A Smattering of Snow

Balbirnie snow

After what seems like a couple of months of almost non stop rain we were promised dry but colder weather. I was quite surprised when it snowed though, just an inch or two lay, which is enough for me. I hadn’t had a decent walk for ages due to all the rain, so I took myself out the back gate this afternoon and took the camera with me. Come and join me on my walk!

Below is the edge of a golf course so it’s a bit more manicured looking.
Balbirnie in Fife

What do you call these golf things, water traps maybe? Anyway today it was well frozen over.

Balbirnie

Yes, that is actually the sun shining on those trees, amazing.

Balbirnie in Fife

Balbirnie snow in Fife

I had the whole place to myself. I saw plenty of dog and dog walker tracks but no sign of actual people or animals, and sadly no deer, even though I went off piste and walked through the woods and rough grass.

Balbirnie, Fife

It was great to see the sun at last.

Balbirnie in Fife

I hope that wee stroll blew some of your cobwebs away – it certainly got rid of mine!

Deer, garden and dogs

A couple of weeks ago we saw four deer together close to where we now live, that’s the most we’ve seen at any one time, the same day one jumped out of the undergrowth right in front of us, it was being chased by a dog but luckily its owner called it off and it was an obedient dog.

deer

But now look what has happened, I knew it would snow, just as everything was growing nicely in the garden.
snow 2

As you can see it had already begun to melt away by lunchtime. We got about three inches of snow which I know is nothing compared with other people but I’m longing for the spring and as it’s March it should be getting warmer, not colder. My new fruit trees are all showing signs of growth too, I suppose it could be worse, they could be flowering and frosted flowers would mean no fruit at all. The two bird boxes which I’ve attached to the fence have been getting interest from the blue-tits, I hope some of them decide that they are just the sort of des res that they are looking for.

snow 3

So it was a day for indoors, I actually baked Joan’s Muffin Surprise and also some treacle scones, the only kind I’ve had much success with in the past. I’m going to try cherry scones soon though.

Here’s a photo I took a few weeks ago whilst out on a walk. I was amazed and a wee bit trepidatious when I saw this woman coming along the path with a whole load of loose dogs, not a lead in sight. She had nine dogs – seven Border collies and two Border terriers, but I had no need to worry because she was top dog and she had them under complete control, which is more than can be said for a lot of dog walkers. God alone knows what her house must be like with that lot though!

dogs 1

By the way I was checking the spelling of trepidatious (or trepidacious as an alternative) and found this thread. I was surprised it was first noted only in 1904. That’s the sort of thing that interests me but it might not anyone else. Own up if it does.

Seafield, Kirkcaldy, Fife.

On a recent walk to nearby Seafield beach I noticed that although it was beginning to spit with rain the sun was shining on Dysart Harbour to my left, I don’t know when the wind turbine appeared but it’s a plus as far as I’m concerned, quite elegant looking.

A couple of seconds later I took this photo, just a wee bit to the right of Dysart, out in the Firth of Forth there was a rainbow which you might be able to see if you look carefully, and to the right of that there’s quite a lot of rain falling.

Just a couple of minutes later we were back to blue skies, it was just about a four seasons in one day sort of day!

Walking along towards Seafield my progress was stopped by a wee river which appeared amongst the rocks and ran into the Forth. It made lovely patterns in the sand but they don’t show up that well in the photos.

I inadvertently got into the photo below, as you can see, long shadows. It was after four o’clock by this time, isn’t it great when the light nights get here again.

This picnic area is just behind where I took the photos and I noticed these two seagulls running on the spot, then cocking their heads to listen for movement underground. They’re crafty, they paddle their feet up and down to simulate rainfall, hoping to trick any nearby worms into popping their heads up out of the earth, as they do when it rains, so that they aren’t in danger of drowning. It looks comical.

We had a walk around the housing estate which you can just see in the background, just wondering if it would be a good place to move to as there weren’t many houses coming up for sale, but we decided that we definitely don’t want to live so close to the sea, especially as it was roaring in just yards away from the houses. That and the fact that not long ago Seafield was a coal-mine, until Thatcher closed it down in the 1980s. There are some lovely houses there but it’s not my idea of a safe place to live. Especially having seen all those enormous holes opening up in various towns and also houses tumbling into the sea. What with all that and having to think about the risk of flooding in lots of places, house-hunting isn’t as easy as you would think.

Spring Flowers

How are you coping with the winter? I shouldn’t really complain because we’ve had practically no snow, so far, but all the towns around us had snow which means that we haven’t been very far afield, after all there’s no point in driving into dodgy weather and icy roads.

But I can’t wait for spring and I’ve been having a look at my garden, the daffodils are just green spikes poking about two or three inches above the earth, and today I discovered two snowdrops which should be flowering in a few days. There should be more of them but I see it as something of a miracle that there are any about to flower at all because the soil seems have been sodden for most of last year really and I thought that the bulbs might have rotted.

Anyway the fact that my garden was such a disappointment last year is making me all the more impatient for things to get going now, so I ended up buying myself some spring flowers and I thought you might like a glimpse of them.

flowers 2

Well, they’ve cheered me up!

Scottish Colourists 1900-1930

This is one of the books which I pick up and dip into every now and again, I suppose you’d call it a coffee table book. It has over a hundred illustrations of beautiful colourist paintings by F.C.B. Cadell
J.D. Fergusson
G.L. Hunter and
S.J. Peploe
who were the most famous artists of the Scottish colourist movement. You can see some images here of colourist paintings or art which has been influenced by them.

The paintings are gorgeous and I have the added excitement of recognising lots of the subjects in the paintings as most of the artists painted beaches and cottages in Fife and the east of Scotland, as well as rivers and hills in the west of Scotland.

They did get further afield though and there are plenty of paintings of places in France and various other places that attract artists.

If you ever get a chance to see an exhibition of their work you should jump at it as I don’t think you’d be disappointed. The museum in Kirkcaldy has a very good collection but sadly it’s closed at the moment whilst work is being done on the building.

The first time I went to a colourist exhibition as soon as I entered the gallery I saw a beach painting and I said that must be a beach in Scotland, because there were several people on the beach and they all had their coats on! A typical Scottish July probably. But we can’t complain this year because my closest beach has already had people sunbathing on it – in bikinis. In March – unheard of!

I might show you some photographic evidence of that soon – well maybe not the bikinis!

More Wild Weather

It has only been around a month since I blogged about a terrible hurricane/gale that we had which has since been nicknamed Hurricane Bawbag, and that was the worst one that I had experienced since we moved to this house 24 years ago. Well I didn’t have long to wait for the next one. Last night we ended up downstairs in an attempt to get away from the really terrifying noise of it all. That’s a first because although I’ve ended up downstairs before, Jack has always been happy to stay in bed upstairs.

It was quieter downstairs because we didn’t have the noise of the wind howling through the roofspace and rattling all the slates and it didn’t sound as if the windows were about to fall in. We didn’t get back to sleep so ended up watching the mayhem on News 24.

The wind reached a speed of 102 miles per hour near Edinburgh – guess who lives near Edinburgh! We’ve had a bit of a look around and found that a few slates have been ripped off, some guttering has fallen down and my greenhouse has four broken panes of glass and the skylight/vent had been torn off completely. It could have been a lot worse I suppose as a couple of people in England have lost their lives although the wind there wasn’t so bad. Last winter it was all snow and ice but so far this one has been mainly howling gales. Again all of the bridges were completely shut.

We were lucky and haven’t had any disruptions to our power so we just battened down the hatches as best we could and enjoyed watching Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, one from my Christmas boxed set. It’s a good laugh. And in the afternoon Casablanca was on the TV. How many times have I watched that film?! I still love it. So all in all, not a bad day,but a very lazy one!

Howling Gale – again

At last the wind has died down a bit but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it comes back again soon. A lot of schools in Scotland were closed today because it was so wild and that is the first time that they’ve ever been closed because of the wind, in my memory anyway and I’m over 50. Fife schools closed at lunch time.

When I saw the weather forecast last night I thought that for once the east coast of Scotland was going to avoid the worst of it but the Forth Bridge was closed to all vehicles by 11 o’clock in the morning and all of the other big bridges followed.

I didn’t go out of the house at all because there’s not much point in putting yourself in danger of being hit by flying slates if you don’t have to. I know that some slates have slipped and are in the guttering but I don’t think there’s too much damage done to the house. Fingers crossed anyway – in the past it has been the more modern houses which can’t withstand those massive gusts of wind at over 80 miles an hour which you get around here. Gusts of over 160 miles an hour have been recorded on higher ground, I think that means up a mountain.

The loft hatches lifted with the wind which just shows you how draughty the place was! I don’t suppose it’ll be the last gale/hurricane of the winter either.

It’s at times like this that I wish we had a basement like Dorothy in Kansas. The best I can do is go downstairs to try to get some sleep if it gets too scary. We still have electricity though so we’re much luckier than thousands of other people – maybe I shouldn’t have said that, it could be tempting fate!

Seals and Swans in the Firth of Forth and River Leven.

For the past few days it has been absolutely chucking it down over the whole of Scotland and Glasgow has had the most amount of rainfall there since records began – and if you know Glasgow at all you’ll realise how bad it has been! Lots of flooding all over the country but we’re fine here. I just wish someone up there would turn off the taps! To cheer myself up I’ve been having a look at some photos which I took a couple of weeks ago in the time of blue skies. This one is of the old bridge at Dumbarton on the River Leven and there is a swan with cygnets just going under the bridge. These swans went at quite a lick and I had to run to get this photo, not something I do often, I’m more a dignified walk sort of a person. The River Leven often has well over 100 swans floating around this area but most of them seemed to be elsewhere.

 Swans in River Leven, Dumbarton

The Leven is just a wee river which flows into the River Clyde at Dumbarton Rock which you can see in this photo, but it’s still very dangerous and it seems that just about every summer some lads drown in it. They just want to have a lark but don’t realise how cold it is and it’s full of weeds which can fankle (entangle) you too.

Dumbarton Rock

I took this photo last week from the Fife coastal path at Kirkcaldy, just beyond Seafield Tower, walking towards Kinghorn. The rocks there are favourites with the seals and they were making themselves heard that day. Unearthly noises come from them at times, well they would be unearthly I suppose as they’re in the sea, but you know what I mean, positively eerie sounds.

Seals 3

I can quite see how the ancient sailors used to think that the seals were mermaids singing, especially when they hadn’t seen women for years!

Seals 1

I suppose it helped if they were in the water too rather than basking and looking enormously fat. It’s possible that some of these seals were about to give birth, maybe that’s what all the racket was about.

Seals 4

I can hardly believe that we had such lovely weather just last week. We seemed to be in a pattern of one lovely day followed by a wet one for a while but now it looks and feels like November and the schools are going back next week. That could be the cue for the sun to be splitting the pavements and a return of summer. Well maybe.

Wimbledon and Weather Meanderings

I’ve been glued to the Wimbledon coverage on TV when I haven’t been out in the garden taking advantage of the lovely blue sky and warm sunshiney weather which we’ve been having, cooling sea-breeze and all.

Maybe this is going to be Andy Murray’s year after all. As he says, he has beaten Nadal on quite a few occasions in the past – so fingers crossed. I was hoping that Mardy Fish would win against Nadal, it’s just nice to see new people in the mix but apart from that he has the most peculiar name.

I’ve been watching some of the women but I just can’t get enthused by it really. I find the high pitched shrieks very annoying, but apparently they’re necessary.

The high spot for me has been Jo Wilfried Tsonga because he has such a friendly and jocular personality and it’s good to see a real character coming through. There used to be so many characters but they’ve been thin on the ground for years now. I watched the match but I could still hardly believe that he had put Federer out.

I know that it’s just as well that we’re all different, but I can’t agree with Judy Murray when she describes Feliciano Lopez as deliciano. Strange really because I like men with beards and I was married to my husband for nearly 30 years before I saw him without his beard – and I can tell you it was a big shock!

Apart from the tennis I’ve been hard at it in the garden, getting things done while I can, just in case these last three days are our summer. Yes, we’ve had three sunny days in a row now – which has been unheard of for the last few years. The school holidays are just about to start in this part of Scotland and we’ll be footloose and fancy free for the next six weeks. Let’s hope the weather keeps up!

Pardon My French

Je suis bloody well fed up! For one thing it has been raining all day and it feels more like November than June, so we’ve been stuck in the house. I wonder which is worse, being stuck indoors because it’s cold and miserable or not being able to go out because it’s inhumanely hot? I’m not likely to find out anyway.

Apart from that the book that I started yesterday has turned out to be one of the very few that I’ve given up on. I usually struggle on with books and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised at the end of them. Other times I just harrumph all the way through and at the end turn it around to look at the front cover, I think I probably have a sort of I’ll know you next time and you’ll never darken my door again look on my face.

Anyway, what with the weather and everything I can’t be doing with that sort of book so I’m ‘shelving’ Margaret Forster’s Diary of an Ordinary Woman at the moment. I’ll go back to it if someone can tell me that it’s worthwhile ploughing on with it. I bought it at the last library book sale.

When I read the introduction I really didn’t like the idea of it at all because it’s a fictional diary purporting to be a real one which was written by a woman who was born in 1901 and she is now 98 years old. Forster even has the fictional woman telling her that she told no lies in her diary – but it’s fiction.

I reached page 87 and so far the whole thing just seems implausible to me. Firstly the diary writer, Millicent is one of a family of seven children, she is the third one and we are supposed to believe that she was allowed to go to teacher training college after leaving school. Considering that the family is not a very wealthy one, the father has some sort of furniture making/selling business which isn’t doing all that well because of the Great War, I seriously doubt if any daughter would even have been allowed to stay on at school past the age of 14. She would have been expected to help with the family budget and would almost certainly have had to work in her father’s shop for pocket money only.

There is an even more unlikely happening involving the mother of the family later on and I can’t suspend my disbelief any more. I also think that it’s the sort of book which could be written by just about anybody who has read a few books and is interested in writing. They’d probably make a better job of it too.

Anyway, grump over.

I’m just starting Patrick Hamilton’s The Slaves of Solitude. I have high hopes.