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

A woodland walk in Balbirnie, Fife

I hope you’re up for another walk along the margins of Balbirnie estate in Fife. It was a mild and relatively calm day, I’m not really keen on walking near trees when the wind blows hard – as it often does here. It’s just too dangerous.

Balbirnie Walk

We were ambling along quite happily when a crashing noise alerted us to the group of deer that we would never have noticed otherwise as they’re so well camouflaged.
Balbirnie Walk

Just to the right of centre you might be able to see the white behind of one of the deer, if it wasn’t for their scut you would never see them.
Balbirnie Walk 3 Deer closer
There were three of them but I just managed to snap the one below as it shot past.
Balbirnie Walk ,  Deer

Today I wanted to take some photos of the garden which is looking so colourful at the moment, but my camera had run out of juice. By the time it was fired up again the flowers I wanted to snap were in half shade, maybe tomorrow we’ll have the sunshine again. If I don’t get a photo soon the wind will have blown off the ornamental dwarf cherry blossom!

Another walk – Cockburnspath and Cove, Scottish Borders / Berwickshire part 2

To get down to the right hand side of the beach at Cove you have to walk through this tunnel. It was constructed years ago and goes through the cliffs. It was no mean feat to build it and it’s very dark inside, you just have to aim for the light at the end of it and watch out for the potholes.

Cove Tunnel

At the beginning it’s shored up with brick but I think most of it inside is just rough rock face, but as it’s so dark in there I don’t know for sure.
Cove Tunnel

To get over to the beach on the other side you have to go back through the tunnel. These cottages are all that’s left of what had once been a thriving fishing community, all of the other cottages have been swept away by the sea.

Cove Harbour

Cove Harbour

Thecottages are only used to store fishing gear.

Cove Harbour , creels

The houses below are bit more modern and set back from the seashore. I still wouldn’t fancy being in them during a storm though.

Cove Harbour

Looking closer you can see that the cliffs are well upholstered with gorse bushes, they fairly brighten the place and seem to be in bloom most of the year – just don’t fall into it!

Cove Harbour

gorse

A train unexpectedly shot across a field. It’s many many years since I had toddlers walking beside me but whenever I see a train I still have an urge to point it out to them!

train, Cockburnspath

We walked back to Cockburnspath by a different route and came across this rather grand ram. When we first spotted him he was having a fine time attacking the hessian sacking wit his huge horns but he stopped to scrutinise us. Obviously we were more interesting, or just a welcome distraction. He was probably bored but seemed too aggresive to have any company in the field with him.

Ram

Just beyond the ram’s field are these farm buildings, very neglected and seemingly unused. Whenever I see places like this I just itch to put them to rights. I hate that farmers just let old buildings fall down.

Farm buildings, near Cove, Scottish Borders

Farm  buildings near Cove

Farm  near Cove
We walked along farmland paths
Farmland, Cockburnspath, Scottish Borders
and then along the field margins.
Farm view  sheep, Cove, Scottish Borders

And back to Cockburnspath for a well earned coffee.

Farmland , Cockburnspath, Scottish Borders

Another walk – Cockburnspath and Cove, Scottish Borders / Berwickshire

We had arranged to go and visit our friend Eric last Monday and luckily it turned out to be a beautiful day for it. But then it always seems to be a blue sky sparkling sort of a day around Cove and Cockburnspath in Berwickshire whenever we go there. Why not join me on my walk there?

The lands of Cockburnspath were part of the dowry given by James IV of Scotland to Margaret Tudor (daughter of Henry VII of England) on their marriage in 1503, it’s a lovely place but so off the beaten track that few people seem to know about the place. Our visits always include a walk down to the coast to the teeny wee historic harbour of Cove. This time we went the scenic way along narrow lanes, avoiding the main road. This flowering currant was putting on a good show beside one rather remote cottage.
Flowering currant, Cockburnspath, Berwickshire. Scotland

Stone Cottages

The lane becomes a narrow footpath, as you can see the daffodils are out.
Path , Cockburnspath, Cove, Berwickshire, Scotland

It isn’t long before you catch a glimpse of the coast in the distance across some fields.
Cove bluffs

I was relieved to see that the tide wasn’t too far in.
Cove sea , Berwickshire, Scotland

Cove sea , Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, Scotland

Uther the red and white setter was in a hurry to get down there, but I lagged behind him, Jack and Eric, taking my time to get some photos.

Cove Path, near Cockburnspath

Cove, near Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, Scotland

It certainly felt like spring had sprung, but Uther didn’t brave the sea, in fact he never does. He just loves the sights and smells, and enjoys digging up crabs to crunch now and again. I suspect those crabs must be dead but they don’t seem to cause him any harm.
Uther

I’ll continue with our journey tomorrow. I hope you’re up for it, it’s just a pity that you can’t catch the fresh coastal air.

Meanwhile you can see more of my older photos here.

The Balbirnie Park, Fife

It’s officially spring now and a couple of days ago I took my camera with me on a walk around the Balbirnie Park in Fife. Originally this land was the Balfour family estate but now it belongs to Fife Council and it’s well used by the local people – walkers, cyclists and even now and again people riding horses as there are some bridle paths there. Get your walking shoes on and come with me!

Back Burn

The wild garlic is really burgeoning now although only the leaves, so I wasn’t accompanied by its pungent scent, the flowers won’t be long in appearing now if the weather keeps mild. That aroma will probably assail me whenever I open the back door in a week or two. By the bye, I was at a ‘fancy’ food market last weekend and there was a stall there selling bunches of wild garlic leaves at £5 a bunch. At that rate the land around Balbirnie is worth a fortune! It’s good for making pesto, if you’re that way inclined.

Back Burn

It’s a quiet walk, apart from the birds who keep up a constant chatter but are mainly in hiding. The Back Burn as this small stream is called is I suppose what attracted the neolithic people to settle in this area 4 or 5,000 or so years ago. You can see a post about their nearby stone circle here.
Back Burn

There are a few picnic benches dotted around but they don’t really detract from the essential wildness of the place.
Back Burn

As far as I know there’s only this one giant redwood (sequoia) tree on the estate although as those trees were introduced to Britain around the time of the Battle of Waterloo they’re more commonly know as Wellingtonias here – in honour of the Duke of Wellington’s triumph in battle. This one doesn’t seem too large to me so possibly it isn’t actually a giant one. I suppose a lot depends on how old it is though.
giant redwood tree

Hallelujah – the first rhododendron is in flower, as you can see this one is being propped up as it’s trunk wouldn’t bear the weight of its top. In common with many Victorian estates Balbirnie has lots of beautiful specimens, some of them quite rare and planted when there was a vogue for the next exciting thing to be found by plant hunters of the day, many of whom were Scottish.

Rhododendron, Balbirnie, Fife

Well, that was just a wee wander along a part of the large Balbirnie estate, I hope you enjoyed the breath of fresh air and aren’t too tired. I went home and had coffee and a biscuit of course. Well I deserved it I think, but I wish I could offer you one too.

You can see more images of Balbirnie Park here.

Glasgow Cathedral – St Mungo’s

Glasgow Cathedral

I’m sure you know what it’s like – you rarely get around to visiting touristy places nearby and to be fair it’s donkey’s years since I’ve lived near Glasgow, but I did spend the first five years of my life there so it was about time I got around to visiting Glasgow Cathedral which is also called the High Kirk of Glasgow and has a Church of Scotland congregation. It’s the oldest cathedral on mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow. It dates from the late 12th century and is also known as St Mungo’s or St Kentigern’s (one and the same person). His tomb is in the crypt and the kirk features in Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy.

St Mungo's Tomb

altar-ish

I was impressed with the building although lots of the windows are just plain diamond paned glass. Apparently in the 1800s the powers that were gave a German company the commission to renew the windows with stained glass at huge expense, but within just a few years the glass began to deteriorate badly. I suspect that Prince Albert had something to do with the work going to a German firm, he seems to have seen it as his mission in life to give his country of birth as much economic help as possible. I bet they didn’t get their money back either!

The stone rood screen below is apparently quite unique.

stone rood screen

The ceiling is quite impressive.

medieval roof

The modern tapestries below are beautiful but the camera couldn’t do them justice.

modern Tapestries

The cathedral has a good atmosphere and there was also a very interesting photographic exhibition on when we were there. You can read more about the building here. I must admit though that to me it comes second to St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney which is stunning.

Glasgow’s coat of arms decorates the old lampost outside the cathedral.

Glasgow crest on Lamppost

There are stained glass windows in the cathedral, but I’ll keep them for another blogpost.

Bowhouse, near Crail, Fife

On December the 8th we went to the Bowhouse Market which is held in barns on a farm between Crail and St Monans. I think Bowhouse (Bauhaus) is a pun on the owner’s name which is I think Bowie. For some reason there were alpacas there, I don’t think they’re particularly festive but they were very cute.

alpacas

I got the distinct impression that the alpacas thought we were very strange beings – don’t look at them those two said as they turned their backs on us.
alpacas

After buying some lovely food and drink at the market we drove home admiring a gorgeous sunset which of course the camera didn’t do justice.

sunset  over the Forth

sunset , Fife

It’s obviously a rural part of the county and the road back home is quite a narrow one.
winter sunset , Fife

These houses will have a great view over the Firth of Forth, a sea view seems to be very popular with so many people, and I’m sure it adds lots of value to a house, but I must say I prefer the soft green of hills and field. It probably depends on what you grew up looking at as a youngster. What about you – are you a sea view sort of a person, a hills and meadows fan or do you prefer the bustle of a city and all the culture and conveniences that that brings with it?
winter sunset , Fife

Dundee Botanic Garden

I did a blogpost about the glasshouses at Dundee Botanic Garden a few weeks ago and I was absolutely sure that I had previously posted ones about the actual gardens, so I was amazed when I couldn’t find that post on ‘Pining’. Has it somehow disappeared or did I only write it in my mind while I was doing the ironing or something? Anyway – here goes again – or maybe not!
It was a gorgeous Indian summer day but it was midweek and we almost had the whole of the botanic gardens to ourselves.

Dundee Botanic Gardens conifer

Dundee University uses parts of the gardens for research. This area is the genetics garden. The three trees below are Ginkgo bilobas, sometimes known as the Maidenhair tree. I’m sure that I recently read that the most northerly Ginkgos are growing in the north of England – obviously that was wrong as these ones are thriving. I love these trees, they look so delicate, but there are fossils of ginkgos which are 270 million years old. They originate from China.

genetics garden , Dundee

The stylish stone walls are a fairly recent addition I believe.
genetics garden, Dundee Botanics, Scotland

Dundee University and nearby Ninewells Hospital do a lot of very good medical research.

genetics garden, Dundee Botanics, Scotland

There’s a large old house within the gardens, in the photo you can just see the steps which lead up to it. It looks to me like it has been split up into flats, but presumably the Botanic Gardens were originally the gardens of the grand house.

flowers and house, Dundee Botanic Garden, Scotland

And below is the house.

house Dundee Botanic Gardens

Walk through the arched yew hedge and you enter a darkened yew room, lovely shade on a very bright day.
yew hedge arch

The botanic garden is built quite high up from the main road and from the edge of them you can look down on Dundee airport which is very small but fairly busy. I suspect that the biggest planes it can cope with seat about 50 people. The river is of course the Tay and the bridge that you can see is the one which replaced the old bridge which collapsed in a wild storm in 1879. You can read about it here. You can still see the stumps of the original bridge.

airport  + Tay Bridge

Dundee airport
We visited the Dundee Botanic Gardens on the third of September and below is a photo of an acer which was already changing into its autumn clothing, but it certainly didn’t feel like autumn was on the way. I took some more photos but I’ll keep them for another day. Hope you enjoyed the walk!

Dundee Botanic Garden path