After 8 Mince played to raise money for West Fife Guide Dogs on Friday, which was fun, as many of the canine superstars were in attendance, and some even joined in the singing. Here we all are with Innes the puppy, many thanks to Karen Yates for the picture.
Yes, I did have to be helped up from that pose, but in my defence I had just stood for an hour in a fairly cramped space, wondering what was going to happen when I started playing the penny whistle in a room full of dogs.*
As is my wont, I looked up silver on Wikipedia and within three clicks happened upon the delightful phrase “metals of antiquity“, which I think quite aptly describes a milestone wedding anniversary. The poking about further elicited the notion that metals are malleable, fusible and ductile; going over those terms in detail, l was struck by the last – within the metallurgy concept it means able to be pulled into a wire but it also comes from the Latin ducere, meaning to lead. Dad often told us that the word education meant to lead out. Now that’s off my chest, we may proceed.
Wanders north took us to Invergarry, Ratagan, Glenelg, Plockton, Portree, Broadford, the Trotternish peninsula, Ardtornish, Glenfinnan, Lochaline and Tobermory. We had one boat trip (Sula Mhor, Plockton) and five ferry rides. Planned but eventually off the travel menu were journeys to St Kilda and Loch Coruisk. This was not unexpected and only serves as a reason to return. The weather was in general, bad, occasionally awful and sometimes gorgeous. The wildlife kept itself hidden, as did the stars, although we did see a juvenile golden eagle from the living room window of our cottage on Skye. We saw changes, having not been to these parts from some five years, maybe more, but we also heard voices from long ago and in every way had a most enjoyable time. I have waaay too many photos to choose from so, as ever, an eclectic selection below. Bear in mind that in order to take the shot of the train we had to share a wee hump of a hill with 300 others – all shouting about a boy wizard going to school ….
It’s over a year since we were invited to Hayley and Scott’s wedding, and we have just returned from the event, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Neither of us managed to keep it together sufficiently not to blub, and if wee Vivi didn’t get the email about being perfectly behaved, then so what, in the end it added to the charm of the day.
In all probability we wouldn’t have been successful in the ballot to walk across the Queensferry Crossing, so it was enough to see and feel the excitement from family and friends who were. We were very busy sharing in another equally unique and emotional occasion. Photos of the event elsewhere, below some shots from about 06:35 on the morning of the big day.
The Angel Inn at Hetton was lovely, our room had a private garden, unfortunately vespula vulgaris didn’t read the Keep Out signs so we beat a hasty retreat, but that aside it was delightful. We did watch a wren hopping over the bushes, and a flock of around fifty or so swallows cried and dipped and swooped continually overhead.
BTW, I know the picture of the weather vane is the wrong way round, but if I flipped it then it would not be the picture that I originally took. There’s enough misrepresentation in the media just now as it is.
After a jolly nice scone with coffee at an Edinburgh garden centre, and a good blether with Rosemary and Susan, I was reminded of this lovely poem by D H Lawrence.
Not every man has gentians in his house
in Soft September, at slow, Sad Michaelmas.
Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark
darkening the daytime torch-like with the smoking blueness
of Pluto’s gloom,
ribbed and torch-like, with their blaze of darkness spread
down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of
torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto’s dark-
black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue,
giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter’s pale lamps
give off light,
lead me then, lead me the way.
Reach me a gentian, give me a torch!
let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of a flower
down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on
even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted
to the sightless realm where darkness is awake upon the dark
and Persephone herself is but a voice
or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark
of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense
among the splendour of torches of darkness, shedding
darkness on the lost bride and her groom.
Mum grew alpines, including gentians, with a wee bit success; Sherry loved the gentians because they reminded her of so many trips to the Matterhorn and Rosemary liked the one Mum called a periwinkle. Indeed, she recently gave me a plant too. I have called it periwinkle for so long that I have to cudgel my brain to come up with the correct name which I think is Lithodora? Anyway, it means “stone gift” which would seem appropriate!
Another work in stone below, a few weeks ago I was on a mission to obtain various articles via the legendary charity shops in Stockbridge when I passed by this edifice I have not noticed before.
Above a shot of the bridges taken from the high up layby between Aberdour and Burntisland. At least one member of the family will be able to walk over the new Queensferry Crossing on the open weekend, before QEII arrives to sanction the moniker, and we look forward to seeing his pictures of that event. I hope that we manage to drive across on the first day.
Lastly I thought of stone and blue together and arrived at diamond, from an old story in which a bloke went mining for those stones in Africa, hit a layer of impenetrable blue rock and gave up, but not before chopping out a slab to carry around with him to remind himself of his hubris. The sun weakened the stone slab over the years, and of course it cracked open to reveal a giant stone of many carats. The word diamond comes from Ancient Greek ἀδάμας – adámas “unbreakable” hence adamant.
Oh good grief, I was sure I had posted at least once in June, outwith Dad’s birthday, but I see the last one was May 28th. Poor old BTW always suffers the most appalling neglect in the summer, it’s shocking behaviour and someone somewhere needs a strongly worded email. In our defence I see that June encompassed the following activities: West Fife show with Rieko, Royal Highland Show, finding a spot to take pictures of HMS Queen Elizabeth*, at least three peregrinations** around Vane Farm, a trip to Beadnell with Team Discovery, three visits to the wonderful new museum and galleries in Dunfermline, and some catch ups with old chums, all the while working on new songs for the band and oh then there’s the day jobs. Photos below include the two statues resident in the gardens of (deep breath) Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries, they are of Tam O’Shanter and Souter Johnnie. And yes, we already know of interactions with traffic cones. The picture of the heron was an attempt to capture the beautiful yellow and blue flowers in the wetland meadow, mayhap they would show up better after some gentle photo massage.
We had a brilliant 9th anniversary visit to Beadnell – the girls won the quiz!! – and were the skies ever so big as viewed from Alnwick beach? Our 10th is obviously going to be a no holds barred, take no prisoners 72 hours of complete anarchic mayhem, I’m sure that’s what Roger said.
Some happy news of family and friends of which more anon, but huge and hearty congratulations to Emily Sanderson and Christopher White, who graduated from St. Andrew’s and Edinburgh Universities respectively.
Lastly, and most importantly, Paul’s astronomy club was written up in the Courier, with no mistakes or factual inaccuracies and some ace pictures. The photos were taken in March of this year.
Researching the subject of neglect, I found this rather lovely poem, and what do you know, it comes down to birds in the end after all.
Is the scent of apple boughs smoking
in the woodstove what I will remember
of the Red Delicious I brought down, ashamed
that I could not convince its limbs to render fruit?
Too much neglect will do that, skew the sap’s
passage, blacken leaves, dry the bark and heart.
I should have lopped the dead limbs early
and watched each branch with a goshawk’s eye,
patching with medicinal pitch, offering water,
compost and mulch, but I was too enchanted
by pear saplings, flowers and the pasture,
too callow to believe that death’s inevitable
for any living being unloved, untended.
What remains is this armload of applewood
now feeding the stove’s smolder. Splendor
ripens a final time in the firebox, a scarlet
harvest headed, by dawn, to embers.
Two decades of shade and blossoms – tarts
and cider, bees dazzled by the pollen,
spare elegance in ice – but what goes is gone.
Smoke is all, through this lesson in winter
regret, I’ve been given to remember.
Smoke, and Red Delicious apples redder
than a passing cardinal’s crest or cinders.
—R. T. Smith
Years ago I read or heard on the radio a spooky story about burning an apple tree, anyone recall that?
*a frankly massive aircraft carrier built in Rosyth.
** peregrination from the Latin peregrinus, meaning foreign, and also obviously that’s the root of the peregrine falcon, “young birds being captured in flight rather than taken from the nest”. Eh, thanks Chambers Concise Dictionary, is that one of those hidden jokes you lexicographers put into your oeuvres? Because if it is, I don’t get it.
I have little to add about the events of this week, save this link shared by Rosemary this morning. We watched the reading earlier. My thoughts are with everyone.
So, in a mindset of “Let’s carpe the @&!# out of this diem” we have met up with loads of chums, as usual everything happens at the same time. Curry in Dundee with Jacqui, Cathy, Phil and Chloe, tapas in Edinburgh with Team Lyceum*. The last play in the series, Glory on Earth, took a while to gel with me but I ended up really enjoying, it I have seen many plays about Mary, Queen of Scots but this is the most that I have empathised with her position. The staging helped hugely, it lifted the dialogue into drama.
28 years ago, just before I met Paul, Caroline, Nigel and I took out a season ticket for the Lyceum theatre in Edinburgh. We’ve been going ever since, joined by Paul, Andrew and Sandra. Nowadays we have a meal after the last show in the season.
On Sunday, after long and careful planning, we met Diana, Caroline and Nigel for a return trip to the Isle of May. Last time we took Caroline & Nigel’s daughters and it was a rough old ride there and back; the girls had envisioned a genteel turn in an enclosed cruiser and were slightly traumatised by the full on drenching, nowhere to hide experience of the RiB. Caroline nobly took the alternate option of sailing on the Princess, with the remit of being at the head of the queue for teas and coffees when we disembarked.
It was like gliding on the way out. I kept shouting to Nigel “This time last year we were crying,” but the return journey reminded us of the thalassic power beneath; we Christened it the Cellardyke Exfoliation Experience and I was encrusted with salt by the time we made landfall.
Happily the queue for the chipper was not too long and Diana had also prepared some salads and pudding. The isle itself was packed with birds, and if the pictures are similar to last year’s, then that’s a bonus. Count included guillemot, razorbill, shag, cormorant, eider duck, arctic tern, puffin, pied wagtail, kittiwake, greater and lesser black backed gull, black headed gull, herring gull, oyster catcher and bunnies. The Arctic terns had not laid many eggs yet, so were not aggressive, indeed they were very shy and I only saw one.
I reckon about a month is a long enough gap, jings, who knew? The intervening period has seen the usual blend of life and all its pleasures, vicissitudes, ironies and fleeting glamours. Stand out items include: making your niece, nephew and sister in law walk along Aberdour beach in a howling gale, whilst happed up cosy and warm with your mother in law having a cheery blether; visceral and redemptive theatre in Charlie Sonata, a new play by Douglas Maxwell with peerless Sandy Greigson in the lead role; jaunts with my new ‘scope; Lily’s Christening. All amongst the challenges and changes of family life, best feet forward in one respect which is particularly pleasing. Like the poet John Bunyan we may have times in the Slough of Despond* but we pick ourselves up and carry on.
With that in mind, here is a beautiful poem from the latest by Liz Lochhead, the collection is entitled Fugitive Colours and this is In The MId-MIdwinter. It also appears in the Scottish Poetry Library’s Best Poems of 2016, edited by Catherine Lockerbie, who besides being the person who set up the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and a long time arts correspondent for The Scotsman, was also in the year above us at school.
It includes the lines “I saw the new moon late yestreen, wi’ the old moon in her arms” which I do not have to tell you come from the Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens. Espousing the synchronicity with which BTW is slightly akin, that very ballad will have its musical debut next week. The tech rehearsal for this was marred by me having a throat like barbed wire, let’s hope that resolves itself.
Last words: it turns out that the word outwith is Scottish.
Loch Leven is experiencing a major cloud of non-biting midges. Dear knows there were enough last weekend, but now it seems to be an veritable explosion, helped, I wonder, by the six week drouth. Having ingested way more than the intended total of zero, we might give it a by today. But we did see a pair of ruffs and heard tell of a long-tailed duck. However, no view equals no write up in the journal.
Flying Scotsman goes through the Bay tomorrow evening, if I can work out the timing I’ll try for another photo. Oh, and this song is keeping me cheery on the walk home from work.
*spell check gave me the Slough of Desmond which puts a wholly different slant on it.