June 2018
July 2018 - Castles and kayaks

It’s amazing how two months of sunshine can lift the spirits and allow one to revel in the outdoors. The heat has been very welcome after a cold winter which seemed to delay everything. Spring's wild flowers came late but seemed to roll into the early summer ones creating a particularly colourful and vibrant landscape. Another aside of the heatwave is that it has thrown up some amazing sunsets which, refreshingly, still draw people to local viewpoints to admire one of nature’s finest spectacles.

In early June, I spent two days sea kayaking off the Northumbrian coast at Amble. On the first day, we paddled downriver to Warkworth Castle to find our “sea legs” before travelling across to Coquet island - an uninhabited RSPB bird reserve - just a mile off the mainland. Puffins and terns skimmed past us before we were surrounded by grey seals curious as to what we were up to. Their doleful eyes were endearing and it was very peaceful just drifting amongst them. The next day involved an enjoyable paddle along the shoreline from Beadnell towards the familiar silhouette of the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. What a place this would have been in its heyday with such a commanding position on the coastline!

On our final day, we squeezed in a trip around Bamburgh Castle which is equally famous and imposing on an elevated mound of rock. The Northumbrian coast is an amazing area with long stretches of beach, historic castles and ample birdlife. Throw in some excellent fish restaurants and its somewhere I shall continue to return to.

Our bees have been enjoying the warm spell and are growing in number ready for the heather to bloom later this month. We have already taken off some blossom honey and shall be bottling it soon. It’s always satisfying to watch a bee chewing its way out of the comb for it’s first view of the hive - which it will share with around 10,000 others!

A trip to St Monans in Fife gave me the opportunity to photograph the harbour and pretty, colourful houses along the seafront. On the return journey, I wandered around Dysart harbour, near Kirkcaldy, which was used to film sequences in the television series “Outlander.” I finished the day photographing an evening view of Blackness Castle on the Firth of Forth - also used in “Outlander” - which I posted on Facebook and concluded a very enjoyable excursion.

A trip up a glen near Spean Bridge was a glorious drive through buttercup meadows and a multitude of moorland flowers. It’s one of the finest floral areas I’ve experienced and remains a very special place. There are so few flower meadows these days so it is a joy to find one. Meantime, the flowers around the golf green near where we live in Edinburgh continue to flourish and keep me busy photographing - and thereafter identifying - them. It’s a great way to build one’s knowledge on wild flowers and satisfying to uncover new floral species that I would have previously ignored! Stitchwort was one I was familiar with though and its white petals always stand out against the green background (see image) but I look forward to seeing what else may emerge on my floral 'voyage of discovery.'