Saturday, November 27, 2010

Scotland Again!

25 Miles east of Edinburgh is a place called East Linton and this is where I worked for 5 weeks woofing on an organic farm. Quite a set up with permanent staff and woofers all year round. Each week was 4 days working and 3 to explore the wonderful countryside and what Edinburgh has to offer.

Phantassie was the area where I was and dovecots are all around the East Lothian area. I sat down and sketched a few. Dovecots are structures that housed pigeons for eggs and for eating, and very impressive structures they are. The Phantassie Doocot (as they are called) below was about 200 yards away from my caravan.

Being a woofer at Phantassie was really hard work, many times planting  rows of spring onions or harvesting potatoes made the backs and knees of young and old creak more than a little.

Rows of broccoli 100 yards long mixed with a sheltered walled garden with lovely rich soil and cool wet summers are great growing conditions for anything!
Basil in one of the tunnel houses.

Scottish hi-bred potatoes

Below is the harbour at Dunbar, a fabulous little place, with real fishing boats and mending nets etc on the quayside. This harbour is also flanked by a castle and superb sea defences.

There is a resident team of seals that frequent the harbour, much to the pleasure of yours truly and the visiting Scottish school children were equally impressed. Just to stand beside them and listen to the incredibly broad accents of these children and their teachers was such a lovely treat for me.

Dunbar is also famous as the birthplace of John Muir, who left Dunbar at the age of 11,with his family emigrating to USA where he championed and campaigned for the set up of the American National park system, helping set up the first in Yosemite. They have a small but very well done museum dedicated to John Muir which is the house he was born in and I spent an enjoyable afternoon reading and absorbing his story.  I have spent quite a bit of time in Yosemite and consider my feelings toward Yosemite very similar to John Muir's.

This is in Haddington where the Local Pipe band returned after having a cuppa and asked this busker if they could have their spot back. I was more than pleased to be asked and obliged willingly.
Kilmarnock, my home town, were playing Dundee United at Rugby Park, which is a home game so I decided to visit and take a trip down memory lane. As a boy I was an ardent Killie supporter and here I was back cheering them on after 45+years. In my day there was only one main grandstand, the rest was terracing. Nowadays it has a stadium all around the pitch. I did partake in a Bovril, which hadn't changed one bit.
This was the ball juggler taking the team mascot off the pitch to start the game. Killie lost 2-1.
This is Shortlees, the suburb I lived in. Kilmarnock has felt the economic downturn with many factories closed and lots of unemployment. On a grey late Autumn day, things did look rather glum. I was struck by the lack of gardens around the houses. The local shops used to be quite busy, now most are boarded up and it was as bleak as it looked.
The bottoms of the houses had been cut into, checking the structure. Some people had left it open and others had covered the holes with cardboard. Behind this house is where we used to play as kids in the field. Gee I'm super glad we emigrated to New Zealand.

Kilmarnock is not all doom and gloom though. I went to Dean Castle (up the other end of the town, the posh end) and was very impressed by the Castle and its amazing collection of very old musical instruments.
Dean Park, which is beside the castle also has this beautiful burn (stream) running alongside, a great place for a walk on a Sunday afternoon. I did get a huge carton of Verani Icecream and took it back to East Linton to treat the Woofers, though one English lad, who shall remain nameless (Sam) mixed some peanut butter in with his - heathen!

The rest of the time working at Phantassie was weeding and planting, and we also went around various local orchards to pick apples for juicing. The weather in Scotland was getting colder with grey days for several days, not seeing the sun. We got into frost preparations, covering crops in the field with straw.

Ralph, one of the owners had scored a unicycle at the local weekly (huge) car boot sale, and it needed an extension to the seat post so I could ride it. After doing that I started practising to ride it down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. I got the idea to do this the previous week while busking, after I had survived being jumped on by a drunk Scottish woman who was trying to play my saxophone. I said to another busker, one day I'm going to return here and ride a unicycle down the Royal Mile and this was how the seed for that crazy idea occurred.

I informed some Scottish friends who met me and wished me luck. Below is the result, the weather was wet and cold.
I came off 100 yards short of the end. I lost a pedal and it's impossible to ride with only one! Luckily neither the sax or my body came to grief. After some beers we headed for a meal and of course I just had to have the Haggis Pizza.
So next blog will be the lucky last and plenty happened in my last week in UK. This will be the trip review, which will be something for me to think about.

Till then stay safe and  live the good life, whatever that means.

Cheers and Ciao


Cynthia Morris said...

Great photos! Looks like you are back in form. Thanks for the wee trip to Scotland. I lived in Edinburgh once upon a time, so thanks for sharing your trip!

Kevthefarmer said...

Here's a link
That explains all the stuff about the coloured sheep- Regards, Kev.

Anonymous said...

crighey Kev....I wouldn't blooming beleive it unless you'd told me!

Bit woosy for us Kiwi's mate!


Anonymous said...

Magnificent web site. A lot of useful info
here. I am sending it to several buddies ans also sharing
in delicious. And of course, thanks for your sweat!

Visit my webpage baseball bats