Monday, 23 April 2007

Springtime at the Binns

It has been a warm, humid spring. The leaves are born and immediately droop with exhaustion. The green shoots crack sickly out of their damp pods while the perfume of blossoms seems to puncture the air, an olfactory Jackson Pollock painting. Each morning when I walk to the train station I pass through the Zone Of Honeycomb. The breeze is scrubbed with the scent of beeswax, one of those aromas, along with rosemary and also fresh lemon, which causes me to feel physically weak from pleasure.
Today the dark clouds hung behind the pink apple blossoms like a queue of angry gods. Sometimes they spat cool rain, but each wet thud just caused another hiccup of sweetness to arise into the still air.
Recently on a sunny Saturday Andrew and I walked to the House of the Binns. I realize it sounds like a dreadful affliction, or perhaps like a phrase a polite lady would use to describe the state of the loo after her husband had been out for beers and a spicy curry. The actually derivation seems dull by comparison: the house is situated on two hills, or Binns in Celtic.
There is a tower on top of one of the hills that one can see from the train when travelling between Linlithgow and Edinburgh. We’ve wanted to visit the property for a long time but had never gotten around to it.
The house itself is only open for a few hours a day between June and September, but the grounds are expansive and include a woodland walk up to the tower. There were bright peacocks everywhere around the house, near the woods or sitting on fences. One strode along the roof. Their cries were so loud they made me jump several times, but I loved being amongst the trees in the midst of the flurry of raven calls, punctuated by these dramatic screeches from the peacocks. It made me feel I was in a jungle.
After dreaming about the tower for all these months, it proved to be less than impressive. It was built because of some kind of ridiculous bet to see which wealthy landowner could best waste £1,000.
No matter. Most of the property was so beautiful it was like a postcard come to life – the shimmering blue of the peacock’s breast as he moved through a sea of bright yellow daffodils. The thin crimson petals of tree blossoms detaching and making their languid kamikaze descent to the shaggy grass carpet. The massive trees that lined the narrow road leading up to the house, which itself had a slight pink hue.
Stopping at a farm shop on the way home for ice lollies (aka Popsicles) allowed me to visit with two adorable lambs. One eagerly tried to suck my fingers while wiggling its ass in the air. I felt my heart being pulled from my chest before splattering on the gravel driveway in absolute loving surrender.
The joy of meeting lamby wore off on the way home as the heat began to take its toll, but once I had later recovered from the sun stroke, I was once again able to appreciate the day and all the incredible picturesque moments we had experienced. This is the kind of British countryside that I love best – a combination of crafted beauty and ancient natural monuments.
Sigh. Dreamy.

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