Fife’s Pilgrim Way, Official Opening

Last week I attended the official launch of Fife’s Pilgrim Way. Jack and I were drafted in at the last minute to represent the local Community Council.

Stained Glass, Dunfermline Abbey nave, Fife

I had been under the impression that it was taking place in Dunfermline Abbey but it turned out that it was in the oldest part of it, the nave which was apparently originally the priory which was founded by Queen Margaret of Scotland (King Malcolm’s wife) – or Saint Margaret as she’s sometimes called.

They had an actress speaking as Queen Margaret and some musicians playing appropriate music on old style instruments. It looks rather empty but it did fill up, some people had walked the eight mile stretch of the Pilgrim Way from North Queensferry to the Abbey, they definitely deserved a seat, we stood though, not realising we would be there for over an hour.
Dunfermline Abbey nave,columns 1

The ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown was a Fife MP and lives close to the Pilgrim Way at North Quensferry so he was one of the speakers, the photo of him below is very grainy, zoomed in too close I think.
Gordon Brown, Dunfermline Abbey,

It was really the stone columns that impressed me though, the ones with chevrons are similar to those at Durham Cathedral but have more details, very elegant.
Dunfermline Abbey, nave, Fife

The nave isn’t huge but it is impressive. We didn’t go into the actual abbey where a short religious service was to take place. It is where Robert the Bruce is buried and if you’re interested you can see a previous blogpost of mine about the abbey here.

Dunfermline Abbey nave, upper storeys

Dunfermline Abbey nave, Stained Glass 1

Fife’s Pilgrim Way is 64 miles long and I intend to walk it all – but in various stages. I think I can manage eight miles or so at a time, if I get the bus back home!

Duncan and Alex’s Wedding

Way back in February Duncan our eldest son got married to Alex and since then I’ve intended to put my favourite photos of the day on ‘Pining’ but haven’t got around to it – yet. A few days ago Duncan wrote a lovely blogpost about his own memories of the day, illustrated with photos, so if you are interested you can have a look at it here.

Rosslyn Chapel, Midlothian, Scotland

Rosslyn Chapel board

A few weeks ago we had friends from England staying with us and they wanted to visit Rosslyn Chapel which was made famous by Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code. So off we set, in sunshine, but as we got closer to Rosslyn the heavens opened and it was a very wet walk for us from the car park. The chapel was originally called the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, and dated from the 15th century. It’s situated not very far south of Edinburgh.

Rosslyn Chapel, Midlothian

After a brief look around the packed out gift shop and buying our tickets we raced out to the chapel, obviously getting even wetter on the way. The chapel was much smaller than I had imagined it would be and it was absolutely mobbed, but we managed to get seats and were enjoying an interesting and amusing talk from the guide. Then another guide came in and asked her to stop as another busload of tourists had just turned up! We all had to budge up and make more room for them, even William the resident cat was evicted from his comfy abode on a pew above a hot air vent in the floor, he wasn’t best pleased.

Rosslyn Chapel, Midlothian

Sadly and stupidly, they don’t allow people to take photos inside the chapel, but all the foreign tourists immediately forgot that they could speak English and went about snapping anyway. We didn’t of course which is a real shame as the decorative stonework is fantastic. However all those taking naughty illegal photos have kindly put them on the internet so you can see them here.

Mind you, the official Rosslyn Chapel website has an explore the carvings section.
Rosslyn Chapel , Midlothian, Scotland
When I mentioned to various friends how crowded the chapel was when we were there it turned out that we were incredibly unlucky as they had all had the place almost completely to themselves which especially suited the cat lovers among them.

Rosslyn Chapel,Midlothian

Oldhamstocks, East Lothian, Scotland

Oldhamstocks houses, Scotland

I’m amazed to discover that it’s almost two years since we visited the tiny village of Oldhamstocks in East Lothian. We had seen a road sign pointing the way to it and it seemed such an incongruous English sounding name for its East Lothian location that we made time to have a look at it. It’s really wee with just 193 inhabitants according to Wiki, but it has a church so it is offically a village – not a hamlet. The church was consecrated way back in 1292. You can see photos that Jack took of it here.

Oldhamstock houses, East Lothian

It’s the picturesque houses that appealed to me though. This village is close to the Scottish Border with England and apparently its name means old dwelling place.

Oldhamstock houses, East Lothian

When we were there they had a notice up in a noticeboard advertising the upcoming village fete so despite it being such a wee place they do have a good community spirit, sadly we couldn’t go to it but heard it is worth going to as they were selling second-hand books, what more can you ask for?!
Oldhamstocks green, East Lothian

A Capital View – The Art of Edinburgh – by Alyssa Jean Popiel

 A Capital View - The Art of Edinburgh cover

A Capital View – The Art of Edinburgh – by Alyssa Jean Popiel is what used to be called a coffee table book – maybe it still is but I haven’t heard that term for yonks. It’s sumptuous and features one hundred artworks from Edinburgh City’s art collection. It must have been such a difficult task for the author to choose which artworks to include in the volume as Edinburgh City Council has been collecting since the middle of the 18th century. But this isn’t only a book which focuses on the artworks, it also gives lots of interesting details on the lives of the artists and the history of the areas featured in the images, and of course in lots of cases the places have been demolished and it’s lucky that the artists preserved them for posterity.

Below are a few of the artworks featured.

The Village of the Water of Leith from a Window in Rothesay Terrace by Sir William Fettes Douglas

Edinburgh

North Bridge and Salisbury Crags by Adam Bruce Thomson

Edinburgh

Plainstane’s Close, 1878 by Robert Noble

Edinburgh

The Palace of Holyroodhouse by Claude Buckle (1960) which was a British Railways poster.

Edinburgh

Although I borrowed this book from that library that I’m not supposed to be visiting, I think I might end up buying it as it’s so interesting.

Markinch Highland Games, Fife, Scotland

Sunday dawned dreich and damp but it was Markinch Highland Games Day, the first games of the season I think and although it had been raining heavily for the previous few days – the games were going ahead.

Pipe Band

This was the first time I had been to the games and I was really there as I had volunteered to help out with cooking the bacon for rolls, but I got a chance to walk around and see what was going on from time to time.

Pipe Band, Markinch
There was a real mixture of age groups involved in the pipe bands and some of them were from local high schools. They had to find corners of the park to tune up and have a bit of a practice before marching to where the adjudicators were waiting to judge them. One of the adjudicators was from America originally and he was still learning the ropes, but he was one of those American-Scots who was more Scottish than the Scots.

Methil Pipe Band

Luckily the rain stayed away most of the time but waterproof capes were worn by some. I hate to think how long it would take to dry out a wet kilt.

Pipe Band , Markinch Highland Games

The photo below is of a man with a gadget which he seemed to be using to test out the pipes of the individual players. It’s a complete mystery to me!
Pipe Band, Markinch

Sadly the Highland dancers weren’t in the park this year, I think they were at the town hall so I didn’t manage to get any photos of them. The Highland Fling used to be my party trick!

In the photo below the man is attempting to throw a 54 pound weight over a very high pole above him. The competitors didn’t seem to be very heavily muscled, in fact they are regularly tested for the illegal use of performance enhancing drugs – as are all of the athletes. I think they just chose some at random but quite a few of them were tested – it’s all so serious.

Weight tossing

Weight tossing

I think this one made it over!
Weight tossing

Or maybe it didn’t. As you can see there was a cycle race going on at the same time, there were an awful lot of cycle races and various different running races as well as tthrowing the hammer, but I missed those.

Weight tossing

There were three competitors battling it out in this contest, and I’m not sure which one won.
Weight tossing

There are cabers on the grass in the background but I missed that too, I must have been too busy cooking bacon when that was going on. Anyway, it was a long and tiring day, just watching it all going on, I can’t imagine what it was like taking part in it.

Yetts O’Muckhart, Clackmannanshire, Scotland

After we visited the Japanese Garden at Cowden we stopped off at the village of Yetts O’Muckhart. I had spotted a sign pointing to the church and wanted to check it out.

It’s a plain 18th century very Presbyterian looking church. I’m not at all religious as I dislike that we’re the best attitude that many such people have but I love old churches, possibly because they’re always situated on what was a sacred site for some much older religion than Christianity. One which speaks to me more as it’s more about trees and plants. I see from the photo that they are hedging their bets here as they’ve chosen to situate a holly tree in front of the church – very Druidesque!

Muckhart Church

Yetts O' Muckhart Church 2
How do you feel about graveyards? I’m not so keen on modern ones but I do love to mooch around really old graveyards. If you look at the stone wall in the photo below you’ll see some really ancient gravestones have been incorporated into it. As I recall they’re from the 1600s.
Graves ,  Muckhart , Clackmannanshire

Graves Muckhart
The setting is lovely and it’s so peaceful.
Graves Muckhart
It seems that almost all British graveyards have at least a few war graves, of servicemen or women who came home after having been wounded and didn’t survive. He lived to see the peace, surviving just 19 days after the armistice. At least he got a beautiful resting place, but it’s rather a scanty stone, no age given and no personal message from any relatives at the bottom of it. Maybe he didn’t have any. Note the spelling of the word ‘serjeant’. I wonder when they changed it to a ‘g’.
War Grave Muckhart

Branklyn Garden, Perth, Scotland

Last week we took advantage of a gorgeous blue sky day to visit Branklyn Garden in the ‘fair city’ of Perth – the original one of course, not the one in Australia which is what usually pops up if you google ‘Perth’.

Branklyn Gardens
I’m sure that this tree is a type of cherry but there was no sign of any blossom on it – it has fantastic glossy red bark though.
Branklyn Gardens
The gardens aren’t huge but they’re just perfect for having a relaxing stroll around and you can have a sit down or even visit the very pleasant tearoom.
Branklyn Gardens
This is a hillside garden which is owned by the National Trust. It’s just two acres and it was created in the 1920s using seed collected by plant hunters.
Branklyn Gardens
There’s a pond which is fed by a wee waterfall.
Branklyn Garden

The azaleas and rhododendrons were looking perfect.
Branklyn Garden

Branklyn Garden

Branklyn Garden
And you get a good view of Perth from the garden. It’s just a short drive from the city centre.
Branklyn Garden

Lastly, you can just catch a glimpse of the house which was built by the original owners, but it isn’t open to the public. This is a lovely place to visit if you’re near Perth, and you can always buy plants there which have been propagated from plants in the garden.
Branklyn Garden

East Neuk Easter

Easter Sunday was a gorgeous day in the East Neuk of Fife where we were lucky enough to be celebrating the day at the home of our newly extended family by marriage in Cellardyke. Below are a few photos that I took from their verandah – looking over to the Isle of May in the distance, it was a wee bit hazy.

Isle of May

Isle of May

It was all go on the Firth of Forth – which is really the North Sea at Cellardyke, with next landfall being Norway.

Kayaks

Two lots of rowers went past in quite big boats and they went at quite a lick. There has been an upsurge in competitive rowing between the Fife coastal villages recently although I think it’s mainly women tha take part in it.
Kayaks

You should be able to see one of the big heavy rowing boats in the background. A pod of four dolphins arrived and swam under and around the kayakers for a bit before swimming off further along the coast, but they turned out to be impossible to photograph.

aKayaks 4

Ella and Zinki are waiting patiently at the gate which leads onto the beach. Zinki the spaniel had already cut his paws on shards of shell or something but it didn’t seem to be bothering him much, he was still determined to get into that freezing water again – and he did!
Zinki and Ella

It did get a bit chilly later on, but by then we were into the home-made chocolate so nobody minded. It was a great day.

easter eggs

The Japanese Garden at Cowden, Clackmannanshire, Scotland

Japanese Garden , Cowden, Scotland

Japanese Garden , Cowden, Scotland

Last Monday was a bright and beautiful day so we decided to drive along The Japanese Garden at Cowden near Yetts o’ Muckhart which is in Scotland’s smallest county of Clackmannanshire.

There’s a small area given over to a gravel garden, and we watched a couple of the gardeners carefully raking the gravel and then making circular patterns in it. Luckily I managed to take this photo just before some garndparents took their grandchildren for a scuffle through it, ignoring the ‘keep out’ sign. Reading is wasted on some people!

Japanese Garden, Cowden, Scotland

As most of the cheery trees in streets, parks and gardens were already in bloom I thought it would be a good time to re-visit the Japanese gardens that we visited for the first time in the autumn. But it’ll be quite a while before anyone can sit under this tree below’s cherry blossom.

Japanese Garden, Cowden, Scotland, cherry tree

It turned out that as the original cherry trees which were planted in the garden back in the 1920s seem not to have survived, the trees that are there now are really small, having been planted recently.

But heigh-ho, we still had a lovely afternoon there. There’s still a lot of work ongoing, such as building new paths and expanding the woodland walk.

Japanese Garden , Cowden, Scotland
You can walk across the zig-zag bridge, if you aren’t worried about your balance, but you aren’t allowed onto the arched bridge – Health and Safety probably.
Japanese Garden , lake, Cowden, Scotland

The large pond (or is it a lake?) has a healthy amount of frog spawn in it, or maybe it’s toad spawn as when we were in the woodland walk I almost stood on this fine fellow who was sitting on the path, as I approached him I thought he was a clump of autumn leaves – or something even worse that I definitely didn’t want to put my foot in!

Toad

The Japanese Garden at Cowden is certainly worth a visit, although I must admit that we went a bit too early – well I had a ‘two for one ticket’ which was expiring the next day! In another week or so from now the maples will be looking great.
Japanese Garden , Cowden, Scotland