Wednesday, 10 June 2009


And so to Arbuthnott, the heart of Sunset Song country. This is where the author Lewis Grassic Gibbon was born and raised and much of the novel is centred around this area.

This is the view directly across the road from the signpost above. When I first looked at this photo I thought it was out of focus, but it's the soft effect of the barley which tricks your eye.
There seems to me to be an increase in the growth of barley this year. It's everywhere. A welcome return and a nice change from the incessant fields of rape which have replaced much of the traditional crops recently.

The little centre dedicated to Gibbon. As you'll see, it was jam packed the day I came.......

Well ok, I was the only visitor.... I loved the wee sign on the bike which ran along the lines of ... 'This is a bicycle similar to one which Gibbon would have rode......' Fair enough!

The curator/manager/coffee maker offered to put a video of Gibbon on for me and ushered me into this little room/cubicle. He drew the curtain and I settled down in comfort to watch the show...... Note the 56 inch widescreen plasma job. DVD hasn't quite made it up here yet..... it was a VHS.

A range of comfortable chairs was provided, I chose one with a back. A box of tissues was thoughtfully left on the table, no stone was left unturned in an effort to ensure the complete satisfaction of the visitor. I was hugely impressed.

All that paled into insignificance however when I caught sight of this signed first edition of Sunset Song. A fitting end to my day in the Mearns.
'So Chris put on the best frock that she used for Sundays, and her tall lacing boots, and prigged out her hair in front of the glass in the parlour, and went up across the hill by Blawearie loch, with the night coming over the Grampians and the snipe crying in their hundreds beyond the loch's grey waters - still and grey, as though they couldn't forget last summer nor hope for another coming.
The Standing Stones pointed long shadow-shapes into the east, maybe just as they'd done of an evening two thousand years before when the wild men climbed the brae and sang their songs in the lithe of those shadows while the gloaming waited there above the same quiet hills. And a queer, uncanny feeling came on Chris then, she looked back half-feared at the Stones and the whiteness of the loch, and then went hurrying through the park paths till she came out above the kirkyard and Manse. Beyond the road the Miekle House rose up in its smother of trees, you saw the broken walls of it, the flagstaff light was shining already, it would soon be dark.'
Lewis Grassic Gibbon 1901-1935 from Sunset Song.


  1. What a pretty place. I have never read that book before but I shall be on the look out for it now.
    I've also never seen barley growing before and I think it is lovely.

  2. lol, 'I chose one with a back.' Good man. And in the front row too.

    Box of tissues.... pmsl...

    Very beautiful countryside, Neil and adds to the images in my head. I'm trying to find the above passage in the book... hint?

  3. It's on p.57 of my copy, towards the end of 'Ploughing'.
    Hope the box of tissues doesn't add to the images.......

  4. What a lovely, gentle, tongue in cheek post this is. Beautifully illystrated, and together with the quote, a real gem.

  5. Ah-huh! I found it... p.66 in my copy. I knew I had read it. I'm in 'Drilling' now.

    Tissues, shmissues... I'd be tempted to leave a specimen bottle on the front desk upon exiting, lol.

    (Ok, that does make sense biologically for me... more like if I were you sort of thing.)

  6. Ha! I've left a few specimens upon exiting in my time.......

  7. Now your post takes me back - to a visit to the Edinburgh Festival by my S6 English class in 1977. Organised by our brilliant English teacher, who gave us not just an education in English literature, but in life. On the way back to Moray he asked the bus driver to take a 'wee detour' via the Mearns, for us to see the country of Sunset Song. The bus got stuck on a hump backed bridge. No mobile phones in those days - we had to wait for someone to come along and then turn round and go off somewhere to get help. Meantime we got out of the bus and paddled in the burn. The bus driver got out and paddled in the burn. We lay in the sun and our teacher read from Sunset Song. Never mind all the clever plays we saw at the Festival - this is my memory of the trip.

  8. What a lovely memory Linda. Just the kind of little thing that stays with you for life.