Branklyn Garden, Perth, Scotland

Last week we took advantage of a gorgeous blue sky day to visit Branklyn Garden in the ‘fair city’ of Perth – the original one of course, not the one in Australia which is what usually pops up if you google ‘Perth’.

Branklyn Gardens
I’m sure that this tree is a type of cherry but there was no sign of any blossom on it – it has fantastic glossy red bark though.
Branklyn Gardens
The gardens aren’t huge but they’re just perfect for having a relaxing stroll around and you can have a sit down or even visit the very pleasant tearoom.
Branklyn Gardens
This is a hillside garden which is owned by the National Trust. It’s just two acres and it was created in the 1920s using seed collected by plant hunters.
Branklyn Gardens
There’s a pond which is fed by a wee waterfall.
Branklyn Garden

The azaleas and rhododendrons were looking perfect.
Branklyn Garden

Branklyn Garden

Branklyn Garden
And you get a good view of Perth from the garden. It’s just a short drive from the city centre.
Branklyn Garden

Lastly, you can just catch a glimpse of the house which was built by the original owners, but it isn’t open to the public. This is a lovely place to visit if you’re near Perth, and you can always buy plants there which have been propagated from plants in the garden.
Branklyn Garden

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!

Huntingtower Castle, Perth, Scotland

Huntingtower from north

It’s a couple of months since we went to visit Huntingtower Castle near Perth and I had forgotten that I hadn’t blogged about it until Joan of Planet Joan mentioned that she had just finished reading John Buchan’s book Huntingtower. I read it a while ago and you can read what I thought of it here. You can read Joan’s thoughts on Huntingtower here.

Actually I’m not at all sure now if it is the same Huntingtower as the book was set mainly in the south west of Scotland, but I imagined they moved the action here, I can’t see anything linking this place to the book though.

Huntingtower from south

Parts of the tower have windows and other bits are quite open to the elements. Below is a doorway which still has some of the original painted decoration around it, I think it’s quite modern looking.

Hall close; painted door lintel

aHall

And what do you think of the painted ceiling? A few of the rooms had designs like this painted on the roof beams. This ceiling dates from around 1540.

painted ceiling 1

Below is a vaulted ceiling on the top floor.

ceiling +

Can you see the rabbit painted on this wall? It has been covered with thick perspex to protect it from the weather.

painted rabbit

Below you can see the holes where the wooden beams of the floor/ceiling were originally.

upper windows

Most Scottish castles/tower houses seem to have these cute wee window seats, they must have been lovely to sit in in the summer anyway, a perfect spot for reading or sewing. You have to imagine the rooms would have been hung with tapestries and cushions or fur would have been on the seats.

window seat

There are loads of spiral staircases to investigate in Huntingtower and one of them leads up to this part of the roof.

a view from roof 3

Although there’s now a shopping centre very close to Huntingtower most of the surrounding countryside is still farmland, so not too different from how it would have been when John Buchan set part of his book Huntingtower here.

a view from Huntingtower roof in Perth, Scotland

a view from roof 2

The castle is now home to a large colony of pipistrelle bats, but we didn’t see any evidence of them, it was too early for them to be out and about.

Mary Queen of Scots lived here for a while with her husband Lord Darnley, she seems to have been in just about every castle in Scotland, often as a prisoner. She was a woman who should have copied her cousin Elizabeth of England’s style and stayed well away from marriage!

Marooned in Fife

Marooned is exactly how I feel as the Forth Road Bridge has been closed for the last week or so and will remain closed until after the New Year. Crack(s) have been discovered. I suppose it’s a good thing that the bridge is inspected very frequently for signs of stress. I’ve never been happy going over it but over the last couple of months even Jack said that he wasn’t happy about driving over it – maybe he’s psychic! Below is a photo of the crack in the structure.

Forth Road Bridge

Anyway, it means that we’re marooned on the Fife side of the River Forth, and we usually go into Edinburgh once a week or so. There seems no point in going on a long detour to the Kincardine Bridge, especially as it is going to be chock full with people who just have to get to Edinburgh for work purposes.

So my Christmas shopping, such as it is, is going to be done fairly locally this year. It strikes me that some shops might be happy about that. One town which I’ll probably be visiting is Perth. I thought you might be interested to see a photo I took earlier in the year of the ceiling of Perth’s Lakeland shop. I love kitchen ware shops and I’m putting that forward as my excuse for not noticing before that the shop has a wonderfully ornate ceiling. How grand is that for a kitchenware shop?!

Perth Lakeland ceiling

I’m usually quite good at looking up and seeing the details of buildings, although I most often scrutinise the outside of buildings. It was only when Laura mentioned that Lakeland was part of Perth’s Open Doors weekend earlier in the year that I thought I must have missed something – too intent on looking at kitchen stuff I suppose.

Back in the mid 19th century the building was the Central Bank, and it was designed by David Rhind in Italian palazzo style.

Lakeland Perth

Be sure to look up if you’re visiting the shop.

The Mount Stewart Murder by Chris Paton

Although I enjoy crime fiction and particularly vintage crime I don’t often read books about real life murder but I saw this book at my library and was drawn to read it because the murder in question took place in Perthshire, not all that far from where I live.

The author came across the story of the murder whilst he was researching his family tree, as many people have been doing recently. He discovered that his great-great-great-grandmother Janet Rogers had been horribly murdered in her own home at Forgandenny, Perthshire in 1866.

Chris Paton has used the many newspaper accounts of the crime which went into great detail of the crime scene, post mortem and subsequent police investigation and the trial of the accused. He has embroidered the details and it all amounts to an interesting read, although there’s probably an added frisson when you know the areas concerned, as I do. It is thought that the murder is the UK’s oldest unsolved case.

I was particularly amazed when another murder was mentioned which took place in 1865 on the Dollar to Blairingone road, close to what is described in the book as Vicker’s Bridge.* A baker’s cart was discovered abandoned on the road and the baker was found to be dying nearby, he had been shot and he was apparently killed for his ‘takings’. The upshot of that investigation seems to be that a poacher called Joseph Bell was hanged for murder at Perth prison. It was the last public hanging in Scotland and it seems that jurors might have been reluctant in the past to pass guilty verdicts because there hadn’t been a hanging for 17 years in Scotland until that one. The railway company had to put on extra trains as so many people wanted to see the spectacle! The supposed culprit protested his innocence to the end and I think the main grievance against him was the fact that he was English! It was almost 100 years from then until the death penalty was repealed. As you can imagine I’m going to be having a careful look at the road around Vicar’s Bridge* the next time I travel along it.

*The modern road sign is spelled Vicar’s Bridge.

Speedsters

Jackie Stewart

Speedsters promo picture

And now for something completely different ….
If you are interested in motor-sport and you happen to be within easy travelling distance of Perth, then you might want to pay a visit to Perth Museum and Art Gallery, 78 George Street, Perth.

At the moment they are having an exhibition of photographs in celebration of Scottish motor sports legends. It’s called Speedsters and there are 47 photographs on show in the upper round gallery of the museum. Here are some of them.

Speedsters

Part of display

They include action shots of Jim Clark and Sir Jackie Stewart. It ends with a portrait shot of Dario Franchitti. The exhibition continues until 11th December and entry is free.

Jackie Stewart was the local hero when I was growing up as he lived just along the road from me and he was the main reason I became interested in F1 racing. This has passed on to the next generation.

Here’s a film of him driving round Brands Hatch.

The museum is a great place to go to as a family because everyone is bound to find something to interest them there.

There are displays of silver, furniture, Scottish pottery and art and a lot of local history objects.

The large natural history section would probably be the favourite part for any youngsters. There are plenty of stuffed animals and geological specimens, including a large meteorite.

So if you find yourself in Perth, don’t just trawl around the shops. Give yourself a rest from consumerism and take the short walk from the High Street to the museum for a spot of something different.

Perth, Scotland

Had a nice day out in Perth yesterday. We visited the J.D. Fergusson Gallery which has a good exhibition of his art – as you would expect. They have hundreds of his little sketches, mainly from the 1910 era when he was in Paris. I love to see artists’ doodles. He really seemed to be able to capture whole personalities on wee scraps of paper.

Upstairs, the gallery has works by various Scottish colourist artists and by people who were influenced by them. Here are three by Fergusson himself.

Fergusson paintings

Fergusson paintings

These are by other artists.

Three non-Fergussons

Three non-Fergussons

If you’re interested in art and are in the vicinity of Perth then this gallery is definitely worth a visit. For some reason it isn’t advertised in The Guardian Guide under exhibitions, which I usually rely on to keep me informed of what is going on.

The building itself is an old converted water tower and it is nice that they have been able to convert it into a useful facility. Admission is free too, which is always nice.

If you are interested in The Colourists, you should try to get a look at the Scottish Colourists 1900 – 1930 by Philip Long.

Book cover

Book cover

As we were close to the river we went for a stroll along the embankment, which has been spruced up in recent years and has stylish metal gates leading on to the river steps.

Embankment gates

Embankment gates

Unfortunately, it was a bit of a grey day yesterday. The river Tay was about as placid as I have ever seen it though and old bridges always look good. Perth Bridge was built in 1755 so it’s looking pretty good for its age.

Bridge over Tay at Perth

Bridge over Tay at Perth

I reckon it will be another week or two before the trees really start changing colour though and then the whole of Perthshire is really worth a visit, just for that.

Riverbank trees and Church

Riverbank trees and Church