Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Hyacinth recalls happy memories of Fife mansion for Rab

Hyacinth recalls happy memories of Fife mansion for Rab

At the time of writing, my hyacinth is almost done. I apologise for that dramatic opening sentence. But it’s no less than the truth. I’ve had several weeks of bright pink flowers and a scent that I love more than any other.

One reason I love it so much is that it sparks a rather daft memory. It was about the time that I nearly bought a house, or at least a flat. The location was Fife, and the flat formed part of an old listed country mansion.

I visited it twice, causing me to hum and also to haw. Eventually, I decided against but, while I would not go so far as to regret the decision entirely, I have often wondered about what might have been.

Robert McNeil.

The house sat amidst expansive gardens surrounded by woodland. There was a long curving drive to the property and I thought that, rather like that posh chiel in Brideshead Revisited, I could stop the car (a sports car at the time) half-way there and invite a new girlfriend to take in the vista. “This is where I live,” I would say airily.

The flat was on two floors at the top of the house, which was handy. My main concern when buying a property is noise. I cannot abide it. And yet there is so much of it about. However, here, should a hullabaloo arise from below, I could always retreat upstairs.

Indeed, I could retreat further, for there was access to the roof. It was a fabulous place to relax. I lack a head for heights but, provided I remain far from the edge, I’ve always loved being on a roof. In my last house, a two-up two-down in suburbia, I’d sometimes find myself on the sloping roof fixing something.

Then I’d stop to take it all in: a grander view, a new perspective and a fine feeling of being … above it all. There’s always something peaceful about being on a roof.

Atop this Fife mansion, I lay back and watched hawks circling in a cloudless sky. Sitting up, I had a fine view over the countryside. Alas, the roof was the main reason I didn’t buy the flat. I worried that roof repairs to such a historic building would cost an arm and a leg. Looking back, I suppose insurance – a concept with which I’m never comfortable –might have taken care of it. I so often find myself getting in a tizzy with worries over nothing.

You say: “Never mind all that. What aboot the hyacinths, ken?” I’m coming to that. In the vestibule, if that is the word, a beautiful scent arose. I located the source and couldn’t bring the name to mind. “Hyacinth,” said one of the neighbours, a helpful and encouraging chap. Indeed, everyone I met in that place, which would perforce be a sort of community, was pleasant and positive about the possibility about my moving in. Usually people say: “Aw naw.”

Now, as the hyacinth in the sitting room of my current house starts to fade, I recall again that long curving drive, the grandeur of the aged pile, and the salubrious gardens. I might have stayed happily there, in that scented heaven, lying back on the roof, watching hawks circle lazily in the windless sky.

More in this series:

Forget Scandi noir and Game of Thrones – it’s Springwatch all the way for Rab

Already a subscriber? Sign in