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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Bird watching

Just a wee update on Colin before I start.  On Tuesday morning before he was due to get out of hospital, his heart took a little irregular beat that caused a bit of commotion.  I had read on the internet of that type of thing sometimes happening a few days after surgery.  Apparently it’s quite common.  Anyway they got him sorted out but decided to keep him an extra night just to make sure everything was working properly.  So this afternoon I was able to go up and fetch him.  Despite the bravado, he was tired when he got home, and a lie-down was what he needed.  He’s wolfed down a good supper – no lost appetite there – and is now off to bed. Thanks, friends, for the good wishes.

huts, shop and cafe So, last week I went down to Glentress Forest to have lunch in the new cafeteria.  It’s a huge barn of a place, as I’ve said before.  I still preferred the old cafe in its two little Portacabins.   It’s gone now!  The mountain bikers in the forest as well as other visitors frequented it, and it had a lovely atmosphere.  My opinion for what it’s worth is that they should have kept that place for the cyclists and anyone else who wanted to use it and have another small cafe in the new building for those who want to use the visitor centre facilities, like the Osprey Watch.  It’s actually in a separate building, behind me as I took the photo of the shop and cafe,  Those funny little tent-like huts are overnight accommodation for cyclists.  After lunch I went to look at the cctv coverage of our local ospreys on their nest.  The nest is situated secretly “somewhere not too far away” up on top of a purpose built platform, with a camera trained on the nest and relayed back to two Tweeddale centres, the Glentress one, and one at Kailzie Gardens.

It was fascinating to watch.  mother osprey and camoflaged chiicks Mother Osprey was on the nest with her three quite large chicks, though they look very well camouflaged here.  They’re actually looking much more like the adult bird now, and were beginning to stretch their wings in preparation for fledging. Then suddenly there was a spot of activity from the four birds and father Osprey flew in from a loch somewhere, where it had caught a fish - a good sized brown trout – to feed to its family.osprey family     

It looks like there are four chicks, but the second from the left “head” isn’t a head at all! It’s actually the three toes of the mother bird!  She’s larger than the male. 

I took the photos of the cctv screen.  Not  brilliant shots but good enough to give you the idea!claw

It was an exciting moment when father flew in.  The female bird had first go at the fish, but the male didn’t stay long before he was off again, leaving mother to feed the young.mother osprey takes first go at the fish .

  Look at that beak! The claws are just as ferocious.  They lock onto the fish as it swims near the surface of the water, and can’t unlock till the bird comes to rest. 

Well,  talk again soon.

Monday, 25 June 2012


My great friend of the last 35 years, Colin, had a heart attack a month ago.  Now, he is the last person on earth you would expect that to happen to.  He’s slim; he’s fit; he eats healthily….. yet he has a heart attack, and this has led to him having a double heart bypass operation.  That was done on Friday, and when I saw him on Saturday evening, expecting him to be looking groggy and perhaps a bit grey, I was astonished to see him sitting in the chair by his bed looking every bit as healthy as he normally looks, but with a few tubes and wires attached!Colin_479x479

He’d have you believe the whole thing was No Big Deal!   Pain?  (Shrug.) It’s OK!   For goodness sake, he’s just had his ribs broken to get to the heart.  Well he’s not going to be able to do a lot for a while.  On Sunday he’d had all the wires and tubes removed, and had had a walk with a nurse along the corridor and back!  It’s not a short corridor either!  Today, he’s to tackle stairs, and tomorrow morning he’s to do some exercise biking – and so far he’s been scheduled to come home in the afternoon!

Colin has done loads of good turns for me over the years, so now it’s payback time!  My turn to do something significant for him!  So I’m going to stay at his place and look after him for the next few weeks!  He’ll probably be telling me to go home after a week or so – either from being bossed about or from my cooking!  I think he’ll have to teach me to do more than porridge and scrambled eggs!   No, I’m not really that bad, but I hate cooking normally! As a plaque I was given a few years ago says – I only do three meals: frozen, microwave and take-away!  So this will be a challenge!  …. and I’ll be eating healthily too so will maybe lose a few pounds, which can’t be bad!

He’ll be wanting to do more than he physically can do, so that will be the difficulty – keeping him from doing too much.  Anyway, we’ll see how things go!   Luckily he lives just along the road from the Garden Centre where he spends most of his time, so he can get along there and sit in the cafe or outside  in the sun – if it deigns to shine this summer  - with his friends there coming to chat to him.  I expect there will be no shortage of visitors with all his rock climbing buddies coming to see him.  Yesterday he was already planning his return to the rock faces of England (he lives in the north of England) and elsewhere.  Not that he was serious!  It was just a jokey conversation with a climbing friend who came to visit at the hospital – but he’ll be back climbing as soon as he can!  Of that there is NO doubt!

So, today I am getting things organised for my stay at his place, and tomorrow I’ll go and pick him up from the hospital and get him home! 

I’ll have my laptop with me so will still get round the blogging I have missed out on so far.  In between the cooking and the cleaning – she said with tongue in cheek - I’m sure I’ll have some time.

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 23 June 2012


I must apologise once more about having been Missing In Action again.  I have had a busy time trying to sort out and complete a report on one of my family’s history to send to cousins in Queensland.  The Kinmonts came from Perthshire, here in Scotland, and we have traced the family back to Patrick, a shoemaker and crofter around the end of the 17th century.  Today there are descendants of Patrick and his unknown wife all over the world from Britain to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.  I have the Kinmont name from my father’s mother – well her sister actually, as my middle names are Anne Kinmont not Charlotte as was Granny’s name. Annie was my dad’s favourite aunt.

After visiting Portknockie a few weeks ago I have something similar to do for another of my families, the Woods, and I have so much to catch up with in the blog.  However, my dear friend Colin has just had a heart bypass operation and I am going to be looking after him, helping him to get back on his feet, so I’m not sure what time I will have for blogging for a while.  I may be able to do a few short posts.  We’ll see how things go.  haystoun garden 108 So, in the meantime here are a two-three photos for you to hopefully whet your appetite!osprey family

rocheid boat 

Take care.

Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Garden Centres

merry hatton smeaton 051 Linda and I both enjoy browsing around garden centres even if we don’t need any plants for our gardens, and of course if there’s a good cafe…. well that’s even better.  We have our favourites, and last week we headed off to Merryhatton and Smeaton’s in East Lothian.  I’m just going to show you some of the flowers we looked at.  Again, there are lots I don’t know the names of, so just enjoy them.mh 4 mh2





mh begonias

 I know these are dahlias, left, and the yellow blossoms are laburnum.  This tree was amazing! sm laburnum





mh ceanothus


 Linda has a ceanothus in her garden that looks fabulous, but I think this one even beats her one!

smeaton hawthorn2

This hawthorn – or may is gorgeous!

smeaton flowers

smeaton flowers2






smeaton lilac

smeaton weigelia

I have a weigelia in my garden, but it’s not a variegated one like this one on the left.  I was tempted, but I don’t think I have room for it.  Love the lilac too, but I want a white one!

I like the climbing hydrangea too, and the rhododendrons.

smeaton roddies

smeaton climb hydrangea






mh edelweiss

Cue for a song perhaps?   “E….delweiss, e….delweiss…”smeaton clematis

There  were lots of different clematis varieties. The one on the right was rather lovely.  I wish I had written down names.smeaton greenhouses 

Smeaton’s garden centre is situated in the walled garden of a big estate, and I expect these old greenhouses date back some time.  Still functional though!smeaton garden centre2

I think I resisted all temptation to buy - that day at least. 

Talk again soon.

Monday, 11 June 2012

An even wetter garden visit

 hd As Frank of Humbie Dean said, the garden was shaped like a wedge of brie, roughly triangular in shape, dipping down at each long side into valleys and bounded by the two burns or streams.  When he and his partner took on the challenge of rescuing the woodland garden, it was in a pretty wild state and bit by bit they are managing to tame it. hd steps down Paths wind round the garden, down wooden edged steps,hd decking paths along the valley bottom,  hd woodlandup more steps, off to little dead end view points….. hd woodland path Frank took us round the garden – that’s him with the yellow and green umbrella – and explained what he and Sarah had done and would continue to do.  hd work ongoing The steep bankings were a work in progress, as weeds were dug up and the earth cleared for more rhododendrons, bulbs and other shrubs   Work must have stopped in a hurry here on the right.  The garden fork has been left where the digging stopped!hd blossom 


hd bluebells and roddy





hd candelabra primula

Bluebells grew in profusion alongside bright red rhododendrons. Plantings of candelabra primulas shone out of the greenery. 

hd poppy petal

hd roddy


These two pictures are bits of photos – the blue Himalayan poppy had lost all but one of its petals, but the colours in the one remaining were so beautiful, I had to take a photo!hd planting

hd euphorbia

hd hosta leaf

I love the hosta with its rain drops in a perfect line down the centre vein of the leaf.

hd roddies

hd pond

hd house garden

Near the house there was a more traditional kind of garden with lawn, flowerbeds and a little pond, with patio and picnic table.  It was tough that the day was so wet.  Perhaps we would have lingered longer if the sun had been shining but we did enjoy the walk around. It would be good to see the progress they make.  Maybe we’ll visit again next year, if they open the garden with the Scotland’s Gardens Open Day scheme 

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 10 June 2012


I think it’s going to be Gardens, Gardens and more Gardens for the next few entries, or maybe I’ll be able to squeeze them into only a couple!  We’ll see!  I seem to have visited a few gardens and a couple of garden centres recently. We visited the first two gardens in East Lothian, on a wet wet day, but it was still enjoyable to wander round.

stobshiel house and pond The gardens of Stobshiel House were the first we explored. stobshiel sculpture deer 





There was an  exhibition of sculptures by Kate Denton in the grounds and in a marquee in the garden. stobshiel sculpture stobshiel sculpture3

stobshiel sculpture4





They were rather lovely!

The gardens were lovely too, a mixture of formal and semi-wild. stobshiel rock garden I can’t remember the whole story but a 9-year old in times past was allowed to create her very own piece of garden, and as a result the rock garden was born! stobshiel front door   

Before we took a walk through the gate to the side garden I took a photo of this beautiful excordia – Pearlbush - and the pink tulips at the front door of the house.stobshiel garden gate with clematis

Then through the gate I couldn’t resist the fabulous clematis.  stobshiel summer house and knot gardenWe were in the knot garden by then with paths wandering around, past the little summer house and past a couple more sculptures, this wonderful macawstobshiel parrot sculpture 

 stobshiel sculpture magpiesand these marvelllous  magpies fighting over the golden ball!  You’ll see them better if you click on them to enlarge the picture.  The flowers were lovely too.stobshiel flower2a

Sorry I don’t know all their names. stobshiel flower



stobshiel hellebores

These are hellebores - below.

stobshiel excordia

stobshiel flower1a

stobshiel flower3




That’s the excordia again on the left, – another one.

Well, I was going to try and fit the other garden visit in, but it’s late and I need to get some sleep, so more from East Lothian next time.

Talk again soon.