What a great start to the week.  I received the most delightful email from an American couple who had visited Starfish Studio whilst on holiday recently.

My husband and I (from the Los Angeles, California area) visited your shop recently with our friends from Northampton and I want
to tell you how much we enjoyed your work. (We bought a couple of gifts for our friends.) Gil and I both work in the arts, and we’re so impressed that we’ve sent your website to some of our friends.
Have a wonderful day.
All the best from the both of us.

I know I’m bragging a bit, but I had to share that!

Yesterday was one of those fantastic, feel good days.  I had to deliver some paintings to Banchory and to pick up some beeswax candles for the shop from Organica J in Finzean http://www.organicaj.co.uk/.  The sky was so blue, the sun shone so brightly and the trees were such stunning colours that the drive was just sheer pleasure.

Autumn leaves

Whenever I drive through Strachan I’m always saddened to see that the village shop has closed its doors.  As you may know, Ewan and I moved to Johnshaven when we bought the village shop in 2004.  We went to look at the Strachan shop too – the house had great potential but we didn’t think the shop could be sufficiently profitable to make it viable.

The other sight that saddened me was this one. 

Tesco-to-be as seen from Woodend Barn

It’s going to be a new Tesco on the outskirts of Banchory.  I despise Tesco.  As the owners of a convenience store we sometimes read the trade press which contains many stories about Tesco’s underhand tactics.  As a result I haven’t spent a penny in a Tesco store for many, many years.  I won’t even buy their diesel. 

Banchory is a lovely town with a busy High Street full of interesting, independent retailers.  A shop owner I spoke to yesterday tells me that there is a real sense of doom and gloom amongst the shopkeepers.  Of those she has spoken to, one has decided not to renew his lease (after many successful years), another has said that his business is doomed.

Tesco, and other supermarkets, suck the life out of town centres.  I can’t understand why the planning authorities are continuing to allow more and more to be built.  Banchory has a recently refurbished Morrisons which, along with the High Street shops, provides everything anyone could possibly need on a day to day basis.  For large, one off items, Aberdeen isn’t that far away. 

There, I’ll get off my soapbox now.  There aren’t many things that make me very angry, but the rise and rise of Tesco is one of them.

Between Strachan and Finzean the road passes the Falls of Feugh.  There’s a footbridge providing a great view of the water and, with the sun shining through the leaves of the trees, all thoughts of the building site were swept away by this beautiful sight!

Falls of Feugh

Falls of Feugh


River Feugh

To return home I took the steep, winding road over the Cairn o’Mount…

From the summit of Cairn o'Mount

…and instead of taking the obvious route home, I drove through Drumtochty (love that word!) Woods in glorious sunshine.

On the road to Auchenblae the sky was really stunning and provided a super backdrop to this silhouetted copse.