My Amazon Author Page

Find my Amazon author page via this link

"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
"A fun and spooky read..."

"The characters are so involving and
loveable that you do want them to really exist. It does read like you've
stumbled across someone's long lost diary from and alternate timeline/universe.
I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Do Made-up Characters really exist?

...or are they figments of your imagination?  Well of course they are.  But do figments of your imagination exist, in and of themselves, independently, once they have been released from your brain?  Do they shop in Aldi and worry about the gas bill?  Or do they move from your brain to mine, becoming figments of 'my' imagination, vile and dreadful thing that it is?
And where does the phrase 'figment of your imagination' come from?  Who 'coined it', to 'coin a phrase'?  Who coined the phrase, 'to coin a phrase', and should they be hunted down and destroyed before they do any more damage?

Friday, 21 August 2015

Nine Thousand Cigarettes - a new Sea Penguin story

 nine thousand cigarettes on amazon

Here is the link or click on the picture.

I don't know what to say about this one, except that it features Tuppy, Geoffrey, Tuppence, and the Tupfinder General (pictured on the cover - and like all of the other e-book covers, it's from an oil painting by Barry Nicol) so I'll just provide a few quotes and you can decide whether you'd like to read more.

'There we were, mano a mano, on a reef in the middle of an orca-infested Bay on a moonlit night at high springs.  Oh how I loathed these beastly life or death occasions.  Usually I got rid of "problems" with a sneaky dead-leg at a suitable point on a breezy cliff-top walk, but not today.'

'I followed his gaze shore-wards.  Sure enough, the cliffs were alive with the red glow of dozens of night vision goggles, binoculars and spyglasses of all descriptions as the denizens Hereabouts rushed to catch a glimpse of the Muthatrucka.'

'"But how do I know that THIS isn't a dream, Geoffrey?  I'm starting to believe that the world is all an illusion - everything - not just the nice parts.  The whole lot is a construct of our conscious and unconscious drives, needs and desires.  MY conscious and unconscious drives, needs and desires!  I'm still stuck on that reef with the T-G and the tide coming in, aren't I?  Tuppence didn't rescue me at all, did he?  I KNEW it was out of character,” I fumed.'

At 99p you might as well have a look...mightn't you?!

Find the other FIVE yes five volumes, here on my Amazon page.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Barleyfield (5)

I keep photographing barley fields - I'm fascinated by the way they look - the way the barley moves with the wind, like the sea - and the variety of plants they contain, especially around the edges.  I only wish I could get a picture of some of the creatures that must live deep within them.  I saw a huge hedgehog the other evening but it was too dark to get a photo.
At the moment it's wonderful to watch swallows and martins skimming the barley at top speed. They'll be gone in a few weeks, and so will the barley...
Till next year.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Art Work for sale

 lobster for sale in etsy shop

Please see a few new items for sale in our Etsy shop (link also via the widget at the right hand side of the page).  I'm especially fond of the lobster.  It's painted in oils on a piece of pine wood, then varnished.
They're all painted by BW Nicol, who also did the art work for my e-books.
Find my e-books here on Amazon -  a new one is on the way!  I'm thinking of putting it on Smashwords as well as Amazon this time.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

In case anyone's wondering what I'm doing at the moment - I'm very busy, writing a story and tidying up a new Sea Penguin e-book for publication on Kindle or somewhere.
So please bear with me.  I'm still reading, going for walks and will post some thoughts and pictures soon.  Or, find me on Twitter.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

I wrote a piece for The Scottish Book Trust's 'Journeys' project, for which anyone could submit anything, basically.  This is about the process of getting older, and how memory and perception change, and I wrote it very quickly, the night before the deadline, so as you can imagine it 'could be better'.  Here's the link.
I don't do well, writing to a theme or for a deadline or a publication.  It puts me right off my stride. This one's especially bad because it was written so quickly, and it sits among others by people who've been to all sorts of exotic locations doing all sorts of exciting things.  Cringe.
However there it is.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Animals vs Humans

'I want to go and stay on the Wintry Isles.'
'You don't know what you want.  You're too little.'
'I'm not too little!  You weren't saying that when I smuggled in extra baccy and drink for you five years ago (as detailed in Sea Penguins One to Five).'
'No.  Well, that was different.  I'm a better person now.  And besides, you're going to have a Named Person-style Guardian soon and I want to keep on the right side of them.  No more smuggling for you.  And no more piloting planes, firing pistols, or staying up late playing prog rock on the Moog synthesiser (again, I refer you to Sea Penguins one to five for details of all these appalling exploits). It's warm milk and early nights from now on, young man.'
'But I'm forty six...'
'That isn't humanly possible.  You were only born twelve years ago.'
'I'm not human.  And neither are you Uncle Tuppy.  We're animals.  And as I read in the Daily Record problem page last week, anything is possible.'
'Humans are animals too Tuppence.  The same as us.  They're just too egocentric to realise it.'
'It was something I read somewhere.'
'In the Daily Record problem page?'
'On the back of a cornflake packet then.'
'No.  They don't have such things on the backs of cornflake packets any more.  It's all E numbers, fat content and warnings about sugar diabetes.  Anyway, wherever it was, I'm pretty sure that someone somewhere once said that we have souls, and free will, and self-consciousnesses. We're as human as they are.  Unless I imagined it.'
'I thought you said we were animals.'
'Yes.  We're animals, just like humans are.'
'You're making it worse now.  Anyway,  I know what you mean.   At least I think I do.  Or at any rate I don't care any more.  Can I go and stay on the Wintry Isles now?  I might find Unkle Funkle.'
'Oh all right.  It'll probably be best for all of us.'

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Today's Walk - in the Spooky Woods

Foxgloves and ferns in the shade of a beech tree

An old aluminium tea pot - looks like someone's used it for target practice

A fairy door at the base of an oak tree

Family of fungi
Ferns (obviously...)
An ornamental horse chestnut, pink candles falling

Yellowhammer - in the fields on the way home - one of my absolute top favourite birds

The thing about woods is they can be a bit spooky, and I definitely had the feeling when picking my way through ferns and nettles that it would be a perfect place to hide a body - if one was so inclined.
Lots of pretty things around - tall foxgloves, ferns, a fairy door in a ornamental horse chestnut, broken in half by a storm, but still in flower...all of them emanating just about the right amount of the 'uncanny' to make you feel that perhaps you might not like to stay around after dark.
Besides, there was plenty of evidence that 'others' used the woods.  Broken bottles, spent cartridges, a teapot with holes in...I thought I hadn't lingered long but when I got home I realised I'd been away for nearly three hours.

In other news...I'm working (very slowly) on a story that I plan to submit..somewhere. It's about half-finished.  I'll also do a Tuppy and Geoffrey blog post very soon, perhaps this evening.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Grammatical Anomaly - 'oaves'

Vis a vis my previous post - is 'oaves' the plural of 'oaf'*?  And if not, why not?  'Loaves' is the plural of 'loaf', after all.
It's an anomlay anomaly and I think someone should be Doing Something About It.  Not me, obviously.

*of course it isn't. I know that.  I'm not stupid**.

**actually, I am quite stupid in some ways.  And even stupider in others.  

Monday, 8 June 2015

Bedwetters and Brainless Oafs

'Dark skies over yonder, Unkle Funkle.  Hoist the main-brace and crank up the -'
'Thar she blows!  The Great Whale of the West!'
'That's not the Great Whale of the West, you blind fool. That's Mrs T-G, sunbathing on the Fulmars' decking.'
It was half past ten on a Tuesday morning, and already Tuppence was raving.  His Unkle Funkle obsession was well out of hand.
He'd stormed in at eight, demanding rum, and wearing a patch over his left eye and a fake 'peg leg'.  Receiving the reply that we hadn't got rum, we'd only Madeira, and precious little of that due to 'austerity cuts', he'd stormed out again till ten, spitting over his shoulder as he went, and cursing horribly.
'Best ignored,' I said to Geoffrey, 'Like most things in life these days.'
 We then had our usual 'triple bacon' sandwich, accompanied by five cups of tea and an argument about pigs, and why it was OK to eat them and cows, but not OK to eat sheep or horses.
'It's because we don't know any pigs personally,' explained Geoffrey, wiping some red sauce from his snowy white breast feathers.  'I'd never eat a sheep, because I know one, i.e. YOU, personally.  Just as you'd never eat a gull, because you know one, i.e. ME, personally.'
'True.  We don't know any cows - oh!  Except Mr Spockfingers.  But he was a Highland cow and perhaps - '
'PerHAPS you should enlarge your circle of acquaintances,' snapped Tuppence, who by then had reappeared.
'And perhaps YOU should keep a civil tongue in your head and lay off the rum.'
'Why on earth should I listen to a pair of old bores like you?  You're not experts in anything.  You've no moral fibre.  You're fat and lazy. You're failures in every possible respect.'
Geoffrey began to sob.  I knew Tuppence had hit a nerve; Geoffrey lacks my capacity for denial.
'It's true Tuppy!  We ARE fail - '
I interrupted, shaking my head and gesturing for him to be silent.  'Easy to criticise from the dizzy heights of youth Tuppence. What are you an expert in, then, other than catapults, bed-wetting, and raspberry chews?'
'I was not criticising, merely suggesting.  You brainless pair of oafs.'
'Well!  Unkle Funkle must be turning in his grave.  He'd be shocked to his marrow if he heard your cheek.'
'Two problems with that last statement Uncle Tuppy.'
'Oh really?  Do pray continue.  I'm all agog.'  I yawned in a faux-theatrical manner.
'I fully intend to continue.  If you'd stop interrupting and yawning in that pathetic faux-theatrical manner.   Firstly, Unkle Funkle was unshockable.  Secondly, he was stone deaf, so even if he had been shockable, which as I've already said he was not, he could not have heard you. Or indeed me.  Thirdly - '
'TWO problems you said.  Now it's three all of a sudden...'
'Is it?  Oh.  I can only count to two.  Being young and all that.  Anyway - as I was saying - '
'Oh DO hurry up.  I've sausages to fry.'
'All right.  Thirdly - he's not dead.  Ergo, he is incapable of turning in his grave.'

more later.

Here's a link to my Amazon page and more Tall Tales

Friday, 5 June 2015

Today's Walk....

Oak trees.  Willows.  Alder.  Elm.  Birch.  Sycamore.  Comfrey.  Hawthorn. Wild campion.  Butterbur. Cow parsley.  Wild garlic and buttercups galore.  So many plants and trees growing wild,  all around this area at the moment.  And still the weather feels brutal - fire on at night, hot water bottles, winter duvets.  There aren't many bees or butterflies to be seen.  Plenty of swallows and martins however - a delight as they fly low and fast as one walks, unbelievably skillful, missing one's face by inches.  A few swifts.
I still have not had a really good osprey sighting this season.  I saw one fly from the nest at Loch of the Lowes, but I don't count that, as I was watching from the hide.  A properly satisfying sighting has to be unexpected and completely in the wild, not on a reserve.  For me, that is.
The weather is fine further south, but here, it remains 'unsettled'.

Monday, 1 June 2015

My Current Reading Material.

I just finished Calcium Made Interesting, by Graham Chapman (previously mentioned).  It's good late-night reading, because it doesn't tax the brain, and you can also flick through it and read random bits that catch your fancy.  I expected it to be like A Liar's Autobiography, which I loved, but it isn't really.  It's much more lucid.  Essays, fragments, jottings, ideas.
Anyway, I liked it, and I expect I'll read it again.
I'm now well into West's World, by Lorna Gibb - a biography of Rebecca West, and quite enjoying it, despite the slating it received in the Guardian .
So many biographies these days seem to be badly written and edited (if edited at all).  It's so difficult to get published in the mainstream press, and yet they churn out that kind of shoddiness.  They seem to think that a famous name on the cover will draw people in (it often did me, till I became more wary) and that quality is not important.  It doesn't make sense to me.  Ripping off readers, that's what I reckon.
I wouldn't say the West book is on that level at all.  It seems OK to me so far - but having read the Guardian review, I'll reserve final judgment till the last page.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Near Home

Went for a walk.  Icy wind.  Snow on the hills.  Feels like March.

Trying to organise an assault on the editing of the Sea Penguin e-books with a view to doing a print version in one volume.  Finding it very tiresome and boring, but I will persevere.
Thanks to whoever recently bought all five of them - much appreciated.  Someone from the UK, but beyond that I've no idea who.
Trying to organise writing time - difficult at the moment.  Ah well.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A Couple of Short Walks.

Looking over to Forneth House

The island, Loch Clunie

Reeds, Loch Clunie

A lone swan by reed beds, Loch Clunie

Horse Chestnut Candle

Approaching Loch Clunie

A wander by a familiar haunt,  Loch Clunie.  Hoped to see an osprey - didn't. It was sunny-ish, but very very cold for May, and I was tired, so I didn't linger.
I did see a Great Crested Grebe, and a swan...
Next day we walked by Loch of the Lowes; in the fields were several pairs of lapwings (more than I've see in years), and numerous brown hares,  with swifts, martins and swallows flying across.  All wonderful to see.  I also observed a little grebe in another loch, and quite a few tufted ducks.
Still no ospreys.
But it's only a matter of time.
By Loch of the Lowes

Loch of the Lowes

Ferns unfurling

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Tuppence reads - Wise Words from Unkle Funkle...

...he of the Wintry Isles circumnavigation fame.  Or notoriety.  Or infamy.  Or nothing at all.  Whatever.

'What are you reading,  Tuppence?'  Imagine him, reading, I thought.  Him!   Of all people!
'Don't you mean 'HE' of all people,  Tuppy?'
Geoffrey was at the mind-reading again.  Tiresome at times*.  'He of all people? Does that sound right to you Geoffrey?'
'Well, it sounds about as right as 'him' of all people.'
'Are you talking about me, you fools?' said Tuppence, glaring at us over his golden pince nez. Not that he needed 'eyewear' of any type.  His vision was perfect, even at night. Convenient for his exploits with the rats (see e-books for details).  The pince nez, therefore, were a mere affectation.  A phase.  Next thing will be tattoos I imagine - ghastly depictions of his fave prog rock stars, such as Rick Wakeman and Mont Campbell of Egg. 'If so, 'he' has got a name.  And I'm  reading Unkle Funkle's Diaries.  I found them wrapped in oilskin in a rusty tartan tin under the stairs, along with a packet of Lipton's tea, three tins of rice pudding and a Kendall Mint Cake wrapper with a use by date of June 3rd, 1920. The tin was labelled 'KLEENING MATERIELS' - that's why you wouldn't have ever opened it.  I only did cos I was bored and looking for - well, anything really.  But preferably cash.  The Diaries are ever so interesting Uncle Tuppy.  I think he went completely insane from time to time, what with the sea water drinking and the unfortunate incident with the albatross and all, but in between bouts of madness he made some useful observations.'
'Oh yes?' said Geoffrey, settling down and fluffing his feathers on his favourite end of the  mantlepiece.
'Such as?'  I said.
'Such as never work for a living, if you can possibly avoid it.  And if you must work, never ever work for someone else as an 'employee'.  Especially not in catering. He wrote that bit while employed as cook on the clipper 'Violet Carson', tacking round the Cape of Good Hope.'
'Well before he found the Wintry Isles then.'
'Yes.  He didn't like working as a cook.  He jumped ship in South Georgia and made a raft from balsa wood and a sail from his erstwhile cook's apron, and steered north, by the stars.  Only he went south, due to the prevailing winds and his getting mixed up with the northern and southern hemispheres and stuff.  And he ended up at the Wintry Isles, with a case of rice pudding, a pound of Lipton's tea and five bars of Kendall Mint Cake to see him through six months of Antarctic darkness.'
'Did he ever regret chucking his job in?'

*useful at others

Monday, 11 May 2015

Today's Walk, and other things - a field full of dandelions

Won't be long till the hawthorn - or 'May' - is out

Tortoiseshell butterfly

Dandelions galore

A day of heavy, blustery showers, and occasional sun.  This seems to be a very good year for dandelions.
I've had an idea - a 'writing idea'....more about this later, I hope.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my new book - Calcium Made Interesting, by Graham Chapman, mentioned previously.  It's the kind of book you can dip into.  An entertaining read.  Tales from the 70s of Keith Moon,  Harry Nilsson and so forth, and all pretty much as one would expect, if you have any knowledge of the era. Drinking exploits, often at the expense of hotel managers, which must have seemed hilarious at the time, but which now seem really self-indulgent, not to mention highly destructive and dangerous.  Doors blown off their hinges because gin didn't arrive on time, for example.  But that's me speaking from the dizzy heights of well-into-middle-age.

In other news, two more 1p. books have arrived:  The Haunted Hotel, by Wilkie Collins, and a biography of Rebecca West by Lorna Gibb.  Both look good.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Today's the Ardle

Weather's pretty grim again and we didn't go far afield.  A stroll by the river Ardle at Bridge of Cally.  Lots of moss.  Lots of very old yew trees.  Plenty of swallows,  building nests in a stable.  A dipper flew across just below the bridge, and then on our return, we saw a grey wagtail flying downstream, flicking its tail as it went from rock to rock.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Book of the Week, or 'This Week's Book' - Calcium Made Interesting, by Graham Chapman

One of my recent Amazon 1p. purchases just arrived.  I've had a quick look and I'm not disappointed.  Well, at 1p. (plus £2.68 P & P) how could I be?
Graham Chapman is one of those few who stride courageously into the outer reaches of the ridiculous, and then stay there, poking around, wobbling on that thin wire that separates comedy from disintegration and nothingness, beyond the point when it would have been sensible to leave.  I think you have to do this if you want to understand Life.  Or perhaps (probably?) you don't.  Who knows?  At any rate, it's one approach, and that is his appeal, for me.
I'm expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did 'A Liar's Autobiography'.
I like all nonsense writers and one that I'm currently investigating is Edward Lear.  I'm planning an Amazon 1p. browse later today.  If I find anything that grabs me I'll let you know.   Meanwhile, here's a link to an interesting short biography.
Runcible spoons all round.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 65, Rebecca West

Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 65, Rebecca West

Very interesting.  I like Rebecca West a lot, or used to - I haven't read her for many a year. I have several of her books (The Fountain Overflows,  Cousin Rosamund, among others) and I've now ordered a biography from Amazon.  I badly need some fresh reading material.

I've also ordered another Graham Chapman book, Calcium Made Interesting, because I enjoyed A Liar's Autobiography so much (see blog posts about this from, oh, goodness knows when...).  And The Haunted Hotel, by Wilkie Collins, which also sounds pretty good.

Meanwhile I'm re-reading Titus Groan.

I might give my verdict on these at some point....although, why I should bother I don't know.  Who's going to be interested?  They aren't new books, and so many others have written about them already.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Monday, 20 April 2015

Do Animals Have Souls? (part 2)

'So Uncle Tuppy.  Five years ago you set off in the coracle to free a boatload of lactating ewes held captive on a prison ship (please see my five e-book tales on Amazon, if you want to know more). Now, you're wolfing down your third bacon sandwich of the day, and wiping grease off your chin. Isn't there some kind of APPALLING CONTRADICTION there?  In short, aren't you a hypocrite?'
'Well, I - '
'Let me complete my train of thought before you start with the weasel-worded reply. You're not only a hypocrite - you're a PSYCHOPATH,' Tuppence continued, folding his arms. 'You're devoid of compassion and moral integrity.  You've a black hole instead of a conscience.'
'That's a nice thing to say to someone who bought you Thomas the Tank Engine pyjamas for your birthday.  And a Smartie pencil case.'
'You're not even attempting to defend yourself.  You're resorting to feeble sarcasm and personal attacks.'
'Isn't that always the best way?'
'It's lazy.  Where are your facts?  Your counter-arguments?'
'I have none.  I admit everything.  I saved the ewes because I could.  I eat bacon because I can.  They sell it shrink-wrapped for one ninety-nine a packet off the back of the grocer's van.  It would be rude to say no.  I'm human, therefore I'm fallible - what can I say?'
'You've said plenty.  And you aren't human - as well you know.  You're a sheep.  You're supposed to be a herbivore, yet you eat dead pigs. What's wrong with you?'
'I don't know.  I'm weak. I know that what I'm doing is wrong. I don't think of bacon and sausages as being real.  They're like biscuits or crisps...'
'Oh shut up. I wanted a proper argument with dialectics and everything. But all you can do is waffle about crisps.  No wonder I'm delinquent.'

Sunday, 19 April 2015

This Morning's Conversation - Do Animals Have Souls?

'Not till I've had my second cup of tea.  How many TIMES?'
'Ooh testy.'

Tuppence is out of the sweat lodge (please see previous posts for details*) and is recuperating** on the sofa by the fire in our 'house'.
Well, I call it a house but that's a very loose term really.  It doesn't conjure up its ramshackle walls, the hole in the wall that we use as a door, or indeed the 'tarp' roof.
But regular readers will know that.
'Bear Grylls and that other outdoorsy fat chap off the telly would love it here,'  enthused one of Val's yurt guests recently, as they peered through the hole in the wall while wandering past on one of her 'guided wildlife excursions'. 'It's perfect. Not a single mod con in sight.  Mind you I couldn't cope without underfloor heating and a rainforest shower.  I couldn't actually LIVE here.'
'You're so right!' cooed Val obsequiously, 'It's a pastoral idyll, perfect for de-stressing and taking a break from the pressures of city life.  At least that's what I've said on my website.  Mind your step on the sheep muck Demelza. You don't want to get that on your Crocs.'
'Ray Mears?' sneered Tuppence, throwing a used hankie at them, 'He's not outdoorsy.  He uses stock cubes for Christ's sake!'
'Oh my god - is that a talking sheep?' gasped the yurt guest. 'I thought it was a rug.'
'Yes.  And here's another one for you - bigger and ten times uglier,' I snarled, 'Now sod off and let us have our breakfast in peace.'
'Any minute now...' said Tuppence, struggling to his feet and dusting the biscuit crumbs off his britches.
I knew just what he was about to do.   He was about to...
'Fetch the shotgun Tuppy!' cried Geoffrey, flying in. 'Fetch it now, and blast them to smithereens!'
'Where's smithereens?' said the yurt guest. 'Val - where's....'
But Val had fled.  She knew us of old.
'Oh no.  My Crocs...'
Tuppence leapt through the hole in the wall and seized the yurt guest by the 'bingo wing'***.
'You're our guest now...' he smiled as he deftly roped her into the wooden rocking chair by the fireplace. 'Now,where were we Uncle Tuppy?  Something about animals having souls, wasn't it?'
'Oh yes.  But that can wait.  Let's have a bacon sandwich.  I've not reached full cogitation strength yet.'

*there aren't any
**eating biscuits
***the bit that really hurts when you grab it

I've five e-books all featuring the same characters doing various things - find 'em on Amazon here.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Today's Walk - down the road a bit.

A field near my house.  I expect it will be built over before long.

Ivy - reminds me of an enormous shaggy dog.

Dandelions very pretty just now.

Two among many abandoned bags of dog muck.

Great tits, blue tits, and goldfinches flitting from tree to tree.

A stroll down the road before tea.  Beautiful sunny evening.  Won't be long till the hawthorn comes into flower.  Meanwhile everything is in bud and the birds abound.  The trees by the burn were alive with robins, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, and goldfinches, and rooks and crows flapped and cawed away in the field.  I haven't seen any green-finches yet.  Usually there are quite a few.  No song thrushes in evidence, either.  I'll keep looking.
If I'd walked a bit further I'm sure I'd have seen yellowhammers and buzzards in the large field at the bottom of the road.
As I stood and watched a blue tit perching at the top of a hawthorn tree and the blueness of the sky beyond I felt the beauty and privilege of Life.  And then you remember the dark side and the pain and the wars and the awful suffering, and you wonder what on Earth's it all about.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Today's Walk...a wander around the Pass of Birnam

Dunkeld from Pass of Birnam

Looking east, towards the Sidlaws

Looking south, towards Fife and the Lomond Hills

Everything's looking greener and birds very active.  We had a wonderful view of a red kite coming up above the near horizon and then soaring above the trees around the back of Birnam hill - and a possible two others, although we couldn't be sure as they were moving fast into the wind.  We had a clear view of its pale head, beautiful under-wing markings and distinctively forked tail.
Bright sunshine for much of the afternoon, interrupted by a brief snowstorm, and some rain.  It was very windy so the weather blew across quickly.
We parked on the Dunkeld to Bankfoot road in a muddy layby about fifty yards or so above the signposted walks to Byres of Murthly (on one side) and Birnam hill (on the other).  Plenty of room for three or four cars.
First we walked to Byres of Murthly and Pass of Birnam - a pretty woodland walk by a burn with nice views towards Dunkeld when you get to the top.  The path seems to peter out there and it's a bit overgrown generally, so we retraced our steps and then walked up towards Birnam hill.  We didn't proceed beyond the fence by the woods, and just stopped to enjoy the view towards Fife (see bottom photo).
We'll return another day to tackle the hill itself.  I've been up it a few times but it's quite steep and I really have to be in the right mood.  The views from the top are marvellous, but not sufficiently marvellous to motivate me today.
On the return drive home I was excited to see a pair of lapwings displaying over a field where I know they regularly nest.  Just the one pair though, and it's been the same for the past several years.   There should be lots more. Lovely to see them but how sad that they're in decline.