This and That

It has been a bit quiet at ‘Pining’ this week, mainly because I at last started to paint the living room walls. They were white which I thought was kind of cold looking, now they’ve been transformed to ‘old gold’ well that’s what it says on the paint tin. The only problem is that now it seems much darker in that room. Well what could I expect I hear you say – yes anything is going to seem darker than white, and it is the room which we only really use for sitting watching TV in the winter time, so cosy was what I was going for really, instead of the snow blindness which the white walls were giving me.

The main reason for painting though was to get it done before having a carpet laid in there. At the moment there’s laminate on the floor, put there by the previous owners, all very practical I suppose, especially if you have small children as they did. But laminate with a concrete floor underneath is bloomin’ cold in the winter, I couldn’t believe how cold my feet got as soon as I wasn’t standing on the rug. I also hate that clicky clacky sound that everything makes on laminate, especially footsteps and if you drop something like a TV remote – it sounds like a gun going off!

So I’ll be glad to get back to old fashioned carpeting in there, very soon. Not as soon as I had hoped though because tomorrow the gas man cometh – again. He was here to give the boiler its annual service last month and since then it doesn’t seem to have worked properly and now it has packed in all together, so no heating or hot water today, or last night either. Thankfully we took out a service care package otherwise no doubt it would have cost us a fortune to get it fixed.

Otherwise it has been a good day today, gorgeous weather after three days of bucketing rain. We had lunch at South Queensferry, The Hawes Inn again, very nice. We were there with my sister and her husband, our treat as they’ve been celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this week – not many people reach that goal nowadays.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of them. Everyone else seems to be obsessed with photographing everything but I find that I hardly ever take any of people now, I think because we never bother to get any printed out. We have loads of photo albums of the old days, then they all just come to a standstill with no photos of family as they age. I should rectify that and go through the computer files choosing photos to have printed out. Have your photo albums come to a standstill post digital cameras, or are you more organised than I am?

The Burry Man’s Day by Catriona McPherson

This is the second book in the Dandy Gilver series and so far I think it’s my favourite, I don’t know how much I’ve been influenced by knowing the setting fairly well, it’s always a plus as far as I’m concerned when I can easily imagine exactly where I am location-wise in a book. Apart from that I do like Catriona McPherson’s writing, she’s particularly good with different dialects which can be really difficult to get right.

It’s August 1923 and the setting is in and around South Queensferry. The small town has an annual Ferry Fair and the Burry Man plays a big part in it. He’s a bit of a hangover from pagan days I suppose but it’s all a bit of a mystery, you can read about the 2012 Burryman here. And here is a photo of him with his two helpers. This all takes place on the second Friday of August, I’ve marked it down on my calendar – see you at South Queensferry – and on the Saturday too.
Burry man in South Queensferry

If you want to see what South Queensferry looks like have a look at a previous post here.

Back to the book. Not everyone in Queensferry is enamoured of the Burry Man, the various religious ministers/priest aren’t keen on him and the Turnbulls – who are the local temperance, all alcohol is evil, tee-total fanatics are dead against him, because part of the Burry Man’s duties is to go around the town being treated to whisky from everyone.

Robert Dudgeon has been the Burry Man for 25 years but for some reason he doesn’t want to play the part again, although he won’t say why. At the last minute he changes his mind but the day ends in trgedy as the Burry Man drops down dead. Is it natural causes or has he been poisoned?

When all this occurs, Dandy happens to be staying at Cassilis Castle which is actually a fictional place, supposedly somewhere over Dalmeny way, and is owned by her old schoolfriend Buttercup and her American husband Cadwallader. Cad asks Dandy to investigate, which of course she does, with the help of Alec.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery which had me puzzled to the end, a good comfort read. It occurred to me that McPherson deals with Dandy’s husband and family in exactly the same way that children’s authors always have done with parents – that is, she gets rid of them very early on in the story. Just thought I’d mention it. I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.

South Queensferry, Scotland

We travelled over the Forth Road Bridge to South Queensferry last Saturday, well the football had been cancelled due to hard frost.

You can’t go to South Queensferry and not take some photos of the Forth Bridge, so here they are!
The Forth Bridge approach

The Forth Bridge

The Hawes Inn appears in Robert Louis Stevenson’s book Kidnapped. As you can see the approach to the bridge is more or less straight above the inn but of course the bridge wasn’t there at the time that Robert Louis Stevenson was writing about.

Hawes Inn, South Queensferry

The photo below is of the main street in South Queensferry, I think it’s quite unusual to have a two tiered street with a pavement and houses being situated over the top of the shops.

South Queensferry

South Queensferry

This vintage car came tootling along just as I was taking the photos, it was like something that Toad out of The Wind in the Willows might have driven. They must have been freezing! I wouldn’t mind going for a drive in it on a hot day though.

A vintage car

As you can see, they have some olde worlde streetlamps in South Queensferry which fit in nicely with the age of the buildings. Even although it was a cold day it was still busy with locals and day trippers, there are quite a few eateries in the town and I think it’s a favourite place for people living in Edinburgh to visit.

South Queensferry

Some of the buildings are really quite ancient, as you can see the date on this pub is 1683.

The Ferry Tap

This photo below is of Jack (husband) eyeing up one of the boats which has been lifted out of the harbour but I don’t think he’ll be taking up sailing.

The Forth Bridge

This is one end of the town from the harbour. It’s a nice wee place to have a bit of a stroll around.

South Queensferry from harbour

It was reading Margaret of Books Please review of a Catriona McPherson book which is set there which made me think it was about time we had another look at South Queensferry. The last time we were there was during the summer when we took a trip on one of the boats which sails regularly to the island of Inchcolm. It’s a good day out, when the weather’s fair. You really wouldn’t want to be stuck out on an island in the middle of the Forth if there was the chance of a howling gale and rain blowing up. You can have a look at my Inchcolm post here.

South Queensferry, near Edinburgh

 Forth Bridge

It was when I was watching the TV dramatisation of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories a couple of weeks ago that I realised that I had never been to visit South Queensferry, it featured in one of the episodes. We’re always in a hurry to get to or from Edinburgh when we drive in that direction so I thought it was about time we had a look at the place properly instead of just from the bridge or the other side of the Firth of Forth. I took the above photo from a wee gap in between a couple of buildings which are in the High Street, you’re never far from a view of the bridge. If you look closely you’ll see a train just about to go on to the bridge on the right. It gives you an idea of how huge the bridge is.

pillar box

I had to take a photo of this original Victorian pillar box, it’s years since I’ve seen one, they’re quite rare now. They always make me think of Anthony Trollope.

St Mary's front

This is the priory church of St Mary at Queenferry, I don’t think the photo does it justice. It’s such a lovely wee church and has a beautiful garden too. I don’t know what it’s like inside but I think it must have been very popular with brides in the past. It’s Episcopalian now although it was originally Roman Catholic.

St Mary's garden

There’s quite a big garden all around the church but it isn’t possible to photograph it all because the trees are so big. This wee garden to the side of it is very pretty and somebody obviously takes good care of it. The church was built in 1330 but has been refurbished several times, most recently in 2000 and it’s still used for worship.

South Queensferry has lots of restaurants and gift shops and there were plenty of day trippers when we were there. There are boats which take you out to the island of Inchcolm, and next time we plan to be on one of them. For once we managed to say NO to the ice-cream!