a couple of weeks ago we came to this place, Crawford Priory, near Cupar. it was remodelled at the beginning of the 19th century as a Neo-Gothic “priory” (originally a 17th century hunting lodge on the estates of the earls of Crawford) by the sister of the last, the 22nd earl, Mary Lindsay Crawford.

she never married, but ran the estate and its coal mines with great competence. this was considered very odd in her day, especially as she had a wild roe deer as a pet, and you can see its gravestone in the wall. it followed her around like a dog apparently, and she had a great many other pets to which she left enough money to keep them all, and there is apparently a cemetery for them at the back. the epitome of an eccentric aristocrat ….

by the 1960’s the family could not keep up the building which must have been fairly neglected already, and it was abandoned.

what did not rot in the next 20 years was destroyed by a fire in the mid 90’s, so all the roofs, windows and floors are gone.

trees growing inside are breaking up the stonework. there is a separate stable block which has been remade into steading type houses, through the very fancy archway. and the estate is largely wooded.

we didn’t see it, but her mausoleum is slowly falling into ruin in one of the woods

it was raining that day, so we cut our walk short. sadly a lot of the weekends have been wet.

none of my paintings have referred to that walk yet, though there’s a poem I’ve been working on.

Tentsmuir continues to inspire

the light and the mixed ecology

reeds, the burn outflow across the beach

the alders around the various pools

the wonderful pine trees (I think the forestry commission planted Corsican pine rather than Scots, they are very similar, but the Corsican needles are about twice as long.)

I’ve also been inspired by bullfinches and other birds, blackbird, blackcap, on the sizeable rowan in the garden here, eating the huge crop of berries.

and a pair of stonechats along the field fences, between horse paddocks and arable fields, on the way to Spinkie Den.

in Lade Braes, the wildernessy park along the Kinness Burn which connects all these more recent housing areas to the old town centre, there is a heron

and Hallow hill is covered in 7th century christian pictish cist graves.

some have been left to show in the ground,

under the enormous Leylandii hedge that protects a big swanky house built there in the 70’s (that’s when there was a huge archaeological dig there)

all these paintings (and a lot more) have been painted using the bed as a table in the “guest” bedroom where I sleep.

I really feel quite liberated by gouache and watercolour pencil and thick watercolour paper.

goodness knows how this will turn out when I get my studio set up in Cupar and have canvases and acrylic to work with again.