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About Scotland
A mature specimen of Acer griseum in the walled garden of Brechin Castle.
 
Gardeners Log June 2012
 
Brechin Castle and Gardens Angus.

The gardens are extensive and the trees are amazing. We spent an idyllic time outside trying to get in. The policies are lovely. The Azalea walk is spacious and beautiful. The scents of these Rhododendron azaleas pervades the air. A fair number of vast trees maybe, in the case of oak, up to five hundred years old.


A mighty oak towers above the group as they explore the policies.

 

When we did get into the garden we enjoyed very much the herbaceous borders, roses on walls and the plant sales which were different and attractive. An abundance of Rhododendrons of many colours and hues were a joy to behold. We were lovin it!


 

The stunning colours of many Rhododendrons was a joy to see.

 

Do visit but speak to the Estate Office first and book your party in. Then all concerned will be expecting you and you will be persuade for a modest £1 to add a tour of the Castle to your programme. The Castle is certainly most interesting and our Guide was good at her job. Garden £4 and worth it. The folk we were looked after by were lovely and very friendly once they knew that we were not trying to get in free. Would we do that? From Glasgow - no not Glaswegians and not the Glasgow Garden Walks Group!


Paeony roses are at thier best at this time of year. They are usually delicately scented.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact details Dalhousie Estate.

E-mail enquiries@dalhousieestate.co.uk

Information on gardens http://scotlandsgardens.org

Telephone 01356 624 566.

 

Western Isles Scotland 2012

 

Memories, memories. Time mellows and it feels as if it was all good. We forget the downside of our time travelling together, living together, laughing and sometimes crying.

So bear this in mind when you read this impression written whilst still fresh.

 


Armeria maritima, sea thrift and crotal, the yellow lichen growing on the lighthouse wall, at the Butt of Lewis. Crotal is used for dieing wool in the creation of Harris Tweed.

 

As the ferry approached Stornoway several shoals of Porpoises swam alongside. They were moving quickly and leaping out of the water. There could have been seventy or more and it was a great welcome. Our arrival in the Hebs Hostel, Stornoway turned into a party. We discovered our singing voices and I guess a few folk would have liked us to have gone to bed. The Butt of Lewis, the most Northern point of the Western Isles, was enchanting. The sun shone and the sea thrift, Armeira maritima, was in full flower which was magic. Pale pink drifts everywhere.

 

Bathing in the evening sunlight at Gearannan.

 

Our lovely Black House at Gearannan on Lewis was cosy and welcoming. The neighbours from the Netherlands were pleasant and the staff in the village were very helpful. We had a wonderful sunset bathing us and our pictures in a deep rosy glow. The girls went walking and paddling in the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Approaching the standing stones of Callinish on Lewis.

 

Onward to Harris, a moonscape of shining rock and lochans of water much depleted by the six weeks drought which went before. We picnicked in South Harris overlooking the wonderful beach at Luskentyre. The sea was a gorgeous shade of turquoise and the sand glowed in the early afternoon light. Three people, a man, a woman and a small child occupied the huge beach, the wee one plunking down on his bottom in the sun warmed water. If heaven is on earth it must be here.

 

The wonderful beach at Luskentyre, South Harris.


The ferry from Leverburgh to Bernery takes a most circuitous route following the buoys which de mark the safe passage. A mini cruise across a grey sea on this day. Our wee clutch of Black Houses were a welcoming sight in the distance. A panic for a short while until we worked out that there were exactly nine beds available not one as we had originally been told by another traveller. He was referring to his room and not the site as a whole. Fun and games on a wonderful beach lead to all sorts cantraips and everyone had a super time. More paddling and some wading and great fun.

 

This beautiful Mermaid appeared on the beach and was welcomed to Bernery by these equally beautiful girls.


At the standing stones of Callinish a number of the party were privileged to witness the marriage of two local people accompanied by a bonny wee flower girl who was their daughter. This was a special and solemn occasion during which I shed a tear or two. An emotional time.


Parting with Bernery we journeyed through North Uist to the Hebridean Smoke House where salmon, trout and scallops are smoked in peat smoke. After a suitable period of tasting we proceeded to make a variety of purchases some of which were destined for America. The peat smoked scallops are delicious. We had some for lunch.


On to Benbecula. We went more or less straight down to South Uist for our Black House to try and secure accommodation. We need not have worried as we ended up being the only residents. One look at us and our potential sharers left to camp in peace and quiet.


Our neighbour's cows love to eat our grass at Howmore before they return to their field.

 

At Howmore the rhythm of Crofting life never changes. The crofter living next door brings his cows in for milking at the same time every night. Year in year out. Now with the support of two long sticks as time has not been kind to his body.

He is one of the true heroes of our land. He has given a lifetime of dedication for meagre living. After they have given up their milk the cows graze enthusiastically around our hostel keeping the grass down.

Our Warden called for the money and spoke of life on the islands. She lived for a while in Glasgow but like many people she returned to her roots with no regrets. 

On our way south we stopped at the Big Garden which claims to be the last remaining walled garden which is still used as a garden on the islands. The glass houses are held down by substantial wooden frames to stop them blowing away in the wild Atlantic gales. The owner spins wool and knits many fine things often using the wool of the ancient Hebridean breed of sheep.

 

We travelled on to Barra through Eriskay in a misty light rain. This no doubt gave a welcome respite to the thousands of cows and sheep grazing on the islands. The farmers are hoping the drought of six weeks stops soon. On to Castlebay and out final resting place before returning to "civilisation".

 

The popular Vatersay Boys entertain. Photograph:Courtesy of Anne Downie.


One highlight of our time on Barra was an absolutely delicious meal in the Kisimul Café. “I didn't think that you could find a great currie outside Glasgow” was the reaction of Alison to her delightful dish. Leaving Barra by the causeway to Vatersay takes you to a magic place with two fantastic beaches. The west beach is up against the rolling Atlantic and west winds. Cool man. The east facing beach is warmer and the sea is freezing cold whichever beach you choose. To top this great paddling opportunity the local community hall is just waiting for you to come and enjoy scones and your favoured beverages.

To cap all the experiences we shared the Castlebay Hotel Bar beckons. Yes dance the night away on the tiny dance space. The Vatersay Boys are a smashing wee band with great heart and unique sound played for dancing for those who were inclined.

Now there's dancing and dancing. This was dancing. Liz whisked me off my feet at the first birrel and I had to be careful to land safely. There is nothing more ignominious to a dancer than landing on a heap on the floor. Once the in flight adjustments were made we were fleein round the floor like dogs chasing their tails. In time to the music of course.

Ah … the Vatersay Boys. Beware the Vatersay Boys!

 

Time to leave Dunard Hostel, Barra at the end of a great week touring the Western Isles.
Memories get better with time. Farewell to Barra. Farewell to the isles.

Brian Sutherland.