Overcast and dull countrywide. (big sigh). Yet more grim weather. What`s a poor boy to do? Tisk tisk.
Should I go up a hill,almost crawling on hands and knees in these windy times to enjoy a grey, cold, soggy upper world.
Does a puppy eat its own poo? No thanks.That's not me...and I so totally don't go there.
Luckily at this time of year I knew of a place where sparkling sunlight pours out of the ground.
...no, not Iceland...that`s red lava and big bucks just to get there unless you are Julia Bradbury and can fly there for free.
I was off to that other exotic location much nearer to home,though in the distance it did have tongues of flame lighting up the sky. ( Thats Grangemouth and its gas flares :)
I was off to Airth near the Kincardine Bridge and in particular The Pineapple,an extraordinary summerhouse built in the shape of this fruit and now used as unusual (and fairly remote) holiday lets.
It was built in 1761 by the 4th Earl of Dunmore.There is nothing else like it in Scotland,perhaps even the world.He had returned from the Americas where pineapples at that time were given as a welcome.They must have made a big impression,both on him and on the poor craftsmen building it,dutifully trying to replicate his wishes.
Although its good for a trip in itself (small car park,well signposted.Can also visit Callendar House in Falkirk same day) the main reason I was here was to tour the area on my bike as the Pineapple sits bang in the middle of the Golden Lands.The Wizard of Oz brought to life.
A flat fertile carpet lies between the River Forth and the Falkirk uplands.In spring huge fields of oil seed rape (Canola in America and Australia) cover this landscape.Another experience I didn't want to miss.They dont have rape fields in the west.Its too wet. Alex couldn't have picked a better time to hurt his foot :) Incidentally, my hopping mad buddy will be saying when he sees this... "No you fool! Not another bloody flower post! Get back to the hills man! " Well, it takes all sorts.....he`s a hill guy through and through.Nothing else matters in his world.
Alex reminds me of a guy I went climbing with in the Vanoise (French Alps) years ago, part of another mountaineering club two week holiday trip. He was a founding member of the crowd going and a real alpha male type.
"Hey! What gives with all the flower pictures.Are you a soft boy or something?"he asked suspiciously.
I`d taken 200 odd shots of shark fin mountains,crevasses,gorges ridges and rivers in this superb area and it was just three photographs of an alpine flower meadow that finally caught his attention.
I looked at him with amusement.You cant really explain to someone if they don't have a feel for what your looking at through the camera.They might as well have been invisible.His eyes were only fixed on the mountains.
Over the next few days he seemed to change his mind though once up on the hills as we were tied together on a rope and I was jumping crevasses with abandon.It still wasn't complementary though....
"That guys a nutter! He`s gonna die soon and he`s gonna take me with him into a crevasse!
I`ve never been that great with heights but on the flat I`m totally fearless.Like totally man :o)
We got on fine after that.
Anyway a good cycle can be had on the quiet lanes around here,as long or as short a trip as you want.You can also park at Plean Country Park nearby.
I`d timed it just right.Sheltered,warm, lush and bathed in a honeyed shimmering glow with the cloud shrouded Ochils a looming reminder or where not to be today.
The perfume of the flowers hung everywhere in the lanes and fields.My kind of soft fluffy heaven.
That reminds me.....did you know honey is just regurgitated bee sick! Its true! Have fun with that thought as your munching it next time :o)
Skylarks and yellowhammers trilled in the meadows,two rare birds nowadays.I discovered several off road rights of way starting near the Pineapple going right through the rape fields so a circular walking tour of the area is also viable from this car park.Best at this time of year though.
All in all a fantastic riot of colour for the eyes.Sit back and rest easy hurt skippy,my limping buddy.....the blog is safe in my hands....next week....a tour of homes and gardens in the suburbs.....and an appreciation of Katy Perry videos......
Only joking...Next week will be back to real adventure....I promise ...a one off spectacular.
I returned via Airth which has some nice old buildings and this church.From the top of this graveyard it was a dirt track canter back to the car. I put a pound in the honesty box (honest) then had a walk around the walled garden .This has a variety of fruit trees in the enclosed central meadow with numerous old fashioned flowers and shrubs around the interior walls.Not many orchards left in Scotland sadly.
A nice relaxing day out.
As there were road works all the way back along the M80 I opted for the A811 via Stirling and Killearn to get home.Another lucky pick with some great views and smooth unhurried driving.
This was a nice country garden passed . Another flower picture :)
And a view from the Distillery at Dumgoyne which still had busloads of visitors at 7.00 pm at night.
Well it is a short season.
Fear not adventure seekers....next week there is plenty of hard action involved.
But will it be about hills?.......Aye theres the rub........keep working in the healing jelly onto that damaged leg Alex....only you back on your own two good feet can stop me.