Last week found us in Montrose, to visit the Basin and its wintering residents. Timing was either spot on or spot off; coinciding as we did with that time in late winter when there is enough daylight to evince notions of venturing further afield, only to find out that most places of interest are still shut. Honourable mentions therefore to the Basin visitor centre, the gardens of House of Dun, Brechin Town House, Montrose Museum and Art Gallery, and the Aircraft Museum. They were open and staffed.
A high spring tide meant that the birds hiding on the Basin foreshore were forced to reveal themselves, giving us a fine view of a wisp of snipe, nine in total. (And also giving me the opportunity for legitimate use of a collective noun). Other highlights included various sculptures, and it should not go unmentioned that everyone we spoke to was pleasant and helpful.
If you do not know the story of Bamse, read the book.
Due to my misinterpretation of the rules for the honesty box in the Aircraft Museum tearoom, we were entitled to rather more biscuits than were consumed. However, in the presence of so many sobering reminders of the real cost of war…
There was an excellent exhibition of sea themed paintings at the gallery in town, including many by famous son William Lamb. I have yet to find a sculpture trail or map, but I believe much of his work is dotted around the environs.
To Dundee, thence to meet up with Philip and Jacqui, and to assess at first hand the V&A museum which opened its doors recently, after the usual amount of controversy associated with any groundbreaking arts-led enterprise.
It’s a bold building, with excellent views along the Tay and over to Fife. The Scottish design gallery had some very interesting exhibits and I would like to go back early on in the day, mid week, so that I could see more.
We hope that the hundreds more who will visit, venture out to enjoy what else is on offer in this unique and interesting city. We also made a sideways jump to the McManus Galleries, and again I would like to go back and spend more time there.
I have looked up the deal for the Birds of Africa picture below, the ship Uganda is indeed the same one as I sailed on in 1970. It was an educational cruise and the schoolchildren lived in dormitories. We were not allowed anywhere near the grandeur of the grown ups’ dining rooms and we drank nothing but apple juice for 10 days, which explains why I have been ambivalent about that drink ever since. Had great fun though, even if I was sick as a dog going through the Bay of Biscay.
Aberdour beach just before sunset in February, after a long week at work.
Saw this exhibition yesterday, small but interesting (who said eclectic?) collection of paintings by the Glasgow Boys, including Arthur Melville, E A Hornel, George Henry and William J Kennedy. Fife has some wonderful artworks to behold, in amongst the various legacies of mining, farming, fishing and Royal politics.
We also hope to visit Lumen, site specific light installations in Edinburgh. A lumen, as we all know, is a measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source. It’s Latin for light. *
This song has nothing to do with light, except perhaps its seasonal absence.
*On the same dictionary page, lumpen as in proletariat, from Germanic Lumpus, a rag. And lunette, from lunus, which is the official name for the middle of the hairline at the back of your neck. And you thought it meant spectacles on a stick. Ha.
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.
To Kirkcaldy, thence to attend the opening of the latest exhibition curated by Fife Contemporary Art & Craft, Limomolum, which we spent all morning practising saying, only to find out that the whole point is that you can’t say it. Further down the road, after excellent tea, coffee, wee cake and quick chat with Diana, we found an appropriate commemoration outside Fife Council Chambers. What an interesting example of public architecture that building is. I support most varieties of interpretation, I consider graffiti to be a valid medium of expression and I heartily applaud the prospect of a citizenship spire in Dunfermline, having viewed the artwork around the proposal earlier this week – catch it here. But, as for the edifice otherwise known as Kirkcaldy Town House – jury is out as far as the metal superstructure goes, I’m afraid. All views my own.
Before that, we went to St David’s Harbour, since both of us were in need of a decent walk. Some examples of urban street art are noted below, whilst, O unbridl’d joy, our first arctic tern of the year, alongside an oyster catcher, a black headed gull and a flock of little ringed plovers. Our unalloyed pleasure was slightly tempered by that fact I had to listen to Paul singing “Torn between two plovers, feeling like a fool”, but, into each life a little rain yada yada .
We found some quietude yesterday by heading for the busiest part, Edinburgh’s Christmas markets etc have been super busy due to the reasonably fair weather, security staff are ensuring that only a limited amount of folk gain access. However, as Paul had appointments booked with his groom squad, we went in anyway. Upstairs at my private club, aka the Portrait Gallery, some fascinating exhibitions drew only a few visitors, while the morning sunlight painted the stairwells. The café is still not too busy between 10 and 11, I can heartily applaud the scones here, if you’re a stranger to BTW that might be news to you.
We walked over to the Botanics to see After The Storm, an exhibition of furniture made from trees which were blown down in the January storms of 2012. If I could have afforded the price tags I would have bought every piece, well worth a visit. The gardens too were fairly quiet, although by no means deserted, and the big fella in the red suit and white beard was at home, happily delighting or terrifying your child for a minimum fee. We admired the decorations in the shop, in what seems to be a trend this year, foliage is fitted onto mannequins to form the clothing, and the usual baubles are the embellishments. There were also reindeer models which were a bit too lifelike for me…