Peeling tatties.


I am peeling tatties. I am taking you on a walk. With me.

Across the small meadow where pink orchids grow in the summer, hunkered in amongst the grasses and daisies, the yellow of birds foot trefoil stars the earth. We carry on down to the burn that has carved this small valley. It tumbles on downhill out of sight. Willows and alders huddle here, chattering their branches in the wind.

I look in the saucepan. One, two, three, four… how many do I need ?

The path heads up past gorse bushes, and a bench if you want to stop for a breather, to views across the ploughed fields and the sea beyond in dimply glimmers of sun. Turning our backs we descend back into the woods where the light falls and the shadows cool the air. Mud, slippy, oozy and bramble, sharp, quick. Buzzards shriek. The water is deeper here, boulders force the burn to twist and turn.

I turn the tattie in my hands, the knife skelfing its skin, the peelings probably too thick, such a waste. Five, six, seven…..

We cross the wooden bridge , stare up at the beech trees that cling to the steep sides of the gorge, keep an eye out for the red squirrels that live here abouts. Following the path downstream we return to the stands of willows before we are freed once more into the meadow. A skylark in the air.

Is that enough tatties for dinnerĀ  ?

‘We have no prairies/to slice a big sun at evening.’





Oil on panel – 200 x 84 cm..

‘We have no prairies/ to slice a big sun at evening’ – Seamus Heaney ‘Bogland’.

This is my final large work of Rannoch Moor. In the next few weeks I will start on next year’s project – Glencoe. Just down the road from Rannoch the landscape changes from one of endless expanse to an ever narrowing pass, where the mountains squeeze and hold you in their grasp before realeasing you into the valley below. It is an intense experience, in ways so very different to Rannoch and a challenge I want to try and meet.

I have another trip up to Rannoch shortly to make one final work. As with all my projects it feels sad to be leaving. My connections to these places become very close and as I may have said before, the resulting work I make feel as much portrait as landscape. I hope I have done justice in some way to the vast, wild beauty that is Rannoch Moor. Traversing the Moor, one is walking on time, beneath, our history is bottomless.





(Details from painting.)

Willows and snow.




watercolour crayon on paper.

Wind roars in the tall beech trees, where willows creak and scratch. Snowdrops scatter, speckle the earth as snow showers blast through the blackened trunks of alder.