I visited friends this weekend in Aberdeenshire, NE Scotland. It was lovely to see them, married a week......they offered great bed and breakfast!
On the way home I stopped by a couple of National Trust Castles for a visit. The good thing about volunteering with the National Trust is that if you do 48 hours a year you get a volunteer card that gives you free access to National Trust properties across the UK, so popping in for a quick visit is never out of the question.
First I went to Craigievar Castle, the perfect fairytale castle, a tower house, with pink harling (almost like icing on a cake, used to protect the stone from the harsh Scottish weather - and a traditional building style here in Scotland), built in 1610. It's been closed for a couple of years as the harling needed replaced, but finally on the 4th of June, the scaffolding was taken down and the castle re-opened.
After a quick wander round the grounds I moved on to the more visited Crathes Castle. It is one of Scotland's best preserved castles and has the most amazing walled gardens, with its world renowned June border (the most amazing herbacous borders - one a riot of colour and another more stately white) and beautiful woodland. I spent almost an hour in the garden - the borders, the trees, the topiary yew hedges.....all amazing.
The castle with the famous June border in the foreground.
A close up of the border, a mass of flowers and a palette of colours.
Poppies and lupins.....some of my favourites.
I took off on one of the woodland walks that surround the castle and didn't see another soul as I meandered through the trees, listening to the wind whipping by, everything bright and green - so many shades of green.
I drove home over the Cairn-o-Mount road, high up into the hills, past the large round cairn that has stood atop the hill for over 4000 years, though many of the stones have probably been added by generations of travellers. It was windy, but I stopped and took a walk so I could photograph the swathe of bog cotton, the white cotton wool balls on stalks blowing in the wind.
Back, closer to home I went to the strawberry hut to get my weekly supply of local berries - the sweetness of the Ava strawberries is something! Then on to the farm shop and to stop by a local graveyard, to see what appears to be the smallest, most perfect church in the world, but is actually a mausoleum. I have driven past it often, but never walked up to it.