Out for a walk – 21 September 2021

Today looked like being the best day this week, so we planned a walk.

Every time we passed Devilla forest near Kincardine we promised ourselves that we’d go for a walk in the woods. That’s where we headed today. The weather was a bit breezier and duller than we’d expected, but Scamp filled the flask and packed some biscuits so we wouldn’t starve. New boots were packed in the car and off we went.

By the time we were crossing the Kincardine Bridge into Fife, the sky was clearing and it was looking quite hopeful. Arrived at the car park which was less than half full. One of the benefits of going there on a weekday. Weekends are fairly busy. Got dressed for the walk and after a cursory glance at the map we headed off in the general direction of Peppermill Dam. Signposting is pretty hit and miss in this Forestry Commission (or Forestry and Land Scotland as it’s now known) land and the uncompacted hardcore underfoot on the main paths is treacherous to walk on. Once we were on the smaller paths near the dam the walking was much easier and we found quite a few mushrooms for me to photograph. Wandered on and found our way back to the car park with the aid of the OS app. We needed it because of the scarcity of signposts. All in all the Devilla of today needs a good makeover. The hardcore tracks are an accident waiting to happen and labelling them as “Cycle paths” must have been done by someone who hasn’t been on a bike this century. Also, people want signs to show where they are and how to get to the interesting sights in the forest. Such a shame.

Back home, I reckoned I had enough photos of mushrooms, toadstools and scenery to make a PoD and started on the seemingly never ending task of filling in the blanks of the blog. Scamp was champing at the bit to get both front and back grass cut, possibly egged on my Jamie’s comment of making the last cut of his grass while we were down in Cumbria. I helped a bit with some gentle strimming and also shifting the flower tubs in the front garden.

Dinner tonight was Beetroot Falafels from Jamie and Sim’s recipe. They tasted ok, but the star attraction was the roasted beetroot chunks. Sweet and utterly delicious.

Tomorrow Scamp is off out to lunch with the now disbanded Gems. I may paint, because the weather looks wet.

Crossing the Forth – 8 September 2021

It was a lovely morning and we weren’t going to waste it.

We had a few places in mind for today. Culross (just look away and roll your eyes, Hazy), Dunfermline and Kincardine were three of them. We settled on Kincardine and drove over to Fife and parked in the free car park beside a ‘new’ Coop building. The parentheses are because I still don’t think it’s a new building. I’m pretty sure there was a residential home on that spot a few years ago, probably the last time we were there. If you looked closely you could see the outline of windows that had been bricked up, given a new coat of render then painted. Fancy wood facing to the building completed the transformation. A quick look on Google Street View when we got home confirmed the makeover. It was a nursing home that used to be on that site. You can’t kid us!

We walked down through the old part of Kincardine where all the houses seem to be dropped into place and then roads are added as an afterthought. We found or way down to the path that runs along the side of the Forth, noting on our way the big bramble bushes with a healthy number of fat berries. We’d collect some of them on our way back.

Walked along past the, now redundant, piers that originally carried in coal to the Kincardine power station, now razed to the ground. An electrical substation now occupies part of the site. Not the most scenic of views past on the right, but great views across the Forth to Airth on the south of the estuary. The Forth is tidal at this point and the tide was out this morning exposing the mudbanks on both sides.

We walked under the Clackmannanshire Bridge, an elegant structure with a really clumsy name. Some bright spark renamed it the Clacks Bridge which trips off the tongue much more easily than its sixteen letter official name. We sat for a while on a seat kindly provided by the council with a plaque to tell people how thoughtful they are. NLC, there’s things you could learn here. From the seat we could look over to some buildings that looked like a farm and a ruin that turned out to be Kennetpans Distillery, allegedly the first commercial distillery in the world.

We sat soaking up the sun for a while before we headed back the same way to the car, stopping on the way to make good our promise to pick some of those black brambles. Unfortunately we didn’t have any poly bags with us, so Scamp used one of her shopping bags which got squashed later in the boot of the car, spreading bramble juice over everything. Back at the car we were heading for that terrible place that Hazy hates, may its name never be spoken in her presence. It was mobbed. We trundled through it with two cyclists who insisted on travelling so slowly they were in danger of losing their balance (it’s the gyroscopic effect of the spinning wheels that allows bikes to stay upright). Eventually we found a parking place off the road with a vacant picnic table where we could have coffee and crisps (and a chocolate biscuit) and christen our new flask. Then it was time to drive home.

I had intended going out on Dewdrop to get more brambles but the warm weather and the chance of a midweek beer put paid to that idea. Instead I finished a pastel painting I’ve been struggling with and then joined Scamp in the garden.

Dinner tonight was Neil’s Pulled Roast Chicken with Rice. Very summery and a fitting end to a good day out. Such a pity the good weather is forecast to end tomorrow, but we enjoyed it while it lasted.

PoD went to a picture of the Clacks Bridge taken from below to make the most of its curves.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch.

Just out for a stroll – 17 June 2021

Today we were going for a pleasant walk along the Fife coastal path.

We were out a bit later than normal today, but it wasn’t far to the coastal path. It runs along the cliffs, about 100m from the caravan. The path is fairly wide and solid underfoot. It climbs steadily inland for a stretch, skirting the side of the travelling caravan section of the park. After that the path becomes a bit narrower, but still a good walking surface. Further on it’s yet another golf course that’s on one side and the sea on the other. Soon after that the path drops away after a few steep climbs on hand laid steps and then an equal number of steps down the other side, finally settling on level with the rough beaches and boulders.

The biggest of the boulders stands next to the Rock and Spindle which is a sea stack, part of a volcano which erupted about 295 million years ago and punched through the pre-existing rocks. So says Mr Google anyway. The Rock is an impressive towering chunk of basalt. The Spindle is about 4m diameter, roughly wheel shaped and with a radiating pattern of something far too difficult to explain here (in other words, I don’t know).  As you can see,  The Rock and Spindle made PoD for today. We walked a bit further on, but the path became very vague after crossing a rock fall and we decided that although a coffee in the clubhouse of the golf club might be very nice, we couldn’t see an obvious way to get to it from the shore, so we headed back towards civilisation. Rather than climb all those steps up and over a bit of headland, I suggested we walk round it on the beach and meet the path on the far side. That seemed to be the sensible solution and, strangely for one of my brainwaves, it actually worked. We though we were doing well on this trek and were congratulating ourselves on our achievement. Then we were passed by a couple of runners, one going one way and the other going the other. How crazy do you have to be to run on an undulating path with stepping stones on a blisteringly hot day? As is usual with long walks in unfamiliar territory, our return seemed a lot quicker than the outward journey and we were soon back in the caravan.

Tonight’s dinner was to be a salad with a cooked chicken. To that end, we drove to Morrisons and bought the essentials for dinner, plus a bottle of beer for me and a couple of cans of Pimms for Scamp. Drove back and sat on the decking with a Pimms for Scamp and a beer for me. You could see how these static caravans worked, or to be clearer, how the people worked with these caravans. Mostly they seemed to be empty during the week, but at the extended weekends that seem to be the way things are now, they got busier. Today is Thursday and already there is more activity around caravans that have been empty since we arrived. Also the age of the people seems to be tending to the younger groups. Maybe the retired community live here all week, possibly for weeks at a time while those condemned to work for a living 😏 make use of the facilities at weekends.

I haven’t mentioned the weather much.  Perhaps that’s because I didn’t want to spook things.  The weather in Fife has been extraordinary.  Blue skies, light clouds for most of the time.  Just the very occasional light shower, the edge of a cloud.  Quite breezy, but oh how a caravan creaks an clicks as the aluminium panels heat up and expand it the sun. Then in the evening you have the same acoustics as the same panels contract again.  Also, as Annette is quick to tell you, you’re living in a tin can with little insulation, so the heat can be oppressive and the cold, severe.  Luckily we only had to suffer the heat.

Dinner was just as we’d intended Chicken and salad leaves with some crusty bread. We relaxed for a while on the decking with a ‘thin’ G&T each. A long day ahead tomorrow and a drive home. It had been a great few days and we must thank Annette for her offer!

Early bed tonight for an early(ish) rise tomorrow.

Exploring – 16 June 2021

Today we were off exploring the East Neuk of Fife.

We drove south from St Andrews on the coast road, like real tourists. We were just passing through Kingsbarns which is really a posh hotel and a golf course with some houses attached, when I noticed a sign for Cambo House. We’d been there many years ago to see the snowdrops that it’s famous for, great swathes of them as I remember it. No snowdrops today, but at least there was a decent amount of parking.

We walked from the carpark to what I thought must be the House and paid our entrance fee that was really the entrance to the walled garden. If I’d been more observant, I might have decided not to shell out a few quid just to see a walled garden. There’s one in Colzium that’s really well laid out and free. But, Scamp likes gardens of all descriptions and also we’d paid our money so we went to see the gardens.

What a garden this was, not the manicured garden like Colzium. No neat borders with carefully labeled plants. This was a real garden with plants of all descriptions everywhere. Herbs, roses, herbaceous, veg patches, fruit trees, in fact everything that we’ve got in our garden, including a knowledgeable gardener which we also have in Scamp! We wandered round and I took loads of photos. Glad I’d brought the macro lens today. We found a strange plant with pink fluffy flowers and aquilegia-like leaves. We asked the gardener what it was and I showed her a photo of it, but she dismissed it as “not a very good photo”! Cheek! However, she laughed, so I didn’t take too much offence. She knew what the plant was, but couldn’t quite remember the name of it. She was a volunteer gardener and said the head gardener would know. We stood talking to her for a while comparing this garden with its dry, light soil with our builders rubble that’s covered by a thin layer of topsoil that turns into a swamp every time it rains. After that we left to see what else we could find.

We walked out of the garden and down the path to the beach. That’s when we saw Cambo House. It’s an impressive Big House set in acres of lawns. Private, of course, but if you’ve got a house like that, you want to keep it good and not let the proles in. It was Scamp who saw the robot lawnmower trundling around the garden in what seemed like random directions. We stood watching it for a while before we continued our walk down beside a wee burn on a path that reminded me for the second time of Colzium with the winding path beside the Colzium Burn. I saw a beautiful spread of bright red poppies as we neared the beach and managed to make a panorama of it back at the caravan. The poppies reminded me of summer holidays in East Lothian where they seemed to grow in all the barley fields around Ormiston.

The beach itself was a bit like any other with a path between it and the Kingsbarns golf course. There seems to be a never-ending succession of golf courses along this part of the Fife coast. After a walk along the beach, we turned and walked back on the path, then found an easier path back past the Big House to what must have been farm buildings that housed the shop and the cafe. We had intended having a coffee and a bite to eat, but there were no tables, all socially distanced around the courtyard. We decided we’d continue our exploration and see if Crail or Anstruther had anything better to offer. At least we’d be able to get something to eat there.

Crail was a disaster for parking. We did find a place down by the harbour, but all the narrow streets were clogged with cars parked on both sides of the road so we headed off to Anstruther. It turned out to be even more disappointing. No places in the carparks and a similar congestion. Why don’t we go back to Cambo and see if there are any tables free now. We did and there were. We had a slice of excellent Tortilla each and a cup of coffee to go with it, plus a Portuguese custard tart to share. Even better, we wandered round the shop and found the pink fluffy plant we’d seen, so we bought it. It’s a Thalictrum Aquilegiifolium. Feeling much happier than the last time we exited Cambo a couple of hours before, we drove back to the caravan.

Tonight we thought we’d walk in to town and have dinner in Little Italy which came recommended. Yesterday we had thought to have lunch there. The sign said open 12.30 until Late and it was about 4pm, so it should be fine. Unfortunately when we asked for a table we were told they were closed. There were people still sitting at tables, but they were closed. Maybe 4pm is late in St Andrews. Today we were refused entry again. This time, allegedly, the restaurant was fully booked. Have you ever had the feeling that your face doesn’t fit? Instead we found ourselves standing outside a pizza restaurant when a Canadian drawl behind us said “You won’t be disappointed”. As I turned round I honestly thought it was Shannon from salsa. It wasn’t, but she was right, we weren’t disappointed. The restaurant looked very like Paesano. The menu was in a similar style and even the pizzas were familiar looking. I’m glad we didn’t get in to LI. This was much better all round. It was called Mozza. If your ever in St Andrews, try it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Walked back to the caravan via the harbour. Walked along the harbour wall and watched some teenagers jumping into the water. Posh english teenagers probably from one of the private schools.

Sat and watched the sun go down with a couple of G&Ts out on the decking of the caravan.