Yesterday we woke up to about five inches of snow which had fallen overnight. The first real snow of the winter, prior to that we had only had sprinklings overnight which only lingered on the grass. I had been able to smell snow for a few nights running earlier in the week, but that must have been on its way to England as unusually they got it before we did. Above is a photo of my back garden.
The walk for the paper was actually easier than it had been as for weeks on end we had had to walk gingerly on grass that was so icy it resembled an ice floe. I can’t honestly say it was cold either.
If you look at the right hand side of the photo below you’ll see some kids having a fine time sledging. There’s not much home schooling going on – and who can blame them, it’ll be the first real snow that these kids have seen in their lives probably.
It’s a strange sort of snow, I’m sure that if we got lots of snow we would have a special word to describe it but I can only say that it’s soft powdery stuff which is very pretty as it looks like individual snow particles are glistening in the sun instead of it all being lumped together and smooth.
The Balbirnie estate gates are enhanced by snow, it settles on the stonework of the gateposts. It’s a pity there’s a car parked there otherwise it would look white Christmas card-ish.
This morning there was even more snow, we now have about nine inches of the stuff!
In normal times (remember them?) we would have done quite a bit of travelling around by this time of the year, but we haven’t been further than seven miles from home for over three months now, and that trip was just to buy some tools so that Jack could do some emergency plumbing himself. He earned many Brownie points! Eventually. Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and walking locally so here we go on another local walk in rural Fife.
The photos were taken in late May when the bluebells were out, but they are really just a haze.
It’s quite well known for rhododendrons.
But the one below is a mystery to me, very pretty though.
I love that the shattered tree below is determined to hang on to life years after most of it crashed to the ground in a storm.
This land which used to belong to the Balfour family, related to the Arthur Balfour who was a British Prime Minister in the early 1900s is now owned by the local council and this year instead of mowing all the grass they are just cutting paths through it. Obviously this is a cost cutting exercise but it’s also great for the wildlife and plants, and very scenic I think. Tomorrow Nicola Sturgeon will hold her usual 12.30 news Covid-19 update, maybe we’ll be allowed to travel more than five miles from home – you never know your luck!
It’s time for another wee walk in the Balbirnie Estate, Fife – socially distanced of course!
The burn (stream) in the photos is variously called Balbirnie Burn or the Back Burn. It’s a lovely thing but quite devoid of wildlife. The problem apparently is that there is too much sediment in it and not enough gravel for fish to lay eggs in. There was going to be a project to try to rectify that problem, but that may be on the back burner now due to all the costs of the lockdown to the local council.
Like many old estates this place was well known for rhododendrons, there was a bit of a craze for them in Victorian times and Balbirnie has some unusual and very old specimens.
Strangely the reddest rhoddies seem to bloom first, but I prefer the paler colours.
The ferns below must be the most elegant variety growing in the UK. There are big pockets of these ones around the woodland in Balbirnie, I think they’re called shuttlecock ferns.
There was a tall cherry tree still in blossom. It’s a shame that it never gets warm enough here for the fruits to ripen properly.
Walking in a big loop we reached the ‘big hoose’ again and as the hotel is closed for the duration, like everywhere else we slipped through the gardens and I took a photo of the small Magnolia below, I believe the variety is stellata but the photo isn’t as good as I hoped it would be so it’s not that clear.
I hope you enjoyed your walk in the woodlands. It wasn’t as empty of people as you might imagine. We had never seen it busier; usually we have almost the whole place to ourselves but people who never before exercised aroud this area are now making good use of the place. There was even an ex-leader of the Scottish Labour Party out and about.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Will you join me on a walk through Balbirnie Park in Fife on a lovely autumnal morning? It was November the 8th.
There is a reason for the walk, apart from needing the exercise, the destination is the shop where we buy the Guardian.
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.
The maples are always the best I think, whether they’re bog standard field maples or the more genteel looking Japanese ones.
Although the Balbirnie estate is a very old one some of the trees which give the best autumn colour have been planted fairly recently.
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.
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.
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!
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.
It might just be this walk that is keeping me/us semi sane!
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.
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.
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.
There were three of them but I just managed to snap the one below as it shot past.
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!
Let’s pretend that we’re going on a wee walk through the local woodlands in Fife. I took these photos on May 20th just when we were grabbing every good day – just in case it was the last of the summer.
It was such a late spring that a week or so before these photos were taken there was hardly any sign of green at all, but suddenly everything just exploded when our seemingly never ending winter lost its grip. There’s a wee wooden bridge in the distance – it’s perfect for playing Poohsticks, but I usually just hang over it nowadays looking for fish, and sometimes I see one or two.
The burn is fairly silent until it reaches a tumble of stones and old displaced cobbles, evidence of what had been a ford until the rushing water took its toll.
Here and there there are groves of these ferns, so elegant looking as they unfurl, I think they might be Shuttlecock ferns but there are so many different kinds, I’m not sure. I’ve just noticed that there are hogweeds beginning to grow on the edges, I hope they don’t eventually crowd the ferns out.
This woodland was part of a Victorian private estate but is now freely open to the public.
It’s not all green!
We’ve now reached the rhododendrons, these ones were obviously planted here because they’re directly opposite the front windows of the ‘big hoose’ which is now a hotel. I just noticed a couple of days ago that those posts with wire fencing on them to the far right of the photo below have small padlocks attached to them, so that fad which started in Paris must still be ongoing, crazy, but no doubt the padlock manufacturers are happy about it. I think the ‘fence’ looks completely out of place though.
I hope that that stretched your legs a bit and maybe cooled you down if you’re still stuck in intense heat. The rain arrived here today, I’m not complaining about it as it’s badly needed, I just wish that we could arrange for it just to rain overnight!
Whether it’s referendum or election results that get you down, you can always rely on nature to brighten your mood, so get out into the great outdoors if you can, and if you can’t then come on a short walk with me.
Annoyingly you can see my shadow in the one below.
It was when we were coming back from our usual morning walk for the newspaper on a beautiful day last week I wished I had brought the camera with me. But the good tree colour that I wanted to capture before it disappeared was just a short hop from our place, so it was easy to go home and pick up the camera.
The photo below is looking down to the Balbirnie burn, it doesn’t look it but it’s quite far down a steep embankment.
In fact these are some of the trees that I often photograph from a spare back bedroom.
There are some old farm buildings nearby.
It’s shame you can’t catch the lovely scent of autumn, but I hope the photos blew some of your cobwebs away – if you have any!
I’ve been avoiding the woodland near our house for a while now as the rain has made the ground so boggy, and the snow and ice didn’t last long at all, so it was too horrible underfoot to walk there. And of course we’ve had horrendously high winds which makes woodland walks scary, quite a few trees have fallen over or branches have been ripped off them.
But recently we bought new footwear, purple wellies for me, and Jack opted for shorter welly like boots – he complained that his old traditional wellies wore the hairs off his legs and nearly 40 years later he still has bald patches. I said that he should patent wellies as an alternative to leg waxing, they would be much cheaper I’m sure! I’m keeping the receipt for my purple wellies as the last pair of multicoloured ones I bought split after only around five outings in them, so if that happens again they’re going back to the shop.
This time as you can see we walked in a different direction along the side of the burn which is presumably what made people settle in this area as long as 5,000 years ago. You can see their graves in an old blogpost here.
Speaking of wearing purple, Jenny Joseph wrote the poem Warning – about planning to grow old disreputably and just not caring what anybody thinks of you. But if like me you were a teenager in the 1970s you’ve probably always worn purple – and orange, sometimes together. I’ve not started on the brandy yet though! This poem has a lot of fans and there is even a Red Hat Society now
by Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Jenny Joseph reads her poem below if you’re interested.
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.
What do you call these golf things, water traps maybe? Anyway today it was well frozen over.
Yes, that is actually the sun shining on those trees, amazing.
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.
It was great to see the sun at last.
I hope that wee stroll blew some of your cobwebs away – it certainly got rid of mine!