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Posts Tagged ‘Dry-stone’

The small Perthshire town of Blairgowrie sits among rolling hills and farmland in the Vale of Strathmore.

The streets of the town slope upwards towards the north-west, and if you continue walking in this direction beyond the limit of houses, you soon reach the top of a small grassy hill called The Knockie.

The Knockie, being only a few minutes’ trot from where I live, provides an easily accesible bit of fresh air and exercise for someone who spends far too much time sitting at a desk. I try to get out for a little walk most days of the week and yesterday, thinking it was too long since I last did it, I felt inspired to go and look at the views from The Knockie.

The track up the hill is often very muddy, but is apparently being upgraded and will soon be covered in stones. I think it has a nicely old-fashioned look, bounded by lovely dry stone walls covered in moss:

When you reach the top of the hill, you can read a ghost story on a board:

The story concerns a Lady Jean Drummond, who lived at nearby Newton Castle around the 13th century. She fell in love with a chap from a neighbouring castle, but the two families were at war with one another over land rights, and any sort of romance was out of the question. Heartbroken, Lady Jean is said to have wandered out into the marshes, never to return. Her ghost, dressed in green silk, currently divides her time betwen the two castles, ever pining for her lost love.

A wooden seat has been thoughtfully provided so that you can sit and contemplate this tragic tale:

Yesterday was not the brightest of days, but on the other side of the hill from Blairgowrie there are good views of the surrounding countryside, and the distant Grampian mountains:

The track on the other side of the hill has a much better surface, being covered in tarmac for some of the way, and there are more mossy walls:

We’ve had a fair bit of stormy weather here lately, and I passed some trees that had not only been uprooted, but had taken the ground with them. I thought it looked as if a giant had come along and lifted up the carpet:

As I rounded The Knockie, the setting sun broke through the clouds casting a warm glow on the hillside to the east:

Over towards the west, the sky seemed to be on fire:

The atmosphere was hazy, but the lighting created this silhouette of a horse on the horizon:

By the time I got home, I felt I’d earned a small snackerel:

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In Scotland we sometimes refer to the small pancake as a ‘drop scone’ or ‘dropped scone’, presumably because the method of making one involves dropping a blob of batter into a frying pan. When I was growing up I remember thinking myself quite the linguist for knowing that wee pancakes and dropped scones were one and the same thing.

According to the Traditional Scottish Recipes website, such items are also known as  “Scots Pancakes, Scotch Pancakes, and Scottish Pancakes”, which suggests to me that this is a peculiarly Scottish business. Helpfully, the same website adds that A similar recipe in Wales is known as pikeletts.”

Here’s a picture of dropped scones that I swiped from the website:

I mention all this to set the scene for what’s coming next. I was in a delightful little tearoom in Dundee this morning when I noticed a bag hanging from a branch suspended from the ceiling. The bag conveyed a message that appealed to me greatly:

The wording reads: ‘Drop scones not bombs’, the ‘o’ in scones bearing a remarkable resemblance to one of the wee pancakes from the first picture.

There was no shortage of interesting things to look at in this tearoom, particularly on a couple of the walls. One wall had a row of coathooks with coats and bags painted onto the wall beneath them:

While most of another wall was occupied by a large map of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg:

My delightful assistant and I settled into in two comfortable easy chairs in order to peruse the menu, and felt very pleased with ourselves for landing the only seats with cushions covered in the unusual fabric below. The red bits were made of a sort of felt-like material (quite possibly, felt):

I opted for a pot of tea while my assistant plumped for a small Americano, and we decided to share a large slice of coffee walnut cake, which looked delicious. The tea was served with a pretty cup and a mis-matched saucer:

The teapot was small, but very happily covered in a knitted teacosy. A small pink knitted pig sat atop the cosy and had difficulty perching upright because of the teapot lid:

The cake was excellent, very light and fluffy, with big chunks of walnut in it:

Thus refreshed, we scooted back to the car where the parking ticket’s time was up, and headed off for a sunny stroll in Dundee’s Botanic Gardens. One section of the garden is set in a beautifully constructed maze of dry stone walls:

We had the whole place to ourselves for the first hour or so and I wondered if the lack of visitors had anything to do with the roar of traffic coming from a very busy main road right next to the garden and Dundee airport’s runway, which is situated only a few hundred yards away:

Despite the noise, I really enjoyed wandering round the gardens in the sunshine. As well as lots of outdoor space, there is a large glasshouse containing temperate and rainforest areas. It was warm and cosy inside and we spent a very comfortable half hour mooching around soaking up the warmth:

My camera lens kept steaming up, but I liked the fuzziness it produced in these photos:

Four things in particular caught my eye in the hot house. Two of them were plants that are very dear to my heart, the first because I love to add it to soups, puddings and biscuits, and the second because it is one of the foundations of my very existence:

The third plant I particulaly liked was called ‘red head’, a rainforest plant with deep pink powder puff flowers:

Lastly, a little amphibian peeking out of a pond fairly cheered my heart:

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