Branklyn Garden, Perth, Scotland – part 1

acer, Branklyn Garden, Perth

acer, Branklyn Garden, Perth

acer, Japanese Maple, Branklyn Garden, Perth

From Saturday we in Scotland were allowed to travel further than five miles (unless for food shopping) for the first time since the lockdown began in early March. So we took the opportunity to visit Branklyn Garden in Perth, on the way to visiting family thirty miles away from us. As you can see from the three photos above Branklyn has some lovely acers/Japanese maples.

This type of cherry tree bark just keeps getting better every year.

Cherry/Prunus Bark, Branklyn Garden, Perth

Below is a photo of delphiniums (I think) and an unusual Rhododendron with the new growth being coloured a sort of pale orange.
delphiniums, rhododendron, Branklyn Garden, Perth

Brown-Leaved Rhoddie, Branklyn Garden, Perth

Quite a few other people had had the same idea and I was surprised to see that the cafe was open, (but only for sitting outdoors.) Things felt almost normal – almost but not quite. There were masks and hand sanitiser at the entrance, but we had brought our own.

The garden is set in about two acres and dates from 1922 when this hillside orchard plot was bought by a couple who wanted to build an Arts and Crafts house there surrounded by a garden which has lots of winding paths around gorgeous planting.

Nowadays Branklyn Garden is owned by the Scottish National Trust. Sadly it was opened up just too late for us to admire the great banks of Himalayan Meconopsis, there were just a few stray petals left on them, not worth photographing. I was pleased to capture this fleeting butterfly though, I think it’s a tortoiseshell although I have no idea what the shrub is called.

Butterfly, Branklyn Garden, Perth

My garden in Fife, Scotland

Last week we had a couple of lovely blue sky sunny and hot days – hot by our standards anyway. Then of course the thunder and monsoon-like rain followed, and it’s still with us, well maybe not quite monsoon proportions but very damp indeed. I knew we would pay for all that gorgeous sunshine we had back in May!

my garden, Fife

But while the sun shone I took a few photos of my garden. Actually it looks a bit different now as it has been tidied up or redded up as we sometimes say in Scotland. I had to wait for my brown garden waste bin to be emptied as it was stuffed to the gunnels.

my garden

I got quite excited when I got an email from the Scottish National Trust telling me that some of their gardens will be opening on Friday. After the long Covid-19 lockdown a historic garden visit sounded perfect to me, especially as we’ve only been allowed to travel no further than 5 miles, unless it’s for essential shopping such as for food. The garden at nearby Falkland Palace or even Branklyn in Perth beckoned to me in my mind, but having seen the weather forecast for Friday I doubt if a garden visit will be on the cards. I live in hope!

my garden, Fife

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.

Armchair Travelling in Scotland

I’m always saying that the future has been such a disappointment to me as we still can’t teleport around the world with Scotty beaming us up. On Star Trek – The New Generation when people were in need of a change of scene they had an afternoon off on the Holodeck. Sadly we can’t do that, wouldn’t it be great if we could, but as we’re stuck at home for the duration, however long that might be we can only have a trawl through You Tube and do some armchair travelling.

I love Paul Murton’s TV series ‘Grand Tours’ of the Highlands, Islands and Lochs. If you fancy a change of scene away from your living room you can admire the change of scenery.

Below there’s an episode of Paul Murton’s BBC series Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands.

Now here’s one of Paul Merton’s Grand Tours of Scottish Lochs.

And I found this interesting film featuring the Western Isles.

No tickets, traffic jams, delays or bad weather problems!

Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Just as it was getting towards the time when all the National Trust and Historic Scotland properties were going to be opening for the new season – they didn’t, due to Coronavirus. But when we visited Drum Castle – I’m amazed to see that it was way back in October 2018 – I only wrote blogposts about the outside of the castle and it’s surroundings here and here.

I meant to get around to blogging about the inside, but you know what it’s like, it somehow eluded me, anyway below is a photo of the dining room. I must say that Drum Castle is very comfortable looking, considering it’s a castle.

Dining Room, Drum Castle

The library is very well stocked, but untouchable of course.
Drum Castle, library, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

There’s a very handy sitting area at the window where you could settle down with your choice of book, if you had happened to live there. The alcove it’s in highlights the thickness of the castle’s walls.

Drum Castle Library, Window Recess

The door leading to the sitting room loks like a castle door should I think.
Sitting Room, Drum Castle

But the room is fairly homely I think, not too grand.

Sitting Room, Drum Castle

I could quite happily settle down at this fireplace.
Sitting Room Fireplace, Drum Castle

The sitting room ceiling goes well with the door.
Drum Castle Sitting Room Ceiling

I woinder if there ever really was a cradle at the bottom of this four poster bed when this castle was a family home. I suspect that a nanny was in charge of the nursery and children. But the cradle is beautiful.
Bedroom, Drum Castle

As is the half-tester bed below, and the bureau which I believe is in a Japanese/Chinese style but it’s so long ago now I can’t remember!

Bedroom, Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

If you happen to be in the vicinty of Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire or what is now called Grampian I believe, it’s well worth a visit.

Queensferry Harbour – a Jigsaw Puzzle

Winter is jigsaw puzzle season for us but we hadn’t done any for over a year, it seemed that we might have a jigsaw free winter because I just didn’t see any in the shops that I wanted to do, but when I saw this Queensferry Harbour one I had to buy it. At first – as often happens – I despaired of being able ever to complete it, but in the end we managed it within five or so days.

Queensferry Harbour, jigsaw puzzle

On Sunday the day dawned bright with a blue sky – and no rain. We had been looking forward to going to an annual book sale for ages, south of Edinburgh but it was cancelled at the last minute. Presumably the organisers thought that not many people would turn up due to the coronavirus being around. It meant we felt at a bit of a loose end so we decided to drive to South Queensferry – the scene of the puzzle – and had lunch there. I took just a few photos.

Forth Bridge, South Queensferry, River Forth, Scotland

Yes, by then it had started to cloud over a wee bit, but it was still a nice wee change.
Forth Bridge, railway bridge, River Forth, Scotland

On the way back home we dropped in at Tesco supermarket intending to do our normal weekly shop and were greeted by empty shelves. Such a sense of panic with many people and I couldn’t help thinking that they probably didn’t have enough room in their freezers to accommodate everything they were buying – there was no meat left, or even eggs. I suspect a lot of the food would end up being wasted. Crazy.

Lah di dah, lah di dah. Can you tell that I’ve been watching Annie Hall?!

Dumbarton Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Last week when we were in Dumbarton, where I grew up and Jack was born, we had a wee walk through the town centre, which like most has seen far better days. Inevitably there were empty shops, but they have tried to jolly things up by covering the shop fronts with these gorgeous photographs of ‘The Rock’. In fact I took the photo on my blog header from the top of this very historic rock which is a volcanic plug. Because of its strategic position at the confluence of two rivers – the Clyde and the Leven – it has been used as a fort and stronghold, and was even used by the army in WW1 and WW2. There’s a tradition (accordng to the author Rosemary Sutcliff) that the Romans had a naval station here and they called it Theodosia, which I believe means given by the gods.

Dumbarton  Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Whenever I see this place in the distance I always feel that I’m home. I don’t know who took these photos but they are very good I think, probably the first one was taken by a drone.

Dumbarton  Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland