“National Leveridge’s European Vacation”

by ESP on August 24, 2015 · 6 comments


Guppies embarking on a perilous car journey to her Grandparents…



Direct 9 hour flight to London Heathrow,

excitement mounting…




In no time at all we were cruising high over the Atlantic. 


I adopted my usual in-flight facial expression; a combination of bewilderment and pain accompanied by brief interludes of hysteria (dependent on wine consumption).

Touch down in London.

IMG_0070 2

Having fun yet kids?


London, in August, doing tourist things!


My daughter has been YouTube researching the locations of the best London Kawaii shops.



She found exactly what she was looking for in a China town market…squishies!

IMG_0073Before you could say “Seven pounds for a painted piece of foam?!”

Annanwe were on a train speeding North to Brydekirk, a tiny village on the River Annan in SW Scotland.


There are great walks available on both banks of the river.


The pink plant in the foreground was brought to Britain for garden collections in the 19th century, it is the invasive annual, Himalayan Balsam

Impatiens glandulifera


Impatiens glandulifera

and it was everywhere. The plant produces large amounts of pollen which attracts bees. Unfortunately the bees love the balsam so much they don’t bother pollinating the native plants, reducing their seed production. An effort is currently being made to remove this plant (along with Japanese Knotwood) from the river banks of the Annan.


The 5 mile walk from Brydekirk to Hoddom Castle led us by huge silver willows,


towering pines,


and moss covered trunks.


We passed tall stands of Elecampane

Inula Helenium


Inula Helenium

The name ‘helenium’ derives from Helen of Troy…elecampane is said to have sprung up from where her tears fell.

The plant was also sacred to the ancient Celts and once had the name “elfwort”.


No trip to Scotland would be complete without mentioning a thistle or three, this Creeping Thistle

Cirsium arvense


was busy dispersing seeds from small shaving brushes:

Cirsium arvense

The seed number per plant ranges from 1,600 to 50,000!


Legend has it that a species of thistle saved the lives of sleeping Scottish Clansmen as a Norse army invaded.


In order to move more stealthily under the cover of darkness the Norsemen took off their shoes, but as they crept barefoot…well, you guessed it.


A soldiers cry alerted the Clansmen who went on to defeat the Norsemen at the Battle of Largs

(2 October 1263),

thus saving Scotland from invasion. 


The critical role that the thistle had played was recognized and the weed was subsequently adopted as Scotland’s national emblem.


After our walk it was time for a







I fell into a restless jet-lagged sleep plagued by dreams of strange mythical talking creatures…


Meeh, meeh?

Maa, maa?

Meh-eh-eh! Meh-eh-eh?

What sound do they make?

Moving along…


DSC00163 2

I said moving along…


We made a lot of new friends on this trip,


From Sally the dog to


the sweet wares of the local bakery:


The icing on the cake, (ahem), was once again being reconnected with family.

Thanks for making the journey.

LangholmMy parent’s gardens were packed with plants and color,



Here is another interesting thistle (I said there would be three):

'Veitch's Blue'

Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’

globe thistle.

Echinops ritro

You can see why it attracts a host of pollinators.

A Perennial that adds a tropical flair to northern gardens is the aptly named Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’


Just standing next to this makes you feel warmer.


“Did you know that Crocosmia is so named because the dried leaves smell of saffron when rubbed ESP?

It is derived from the Greek words, Krokos for saffron and osme for Hell, my mistake, smell.”

Thanks Satan.

Native to the grasslands of southern and eastern Africa the leaves are a give away that it is in the iris family.



A slightly disturbing picture I know, but one that leads me to the non-botanical final thistle of this gargantuan post…




The band traveled to Scotland and competed at



Perth and the


World-Pipe-Band-Championships-2015on a packed Glasgow Green.


Last minute tuning before the competition.

Here is a link to Silver Thistle’s Facebook page:


and our official website:


We practice twice a week at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School and once a month publicly at Opal Divines Davenport and we are always looking for new pipers and drummers.

Opal Divines Davenport

Hope to see you there.

Here is a video of the new World Champions and their performance:

Back in toasty Austin it was time to retrieve the guppies and head home.


Stay Tuned For:

“King Richard III”


All material © 2015 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

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1 Donna Pringle August 28, 2015 at 11:16 pm

i cannot believe you were in Brydekirk again and I didn’t get to see you! You should have fb’d me and brought the family down for a cuppa. You all looked like you had a fun trip tho! X

It was a whirlwind kind of trip Donna, still managed to squeeze in a few cold ones in doon the brig :-) We did have fun…Next time, P.

2 TexasDeb August 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm

I’ve not seen many crocosmia but every time I do they stop me dead in my tracks. Amazing how well distributed they are these days. Gardeners will obviously work to get any and every plant available world wide eventually. Especially plants with such a visual punch. Which is apparently nothing new, considering that invasive balsam.

Lovely all around! I especially enjoyed the shot of your family and their garden. Nut, tree, yeah?

I was surprised how tropical the flames of the crocosmia looked…in Scotland!
It is unusual looking with the broad Iris leaf-almost like two different plants.
Glad you liked the post TD, nut tree?

3 Gail August 29, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Always happy to see the guppies return to their rightful place with their well traveled owner! :)

Enjoyed the pictures. Beautiful trip.

And I said that her guppies probably won’t live very long, not only have they lived they are multiplying exponentially.

4 Pam/Digging August 31, 2015 at 11:11 pm

I’m sighing with envy over the sight of you all in your jackets and sweaters (jumpers?). And it’s a delight to see the ancestral home of ESP himself — or have your parents moved since you left home (probably). The bench picture reminded me a bit of the view across your own garden to your evergreen wisteria-covered bench. Echoes of home? Thanks for sharing your trip. It looked like fun.

It was really nice to have a reprieve from the death orb for a few weeks Pam.
I had forgotten just how cold the rain was over there – not the warm rain of Texas – like ice, definitely needed those jumpers…though I did notice the villagers were in tee-shirts!

My parents have moved a few times since I have left home :-) it was great to see their colorful gardens and some new-to-me plants. You should have seen the wisteria over my bench on my return, in fact I cannot believe I didn’t take a shot of it, it was almost completely covered, down to the ground.
The first thing I did was to cut it’s fringe.

5 katina September 6, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Looks like it was a great trip – I hadn’t known any stories about why the thistle became the national flower of Scotland. Is the direct to Heathrow flight nice? I figure it’s more expensive, but surely the added cost is worth not having to wait at JFK/Dulles for 3 hours…

It was a great trip Katina, though I felt like taking a vacation on my return.
The direct BA flight to Heathrow is about as good as it gets from a coach perspective. The plane is modern, food decent, entertainment system on each seat (the sheer luxury)…no more checking unchecking nonsense in Chicago or Newark etc makes a huge difference and cuts the journey time down significantly, yes definitely worth it.

6 Cheryl October 23, 2015 at 9:04 am

Don’t tell me the guppies traveled from Tx and back?? They allow guppies on the plane?

The bowl of guppies were staying with her grandparents in Austin Cheryl.
I cannot imagine how ridiculous things would have got having them on the flight with us / turbulence etc!

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