Marian Clayden Exhibition at Drum Castle

It can be quite surprising what you see when you visit castles in Scotland. When we went to Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire – I have to say a couple of years ago now, I didn’t expect to see an exhibition of textiles and clothes by Marian Clayden who I hadn’t heard of before but is very well known in her field of textiles and weaving. You can see my earlier posts on Drum Castle here.

Marian Clayden designs

The photos really don’t do her work justice as you can’t see the textures so well. The fabric is mainly silk and velvet, absolutely sumptuous looking.

Marian Clayden textile

Marian Clayden dress designs

Marian Clayden, designs

Marian Clayden was born in Preston, Lancashire which had a thriving textile industry back in the day, so her family was involved in various crafts, but I think we can safely say that Marian picked up that baton and ran with it. You can read about her life here.

Marian Clayden design

She trained as a teacher but after having a couple of kids and being stuck at home she decided to try dyeing some textiles in her kitchen, using skills she had learned in her teacher training. Moving to San Francisco in 1967 must have influenced her hugely – with all of those flower power people and bright colours around the place.

Marian Clayden  designs

Her career took off and there were exhibitions of her work all over the world. Sadly she died in 2015 but her work lives on in major collections all over the world in places such as the V&A in London and the Metropolitan in New York. We were just incredibly lucky to stumble across this exhibition in a Scottish Castle.

Marian Clayden

A winter walk in Fife

Early on in December I was really happy to see that winter had appeared, not that I particularly relish the cold weather, but I do like to get out for a good walk every day and I was really fed up with ploughing through mud and skidding on it after all the rain we had been having.

Another Wintry Path

Anyway, when you’ve been out in the chilly air for five or ten minutes it no longer feels that bad, and it’s just such a lovely change to be out in the bright day instead of in the damp dreich greyness that seemed to have been our weather for days and days.

Frosty Leaves

Winter Leaves

Of course I had forgotten my camera, but luckily had my phone, that’s why it has taken me so long to get around to showing you these photos though as I had forgotten about them.

Winter Walk

The paths around Balbirnie lead through what was a grand Victorian estate with specialist rhododendron bushes, many of which are now tall trees, but a modern golf course has been built in part of it so the landscape swings from natural beauty to ultra manicured fairways as you can see from the photo above of the frozen water hazard.

Winter Path

The woodland is managed in what I hope is a fairly environmentally healthy way. Fallen trees and limbs tend to be left more or less where they fall so that they can continue to be of use to the beasties that inhabit them and will eventually nurture the land again.

Sadly this wasn’t really the beginning of our winter weather, since then we’ve only had a few days of frosty weather which thawed out quickly and we’ve been back to dodging puddles and boggy ground. I bet our coldest weather appears over the Easter weekend! Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed stretching your legs in this winter walk in Fife.

Frosted Tree Trunk

Dunkeld, Perthshire

Dunkeld in Perthshire, or what I think is now called Perth and Kinross is one of my favourite places to visit, the drive up there is lovely and it isn’t too far from where we live. This time our visit was a bit different as we took an old friend with us, she hadn’t been there for decades, it’s not really the sort of place you go to on your own.
Dunkeld bridge, Perthshire

Anyway, I took some photos, mainly to show to another friend who used to fish in the area, but hasn’t been able to do that for years now. In the photo above I was standing on the bridge that takes you over the River Tay and into Dunkeld. My friend used to stay in the Atholl Hotel on the right on his fishing holidays.

Dunkeld Bridge, Perthshire

It was October but I think we were just a wee bit too late for the best of the autumn tree colour. The area in the photo below has changed quite a bit over the years, not the buildings obviously but they’ve spruced up the foreground and added more parking places by the side of the river which is just out of view. In the summer they put tables and chairs out near that area.

Dunkeld hotels, hills, Perthshire

The view to the other side of the bridge as you get into the Dunkeld is obscured by trees, but the trees are nicer than houses anyway.
Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland

Standing more or less on the middle of the bridge I took the photo below of the River Tay looking north.

River Tay north, Dunkeld, Perthshire

I pointed the camera a bit further to the right for the photo below, Dunkeld Cathedral is just beyond that area.
River Tay north, Dunkeld, Perthshire

I crossed the road to take the photos below of the River Tay looking south.
River Tay south, Dunkeld, Perthshire

River Tay south , Dunkeld, Perthshire

Really the trees below were looking good but they could be doing with having some trees with red leaves too, copper beech or maybe red maples, but maybe they wouldn’t grow so well there.
autumn trees, River Tay,Dunkeld Scotland

Beatrix Potter was inspired by the countryside here as she visited Dunkeld and Birnam with her parents on holiday every summer. You can read about that here.

When we were moving house all of almost six years ago now we looked around the Dunkeld area, just online, but there were only four houses for sale at the time and they were pricey in comparison with the other places we were looking. It’s maybe just as well, because it is quite far away from Edinburgh and we do enjoy being able to visit the city easily whenever we fancy. And if we lived in Dunkeld we wouldn’t be able to go there for a nice afternoon out every now and again!

Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline, Fife

On a lovely blue sky day in mid August we were in Dunfermline doing mundane but necessary domestic stuff, but when our wandering took us down to that dip and turn in the High Street which leads to the grand entrance gates of the Pittencrieff Park, we decided it was too nice a day to walk past them. I didn’t have my camera with me so the photo below is from the Wiki page.

Pittencrieff Park gates

So I was only able to take some photos using my phone, which isn’t great but better than nothing. As I recall – it was the day that Fife schools began again after the six weeks summer holidays and as ever Jack was particularly happy that day as he is now retired from teaching! Below is a photo taken from the park of the botanical glasshouses with Dunfermline Abbey and the Palace ruins in the background.

Dunfermline Palace and garden from Pittencreiff Park

The hanging plants looked luscious and I wish I could get mine to look half as good. I think I need to do a lot more plant feeding than I have been doing.

Pittencreiff Park gardens, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland

arch Pittencreiff Park, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland

Through the archway are some of the formal gardens.

Arch Pittencrieff Park,  Dunfermline

formal gardens, Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline, Fife

apath through Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline

From part of the park you can get a good view of Dunfermline Palace ruins.

Dunfermline Palace and Abbey

There’s a very good website here called The Castles of Scotland and there’s lots of information on the abbey and palace if you’re interested.

If you look carefully at the photo below you will see more or less right in the middle of it the three white looking sort of pyramid shapes which are the cable supports of the new bridge over the River Forth, the Queensferry Crossing.

Queensferry Crossing  Bridge

If you happen to be in Dunfermline it’s definitely worth having a wander around their unusually central Pittencrieff Park. The land for it was gifted to the town by Andrew Carnegie, the town’s most famous son and if there was ever going to be a patron saint of libraries it should be him as he financed so many of them.

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2020 will be a happy, healthy and peaceful year for us all.

Meanwhile, if you’re in need of something to cheer you up, why not have a look at the short You Tube video below featuring some scenic railway journeys. I’ve been on the steam train journey and apart from the gorgeous scenery it’s also fun to wave back at all the people along the way who stop to admire and wave at the train.

I heard on the radio during the week that Scotland is still the destination that most people want to visit. It makes me realise how lucky I am to live here!

Balbirnie Park Autumnal Walk

Will you join me on a walk through Balbirnie Park in Fife on a lovely autumnal morning? It was November the 8th.

Balbirnie Park, Fife, Scotland

There is a reason for the walk, apart from needing the exercise, the destination is the shop where we buy the Guardian.

Balbirnie Park, Fife, autumn trees

It used to be about a seven minute walk for the paper – there and back, but it takes about 50 minutes now that we’ve moved. Well it keeps us fit – allegedly.

Balbirnie Park, Fife, autumnal  trees

The maples are always the best I think, whether they’re bog standard field maples or the more genteel looking Japanese ones.

Balbirnie Park, Fife, autumnal trees

Although the Balbirnie estate is a very old one some of the trees which give the best autumn colour have been planted fairly recently.

Balbirnie Park, Fife, autumnal trees

Balbirnie Park, Fife, autumnal trees

We’ve had quite a lot of rain recently although luckily a lot of it has been overnight. As you can see below, there’s a mini loch flooding part of the park, but nothing to complain about when compared with the inundations that some poor souls in England have had to put up with recently.

Balbirnie Park , Fife, Scotland

We’re now walking past the golf course, not my favourite use for land but I must admit that they’ve planted it well with lovely trees.

Balbirnie Park, Fife, Scotland, golf course

It’s not all manicured though, below is part of the rough and we often end up trying to help golfers find their wayward balls – while thinking to ourselves – how on earth did they manage to hit it in this direction?! I’d give up if I was that bad, but apparently golf is quite addictive. I’m so glad I don’t have an addictive nature, apart from the good chocolate of course, but wheesht – that one’s a secret!

Balbirnie Park, Fife, Scotland

We’re on the home stretch now, almost time to get the kettle on and sit down with the paper to read about the crazy things that are going on in this world.

Balbirnie Park, Fife, Scotland

It might just be this walk that is keeping me/us semi sane!

Balbirnie Park, Fife, Scotland

I hope you enjoyed it.

They Grow Not Old – Remembrance Sunday

On Friday we were guests at Perth Academy Remembrance Service which was only attended by a fraction of the school roll because it’s a big school and the hall wouldn’t accommodate them all, but what a lovely lot of youngsters they were.

World War 1 Memorial, Perth Academy, Scotland

As you can see, a lot of ‘old boys’ didn’t return from World War 1. Every year the history department chooses two names from the roll of honour and they research into their background, so that they become real people, not just names. Often some relatives are still living in the area and they are very happy to provide information on what they know of their ancestor. One was a talented footballer, another was an organist, and one modern day pupil once discovered that her family home had at one time been the family home of one of the fallen, so when it came to visiting the battlefields as part of the history course, his grave was sought out and some earth from his old garden was put onto it.

The war memorial is on the wall at the back of the assembly hall so they’re at the centre of things, not tucked away somewhere where they wouldn’t be seen often.

Flowers of the Forest, Perth Academy, Scotland, World War 1

Modern perspex silhouettes of soldiers have been placed in front of the memorial in recent years, sitting at an old double desk just like the ones they would have sat at in school.

World War 1 Memorial, Perth Academy, Scotland

The whole service was impressive, with lovely music from the school orchestra, singing and of course readings.

World War 1 Memorial, Perth Academy, Scotland

I/we went to an old school but I don’t recall anything being done to commemorate Remembrance Day, apart from a minute’s silence at 11 o’clock on the 11th of the 11th. I’m fairly sure that more is now made of Remembrance Day than used to be.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Robert Laurence Binyon apparently wrote the word contemn at the end of the second line, but everyone seems to have changed it to condemn now, which is quite a different meaning as contemn means to scorn, despise or treat with contempt.

My October Garden

I ran around the garden taking these photos before the autumn winds strip the place bare of leaf colour. I think that my garden is often more colourful in October than it is during that August lull when the best flowers seem to have exhausted themslves. You can see viburnum berries, some leaves of my liquidambar tree (for years I misspelled that) and a red/purple physocarpus.

Autumn garden

A young silver birch and pink sedum

Autumn garden

The mystery berry tree, which might be some sort of service tree with a few rudbekia flowers and rhus leaves in the background.

Autumn garden

Lilac mallow flowers and what I think is a blue cyprus, I’ll need to look up its label.

Autumn garden

The osteospermums and lobelia still going strong in an old chimney pot. They’ve flowered since early summer and the frost hasn’t got them yet. The acer you can see is in a planter, mainly because I can’t find a space to plant it out in the garden. I hope it survives.

Autumn garden

The Christmas tree has grown a lot in the last few years.

Autumn garden

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.