How are you finding the book?”  I was sitting quietly on my own in the bar eatery, reading.  I was interrupted, gladly, with that question. I briefly studied my questioner, a lady with two boisterous children in tow.  I tried not to screw up my face, I don’t think I was very successful…….”I’m having problems with it

her – “So did I….it was a bit Hickory, it went on a bit“. ……..



Me -“I think I understand what you mean; It’s hard work, I am skimming more than reading“,  adding that the book had been a gift about three years ago and I had just got round to reading it, (well, trying to).

We enlightened each other about what other books we had read by the same author, none so tedious as this one.  “BUT!” she said with a great flourish and a big smile, “I did read to the end …I finished it!”

Today, after another couple of attempts, I firmly decided I was not going to continue to wrestle with the book….there was  no point.

IMG.0683 Tia 1

I might come out to play now.



What a din!  I thought it must be a sheep-shearing day at the neighbouring farm.  Mums and lambs were noisily milling about in front of one of the barns, the doors of which, were firmly shut.


This was not the norm for them.  As far as they were concerned, when you head for the barn forecourt, you naturally move on through the wide open doors of the barn and into it.  The lambs were all born in there, except for the odd one or two, so, both ewes and offspring had a deep formed affinity to the place.  They wanted to be let in and they did not care who knew it.

And of course, it rained, not just any sort of rain, but soaking curtains of rain.


The weather is always uncertain when the sheep are being treated, or, sorted, or, sheared. It seems like nature is being deliberately perverse. This occasion, the stock were being ‘dosed’. You can bet your bottom dollar that when they are sheared, which will be soon, we will experience gales and probably a hail storm.



A vet once said, (not so long ago either) that the real problem was not the dogs he sees but what is at the other end of the lead.

A black Retriever bounded onto the bus with a woman seemingly in firm control. She sat at an available window seat usually taken up by a parent with a buggy. Three stops on, she did get up to make room for a mum with a buggy, and she slid into the  vacant seat directly opposite .

The Retriever was quickly and excitedly all over the man already seated in the window seat. The man did not try very hard to keep the dog away.  The woman gave up trying to calm the dog. It soon became evident they all knew one another very well.

I saw the black snout facing and close to the man’s face, the dog had its tongue out.  It seemed odd though, it was an extra long tongue.  This was one of those occasions when my eyes did not register what they saw and I was slow making the connection. Man and dog were tongue to tongue.



Thirty-six hours of torrential rain and stormy winds. The noise….during the early hours I gave up on sleep, it sounded like anything that might have been fixed to this sodden earth was flying all over the place, banging into everything it its path. I got up; it was cold, I couldn’t see much out of the windows.  Sleep, when it came again was restless and half-hearted.



Roads today had turned into dirty fast flowing waterways.  The drains could not cope with the incessant and relentless deluge.  It was impossible to tell if some large lakes were where they should be, or, whether they were new additions. It looked like some sheep were paddling in generous pools in a few fields where grass was visible between the water.

Villagers were re-siting sandbags as a nearby river rose; someone was checking a drain. A woman, kitted up in wet weather gear, stood on a bridge taking pictures of a field that had disappeared under water.  The top of an ancient standing stone was the only visible place identifier. 

Ancient Standing Stones

Ancient Standing Stones

The main river is tidal. When the high tide passed, when the rain lessened and the winds reduced, a lot of the surface road water subsided. The ground is totally saturated, and with the over-topping of  rivers it remained impossible to distinguish where the riversides were.



It’s tea time and it is late October, I am looking through the pitted glass; it’s pitted with the salt spray that has gusted around on stormy wet winds, winds gusting at about 70 miles per hour today.  Memories of a fine pleasant Edinburgh in August this year, seem unreal on this rip roaring weather day;  it feels like it was a really long time ago.  The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The International Festival, (main stream theatre) and  the Edinburgh International Book Festival, all ‘colluded’ to start simultaneously this year. I thought it was fantastic. Virtually the whole of the city centre and many nearby suburbs buzzed with Festival. 

My shoulder and neck ached from carrying my camera,  so, there were some days as a festival-goer I gave ‘me’ a rest.  A couple of times I saw the most fascinating person, or, action, and I had nothing with which to physically record the moment. You never know what wonders there will be at Festival.  It sometimes works in your favour focussing your eyes 100% and chatting with people, like, when I climbed on a bus one afternoon and sitting facing me was the most stunningly made-up young man, who was on his way to perform in a cabaret act. Exquisite feathers of shiny and many coloured hues, for eyelashes, fluttered at me.  He had fine very pale pink lips and a white face.  All of this theatrical beauty was crowned with dressed fiery curly auburn hair. “You look wonderful“,  I found myself blurting out.  I know he was surprised, it showed. He was also pleased and he thanked me. I sat next to a woman in the seat in front of him and  there began a  friendly three-way conversation. The man rifled around in his capacious handbag, also part of the theatrical wardrobe, to find me a card for his fringe venue. Well, you can’t remember every little thing can you. No card I’m afraid, but, I did learn that the eyes transformation took about an hour and a more careful application (!!!) required about two and a half hours.

I wonder what this glorious ‘lady-in-waiting ‘ is loitering for.  Maracas perhaps?


 The Royal Mile, is about a mile to walk; the top end has the iconic Edinburgh Castle and at the lower end you arrive at Holyrood Palace, where the Queen stays when in Edinburgh.   The top end was closed off to through-traffic during Festival.  With the good weather most days, snapshot fringe performances took place.


There was all this activity  at the top end, near the castle.  Manipulating a puppet while playing a violin – what a brilliant act!

The cyclist in the picture above is a mime artist and is not moving.

Here below, onlookers filming and taking photos of the puppeteer and her fiddler



A puppet act with a difference




A quarter of the way down…. this group had a regular longer performance at an indoor venue. Here on The Mile they were providing a taster of their act.  They worked their audience well and a good crowd gathered.



And more….  the boards, like the one in this picture to the left of the stage, gives the  schedules of free Fringe acts throughout the day at the various similar stage venues here.  This is just a wee snapshot of one day at The Festival when I was wandering around exploring what was happening on The Royal Mile. There was a lot more to find in many different places.


Opportunistic Play Time

Come on now……. she called.  They were playing in the field, the first fine day they had been able to get out to do so, in their young lives.

She called again as she opened the gate; come on now…..and they ambled toward her .  The three lambs, two black ones, Suffolks, (their body wool will change to a cream colour as they mature) and a North Country Cheviot lamb  and the two mums, obediently followed the farmer back into the barn.

it is too early for lambs to be out for any length of time. Today, a lull between storms, offered the first decent window of opportunity for these lambs  to be introduced to pasture and, for their mums to eat a bit of  grass.  Even the  remaining heavily pregnant Suffolk  was able to contentedly waddle around  the field. She also obediently trailed back in to the barn with the others.

The winds of the early hours of the morning had been strong enough to dry off surface  water, giving just the right conditions for two or three hours time out in the ‘playground’.

Our weather for the last few days has been ever so wet, temperatures have lowered and the mornings are chilly now. During the day it is quite mild. It is so wet today with what is called locally, sma’ rain falling, (very fine rain that wets you through, also like ‘Scotch Mist’) that even the Daddy Longlegs are desperate to get to the dry side of the window.

Daddy Longlegs Sheltering

Daddy Longlegs Sheltering

Here’s one I found introducing itself to leaves on a plant in my home-made cold frame, one dry sunny day a few weeks ago, taking advantage of the plants being exposed to the world. The sharp eyed amongst you, will also see this Daddy Longlegs on a picture below.

Introducing myself to you

Introducing myself to you

At the weekend we drove 250 miles return trip to see a performance of Dunsinane, given by The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company, (RSC) who are taking the play on a limited tour. The cast included some well known good actors. You could call it, I suppose, bearing in mind dramatic superstitions, ‘the second Scottish Play;’ the first one that actors don’t usually name, is Macbeth. Dunsinane is a story set post Macbeth, just after he has been killed. Lady Macbeth lives on. There is an inter-regnum, a gap to be filled and warring clans have to be brought on side to make alliances where there are usually none. Macbeth’s widow and her supporters are pivotal in this political scenario. It was evocative of the current complex situation in Syria.

On our way home,we stopped off for a bite to eat in a favourite eatery. I was easily tempted to a dessert, the crowning glory of which was a home-made meringue. When it arrived, other customers and me gasped at the size of the meringue with the strawberries and coulis dripping out of a thick layer of double whipped cream sandwiched between the top and bottom of it. I didn’t have a camera with me to do it artistic justice, but, I can vouch for the fact it was amazing!

Today, between showers, I pulled up two of my golden beetroots. One of these and another one grown in a different plot. The leaves of these beetroot are edible and make for a great delicate vegetable dish, when they are briefly tossed in oil with fried onion and chopped garlic.



There’s a bit more space now for the cucumber plants. They’ve flowered, though, I don’t think there’s time for them to fruit. The flowers are very pretty. Their tendrils encircle anything and everything. Could they have been the inspiration for The Day Of The Triffids?


And here’s a couple of demure flowers that are hiding.

Demure Blooms

Demure Blooms


One, two, three heads with floppy ears I counted, appearing and peering up from the front seats; there were some more bobbing around in the back of the vehicle. I lost count. there seemed to be an entanglement of canine bodies and from the middle of it was “keep away,” barking.

A large man in working clothes hobbled towards the car. It was one of those shaped like a tall post van, but with more windows. Van
He opened the driver’s door and ordered the three dogs to “move over” so he could heave himself into his seat. The driver opened the passenger window, giving the one dog that stayed next to him, the opportunity to put its head outside. It wanted a pat. However, I was not sure about the aroma that wafted out at me as I patted it.

Me: “How many dogs have you got?”
The barking dog deciding this was its cue to resume its rasping noise.
“Q u i e t!” a female voice ordered. ………..Where had she been hiding.

Eleven, we’ve got eleven dogs”,
Me:“I lost count”.
“We often do as well”, said the woman, leaning forward from the corner of the rear seat as she spoke.
Just then the man at the wheel called “Come here Tiger”.

An almost white pigeon fluttered down onto the dashboard. Tiger’s tell tale trail signs of dried white splashes were already on it. The bird made no attempt to fly out of the open window. It would not, it liked being where it was, I was assured. Tiger had been hand reared. There was a pigeon loft at home. No, they did not race or take messages anywhere, the other pigeons just enjoyed their home comforts in their loft. Tiger, I was informed, was not part of the loft flock.

The car with its canine, feathered and human cargo and the groceries, eased out of the parking space and disappeared from view.


It was lovely and Spring-like day on Sunday the 3rd of March, especially in the afternoon when we headed for one of our nearby sandy beaches. At the car park by the sand dunes that lead to the beach, we saw this horse waiting for its turn to run in the sand.


Families were having fun paddling in their boots at the ever receding edge of the water;

Beach fun

Beach fun

There were adults, children and dogs happily meeting up with one another;

All socialising

All socialising

One of the horses, gingerly negotiating the narrow stone ‘belt’ down to the sand, got to canter on the beach;


On Thursday 14th march 2013 it was another lovely bright day and it was not just because the sun was shining.

This bird was a little black sentinel on a pristine white roof:

Bird on snow roof

From a side window, I saw this tree with sparkling white branches;

Snow+Sun Wb

The town had been covered with 18cm of snow (approximately 7″),it was a very localised heavy snowfall, the outer areas had very little. There was no way I was staying indoors to admire the view. I wanted to crunch through the snow and see places;


…and take some pictures of the magic.



It is not everyday you get compared to a milkman’s horse. When I go out with him, hubby says I am like one. Now, I cannot remember a milkman’s horse, I am sure they were hard workers and very biddable animals. The suggestion is, according to Hubby, at every stopping point, the horse, (not the milkman) socialised with the householders, or the people who queued for their cans of milk. I have no way of actually knowing, as that type of house-to-house, or, street- to- street milk marketing would have happened before I was aware of it.

So, what prompted this seemingly uncomplimentary suggestion. Where I live, it is usual to acknowledge people you see, whether you know them or not; you might even exchange a word or two, perhaps, even, have a chat. What has this to do with a milkman’s horse, I hear you ask?

We passed a guy waiting for an inter-city bus yesterday. After initial polite salutations, it was clear that the man was Canadian. He and I got into conversation very quickly. Hubby disappeared from sight. The man probably learned as much about me and some of the life of the area he was leaving, as I learned about him.

This afternoon when we went out for a walk, we passed a house in the street where we live, where, the patio windows were unusually, open. A woman was mopping the floor, and a cute lapdog sat nearby. Not for long, it came rushing to me, and in its evident haste misjudged its movements and hit itself on the wall. It was naturally a bit dazed, even so, it allowed me to pet it. The lady cleaning up was moving out, she had lived there – invisibly – more than a year. Invisibility was what she preferred, being a bit of a troglodyte, she said. For all that, she was keen to talk, to tell me about her American life, what she missed and did not miss after nineteen years in the U.K. The move, like all moves, was an upheaval, but, she was only going five miles away to a cheaper property. I learned that poor heart health with a concomitant reduction in income had necessitated the retrenchment.

what is there to dislike about a milkman’s horse? In my humble view, if I am like the milkman’s horse of yore, the horse must have been a remarkably sociable companion.