Posts Tagged ‘strawberries’

Tigh Na Leigh and their orchids

April 18, 2017

We went for an overnight stay last week to the village of Alyth (good photos) in Perthshire. As we drove towards Alyth, we passed many fields of raspberry canes and others with polytunnels for strawberries. We were now in the area of the Berry Fields O’Blair –  a famous Scots song about the people who used take a holiday in July and spend it picking berries. Another song is When the Yellow’s on the Broom (contains old photos) which is about the travelling people in Scotland who spent the winter in scaldy (i.e. non-travellers) houses, often in very poor conditions, but went berry picking in the summer. The song describes the travelling people as the gan(g)aboot folk, who tak tae the road when the broom flowers. We were booked in to the Tigh Na Leigh (pr Tie Na Lee) Guest House. You have to take the Guest House part with a pinch of salt. This is no ordinary guest house, it’s more of a boutique hotel, with luxurious accommodation. The website has several photos of the interior of the house and there were some exquisite touches such as the egg tree shown below in one of the very comfortable guest lounges.

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Egg tree at Tigh Na Leigh (Click to enlarge)

Also in this lounge, is a log fire built into the wall, with a glass front. Many years ago, we used to live in a house with 2 wood stoves, and there is no better heat than that which comes from burning logs. Also, there is the fascination with the action taking place in the fire itself. The logs attract the flames and are consumed by them, after changing shapes and colours many times. It’s hard to look away from the wildly exotic aerobics of the flames. Sitting by the fire with a glass of wine before dinner was a real treat.

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Log fire at Tigh Na Leigh

The owners, Bettina and Chris, made us very welcome and if you like aeroplane business class service, then Tigh Na Leigh is the place for you, as that’s what you get. We opted to eat in and were sent a menu the day before. For starters, I had a delicious twice-baked smoked haddock (smokie) soufflé, pictured below. This was delicious, with a creamy cheese sauce to enhance the light and delicate soufflé. Our main courses of duck comfit and salmon fillet were also very tasty and the food and wine is very reasonably priced

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Double baked “smokie” soufflé at Tigh Na Leigh

The large dining room, which also has a lounge area, looks out on an extensive garden with a large pond (photo below) and while we had dinner, there were a succession of birds appearing on the lawn or the pond. Behind the pond is large stone fronted mound which was built by the present owners but looks as if it’s been there for centuries, and it has a very natural looking waterfall emerging from it. You also have breakfast in this room and there were numerous bowls of fruit – raspberries, strawberries and blueberries – and fruit compote, as well as yoghurt and a range of cereals. This is in addition to the varied breakfast menu, which includes some of Chris’s excellent omelettes. When you stay here, you start the day very well. Bettina did tell us of one very unwelcome (and non-paying!) guest – an otter which ate all the fish in the pond and threatens to return if the pond is re-stocked. We cannot recommend this superlative accommodation too highly, so if you are travelling in Perthshire, don’t miss it.

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The pond at Tigh Na Leigh

Tigh Na Leigh has flowers in every room and on the stair, there are two beautiful orchids which were instantly attracted to my camera. According to the RHS “Indoor orchids are mainly epiphytic (growing on trees) or lithophytic (growing on rocks)”. So, two new words for my vocabulary, although don’t test me anytime soon. The orchids I saw were beautifully balanced and delicately coloured. In the first photo below, the petals appear to be made of whipped egg whites and stroked with purple food dye, while the centre looks like a small stage with an ornate backdrop.

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Orchid at Tigh Na Leigh

In the 2nd photo, we move into the surreal. The more you look, the more different images you are likely to see. A tiger’s head? A Daliesque set of tonsils? The colours are numerous shades of purple and yellow. The 3rd photo is perhaps more dreamlike and the top half could be an imaginary creature in a SciFi film. What of the bottom half? Purple moons from a planet hundreds of light years away? As ever, you are bound to see something else or different.

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Centre of an orchid at Tigh Na Leigh

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Centre of an orchid at Tigh Na Leigh

 

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Stoical cycling, strawberries and post-rain flowers

July 7, 2014

In a Guardian article on Stoicism, the writer states that stoicism “brings about three specific qualities: the life of good flow; freedom from negative emotions; and beauty of soul. In contrast to all the aforementioned stereotypes, then, stoicism aims for human flourishing in a very full sense, and an ability to find ways through times of crisis”. For cyclists, stoicism is very apt. You need a “good flow” when on the bike e.g. a steady rhythm, whether on the flat or going up a hill. You certainly need to avoid “negative emotions” although this is very hard – sometimes you can convince yourself that a slight tiredness is an all encompassing fatigue or that slight pain in your leg is an oncoming thrombosis. The “beauty of soul” of course, is getting to the summit of a big hill and freewheeling down the other side. cyclists have  many “times of crisis” – in their heads mainly – and many would doubt the use of crisis in these situations. I needed my stoicism this week.  I was getting back on my bike, after having a drink half way through a fairly hilly route. I put my shoe into my right cleat, pushed forward to go off but I was in too high a gear. There was a moment of stillness and motionless and then my hip whacked the tarmac i.e. instead hitting the road, I hit the road. I now sport a bruise, the colours of which would not be out of place in a painting depicting dark purplish, rain-filled clouds. Stoicism finds a way.

For the last fortnight, we have been enjoying strawberries from the garden. It’s a very satisfying experience to go out each evening and pick strawberries that you have cultivated yourself. However, it’s easy to over romanticise this and think that gathering in your own produce is a constant pleasure. For people who have had to grown their own food to survive, gathering vegetables or fruit was a daily chore, not a leisure activity. Despite this, there is a definite feeling of achievement – and possible smugness – in bringing in the fruit. Photo 1 shows today’s crop – and, of course, they taste much better than those for which you have paid.

Strawberries from the garden

Strawberries from the garden

Those of you of a certain age will remember The Move’s song Flowers in the Rain but it’s not just the sound of the rain ( you can listen here for 2 hours!) that I like, but the after effects of the rain on flowers in the garden. Like many other would be serious photographers, rain is a promise of close-up photos. Photo 2 shows raindrops on a begonia flower. Begonias are big, showy, in your face, big bright red flowers and some regard them as rather too showy. Photo 3 is of a more gently coloured geranium. Geraniums look more refined than begonias. You might see a begonia returning from a trip to Spain with a kiss-me-quick hat on, but a geranium would be in business class, with a smart outfit. Photo 4 shows raindrops on the leaves of not yet flowed cornflower. There’s an abstract quality here – can you see a serpent’s tongue?

Begonias after the rain

Begonias after the rain

Geranium after the rain

Geranium after the rain

Rain on cornflour

Rain on cornflower