Kemback, Fife, Scotland

I was mooching around on Kingsbarns beach a while ago, it was just after a big storm and I practically fell over some stones with fossils in them. I’ve been back there since and haven’t been lucky enough to find anything interesting like that again, so I googled fossils in Fife and a village called Kemback was mentioned.

Now I’ve lived in Fife for over 35 years but I had never heard of Kemback before, so it was put on a list of places to visit, and one beautiful afternoon last week we got around to going there.

It’s close to Cupar and in Victorian times a mill was built there, taking advantage of the rushing water of the Ceres Burn which looks far too big to be called a burn if you ask me. The photo below is of a lovely waterfall which feeds into the river after running underneath the road. At some point it runs into the River Eden I believe.

Kemback waterfall

The waterfall is to the left of the Community Hall which you can see in the photo below.
Kemback waterfall
There are quite a few big-ish houses and a row of small terraced houses that must have been built for the mill workers, there’s a community hall and up a very steep hill stands a church and a graveyard.

But it’s the waterfall gushing down a cliffside that is the most attractive aspect of the place, it’s the one reason to visit the village really as although the waterfall feeds into the ‘burn’ there seems to be no easy way to access the burn banks or the enticing woodland over the other side of it which is really frustrating.

I love bridges in general and this one is a cute wee thing, it’s a shame about the rubbish that someone has probably chucked out of a passing car, litter seems to be all over Fife and it’s about time they started fining people because where there is a fine, such as around the Glasgow area – there is no litter on the roadside verges.

Kemback Bridge

As you can see from the photo below, it’s a fairly skinny road through Kemback, but not so narrow that passing places are needed.
Kemback cliffs

The road leading up to the church was another matter though, it’s very steep and narrow and I was terrified that we would meet a monster of a 4×4 coming in the opposite direction – but we were lucky, it’s a surprisingly busy teeny road. The church is a replacement of the original one which is just a shell in the middle of the graveyard and it was built in 1586.

Kemback Church and War Memorial

As you can see the World War 1 war memorial is in the shape of a Celtic cross.

It was the old church that really interested me, it’s situated below where the existing church is now and is surrounded by a graveyard which is still in use, but some of the graves go back hundreds of years. The church was built in 1582 and it replaced one from 1244, so it’s a fairly early Christian area. There’s only one World War 1 grave which is in front of the church in the photo, the poor soul must have been brought back home wounded – and lingered until 1920.

Old Kemback Church

The photos below were taken inside the church, where there are some ancient gravestones.
Old Kemback Church
Old Kemback Church

A view of some of the surrounding hills.
hills, Kemback< Fife

We went for a wee walk beyond the village and below is a photo of the road leading back into it. The orange thing to the left in the distance is a temporary barrier as it looks like some idiot had crashed into the wall recently. The walls around Fife seem to have taken a battering over this winter one way or another.
Kemback road

No doubt in the past this area has been quite industrial but now it’s a quiet backwater, apart from the roaring of the water that fuelled the industry.
3rd waterfall

There’s nothing else in the village apart from the community hall and the church it seems. Nobody has been tempted to open up a tearoom – which would no doubt have bought loads of visitors, but I’m not surprised that the inhabitants want to keep the place to themselves. I didn’t see anywhere that looked like a good place to find fossils, but we had a lovely afternoon out there.

You can see more images of Kemback here.

Visit Scotland – and Stromness, Orkney

I’ve received another email from Visit Scotland, telling of the many attractions of this country. You can see it all here.

We’re already booked up for Stromness in Orkney later in the year and you can see some of its attractions here.

It looks very peaceful in this photo but I imagine it must be quite a busy place – when the ferry comes in anyway.

Stromness

Joan Eardley Exhibition

Joan Eardley

On Thursday afternoon we went to Edinburgh to visit the Scottish artist Joan Eardley’s exhibition at the Modern Art Gallery 2 Sadly this exhibition isn’t free, I think it cost £9 but we became ‘friends’ of the galleries which is well worth the money if you enjoy visiting art exhibitions. Firstly we parked the car at the wrong gallery and had to walk across the road to Gallery 2. Then when we did get there I was quite disappointed because there was just one small room with her Glasgow children paintings on display and I nearly left a comment saying I was disappointed that it was so small. Just as well I didn’t as it turned out that there are four more rooms full of her work upstairs. lots of them are landscapes of the wee village of Catterline that she stayed in for years, travelling between her cottage there and her studio in Glasgow. Catterline is north east of Aberdeen, and in the 1950s when she was painting there they still had a small salmon fishing business going on. She bought a cottage there for £30, it had no running water or anything but even so, I wonder how much those cottages cost nowadays!

It’s fair to say that Eardley’s paintings of the Samson children who lived in a flat beneath her studio in Glasgow are not things of beauty. They were living in abject poverty – a family of twelve children who were all models for Eardley, but when you see the actual paintings you see the detail in the background and she captured the essence of a time and place that no longer exists. There are three short films in the exhibition too where you can see her at work and old Glasgow of the 1950s in a film about renewal plans.

The Catterline paintings were my favourites though and there were a couple that I would happily have hung on walls in my home. Unfortunately as usual the gallery shop didn’t have any prints of my favourites.

The exhibition also has a lot of photographs of the Samson children and letters from the artist to friends and her sister. It’s so sad that she died of breast caner when she was only 42, especially as one of the letters says that she is going to the doctor because her bosom was giving her such a lot of pain. Obviously she should have gone to the doctor a lot earlier than she did.

If you’re interested in seeing images of her artwork have a look here.

You can see images of Catterline here.

Catterline

Visit Scotland – Orkney

Scapa Flow

One of the places we hope to visit this year is Orkney, doesn’t the photo of Scapa Flow above look great?! It’s all incredibly historic, or maybe I mean pre-historic.

The photo below is of Skara Brae, I’ve wanted to go there for years even although I thought it was just what you can see in the photo, but last week I saw it on TV and the site is much bigger than this. The dwellings are 5,000 years old.

Skara Brae

You can see lots more photos of Orkney on Visit Scotland here.

Honfleur in France

I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the building in the photo below, it’s up for sale but it looks like nature is going to beat any buyer to it.

aplant cliff 1

From there we went for a snoop around a supermarket, it’s always interesting in a foreign country – to see what different things are on offer food-wise. But with French supermarkets you always have to pluck up courage to go in as when you first step through the doors you are invariably assailed by such a horrendous smell that it takes some courage not to just turn around and dash out again for fresh air. I don’t know how they manage it, I suspect they just never clean the places.

Below is a photo of an old style French ‘gents’ public toilet – and it’s still in use. As usual Jack was in need of a loo (I swear I could write a guidebook on the public loos of Scotland – I seem to have stood outside most of them at some point!) Anyway, he went into the small white building which he thought was unisex, but I’m not so sure as the old metal structure is still in use, I saw chaps using it, and I mean saw as their heads were in view. This is all rather alien to Brits, but French toilet facilities still leave a lot to be desired, in some places it is literally just a hole in the ground!
toilets

It reminded me of Clochemerle, it’s a book by Gabriel Chevallier and it was televised way back in the early 1970s on the BBC, very late due to its subject matter being seen as rather risque in those days.

From the ‘cor blimey’ to the sublime Saint Catherine’s Church below is really old, 15th century in some parts I believe.

Honfleur Church

The church has a separate belltower.
achurch 4 belltower
And this other church was actually open.

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As you can see the internal decor is quite different from British churches.

achurch archway

The very intricate designs on the walls and ceilings seem to be more in keeping with a grand house, but maybe that is a feature of French Roman Catholic churches. It’s beautiful anyway.

achurch frieze

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Sailing on out of Honfleur, the surroundings are lovely, with this heavily wooded area right by the coast.
aleaving harbour 2

Sailing back out to sea, as you can see it’s a flat calm but the sea did get a wee bit more interesting in the next few days as we sailed back to Scotland. Most of the time though lying in bed on ship made me think of how it would feel if you were being stirred around gently in a big bowl. I find it very relaxing – rock-a-bye-baby sort of sensation, although I always worried about that lullaby’s words. Even as a small child that sounded crazily dangerous to me!

aleaving harbour 3

Dunkeld

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go to Dunkeld for the day. It’s one of my favourite wee towns. It was the day we were in search of autumnal trees.

aDunkeld trees 4

I took the photo below from the bridge in Dunkeld, looking north up the River Tay.

aDunkeld trees 1

I crossed the road to the other side of the bridge to capture the view to the south.
Dunkeld trees 3

Some houses just off the High Street in Dunkeld.

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The town was decorated with bunting, it wasn’t long after Halloween but I think it was something to do with a local tradition.

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aDunkeld street 2

If you look closely at the photo below you can just see the beginning of the bridge.

aDunkeld street 1

Here’s the bridge itself, built by Thomas Telford.

Bridge through trees

The River Tay is famous for salmon fishing but you have to put them back if you catch any.

aDunkeld trees stitch

Kingsbarns Beach in Fife, Scotland

A couple of weeks ago we decided to drive to Kingsbarns, a small coastal village in Fife, quite famous amongst golfers as the course there is used for final qualifying for The Open when it’s at St Andrews. We had only been to Kingsbarns beach once before and I was lucky enough to find some fossils amongst the stones there. There were also several lobster creels lying around on the beach, a bit bashed about, obviously they had been thrown up by the recent wild weather and high seas. I quite fancied taking one home as a decoration in the garden but they weigh a ton, so I decided against it.

If you look carefully at the photo below you should be able to see snow-clad mountains in the distance.
Kingsbarns seascape 1

This time though the beach was clear of any really interesting debris, and I didn’t find any fossils either, I must just have been really lucky the last time. But there was someone actually surfing in the North Sea! We had to go and investigate.

Of course we ended up getting into conversation with a lovely woman called Karen, mother of the surfer. She thought that standing on the edge of a Scottish beach around lunchtime was an improvement on the 5 am starts she used to have when her son Andrew Robertson was a competitive swimmer, before he was lured to the delights of surfing. The dedication of some mothers never fails to impress me!

surfer 1

Cornwall is the place to be if you’re keen on surfing and needing lots of practice for competitions, failing that Tiree is good apparently but I imagine that is quite a bit colder than down south. The North Sea wasn’t too cold according to Andrew, it’s worse in April. We often get colder weather in the spring than in November, we’re much more likely to get snow in March or April than in November or December. Apparently the sea is at its warmest in November as it hasn’t started to cool down.

seascape 2

The rockface below looks like a whole layer of it has been burnt, carbonised somehow – maybe even a layer of coal, evidence of some sort of geological happening in the very distant past anyway.

arockface

We were all wrapped up against the cold but it was quite balmy in early November and we ended up being too hot. We walked to the right and the left of the car park , previously we had only gone to the right but the left side is actually the more interesting part of the beach. There are lots of huge stones there, a couple of them look like standing stones and and the others seem to have been arranged in straight lines. It doesn’t look at all natural, I’d love to know more about the stone formations there. You can see more images of the beach here.

arocks 2

You can see Andrew Robertson in the video below, where the waves were much better for surfing.

Andrew Robertson HOME BREAK FOR XMAS 2015 from Robbie Robertson on Vimeo.

Porto

Jack was keen to get to the river in Porto, I wasn’t really sure why but as I love rivers anyway I certainly wasn’t going to complain.

river 2

river cruise boat

Almost as soon as we got there we saw a river boat full of singing people! We surmised that they had probably been on a portery crawl, the Portuguese equivalent of a distillery crawl. The porteries are all above the river and they were apparently very generous with free glasses of port. Names like Sandemans, Fonseca and Cockburn.

We opted for a bridges trip on the river instead, so there was no singing on the boat we were on – shame. The boat took us under five bridges of various sorts. It was a very hot day and I forgot my hat and sunscreen cream – yes I got a bit burnt.

aBridge 11 K

And I forgot my sunglasses so my face is a bit more screwed up than usual!

Bridge 20 selfie

The cliffs along the riverside are pretty high and steep.

Buildings 17 river bank

aBuildings 15 river bank

Sadly when you go on holidays like this you don’t have time to make friends with any locals so there’s no way to see the inside of ordinary peoples’ homes. I would have loved to get a peek into these riverside houses.

Buildings 13 washing lines

Buildings 21 river bank

Below is an old warehouse with boats outside in various states of decay, I think they were about to undergo refurbishment.

Buildings 27 Warehouses + boats

The dome just visible above the trees is the only part of an exhibition in the 1950s that is still standing.

Buildings 25 Dome

And below we’re just getting back to the riverside to disembark. If you go to Porto you should definitely take a trip along the River Douro. We really enjoyed it although a young woman we spoke to in a shop said that there is an even better river trip, but it’s much longer and we wouldn’t have had time for that one. Maybe next time we’ll do that as Porto is a place we would definitely like to visit again.

aBuildings 20 yacht  river bank

Scenery in Perthshire, Scotland

Last week we pointed the car north to Perthshire, just because it was a gorgeous blue sky day and we wanted to grab it while we could, before the cold days of winter set in. Again I was looking for some autumn colour.

aautumn trees 1

I managed to snap all of these photos from the car, of course Jack was driving!

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The fields still have their rolls of hay in them, maybe not as romantic looking as a haystack though, if you’re of that turn of mind.

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You can see the beautiful Perthshire hills in the distance.

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And a wee bit closer.

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Some rather ancient and dilapidated farm buildings, quite scenic looking as you go past.

autumn trees 19

Civilisation – after a fashion! This is the outskirts of a wee place called Logierait, on the way to Aberfeldy. We would go to Dunkeld later, but I’ll keep that for another time.

autumn trees 14

An Autumn Walk in Fife

Whether it’s referendum or election results that get you down, you can always rely on nature to brighten your mood, so get out into the great outdoors if you can, and if you can’t then come on a short walk with me.

aTrees 1

Annoyingly you can see my shadow in the one below.

aTrees 2

aTrees 3

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It was when we were coming back from our usual morning walk for the newspaper on a beautiful day last week I wished I had brought the camera with me. But the good tree colour that I wanted to capture before it disappeared was just a short hop from our place, so it was easy to go home and pick up the camera.

The photo below is looking down to the Balbirnie burn, it doesn’t look it but it’s quite far down a steep embankment.

aTrees 9

aTrees 10

In fact these are some of the trees that I often photograph from a spare back bedroom.

aTrees 14 and 15 stitch

There are some old farm buildings nearby.

aTrees 5

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It’s shame you can’t catch the lovely scent of autumn, but I hope the photos blew some of your cobwebs away – if you have any!

aTrees 13