on Sunday my daughter and I tried a new walk from the Fife Walking website. last winter when we couldn’t leave Fife because of the Covid restrictions it was a useful resource and we found plenty of interesting walking options close to home.

this one is close to Glenrothes, around four small reservoirs supplying drinking water to the area.

I have only seen the huge dams in the Peak District before, especially the one that drowned Hope village, where my mother’s school was evacuated from Sheffield during WW2. these are much less of an interruption of the landscape, mown grassy berms covering the dam walls, and paved channels where the burns over-spill through sluices and continue down the valley to the river Leven and the Firth of Forth.

quite bleakly upland sheep grazing and sitka plantation, mostly harvested, with the pale grey tree rubble lying on gentle slopes we crossed in the first half-mile or so. and off in the distance West Lomond,

lurking under its wreath of low cloud

and East Lomond in the other direction. they are stumps of Carboniferous era volcanoes, and the upland they thrust out of is composed of metamorphosed hard sedimentary rock infested by sills and dykes of magma.

these very bold sheep and one goat belonged to an isolated house, they obviously expected treats and Bims was quite overawed by them.

it is sheep that keep these quite low hills as almost featureless grass. we climbed a long hill next to a hedge of blackthorn

past sycamore and beech, the broken-down stone walls attesting the bones of the land.

after a short sharp climb the walk is quite level, and you can see the flattened hills around East Lomond and imagine the old ice sheets snubbing up to and over these resistant rocks, smoothing them down but leaving them standing. you have to think of the Greenland ice sheet to imagine it.

down a little to a gate and a small road, and that takes you round the biggest reservoir, Ballo, to  a track leading to the ruined Ballo castle, which in truth is very small and not very obvious.

and on to the dam of the next reservoir, Harperleas

the water levels are quite low

although we have had some heavy rain, it’s been mostly dry and mild.

these semi-industrial structures fascinated me

they seemed more like the foundations of a strange architecture from a different civilisation, ancient and hidden.

an interesting walk rather than a beautiful one. a solitary fisherman had two rods out over the dam wall of this last, smallest reservoir, Drumain, and we walked down past the weirs and filter beds to the car park at the top of Holl reservoir.

some drawing happened

it’s handy to have someone else to hold Bims.

I have to be quick or I will get left behind

Bims was very clever at negotiating some stiles we had to climb over at this point. standing on a narrow tread she stepped one leg at a time over the wire. I was most impressed. from her old agility training?

back home and yesterday morning there was exciting news – this painting (seen in the last post) has been ‘pre-selected’ for Visual Arts Scotland’s annual exhibition in the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. they say they try not to de-select after you have delivered but there is a possibility your work will not be hung/displayed/installed. so it’s not a done deal. the exhibition is in january and february. but these things are quite hard to get into and are open to international submission as well as members of VAS. it gives me a bit of positive direction to work on. text paintings! strong colours! palimpsests! veils of paint! (this pair of canvases were rejected from another open submission this summer, with a rather different painting,

under this – but all these layers contribute ….

and here is another that has not yet resolved, I prefer this stage to the previous one

here, which just looks to me as if it, and I, have no idea what is going on! the more I fiddled with it the worse it got. so no more fiddling, instead a big brush and a gallon of dirty white made a bit translucent with medium … which has made it dry very slowly, giving me time to think about it.

meanwhile I re-stretched this canvas from ’96 and hung it in the living room. it has landscape qualities which are quite autumnal – the silk fabric pattern is a Chinese landscape of pine trees – as well as being part of a continuum of paintings about being a female painter who paints the female body, usually her own, to avoid any exploitative aspects of this oh so traditional painterly trope.

and to get back to the landscape – almost in the centre of this photo is a red dot, the waterproof rug of a horse on top of the hill.

Kinshaldy beach – the light gets more and more slanted on these November mornings

although last week the light was so clear and the sky so blue

periwinkle shells on the mouth of the eden estuary. because the oceans are already quite acidified by the extra carbon we have been pumping into the atmosphere, shellfish like these cannot produce thick enough shells to protect themselves from crabs. (if they smell a crab in the water they normally thicken up their shells)

one of the treats of going to walk at Tentsmuir at this time of year is the beech trees that line parts of the road through the forest.

at first glance this looks like the same photo, but in fact it is a view down the 220 steps at Kemback, which is also a treat to visit just now.

we went on a morning that threatened rain

wellied up

as it is a muddy walk anyway in the winter

but we were lucky

and even though parts are looking quite wintery now (I love this licheny squiggle of grey trunks, all these lines)

the colours are so much to do with the light shining through leaves

again, you can’t beat a beech tree for sheer huge exuberance

some more drawing

lying about

and meditating on how to combine the old with the new

the best bit of this new painting … but it needs more and so I will have to do what we call in poetry killing off your baby, the bit that needs editing because it’s holding you back.

the last of the wild cherry (gean) leaves in the view from my house. now I will be waiting until April for the blossom.

meanwhile there is a terrible stink from the field behind, where they harvested the broccoli and then dumped it in rotting heaps. Oh COP26, oh COP-out. stinks from all directions.

and talking of green things, I am very slowly getting my greenhouse built, yesterday I rather inexpertly concreted in the corners of the base

the frame is in 4 sections indoors, waiting for a propitious day to bolt it together and attach it to the base.

the rudbekias make lovely cut flowers, now I don’t expect them to last very much longer outside – we have not had a real frost yet – but I presume, like dahlias, the flowers will not survive.