Despite the obvious, including the most appalling lack of prudent and effective leadership on both sides of the pond, leading to who knows what clusterbourach* in 2019, we have had some excellent adventures this year. We have visited places we had never thought to look for previously, as we sought out new horizons, or to be precise, car charging points. Some, like Coldstream, are a delight, with a beautiful park on the river and a cosy pub with log fires right next door. (Soft drinks available). Others may prioritise the functional over the aesthetic, particularly those in multi story car parks, but if they work, and are not already in use, or ICEd***, that’s all that matters, and we can have a blether while we wait. Or not. Other trips with chums and family have been grand fun, catching up and meeting new folks, and if we happened to go to Africa for the first time then we kept really quiet about it. **
Yesterday my school chums and I ate loads of food then went for a walk. That’s a good way to end a year.
*my politics are a mystery, especially to me, but the National reported this, so it gets the credit. A bourach is a mess, clusterbourach references a much ruder term coined, I think, by the American army.
**that is so far from the truth.
***parking space for EV^ taken up by car using fossil fuel, or Internal Combustion Engine.
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.
Well, were we not off on our travels yet again? This time to Durham, in the company of family chums. Stand out moments included an ad hoc napkin party hat event, and someone’s face when his son forgot to buy him a sausage roll from the bakery.
The first three images were not taken by me, photography was forbidden in the Cathedral, so these are from postcards. These are the windows with which I was particularly impresssed. The Cathedral itself is most interesting, it houses the tombs of the Venerable Bede and Saint Cuthbert, but in addition it presents modern art, and an extensive panoply of historical touchpoints. It took us three goes to get in there, but fair play to an institution which has been an active centre of worship for 10 (?) centuries, you have to wait if there are services.
Since, amongst many other goings-on, [Hey! Freshers’ Week!!} it was open doors weekend, we were able to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which is quite one of the most affecting, beautiful and simple chapels I have yet visited. Leaving aside any discussion on religion, it was a place of contemplation, with an immediate link to Saint Margaret, well known to Dunfermline.
After that, we enjoyed much silliness over dinner, and if the journey home was made interesting by some appalling lapses of manners on behalf of our fellow travellers, it allowed us to chunter quietly whilst acknowledging that no real damage was done, except perhaps to the reputation of a large country to the west.
I neglected to put up any pictures of the school chums weekend away. Here we all are at Drummond Castle Gardens. We had a splendid time and very much enjoyed an eclectic selection of home cooking. Nice of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to provide the Saturday morning ents.
As our island nation emerges from a long long winter, we have begun our programme of jaunts short and long. I have very quickly run into the issue of not being able to keep up with the updates, so this post will have to cover at least three such peregrinations.
First to Kenmore with the Folk Club. The journey up was made in weather most foul. The A9 runs alongside some vast swathes of Perthshire farmland, and I don’t think I will forget seeing so many lambs huddled behind sodden hay bales, trying to find shelter from the incessant rain. What a welcome to the world. 48 hours later, we were taking some glorious shots along Loch Tay, although the Ben was still caked in snow. We had a merry time with chums, a rare old daunder round Aberfeldy and a climb up to see the Falls of Acharn.
The next weekend saw us off to York, to meet Team Discovery, on the (near enough) 10th anniversary of our inaugural AGM. We were too busy chatting and laughing to remember the group photo, suffice today the girls won the quiz. The journeys there and back were smooth, plus the majority of the taxi drivers we encountered were pleasant and helpful.
I ticked a box at the National Railway Museum, which is free to visit, btw, what an utter bargain. When I was little, steam trains were still on the go and the ones that captured my imagination were the Bittern and the Mallard. I think it was the streamlined design and punky funnels which caught my childish eye, the bird names would have nothing to do with it, oh no. Mallard was awol from the museum last time we went, in 2010, but this time she was centre stage, and even had a café named after her.
I did manage to take a picture with only two humans in it, which was not easy. All I know about rains is from the standpoint (touchy subject) of a commuter and occasional steam groupie, but if I could meet Sir Nigel Gresley*I would shake him by the hand. The trains he designed looked stunning and outperformed most others. Interestingly, his home had a moat in which he bred ducks.
Once I was forcibly extracted from the sheds, we wandered round the town, which was extremely busy with hen parties and football fans. Every pub had at least two bouncers, mid afternoon. It’s not like that in Dunfermline. Passing by York Minster we noticed that the restoration of some stonework was laid out for all to see, and by poking the camera lens through the wire fence I managed to capture this fine fellow. I found this link which could well show the stonemasons involved.
I have many more photos of trains, if you wish to see these please do call round.
We also travelled to Berwick. However, despite Paul’s best efforts the PC will not view the SD card from the camera, so I have to wait for him to upload them to the shared drive and them drag them in from the network. Looking at you, Panasonic, and your WiFi link that scrambled my files. Lastly, a street with identity issues.
*From Wikipedia *A statue of Gresley was unveiled at King’s Cross station in London on 5 April 2016, the 75th anniversary of his death. Sculptor Hazel Reeves originally included a duck alongside Gresley in reference to his hobby of breeding water fowl and his bird-themed locomotive names such as Mallard, but this was removed from the final design when two of Gresley’s grandsons complained it was “demeaning”.
Hazel Reeves also researched, designed and sculpted the Cracker Packers statue in Carlisle, as I discovered this morning.
Thanks to Colin Hay for the picture of the band taken last night, when After 8 Mince played a Christmas gig for our local chums. Special thanks to everyone for turning up on a freezing cold night, and to the ladies for serving the refreshments.
Well, the dearth of posts lately will surely suffice to indicate that once again it has been a very busy time here. Since our holiday we have also had a memorable trip to Glasgow to spend time with the Whites and Burgesses, the main driver of which was to have a meal together at the Chip. Happily all those invited were able to attend and 75% of us bagged a hotel room overlooking the Clyde. Not content with that, we also took a power boat ride up past the Museum of Transport, and some of us tried on a posh frock, just to see….
After 8 Mince played three gigs in one week, each one unique and with very different audiences. Good experience all round. We saw this play which was excellent, and gradually came round to the idea that autumn is here. Dark evenings and glorious leaf litter abound.
The end of an era in Beadnell was announced as Mick and Allyson move on from the Beadnell Towers Hotel, I understand that a makeover is planned but I do hope they keep the objets d’art in the rooms, and the gold fish. We wish them all well.
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.