August break Day 31. ‘August was…’ filled with friends old and new. Richly blessed with laughter, kindness and renewed or growing companionship. It has been a busy and happy month.
Today is the last day of the August break picture project: tomorrow is the beginning of September, and the day our boys start school again. Our elder is beginning senior school, and our younger is thus facing his first year of boarding without his big brother. We are all feeling a little wobbly about the new challenges ahead for each of them. Fingers crossed.
August break Day 29: ‘Listening’.
Our town held its annual Highland Games yesterday. One of the most hotly contested competitions is the piping, especially the piobaireachd (or ‘pibroch’ in the Anglicised spelling), which is the classic, centuries-old music of the great highland bagpipes. Here are two judges listening to a competitor playing his piobaireachd variations.
The piping competitions go on all day, with different tunes weaving across each other from the judges’ huts dotted around the edge of the Games field. I always make a point of listening to some of the playing, as does my other half: it was when I first him playing a haunting piobaireachd, one Hogmanay, that I began to fall in love with the man who is now my husband.
August break Day 20: two
Playing catch-up, between visitors. Last week we took our friends down to the river on a sunny afternoon. While adults chatted over the remains of the picnic, we watched the children dibbling on the edge of the water. Skimming stones, catching minnows: it didn’t matter that the two of them speak different languages – everything is better with two.
August Break day18: ‘Look up’.
This was taken looking up the massive trunk of a Wellingtonia or giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in the grounds of Blair Castle in highland Perthshire. Although not especially big by the standards of its species, the trunk still needed five people to stretch around it touching fingertips.
As a friend observed, this combination of big trees and a castle might seem like a bit of a busman’s holiday for us: we have a family of Basque friends staying, however, and so are trying to show them some of the highlights of our part of the world. And great fun it is too to be a tourist in someone else’s castle, admiring someone else’s trees, with no responsibility for either!
You might enjoy The Tuesday tree: planning for the future.
August Break day 14: my favourite smell.
I thought this would be so hard to choose: apple blossom, warm cinnamon, log fire, roses, lemon zest, seashore…but the answer came decisively. My favourite smell of all has to be English lavender, fresh from the garden. What’s yours?
Regarding apple blossom in the garden, you might enjoy Seeing this, who could blame Eve?
August for many families in northern Europe means summer holidays. Buckets and spades on breezy English beaches; the Grand Départ from Paris to the coast; boat trips, festivals, lazy days and sunburn. Aah, bliss.
In Scotland, on the other hand, August signals the end of summer. We had our wonderful seaside holiday in July: back home, the beech trees are yellowing at the tips as the sap falls, the rowan berries are reddening and the state schools are going back a week today.
Yet our southern friends are in the middle of summer, so we have had a flurry of phone calls and emails from people who are going to be in Scotland in August as it happens, and might they come and stay for a few days…? Yes, is the answer if at all possible: August is thus a busy month for us. With my elder son is starting at his new senior school at the beginning of September, I also have forms to complete in the morning and nametapes to sew on in the evenings, trying to fit the necessary admin around guests and their needs.
For these reasons, I don’t imagine that I’ll have much time to blog this month. Author Susannah Conway has come up with an inspiring answer to this common summer difficulty. Taking part in her ‘August Break’ means following an informal list of prompts for posting daily photos with minimal commentary. There’s absolutely no chance I’ll manage to post on a daily basis! I’ve been joining in a little bit, however, in a haphazard way, so I thought it might be fun to share whatever I manage from now on here on Dancing Beastie. As I say, with house guests lining up for the rest of the month I will manage only the occasional post, but I think it will be fun even to manage something rather than nothing. If you would like to join in too, her list of prompts can be found on her blog here.
Yesterday’s prompt was ‘Talisman’. For me, it had to be deer. I took a photo of a cushion on a window seat, which caught the sun’s rays in an extraordinary way, lending the printed stag a slightly trippy, otherworldly look. Quite appropriate to the prompt, I thought.
Today’s prompt was ‘Edge’.This made me think of paper – edges of pages – and also tables…both from trees, which made me think…I guess this is cheating a bit as it’s an old photo, but a favourite: the edge of the wood, my favourite beech wood where my favourite dog is buried. The trees lean out into the pasture, and the sheep and cattle shelter under their branches.
I hope I’ll have the chance to add a few more as the month goes on. Please do let me know if you are following the prompts yourself!
You might enjoy Late summer in the garden.