Posts Tagged ‘yachts’

Dunbar Battery redeveloped

June 22, 2017

Following the award of a grant of £700,000, Dunbar Harbour Trust has been instrumental in transforming part of the harbour site. The Battery has a long history, being built in 1781 as a fort to defend the existing Cromwell Harbour from attack by American privateers and also from a possible French invasion. In the 1870s, the Battery became an isolation hospital and at the start of the First World War, the hospital was taken over by the Red Cross and revamped. In the 1930s, it was the site of housing for a time but this was abandoned when the roof blew off. Until this year, the Battery has been an open space for visitors to look out from its walls out to sea or back to the south and the Lammermuir Hills. The Battery  (good photos) has now been transformed into an amphitheatre and coastal garden, with areas for public art. I took my trusty camera along to take a personal look. When you go through the stone arch, what first catches your eye is the wooden seating which is part of the new amphitheatre.

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Seating in the amphitheatre at the Dunbar Battery (click to enlarge)

On closer inspection, you see that on the lovely wooden steps, there are the names from the Shipping Forecast which can be heard on Radio 4. There’s an excellent video available on why people love the Shipping Forecast. The forecast has a lyrical quality to it, as many of the names could be from a poem – North Utsire, (pr Ootseeri) South Utsire, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger. As the Battery is next to the sea, this was an inspiring idea. The Shipping Forecast is also a poem by Seamus Heaney from his Glanmore Sonnets and you can hear Heaney reading the poem here  – a wonderful experience.

The public art on display at the moment is The Sea Cubes by Scottish artist Donald Urquhart.  In the photos below, you can see the steel cubes on display and a close up of one of the fossils engraved into the cubes. The cubes are attractive to look at and people of all ages can use their imagination to decide what they look like – ice cubes which have floated down from the North Pole or steel mirrors which have landed from space? They are a very peaceful sight. When you look closely at the intricate nature of the engraved fossils, you can see the complex structure of these fairly basic creatures. This one also reminded me of a map of an archipelago, with a thousand islands.

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Sea Cubes by Donald Urquhart at the Dunbar Battery

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Fossil engraving on a Sea Cube by Donald Urquhart

The Coastal Garden section is also very interesting and pleasant on the eye. The photo below shows the pebbles, the wooden blocks and the range of plants which can survive in the harsh seaside conditions. The plants include sea pinks (aka thrift), red valerian and Caradonna Meadow Sage. It will be interesting to see the plants develop and spread and bring more colour to the site in the future.

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Coastal garden at the Dunbar Battery

As you leave the Battery, you see Dunbar Harbour and Dunbar Castle through the archway as in the photo below. I’ve featured Dunbar Harbour on this blog a few times and it is an ever-changing view, as the light differs or there are different boats in the harbour. The 1st photo shows the magnificent stone wall and arch which gives solidity to the entrance and frames the harbour very well. After you walk down the slope from the battery, you are on the harbour quayside and you are looking across the harbour to the castle, as in the 2nd photo below. This is the view on a calm summer evening at the harbour. In October, the small yachts are taken out for the winter as the winter tides turn the harbour into a turbulent rush of water.

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Dunbar Harbour and Dunbar Castle from the Battery.

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Dunbar harbour from near the Battery

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Harbour reflections and making Minestrone

December 14, 2016

I took my camera for a walk along to Dunbar Harbour (good photos) last week. The day was so wind free that the water in the harbour hardly moved and the wee boats, which are usually swaying gently to an unheard waltz tune on the accordion, were statuesque. It’s very unusual not to have any kind of wind in Dunbar and at one point, it looked as if the sea had given up coming into the harbour, as the water appeared – very briefly – to be motionless. Then a gentle ripple spread from the entrance to the harbour across to the boats.

The two photos below are taken at the east end of the harbour and the perfect reflection in the 1st photo shows how calm the water became. There’s a hint of movement in the water in the 2nd photo and the wee boat looks isolated. This is because all the small yachts that lie in the harbour in the summer have been removed for safety. I like the way the harbour walls are reflected in the water in the 2nd photo.

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Calm day at Dunbar Harbour

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Calm day at Dunbar Harbour

The next 2 photos are taken at the castle end of the harbour. In the first photo, the reflections look as if they might come from an impressionist painting e.g. the squiggly lines in the castle walls’ reflection. It was a cold day but the colours in the boats and in the fish boxes on the quayside inserted a warm feature into this walker’s experience. In the both photos, the castle ruins still show the white patches left by the nesting kittiwakes, who visited in the summer. The kittiwakes have featured on this blog more than once e.g. here. In the 2nd photo, the wider angle shows the castle ruins and the narrow entrance to the harbour. Another unusual feature of this visit to the harbour was the absence of birds on the water, as you often get small groups of eider duck. On this RSPB site, you can listen to the gurgling, whoo-hooing of the eider duck, and you can usually hear this from the harbourside.

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Fishing boats near Dunbar Castle

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Reflections of the ruins of Dunbar Castle

Having made lentil and vegetable, tomato and lentil, and parsnip and pear soup recently, I thought that it must be the turn of minestrone. The term minestrone comes from the Latin minestra meaning soup with pasta (and/or other ingredients) and one as a suffix meaning large, thus giving us a soup with big vegetables. The soup is mentioned in a cookbook by Apicus (the whole book from Project Gutenberg here) published in 30CE, so it has ancient traditions. You could spend the rest of your life looking at the myriad of minestrone recipes on the web i.e. almost anything goes as long as you have vegetables and pasta in it. Almost all recipes include tomatoes. Today, my minestrone has a large leek, 3 stalks of celery, diced turnip (aka swede) and carrot, dried basil and oregano, a tin of tomatoes, 2 tbs tomatoes puree and a litre of chicken stock. I put a little oil in the bottom of my large soup pan and added the basil and oregano. I then sweated the leeks and celery, and added the turnip and carrot until it looks like this:

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Sweating the vegetables in the making of minestrone

I then added the tomatoes, tomato puree and broken spaghetti, brought it  to the boil and simmered it for c20 minutes. I always find that you should never eat minestrone soup right away – let the flavours develop for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight. You can then have a colourful, tasty and winter warming soup which served up will look something like this photo from last year. Have it for lunch with crusty bread and if you are lucky like me, go for a walk along to the harbour with your camera afterwards.

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A plate of minestrone soup with basil leaves

Dunbar harbour (again) and Abbey St Bathans

August 25, 2015

There’s a biblical saying indicating (roughly) that there is no end to the making of books and there is no end to me taking photographs of my local harbour, which has featured a few times on this blog e.g. here and here. One reason for this is that the light is never exactly the same at Dunbar harbour, the tide is never at exactly the same height and the boats and yachts in the harbour are never exactly in the same place. These most recent photos were taken on a cloudy evening although there was enough light from the west to illuminate the water and enable the reflections to appear. The sounds of the harbour are always changing and the most significant recent change has been a dramatic decrease in sound as the calls of the kittiwakes no longer pierce the evening calm. The birds which nested on the castle walls ( see my photos) since April have gone back out to sea until next year.

Dunbar harbour on a cloudy evening

Dunbar harbour on a cloudy evening

Reflections in Dunbar harbour

Reflections in Dunbar harbour

Creels, yachts and castle ruins at Dunbar Harbour

Creels, yachts and castle ruins at Dunbar Harbour

It’s been a good few years since we ventured to Abbey St Bathans. From Dunbar, this is a pleasant drive – and a hard cycle run because of the many hills encountered. There are some nice walks from where you park near the bridge which is part of the route on the Southern Upland Way, a popular walking route.

Southern Upland Way signpost

Southern Upland Way signpost

The fast flowing Whiteadder (pr Whittader) River flows through this hamlet and there is a swinging bridge upstream which was built by the Gurkas in 1987. The church (good photos) is famous for being built on the site of a 12th century abbey.  Nowadays, there is a trout farm and a restaurant/gallery along the road from the church.  Over the road is an extensive sawmill – an unusual sight in the 21st century – but it gladdens the eye to see the piles of tree trunks sculpturally assembled across the mill yard. There is also always a lovely smell from the drying logs.

Whiteadder River at Abbey St Bathans

Whiteadder River at Abbey St Bathans

Sawmill at Abbey St Bathans

Sawmill at Abbey St Bathans

 

Lisa Hooper, Start the Week and Dunbar harbour (from the west end)

October 2, 2014

At the weekend, we paid another visit to the excellent Waterstone House in Aberlady, to see an exhibition of original artist’s prints by Lisa Hooper. This is a varied exhibition, not just in the wide variety of birds on display, but in the different techniques that Lisa uses to such striking effect. The techniques, including Japanese woodblock and paper batik, present the viewer with a range of effects, including some which make the birds stand out on the canvas. This exhibition has some stunning works, such as Pinkfeet Rising in which the artist presents three pinkfooted geese taking off against a background of stark black trees and a harvest moon. Lisa has kindly sent me 2 photos of her work, Pinkfeet Rising and Oystercatchers and these are shown below. There is a new book by Lisa Hooper – First Impressions – and my wife has bought it for my upcoming birthday. As with my other bird books, I will put the book on a small lectern and turn a page every day. I find that doing this – rather than having the book lying on a table – means that I go through the book slowly and pay more attention to the individual paintings. If you can’t get to the exhibition, visit Lisa’s website and of course, buy the book!

Pinkfeet Rising by Lisa Hooper

Pinkfeet Rising by Lisa Hooper

Oystercatchers by Lisa Hooper

Oystercatchers by Lisa Hooper

Now that it’s October, some of the radio programmes which have had a summer break are back. One of my favourites, which I listen to (safely) as a podcast while out cycling, is Start the Week.  The programme has a theme each week and typically features authors who have written books on the theme. This week’s programme (available across the world, not just in the UK) featured guests Karen Armstrong, Justin Marozzi and Christopher Coker who discussed war and religion e.g. is religion to blame for most of the wars in history or is religion used as a cover for the power hungry? There are no right and wrong answers and the listener is presented with a variety views, which may or may not influence what s/he thought about the subject prior to the programme.

My wife and I regularly walk  to Dunbar Harbour, as it is just along the road from our house and I’ve featured the harbour many times on this blog. What we don’t often do, is cross the harbour bridge which separates the harbour from Lamer Island, and walk along the north side of the harbour. You get a different perspective on the harbour from the north side and, looking back from the end of the pier, just across from Dunbar Castle, you notice that the small yachts in the harbour are facing you directly, and that you can see past the harbour, giving you a view of the Lammermuir Hills. The photos below show the harbour at its best – on a warm, sunny September evening.

Yachts in Dunbar Harbour

Yachts in Dunbar Harbour

Dunbar Harbour and bridge

Dunbar Harbour and bridge

Dunbar harbour and Lammermuir Hills

Dunbar harbour and Lammermuir Hills

Craning day, cycle route and Ben Waters, and Bert’s Bar

April 13, 2013

This morning, I walked along to Dunbar Harbour to see the biannual craning day. In the spring, the yachts are craned into the harbour and in the autumn, they are craned out, as the high tides in winter could cause damage. Organised by Dunbar Sailing Club, craning is an elaborate process of fixing straps to the yacht, rapidly painting over the gap left by the supports, holding the yacht with ropes at either end, and steering the yacht over the harbour. Photos 1-3 below show the spectacle.

Out on my bike yesterday, for a 27 mile (44K) ride and a fairly hilly route after the first 5 miles, to Cockburnspath (pronounced Coburnspath or Co’path), up the Abbey St Bathans road, up the hill to Oldhamstocks, then another hill as you leave the hamlet, on to Innerwick and then up a big hill to The Brunt farm, then (thankfully) down Starvation Brae (Photo 4) and back home against a cold east wind. On the bike, I was listening to, amongst others, Ben Waters’ Boogie 4 Stu. Waters is a fabulous piano player in the boogie woogie style and he features heavily on the alblum. There are also tracks featuring Mick Jagger singing Bob Dylan’s Watching the river flow and the final track is Ian Stewart (to whom the album is a tribute) sings a great version of Bring it on home.

On Tuesday, my pal Roger and I had our monthly meet up and we’ve been trying out food and beer in a range of pubs in Edinburgh. We started in Teuchters for lunch and some excellent Timothy Taylor Landlord beer. Across the road is Bert’s Bar where we had the tasty April Theses. This bar has several exhibits relating to the law on the walls, as well as account books from the pub dating back to the 1940s, so it’s an unusual bar and well worth a visit, although I’d avoid days when there are rugby internationals in Edinburgh.

Craning day in Dunbar harbour

Craning day in Dunbar harbour

The yacht is strapped up and ready to lift.

 

Craning day in Dunbar harbour

Craning day in Dunbar harbour

Swinging the yacht over the harbourside

Craning day in Dunbar harbour

Craning day in Dunbar harbour

Lowering the yacht into the water

 

Looking down Starvation Brae

Looking down Starvation Brae