stories and illustration

A Walk by the Tweed: Berries, Birds, Broken Boxes


The gulls have flocked inland, and are standing where Tweed water is shallow. There are no boats on the river round here, so I am the only person disturbing the birds. I like their white wings against the dark maroon of the ploughed earth, where the phacelia grew in high summer. There are boats left tied up here and there all along the river, and I photograph one of them, with its eddy of scum. I try and photograph little boats, as they often come into my illustrations (it was once remarked that the spindly oars I had drawn wouldn’t get anyone anywhere fast):


The barley has all gone, but the stubble is still left in this field, beside the grass alongside the river which is thick and wet this afternoon, with red clover sprung up since I last walked this way:


Swans as well as gulls stand in the shallows:


But one swan is swimming near the edge of the opposite bank with its brood:

swans and brood

As I turn up the lane towards the little wood that leads back into Coldstream, I see the blackberries in a transitional state, and the elderberries ripening:



And then come across something more unexpected, standing amidst the cleared clods of earth at the edge of the field:


Some rage here, perhaps. When in Sunderland my friend Fred told me of a friend of his who, seeing Mrs Thatch once more upon the screen, picked up the television and hurled it through the window: the house was rented, the television was rented, maybe not such a good idea.  My father told my youngest brother, one sunny day: “If you go on sitting there all day watching the television, I’ll pick it up and throw it out of the window.”  My brother: “Go on then.” So the television got hurled out of the upstairs window. However… the next day the Test Match was starting, which my father had not taken into account, so we had to trail into Carlisle and buy a new television, which actually worked much better than the old one. All the same, television reception wasn’t that good in the Liddel Valley, I can remember that at one time we would take turns to stand with the aerial held out of the window to stop the picture going jagged.

Coming back through the wood, I see the rowan berries, a fine crop this year, which is reputed to mean a cold winter:


Coming out through the wood, I see theseat with its shreds of green, where I have never seen anyone sitting.


It’s still a dim day, there is no-one around.  On the way back  I saw howdy to the horse, in the field  once in habited by the two shetland ponies.  The horse no longer has his hood on, as most of the flies have gone too.  The horse  has a melancholy expression.  It always comes up to the fence, then after a moment or so ambles off again. It does not strike me as particularly joyous:


Its purple horse-blanket is torn. It would be happier with a donkey, maybe, to keep it company:


I loved horses when I was young, I went from ballerinas to horses, and since I drew a lot even then, I was found drawing ballerinas with horses legs.  Not surrealist, just absent-minded. I can’t imagine any worlds I would fit in less: The World of Ballet, The World of Horses. But I still think horses are the most beautiful things, even if when I tried to sit upon them I spent most of my life sliding sideways or even down the neck on one occasion when the horse started to graze. I was a bit hopless. We went to Madame Tussauds and I threw a fit because we weren’t allowed to go into the Chamber of Horrors – the reason I threw a fit was because I thought it said Chamber of Horses.

I come back down past the cat in the window, who was in an earlier post, but instead is going to finish this one instead:

This Cat is Not for Sale

September 19, 2013 - Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Excellent tale & accompanying image.The boat has a timeless quality about it that somehow fits with the name of the river; for, the River Tweed sounds very literary & exotic. 😀 The TV bit was priceless.


    Comment by elmediat | September 19, 2013 | Reply

    • Tweed is a mighty river, for this part of the world anyway, a wide, serene river which acts for miles as the border between Scotland and England, but has its source in a reedy, unkempt, almost moorland field far away to the West. By the time it approaches the North Sea it is wide, and silvery. Full of salmon. You see them jumping at this time of year, I thought tthis was quite romantic, but my husband says it is to get rid of irritating bugs! Thanks very much for commenting on this post, I am glad you liked it.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | September 20, 2013 | Reply

  2. You stick with photography and little comedy.. as you doing great.. leave the horse’s dating agency for someone else..


    Comment by doronart | September 19, 2013 | Reply

    • Yeh, I know, Doronart, I am probably anthropomorphising the horse – but they are sociable animals, and this one does look a tad dolorous.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | September 20, 2013 | Reply

      • You are also kind to all mankind… have a good weekend, Doron


        Comment by doronart | September 20, 2013

      • I’m not sure everyone would agree with you, Doron! I hope you had a good weekend yourself, and are doing some more paintings, which I look forward to seeing.


        Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | September 24, 2013

      • Who is everyone? it is enough we do agree… Always painting when I have spare time and feel good…. as they say just loving it. Cara thank you.


        Comment by doronart | September 24, 2013

  3. What a delightful ramble through the countryside and through your thoughts, it’s was most enjoyable. You caught the time of year beautifully 🙂


    Comment by greenmackenzie | September 19, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks, Seonaid. Since I started this blog I notice so much more of what is around me, instead of being stuck in the repetitive round of my thoughts. Also, hearing from others, and looking at their websites, gives me a great deal of inspiration and pleasure. So thank you again, for that as well.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | September 20, 2013 | Reply

  4. Lovely! I’m so suburban in my wanderings–even though deer do graze just outside our windows.

    I particularly like the rowan berries. And the first image of the television is startling, at least in this context–and startling in a good way.


    Comment by Son of Sharecroppers | September 21, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks so much for commenting, I envy you the deer (can’t be so suburban round your way) – I did once live in a place with deer, they used to leap over the fence and eat all the tops off the tulips.Yes, I was just musing along looking at the countryside, and this televison stood there quite incongruously, with its totally smashed screen. I wonder how long the TV will stay there. I once saw an advertisement in the Sunderland Echo: Television for Sale. Good Condition. No picture. £5.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | September 24, 2013 | Reply

    • PS. What’s wrong with suburban ramblings anyway? Suburbia has its quirks and fascinations as much as anywhere else….


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | September 25, 2013 | Reply

  5. Love that cat in the window. 🙂
    I enjoyed looking at some of your older posts today. Lovely nature and landscapes in your area.


    Comment by Aditix | February 2, 2014 | Reply

    • Yes,it was a nice little cat. Thanks for wandering through some of my old posts – it is like keeping a diary, in a way, which is why on the whole I keep the photographs contemporary. This is a beautiful part of the world, among many others.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | February 2, 2014 | Reply

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