Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Adders and detractors

A couple of weeks ago the Braemar bus left us by the side of the road (we'd asked to get off - we hadn't been thrown out), a mile and a half from Muir of Dinnet nature reserve. The walk, despite that lazy Scottish rain that simply hangs in the air waiting for you to walk into it, was very beautiful, through birch woods in all their spring purple-red, the bracken tawny beneath them, and extraordinary bracket fungus on pale, dead trees (it actually kills them, and then when the tree falls over it slowl rotates itself until it's the right way up again - rather creepy).

We were there to look for adders, but rainy days don't suit them. We did see a few toads, handled feather-light fistling cast snake skin, and examined the preserved corpse of a young adder that had tried to bite the head off a lizard. The lizard, rightly affronted, chewed its way out the back of the adder's head before dying of the adder's poison - the adder, naturally, did not survive the escape attempt.
Well, it was a good walk but damp, while next day was rather fine and found us in the David Welch Winter Gardens in Aberdeen, a small but perfectly formed set of glass houses where my companion went a bit mad with the camera. The adders would have preferred the arid house.

Despite my aversion to warm, wet weather, I love the tropical house even as my hair frizzes sky high.

I'm not sure the camera will recover, though! In the temperate house everyone can relax,

and count the terrapins - always more than the last time.

The houses are connected by splendid Victorian style floral corridors,

while outside, there is a Japanese garden with haikus cut into the granite paviours.

There's also a slightly exposed bird's nest!

You can tell there's not much writing being done this week, though I daresay my brain needs a break. No.3 Cat didn't help by bringing in a lively blackbird with a broken beak - it died after we finally got it out of the house and was sprawled on the front path for us in the morning - and Sunday lunchtime found me kneeling by the side of the road wrist deep in black mud between parked cars, rescuing a bundle of ill-judged frogspawn from a shallow puddle. Irritatingly the same thing had to be done again today - persistent but dim hen frog!

No.3 Cat was given a collar with a bell. His response was to return with a magpie.

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