Sunday, 23 July 2017

Scotland by Rail - Ayr - Maclaurin Galleries, Tam O' Shanter, Laura Marling


An afternoon trip to Ayr, departing Burntisland 10.44am, arriving Ayr 1.53pm. Glasgow in the evening for Laura Marling.

The journey from Glasgow Central to Ayr is interesting (they all are) for its initial view over the River Clyde as your train exits Central Station, its views of old industry, of rolling farmland, of the wildfowl havens around RSPB Lochwinnoch (swans, goldeneye, mallard, tufted duck...), then coastal Irvine, Troon, Prestwick, Ailsa Craig far off, Holy Isle and Arran even further beyond that.


on-train sketches, pen in sketchbook

on-train sketches, pen in sketchbook


Reaching Ayr we refilled flask at the on-platform coffee booth then explored to the shore, knowing the right general direction but not using any map. A great sweep of sand runs off to the south ending in cliffy Heads of Ayr and the Carrick Hills above. The tower ruin of Greenan Castle is tempting me back.

The Ayrshire Coastal Path is here, running south to Glenapp and north to Largs. We followed only one of its eighty or more miles, a substantial path through remnants of scrubby dune. My first singing stonechat of the year was there in the gorse. A female was close by, closely watching her potential mate.



looking to Greenan Castle

Greenan Castle, pen in sketchbook

there's a stonechat somewhere in there


A stream crosses your path just after a lovely area of boggy grassland on your left. Go upriver here with stream on your right, new houses on your left. Birds were singing loud, telling that spring had sprung. Greenfinch, goldfinch, chaffinch, sparrow, thrush, robin. The little path emerges onto a busy A road - A719. Cross over and straight into the woodland of Belleisle Estate and golf course.

Coming soon to the currently fenced grand house pass behind it to an obvious signposted path leading over the golf course to another busy road, B7024. Cross the road and enter the next wooded estate - Rozelle. In here is Rozelle House and Maclaurin Art Gallery and tea rooms. The gallery was the reason we'd come to Ayr, to see Alexander Gaudie's seriously impressive series of 54 large-scale paintings depicting Robert Burns' Tam o' Shanter. You can see the whole collection in a very nicely presented book published by Birlinn.

Upstairs was a smaller exhibition of Alexander's son Lachlan Goudie's work, a small selection of local history exhibits and a small Henry Moore bronze.

Rozelle

Rozelle House


After the exhibition we explored Rozelle Park woods then back across the golf course and to the station, this time meandering along residential streets, enjoying discussing hedges and hedge choices and lamenting the spots where they've been replaced by fence, slab, gravel.

While we're at it, planting a hedge is a really valuable and satisfying thing to do for nature, have a go, ideas here. Why not Take the Hedge Pledge each March to August. Encourage friends and neighbours to do the same.

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Glasgow - Laura Marling

In the evening we were at the O2 ABC in Glasgow seeing Laura Marling touring her new album Semper Femina.



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How to get there

Trains to Ayr take about an hour from Glasgow Central and run half-hourly. For full details check 'Ayrshire, Inverclyde & Stranraer Timetable' and 'Buy Tickets' options on ScotRail website.



Many thanks ScotRail for enabling my Scotland by Rail work.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

New greetings cards available.

Four designs - mix and match, choose your favourites
- 14x14cm, 330gsm card, includes white envelope small enough for Royal Mail Letter.
- blank inside for any occasion. Short artwork description on reverse of each card.

4 cards = £6
8 cards = £12
12 cards = £15
20 cards = £25

+ UK postage & packaging £2 per order

Pay by cash, cheque, online transfer, PayPal. We aim to post cards within two weeks of your order.

** Click here to let us know how many of each card you wish to order **



Crossing the Atlantic on honeymoon we watched whales and dolphins almost every day. 
I was with my watercolours in the lookout when this humpback appeared, rising gently 
three or four times before flicking its tail to the vertical and diving from sight. 
- July 2016, Queen Mary 2, New York to Southampton.


Guillemots are found nesting on narrow ledges in colonies all around Scotland's coasts. 
They, along with their relatives the puffin and the razorbill, are one of many seabird 
families threatened by dwindling fish stocks and increased coastal storms.


On the beach below my mum's caravan crows search for shellfish. 
They grab a shell, flap upwards with it then drop it onto rocks, trying to get at the treasure within. 
It usually takes several attempts before the shell cracks.


At this spot on the Aberdeenshire coast I see peregrines almost every time I visit. 
This adult lay in the shade of a cliff overhang as I sketched. A peregrine falcon performing 
its vertical hunting dive or 'stoop' can reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour!



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Friday, 9 June 2017

Flanders Moss NNR - outdoor art exhibition June 2017


Emperor moth at Flanders Moss, watercolour, pencil, ink, 29x40.5cm


Flanders Moss is one of the biggest and best lowland raised bogs in Scotland. It lies a little west of Stirling, saved for nature thanks to the Scottish Wildlife Trust in 1973 and now under the management of Scottish Natural Heritage as a National Nature Reserve. More about the history of conserving the Moss - here.

I've read about Flanders Moss in Jim Crumley's books but first visited a month ago when I was treated along with chauffeurs Blaise and Nick to a tour with Reserve Manager David Pickett. I first met DP when he was Reserve Manager on the Isle of May and was always really interested and supportive of the art we produced there.

Earlier this year I was invited me to create two works for an outdoor exhibition on the Moss as part of Forth Valley Art Beat, 10-18 June 2017. When I lived in Linlithgow this was my local open studio event so it's really nice to have my work back in Forth Valley this year. (Now I'm in Burntisland I take part in Central Fife Open Studios instead - 2nd & 3rd Sepember 2017. )


Flanders Moss whinchat, ink, 29x40.5cm


The Moss

Within half an hour of stepping onto the reserve we were looking down at my first ever adder, wound through the grasses.

We didn't see Green Hairstreak butterflies but we stood where they probably would have been had the weather been better. We saw osprey, whinchat, stonechat, cuckoo...

In the moth traps were Fox Moth, Lesser Swallow Prominent, Peppered Moth, Light Knot Grass, Scalloped Hazel, Hebrew Character, Pale Prominent, Emperor... Identified, logged, released.

As we walked the kilometer circle of boardwalk at the end of our trip lots of Common lizards were basking on the boards. Some scampered as we approached, some didn't move at all.


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Open Studio event, 10th - 18th June 2017

Visit Flanders Moss 10th - 18th June inclusive to see the artworks as part of Forth Valley Art Beat. Full details here. Both weekends of the event Wardens will be on-site in the afternoons to tell you more about the Moss.

And keep your eyes open for those lizards!

www.nnr-scotland.org.uk/events/event-details/?id=3538



Adder!


whinchat


Fox moth

Pale Prominent moth

Lesser Swallow Prominent moth
 
Emperor moth underside

Emperor moth



Common lizard

Common lizard

View from the tower


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The artists






Friday, 19 May 2017

Scotland by Rail - Dalry Station Garden - hare unveiling and River Garnock walk



Dalry Station Garden Open Day including unveiling of three fantastical white hares, staring skywards. Afterwards cake and folk music in the Greenbank Inn then a couple of hours exploring a mile or so downstream along the River Garnock.

Previous Dalry blogs one (Lynn Glen) and two (Blair Estate) for other local walks and more about my mural involvement with Dalry Station.

Dalry Station Garden Group - website.


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Station Garden hares

Funded by Dalry Parish Boundary Trust and North Ayrshire Council three beautiful white station hares were commissioned from artist Wayne Darnell. After the unveiling we were treated to hare cakes and bakes in the Greenbank Inn and folk songs and stories from James Dippie and John Hodgart.



unveiling the hares

hawthorn and compost

micro pond - try one of these in your garden, easy and quick and one of the best things for nature


new planter thanks to Dalry Burns Club

more speeches in the Greenbank Inn

James and John




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River Garnock walk,

A short and sometimes uncertain walk with lots of bird and plantlife to stop for. 



I walked from the town downstream on the west side of the River Garnock until a little beyond a high-fenced auction ground on the other side of the water. Turned around at a point where I discovered snipe. Frightened them off before I spotted them unfortunately, as is almost always the case. Have you ever seen snipe holes though? Look at the photos...

Retraced my steps as far as the auction ground bridge, crossed the bridge over the river and through a gate in the high fence. From there it's close alongside the fence until a more substantial track winds you back towards the town with railway on the right and river on the left. 

After a while you're nearly at houses when there's a footbridge over the river on your left - don't take it, turn right and walk with field on either side until you emerge at the station.


starting the walk, River Garnock on the left, Dalry houses behind me

Dalry's Maes Howe?

looking back to Dalry, Garnock on the right

butterbur - www.plantlife.org.uk

butterbur

wind farm - http://dcdh.btck.co.uk/Projects/WindFarmCommunityBenefits

orange water outlet and auctions cross the water. They could do with some hedgerow

snipe holes! All over the muddy ground here where they'd been probing for insects

more snipe holes

where I flushed the group of snipe

now returning to Dalry, looking back along the auction ground fence

woodland then river on my left, railway on right

Dalry in the distance

fields on either side, Dalry station ahead

my Garnock River walk - the red-ringed, white-arrowed bit


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How to get there

Trains to Dalry take half an hour from Glasgow Central and run half-hourly Mon-Sat, hourly on Sundays.

'Ayrshire, Inverclyde & Stranraer Timetable' and 'Buy Tickets' option on ScotRail website.



Thanks to ScotRail for enabling my Scotland by Rail work.