Random things in May

The summer season has meant new responsibility this year at home, and we’ve been happy to take on a few tasks around the house and garden to ease the load a little for our host. My chore—I say chore, but it’s an enjoyable change from digital work—is to keep the three lawns trimmed and I certainly got well into it in April and May, when the rain and sun led the grass—and clover—to grow at a rapid rate of knots. With at least two cuts per week, I’m pretty proficient at it now, and I enjoyed allowing some of the grass and wild flowers to remain, in order to allow the bees and insects their fun.

Aside from pottering around at home, I finally got to enjoy a small hike near Beatenberg, taking in a longer loop than usual at Chüematte, which I’ve been meaning to do for a few years. Part of the route, amongst and over the knotted roots of Scots pine, was one I’ve done a couple of times before, but the gentle up-and-down was preceded by a moderate slog up the gravelled track from Oberbugfeld.

Garden and lawn at Faulensee
Freshly-mown lawn, with some wild flower patches left over to encourage the insects and bees
Self portrait at Chuematte
Hiking at Chuematte – the white hairs in my beard are coming along…
View from the dentist in Spiez
Visiting the dentist isn’t fun, but the view’s quite good

May also saw another trip to the U.K.: after a short visit to the south of England in April, we flew to Scotland to visit family and managed to stop off in some lovely bits of the countryside en route. Tarbat Ness lighthouse, surrounded by gorse in full bloom, was a must and I also enjoyed the sea haar drifting across the fields near Portmahomack, where we stopped off for coffee and cake with a view of the sea. Taking a few hours for myself to do some photography, I forewent the more obvious destinations in eastern Scotland and headed to the wide glen of Strathmore, just south of the Angus hills, and took a lovely walk around the edges of some fields, photographing the oilseed rape and the wide-reaching views. It’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve been to Glenisla, so I also went for a poke about and enjoyed the different landscape there, featuring the same wonderful yellow gorse I’d seen further north, but more interspersed with lush green fields and rolling hills.

Lighthouse at Tarbat Ness
Gorse in full bloom at Tarbat Ness
Disused house in the Strathmore valley
Derelict cottage with huge views across the Strathmore valley
It’s been many years since I’ve been to Glenisla, and the changeable weather and lush green fields welcomed me

Whilst visiting family in Perthshire, we took advantage of a few local beauty spots to visit the small town of Dunkeld, on the banks of the River Tay, as well as the dam and fish ladder at Pitlochry and the nature reserve at Loch of the Lowes. The latter destination was ostensibly to see some osprey—which we did, albeit at a distance with binoculars and a spotting scope and on a webcam at the visitor centre—but the most excitement for most visitors was the sight of a pine martin taking advantage of a squirrel feeder next to the visitor centre.

Back in Switzerland, my photographic focus was on the seasonal flowers: a drive over towards Zurich took me into the woods at Sihlwald to photograph the wild garlic and revel in the wonderful smell. A week later, and we headed north-west instead of north-east to photograph a wonderful poppy field in an area to which we return quite regularly, near Lac de Neuchâtel.

Dunkeld bridge
The bridge over the River Tay at Dunkeld
Loch of the Lowes
Ostensibly osprey-watching at the Loch of the Lowes, with everyone being excited about seeing a pine martin at one of the feeding stations at the visitor centre
Wild garlic in Sihlwald
Wild garlic in the woods at Sihlwald
Poppies in north-western Switzerland
Acres of poppies in French-speaking Switzerland

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