A Sense Of Place

The National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh are holding an exhibition at the moment called A Sense Of Place. It focuses on Joan Eardley’s work from two particular locations – Glasgow and the village of Catterline.

It’s an astounding exhibition, featuring items loaned from public and private collections far and wide. The Glasgow pieces, possibly her most famous work, are amazing. Capturing the children of the tenements and the world they inhabit. But it’s the Catterline rooms which stopped me in my tracks.

I lived in Catterline from the age of 8 until I was 18. Those are some important years I spent there. Our house was built in a new street behind the path on the cliffs to the old coastguard watchhouse which used to act as Eardley’s studio (one of three houses in the village she used). I am very, very familiar with the locations, subjects, and weather which Joan painted and the places she captured them from.

To see images of the pier which we used to jump off, the sea stack we used to climb and the cliffs we spent years roaming on large scale canvas taking up entire rooms of the National Gallery is breathtaking. It provoked a lot of powerful emotion and memories for me.

When I got home I tried to parse some of those thoughts and emotions into a poem called – A Sense Of Place, which you can hear in the reading below.

The tagline on the National Galleries website is “Art that inspires”. In this exhibition they certainly achieved that.

Back in the swing of things

Since my daughter was born I’ve not done much running, cycling or anything really. For the most part I’ve just been too tired to care about exercise or when I get home from work I’d rather help with Chloe than go out for an hour, missing what little time I have with her.

However I can see my waistline slowly getting squidgy and my jeans are getting tighter again so needs must. Besides that I’m also committed to doing Ride The North – a 170 mile bike ride from Inverness to Stonehaven over two days in August so I have to get fit again!

Today I made the most of the fine spring weather and went for a wee run up to Dunnottar Castle. I’ve run up to the war memorial a couple of times but not gone the full distance to the castle yet. Well I couldn’t have picked a better night for it. The weather was stunning and the castle, the bay and Stonehaven all looked beautiful in the setting sun (see the photo at the top of this page for proof).

It was pretty tiring though. I can tell I’ve not done much running since last year! The path from the memorial to the castle was a lot hillier than it looks but that’s a good thing, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. I think I’ll be using this route a lot over the summer.

What’s next?

After the low of the referendum defeat many Yes campaigners are picking themselves up, dusting themselves down and asking “What’s next?”. Those that voted for a fairer, independent future and who lit up the campaign with energy, creativity and fire are now starting to wonder what they can do to continue the fight. Some of the groups that fought under the Yes banner have raised their standards again and posted statements of intent like National Collective or Robin McAlpine from the Common Weal, whose powerful piece sums up the thoughts of many now aching to push forward after coming so close:

We lost. Get over it. Every second we spend licking our wounds is a second we lose for the fight. And fight we must. And fight we will. We made much of this land our Scotland, not theirs. So now we hold our territory. Then we take theirs.

Wipe your eyes. On your feet. Grab your stuff. Let’s get started.

Read more What’s next?

Why I’m Voting Yes

I’ve held back quite a bit from the independence debate. Not because I wasn’t sure of my opinion or confident in the argument, but just because with a baby on the way, looking for a new house and a lot of pressure at work I’ve had more than enough on my plate without launching headlong into the campaign as well. However with just days to go to the biggest political vote in my lifetime I thought I should at least write down my thoughts on the referendum.

When it comes to independence, I’ve always been a yes voter really. Since I was old enough to participate in the democratic process I’ve only ever voted for parties that advocate an independent Scotland (which doesn’t mean I’ve only ever voted for the SNP). Up until now I guess you could say that was a romantic ideal, I felt very strongly that Scotland should be independent but until 2011 it was something I never thought I’d see. My belief in independence didn’t stem from Hollywood nonsense like Braveheart (as much as I enjoyed it at the time) or kilts and shortbread imagery. It’s simply that I believe Scotland is a country, distinct in its own right and as such should be run as a country by those who are best placed to make the decisions on behalf of that country – the people living in it.
Read more Why I’m Voting Yes

Scolty

Scolty

I’ve been making the most of the awesome spring weather over the last days and retrieved my road bike from the shed where it’s been hibernating for the last few months. I got home from work tonight and the car was still claiming a temperature of around 15 degrees in the sunshine so I jumped on the bike for a 14 mile loop round the back roads of Deeside. Normally if I take a picture of Banchory’s Scolty hill it’s from the top but cycling round the back roads gives you a great view from the west of the hill, especially when the sun’s shining in the early evening haze like it was tonight.

Queen’s Well from Mount Keen

Aunty Betty’s ice cream shop

image

I finally accepted that winter is unlikely to return suddenly so I drove down to Stonehaven to get my winter tyres taken off. Seeing as I had an hour to kill and the sun was out I wandered across to the beach to get an ice cream from Aunty Betty’s. Their idea of a single scoop cone is pretty ridiculous!

A capital weekend – 3 days in Edinburgh

We thought it would be a good idea to go to Edinburgh for the Scotland – Wales six nations match. Turns out that was a mistake, but the rest of the weekend was great. I’ll pick up from 75 minutes into the rugby. Probably best as everything before that was a bit disappointing. Anyway, we had enough and decided to steal a march on the rest of Murrayfield so nipped out early. A long walk at a brisk pace brought us to Zizzi before any other rugby fan and we managed to secure a table for two where we sat and watched the baying hordes arrive a couple of minutes later and be turned away. Read more A capital weekend – 3 days in Edinburgh

A local classic – Cullen Skink

I always want to feature more Scottish food, especially recipes from the north-east where I’ve lived my whole life. Cullen is a small village on the Moray coast, north of Aberdeen which is famous for one particular dish. A soup made of fish, milk, tatties and onion – Cullen Skink.

This is a very simple dish to make. You can knock it up in under half an hour if you’re efficient and have everything ready to go. I had a read through my books and found I had at least 5 recipes for this in my small collection. Most of them followed the same general pattern, with the River Cottage Fish book deviating the most and Leith’s Cookery Bible strangely adding tomato into the mix. The recipe below most closely follows Nick Nairn’s from New Scottish Cookery. Read more A local classic – Cullen Skink