Finding the Felty Folk

It’s been so lovely to see the sunshine again after an exceptionally long Winter in Scotland. I enjoyed watching the coverage of the Chelsea Flower show on the BBC, and it gave me quite a hankering to wander through beautiful gardens.

Saturday looked like it was going to be a glorious day, and I had planned to visit a nice garden – Monteviot Gardens, near Jedburgh. This was the first time I’d been there:

Monteviot Gardens

How lovely to have a river at the bottom of your garden, the water was like glass:

River Teviot

I had arranged with Neeva to get a message to Oosie and Diggly to meet me in the gardens, as it wasn’t too far from where they lived. So I was keeping my eyes peeled for them.

They weren’t in the Laburnum Tunnel; I thought they would have enjoyed climbing it:

Laburnum Tunnel

It wasn’t in its full glory, as it was in the shade, and the yellow blossoms were only just starting to come out.

They weren’t in the Arboretum; although I saw lots of good Felty Folk hidey-holes in the trees, and some fantastic twisted tree bark:

Tree bark

They weren’t running through the blooming Wild Garlic under the trees:

Wild garlic

Maybe it was too smelly!

I walked into the lush Oriental Water Gardens,

Water Gardens

and found them sitting on one of the bridges, soaking in the sunshine:

Oosie & Diggly on the bridge

“Hi!” I called out “I’ve found you. Aren’t you worried other people might see you there?”

Oosie and Diggly laughed.

“People make so much noise walking about we get plenty of warning before we have to hide,” Diggly commented.

Oosie & Diggly on bridge close up

“It’s good to see you again,” Oosie said.

They got up, ran across the bridge and leapt into the flower beds, swinging from hand to hand towards me.

Oosie & Diggly swinging

Oosie stopped right in front of me, swaying on a flowerhead.

Oosie swinging on flowers

“I haven’t seen you since the snow in March,” I said. “Isn’t it lovely now the sun has come out.”

“It is,” said Oosie. “It makes it so much easier for us to get about too.”

She swung herself along, with Diggly following, and jumped from flower to leaf to rock to bridge, exploring the garden.

Finally they slowed down and caught their breath, resting in a clump of Gunnera leaves, which swayed wildly as they landed.

Oosie & Diggly on Gunnera

“Have you explored the rest of the garden yet?” I asked.

They both nodded.

“Yes, we came early while it was quiet, we played for quite a long time on the tunnel thing!” exclaimed Oosie.

We chatted for quite a while, catching up with news of the Felty Folk, until it was eventually time to leave. I remembered I had an invitation for them.

“Would you both like to come to a feast I’m going to have in my garden soon?”

“Ooh, yes!” they cried, “that sounds marvellous!”

Oosie & Diggly close up

“Alright. I’ll get Neeva to send a message to you as usual to let you know when it’s going to happen.”

I left Oosie and Diggly on the leaf, chatting away about the imminent feast.


Thanks to S.Miller for use of some of the photographs here.


The Crystal Well

I made a return visit to the Crystal Well, near St. Boswells, at the end of the Autumn and saw some of the Felty Folk again. I was directed to the Crystal Well when looking for a geocache, (a good example of how geocaching leads you to interesting places). I went with my friend from Newcastle, who took the photos of my red shawl I showed you in my last post. I really enjoyed my last visit, and was fascinated by a plantation of trees there:

Tree avenue in Summer, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I loved the rhythm of the receding trees. I was keen to see what they would look like in Autumn colours.

As I got out of the car, I was greeted by a Robin, really close by:

Robin, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

It had been a frosty weekend, and although the sun was shining, there were pockets of thick frost, which created wonderful sculptured foliage:

Frosty Maple leaf, St Boswells, Scottish Borders          Frosty leaves, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Frosty fern, St Boswells, Scottish Borders          Frosty Butterbur leaf, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Which contrasted with the bright trees:

Trees on Fire, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

When I visited the well in Summer it looked like this:

Well Pump and view to River Tweed, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

This is what it looked like in Autumn:

Autumn well view, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

And by the river:

Frost and Sun, view to River Tweed, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I walked towards the well, and thought I saw something quickly move there.

Frost and well, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I crept around to the side of the spring, and look who I saw:

Autumn well, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Can you see him on the left by the railings? It’s the Ghillie Dhu: often the most difficult of the Felty Folk to see, and rarely keen to talk to me. When I got closer to the well he moved away.

Crystal Well, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I had a closer look at the carved face above the well:

Well carving, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I heard a small voice below me,

“Go away! I’m busy communing with the Spirit of the Well. Go and find Neeva, she’s exploring the woods nearby.”

I looked down, and there he was:

Ghillie Dhu at the well, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

He looked quite cross, so I backed away, apologised, and went to find Neeva.

I headed to the tree plantation, and was disappointed to find all the leaves had fallen off the main plantation trees:

Treetops, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I had forgotten they were poplars, which drop their leaves quite early in Autumn. It still looked dramatic though:

Through the trees, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Autumn shadows, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I had hoped there might be a carpet of golden leaves below the trees, but most of them were black and brown. However, this one looked lovely:

Poplar Leaf, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

It gave me an idea for a colour combination to use with some beautiful golden handspun yarn I have.

I went in search of gold leaves, and found some:

Golden Leaves, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

This reminded me of a Klimt painting:

Klimt-like trees, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

And a single leaf, still clinging on:

Golden Leaf, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I walked back into the plantation, and noticed some of the trees looked like they were wearing mossy legwarmers:

Moss legwarmers, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

And then I saw Neeva:

Seeing Neeva, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

“Hi Neeva,” I said. “You’re far from home.”

“So are you. I’m surprised to see you here,” she replied.

I explained about my previous visit, and she said she had come with the Ghillie Dhu on his pilgrimage to the Crystal Well for a change of scenery. Although she said she was a bit bored now she was here; and that the Ghillie Dhu was doing meditation, and communing with the Spirit of the Well, and they could be here for a while yet.

Neeva and Moss, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I was a bit concerned about disturbing him, but Neeva said he was often a bit grumpy anyway, and not to worry. We headed back to the Crystal Well together, Neeva stopping for a frolic in the leaves under a hazel tree.

Neeva in leaves, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

The shadows were getting longer and it was time for me to return home. I was concerned about Neeva travelling in the dark, but she reassured me that she was staying with some other Felty Folk nearby, and would be travelling back the next day. Although the Ghillie Dhu would stay at the well overnight. I asked if Neeva had seen the Spirit of the Well.

Neeva in leaves, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

” I’ve only seen her faintly,” she said,  ” she can’t be seen by humans at all.”

“Why does he do the pilgrimage?”

“I think it is a kind of cleansing experience, and is done to mark a change of some kind. I don’t really understand it, it’s to do with his ceremonial duties too,” she explained.

We walked along the path together until we reached the steps I had to climb to get back to the car.

Neeva on path, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

It’s interesting that the Ghillie Dhu makes his pilgrimage here, as the information board at the well says it is quite modern:

Well sign, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I’m sure the spring itself is old…

Felty Folk in the Mist

At last I managed to raise enough Ooomph to go for a walk in the countryside around Lauder, and catch up with the Felty Folk again. Although it’s been a while since I have written about them, Neeva has popped into to see me at home a couple of times. I’ve been working hard in my job and have been too tired to do much when I’m not working; but one day, I just got sick of the four walls at home and just had to get out, stretch my legs and get a bit of fresh air.  So I took a drive up to Lauder Common for a walk, it wasn’t a very nice day:

Misty common

Very misty and still, maybe a little spooky? I was going to walk in a little clump of trees that I’d never explored on Lauder Common before, this was because I was looking for a geocache.

Misty trees

I’ve had a go at geocaching this year, and have found a few. Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunting activity: people have hidden containers with a logbook and sometimes a few small tokens, toys etc, they post the co-ordinates and a clue on the geocaching website, where other people can look up the details and find the cache and log their visit. Sounds very geeky, I know, but I always liked treasure hunts when I was a kid, and by looking for these caches, you are taken to places you haven’t discovered before; great when you’re on holiday and want to find a local walk. You are supposed to use a hand held GPS device to find the caches, but I haven’t got one; so I put the co-ordinates into Google Maps, and study the satellite and street view before I go to find it, and a helpful clue will often get me there. So I wandered around the clump of trees on Lauder Common, and looked for likely places where a cache would be hidden, and I found it!  It was a small well-hidden plastic food box, so I made sure no-one was around to see me open it, and signed the logbook.

I carried on having an explore through the trees, the light through the mist and tree branches was eerie, and drips were plopping from the trees from the moisture in the air:

Gossamer and droplets

The fine gossamer threads of spiders webs were catching the light.


The tree trunks were all twisted and mossy and wet:

Under the tree

Then I saw something move in the tree roots. It was Neeva!

Neeva gathering

I stopped for a chat.

“Hi Neeva. Good to see you.”

“Hi Ruth, I’m glad to see you out for a walk.”

“I see you’ve got your knitted bag you made with you,” I said. “Are you out foraging?”

“Yes I am,” she said. “I’m collecting Wood Sorrel leaves to make into soup for supper tonight.”

“I’m looking forward to that”, said a deeper voice from higher up the tree. I looked up, and there was Dod:

Dod's there too

“Hi Dod. I haven’t seen you for ages, what are you up to?”

“Busy as usual before Winter, just collecting some fencing twigs, and some pine needles to help insulate my home,” he answered.

 Dod gathering

Dod slithered and bumped his way down the tree with a handful of twigs, and joined Neeva.

What we got

“Wood Sorrel soup sounds lovely,” I commented.

“Yes, it’s good to have something warm and nourishing after a day foraging,” said Dod.

“Have you seen Oosie recently?” I asked. “I haven’t seen here since we went on the trip to see Diggly.”

“She was up here for a while when we had some warm dry weather,” replied Neeva, “but she’s gone back to stay with Diggly again now, and I don’t think we’ll see her much now we are heading into Winter.”

Neeva Chats

“You must miss her,” I said.

“Well yes, but that’s what happens when two Felty Folk have a bond like they have. They spend time together to see if they want to stay together permanently. So I don’t expect to see her so often now; it’s a shame Diggly doesn’t live closer.”

“That is a shame, but still, it’s good to know she’s happy,” I said.

Neeva and Dod agreed with me.

It was nearly lunchtime, so I headed off back to the car and left the Felty Folk to their foraging. I’m sure I’ll see them again soon.

Diggly’s Den

At last the time arrived for the visit to meet Diggly, as discussed here and here. Three of the Felty Folk had plucked up the courage to go on a first trip with me in the car. Neeva showed them around the car, and reassured them that it would be OK, and they climbed up into the safety seat I had created for them:

Climbing in

They were quite excited but a little nervous. I started the car, checked they were OK, and set off. They were quite quiet initially, and as they got used to the new sensations, they started happily chatting with each other.

Safety seat

I drove towards Selkirk, aiming for the area where I had seen Oosie, and she had done her leaf dance. When we were in the right area, I pulled into a layby to check with Oosie where to go next. They clambered out of their seat, and had a bit of a stretch and explored the car:

Oosie takes in the view

There was a lovely view to the distant hills:

The view

It was a lovely day altogether, much nicer for the trip than first intended, where it was supposed to be an easier way of Oosie getting to see her friend Diggly when travelling was hard on foot during the Winter. However the Winter was not too hard this year, and I had been a little unwell to take trips out, so it had been delayed. Oosie had managed to see Diggly a couple of times during the Winter, so this trip had turned into a bit of a jolly for the Felty Folk, and a bit of excitement travelling by car.

I showed them the map, and pointed out where I had seen Oosie before, and she was able to guide me towards where Diggly lived.

The Felty Folk consult the map

We set off again and soon came to the trees where I had seen Oosie:

Row of trees

A little further on, Oosie started getting quite excited and said we were nearly there, so I found a place to park up and we set off by foot, towards a footbridge:

Path to footbridge

This is the burn running under from the footbridge:

Burn from footbridge

We came to a forked path, but Oosie skipped ahead to show us  the way:

Oosie shows the way

Through the gate we were in beautiful woodland, paved with wild flowers. Forget-me-nots threaded under the trees:

Forget-me-not woodland

I love the way they change colour as the flowers age:

Wild Forget-me-not

There were Wood Anemones:

Wood Anemone

And striking trees – a Copper Beech:

Copper Beech

And a Crab Apple tree in full bloom:

Crab Apple Blossom

And a lichen encrusted Apple tree:

Diggly in apple tree

“It’s Diggly, it’s Diggly, it’s Diggly!!” cried Oosie jumping up and down in her excitement. The others were waving and calling out too.


“Hello,” I said, “You must be Diggly.”

“That’s right, and you must be Ruth,” he said, “Oosie’s told me about you. I’d better come down and say hello to her…”

He climbed down and ran to Oosie:

Diggly pleased to see Oosie

They were VERY pleased to see each other. There must be something magical going on between them:

Oosie and Diggly

Diggly greeted the others, and they all climbed on a Butterbur leaf for a good chat:

The Felty Folk resting on a Butterbur leaf

I chatted with them for a while, but they were talking about Folk I didn’t know, so it was hard to join in. Diggly was giving them some lunch, but the food was only suitable for Felty Folk;so I said I’d go off for a short walk and explore, and would come back for them later, and left them chatting:

Oosie and Diggly on Butterbur leaf

On my walk I found a beautiful view across a field:

View across field

that somehow reminded me of the Monet painting, Le Pave du Chailly. There was a clump of Welsh Poppies that just glowed, under tender green beech leaves:

Welsh Poppies

Welsh poppy

Closer to the burn there were the unusual Water Avens:

Water Avens

They remind me of Victorian lampshades:

Water Avens close up

Maybe the Felty Folk use them for something, I’ll have to ask them. I walked back along the path by the Crab Apple tree:

Path back

and headed to the patch of Butterbur, but no Felty Folk were in sight. I carried on along the path and came back to the footbridge:

Sitting on bridge2

And there they were, waiting for me:

Sitting on bridge1

“Are you ready to go home?” I asked. “We can stay a bit longer if you like?”

“Yes, we’re ready to go now,” Neeva and Dod replied.

Sitting on bridge4

Oosie explained that Diggly had invited her to stay a few days, so she would make her own way back. Now I’d met Diggly, I was reassured that he would look after Oosie and return her safely.

We all said our goodbyes, and Neeva, Dod and I walked back to the car. I asked Neeva if this was normal behaviour for Felty Folk; and she said that when two Felty Folk really liked each other, they would try out spending longer amounts of time together, eventually they would either live together or not. She said, the Felty Folk don’t have marriage like us, but after two of them have lived together happily for a certain amount of time they would have a celebration, a bit like our wedding anniversaries.

So I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens with Diggly and Oosie, and where they might make their home.