I forgot to say that the week before last I had my first Covid “jag” as they call it in Scotland. the Pfizer one. so pleased I didn’t feel slowed down by it in any way. it’s like a miracle. just shows what science can do if it’s given enough money. think of all the misery we could stop if governments and corporations really wanted to.

really I am feeling ten years younger after spending three months or so with younger people, who get up early, have a smallish breakfast and get out for a short walk, walking fast and up hills and then at weekends six mile walks with more hills, fast … I have lost inches around hips and waist and can move on up a proper Scottish hill in a reasonable manner. as in the path in the photo above.

I thought I was doing plenty of walking before, but there really are not any proper hills in Norfolk. from the top of Kemback you can see two big hills, East and West Lomond, still patched with snow on Friday. I have been to the top of West Lomond, about five years ago, but I had to stop and start, could not keep up with Lucy, some sort of breathing problem, I am not sure quite what it was, I used to get it a lot. it was a very cold day too.

at Kemback the woods are full of bluebell shoots, exposed by the deer I think

such gorgeous sweeping steep woods.


this is a view from my house. I have not walked quite up that hill, as it has sheep on it, but my usual morning walk takes me up to about that height.

on a rainy day this week, I walked up the usual hill then left into Owlet wood, taking a new little fourwinds book with lots of inserts sewn in, as a notebook

this is from India Flint’s online workshop

making these is an ideal way to keep up a practice which I have let drop, of making notes on walks,

since I stopped being able to take part in Jonathan Ward’s Writing Outside workshops, due to Covid restrictions

I took a red crayon and scribbled in the rain.

yesterday we walked up that. it is a short but quite hard walk, even Lucy found it quite tough. of course Scott was running about in front of us, making Bims want to run too.

it is the Hill of Tarvit, and it’s 211 metres above sea-level with tremendous views in every direction

you can just see the sea this way …. it was very windy up there.

down in the beautiful woods that surround Tarvit house there were spring flowers – crocus

and masses of snowdrops. I am waiting to hear when I can collect snowdrops from Cambo Gardens to plant in my garden.

snowdrops in the family mausoleum

with a very very sad plaque for Little Jim, who died at eleven months and ten days old.

starting a new fourwinds ( see @prophet_of_bloom ) notebook with a list of all the hills visible from the top of the Ceres Moor path, or rather from the higher place in the cut down wood that is the remnant of the Moor itself that isn’t under cultivation.

Letham. Lindifferon. Kilmaron. Kingask. Foodie. Craigfoodie. Myrcairnie. Torr of Moonzie. Kedlock. Colluthie.

Hoping that Scottish placenames on the OS map are less anglicised than Irish placenames. but there’s a website where you can look them up. Foodie, the translation is ‘Place of peats or divots’. Moonzie, formerly *Auchtermoonzie, is the name of the settlement near which the Moonzie Burn rises, and of the parish through which it flows for the first 1.5 km of its course. It is probable that the settlement-name derives from uachdar qualified by the burn-name Moonzie, ‘the upland of the Moonzie (Burn). I love all this – Assuming that Moonzie is in origin a hydronym, it may be related to moineiseach ‘low, inactive, diffident’ (a by-form of mainneiseach ‘slow, sluggish’, an adjective from mainne ‘delay, sluggishness’, according to Dwelly). This is apt enough for the Moonzie Burn, which is slow-flowing for much of its course, dropping only c.7 m in its first 3 km. There is a Moineiseach Burn in the Don catchment area. Alternatively, and equally aptly (see next paragraph), it may be related to  mòine ‘moss, bog’, with –es-extension. It could also be argued that the development of the stressed vowel in Moonzie is more likely to derive from mòine (cf Balnamoon, Menmuir ANG, for baile na mòine/mòna).

Birds listed, seen and heard this morning. a song thrush on the hill up to the Moor, a mistle thrush in Ceres, several larks, and two yellowhammers.

also thinking about Tim Robinson a lot ( noted Irish landscape writer and cartographer who so sadly died at the beginning of last April from the novel coronavirus) and the connections between place names and going really deep into landscape.

this is what my new studio practice will be about

here’s a stash of paints that arrived last week. some are expensive and some are inexpensive. but all are lush and exciting.

new canvases stacked up indoors

and in the studio, which has had the electricians in to put up a couple of good “daylight” lights and rather a lot of sockets.

now it’s just a matter of waiting for a couple of coats of white emulsion and some strong arms and backs to push the various plan chest/heavy kitchen dresser/ trestle tables around so there’s room to paint. I’ve also got a four foot by six foot shed coming to keep all my boxes of pots and old paintings in.


Kemback – G ceann + G bac

‘End of the bac’, which can mean ‘hindrance; bend in the ground’, from Middle Irish bacc ‘angle, bend; corner, especially of a field, used as a shelter for horses or cattle’. It can also mean ‘hollow or bend’, especially on the body (Angus Watson 2001). The element is not discussed in Watson 1926, but twenty years earlier he translates Bac nan Cisteachan in Applecross parish ROS ‘ridge of the chests’ (1904, 217). This word is not to be confused with the loan-word bac from Old Norse bakki ‘bank’, meaning ‘moss, peat-bog’. This is the first element in the Gairloch place-name Bac an Leith-Choin, which Watson translates ‘moss of the lurcher’ (1904, 228).