Fife · Garden · Gardening · Nature · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: small gardens

This is Routine Row, a narrow lane of red-roofed houses, with colourfully painted window surrounds, in the village of Kilrenny in Fife. Its whitewashed cottages are all attached to each other, with very small front gardens. Despite the lack of space a few planted pots, hanging baskets and window boxes, added to some ground-level foliage, produces a cheering and welcoming effect.

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Small gardens on Routine Row in the village of Kilrenny, Fife.
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Architecture · Photography · Travel

Friday photo: turf roofs

A cobblestoned street, with turf-roofed wooden houses and an old-fashioned street lamp, in the old part of Tórshavn, the Faroe Islands. The islands get a lot of rain (it rains on 300 days of the year, apparently) and turf roofs provide insulation and protection from the very wet weather. Roofs like these have been a feature of the Faroes for over 1000 years.

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Turf roofs and cobblestones, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.
Flower · Garden · Gardening · Nature · Photography · Scotland

Friday trio: welcome home

I’ve been away on holiday, so I’m catching up on missed Friday photos by posting three today. Thanks to a long, warm summer and a remarkably mild autumn in Scotland so far, gardens continue to bloom beyond the usual time. When I came back from holiday I wondered if there would be any flowers left since it was halfway through October. I was delighted to find there was plenty still blooming, including the plants shown below. It’s turned significantly colder today and there might even be a touch of snow over the weekend, so I suspect this is the last hurrah.

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Cosmos ‘sweet sixteen’, a lovely mixture of pale pink and white flowers with soft yellow centres and delicate feathery leaves.
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White alyssum: there are large clusters of this around the garden and although it died down late in the summer, it surprisingly burst into bloom again just as I was thinking of pulling it all up.
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This passionflower has done remarkably well and seems to like its home, creeping up a sunny south-east facing fence. It’s the second passionflower I’ve tried to grow; the first one produced no flowers at all before it eventually died, so I’m especially pleased with this one.
Photography · Scotland · Architecture

Friday photo: clever construction

While out for a walk at Murton Farm nature reserve in the county of Angus last month, I passed an interestingly constructed dry stone wall. The first photo shows a section with a large boulder at the bottom and flatter stones placed around it at different angles. In the second picture you can see more of the wall, with another smaller boulder to the left of the big one. Scotland has a lot of dry stone walls made with no ‘glue’ to hold the stones together, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite like this before.

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Section of an unusual dry stone wall at Murton Farm nature reserve, Angus. 
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Dry stone wall at Murton Farm with two boulders at the bottom.
Book review · Fiction · Photography

Book review: ‘Mystery in white’ by J Jefferson Farjeon

This is a murder mystery novel from the excellent series of British Library Crime Classics, a collection of detective novels that were once very popular but went out of print in the 20th Century. Many of the books, which have been reprinted by the British Library, date back to the years between the two world wars. ‘Mystery in white’ was first published in 1937 and has been updated with a typically attractive Crime Classics cover.

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‘Mystery in white’ by J Jefferson Farjeon (1937)

The tale begins on Christmas Eve, in a train compartment where a group of disparate individuals are making their way to various destinations for Christmas. Heavy snowfall causes the train to stop and there’s no sign of it getting going again any time soon. After discussing with each other what to do about the situation, one of the group suddenly decides to jump off the train. The others soon follow, and before long are wishing they’d never left the comfort of the train.

They blunder on through snowy countryside, hoping to find somewhere to shelter, when they come upon a house in the middle of nowhere. Finding nobody at home but the door unlocked, they make their way in and find to their astonishment that, despite the lack of occupancy, there are cheering fires burning in the grates and tea has been laid out in the dining room.

Two of the party are in a bad way, one with a sprained ankle and the other with a raging fever. The others do their best to look after them while trying to discover the mystery behind the deserted house. One of them, elderly Mr Maltby of the Royal Psychical Society, assumes the position of leader and appoints a younger man as his second-in-command. Between them they begin to investigate the house and then the area outside, which isn’t easy due to the weather conditions.

By and by, several other characters appear, and it becomes clear that at least one murder has been committed. A strangely compelling portrait on the wall holds Mr Maltby’s attentions, and slowly but surely he uses his powers of detection to solve the mystery of the house.

According to Dorothy L Sayers: ‘Jefferson Farjeon is quite unsurpassed for creepy skill in mysterious adventures’ and I would certainly agree with her that he has an uncanny ability to create atmosphere and draw the reader in. I lost myself in this book at bedtime one night and had a hard time putting it down. Jefferson Farjeon wrote more than 60 novels and was apparently very popular in his lifetime. I’ll be looking out for more of his stories after enjoying this one so much.

Nature · Perthshire · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: moorland

Last weekend, after lunch out in Moulin (near Pitlochry in Perthshire), my parents and I enjoyed a drive along the road to Kirkmichael. Much of the surrounding countryside is moorland, with scattered rocky peaks and forests. The hillside rising up to the right hand side of the picture is the westerly edge of Ben Vrackie, Pitlochry’s local mountain attraction. This is the sort of scenery you might expect to see red grouse in, and I did indeed spot some lurking amongst the heather further along the road.

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Moorland above Moulin in Perthshire, with possible red grouse hidden from view.
Architecture · Garden · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: roof relaxation

This is the roof garden at New Lanark World Heritage Site. Roof gardens are not a common sight in Scotland and this one is apparently the largest in the country. It houses a water feature, several sculptures and a variety of plants. New Lanark village contains extensive old mill buildings that have been turned into a large exhibition area. It’s a fascinating place to visit but there’s a lot to take in. After being bombarded with information downstairs, the roof garden supplies a wonderful sense of peace and calm.

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The relaxing roof garden at New Lanark World Heritage Site.