Today’s guest picture is the last from Dropscone’s highland holiday. It shows the
Whaligoe Steps near Wick, a man-made stairway of 365 steps that descend to what was a naturally formed harbour between two sea cliffs – once a landing place for fishing boats. Crews of women, some in their early seventies, would gut the fish and carry them up the steps in baskets to be taken on foot to be sold in Wick, some 7 to 8 miles away. Dropscone points out that not only did he climb down the steps but he climbed up them again as well, though he wasn’t carrying any fish.
I got this story from the great man himself when he appeared at the Information Hub in the Market Place this morning, having safely returned from his trip. I was there giving out information to visitors and actually had visitors from Colorado and Australia to give information out to. As they were both looking for the Armstrong Museum and my helpful information was that it is now closed, this wasn’t perhaps my finest hour. Still, it was nice to chat to Dropscone again.
It was another cool but very good day with plenty of sun to go round and when I got home, I nodded to a jackdaw…
..and then I took a walk round the garden.
Then it was time for lunch.
After lunch, I mowed the middle lawn and sieved a little compost, checked on the clematis….
…and then went upstairs to get changed for a cycle ride.
I made the mistake of lying down on my bed for a quick minute to get my breath back after all that excitement and an hour later I was finally on my way.
I did a regular 20 mile circuit down to Canonbie and back and took my time because although my legs were quite happy to pedal along the flat bits, any small hills brought out a lot of complaints. It was a lovely day for a pedal though.
When I got back, I had a last walk round the garden where I looked up to a see a sparrow in the elder.
…and over the fence to see a rowan tree in a neighbouring garden with a full complement of berries still on board.
And then it was time for a shower and tea.
After tea, a good day got better.
It turns out that I been totally wasting my life hitherto by not going to see Norma, the opera by Vincenzo Bellini.
Luckily the Buccleuch Centre was showing a screening of a production from Covent Garden tonight and Mrs Tootlepedal and I had decided that it might be worth a visit to see what it was like.
It was heaven.
The lead role was sung by Sonya Yoncheva, who was entirely unknown to us both but who was absolutely made for the part. Bellini’s wonderful music poured out of her in a golden torrent, her tone and vocal control were astonishing, her presence was formidable and her acting was excellent. I think that she might be the best opera singer that I have ever seen and I have seen a good few famous ones in my younger days.
The tenor lead, Joseph Calleja also sung very well indeed although the fact that he only had one expression, that of a pugnacious bulldog, did marginally lessen the impact of some of the more tender scenes. The director did his very best to spoil things by a really wrong headed take on the piece and a glacial pace in the second act but even his best endeavours could not put a dampener on our delight.
We have had a wonderful week of performances at the Buccleuch Centre and we never cease to marvel at our good fortune in having such a place within a few minutes walking distance from our door.
The flower of the day is described by Mrs Tootlepedal as “one of those things that you buy for a hanging basket”. It is in the chimney pot under the feeders.
The flying bird of the day is a sparrow on the up.