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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A new interest!

After lunch with the U3A group last week Jenny, Marion and Amy were going down to Kailzie Gardens to play Pétanque.  I had seen the court/pitch/rink, whatever it is called, on visits to the gardens, but had never seen anyone playing there, so when they asked me if I’d like to join them, I thought “Why not?” and did!

the other court When we got to Kailzie, there was another team of players playing on one half of the court, members of the Tweeddale Pétanque Club.  However, we were able to play on the other half.  Never having played before, I watched how the others did it before having a go myself!  closest to the cochonetThe idea is to get your boules nearest to the the little ball, the cochonet  (coshonay – it means piglet!).   Points are collected for the team whose boules are nearest, before being  blocked by one of the opposite team’s boules.  (I’m boasting now, but that boule in the front of the group of three is mine!  Beginner’s luck, I reckon!)  deliberationsThere are great deliberations about the closeness of the boules to the cochonnet.  Out comes the measuring tape and great discussions go on – at least they did on the guys’ side of the court!  Michel, with his back to the camera, is a Frenchman who learned to play as a small boy with his grandfather in Bordeaux.  He’s quite laid back about the game compared to some of the others.  

We had a good time, learning the rules of play as we went on, and I was rather pleased to find a sport (sport?) I could do! marion amy and jenny

So here are my team mates – Marion, Amy and Jenny – as we packed up afterwards going home and headed for the tearoom for a welcome cup of tea!

michel to playWe went back for another game on Sunday when we were joined by Michel, and later another of the guys, who gave us a few tips on techniques.  He was much more “precious” than Michel, about this French game!   It is interesting to watch Michel though as he gives the boule a flick to make it spin!  Something to cultivate? 

It wasn’t the best of weather on Sunday – the rain became so heavy that eventually we had to abandon the game, and instead, went back to the tearoom.  (They do a wonderful chocolate and beetroot cake there!)  This weekend there’s a club match at Cousland, which I might go to - just to watch!  I’ll see if  any of the ladies want to go before I make up my mind.

Well, when I watched the game being played in France when visiting Ian a couple of years ago, I never thought I would ever be playing it!

Talk again soon.

Garden centre

Well, I decided to change the background here and get rid of the bright yellow!  That was a bit of a mistake – the yellow, I mean, definitely not the changing it!  Then my friend Mary – my blogging guardian angel – suggested I widen the central part with my posts in it, and talked me through what to do!  So, thank you ever so much, Mary,  I hope it now looks much better!  Unfortunately it means that it has altered all the entries I have written previously, so pictures and text may be out of kilter in some of them!   

So let’s see how it goes!

Linda and I drove out to Dougal Philips’ Garden centre, just to the west of Queensferry, the other day.  This time she was looking for squirrel-proof bird feeders,  and I for pigeon-proof ones!  I’m amazed at how the crows and the pigeons manage to get at the food on the bird table – meant for the little birds – and can hang upside down on the bird feeders like huge great bluetits!  Well the crows can.  The pigeons  get onto the roofed bird table and cling on to the edges, flapping their wings to stop themselves falling off!  I tied a grid of fine wire round the pillars to stop the big birds getting in but it doesn’t deter the pigeons from trying!  At least the crows have given up now, and I don’t mind the pigeons hoovering up the seed that falls to the ground.

We had lunch in a farm shop cafe on the way out to Queensferry, and bought punnets of raspberries, gooseberries and Scottish strawberries – they are the best… really sweet and tasty – to take home.  What a wonderful stock they have in that shop, from meat in the butchery, to homebaking!

dp bird feeder Then on to Dougal’s!  What a choice of bird feeders, but we each got what we wanted - I got one like this but with a seed container - and proceeded to wander the shop and gardens. framed fuchsia I rather liked this, at the entrance to the shop. “So much more than just a garden centre!” is the slogan!

 birds dougal phillips petanque 005 I took a great fancy to these granite owls!  I think one might be fun in my re-modelled garden!  Sam is coming to measure it up tomorrow, and we have already discussed designs,  materials  and plants!  Just to get a costing now!

dp silk poppies In the shop there were ornaments and kitchen stuff and silk flowers – very real looking these days.  Take these poppies for example!! – and cards and ……. oh masses of stuff.  dp puffins I like the wooden birds: the puffins, dp curlews curlews

and the cormorant!dp cormorant

   Then we headed outside to look at the gardens and plants.

dp woodland

   The centre is set in woodland so has a lot of mature trees around it and little paths that meander through them.dp woodland path .Little clearings have been made into little gardens, maybe only a few feet across, with maybe only half a dozen plants, and a statue or some piece of sculpture to set them off.dp linda   There are a couple of these little follies around the place too.  You can buy an arch, a couple of windows and some bricks or stone, and have your own”ruin” in your garden!  To be honest I wouldn’t mind having one of the arches as the entrance to my garden, but for various reasons I won’t!!!  Linda is looking at me here and probably saying to herself, “Oh for goodness sake, put that camera away!”  - or words to that effect!

dp weigela Once again I took lots of photos of flowers and flowering shrubs like this weigela.  I don’t remember the names of a lot of the plants  dp lilybut I know this is a lily, and the blue ones are irises.dp irises

dp philadelphus and this is a philadelphus or mock orange, with the most wonderful scent!  I’m having one of these in my garden.  You can tell it wasn’t the best of days for garden viewing, with the Philly covered in raindrops but at least it wasn’t bad enough for umbrellas.  Actually, this is the one in Linda’s garden.  I should have left this to the end!  Not to worry! dp hydrangea

This hydrangea IS in the garden centre, dp pink lady with drop as is the pink lady with a drop on the end of her nose! dp plant tables





I don’t think either of us bought any plants this time.  I’m certainly not buying any more till Sam and Paddy have finished getting my garden in order!  Oh but it was so tempting! 

Just a couple more pictures from Linda’s garden before I go.  linda's gardenOutside the front door is a beautiful climbing rose, the philadelphus you saw earlier, and a ceanothus that survived last winter while so many were lost…..  linda's rose

…..and in the back garden, this beautiful rose was coming over the fence from next door!

Talk again soon.

Monday, 20 June 2011


I took myself off on another lovely walk before choir practice one afternoon recently.  It was a glorious day and and I decided to visit Swanston village on the very edge of the Pentland Hills, before heading into Edinburgh for the evening.  The farm at Swanston goes back to the  early 13th century when it was worked by a guy called Sveinn – Sveinn’s farm town.   SwanstonOver the centuries the name evolved to Swanston.   The village of ten thatched cottages dates back to the 18th century while a group of stone cottages with slate roofs – New Swanston – was built in the early 20th century.     New SwanstonThe thatched houses beautifully restored about 20 years ago are very picturesque, and would probably have housed farm workers.

schoolhouse gate

From the village – there was even a school there – a path leads to Allermuir and Caerketton the nearest of the Pentland Hills to the city of Edinburgh.  t woods and caerketton I wanted to walk a short way up to look at the “T” woods,where as a Girl Guide, many many moons ago, I would go with my pals to light fires and cook sausages on sticks and bananas with chocolate wrapped in tin foil.  The “sausage sizzle” was quite a regular occurrence in the summer and was obviously quite a tradition.  It’s a wonder we never set the woods on fire!  The woods get their name from the T shape you see from any direction!  It’s really a cross shape, but I suppose you never see the 4th arm - unless you look down from the hill.  It was apparently planted by a laird of Mortonhall (Mortonhall House is not that far away) in the 18th century to commemorate  a member of his family who had died in battle – maybe Culloden?

south edinburgh suburbs and north Well, as I had done on the canal walk, I went up a bit at a time, climbing up past gorse bushes in full bloom with their delightful coconut smell, looking back at the unfolding view of Edinburgh, Fife and East Lothian. bass, berwick law and cockenzie I was surprised to see the Bass  Rock down off North Berwick, so prominent, though Berwick Law and the Cockenzie power station are generally quite clear.

caerketton and allermuir

On I went - just to the bend, or the next tree - hollow as it turned out. hollow tree

It looks like someone lit a fire inside it, yet still it grows - 

hill gateor to the gate…

further up the hill

until I was a good way up the hill. 


When I reached a crossroads of paths, I turned to the right  - not signposted - coming downwhich


was to lead me down,  with a good view over the city,t woods return

then of the woods, bridle path

past a horserider,  and eventually by the side  of Swanston House, built in 1761, and gradually back to the car park, been up there to look back up at where I had been!  I was quite proud of myself getting as far as I did, considering the dodgy hip.  Next time I’ll try and go further – maybe even to the top!

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

fish and the canal

Just recently I subscribed to a website called Groupon and another called KGBdeals, which offer meals, health and beauty products, holidays - all sorts of things – at much reduced prices.  One of my friends had had a very special pedicure treatment, through one such offer, and recommended it!  garrarifa fish1 Thus, I found myself one day a couple of weeks back, sitting in a beauty parlour (me? !!!) with my feet being nibbled by a load of little fishies, in a tank of warm water!  Garra rufa fish are apparently well known in Thailand for their penchant for eating the rough dead skin off peoples’ feet, and at the moment it is very fashionable over here!  garrarifa fish3 I have to say it was very enjoyable – if not extremely tickly!    The fish immediately swarmed to my feet as I dunked them in the water, and began to nibble – not bite.   It felt like tiny little electric pulses, or as a child at the Ideal Homes Exhibition had thought, while watching granny getting the same treatment, like a million tiny kisses on your feet!  How sweet!  I sat there for about 20 minutes or so being nibbled – boy, is my left foot ticklish! – watching the fish as they moved from one spot to another doing the biz, and finally had my feet dried off by the young beautician, rubbed over with a file, and finished off with a massage with lemon balm  or something smelling pretty nice!  It felt great!  Must do it again sometime!

Not far from the salon, at Ratho, is the Union Canal one of Scotland’s former great waterways.  For the Millennium it was restored to its former glory and the Falkirk Wheel constructed to lower boats down to the Forth and Clyde Canal to continue to the west of Scotland.ratho, bridge and inn2 The tow path is popular for walking, so as it was quite a pleasant day – showers had been forecast - I decided to take a short walk along it to take photos of the old Inn at the end of the bridge in the village.  ratho wild flowersThere were wild flowers growing alongside the canal and in the hedgerows, ratho wild rose

and the birds were singing,  and I just kept walking saying to myselfratho canal2I’ll just go to the next bend; Oh that tree up ahead looks interesting; I wonder what the view is like along that stretch of the canal up there; ratho wild flowers2

Could I photograph that better from further along…… so in fact I walked quite a distance – on my newly treated feet that felt wonderful! 

Eventually I came to another road bridge, and decided that this was definitely the point at which I would turn back.   ratho crusaderIt was also the point when I realised there was a boat coming along the canal, and in the next few minutes it passed me, and the passengers all waved!  ratho boat

Another boat passed on its way back to Ratho and this one passed on its way west.  What a lovely leisurely way to travel! 

ratho canal3It seemed a long way back to Ratho, but by that time the forecast rain had started, so that was probably why it seemed longer. ratho, bridge and inn

At last I got back to the Bridge, where I retreated to the inn for a pot of tea.  I had a book with me – can’t remember why – so I found a nice comfy sofa in the bar, supped my tea and read my book.  Why not be leisurely too!  I almost thought of staying for a bar supper, but decided against it when a further pot of tea was delivered to my table – bought for me by a man I had exchanged a few words with when I came into the bar!  Oh- oh!  Supper at home, I thought, and after one more cup of tea I politely excused myself and left!!! 

I’d had a lovely afternoon, so it was OK! 

Talk again soon.