it sounds a bit like spring

swinging in the windy dark/thrush flourishes his trumpet/picks and picaloes and changes tune

but now he sings all day too, although the blackbirds just join the chorus at dawn and dusk around the gardens.

it won’t be long until we hear chiffchaffs  …. today I  saw four buzzards following a ploughing tractor as he turned over last year’s stubble field. I haven’t seen that before. there was a certain amount of calling and display flying going on as well. around the housing estate where I live the corvids are getting it on  ….

almost two weeks ago we had a night and a day of snow

it didn’t last long

but it was pretty while it was there. sticky and squeaky underfoot.

by mid morning it was falling off the trees in lumps.

and March rolls on with sunshine, frost, the odd day of rain to make the paths muddy, the crab-apple and the cherry-plum are putting out leaves, the tète á tète tiny daffodils I chucked in a new flowerbed last summer as dried up bulbs from indoor pots are flowering in abundance by the kitchen door.

the river is high and fast, and the alders are dropping their catkins everywhere like a carpet of ochre caterpillars, but no buds on the willows yet.

in the sunshine we have had some splendid Sunday walks – ten days ago from Wormit, near the Firth of Tay rail bridge

by the coastal path as it leads along the estuary

a mixture of beaches

and steep wooded slopes straight down to the water

with highland cows on the skyline, and many ups and downs through little dens with wooden bridges and steps

along to Balmerino where there are woolly young pigs – update, they are Kunekune, Maori pigs from New Zealand, small and especially friendly, website here

but they go into a trance when scratched, and are extremely friendly. even B plucked up courage to have a sniff.

this huge far-travelled glacial erratic boulder on the shore has a name – Samson’s Stone.

Balmerino has an interesting history. I found this extract when checking up on Battle Law; Photos on my mac has a habit of placing the locality of the photos I take as small, sometimes quite weirdly named places, and Battle Law is on all the ones I took around Balmerino. it’s marked on the OS map as a field on a big hill overlooking the village, about 135 metres above sea-level. Law is the word for a big hill in Fife (Norman’s Law, Largo Law etc). the extract says it’s where Danes made a stand against the Scots and Picts under Kenneth lll (and here I am really going down rabbit holes, Cináed mac Duib [Scottish Gaelic: Coinneach mac Dhuibh; c. 966 – c. 25 March 1005], anglicised as Kenneth III, and nicknamed An Donn, “the Chief” or “the Brown”, was King of Scots from 997 to 1005.)

I would hardly class Balmerino as a village it’s so tiny, a few cottages, the ruined Abbey and a farm. but when the directory was written it supported two blacksmiths, a boot and shoe-maker, a vintner, a farmer and a corn miller. our path took us inland through a damp meadow (marked with “Monks Well” on the map)

and a mixture of the wooded stream and fields,  and ways behind gardens and through horse fields

to Naughton House and along the road until we dropped back down into Wormit via the old Kennerton pathway that transects Fife. I omitted to take any more photos though. afterwards we went to the nearby Newport Bakery, and sat in the car eating delicious sweet baked treats and drinking flat whites.

I took this photo of a new painting the same day as the light was so bright. one of those that comes quite easily, thick paint and brushstokes over more thickly painted brushstrokes. it’s a linen canvas I stretched, on some very nice chunky stretcher bars donated by a friend. 71 x 71 cm, “who said it was a clear day”

other paintings don’t come so easily of course.

this is on its, oh maybe sixth layer …

this is a little 30 x 30 cm one, I think it’s finished now, after many layers.

I have recently walked at Balkeskie again, on the other Firth, of Forth. the winter trees in the park are so impressive. these limes survived the storms, but just next to them is another big tree down.

more snowdrops. they last a lot longer in Scotland.

crocuses glowing in the sun. it was warm enough, just, for B not to wear a coat. out of the wind it was very pleasant as long as one was moving.

electric gates let you out, past twinned doocot towers.

the next day, the Sunday, my daughter and I walked from Ceres to Craigrothie, over to, and up, the Hill of Tarvit, our local landmark. here we are at the top.

Bims never likes it when one pauses for a sit down (to catch our breath at the top and look at the view. (it’s a few hundred feet up from the road). she is six now, and maybe a shade slower on the beach, more relaxed at home.

multiple views, 360 degrees. the photos don’t show it but you can see the Angus Glens and Perthshire hills, white with snow.

and nearer, a panorama of Cupar, and Tarvit home mains farm.

a slightly more gradual descent into the mansion gardens

where the big wall at the back has mostly been repaired and things are getting straight.

in my garden the crocuses have come through the turf I planted them under. it’s so hard to make holes in it, I just levered chunks up with a fork, put in the bulbs and hoped for the best.

and there’s a sighting of aconite, which I thought had not survived

on the beach last week it was just about warm enough for B not to need a coat. I made this video still of the extraordinary things dogs’ limbs do when they run fast. her wrist to toe joint, the pastern, is flexed way past what you would expect to be safe, taking her weight for a split second. it allows her dew claw and “stop pad” to contact the ground, helping to control rapid turning. which just shows that the dew claw should not be removed (usually done when puppies are tiny), it has a function, and is connected to important parts of the leg.

and finally, here is a photo-essay, or a collection, of all the kissing gates in Cairngreen wood, functional and non-functional.







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