Warm winds from the south. Bright sun. Golden. A young man is ploughing the large field to the west. He climbs down from the cab and I introduce myself. He is shy and says nothing, climbs back in and carries on. I find out later his name is Stuart. He is sixteen.

Bright pink seeds of wheat are scattered. I ask why they are pink and Ian tells me they are coated in a fungicide and pesticide. This is the last year they can be sown though as they contain neonicotinoids that harm bees and are to be banned. Ian recalls in his Dad’s time they sprayed DDT on the land. I watch two crows harry a kestrel.

Radio one spills into the landscape from the pick up. We drive over to the giant turbine so I can take a look inside. Banks of Star Trek twinkling lights monitor the running of this machine. Ian points out the data on wind speed, kilowatts generated as we listen to it turning to catch the optimum wind. Outside the windmill blades cast dark shadows along the boundary wall of the field, blotting the sun momentarily.

Back at the farmhouse Carole asks me to sign a postcard in petition of the closure of the GP’s out of ours service in North east Fife. This could and likely will have a profound impact on the elderly and most vulnerable.

The day has brought questions arising from food production, energy consumption and health provision, all in the space of a morning. Back in the field and Raymond stops the tractor. He and Ian look at the large boulder brought up to the surface. I wonder why only now it has emerged. Perhaps the landscape continues to throw the occasional spanner in the works, thwarting our own ambitions.






Sketch from Galloway trip this week.

Old, gnarly hawthorns lean into the westerly winds.

Baler twine.



Ink and gouache on paper – 21 x 30 cm.


A gloomy, growly dog of a day. It feels like it might bite, yet. A pack of dark grey clouds pummel in from the west. Every now and then the Forth is sunlit – an ocean liner sparkles, watched by the stone submarine of the Isle of May guarding the entrance to the North sea. Wind turbines mutter, busy, inattentive to the two swallows buffeted by the strong winds. Carole tells me about the storm last week . They lost an old apple tree and the power went off for a few hours. That was all. The combining finished yesterday and now its ploughing and seeding , no let up for at least another month. Wellies scatter outside the back door at tea time, curling stones hold open a byre door. The trees are starting to turn, sycamore leaves are crisp in the high drying winds. Orange baler twine, burnished broon conkers, the musty yellow of dried wheat, brick red pan tiles stacked in crates, these are the colours here on the hill.