News From Angus Whitson,
Scotsman, Countryman, Writer
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Just a busy month
Goodness, it's a month since I last blogged. It's so easy to start something like this with a flourish of enthusiasm and too easy to find excuses for not keeping up the activity. And it's been an interesting month that I could have shared.
I like good paintings - the sort where I know what the artist is painting. Liz and I went to an exhibition in Kirkcaldy Art Gallery of William McTaggart's paintings. There's a sort of a family connection there as McTaggart's second wife was my great-aunt Marjory, who was the eldest daughter of Joseph Henderson another painter and close friend of McTaggart.
Went through to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow to see the exhibition of the Glasgow Boys who outraged the art establishment of the day by having the audacity to paint outdoors, painting real people in real life. I love them because I can see what they are painting. You can't miss opportunities like these because the difficulties of putting together exhibitions of this stature means they are not going to be repeated in my lifetime.
I had a semantic tussle with myself about harebells and bluebells and which is Scotland's more representative flower. I decided it had to be the harebell, but it's interesting to note that a box Scottish Bluebell matches (made in Sweden, please note)has a spray of harebells decorating the lid.
We're having lots of fun watching the squirrels which come to the feeding stations outside our kitchen window. Four visit regularly, and there's also two or three woodpeckers which are really bonny birds. Some pundits say you shouldn't feed peanuts to birds, especially in the breeding season, because they will feed the peanuts to their chicks whose digestive systems can't cope. I've seen no reduction in young song birds and garden birds following their parents to the feeding stations, so I'm inclined to think that the parent birds feed themselves on the nuts but forage for easily digestible insects and bugs and creepy crawlies fopr their chicks.
You can't arrange some sights in nature to order. Walking with the dogs down the side of the River North Esk I stopped to watch a run of seatrout leaping up the waterfalls known as The Loups (Leaps) on their annual migration to the headwaters to spawn. They hurled themselves through the rapids in a series of spectacular leaps to reach the calmer water and the next step on their journey to the head of the glen.
Was at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in in Charlotte Square Gardens. Saw and introduced myself to Martin Bell, former BBC war correspondent and independent MP. Also Jim Naughtie whose cheerful tones wake us up most mornings. You can look on those folk from afar and wonder what they are like. Or go and talk to them and find out they're no different from the rest of us. If I sit on a tin tack and they do too, we'll soon realise the meaning of an early spring!