This post is an homage to Pat, sort of. She's always dotting about with her camera and showing us lovely places, and as I actually went out yesterday I thought I'd share my findings like she does. I Saw the polar opposites of Scottish heritage and some pigs.
First up I went to a post-grad symposium at Elshieshields* tower, a beautiful fifteenth century house tucked so expertly away in the countryside, only fourteen miles from here, that after two hours of looking for it I gave up and came home. It took Stevie and his sat-nav to get me there. I've always pooh-poohed sat-nav: 'all one needs is a brain and a map!' but yesterday I was glad of it, the place was well worth changing one's mind for, momentarily. Reverend Dr Ann Shukman (who, incidentally has the best hair) inherited the house from her uncle, the historian Sir Steven Runciman, nine years ago in a state of some disrepair. She has done an amazing job of restoration and now hosts academic and spiritual gatherings there. It is certainly a place for contemplation. I have to admit, though, that the extent of my contemplation was, 'all that dusting!'
Here is a view from the top of the tower, which is part of the main house, onto the cottage in which the symposium was held, and beyond to the less formal, more interesting, gardens:
After Stevie picked me up we went to the port at Annan to get new tires for his car. As he sat in the waiting room I wandered off. It's not that I don't like tire workshops, I do, but I had noticed something more interesting outside. The whole area is near derelict. Opposite the tire place is what was once a huge building but is now a walled meadow. Nature is reclaiming the space. I have to say, I find that quite pleasing. The area hasn't quite been abandoned by humans: a small terrace of houses is being done up, there are still a few businesses in operation, and in the creek was a working fishing boat in good condition. And then there was this one:
Isn't it gorgeous? There is something about the way timbers start to separate, and paint peels like the scabs of old wounds, that is quite beautiful about old abandoned boats. The interiors rusting, the plant-life that has self-seeded, the whisper of a no longer uttered name. And there's the colour. There are lots of little harbours in this area and I spend quite a bit of time wandering round them in the summer; boats still in use are all number of colours: red, orange, yellow, blue, but only abandoned boats are this colour, and they all are. At least it seems that way. This vibrant bruise blue-green, sometimes with a hint of red amongst the peeling layers, is the colour I most come across on boats that have been left to rot. Are people who choose this colour more likely to give up their watery fantasies, is this the colour of boat undercoat, or does all paint become this colour if left to its own devices?
Once the tires were fixed firmly to the wheels of Stevie's car – which I realise now is a very similar colour to the boat – we went to pick Bob up from work. Bob works at Broom Fisheries where he deals with all their website stuff – if you click on the link you'll see his handy-work. He developed the website from scratch and, like an artist, he is still perfecting it. He also deals with customers and suppliers, and collects eggs from the chickens. Carole, his boss, has just taken delivery of four saddleback piglets so I went to say hello. They are the cutest things.
* the house has no website of its own but I thought this was interesting and it shows you a nice picture of it.