Monday, March 30, 2009


I'm enjoying Matter at the moment. Banksie has revisited ship naming, of which he is a master. I particularly liked the Ned-speak Pure Big Mad Boat Man.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fife coastal walk: 6

This stage doesn't start out as much of a coastal walk, thanks to RAF Leuchars. The first task is to walk past the neatly fenced military quarters, bringing you up in front of St Athernase Church. That's genuine Norman blind arcading, that is.

If I'd known I'd have lingered longer, but I was itching to stretch my legs. After some slightly confusing signposting, I found myself walking across country rather like Suffolk, where I lived for some years. I say this because it was flat heathland with pine trees and sand dunes in the distance. And it was sunnier than Scotland in March usually is.

After walking past more perimeter fence of RAF Leuchars, I finally got on to Tentsmuir beach, and very fine it is too. There is a sense of space here that is utterly different from anything else on this already very varied walk round Fife. The military theme was never very far away though, as I could hear gunfire and occasional explosion during most of the walk. This came from the firing range at Buddon Ness, which is only a few miles away to the North across the Tay.

I settled into a steady pace, and headed North, passing the odd figure on the huge expanse of sand. After a bit, there was a somewhat greater concentration of people, clustered around the one access road that leads to the sea. I found this relative crowd quite heartening: it all seemed very British in its determination to enjoy the North Sea in March.

I thought the beach section would be the slow part of the day, but it passed fairly easily (I'm talking subjective time here--you know how some bits walk themselves and others drag). It wasn't long before I was watching some seals lazing around on Abertay Sands. There's an awful lot of sand in this corner of Fife. In fact, this section of coast is growing at a healthy rate. I cut across the dunes and came across more tank traps. It turns out these were constructed on the high tide line by Polish forces in 1941. The sea is to the left in the photo below.

By this time I had turned my final corner. As at Fife Ness, the vista swings round and we're on the Tay. All that walking on sand had taken it out of me though, and the section round to Tayport felt like a real task. Also, my idea of cutting across the mudflats was not a very good one. But there we are, all the best walks should have an ill-considered section.

Let's end with more bridges.

From Newport-on-Tay I caught a bus into Dundee and refreshed myself with Irn Bru, then caught a train home. I realized that, oddly, I'd never been on the Tay Bridge before. From the train, you can see the piers of the original bridge (the one that memorably blew down in 1879) poking out of the water.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fife coastal walk: 5

Partly because of the amount of golf on this stage of the walk, and partly because of the indifferent weather, I didn't take many pictures of landscape. So I thought that this time we'd do some nature study instead of a travelogue.

I've always loved lichens. That sounds a bit sinister, but they are odd things: not-quite-plants that change and soften the appearance of a lot of objects in the landscape. I've no idea what species these ones are, but they form a fantasy landscape of their own.

I can't remember ever seeing fungi like this before. If anybody knows what kind it is, let me know.

I do know that these are winter aconites, and very pretty they look too.

The Buddo rock looks incongrous and Dali-esque. Lapsed climbers like me will enjoy doing a bit of back and foot to reach the top via the cleft that runs through the rock. Pity it's full of bird shit.
All the pictures were taken between Kingsbarns and St Andrews. Next time, Tentsmuir Forest.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Signs and portents

This morning a heron flew past our office with a frog in its beak. The frog didn't seem happy with how things were going, and the heron couldn't seem to find anywhere to settle down and eat the frog.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I don't normally do this, mind, but last night I went to see a film based on a comic book. The fact that the work in question is Watchmen made the decison much easier. It's pretty good. Zac Snyder (he of the visually interesting but silly 300) has put in a good effort and has managed to translate a lot of the long and complex original to the screen. In fact, over-faithfulness may be the main failing here. Many shots follow the original virtually frame by frame, which may please obsessive fan boys, but one suspects it may not get to the nub of what the whole piece is about. There is a lot to like though, including a brilliant opening montage sequence which covers forty or so years of alternative history, Kennedy assassination, moon landing and all. A small blow for male nudity on screen is struck by the inclusion of Dr Manhattan's cock (blue and glowing, of course). Perhaps inevitably, there are too many Hollywood conventions, including slow motion fight sequences, which tend to glamourise the protagonists too much. They are meant to be morally ambiguous misfits and losers, remember?

But don't listen to me. Check out what young Jimmy Critic says!