Random photos

I must have walked past this window in St Andrews hundreds of times but I only noticed it recently. The buildings are generally very old but this is obviously an Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts window, somebody did a bit of refurbishment over the years.

Art Nouveau Glass Window

Across the road I noticed the stone owls sitting on the edge of the portico. I think that like many buildings in St Andrews this one is owned by the university, so presumably the owls are symbolic of wisdom and learning.

Owls

It’s rare to see an empty street nowadays, they’re usually full of parked cars on both sides of the street, but on their Open Arts Festival in Cellardyke, a coastal village in Fife, the place was deserted of cars for once. The clutch of red balloons being the only evidence of modernity, denoting where an artist was exhibiting work.
Cellardyke

I took the photo below in the fair city of Perth, the hanging baskets and window boxes were looking so lovely. I think the rather grand looking building was a bank originally – remember them?!
hanging baskets

I have visited the small town of Dunkeld hundreds of times as it’s one of my favourite places, but I had only ever been into the cathedral ruins there. The photo below is of the newer cathedral which is obviously still in use as a place of worship.
Dunkeld Cathedral Stained Glass

The photo below is the view of Dunkeld that you get as you drive over the bridge.
Dunkeld From Bridge over the River Tay

After visiting the cathedral I walked over the bridge to get a photo of the River Tay. I’ve never seen it so low before, there were actually people walking out to the ‘islands’.
River Tay From Bridge at Dunkeld

I bet it was still cold though!

King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett

King Hereafter cover

King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett was first published in 1982 and as is usual with Dunnett’s books it’s a weighty tome with 721 pages. I loved this one, it’s one of those books that I just didn’t want to end and I felt quite bereft when it did – and of course it’s a stand alone book so I won’t be able to meet up with any of the characters in the future. I’m so glad that we travelled to Orkney last year because I had been to all of the locations mentioned there and everywhere else in Scotland, even the small historic town nearest to where I live got a mention.

In this book the author has decided that the Viking Thorfinn Sigurdsson and Macbeth are one and the same person, with Thorfinn taking the name Macbeth when he was baptised a Christian.

Times were very violent in 11th century Scotland and leaders/kings often didn’t last all that long back then with Viking raiders and more local rivals vying to be top dog. So as with Dorothy Dunnett’s other books – it’s all go – never a dull moment.

I found this one to be a lot more straightforward than some of her others. The endpapers feature a detailed family tree of the Kings of Scotland (Alba) and the Earls of Northumbria (England), but I didn’t need to refer to them. I can imagine that I’ll re-read this one though as I’m sure I’ll get even more enjoyment out of it the next time around.

As it happens I was walking in Birnam Wood a couple of days ago, but I did a post about it way back in 2010 (where does the time go?!) so if you want to have a look at some of the ancient trees have a look here. The photos don’t give an impression of how big they are.

Dunkeld in Perthshire

It was a sparkling afternoon in October I think when we visted Dunkeld again, just for a walk around the place. Perthshire is well known for having lovely trees.

sheep

Walking around the edge of the cathedral brought us to these sheep that are in the normal sheep stance – head down and chomping away.

Dunkeld sheep

The banks of the River Tay are very close to the remains of the cathedral, so the grass there is manicured compared to the rest of the riverside. It’s a nice place to sit and is just a hop and a skip from the wee town.

River Tay at Dunkeld

The Tay is really a thing of beauty, swift, clean and somehow honest looking, certainly when I compare it with my recent visit to the River Severn. Don’t fall in though! One of our ‘boys’ once kicked our football into it when he was a youngster, I think he thought we would be able to get it back – no chance.

River Tay

Sometimes they have the salmon season opening ceremony at Dunkeld, they pour some whisky into a quaich which is a two handled Scottish drinking vessel and throw it into the river as a blessing. Nowadays if you catch a salmon you have to put it back in the river, after taking photos of it of course. Conservation is important.

One year I remember they had to crack the ice to get a boat onto the river, but I can’t find any videos of that freezing year. I did find one of the 2018 ceremony at Kenmore though, another wee place I’m fond of and I’ve added it to an old Kenmore blogpost of mine. So if you enjoy listening to a pipeband and you’re interested in seeing a River Tay fishing season opening ceremony have a look here.

New to me books

The weather has been lovely and bright with sunshine and blue skies here although the gritters are now around on the roads late at night due to falling temperatures, it’s amazing we’ve had no rain now for four or five days, I’m fairly sure that’s a record for this year! We drove up to Dunkeld, it’s one of my favourite wee towns, a scenic place to go for a walk and have lunch.

Then we drove a further ten miles or so north to Pitlochry, a much bigger town, it definitely feels like you’re in the Highlands there, it’s a bit touristy but for me the biggest attraction is the second-hand bookshop, situated in a building at the railway station, just a few steps away from the platform. The books are sold in aid of several local charities.

I’ve always been very lucky finding books there, but as I was going in a man was coming out, he had an armful of books and it turned out that the place was heaving with book lovers. I hoped that they had left me something to buy!

Books Latest

I needn’t have worried though. This is usually a good source of interesting old hardbacks for me, but those shelves didn’t have much in the way of fiction at all, but there were plenty of paperbacks, so I ended up buying:

1. The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor
2. An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer
3. The Happy Prisoner by Monica Dickens
4. Neither Fiver Nor Three by Helen MacInnes
5. Friends and Lovers by Helen MacInnes

Pitlochry is well off for second-hand bookshops as there’s another one in a street off the high street, it’s called Priory Books and I was really pleased to get Troy Chimneys by Margaret Kennedy there, a nice old hardback with its dust jacket too. I couldn’t say no to a British Library Crime Classics anthology of short stories called CRIMSON SNOW Winter Mysteries. Perfect for reading around Christmas I think.

Have you read any of these books?

Dunkeld, Perthshire

Last Saturday was a gorgeous day, unseasonally warm for early April and we drove up to Dunkeld again. After having lunch at Palmerston’s and having a poke around a wee antiques shop and an unexpected church jumble sale – where I bought a big bag of tapestry wool (when will you use it? said Jack) and some cute wee individual Pyrex dishes, we set off for a walk around the outskirts of the town. So we walked through the gateway below which is at the beginning of a long driveway leading to a hotel in beautiful surroundings.

Dunkeld

As you near the hotel they have a boat planter full of spring flowers and an ‘angler’ catching a wooden fish.

Dunkeld

Perthshire or Perth and Kinross as I think the county is called now (why do they have to keep changing names?) is well known for beautiful trees and some of the ones around here are quite historic. As you can see from the ‘hills’ of earth on the bottom left hand of the photo the moles have been hard at work!

Dunkeld

As the walk goes uphill towards the end you end up quite high above the River Tay.
Dunkeld

It looked really placid from a distance but when you are close up it’s really fast flowing.
Dunkeld

This is a circular walk and it leads you back into the centre of Dunkeld, straight to the cathedral, you can see images of it here.

Beatrix Potter visited Dunkeld and the neighbouring village of Birnam every summer with her parents for years and was inspired to write some of her stories here. She also took up the study of fungi and painted beautiful specimens she had collected, unfortunately as a woman she wasn’t taken seriously by the men in charge of such sciences. There is a Beatrix Potter Exhibition and Garden at the Birnam Arts and Conference Centre which displays some of her botanical drawings. Birnam and Dunkeld more or less run into each other but are separated by the river.

There’s also the nearby Birnam Oak which is all that is left of the Birnam Wood of Shakespeare’s Macbeth fame, but I’ll save that for another post.

Dunkeld

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go to Dunkeld for the day. It’s one of my favourite wee towns. It was the day we were in search of autumnal trees.

aDunkeld trees 4

I took the photo below from the bridge in Dunkeld, looking north up the River Tay.

aDunkeld trees 1

I crossed the road to the other side of the bridge to capture the view to the south.
Dunkeld trees 3

Some houses just off the High Street in Dunkeld.

aDunkeld street 5

The town was decorated with bunting, it wasn’t long after Halloween but I think it was something to do with a local tradition.

aDunkeld street 3

aDunkeld street 2

If you look closely at the photo below you can just see the beginning of the bridge.

aDunkeld street 1

Here’s the bridge itself, built by Thomas Telford.

Bridge through trees

The River Tay is famous for salmon fishing but you have to put them back if you catch any.

aDunkeld trees stitch

Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland

When I woke up on Sunday morning and realised that it was a dead dreich day (in other words – miserably grey, damp day) – I was really glad that we had grabbed a hold of the sunshine of the previous day and gone for a drive up north of Perth to Dunkeld. It’s one of my favourite destinations. This is a photo of the High Street, taken from the middle of the bridge over the River Tay.

Dunkeld from bridge

There’s not a lot there shop-wise, which suits me fine as I’m happier looking at scenery than ‘stuff’, but we had a wander around the wee town anyway, I decided that I didn’t need a lovely old framed print, so I didn’t buy it and so didn’t help out the country’s economy, but on the other hand – I helped our economy!

The photo below is of the River Tay, taken from the middle of the bridge again, looking south. As you can see, the trees aren’t even showing a haze of green at the moment, and who could blame them for keeping their tender parts tucked away from the cold wind.

River Tay at Dunkeld

And the photo below is looking along the river towards the north.

aR Tay North

We walked along the riverbank for a wee while and this was the best photo I could get of the bridge through the trees.

abridge through trees

So that was Dunkeld, we climbed a hill to have a look at the war memorial of course, and I thought to myself – maybe Dunkeld would be a nice place to move to. But on the way back to Fife I noticed a roadsign which said Edinburgh 56 miles – and that seems an awful long way from civilisation to me, so it put me right off the idea. The search continues!

The Birnam Oak, Dunkeld Perthshire

I really like the small town of Dunkeld, there isn’t an awful lot there but all the shops are individual and quirky and the place just has a lovely atmosphere.

There is a scenic old bridge which unfortunately is undergoing some work at the moment so half of it is covered with scaffolding, so no photograph at the moment. However if you cross the bridge from the town and take the Birnam Walk, which is just down the steps at the left hand side of the bridge, and turn to the right at the bottom of them, after about ten minutes you will reach the Birnam Oak.

As you can see, the tree is so old it has been given crutches. It is thought that this is the only remaining tree of the original ancient Birnam Wood which is mentioned in Macbeth.

The bottom three metres is hollow. You can see the gap.

Apparently a company of English players did act at the nearby city of Perth and it is thought that William Shakespeare may have been one of them. It seems plausible to me as something must have given him the idea of writing about Birnam Wood travelling to Dunsinane.

If anything, this sycamore tree looks even older but it is thought to be only about 300 years old. It is wonderfully gnarled, like something out of a scary fairy tale.

Dunkeld is also famous for its links with Beatrix Potter as her family had a holiday home nearby. She got a lot of her ideas from the area and also did some very good paintings of the local flora and fauna which can be seen at the Arts and Conference Centre in nearby Birnam.