We had over 2.5″ of rain here, yesterday. It continued to pour during the night but began to clear up around midday. So much for the longest day of the year – the height of summer.
This was the 13th green (how appropriate) at my local golf course this afternoon. The main hazard is usually the huge tree on the left. Now there is a lake surrounding the green. Come to think about it this makes the hole interesting but how to get onto the green might be a problem. Only an idiot would try to play the course, in this condition, after all this rain. Yes! You guessed it!
My favourite painting ever, is John Constable’s “Vale of Dedham” – the version which hangs in the National Gallery of Scotland. (Constable painted this scene a few time throughout his life). I had the pleasure of showing this to John Stremikis and his son Kris when they visited here in January.
Its a huge canvas and is full of tiny details of plants, small animals, buildings far in the distance etc. This is my, very rough, attempt to recreated the scene. It would appear, however, that I am not the first to do so. Another of my favourite artists is the scot James McIntosh Patrick who painted many scenes from the east side of Scotland. Have a wee look at his “Midsummer in East Fife – 1936″. Is is too much of a coincidence? Of course John maintains that there are no such things as coincidences. Might be right here, John!
This volcanic “plug” dominates the Edinburgh skyline despite being just over 800 feet high. I’ve drawn small figures at the top to give some sense of scale. Its not known why it has this name, many think it was taken from the legends of King Arthur but a more feasible explanation might be a corruption of “Ard-na-Said” – high flight of arrows – “arrows” becoming “archer” then “Arthur.” Its the highest of Edinburgh’s seven main hills and well worth a “stroll” up for the views of the city. The side shown in this painting is the one facing north. Its best to climb up the other side as there is less danger of falling off and you can drive half way up to park at Dunsapie Loch. If you are unable to climb it please look at this wee video, shot a year ago, which shows the layout and its notes give more information.
Another scene from last week’s walk near Dunbar. This is part of the “John Muir Way” – the “Forest Walk”. The majority of trees, in this section, are Scots Pines and these grow right down to the edge of the sea. When we walked along the beach we were intrigued to see that the sea has begun to erode the sandy shore and many of the trees have had their roots washed away. Many mature trees have collapsed and are lying along the beach or actually in the sea. I do not know how long this has taken but vast areas of old timber are bleached white by the salt water. Maybe its been going on for years. Other parts of the East Lothian coast have suffered similar damage and there are massive conservation programmes involving planting of marram grasses [Ammophila (Poaceae] )
to hold the sandy soil together. And, talking about grass, it might be interesting to note the grassy area just to the bottom right-hand edge of this scene. Years of strong grasses being nibbled, close to the ground, by rabbits have lead to the establishment of very firm but springy turf. This is wonderful stuff to hit golf shots off and is the reason why there are so many old (and new) golf courses in this part of the world.
Another “seascape” this time looking from the rocks at the small town of Dunbar at the start of the cliff top walk. This is the beginning of the trail dedicated to John Muir and is known as the “John Muir Way”
A fairly modern castle, by Scottish standards, dating back to the late 1700s. Culzean sits on the west coast of the Scottish mainland near Ayr. It is best known for its connection with General Dwight Eisenhower who was granted the top apartment when the former owners, the Kennedy family, presented the building to The National Trust for Scotland just after WW2. Eisenhower seems to have been fond of the place and visited it four times, once as President. These days the Eisenhower Apartment forms part of an exhibition dedicated to the man. Other parts of the castle can be rented for functions, such as weddings, for a mere £10K a day.
In one of my recent posts I mentioned the great Scottish artist Alexander Nasmyth. He did a drawing of Culzean
which was part of the inspiration for this post. IT hasn’t really changed all that much since I visited here in the early 1970′s when I took some photographs. I also wanted to try to emulate some of the techniques Nikira has been using with ink in her wonderful scenes of NYC. You are quite safe, Nikira. I have a long way to go.
Typical Children’s Gala Weather – Watercolour and coloured pencils
There are may “Galas”, or “Fairs/Parades” at this time of the year. Some traditional ones celebrate local industries such as “The Miners’ Gala” in nearby Broxburn – a past mining community. In our wee village the event revolves around the local children. The “Queen” is chosen from the upper year in the primary school and she is escorted by many “Maids of Honour and Male Servants” all decked out in their finery. Most year groups participate and the event starts with a parade followed by the crowning of the queen and shows, stalls, races etc. This year’s theme was based on the “Wild West” as the enclosed photo shows – a sort of “Surrey with the fringe on top” .
This was photographed early in the day, on Saturday – Gala Day. The weather , however, broke down as my scene tries to show and you have to feel sorry for all of those who took trouble to be creative as this. Maybe next year will be warmer and sunnier. Mind you, not everyone is overjoyed at having to participate as this one of my second eldest – from some years ago, shows. Ewan is third from the right in a line of cub scouts. He He (I am dead for posting this)
Although, as in most cases, photography is not allowed in exhibitions I quickly sketched the view from the stairs which connect the four floors in this building. Some of this, therefore, might not be true. You should be able to make out North Bridge, The Balmoral Hotel and the new developments at the junction of the Bridges with Princes street – where Register House lies. Right at the front is the glass roof of Waverley Railway Station.
Incidentally the exhibition was great as there are many sea scenes (see my previous post) It contains one of my favourite works
We visited here on Tuesday to stock up with fish from the best fishmonger I know of. He sells produce straight off the boats and its good value. We now have enough for ten meals for the pair of us. Should last a couple of weeks, maybe!
Newhaven Harbour is typical of the old style of fishing port. There are still many such places around the coast but these are mainly used for pleasure craft these days. It was good to see an old friend moored here. This traditional vessel was commissioned in the 1920,s and is still going strong. Sailing them, while actually trying to haul nets, must have been very hard work and dangerous too. Reminds me of some of the many sailing tragedies which have taken place in our waters such as this one, remembered in this traditional song about a great gale in 1889. Eight vessels, such as the one in the picture, were lost from Grimsby and Hull with around 70 seamen missing.
October’s night brought such a sight, ’twas never seen before
There was masts and yards and broken spars come washed up on the shore
There was many a heart of sorrow, there was many a heart so brave
There was many a fine and hearty lad to find the watery grave
Many renderings are on the internet. This is the version, by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, which I heard first many years ago. I only gave this old Vinyl LP away recently when my old turntable made way for newer technology.