Encounters Field Trip Observation Poetry Quote rag-pickings

A Familiar World Made Strange

All tracks,  footprints, paths were gone. Buried. He had pitched a tent on arriving: how come it had not blown off? From inside, he watched the complex improvisations of the wind. He heard how it suddenly laughed with the sand, danced with the sand, amused and irritated the sand, amused itself and got irritated with the number of grains. And finally, it became, in its desire, a mad sand god dragging monstrous winged creatures off to conquer the world.

Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions

In a few steps, a familiar world made strange


Elemental vortex

Snow on sand births alien forms

Flecked horizon of Rothko greys


From a very brief walk along the shore at Limekilns, Fife on 28th February 2018, around 15.00. An encounter with the “Beast from the East”.


Now playing: Chaya Czernowin – Wintersongs

The low instruments were moving like the slow search of a plant towards light – CZ

Happenstance Observation Psychogeography rag-pickings

Haar Gothic

Haar gothic

Graveyard off limits

No herald angels sing today


Dunfermline Abbey 21.12.17

Now playing: Erik Satie (played by Philip Corner) – ‘The Gothic Dances’ from Satie Slowly

Field Trip Happenstance Observation Poetry rag-pickings Signs and Signifiers



For a moment           hold

an          interstice         of

the      gloaming



Now playing: Eleh – ‘Measuring the Immeasurable’ from Radiant Intervals I.

Field Trip Happenstance Observation Psychogeography

At the Heron House

It is a place within easy walking distance from the front door and yet it is unlikely that anyone would stumble across it. It is not on any well-trodden path. However, nor could it be described as a remote location as would be evident if you managed to locate the area on a map. It is almost as if it has slipped through a crack in time and topographic space.

There are certain landscapes where the walker quickly becomes self-conscious that they are an intruder. Where every footfall announces to the non-human world that there is a potential threat moving in the landscape. A cracked twig underfoot that  ricochets through the calm stillness, creating unseen rustlings of unease and the nervous flexing of wings. No matter how quiet you may whisper there is a strong feeling that you are being closely observed and monitored by unseen eyes. It is you who is perceived as the danger in this quiet world.

For convenience we will refer to this place as the Heron House on account of the siege of herons that appear to have colonised this world. It is not unusual to see upwards of ten of them roosting in the trees that surround this body of water or swirling silently overhead. As if each wing movement slows down time incrementally, evoking a sky filled gathering of ancient pterodactyl. Until we discovered this place, we had always associated herons as zen-like, solitary stalkers of the shoreline, so it was a surprise to see so many of them in the high branches of this wooded setting. Their presence transforming this place into something that feels forgotten and ancient. Almost a ‘Land that Time Forgot’.

This feeling of being steeped in accretions of time is heightened by diverse morphologies of lichen on many trees.

It is easy to lose yourself in the afternoon colours and textures of stillness.

Bizarrely, we come across a huddle of Giant Redwood trees, having no idea of how or why they are growing here in Fife. We stop to feel the aged textures of the deceptively soft bark which looks more like dripping lava

… and in contrast, ephemeral cascades of snowdrops flower close-by exotic looking fungi which resemble some imaginary, animated wood spirits from a Miyazaki film. Organic antenna, as if alert, listening, sensing …

This uncanny world is further transformed by the still body of water which creates a mirror world with only a thin liquid membrane appearing to prevent both of these worlds from collapsing into each other. Herons soar in the sky and amongst the watery depths.

The Heron House is not a place to outstay your welcome. We are the strangers and eavesdroppers here and can sense that our presence has disturbed some fragile equilibrium.

We return to pass through an opening in stone, sodden and marbled by weather and the colours of time.

Within minutes of walking we begin to hear familiar sounds start to puncture the stillness that we still carry.

The distant hum of traffic, a tractor turning over fresh clods of earth in a field. Tending the ground, ready for a new planting, a new cycle.


As long as the earth keeps turning


Now playing: Heitor Alvelos – ‘The Other’ from Faith

Thanks to @EdinDrift for joining us on this journey. February 2017.

Encounters Observation Psychogeography rag-pickings Signs and Signifiers Symbol

Call and Response

the mist

the call

the fall

the mist …



(with headphones)


The missed      call

The Fall

the mist …

(Blindness, Peel Session)


Twa Ools / Trees

Call of the rain-smeared cobbles

(Rose Lane)


St Andrews, March 2017

Happenstance Observation Poetry rag-pickings



Fragile heat, March sun

Morning frost fizzle melt


Spring threads of creeper

–  sprung, in

Lip of light

and shadow play

≈ .


F i z z z z z z l e s

of morning frost


Now playing: Tristan Perich: Surface Image (performed by Vicky Chow).

Encounters Field Trip Found Art Happenstance Observation Poetry Psychogeography rag-pickings

At Crombie Point



Ink etched blue silence. Cold harbour spires, sketched over cubist sails. Thorn pinned birds still tethered. Wings opening, sensing the sky




The ruined pier at Crombie Point. (January, 2017).

Jules Verne travelled to Scotland for the first time in 1859. He arrived at Crombie Point on 30th August, following a three-day exploration of Edinburgh.

Verne along with his traveling companion and old school friend, Aristide Hignard, had boarded the steamship The Prince of Wales at Granton Harbour earlier in the morning. The ship sailed up the Firth of Forth passing Aberdour, Queensferry, Rosyth, Blackness Castle and Charlestown with Verne recounting tales of historical events associated with the coastal landmarks. Approaching Crombie Point, the weather turned violently against them with high winds and waves proving too strong for the steamship to moor at the pier. Verne and Hignard managed to transfer into a smaller sail boat to reach the landing stage safely but very wet. They were met by the Reverend William Smith, from Oakley, who ushered them into the nearby Black Anchor Tavern to dry out and take a whisky.


What was once the Black Anchor Tavern, Crombie Point. Now a private house. (January, 2017).


Beyond the door-less door. An invitation to enter. What lies beyond the threshold, the scattering of leaves and crouched shadows?

On the ancient whispering walls, the faces start to appear. Language of the stones, silent tongues ….


And on this short stretch of coastal path, the receding tide and dying light coats Torry Bay in an emulsion of gun-metal grey. A vista of colour bleached beauty with a tangible undertow of concealed violence bleeding over the mudflats.


In the middle of Torry Bay you will see witches rock. This rock was used to tie-up and restrain anyone suspected of witchcraft. Here the witches were judged and simultaneously sentenced as the tide rose. If they drowned, they were absolved of being a witch, but if they survived they were deemed to be to be a witch and burned at the stake.

(adapted from heritage interpretation boards located on Torry Bay)

More on the dark history of this short stretch of Fife coastline emerged from the Tales for Travellers Project which we recently participated in:

On Torry Bay the sky appears to expand to a grey cloak as we experience a brief rain shower. It’s a suitable backdrop for Kate Walker to tell us of the dark history of witch hunting along this coast in the seventeenth century. Zealous, self-appointed witch-finders, usually being local clergymen searching for those who had ‘danced with the devil’. They used an armoury of pseudo-scientific techniques to prey on poor, elderly, and vulnerable women, with their use of witch pricking and searching for the devil’s mark. The familiar power structures embedded in organised religion and misogyny. Kate recounted the tragic story of local woman Lilias Adie, buried face down in the mud on the beach, between the high tide and low tide marks as it was outside consecrated ground. Buried neither on land or at sea, huge stone slabs were placed on top of her; a folk remedy for revenants who were suspected of returning from the grave to torment the living.


Now playing: Ensemble of Irreproducible Outcomes – ‘Trio and Sine Waves (With Wind, Snow, And Birds)’ from Memory and Weather.


Ian Thompson, Jules Verne’s Scotland: In Fact and Fiction, (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2011).

Encounters Happenstance Observation Poetry Psychogeography





On the move overhead in the dark, a skein of geese trace elemental songlines. An arc of ancient language: shared, precise, yet never disclosed




Untranslatable articulations. Dreamtime tracks. Already distant, almost gone. A fading away towards some idea of silence.

At around, 23.04 – 23.05, Saturday 18th February 2017.

Observation Poetry Psychogeography rag-pickings Symbol

Lost coordinates





Time adrift

Land, sea and sky under caul of ice fog

Lost coordinates.


Trace of an island? spectral ship?

Ah – foreshore shaman at the prow.


Now playing: Kevin Drumm – Middle of Nothing (Part 1)

Field Trip Happenstance Observation Poetry Psychogeography rag-pickings

Settle / / Disperse






Settled /


/      /


/ Disperse



ice blue hue of early morning /     / settled setting of frozen music /     / arrowhead stave aimed at the stars /     / rhythms inked on starless starlight [ crack crack – cacophony crescendo ] winged chorus sounded in flight /     /

settle /     / settled /     / disperse /     / dispersed

still /     / stilled /     / stillness

At Capernaum Pier, Limekilns. Early morning 21st January 2017.

Now playing: David Cross & Robert Fripp – Starless Starlight

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