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!
Right folks it’s time for another walk. We’ve been exploring the Balbirnie Estate, it’s a good place to walk, even for wee ones and some people cycle around too. There are bluebells in the photo above but they aren’t very easy to see.
Then we headed for Balbirnie Burn, sadly I’ve never seen any kids playing in the burn. Playing in my local burn/stream/creek – call it what you will, was always my favourite pastime during the summer when I was wee.
Balbirnie Burn looks very clear but I’ve never seen anything resembling a fish in it, it seems only to be alive with midges, clouds of them.
There are several wee bridges of various designs, this one is close to the golf club. Some are rustic wooden ones and they are perfect for playing poohsticks – I was tempted.
More bluebells which are also in shades of pink, lilac and white. These flowers are pretty enough but they’re nothing compared with the ones I remember from my childhood which were in dark woods and an amazingly bright blue, I wonder if any of those ones still exist.
More Rhododendrons, if you go deeper into the estate there are even more specimens to see and they almost all have name tags, it’s just like being in a botanic gardens. I’ll have photos of those ones soonish.
Are you coming for a walk with me? I’m going to get the Guardian, it might be a good idea to get your wellies on.
There has been quite a lot of rain recently so it’s a wee bit muddy in parts. You can just see a bit of Balbirnie Burn in the photo above.
Here’s some more of it, you’ll just have to imagine all the birdsong, there are plenty of them singing away and even woodpeckers hammering, but I haven’t seen any woodpeckers. There are plenty of rabbits around and also grey squirrels but I’ve only seen one deer so far.
Now we’re almost reaching what some folks would call civilisation, the edge of Balbirnie golf course. It seems to be very well used.
Jack always enjoys watching the play but he has never been tempted to join in, thankfully! You can see from the photo above that we were walking on the rough, everyone seems to be quite happy about that, I wouldn’t like to go across the greens.
Balbirnie Estate is well known locally for its rhododendrons and the photo above shows some early ones, it gets much better later in May. I decided not to bother growing any in the garden because there are such good ones nearby.
And here we are, almost at the wee town where we can get the newspaper, it’s about a twenty minute walk for us. The photo above is of a lodge house which originally would have belonged to the Balbirnie Estate, the big gates are always closed now and the road to what is now Balbirnie House Hotel has been redirected, making a bigger entrance.
I hope you enjoyed that breath of fresh Fife air, I must admit, it’s a great way of keeping fit, and the Guardian crossword helps keep our brains sharp – I hope!
The photo above is of the standing stones at Balbirnie, it’s a Neolithic site, dating from around 3,000 BC. I’ve only seen these stones once before, and that must have been about 30 years ago, I remember at the time that I was really disappointed to read that they had been relocated by Historic Scotland, apparently they were in the way of a road which needed to be widened.
It seems a very strange thing to do, surely stone circles were carefully positioned for a good reason, we don’t know what it was but to me it’s crazy to move them. It takes all the romance away somehow.
As you can see, houses have been built very close to the stones. I must admit that it gives me a bit of a kick to think that there were people farming 5,000 years ago in the area we now live in. I doubt if they were very much different from us.
You can read more about the Balbirnie Stone Circle here.
We were having a Sunday afternoon walk around part of the parkland at Balbirnie. The house itself is now a rather posh hotel, but the grounds are owned by the local council and there’s a golf course there too of course, well it is Fife so there’s always a golf course nearby.
Walking down the hotel driveway I heard this pony and trap long before I saw it, it wasn’t the clip-clopping which I heard though it was jangling bells.
I think it must be something to do with the hotel, maybe they pick up some guests from the railway station, to give them a Victorian experience. Anyway it was a nice sight but it did remind me of that Jane Austen spin off comedy which I saw at the flicks fairly recently, Austenland. No surprises that the film wasn’t up for any BAFTA awards as it was just a bit of light silliness, but I was pleased to see that Cate Blanchett got a BAFTA for her work in Blue Jasmine which I think was the only other film which I saw last year.