D and I are staying with our friend A in Hamilton while we wait to take up the lease in our new flat in Edinburgh. On Sunday we took an 8-mile walk around the loch above, in Strathclyde Country park. It’s an artificial loch, and somewhere beneath it is the rubble of a village and coal mine (I believe the same colliery that sank Hamilton Palace, displacing the dukes and duchesses forever more).
Under blue skies, Lanarkshire is in a different country entirely. What was this odd building? Something belonging to the council, mysteriously cordoned off to all but the birds.
Another feature of the loch’s artificiality, this overflow weir, feeding into the narrow river Clyde just across the road. The rhythmic surge made it quite hypnotic, while the pedalos added accents of rubber-duck yellow as their riders chased the birds.
The forested rim of the loch provided a break from the rare scorching heat ‘Taps aff’ weather, as people have started to call it. That’s weather that results in men taking their t-shirts off. Generally anything above 16C will lead to this in Scotland. Many women – white women, at any rate – by contrast turn orange overnight, either through tan beds or sunshine from the bottle. In the picture above you can see the opposite phenomenon – the forest floor turning fluffy-white with seed puffs scattered from some tree I don’t know the name of.
We also had a relaxing moment with some of these tadpoles – which always remind me of my childhood on Skye. In summer we would go and scoop up frogspawn to put in our repurposed paddling pool. Then peer over them, watching them grow from day to day.
I’m happily posting these pictures, though they give a slightly distorted impression of what our stay will be like. I have work through in Edinburgh, and a long commute of about an hour and a half (as opposed to my usual 25 minutes on foot). Most of the time we all be too tired to head out on adventures like this one. Though at the end of the week, something special – I turn 30 on the 16th of June. And D is in charge of events. I suspect a small adventure might occur then.
For the rest of the week I shall be digging into books on the long train journey. My friend P gave me a gorgeous hardback of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson in return for my battered ARC copy of the heart-wrenching The Light and the Dark by Mikhail Shishkin. I have been flying through it, as I do with Atkinson’s fiction – I think I’ve devoured just about every one of her novels, aside from the detective stories (crime fiction and I are not on speaking terms, generally). I hope to have a review for you of this absorbing slab of fiction in a few days time.
Until then – reading, working, living in A’s flat, and little writing at all until the move once again into a room of one’s own.