Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Hatton bridge is open!

Well, the Roads Department engineer promised that the bridge would be open in September and he was right.   The red barricades have been moved this morning, now stopping  cars and pedestrians crossing the temporary bridge and the Mill Bridge is open!

The final stages of the work on the bridge

The final stages of the work on the bridge

Inspecting the work.

Inspecting the work.

With wellies on, I took the opportunity to take a few photographs up the little burn that caused all the damage in the first place, enjoying the wonderful autumn colours just starting to appear, while some of the summer flowers are still in bloom.

The little geranium plants have had peace to grow this year on the banks of the burn, undisturbed by children's feet

The little geranium plants have had peace to grow this year on the banks of the burn, undisturbed by children’s feet

Crocosmia growing among the geranimums on the banks of the burn.  A perfect cikyr watch for the chestnut tree.

Crocosmia growing among the geranimums on the banks of the burn. A perfect colour match for the chestnut tree.


I am waiting with anticipation for the big chestnut tree to turn to golden red;  there are just a couple of branches at the moment.

The horse chestnut tree besdie Hatton Mill

The horse chestnut tree besdie Hatton Mill

The big horse chestnut tree beside the Mill Inn is starting to turn.

The big horse chestnut tree beside the Mill Inn is starting to turn.

A secret pace, a little further up the burn.

A secret pace, a little further up the burn.



It’s a dog’s life

I have been trying to take pictures of dogs recently.  My current assignment for the Camera School course I am following is to take an animal portrait.  I thought I would share just a few of the many pictures I have taken.   Last Monday, Lily and I spent the day with my son and his pack of dogs in Milltimber.   It was a glorious day, the sun as warm as in the height of summer.   Just the day to walk the pack and their guest along the banks of River Dee near the Culter bridge.

But I started off in the garden taking pictures of dogs sitting and standing.  Thank goodness Donald’s dogs are well trained and posed  for me.

Molly:  "I think this is my best side!"

Molly: “I think this is my best side!”

Molly is a natural model and will often seem to smile at you when you take her picture.



Meg, her sister has recently had a litter of 4 gorgeous puppies.   I tried to restrain myself and not take any puppy pictures that day.   I had taken plenty before, documenting their seven weeks of life.   But I could not resist following one little boy (still un-named) behind the garden shed as he explored the branches of the hedge.

One of Meg's  7 week old puppies

One of Meg’s seven week old puppies

Holding her favourite ball in my left hand while I held my camera in the right, little Midgie stood fixated, while I rattled off the pictures.  It’s cute the way she held up her front paw all the time.



The real challenge was when we let the pack run along the river bank.  You can see the joy in their faces as they run after their balls and race through the grass.

The race is on!

The race is on!

Shih Tzus are not really built for this sort of thing – stocky body and short legs.  But our little Lily enters into the spirit of the chase and tries to keep up with the big dogs.   I love the picture of her with her ears flopping as she bounds through the long grass.  Perhaps not very flattering, but fun!

Lily joins in the chase

Lily joins in the chase

But there is no way she will ever keep up with Bailey

Bailey sets off to chase his ball, with Lily in hot pursuit.

Bailey:  "I got the ball!"

Bailey: “I got the ball!”

Lily is not too fond of the water, but the others love it.  Just look at the splashes from Midgie as she scampers out of the water.


Midgie is a born swimmer. See how she is splashing the water with her tail

And as for Molly….I love the picture of her leaping out of the water with spray all around.  The bright sunshine on the river certainly added to the drama of the picture.

Molly leaps out of the wagter

Molly leaps out of the wagter

Now to choose which photograph to submit!

If you would like to see more pictures of my day with the dogs have a look at my Flickr page:


Season of sun and mellow fruitfulness

It was a beautiful morning today – more like summer temperatures, but certainly autumn in the hedgerows.  Lily and I went for our morning walk up the Auchlethen road to see what we could see.  The fruits in the hedgerows confirmed that it was autumn and a sheep with a crumpled horn watched us as we went past.




Rose hips

Rose hips


Time to gather the brambles?


Elderberries just on the turn

Ash keys

Ash keys

Conkers in waiting.

Conkers in waiting.


The teasles will stand straight all winter.
Thistle down

Thistle down

I thought the time for butterflies had passed, but a Red Admiral flew by and settled high on the withered branches of a Leylandii, posing nicely for the camera.


Red Admiral

The sun was just in the right position and I was able to capture the tower of the West Kirk, peeping over the trees, still in full leaf.  There are one or two spots from here which give a pleasing vista on the old church.  This was the place where I had earlier captured a midsummer sunset picture.


The West Kirk

There is just a hint of autumn colours in the trees.  I am waiting for the leaves to turn, hoping I manage to take some autumn pictures this year.  It just did not happen last year.  Winter seemed to arrive too early and autumn passed us by.  I am anxious to get a proper autumn picture for next year’s (2015) Cruden Country Calendar.




On my way home I noticed a beautiful red rose in Rowan Terrace, quite a contrast to the dandelion clock on the grass near bye – summer and autumn side by side.IMG_4658


And guess what was waiting for me in my own garden….a Red Admiral.  I wonder if it was the same one I had seen earlier.  It’s not all that far from the Auchlethen road as the butterfly flies.


Red Admiral

A wonderful year for butterflies!


The small Tortoiseshell is the most common butterfly in Scotland this year.

It’s official.  It HAS been a wonderful year for butterfies.  Day after day of sunny weather brought out the butterflies to gorge themselves on the buddleia in my garden. I remember there being lots of butterflies when I was a boy, but recently there just don’t seem to have been so many about.   And that was certainly my impression earlier this year [See Flower Portraits] But eve;rything has changed!

The annual survey carried out by the the charity Butterfly Conservation has confirmed my casual observations – the numbers in Scotland up by nearly two thirds on 2012.  The official result for Scotland lists the small tortoiseshell as the most common followed by the small white.  That is certainly true for Hatton.


Tortoiseshell in my garden in Hatton

Getting up close with my camera to these delightful little creatures has been quite easy.  And taking photographs has made me look much more closely at them than I had done before.   My star posers are the tortoiseshells who spread out their wings as they feed.  The small whites are much more coy, closing their wings as they land on a flower – not such a pleasing subject to photograph.


The summer sun illuminates the closed wings of the small white. (My garden in Hatton)



A somewhat ragged white on some thistles on the old railway line at Hatton



Small White in Anglesea

One exotic in my garden, or so one of my neighbours thought, is a huge blue butterly.  He could see it fluttering on the white cosmos blooms near my front door, a most unusual and unexpected butterfly for Cruden Country.   But I had to let him into a secret….it is solar powered and its fluttering is all the result of a little wire and an electric motor.


A blue “exotic”

The arrival of the butterflies made me do some research to try to identify the species.    I discovered that for 60 years I have been calling the tortoiseshells “Red Admirals”, never thinking to check.  However I did manage to photograph a true Red Admiral when I was spendning a few days in Angelsey this summer.  Again the lucious buddleia, a true butterfly friendly plant, drew him in and click went my camera.


A Red Admiral in Anglesea



Exploring black and white.

II am old enough (!) to remember when all photographs were black and white.  Indeed until I was in my 20s I mostly took black and white photographs, processing them myself wherever I could create a darkroom, blacking out the windows of the kitchen or bathroom with bin bags and old curtains.

Back in those days colour was expensive.   Slides involved the cost of a projector or peering at the slides through a small battery powered viewer – exciting when you could afford to do it.  And there was the anticipation of waiting for the pictures to pop through the letterbox in the yellow bag from Kodak.

The quality of colour prints was initially not very good and I avoided them – until the family arrived.   No time for black and white processing then and colour print film had improved.   My first photograph album of baby Donald, our oldest son was all black and white.   Then as the years went by I was won over to colour prints.

Then came digital photography – but that’s another story.  My initial resistance was  followed by a total conversion like most of the photo taking world.  You don’t even need a camera now, many phones will do it for you.

Photography has come a long way from its B&W roots.   What a joy it has been to rediscover B&W this month.  The current  project set for the Camera School Course I am following is to take a black and white picture, “filling the frame with an interesting natural or man-made pattern or texture”.

I have not yet decided which picture to submit, but below you can see my short list.

Harvest Tracks 1

The harvest is in full swing in the lovely sunny weather in Cruden Country.  I noticed these tracks in a field on the road to Clola.

Harvest Tracks 2

Harvest Tracks 2

Not all the barley makes it into the trailer.  These stalks of barley had been pressed down by the tractor wheels in the harvest field.


Straw Circle

Squaring the Circle

I have grown to like the circular straw bales in the harvest fields.  Perhaps not quite as picturesque as the stooks of my youth, but they can make a pleasing pattern in the yellow fields.  and when you look closely at them……

Straw View

Straw View

Or you might look over the bale?  Looking towards Auchlethen from a field beside the Hatton Straight.

Fascinating Stones

Fascinating Stones

I have taken several pictures of stones on the beach.  This was a collection of “fascinating” stones gathered by my granddaughter, Eira on New Aberdour beach, and helpfully soaked with buckets of sea water by her brother, Theo (I am the strongest man in the world!) The wet stones in the sunlight have a pleasing texture.

Rock Layers

Rock Layers

A project like this makes you look at detail you just take for granted.   There are some lovely rock patterns on Whinnyfold beach if you start to look for them.

Twisted Beech

Twisted Beech

I love to take the dog for a wee walk through the North Woods at Mintlaw.  t’s not a long walk, but the trees are lovely at any time of year.  I love this mysterious twisted beech tree.

Blowing in the wind

Blowing in the wind

There is something very attractive about Pampas Grass blowing in the wind.  But I have discovered they are not so easy to photograph because of the wind.  The fronds move about quite a bit and it is like taking a picture of a moving animal – difficult to get just the right picture in the frame.   You also need to make sure that the camera is set at a high enough shutter speed to avoid blur.   I took a couple of dozen shots of this pampas grass in Park View in Hatton and have chosen this one as the best.


The Road Home

The Road Home

I like this picture, but it does not really fit my brief.  It’s the road back to Hatton, just at the cross road at Newton Farm , near Lenabo.  The light was wonderful, the clouds just right.  it is a shame that the Council has not filled in the crack in the tar!  But I suppose you can’t have everything.