Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fife Folk Museum

If you are a curling history enthusiast, this would be the place to live! Sadly the pond to which this road leads is well overgrown, but would have seen many contests in years past. The Ceres Curling Club, in the village of that name, near Cupar in Fife, was founded in 1857, and the pond probably dates from around this time. Its memory lives on in this street name. If you are interested in old curling ponds, then this site is for you!

My reason for being in Ceres yesterday was to visit the Fife Folk Museum. What a wonderful place! So much to see.

I particularly liked the use of mannikins in various places throughout the museum, such as here in the Cottar's kitchen.

... and here in the gaol!

and here.

 Now, this was a fascinating exhibit.

There's a little curling exhibit too, more about which in another place.

Add to this a friendly welcome, knowledgeable volunteers, and a first class tea room, the Fife Folk Museum gets my fullest recommendation. Read about its history here.

Another thing that made my day was seeing this old classic in the car park. It's not a museum exhibit as such, but belongs to a local who lives nearby. I enjoy going to classic car shows, and I always look out to see if anyone has a Triumph Mayflower. Rarely these days do I find one. The car dates from 1949-53. So what a thrill to have this encounter yesterday! You see, one like this was my first car, as a student in 1966. My Mayflower was an old banger then, already fourteen years old, but it holds so many memories. Bought for £30 and sold a year later for £20, it taught me a lot about looking after an old car. It only let me down once. Charities day, in the evening on my way to a party. Suddenly I had no clutch. I looked under the car, and the clutch rod had sheared. Next day I took the two bits into MacHarg, Rennie and Lindsay's parts department, in Partick. I showed them to the guy on the desk. He disappeared into the back, and after what seemed like ages appeared with a brand new rod, saying something like, "I don't know that anyone has needed this part before!" I was mobile again within minutes of getting back to where I had to abandon the car the night before!

I loved it then. I love it now. One's first love is always so special!

James May once called this the 'world's ugliest car', see here. He's quite wrong of course, imo!

Details of the car can be found here, and I was delighted to see there is an owners' club, here. Hopefully this Mayflower will have years of life ahead.

1966 was a good year in my life. Nothing like a good wallow in nostalgia, forty-nine years later!

Photos © Skip Cottage.

Friday, April 10, 2015

New Life in April

Lambs doing what lambs do in the first week of April in Wamphray!

No sign of life yet on my favourite beech tree.

I wanted to call this blue tit 'Scruffy'! I thought at first it was a baby, but it's too early.

Spring is here when the flowering currant is covered in pink.

These crocus bulbs, planted last November, have done well. The tulips ... not so successful! There should be lots more.

These have been in the garden for longer than I've been here at Skip.

Chionodoxa in a bowl, celebrating the April sun. It is a pretty thing!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I began yesterday's walk at Glendinning, at the end of the little road that runs north beside the Meggat Water in the Parish of Westerkirk. I had worked out what looked to be an interesting circular walk, and so it proved to be. This is crossing the river to head up towards Corlaw.

It had been cold overnight!

The path follows the Haregrain Burn, here with traces of the white stuff on the shady side.

Corlaw. Definitely for those who like seclusion, see here.

 It did look as if I was going to get my feet wet at this ford ....

... but then I noticed this little bridge closer to the house, and I kept dry feet the rest of the day!

There was little wind, and lots of birdsong to keep me company. Then I encountered two buzzards making quite a racket! Lots of their characteristic calls. I wondered if it was two males facing off against each other, or a pair mating? Whatever it was, it was loud. A highlight of the day. I managed to get a photo of one of the birds. If you are not sure what a buzzard sounds like, listen here.

The remains of the previous day's hail shower.

There was a long (hot!) slog up a forestry road.

I wonder if anyone has assessed the scrambling possibilities in this little quarry!

The wind dragons have been here, I see.

No, it's not a bus shelter! Rather, a perfectly positioned shooting hide, covering a big area around.

Awaiting the Ax Men. Great to see Scots Pine hereabouts. Not so nice to see wind damage.

Looking down on the meadering Meggat Water in its upper reaches, east of Greensykes.

A barred road which leads down to Greensykes.

I was surprised to find someone at the bothy - another day walker, just like myself - who had come in the direct (quicker) route. One of these small world moments to find that he had lived in Wamphray for a while!

Soon though I had the place to myself.

The MBA took on this bothy just a few years ago, and workparties in 2011 got it habitable again. As you probably know, I am a big fan of the MBA, and the work they do. Here's the website.

It's great that places like this are not allowed to become completely derelict. The wonderful new roof is the most impressive bit of this renovation! The bothy book showed overnight visitors a couple of weeks ago. Really interesting was a folder with information of the history of the house, dating back to the early nineteenth century. James Anderson, a shepherd, and his family appear on the first census records.

It's a lovely spot, beside the Meggat Water.

Amenities include its own curling pond (in my dreams)!

Lots of frogspawn in a puddle on the track.

Last few minutes within the trees, as I head for the open countryside.

This little stream is called the Byre Sike.

And here's the Green Sike.

Sheep country of course, just as it has been for hundreds of years. Lambing here is still some weeks off. These ladies didn't seem to mind this lone walker!

Looking back the way I had come. The path is on the left, past Kirk Cleuch Rig, and Greensykes is within the plantation in the distance. This is the most direct access, but, for a day walk, the circular route via Corlaw was a good choice.

Glendinning was the birthplace of civil engineer Thomas Telford in 1757.

This is the monument 'to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Telford at Glendinning on 9th August, 1757' which was erected here in 2007, see here.

There's a plaque, and an information board, at the car park. The plaque says, 'Thomas Telford, 1757-1834, First President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Born at Glendinning, Westerkirk, Langholm. A pioneering Civil Engineer whose lasting legacy of roads, bridges, canals and buildings constructed throughout his extensive career ensures his place in the history of the industrial revolution'. The plaque was erected in 2007 by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

There's a major monument to Telford in Bentpath. Thomas Telford certainly left his mark on the world with all the projects with which he was involved. He's buried in Westminster Abbey.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Yellow: The Garden in March

With the first daffodils, I think I can say with some certainty that Spring has finally arrived at Skip! I do enjoy the daffs, and they are a welcome sight each year. These are Narcissus 'Jetfire' if I remember correctly, planted a couple of years back.

Thanks to the generosity of John, a neighbour, the new shrub border has new edging.

I put in some bulbs in the spaces left to allow the shrubs room to grow. Narcissus 'Tete a Tete'.

Some crocuses too. Not sure if they are really worth the effort. The show is all too brief, as they don't stand up well to rough weather of any sort, at least in my experience.

The laurel has fruits! I've now looked up Aucuba japonica 'Variegata', to find that I must have missed the 'small purple flowers'. Ah well.

Chionodoxa 'Glory of the Snow' have found a spot they like. When I took this pic, the sun was shining, but a little while later a passing shower had lots of white bits in it. 'Glory of the Snow' indeed!

Here are more, at the edge of a path. Lovely to see except I didn't plant them there. Something has moved them around!

At the bottom of the garden, the snowdrops have gone over and are looking pretty sorry for themselves, but one pioneer daffodil is a herald of lots more to come. These were all in the garden when I came here twelve years or so ago.

Tucked away in a corner is this little double primrose, bought on a whim by mail order some years ago. Magic.

And this container has just sprung to life in the past couple of days. 'Tete a tete' is the daffodil.

And some smiling faces in this little container in the shade.

Here's to a good summer pottering in the garden!

Photos © Skip Cottage