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.
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 broke the rules yesterday and walked along a new (to us) section of the Loch Leven path. So now I am busy looking at maps and local history websites to find the stories behind the places we saw. We walked from Loch Leven’s Larder (café is fine, staff lovely, but the retail side of things has gone stratospheric price-wise, I don’t care who made a notebook, I’m not paying £38 for it) to Burleigh Sands. On looking into Burleigh Castle I read that the local landowner’s son was sent abroad to “forget” about a love affair with a local lass, who subsequently married the headmaster of Inverkeithing. When son returned, he was furious and killed the headmaster. He was sentenced to death but managed to escape to the continent. He later returned, and joined the ill fated 1715 uprising.
There are standing stones on Orwell Farm, one of which was moved recently to reveal cremated human remains below. And the 19th century Horn of Thomanean Mausoleum marks the site of the old Orwell parish and Kirk, abandoned in 1729 once the centre of worship moved to Milnathort. Ebenezer Erskine, founder of the secession church movement, was minister at Portmoak nearby, during which tenure he buried his mother, wife and four children. I associate him with Stirling, and many Erskine churches throughout Scotland, some named after his mother. I didn’t know he had gone through such a tragic time. More here.
The inaugural AAT was held on Sunday, I am not putting the full description here because it will just draw traffic from search bots. Suffice to say, it was won handsomely by Emily Sanderson, with a gallant runner up in Julia Sanderson. Diana, Caroline and Nigel took the Mary & Paul rôles (harsh but fair, I felt ) and then we all had too much cake. And scones.
Saturday saw us at a chum’s fundraiser in aid of Dravet’s Syndrome care, and hugely successful it was too. Jill worked wonders in rallying prizes and gifts, sadly my henna tattoo is fading fast. She raised over £1500 and it was well worth a day’s baking. Paul & I were able to skip up the cinema to see Fantastic Beasts, I didn’t have any unrealistic expectations; it was hugely enjoyable and a Bowtruckle is now on my list.
Sunday dawned with thick patches of cloud all over Fife, very localised and they ended as suddenly as they began. One of them hung over the Cullaloe Hills, but we went for a walk there anyway. There is a fairly new website which is detailing these (Walk Fife – link on the right) and on this particular route there are two follies, all that apparently remains of Cullaloe House. There is also an “alternate” route back to the car park – if by “alternate” you seek to imply that no biped has used this track in ten years. It was hugely treacherous underfoot and I am extremely grateful that Paul was there, as, left alone I would still be there, crying under a tree. I would be doubtful about tackling it again unless I were inside a Sherman tank. So, yes, go along as far as the folly, then turn back, gentle reader, and save your ankles. We also surprised two roe deer and survived being interviewed by a robin.
Having taken two hours to negotiate the 3.5K track, we hied back to Vane Farm, also under a thick daud of cloud. Rumours of the eagles being on St Serf’s abounded, but could not be proven. There were some tree sparrows at the feeders, which was a bonus.
Continuing on the ILFI theme we went to the Walled Garden for lunch and then for a long walk in the Devilla Forest. As with the rest of the northern hemisphere just now, the autumn colours are stunning. Wildlife seen included roe deer, a teeny tiny frog, Canada Goose, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Pheasant, Pink Footed Goose, Mute Swan, Herring Gull, Black Headed Gull. Buzzard, a gazillion trees, of which my favourite just now are beech, all in amber, green, ochre and yellow. Oh and the sycamores. And a solitary fly agaric.