When the dawn breaks to a beautiful crisp autumnal day, you can do nothing but head outdoors to appreciate it. And that's exactly what my daughter and I did.
Wrapped in our winter woolies, hats, gloves and boots plus of course our camera we headed along the River Dee towards Banchory.
Our destination is my favourite local castle.
Crathes Castle has fairytale turrets, gargoyles and the ancient Horn of Leys given in 1313 by Robert the Bruce are just a few of the features of this historic castle.
The gardens of Crathes and estate are ideal for walks, picnics, or just to relax and enjoy. There are six separate trails to explore.
A delight at any time of year, the famous gardens feature great yew hedges which never cease to amaze me. There are also colourful herbaceous borders.
So are you ready for a walk?
The Crathes Gate House appears in the background.
This photo is for everyone who visited yesterday for Silent Sunday and wanted to take a further peek through that gate...don't worry I'm going to revisit in the spring, when there will be so much more to see. I hope you don't mind me just showing a fraction of it today.
Here's another gateway...which has 'Rebuilt in 1810' engraved over the top.
You can also see the castle in the background.
It was a perfect day to appreciate the autumn colours.
The metal structure on the right-hand side in the photo below is a fish ladder. This allows salmon to continue swimming upstream to their spawning grounds where they themselves were born. Salmon are capable of swimming against extremely strong currents and leaping up large waterfalls. Autumn is when the salmon are most prolific but unfortunately we didn't see any this time.
And so onto the castle...
Okay, so I've teased you enough... here is the majestic Crathes Castle.
I adore the ancient topiary hedges of Irish yew dating from 1702 which separate the garden's eight themed areas.
They remind me of Walt Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland' don't you think?
I wouldn't be surprised to see them dance around.
Because we were wanting to stay outside, we didn't go into the castle but don't worry I will take you in soon.
But we did stop for a much needed cuppa and a scone of course
(as one does after walking the forest trails)
plus a visit into the art and craft wee shops and gallery.
Here's my daughter perusing all of the fabulous artwork...
(Don't worry the boys were having a great time too...in the pub watching their football team win).
Just look at that blue sky!
Wow, it was such a fantastic day and who would think that we're in the middle of November.
Which is why I'll wish you all a Happy Blue Monday.