Sunday 23 July 2017

Scotland by Rail - Ayr - Maclaurin Art Gallery, Tam O' Shanter, Laura Marling

An afternoon trip to Ayr, departing Burntisland 10.44am, arriving Ayr 1.53pm. Glasgow in the evening for Laura Marling.

The journey from Glasgow Central to Ayr is interesting (they all are) for its initial view over the River Clyde as your train exits Central Station, its views of old industry, of rolling farmland, of the wildfowl havens around RSPB Lochwinnoch (swans, goldeneye, mallard, tufted duck...), then coastal Irvine, Troon, Prestwick, Ailsa Craig far off, Holy Isle and Arran even further beyond that.

on-train sketches, pen in sketchbook

on-train sketches, pen in sketchbook

Reaching Ayr we refilled flask at the on-platform coffee booth then explored to the shore, knowing the right general direction but not using any map. A great sweep of sand runs off to the south ending in cliffy Heads of Ayr and the Carrick Hills above. The tower ruin of Greenan Castle is tempting me back.

The Ayrshire Coastal Path is here, running south to Glenapp and north to Largs. We followed only one of its eighty or more miles, a substantial path through remnants of scrubby dune. My first singing stonechat of the year was there in the gorse. A female was close by, closely watching her potential mate.

looking to Greenan Castle

Greenan Castle, pen in sketchbook

there's a stonechat somewhere in there

A stream crosses your path just after a lovely area of boggy grassland on your left. Go upriver here with stream on your right, new houses on your left. Birds were singing loud, telling that spring had sprung. Greenfinch, goldfinch, chaffinch, sparrow, thrush, robin. The little path emerges onto a busy A road - A719. Cross over and straight into the woodland of Belleisle Estate and golf course.

Coming soon to the currently fenced grand house pass behind it to an obvious signposted path leading over the golf course to another busy road, B7024. Cross the road and enter the next wooded estate - Rozelle. In here is Rozelle House and Maclaurin Art Gallery and tea rooms. The gallery was the reason we'd come to Ayr, to see Alexander Gaudie's seriously impressive series of 54 large-scale paintings depicting Robert Burns' Tam o' Shanter. You can see the whole collection in a very nicely presented book published by Birlinn.

Upstairs was a smaller exhibition of Alexander's son Lachlan Goudie's work, a small selection of local history exhibits and a small Henry Moore bronze.


Rozelle House

After the exhibition we explored Rozelle Park woods then back across the golf course and to the station, this time meandering along residential streets, enjoying discussing hedges and hedge choices and lamenting the spots where they've been replaced by fence, slab, gravel.

While we're at it, planting a hedge is a really valuable and satisfying thing to do for nature, have a go, ideas here. Why not Take the Hedge Pledge each March to August. Encourage friends and neighbours to do the same.


Glasgow - Laura Marling

In the evening we were at the O2 ABC in Glasgow seeing Laura Marling touring her new album Semper Femina.


How to get there

Trains to Ayr take about an hour from Glasgow Central and run half-hourly. For full details check 'Ayrshire, Inverclyde & Stranraer Timetable' and 'Buy Tickets' options on ScotRail website.

Many thanks ScotRail for enabling my Scotland by Rail work.

Sunday 16 July 2017

New greetings cards available.

Four designs - mix and match, choose your favourites
- 14x14cm, 330gsm card, includes white envelope small enough for Royal Mail Letter.
- blank inside for any occasion. Short artwork description on reverse of each card.

4 cards = £6
8 cards = £12
12 cards = £15
20 cards = £25

+ UK postage & packaging £2 per order

Pay by cash, cheque, online transfer, PayPal. We aim to post cards within two weeks of your order.

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Crossing the Atlantic on honeymoon we watched whales and dolphins almost every day. 
I was with my watercolours in the lookout when this humpback appeared, rising gently 
three or four times before flicking its tail to the vertical and diving from sight. 
- July 2016, Queen Mary 2, New York to Southampton.

Guillemots are found nesting on narrow ledges in colonies all around Scotland's coasts. 
They, along with their relatives the puffin and the razorbill, are one of many seabird 
families threatened by dwindling fish stocks and increased coastal storms.

On the beach below my mum's caravan crows search for shellfish. 
They grab a shell, flap upwards with it then drop it onto rocks, trying to get at the treasure within. 
It usually takes several attempts before the shell cracks.

At this spot on the Aberdeenshire coast I see peregrines almost every time I visit. 
This adult lay in the shade of a cliff overhang as I sketched. A peregrine falcon performing 
its vertical hunting dive or 'stoop' can reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour!

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