they date back to the Bronze Age.

Balbirnie Daffodils, Fife

The daffodils below are growing in what counts as the rough of the golf course I suppose and we sometimes end up helping a golfer to find their ball. One day last month, in the glory days before the course was shut to golfers because of the lockdown, we witnessed one golfer whacking his ball in the rough and he managed to bounce it off a tree really hard, it bounced back with such force and ended up further back than the start. It might have killed him if it had hit him, but as it was – he almost died of embarrassment I think!

Balbirnie Daffodils, Fife

Even a water hazard looks quite scenic when framed by tree branches I think. We usually steer well away from the fairways when we go for our walks although in theory in Scotland they can’t stop anyone from just wandering over the course even as people play. But we noticed that the dog walkers are claiming the course at the moment – with no worries about anyone yelling FORE at them as they amble along. Every cloud has a silver lining for someone I suppose. Anyay, I hope you enjoyed your virtual breath of fresh air, especially if you are unlucky enough to be stuck in a flat.

Balbirnie golf course, Fife

More Armchair Travelling – Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs/Islands

I’m not finding it too difficult to be stuck at home, I’m a home bird anyway and as we’re retired it hasn’t made an awful lot of difference to us, but speaking – at a distance – to my neighbours, the men in particular are finding it very wearing. On the plus side, one of the men said that he and his wife hadn’t murdered each other yet! But as he said that he was dragging his lawnmower out of his shed, and I had just been thinking that his grass was looking scalped. It’s looking even more so now as he’s mowing it every second day.

Anyway, if you’re also feeling a bit antsy you might enjoy settling down to watch the You Tube videos below

Series 1 episode 1 of Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotlands Lochs. Legends of the West – Argyll and Loch Etive. This one is a cracker, history, geology and beautiful scenery – what more can you want?

Don’t miss Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands – Northern Skye.

If you fancy  something different from gorgeous scenery you might like to take a wee look at some of Scotland’s Treasures in  – The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh . This is a BBC documentary, eye candy of a different sort.


I hope you enjoy these ones.

 

 

A Sense of Belonging to Scotland by Andy Hall

A Sense of Belonging to Scotland cover

We were recently given a copy of this beautiful book – A Sense of Belonging to Scotland by Andy Hall. It contains a collection of sumptuous photographs of Scottish scenery – the favourite places of Scottish personalities. The book was first published in 2002 and features a real mixture of people who have written about their favourite place and the photograph that Andy Hall has taken of it is on the facing page.

Most of the personalities chose beautiful scenery as their favourite place but I had to laugh when I saw the photo of author Ian Rankin’s favourite place – it is the pub sign of The Oxford Bar in Edinburgh.

It features fifty people’s favourite places – Kirsty Wark, Iain Banks, Jimmy Logan, Barbara Dickson, Sally Magnusson, Sir Ludovic Kennedy, Gregor Fisher, Rikki Fulton, Evelyn Glennie, Hannah Gordon, Richard Wilson, Cameron Mackintosh, Ewan McGregor – to mention just a few and some of the places featured are: Castle Campbell, Dollar Glen in Stirlingshire, Ettrick Valley, Langholm in Dumfriesshire, Plockton in Wester Ross, Mull, Loch Morar.

This book is a real feast for the eyes, a lot of the places I’ve visited but there are an awful lot that I haven’t. So I’m adding to my long list of places that I still want to visit in Scotland. I somehow think it will be a good few months before there is any possibility of getting on the road again, but until then I’m happy to read this book and admire the photos.

The photo on the front cover is Loch Morar and it was the choice of Cameron Mackintosh.