Diamond Lil’s

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My walk.

From the dock side where the creaking bones of cranes stretch their limbs, I walk along River Street, past California street and America street.Turn right along Commerce street into Ferry street. Mechanics, joiners, pubs and pie shops. The newspaper headline – ‘Montrose headbutt nose breaker fined’. Turn right into Panmure place, past the golden dome of the Academy. Inside the keeper of things, the warm hum of the heating in the museum. Carpeted footsteps, a door opens, closes. No wind to blow the weather vane or the ships trapped in their glass bottles. Up Museum street, across Baltic street, past the public loos and up the vennel to the High street. I ponder over the thought of  tea in the ‘Cup Above’ cafe but decide against it and carry on. Further on outside Boots, I meet Yvonne from the Salvation Army who sells me a ‘War Cry’, and we have a blether, reflecting that there are many twists and turns to a life. She says I have a shiny face, and gives me a hug. Turn right into John Street and left into Market street. On the corner of Orange Lane I spot some new ‘Midwinter’ crockery in the Oxfam shop and am tempted but ….. Head down Orange Lane and about halfway down turn left down the vennel where Puff the dragon lives. Down the steps brings you out onto Mill street. Walk along and then left into Queen street where, at number 12 the garden is a celebration of ornament – gnomes, and dogs and kissing children, all hand painted.Turn right into Kincardine street and left into king street. Cross the road down Reform street and left into Provost Scotts road. Keep on past the tennis courts and Curlie pond. A man in a tan leather jacket and sunglasses walks by. More Miami than Montrose. Up Broomfield Road and the model aero flying club hut and racing pigeon shed sit next to each other, the former in a restored world war 2 hut. I say hello to a man taking a miniature wind sock from the boot of his car. At the junction turn left and then a little further on right into the industrial estate. Up to ‘The Hoosie’ for a cup of tea and a bacon roll, the end of the line. On entering I am asked what brings me all the way out here -a stranger from out of town – cue Ennio Morricone…..Steve, the owner and Chris who runs a car repair shop tell me how they each came to be in Montrose. Both agreed there were worse places to live. Chris talks of a man who would leave the pub and swim across the river between Ferryden and Montrose, and that he would ride his horse through the town. A man comes in and orders a cheeseburger with tales of woe of delivering flat pack furniture up four flights in tenements. We chat about the EU and migrants, and Donald Trump…… Time to saddle up….. on Shanks’s pony, back the way I came.

I drive out of Montrose over the river to Ferryden to sit and look at the docks and write a few notes. The photograph is taken just along from the pub – ‘Diamond Lils’, and the sun illuminates the washing on the lines in the dwindling light of late afternoon. I feel a little emotional by the fragility of the clothing set against the enormity of the ships and the docklands behind.


Football and dragons.



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Montrose football ground . I meet Fred filling in potholes in the carpark. He tells me about the club and the celebrations last season when they won the play off which meant they avoided relegation. I suggest Montrose might be in the first division. He laughs. No, apparently not. Still their ticket prices are very good and I say I will come, having enjoyed my visit to Tannadice. He screws up his face and I realise I get that wrong too – mentioning Dundee Utd. So much to learn about football.

Walking down a vennel I had overlooked I come across a woman sitting in her garden with a large reptile lying on her chest. I say hello and ask her what it is. A dragon she replies. She is called Puff. (  brilliant,of course ) I ask if I can stroke her and surprisingly its belly is soft and warm to touch. Apparently the suns UV rays are better than a lamp. I guess so. Her owner is Nancy a photographer of 41 years – portraits and weddings. She is on her lunch break so I leave her and Puff to sunbathe on a Scottish Thursday in February.


Mall Galleries – selected painting.

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My painting ‘Summer, garden’, has been selected for the Royal Institute of painters in water colour exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London. The exhibition opens on Wednesday 6th April  – Saturday 16th April.

Very exciting !

Hill street


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Mixed media on paper – Montrose Review newspaper.

Cold easterly winds bring sleet. Walk through the town and on to the industrial estate. Hangars, warehouses, engineering firms for the offshore industry, cranes, lorries and nissen huts at the air museum. I spot ‘The Hoosie’ catering portakabin and pop in. Engineers, a driving test examiner and Steve the cook. I ask if I can take some pictures and tell him his catering establishment is the end of the line. He laughs and says ‘you’ll meet everyone here, sooner or later.’ The conversation turns to the quality of morning rolls at Lidls. From where I sit I look out of the door to a Spitfire and and the Union Jack flying –  polystyrene tea, the war, it feels peculiarly nostalgic on this winters morning. He has pots of fake flowers outside, a nice touch. I say cheerio, saying I will bring my drawing of the cafe next time and head out back down the line.


California street


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Sitting in the car working out my route on the map. The sky is a damp sheet of grey, darker toward the west. Walk.

I chat to Flo in the public loos about her work. She plays country and western music, the speakers piping it into the ladies and gents. The flower arrangements are beautiful, and she tells me I should see the place at Christmas. Flo has just been awarded toilet attendent of the year 2016. We smile.

Finding my way down Orange Lane I come across an Oxfam shop and spy some Midwinter 1960’s crockery in the window in a very lovely blue. I go in and ask Doris what is the best thing about Montrose and a customer yells ‘ The road oot a’ here’. Everyone laughs. I buy my found treasure, promising to come back and buy the sauce boat . Hmm….

Walk, rain, library. I watch a man on the microfiche machine scrolling through the pages of the Montrose Review. He has done this before. He looks efficient and seems to know what he is looking for. Unlike me. But then, what I find, is it. Walking a line means I have to face everything with the same curiosity. This is the interest, and the challenge of the imposed parameter.







Hands 1

From a series of photographs for Dighty poetry group taken yesterday. A big thankyou for everyone’s patience. An anthology of the poets work will be published shortly. Here is my contribution which came about from a particular walk a winter morning last year, when I came across an airman’s type jacket frozen to a wire fence, and a torn up Christmas card which read ‘To Lisa and the wee man’. I had been reading about a German airman who had been captured and paraded through the town. He was apparently exceedingly tall. A friends Aunty told me that during the war her Dad had buried an old bread van in the garden as an air raid shelter for the family complete with bunkbeds. I was also investigating the circuses and travelling shows that would come to Dundee. This piece came from those beginnings.




On the edge of town

a bone black fineness of winter air

licks the salty rime at the lip of last tide.

Bridge pilings punctuate the slaked slip clay

sooking the river toward the sea.

The small terrace of brick houses,

backing up the hill,

tell stories to

soft morning rolls of babies, tucked up in the grocers van.

Wash day legs give up to floral loose covers,

peonies and roses.




Beyond stiffened boiler suits forgotten on the line,

the tackety boot lane opens out onto waste ground,

common grounds for

stories and secrets, promises and plans.







With quickening pinched toes, blue knees,

rattly grin,

that two day old bruise, deepening, darkening, at once,


bring him,




birling, swirling, starry lights,

diesel, fried onions, burnt sugar.


All seven feet tall in his showmans breeks,

yelling scream if you wanna go



from here.

Head thrown back, blinking the colours away.


All seven feet tall with his brylcreemed hair.

Lamp black,

lunar black,

crow black.

The token he gave only good for a ride,

sorry ma wee lass.




The gennies tut as they quietly cool,

bulbs dim.

The uncoupling of parts.


Early morning sees a nippit wind,

funnels the soor smell of your breath.

A whale back sky brings word from the north,

whips the clay slaked water as it heaves upstream,

on its way,


passing through.