Its desperately sad to see the Norwegian flag at half mast on the many tall ships at Lerwick Harbour, in the Shetland Islands. The tragedy, which our small neighbour is going through is unimaginable. The “Tall Ships” race had just completed the penultimate leg from Glasgow to the Shetland Islands and arrived a few days ago. Strong winds meant the ships set sail, a day late, for Stavanger. It was, during their visit, that the bombing and shooting outrage took place. By the time you view this the crews, many of them young people, will be far out in the North Sea. Their families must be desperate to be reunited with their sons and daughters. God speed, young sailors.
These terraced cottages were probably built as farm worker’s dwellings for the Hopetoun Estate which covers much of this area in South Queensferry. If you leave the south end of the Forth Road Bridge and head west, for a couple of miles, you eventually pass through the tiny village of Newton. Newton has a great vantage point to view both the Forth Road and Forth Rail Bridges. (Please note that “Forth” is not a number but is the River Forth which terminates in the Firth of Forth or Forth Estuary – such is the complexity of Scottish place names). At the west side of Newton lies this tiny hamlet of old, but very attractive cottages surrounded by many mature trees. Despite one of the busiest of roads, just behind the far away house on the left, Woodend is a very quiet and peaceful place.
I’ve been after a garden bench with cast iron ends for ages. Finally laid my hands on one yesterday and placed it next to my workshop, in the back garden. This is a great spot to sit and sketch from but the new seat has already been claimed by Magnus, the ever-opportunist cat who owns us. Its a good omen, however, as cats instinctively know the sunniest spot and, as I sketched this, the sun appeared after days of rain. Life is so good!
My entry for this month’s challenge asks “What really happened during the Apollo moon landing, this day, in 1969?” Perhaps the wee green men are still trying to figure out what the strange creature, which landed on their home, was (Apologies to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin)
Stopping, for a wee breather, during today’s cycling, I looked back and was intrigued to see that I had just come through a tunnel of trees. The trees seem to join together, near the tops, so the canopy forms a sort of roof. The section, nearest the road, gets cut back regularly to allow traffic to pass. I have seen this sort of thing before, especially in the south west of Ireland where the high rainfall and warm climate encourages the trees to grow more quickly and form more dense foliage. A sure sign of summer albeit a very wet one so far.
This is the view from the restaurant area at Craigie Farm, by Kirkliston, West Lothian. The farm grows many types of organic vegetables and soft fruit. You can pick your own fruit or just buy whatever has been harvested that day. We visited on Friday, looking for fresh strawberries as I don’t have the space – or the patience, to grow my own. This view looks over the beds of recently picked berries and onwards towards the north. Just think? To grow decent strawberries the ground must be well dug and manured. The plants must be protected from frost and birds. It is best to wait until the plants are at least two years old, then the berries are carefully picked by hand placing them in the basket taking care to avoid bruising. This is time consuming. I eat the things in micro-seconds – Mmmmm!
Black Sunday, April 14th, 1934 – Ink and watercolour
The long suffering of you will have noticed I am having difficulty scanning stuff into my new computer. I, therefore, decided to try something, almost in monotone, which had lots of dark areas. The idea, of remembering the American Dust storms, the “Black Blizzards”, came after watching a TV programme last night. This is my impression of that disastrous event. It is purely apocryphal, this place does not exist but comes from the scenes shown on the TV.
I was amazed at some of the statistics about this dust storm. The dust was whipped up into huge clouds by high winds during dry, hot weather. Its is estimated that 7 tons of soil, for everyone in the USA, was airborne during that afternoon. The storm was “self-regenerating” as large amounts of static electricity built up in the cloud which helped strip yet more dust from the ground which increased the clouds energy levels – a sort of perpetual cycle. The dust caused many respiratory ailments the best known was the “dust pneumonia” – Woodie Guthrie’s ballad, The Dust Pneumonia Blues” comes to mind. Despite what the newsreels suggest, not all farmers uprooted to trek to California. Some were too poor to even make the journey. All this happened comparatively recently.
I can’t find the “pneumonia Blues” but listen to Guthrie’s “Talking Dustbowl Blues” to get to links for the flavour of his “Dust Bowl Ballads”. This video shows lots of scenes of the migrant workers on their way from the effects of the famine.
One of the nice things about being a retired person is there is no need to hurry things. In order to practise for out New York trip I went into Edinburgh, yesterday, to sketch a few crowd scenes as I understand there are masses of folks in USA cities and drawings look incomplete without people in them.
My interest was quickly distracted, however, when I observed the behaviour of people at pedestrian crossings. Most stand and wait until the lights give permission to cross but its not always like that. What happens is reminiscent of the famous wildlife film where wildebeests attempt to cross crocodile infested rivers. The herd waits until one gets too impatient then dashes into the stream. The others, seeing this, follow en mass e and dash across regardless of the danger from the crocodiles. Its a bit like this at Edinburgh crossings. Despite having a red light against them, one person always makes a dash. Others, seemingly thinking its safe, follow and soon the “herd” is on the move” The crocodiles (cars, buses etc) get entangled with the herd and naughty words and other sounds are exchanged. Mothers drag their offspring both into the path of predators and away from them. It is chaotic yet fascinating. None of the herd is hurt this time and everything quietens down until a new herd of “wildebeests” start to gather at the side of the “river”. I wonder if there are laws against jaywalking in NYC?
Again, a rather faint scan as I still haven’t figured this computer out properly.
When I commented on Rob’s post of the 12th July I said
“I wonder how many dads have similar pictures of their boys fishing? I certainly have. A good one to keep, Rob”
This got me thinking and I looked through old sketchbooks and journals. This sketch, Rob, was done while on holiday near Portsoy on the North East coast of Scotland. This sketch was done at 11.30pm on Sunday 12th July 1987 (I think I have improved a wee bit since then). According to my journal my eldest son, John and I tramped around the local cliffs for an hour before finding a rocky spot near the harbour.
“We caught nine small coalfish and John was delighted having landed his first fish which he had to take back to the hotel to show his mother.”
These memories are good to revisit, Rob, so store that nice wee sketch away and look at it now and then.