Posted by: christinelaennec | July 1, 2015


Happy July, everyone!  Today we are finally having a summer’s day, with warm sunshine.  Yesterday it was warm and cloudy.  The Dafter has been going through a hard patch of being even more ill than usual, but I managed to get her out in the car, and we went for a short walk in Mugdock Park, to the north of Glasgow (in the town of Milngavie, pronounced Mul-GUY).  The pond was so still.  The reflections were beautiful:

Mugdock Park, Milngavie, 30 June 2015.

Mugdock Park, Milngavie, 30 June 2015.

In following Katharine Stewart’s A Garden in the Hills, I missed her essay of June 23rd.  It is fascinating, because she describes going for a walk on a midsummer’s evening – and falling asleep outdoors.

“I wander on, all sense of time forgotten, tiredness gone.  The night air is scented with bog myrtle.  Suddenly, there’s the sound so seldom heard these days – the vibrating sound of snipe rising. … It brings back memories of the days when all this ground was alive with birds – with nesting curlew and plover, with redshank, mallard and oyster-catcher and all the small summer birds.  Now the pattern of cultivation has changed so drastically we are deprived of these lives.

I reach the woodland by the loch. … I sit down in a natural hide of fallen branches.  The water is calm, reflecting the last tinges of yesterday’s sunlight, as today’s moves imperceptibly round by the north, hardly fading in its slow course. …

There is a certain eerieness about the water, lying there so still in the half light.  Could this be the calm before a storm?  I remember how certain of the older folk were reluctant to pass by the loch after nightfall.  Was there a kelpie lurking there in the peaty depths?  On this particular night the supernatural seems incredibly real.” (p. 85)

Boscobel rose, my back garden in Glasgow, 30 June 2015.

Boscobel rose, my back garden in Glasgow, 30 June 2015.

I know a man, now in his sixties, who says he saw a kelpie, or water-horse, while hill-walking.  Who is to say such things aren’t possible?

Tilly has the same slightly spooked feeling in the garden at 8:30 at night.  Do you see her looking back at me for reassurance?  The rest of the time she peered into the hedge.

Tilly keeps an eye out.  My back garden, Glasgow, 30 June 2015.

Tilly keeps an eye out. My back garden, Glasgow, 30 June 2015.  8:30 pm

Katharine Stewart fell asleep there by the loch.  “I draw a deep breath and close my eyes.  When I open them again the whole sky is suffused with pale pink light.  The water is still dark and smooth but, close at hand, a ripple is emerging.  Moments later a small dark head appears.  A miniature kelpie?  Of course not.  A sleek, dark body scrambles ashore and makes for the sandy patch where a burn enters the loch.  Totally unaware of me, the otter searches about for his breakfast, uttering soft whickering sounds, as though calling to his family.  …   As I reach the house the sun is climbing steadily into a sky that changes almost imperceptibly from pink to pale green, to deeper and deeper blue.  I look at the clock.  In human time it is still only a quarter past five.”  (p. 86)

Peony 'Kansas', my back garden in Glasgow, 30 June 2015.

Peony ‘Kansas’, my back garden in Glasgow, 30 June 2015.

What a beautiful experience to have!  If it were me, sitting out by the loch all night long, I would have been bitten to death by midges.  I am being bitten just out in the garden in Glasgow.  That sometimes happened in Aberdeen too.

Katharine Stewart wrote on the 1st of July, “A glorious morning leads in the month” and it is the same today.  After discussing her vegetable patch, she writes, “One wild flowering I’m missing this year is the white, silky heads of the bog cotton in the damp ground by the loch.  Some years it’s like a huge drift of snow.  A bunch kept in a waterless vase will last two winters through.  In older times the heads were used as stuffing for pillows.”  (p. 88-89)

Maybe it’s as well that every year gives us slightly different gifts, so we can appreciate what we might otherwise not.  The West Coast of Scotland has been so very wet this spring and summer, perhaps there will be plenty of bog cotton?  In another month we are due to go to the Isle of Harris as a family for the first time in four years.  I do very much hope the Dafter’s health will allow us.  Here in Glasgow, my rain gauge tally for the first half of 2015 is at more than 20″.  Is that a lot?

I wish you all a very good start to July.  It’s the full moon today, a propitious time.  Make a wish!



  1. I am praying that you get your family holiday next month and that all will be well with the Dafter. We are planning to go in September although we haven’t booked anything yet.

  2. Such pretty flowers. Sorry that your daughter is feeling poorly. Glad to hear she was able to get out for a drive. I so much enjoy your posts.

  3. Is 20 inches of rain in the first half of the year a lot? Well as some comparison, in Sydney, Australia where I live we’d expect about 25 inches, on average, in that time. Sounds OK to me.

    One thing which is definitely a difference between Glasgow and Australia is that over here a kelpie is a sheep dog!

    I hope the Dafter improves soon. You’re all very much in my thoughts.

  4. Beautiful pictures. Love the little lake. Your garden is wonderful. We are in that NorthWest heat wave and all lawns are dry, flowers aren’t fairing so well, at least for those who are concerned about the incredibly low levels of lakes and rivers. Hottest June on record. 96f in my town today, hit 100 this past Sat. I absolutely love Summer, but more like 70-80;s
    Hope the Dafter has a short set back.
    Take care.

  5. Well I was all involved in enjoying the romance of her nap outside until you reminded me of the midgies although mosquitos are what like to plague me 🙂 Your garden is looking so pretty and lush. I think you got some of our normal rain since we are already having to water here due to the lack of rainfall. I hope Tilly is able to bravely sally forth to enjoy your garden, without fear of intruders and I am praying you all will be able to enjoy Harris…and that Dafter feels better soon, Christine. xx

  6. I am so sorry the Dafter is having a bit of a down turn just now. Hoping and praying it is just a bump in the road and you can all enjoy your vacation to Harris. Such a wonderful thing to look forward to. I hear you’ve been having a bit of a heat wave this week. We are enjoying milder temps, which is really nice. Must get the garden spiffed up for the holiday on Saturday — having friends for a BBQ in the back yard.

  7. It was a glorious morning yesterday wasn’t it, and then a ridiculously hot day here in Wales.

    I’m sorry to read that your daughter is in an ME dip … I have the dratted dis-ease too so can sympathise.

  8. Thanks for all your comments! The Dafter has been getting out nearly every day, and although she is mightily fed up with being ill, she is still much better than in the past. She will build back up again, I know. I’ll keep you posted, and thank you so much for your thoughts, sympathy and interest.

    Lorraine, I hope you can get the ferries and accommodation you want on the islands. I couldn’t believe how popular a destination it’s become. The ferry I wanted to book coming back was already full three months ahead of time! We thus have to leave a day early, but I feel sorry for the locals.

    Lucinda, thanks for your kind words. I feel the old blog lacks sparkle these days but I still enjoy keeping it going…

    oldblack, that is hilarious, a kelpie who is a dog! Have you heard of the sculptures near Falkirk, The Kelpies? I haven’t yet seen them but I hear they are amazing.
    The Met Office tells me that average yearly rainfall in Glasgow is 52″ so I guess we are due some more!

    Paula, I have been following the drought in the Northwest and in California. Very concerning. I so much wish you will soon get rain.

    Heather, our “heat wave” is nothing compared to American temps! Mostly it has been cool and rainy, but yesterday it was perhaps in the low 70s, a lovely day. I hope you enjoyed your celebration of the 4th!

  9. J’espère de tout coeur que la santé de votre fille va s’améliorer et que vous pourrez tous passer de bonnes vacances le mois prochain.
    J’habite au bord d’un lac… mais un lac du sud, beaucoup moins mystérieux que celui que vous évoquez si bien. Pas d’esprits autour de lui mais de plus en plus de gens venus de très loin pour trouver ce qu’ils cherchent : du soleil ! Chaque soir il faut paser beaucoup de temps (j’aime le faire) à arroser les plantes qui luttent contre la sêcheresse… l’été dernier c’était tout le contraire. Il faut savoir vivre chaque saison.. Bonne semaine à vous Christine et si possible aussi à votre fille.

    • Merci beaucoup, Annie. “il faut savoir vivre chaque saison” – il y a beaucoup de sagesse dans ces mots!

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