It's not often I set off from the house on a quest but this was one. After watching several programmes on TV recently where they had images of "Spring," rapeseed fields featured occasionally as a vivid emblem of that season which got me remembering my post from a couple of years ago when I cycled around the sunshine drenched fields around Arith and The Pineapple Monument.
I hadn't been back in spring since to that area so I thought it was time for a return visit. A cycle trip round the Oilseed fields to drink in their glorious colour and perfume and capture their vivid glory.
Alas when I got there all that awaited me was dull green fields. No rapeseed anywhere. No Mellow Yellow to lift my heart. I was crestfallen when I remembered that farmers have to rotate crops and can only use fields for one variety for a certain length of time before they have to change the yield to something else. Everywhere I looked no Oilseed fields in sight. It became a quest for the sun on planet earth as I knew they had to be hiding somewhere in this region. This is Scotland's Golden Triangle after all- the country between Glasgow and Edinburgh hemmed in by the modern boundaries of the great loop of the M9 and the M8 always has these vibrant yellow fields in spring. They never grow on the west coast in Scotland but only on the drier uplands and the eastern side of the country which gets half the rainfall. But where were they this year?
As I drove around the Falkirk and Airth area not one spot of yellow winked back at me apart from one small field which was hard to reach with no available parking anywhere near. I was wasting precious petrol on my quest and my meanness chip could only take so much before it melted as I circled back and forth across roads and landscape that stayed stubbornly green.
Disgusted, I cut my losses and headed for Beecraigs Country Park where I knew at least there was good cycling to be had in a rolling upland landscape.
ALL PHOTOS BEST VIEWED FULL SCREEN
A short guide to Volcanic Edinburgh here when lava flows covered the land around for miles in every direction.
Cheered up by being in a good area I parked the car in one of the many car parking spots here beside the large restaurant at the top of the hill then got out the bike.
It was warm, humid and murky with the threat of a thunderstorm hanging in the air and visibility was down to a couple of miles in the gloom yet it was only 10:30am.
A view across the meadows of Beecraigs towards Binny Craig. Highland Cattle here.
Cockleroy, Cairnpapple, The Riccarton Hills, and the Knock make up some of the summits of the area and all are interesting in a geological sense as well as a visual one. What caught my eye however was a distant glimpse of gold sparkling in the landscape and my original quest was back on. Like any prospector after treasure I was back under the spell of Gold Fever! After giving up all hope of finding them I had stumbled across my oilseed fields. Serendipity has been a good friend of mine since early childhood and she always comes to the rescue when you least expect her to make an appearance.
Oilseed rape fields sparkling in the late May heat haze. I was glad I was cycling as it was sweltering and muggy despite being early in the day but at least I was generating my own breeze. I think in the USA, Canada and Australia this stuff is called Canola and is a familiar sight there as well. As its a good cash crop in the UK there has been an increase this year as crops in parts of Europe have failed due to bad weather making our own fields more valuable. Good article on that here.
and got stung about six or seven times before I managed to outrun them with superior pedal power.( In all seriousness I wouldn't have liked to have been walking past with young children as there was no way to avoid this blizzard of bees.) Travelling through a visual wonderland has its own special dangers it seems. Certainly puts the Bee in Beecraigs.
To be continued.....
Video this week is a vintage classic from Alex Harvey. It's an old Jerry Reed standard called "Amos Moses" and a beguiling tale of a one armed alligator hunter in the deep swamps of Louisiana. What I liked about Alex Harvey was his background in blues, musical theatre, rock, his love of cartoon and comic book characters and his ability to blend all that together in a stage act with a great band of top musicians that could play in any style required.