Pitmedden Garden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

We visited Pitmedden Garden when we were in Aberdeenshire recently. It’s a place that I have wanted to visit for something like 40 years after watching the early days of the Scottish gardening programme The Beechgrove Garden, because one of the presenters – George Barron – was the head gardener at Pitmedden then.

Pitmedden Garden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

Apparently I took 42 photographs while we were there, but I’ll just show you a few of them just now, to give you an idea what it’s like if you’ve never been there.
Pitmedden Garden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

Pitmedden Garden, knot garden, Aberdeenshire

The garden is a wonderful knot garden with over six miles of clipped box and yew hedges as well as a fairly recently replanted orchard. Most of the trees in there are too new to have much of a crop, but the older trees which are trained against the tall stone walls were well laden.

apples, Pitmedden, Aberdeenshire

One of the great things about this garden is that despite the fact that its ‘bones’ are set in the intricate box patterns, it will still be ever changing as the spaces are planted up with seasonal bedding plants. The area in the photo below was filled with several different sorts of marigolds. I love the topiary yew buttresses aginst the walls in the background too.

Pitmedden Garden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

It isn’t all formal though, there are some lovely overflowing mixed herbaceous borders too.
mixed border, Pitmedden Garden, Aberdeenshire

We were there quite early on a Saturday morning and almost had the place entirely to ourselves. It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re in Aberdeenshire.

Below is a You Tube video of the beginnings of Beechgrove Garden and you can see George Barron and Jim McColl chatting away, George had a lovely Aberdonian accent which wasn’t something I had heard much of back then. Occasionally he slipped into the ‘Doric’ but not often enough for my liking!

Gala at Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway

About a month or so ago we were travelling down to the north of England for a few days, just for a change of scene and as usual we stopped off at the couthie wee town of Moffat. We normally have our lunch there and check out the secondhand bookshop. Yes I did buy a few books!

Georgian Hotel, Moffat, Scotland

It was busier than usual but we put that down to it being a Saturday. Just as we parked the car – congratulating ourselves on managing to get a space in the High Street we heard pipers tuning up and realised it was their Gala day.
Pipers and drummers

The wee Border towns have been better at holding on to these old traditions, Moffat choose a ‘shepherd and lass’ each year and they’re in the carriage.

It was impossible to get photos without people in the way but you can also see the lovely cushioned hills in the background, perfect backdrop to any town.
Moffat Pipers and drummers 3

Moffat Gala Day, Horse drawn carriage

Jack took a couple of very short videos while we were there.

Shepherd and Lass Carriages, Moffat

Pipers and Drummers, Moffat

They haven’t got around to putting up a video of the 2019 gala yet but you can see a wee bit of what went on in the 2018 gala if you’re interested.

The Secret Herb Garden, near Edinburgh

Looking at these photos – and particularly when you are actually at The Secret Herb Garden, it’s quite difficult to believe that you are just a hop and a skip from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh.

Secret Herb Garden

It’s mainly herbs that are for sale as well as some vintage things such as old gardening tools and some furniture.
The Secret Herb Garden

But The Secret Herb Garden is mainly a lovely place to get away from the city and have a nice snack at the cafe.

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

We had plenty of choices for where to sit, but as we visited on a very hot day we decided not to sit at a table in one of the greenhouses as it was just too hot and bright.
Secret Herb Garden

Secret Herb Garden

Vintage cars are used as decoration in parts and the old VW Beetle has been pressed into use as a log store.
Secret Herb Garden

We went all around the various garden areas first though and it feels just like being in the garden of a National Trust property, or something similar.

The Secret Herb Garden

The Secret Herb Garden
We had coffee and cake but I didn’t buy any plants as – I already had them all. I suppose that proves that I’m definitely a plantaholic!
The Secret Herb Garden

This is one of those places that we’ve been meaning to visit for ages. If you’re inclined towards distillery visiting you can do that too as there’s one just beyond the gardens which seems to make whisky and gin – as they just about all seem to nowadays. I don’t care how fashionable gin is, or whisky for that matter – I can’t stomach the stuff.

The Secret Herb Garden

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