It was still daylight at 5 pm today, I love it when it gets lighter, especially as there have been so many days this winter when we’ve had to have the lights on in the daytime due to it being so dark and dismal outside, it’s so depressing, even if you aren’t normally that way inclined.

But apart from getting a lot of reading done this winter I’ve been watching TV too. In fact it snowed here in Fife again on Saturday and I ended up watching 84 Charing Cross Road again, that very bookish film – and I still love it. Apparently the building which housed the bookshop is now a fast food restaurant, what a come-down for it.

Otherwise I’ve been watching Death in Paradise where Kris Marshall plays the part of a twit but somehow always comes up trumps. I enjoy the programme but I always think of him in the part of Pasha Antipov (Strelnikov) in the 2002 TV miniseries of Doctor Zhivago, it was so different from anything else we had seen him in and he was great in the part. It’s such a shame that he doesn’t often seem to get the chance to show off his acting abilities.

Happy Valley is back and watching the first one the other night I remembered that although it’s good, I don’t half find it uncomfortable viewing, I’m not sure why really.

Shetland has sort of sprung a split personality as quite a lot of it has been filmed in Glasgow. As a Glaswegian that’s more than fine with me, it’s a good change from the landscape of Shetland which I find a bit bleak and weird looking, even when there’s plenty of green and rolling hills in the background, the lack of trees is just unreal looking to me, it’s a good series though. well worth watching.

During the winter we rarely go out at night so I’ve been enjoying watching The Young Montalbano and when the series came to an end last week I thought there would be a big Montalbano shaped gap in Saturday nights but luckily Trapped came along, a crime series from Iceland. It looks like it’s going to be worth watching, I think that Icelandic is the language which doesn’t seem to have much in the way of similarities with any other languages I know.

Then there’s Outlander – now I’ve never seen Outlander because it’s on some cable TV channel that we don’t get, but it seems that everywhere we go in Scotland there are people telling us that it has been used for filming Outlander. When we went out for a walk today in the nearby village of Falkland it was being done up for filming tomorrow, it was interesting to see what they had done with some of the shops and surroundings. Photos tomorrow!

My garden in August

Katrina's garden

Above is a photo of part of the back border of my garden. When we moved here just 18 months ago there was nothing here except grass, very rough grass at that, but already I’m having to move some plants as they’ve outgrown their space. The lilies in pots are the ones which I grow to put into any bare spots in the border but I didn’t have any gaps to fill.


Above is a close up of a lily with a salvia creeping in. I took these photos in July when everything was looking its best but it’s still quite colourful now, considering we’re reaching the back end of September.


The irises are completely over now so this is a nice reminder of how lovely they were, I must get some more iris bulbs.


The clematis is beginning to twine around the trellis of the garden seat, it has flowered quite well but the honeysuckle which I planted at the back of the seat hasn’t flowered at all yet – maybe it will next year.


This rose opens up very pale pink tinged with deeper pink as you can see, but as it ages the colour deepens. I really must dig through my plant labels to see what it’s called.

obelisk + sparrows

My garden is still very much a work in progress, as every garden is, the obelisk above is one of the more recent additions. I love the way the birds claim everything for themselves as a handy perching place. When we first moved here there were hardly any birds visiting but as soon as I started planting things they came in to have a look and see what was going on. I have sweet peas planted at the base of the obelisk and a Tayberry bush winding around it.

pergola + obelisk

If you look closely at the top of the fence you can see the birds sitting there, looking like they’re waiting in a queue, taking their turn

to enjoy a good dust bath.

orange lily

I’m looking forward to the time when the fence is more or less covered by climbing plants and shrubs, the plan is for the garden to sort of blend in with the trees on the other side of the fence, which is a wild area leading to a woodland.

Pollok House, Glasgow, Scotland

Pollok House  garden entrance

We found ourselves in Glasgow not long ago, unexpectedly really as we had been asked to drive someone to the airport. The last thing that we fancied doing was trailing round shops so as it turned out to be a lovely day we decided to visit Pollok House, a very grand Georgian House, the grounds of which are now a Country Park, very popular with the locals. If you click the link you’ll see lots of photos. The house is now owned by the National Trust and when we were there we were just about the only people looking around it. A wedding was due to start shortly and the library was the venue so we were given a look around there first, so that we would be out of the way when the ‘kilties’ turned up, as the guides said of the bridegroom and his supporters. The chap showing us around couldn’t have been nicer, it was all very interesting, even for someone like myself who isn’t terribly keen on old Spanish art, of which there is a lot there. I must admit that the El Greco is very good – Lady in a Fur Wrap.
It’s hard to believe that this painting was done around the 1570s.

It’s amazing to think that you’re in a very busy big city, it’s all very rural and this big chap caused quite a stir when he came across a bridge, heading for his stable, I think everyone loves these Clydesdales, if that’s what he is, some sort of heavy horse anyway.

Pollok House horse

I think he was happy to reach his stable, where he had a pal already there, but unfortunately it was too dark inside to get a photo of his companion.

Pollok House horse

As ever, we weren’t allowed to take any photos of the inside of the house, which is beautifully furnished. But I do have some of the gardens, which I’ll share with you at a later date.

Astronomy Photographer 2015 shortlist – from the Guardian

If you’re at all interested in astronomy, or just beautiful photographs, do yourself a favour and take a look at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 shortlist which you can see here, they’re spectacular.

Stirling Bridge, Scotland

Stirling Bridge

Stirling Bridge in Stirling is one of those places which we have driven past hundreds of times and said to each other – next time we’ll stop and have a good look at it. But it was only when we had Peggy of Peggy Ann’s Post visiting us that we actually got around to doing it.

Stirling Bridge

Stirling Bridge is really ancient. There was a famous Battle of Stirling Bridge, fought on 11th September 1297, but that was at an even older bridge which doesn’t exist now. The bridge in the photos is thought to have been built around 1500.

Stirling Bridge

I’m keen on bridges, old and new and this is a particularly lovely one in a beautiful location. The river is the Forth.

Stirling Bridge

You can see more images of the bridge here.

More Garden

As soon as the weather began to warm up a wee bit I was out in the garden digging up more grass to get planting space. Whilst out there I took a few photos, these were taken last week and everything has grown quite a bit since then, especially the weeds!

blue lupin

I know that in some parts of the world lupins ARE more or less weeds as they grow wild, but I grew mine from seed last year, and I’ve been waiting since then for them to flower, the blue one was the first.

Then the red ones started, it’s a very deep pink really and I think a gorgeous colour, I’m particularly pleased that the colour fits in well with the euphorbia to the right and the black widow purple geraniums to the left. The climbing rose in the background which is just budding is called Ena Harkness I think.

red lupin

This purple clematis is flowering right at the base of the garden seat, I’m hoping the plant will eventually clamber through the trellis around it.


This aquilegia plant was in one of the few garden tubs which I managed to bring from the old garden and it has seeded itself around, I have been throwing seeds which I collected in previous years around the garden and I now have quite a few coming up, different colours I hope. I gave Peggy a whole lot of seeds to plant in her garden in the US but those pesky customs people at the airport confiscated them, even the ones which were in packets straight from a garden centre.


I’m disappointed with my Queen of the Night tulips as only one of them has flowered. When I planted them they were all beginning to sprout but maybe our stop start weather didn’t suit them.

Queen of the Night tulip

This yellow rose was a disappointment too, I can’t remember the name of it, I have the label somewhere so I’ll be able to look it up later. Yellow roses are my favourites but this one has very flat flowers which open out very quickly and are over and done with in 24 hours, they’re similar in shape to the wild dog roses although larger. On the plus side this bush has loads of buds on it so there are always more flowers to come and the leaves are very healthy.

yellow roses

And finally this clump of thrift is doing well in the rockery area, I’m not sure about the pansies though, although they look nice and bright there they don’t quite fit in so I think I’ll be moving them when they stop flowering, but that’s gardening for you, we’re never happy and can always think of things to improve the design!

thrift and pansies

Ancient Doocot at Elcho, Perth and Kinross


I was beginning to think that we must have taken a wrong turning when we were trying to find Elcho Castle, but eventually we reached this ancient dovecote or doocot as we say in Scotland. The doocot would have been used for pigeons to nest in in the castle’s heyday, an important source of meat for the inhabitants.


I said in my earlier Elcho post here that you have to drive through a working farmyard to reach the castle and it’s just by the doocot, this sort of millpond is just across the road and as you can see there’s a barn in the background. There are a few wee cottages there too, it looks an idyllic place to live but it’s incredibly isolated and I think they must be cut off in bad winters.


But to have a burn running through my garden like this one I wouldn’t mind living in a doocot, not that anyone does live in this one but I’m sure you could get some light into the place somehow nowadays. It’s like something out of a fairy tale, it would be almost as good as living in a lighthouse – something which I’ve always fancied!

Clean Reader

I remember seeing something online somewhere which mentioned a Clean Reader App and I vaguely thought to myself that something like that would have been handy in the days when I was having to choose books for very straitlaced women within my own family. I thought it would just come up with suitable reading suggestions for those types who hate mentions of swearing and anything racy or too ‘near the knuckle’.

It never occurred to me that it was an app which removes what are seen to be offensive words and replaces them with words deemed to be more acceptable.

It was only when I read this article in today’s Guardian that I realised this.

Joanne Harris who wrote Chocolat is claiming a small victory after the couple behind the app removed all titles from its online catalogue.

I’m not a wild sweary beast myself although on occasions when no other words fit the moment I’m cursing with the best of us on a daily basis, just look at the news and that’ll get anyone swearing, but it seems to me to be madly arrogant to take it upon yourself to muck around with a writer’s words, without so much as a by your leave.

This whole idea seems to have been thought up by a couple who are of a religious persuasion who have set themselves up as censors of the written word. I bet you that when Jesus Christ was doing his stuff in the Holy Land he was not averse to using the odd swear word himself, he had good reason to after all. That turning of the tables in the temple would almost certainly have been accompanied by a good few blue words thrown at those moneychangers/rabbis! Those app people are setting themselves up to be better than Jesus Christ.

But I suppose this whole idea is just the extreme version of what has been going on over some years, like the updating of Enid Blyton’s books, changing the whole character of them and the expunging of that ‘n’ word from works written when it was actually common. It’s like trying to airbrush things out of history and that can never be a good thing.

Harris said on Friday: “I don’t see what changes they can make to stop it being an offensive app. But there is nothing which stops them from starting again quietly once things have died down. It’s a question of watching.”

And as writers applauded the announcement, others mourned it. One supporter of the app wrote: “The fact is that we readers would love to hear some of your creative stories without the icky unnecessary junk language.

“There are some really great and important literary works that are eliminated from our study because I’m not willing to compromise our standards. Not for myself or for our kids.”

Harris replied in a blogpost: “Shakespeare wrote icky unnecessary junk language. So did Chaucer, DH Lawrence, Philip Larkin, James Joyce.

“If a reader chooses to avoid reading my books, that’s fine. She has that right. If she hates it, that’s also fine. If she has opinions on how it could have been done better, that’s also fine, because she’s entitled to her opinion, whether I agree or not. BUT – her opinion does not extend to changing my work in any way. My book, my rules, and that includes my words. ALL of them.”

Snowdrops at Balbirnie

We drove all the way to Cambo on the north-east tip of Fife at the weekend to buy some snowdrops, the Cambo estate is famous for them, but we declined to pay the £5 each which they were charging people to take a walk around the woods there. As I said to Jack, it might be exciting if you live far from woods, but 10 months ago we moved out of town and now have woods right on our doorstep. As you can see here.

snowdrops 1

We hadn’t been for a walk through the woods for a couple of weeks as during the really cold frosty weather and snow we cut across the golf course on our morning walk for the paper, there were no golfers to get in the way of, mind you they don’t mind if you do go that way, so long as you wait for them to whack their ball.

snowdrops 2

So it was a surprise to us when we walked in the woods a couple of days ago and lo and behold – there are snowdrifts of snowdrops in our local woods too. They aren’t open yet, it must be a bit colder at Balbirnie than it is at Cambo, that makes sense as Cambo is close to the coast.

snowdrops 3

But they were a nice surprise because I had thought that Balbirnie Woods were just well known for rhododendrons.

snowdrops 4

If you click on the photos you can see them a bit bigger, but the snowdrops are really too wee to make much of an impact, they’re just a lovely sign of the spring to come really.

Below is the pot of snowdrops which I bought at Cambo, a mixture of two different types, I hope they multiply in my garden.


This is the aconite I also bought.


Roll on spring!

A Winter Walk in Fife, Scotland

Frosty fields in Fife, Scotland

I think we’ve just had the mildest Christmas and New Year which I can ever remember with temperatures around about 10 Celsius but in between those days we had some really cold and frosty ones. In fact the temperature has been going up and down like the proverbial tart’s knickers!

Frosty field

These photos were taken when we went out for a walk to blow off the festive cobwebs during that limbo between the two celebrations. We gave up trying to walk on the pavements which were like skating rinks. Luckily we can opt to dodge the pavements altogether and walk on the adjacent woodland and scrubland. The two photos above were taken from exactly the same spot, just pointing in different directions, very grey looking in one direction but the sun is shining on the trees in the other direction, highlighting the red of the dogwoods.

Below you can see that there is a culvert gushing rainwater into the burn, the previous few days had been very wet and warm, the water must be draining off the surrounding land. It wasn’t at all frosty close to the burn.

a burn in Fife, Scotland

Well the walk helped us to feel better after the Christmas overeating, I’d far rather have a good walk than go for a jog. In fact that would kill me!