A burn in the hand

Most mornings I do the same walk with Bertie – thanks to the generosity of our neighbours, who invited us to walk him through their field up by the burn and over the moorland, so long as we keep him away from the sheep. Which is easy, so long as no rabbits he’s chasing head in an ovine direction…

It might be pretty much the same walk every day, but it’s always different. And things seem to be changing pretty rapidly at the moment.

The terrain underfoot is completely different from a month ago – all three of the different heathers are now in evidence: the bright magenta of the bell heather, the feminine pretty-pink of the cross-leaved heath, and the tiny newly emerging white and pink of the ling. Bog asphodel, too, is shooting up like bright orange stars reaching for the sky – I reckon that a bit of time-lapse photography of this plant growing would look like fireworks going off.

Most of the waders have now moved off the moorland, nesting and raising babies done. We can now do the walk without being constantly harangued by oystercatchers, their incessant calling drowning out all other noise. Sitting still for a few moments while Bert had his head down a rabbit hole, though, I could hear a distant plover calling, possibly a golden, but thin and reedy enough to be his smaller cousin the ringed.

Down by the burn itself, where it cuts in under the hill, I got out of the wind and listened for a few moments to its burbling where it’s squeezed into tight bottlenecks no more than a foot across, and where Bertie likes to jump from side to side. Sometimes you can see the fish – brown trout – well, you see something moving incredibly fast just below the surface and occasionally a ‘plop’ and a ripple as it pops up. But I couldn’t claim to have truly seen the fish itself.

And though sometimes – especially when getting up at 6.30am to get everything done before work – walking Bert feels like a bit of a chore, and I ponder how nice it would be to be able to go somewhere different, instead of the same old walk, deep down I know how lucky we are to have this on our doorstep. So I give myself a mental shake and tell myself to appreciate what we have.

Then Bertie emerged from his rabbit hole, covered in mud and peaty mouthed, shaking himself all over me, so breaking my poetic reverie and bringing me back to the reality of day-to-day life and the fact that I had to get him back and cleaned up and get myself to work. Not such a poetic end to my walk…


How does our garden grow…?

One of the joys of moving into a house with an established garden in early spring is watching the flowers coming up. Not knowing what was planted where, we don’t know what’s going to appear in which flowerbed next. This garden is turning out to be a lovely mix of colours and styles.

It has to be said, though, that what seems to be doing particularly well in the garden this year are deflated, punctured footballs, ripped-up tennis balls and faded old, chewed-up orange buoys. The Shetland weather is obviously good for these, though they do make mowing the lawn hazardous. At least, that’s our excuse…

While the rest of the country has been basking in a heatwave, up here we’ve been sitting under a blanket of fog that doesn’t seem to have lifted off the roof of Reawick church just over the bay in a week. However, yesterday (or was it the day before…?) there were a few moments in the late afternoon when some brightness pierced the gloom, and I managed to get some photos of the flowers that are springing up in our garden, around the debris and detritus of Bertie’s playtime…

This six-petalled iris flower is a bit unusual - there are three like it  in the garden

This six-petalled iris flower is a bit unusual – there are three like it in the garden

A purple iris

A purple iris

Pink geraniums

Pink geraniums

A lovely dog rose

A lovely dog rose

These nasturtium buds look like baby spaceships leaving the mothership on umbilical cords

These nasturtium buds look like baby spaceships leaving the mothership on umbilical cords

I love the faded elegance of the old-fashioned aquilegias

I love the faded elegance of the old-fashioned aquilegias

We even have a white one

We even have a white one

The way the central petals fade at the edges is lovely

The way the central petals fade at the edges is lovely

Weilega - a bit old-fashioned but lovely nonetheless

Weilega – a bit old-fashioned but lovely nonetheless

A close look at an iris

A close look at an iris

We've quite a few of them!

We’ve quite a few of them!

A lovely peach and yellow lupin - the Shetland bees love them

A lovely peach and yellow lupin – the Shetland bees love them

No doubt there’ll be all sorts of new plants appearing over the next few weeks – in fact, I think I’ve seen some vetch out at the back already. Watch this space for another flower post…

The puffin picture post

Graham had been getting quite concerned lately that I hadn’t yet taken any puffin photos this summer, and so on Saturday we went down to Sumburgh to find some.

Rather than heading direct to the lighthouse, where most people go and where the puffins can easily be found and seen just a few feet away, we first drove up to Compass Head for a picnic, and then walked out along the cliff edge from there. It was a chilly, grey day, but we still saw plenty of puffins as well as gannets, skuas, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and wheatears – not to mention a family of wrens, raised among the building works at the lighthouse.

So, to prove that Graham’s mission wasn’t in vain, here’s a few of my favourite puffin (and wren) pictures from the day…

What a difference a day makes!

I came into the kitchen this morning to discover my (purple!) scabious flower had developed pink buds, like little matchsticks sticking out of it. Amazing. I think they’re called ‘anthers’ or something like that.

scabious macro day2-1

In fact, as the morning wore on, I’d swear more of them appeared by the time I got around to photographing it.

scabious macro day2-3

And the blue/purple debate rages on…

Purple reign

It’s coming up for scabious’s time in the sun once again. Suddenly this lovely, purple flower is bursting out all over. It’s climbing up the banks above the beach and running rampant across the higher edges.

It’s one of those unassuming flowers that has much more to it than at first meets the eye. It’s not just purple, oh no. It pays to study a scabious closely – so I brought one home, to do just that, focusing on a different bit of the flower or viewing it from a slightly different angle. Lovely, isn’t it?

Shell shocked

I found these two battered, worn, holey and eroded winkle shells on two separate occasions, walking around the bay with Bert. I was attracted by the colours and textures, the patterns created by time and age.

They’d been sitting on my windowsill, among all the other shells, bits of crab claw and sea urchins, for a few weeks. But today I decided to take advantage of the lovely diffused light given by a bit of light cloud covering the sun on what had been a bright and warm morning, and photographed them outside on the front doorstep, on a piece of white paper, while Bert amused himself playing with a ball on the lawn.

I love the natural light. I also think there are lots more shots and angles to be had from these shells, and I think there might well be more to be found too.