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Flower Favourite on the North Coast 500

Photo title; Flower Flavour

Why would I choose this delicate mauve flower that almost floats in the air as one of my favourites? Especially as the hills themselves are starting to turn that magical purple with the heather slowly coming into bloom and the iconic brilliant thistles adding to the party. Even the thorny roses are screaming out in their bold hues. But still, it is this tiny flower that catches my eye each time. Probably because like the gorse before it, this flower is one of contrasts. So subtle in shade and form, yet harsh jagged thorns draws blood the moment you get too near. ‘Beware I maybe bonnie but I have a sting in the tail or at least a good few thick sharp thorns on my stem.’ It waits ready to pierce your skin and draw out your blood or grip hold and rip holes in your clothing. Its not got a scent that I am aware of. I suppose it is probably plant that would make up our Scottish equivalent to a briar patch. Even poor Bosie the Dandie, if she gets too close finds her hair tangled and knotted around the thorns. It takes ages to gently prise each hair clamped and twirled around them. By the time she is free both my hands are seeping thin trails of red from tiny bruised holes inflicted by the plant.

So unlike many other bonnie flowers it does not leave you feeling all dewy eyed rather it is more likely to draw the odd tear or two as you free yourself from its grip. So why I am so enamoured by this tough free spirited trailing growth? Well, you only have to wait until October when this little blossom turns into a large dark juicy fruit which will stain your fingers purple and fill your mouth with the wet distinctive taste of autumn. Your lips will be smeared a deep shade from the fruit as will your teeth, your clothes and your soul. Brambles are one off the best reasons for autumn to exist. You wait all year for them to come, these brave strong bubbly berries. Summer only teases you with their dainty flowers swaying in the breeze. A week in the whole year is about all you have to get your timing right before the fruit disappears or a frost picks them off. Hidden amongst the trees and hedgerows you can find them briefly before they pass on for another year.

Patches which you think are yours alone are often shared by many. Of course you have to limit your harvest. Berries have to be left for others and the wildlife of course. Nature being generous is not an excuse for greed on our part. I love this flower so much that I even developed a whole chapter in Blàs of the Highlands around a story involving brambles and of course the quirky Auntie Lottie. Even the spritely 80 year old Mary played a part in the plot. In fact the very essence of that tale has led to a major part of the plot in the new Blàs (2). I took the idea forward and it sprung from that.

This leads me nicely onto what am I going to call this latest book (well technically not the latest as the next ‘Grumpa’ book should hopefully beat it to the launch). The theme is entwined into belonging, be that to each other, the village or the land. Throw in a drop of culture, a brace of dogs and a bundle of bairns and we are almost there. Mostly though it is about the woods. So how could my title reflect all that. ‘Belonging to Blàs, nope that is a bit well, just no, ‘Ramble in the Brambles, well that maybe right for some stories but not this one. Nope I think I’ll stick to the one that has been itching my brain for a few weeks now. You know the title when you keep finding reasons not to use it but always end up right back there. So given the theme, the people and the woods, I reckon “Blàs; Roots in the Soil” may just be perfect. Yes I think I will go with that at least for now, unless of course you can think of something better.

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