foxglove

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One of my great pleasures at the moment is observing, photographing and finding out more about, the wildflowers where I live. I’m surrounded by lots of different kinds of environments – hedgerow, water, woodland, heath, mountain – and these are full of so many wonderful flora, some of which I had never noticed or knew the names of until recently. Just opposite our house is a path that forms part of the West Highland Way. This path is lined with an old wall, and growing around and through this wall, some foxgloves have recently been putting on a spectacular show. I decided I had to take some photographs of them yesterday.

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I think I am starting to understand the allure of botanical drawing. Sadly, I cannot draw for toffee, but I am certainly enjoying capturing the detail of my local flora with my camera.


In other news:

I had great fun reading the animal names in the comments to the previous post! After excluding those who couldn’t enter, the randomly selected winners of the Toft party tickets are Pootle the cat and Iris the hawk . . . ahem . . . I mean Lucy and Janine. Congratulations! Could you please email me at info@katedaviesdesigns.com to arrange your prize?

Scottish bluebells

bluebellsstreaked

I am currently working on a bluebell-inspired design for my forthcoming YOKES collection. I am certainly not short of inspiration, as you currently can’t move for bluebells round here. Discovering these lovely flowers blooming in the woods and hills around me this Spring has really been an unexpected delight. On every walk, I seem to discover a new patch. . .

. . . around the Carbeth huts . . .

huts

. . .through the hedgerow at the top of my garden . . .

hedgerow

. . .across the loch . . .

carbethloch

. . . and along the North-facing slopes of the Blane valley.

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All the woodland paths are illuminated with their hazey-blue glow

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And in dappled sunlight, they seem lit from within.

bluebellsilluminated

Clearly I have not had my fill of bluebells, as yesterday we visited Glen Finglas in search of more. (I drove the van over Duke’s Pass, which was excellent steering experience)

glenfinglas

I can completely understand why this glen is listed as one of the best bluebell woods in Scotland.

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This is a deciduous wood, and the bluebells bloom at the same time that the oaks are coming into leaf. The contrast between the fresh, pale green of the oak leaves and the deep bluey-purple of the bluebells rising from the woodland floor is really quite spectacular.

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In clearings uninterrupted by trees, the bluebells intermingle with white stitchwort and take on a lovely meadow-like appearance.

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meadow

I had plenty of time to study the Glen Finglas bluebells with my camera.

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Now I can get back to my knitted bluebells!

Summer days

brollies

It is a while since I’ve known a spell of weather like it.

The verges have bloomed into wildflower meadows.

wildflowermeadow
bee
thistles

Everything seems sharper, brighter, a dappled world of light and shade.

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light

The evening air is soft and fragrant.

honeysuckle

Folk stroll about, bare-armed, leisurely.

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Inside, the new rooms are cool and clean and very pretty.

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Bruce prefers the shade.

hotdog

We are looking forward to a quiet weekend, with no workmen, and no dust. It will feel like a tremendous luxury to simply cook and enjoy a meal together in the kitchen. While the relocation stress continues, things are out of our hands for a wee while – our only worry at the moment is Jesus – who has not put in an appearance for 11 days. Jesus is an elusive creature, and he has been more than ordinarily elusive of late while the workmen have been here. Still, 11 days is a long time, even for a self-sufficent and resourceful feline like him. Come back, Jesus.

jesusphiz

transititions

cowslip

Winter really felt interminable this year. It seemed that, for weeks I passed the same corner every day looking in vain for the snowdrops that always appear there, heralding Spring. “I don’t know what I’d do if it wasn’t for those” said one of my neighbour-buddies, indicating a single patch of struggling crocuses that provided the only cheer on a particularly grey and grim sub-zero March morning. When we visited New Lanark on April 2nd, there were no wild flowers blooming at all. The only things of colour we saw were the yellow eyelids of the nesting peregrines and the bright red toadstools that Tom struggled through some spiky undergrowth to photograph. After all of this weird nothing, May’s rapid explosion has felt particularly welcome. I began to see primroses and cowslips poking through the brown and grey . . . then the grass pinged green . . . and then there was speedwell, and bluebells, honesty, and dove’s foot geraniums . . .

speedwell

bluebell

honesty

dovesfoot

. . . and then the blossom started to appear . . .

blossom

. . .and now the ordinary urban paths that I walk on every day appear like fairy glades.

glade

. . . or rather, large black dog-filled glades.

In many respects, these past few months have felt a little odd. Tom has been living during the week in Glasgow, working really hard at his new job. Meanwhile, I have been managing various health issues with greater or lesser degrees of success, and trying very hard to work around and within my limits. These few months have made Tom and I both realise how reliant we are on each other, and how completely rubbish we are at being apart. The upshot is that we have decided to move from Edinburgh to an as-yet-unknown location close to the Highlands but within commuting distance of Glasgow. The prospect of a garden in which to grow veggies, a few chickens and another dog (or two) is very exciting to me, and I am hopeful of finding a small house or steading out West where this dream can become a reality. Less exciting is the work we have to do to our current abode prior to selling it. Apparently, property purchasers require chilly Edinburgh flats to have more sources of warmth than that which is provided by our solitary living-room wood burner . . . thus, with the help of David and Stevie and Trevor we will be installing shiny new-fangled central heating and making various other “improvements.”

Why am I telling you all this? Well, because life is inevitably going to be disrupted over the next few months. A kind neighbour is allowing me and Bruce to hang out in her flat while Stevie is up here ripping up the floorboards, but I have now lost access to my computer and work-pod during the day, so am less accessible by email. I also have to consider the implications of moving my business as well as my home. We have just a handful of boxes of Colours of Shetland left in my warehouse in Leith. Once these are sold, I will have to allow the book to go out of print until I can make new warehousing arrangements at our new as-yet-unknown locale. So, if you were considering purchasing a print copy of Colours of Shetland, my advice is to do it now, as there are not many left (the digital edition will, of course, continue to be available). I’m still taking wholesale orders (with the number of copies-per-shop limited), but for both retail and trade orders, once the books are gone, they are gone.

So, if anyone is looking to buy a flat in North Edinburgh’s leafiest and friendliest neighbourhood, then be sure to keep your eyes peeled later this Summer. And equally if anyone has suggestions for places to which Tom and I should consider moving please do feel free to make them — we are now conducting recces!

graft


I am working hard. The designs for my new collection are in all in process, and I have spent the past few weeks writing patterns and knitting . . . lots of pattern writing, and lots and lots of knitting.

This sort of work requires the kind of concentrated focus I haven’t felt for quite a while, and I find myself in a place that is familiar from the experience of producing different kinds of book: holding the pieces of a gigantic puzzle and waiting for them all to slot neatly into place. So far the right things are slotting into the right places, which is pleasing. It is really rather nice to be working hard again. That said, at this stage of a project I am probably at my most antisocial and my hermit-ty tendencies are only exacerbated by the fact that I can’t, as yet, talk about the work I’m doing here. There is something of the season about this hermit-ty feeling, too. Everything has that blown-out, approaching-end-of-Summer look to it, and at this time of year I always find myself want to grasp things before they disappear, to just hurry up and do something before it is all over. I am doing my best.

Meanwhile, August is slipping away. I walk outside every day, and watch the wildflowers in the undergrowth change . . .




. . . and go to seed.






I’d better get a move on.

yellowcraigs

Hiya, remember me? My name is Bruce and I am 18 months old. Today I am telling you about what I think may be the best place in the world. The place called Yellowcraigs.

This weekend the Tom-human is away visiting the other human that they call The Mule, although he does not walk on four legs. After Tom-human and Kate-human, my next favourite humans are called Mel and Gordon. It is they that know of this place Yellowcraigs.

It is curious what humans find interesting about a place. Kate, for example, just kept staring at these twisty sticks.

But these sticks are of the growing kind, and hence no fun at all.

Gordon knows many things. He knows about how Yellowcraigs was once a rainforest, covered in lava-spewing volcanos! He knows about this island, whose name is Fidra.

He also knows much about the growing things.

This spiky thing is “Sea Buckthorn”

And this blue-ish purple-ish thing is “Viper’s Bugloss”


But the best thing about Gordon is that he likes BALL.

Gordon, please throw BALL.



While we were engaged in the pressing business of BALL, Mel and Kate marvelled at this swimming human.

There was much talk of “brr” and “chilly” and “a stronger woman than I” but I did not see what was so remarkable about it. For I will swim in the water whatever the weather! Who braved that frozen bog-pool at Eshaness last January? Bruce, that’s who. And can that swimming human find an important pebble in a pile of seaweed?

Or leap and seek out elusive BALL through the long grass?

I think not.

flora

I am increasingly enjoying photographing wild plants and flowers – and spent quite a bit of time doing this while on holiday in Ireland. I particularly like the matt grey-green tones of coastal plants like sea holly (above) or frosted orache (below)

I also love the humble sheeps-bit, whose purplish-blues and pinks are really quite spectacular.

Perhaps the colours of Ireland’s flora will translate themselves into knitting at some point. . . .


sea bindweed


northern marsh orchid



biting stonecrop


Am I a sea carrot? Suggestions gratefully received.

mileage

Everything is so very green here at the moment. After some much-needed rain yesterday, my locale seems even more verdant.

Some things are already past their best:


while others are reaching the height of their powers.



Down at the lade today, I saw three spectacularly bright kingfishers flitting in and out of the bank-side — a mother, and two youngsters who were being shown the ropes. My macro lens is rubbish for capturing little birds, but happily, my heron-buddy is much too big to miss.


I am so enjoying my walks at the moment — I have had two really ‘bad’ days since going up Beinn Ghlas, but have been otherwise OK. So I’ve been trying to increase my foot miles, in the hope of building up strength and stamina for further climbs. I managed six miles on Wednesday, and another six yesterday – this is close to what I’d regard as a ‘normal’ daily distance, so I am really rather pleased. Three of yesterday’s miles involved popping into town to get my eyes tested – the sort of foot journey I’d have thought nothing about previously, but just to stride up Broughton Street felt completely amazing. I should also mention a simple thing that I’ve found really helps me to maintain my energy levels, which is having snacks on hand to eat throughout the day. This is so bloody obvious, I feel stupid for not discovering it earlier, but, in the past, lunch was a meal that didn’t really exist for me. I liked to write without distractions on an empty stomach, and, with the prospect of Tom’s tasty home cooking ahead of me in the evening, would often spend a working day consuming nothing but copious quantities of tea. This sort of behaviour is probably not good for anyone, but it would definitely be bad for me in my current position. I’ve had to totally change my relationship to food, and have a range of snacks about me at all times – especially while walking. Nuts and Soreen alone cannot beat post-stroke fatigue, unfortunately, but eating regularly definitely helps to keep me on an even keel. (I can’t believe I’m writing about my eating habits, but it is good to have a record of these things, recovery-wise).

Well, I’m off to fill up the wazzwagon with high-energy snacks in the hope of attempting another hill tomorrow. Thanks for your lovely comments recently – hope you all have a nice weekend!

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