Spanish chestnut


Mixed media on paper. This tree is in the abbey grounds at Balmerino overlooking Dundee on the north side of the Tay. It is over 500 years old and its great limbs are propped up whilst its cavities are filled with concrete.

The drawing is for the Dighty conservation group in Dundee . I was along last week helping dig out a silt clogged burn, in waders, again. Brilliant to see everyone, had a laugh and a chat and a bottle of flat irn bru. Cheers.


Sunshine on Leith


The bridge, Great Junction Street. Sitting next to the water of Leith I meet a red bearded Glaswegian. He tells me his name is Willie. He also tells me he’s an alcoholic. He has lived rough on and off for the last twenty two years, except now he is in a B and B. His support worker says he’s ‘not to fuck it up, scuse my language’.  He has wandered all over the country, lived in some of the places I have but in very different circumstances. He recalls a holiday he took with his brother. They decided to walk the West Highland way. Starting at Milngavie they reached only as far as Balmaha, stopping at the local shop for a bottle of Buckfast, which they didn’t have, so drank some cheapo white wine – ‘pure squeezed your bum cheeks together’. Anyway it was raining so they gave up . He wants to try again some day. I give him my sketch which he scrumples up and puts in his pocket. He offers to buy me a can of juice as he is away to the shop anyway for some cider. An exchange of kindness, as he wanders on. As do I.

Up the junction


Great Junction Street, Leith, Edinburgh. 14th September 2016. Thick, smirry, wet rain. A man in mustard trousers and a trilby cycles passed, a small child in pink wellies whizzes on her scooter. I sit outside the library looking at the enormous mural painted on the gable end wall of the tenement next door. It tells the story of Leith – its industry, its activism, its story of welcoming new communities. It has been here as long as I can remember. Boys with dogs, boys with phones.A sofa put out for the rubbish. ‘Yes’ independence posters in flat windows opposite, the blue fading , but not the desire. Anoraks and parkas, pigeons and buses. My feet are getting wet, daft to be wearing sandals on a day like today. The leaves are already starting to fall. The end of summer.