Scotland on Sunday Travel Wishlist – A Scottish Zen garden inspired by a Victorian adventurer’s travels in Japan

From Kyoto to Cowden, Eastern-inspired gardens are places of tranquility

Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 10:25 am

Ella Christie in the Japanese Garden she created at Cowden near Dollar in 1908

A vibrant pink lily on the still waters, a lichen palette of green on grey stone, a tame robin and a bounding red squirrel were all magical in their own restful way.This sense of peace is what I remember from visiting Japan. Amid the relentless bustle of the cities there would be an unexpected haven of calm. Kyoto was the garden capital, but Tokyo and Hiroshima had their silent sanctuaries as well.It was in Kyoto that I first encountered the concept of the rock garden, or Karesansui. It was in Ryōan-ji’s Zen garden that I relished the challenge of finding the stones in the seemingly featureless expanse of grey. That step from bigger picture down to detail is a deeply calming experience.And that same feeling envelops me on the slopes of the Ochils. From the grand views across the Forth Valley, through the postcard-perfect scene of the garden itself, down to the water lily.Yet this peaceful garden is the vision of a woman who had a great energy for adventure. Born in 1861, Isabella “Ella” Christie travelled the world when most Scottish women of her social standing were running the Victorian home. Scotland has a long tradition of adventurers and explorers, but to travel as widely and freely as Ella did is noteworthy in itself.As her great-great-niece Sara Stewart explained: “She went to places that no Western woman had been. She was unbelievably brave and that was how she wanted to spend her life. Ella had been brought up as though she had been a son, so she had been very well educated and wanted to see more of the world.”The Royal Geographical Society recognised that spirit with a fellowship – one of the first awarded to a woman. Travelling with her servant Humpries, and trunks with formalwear for any glamorous events she might be invited to, her destinations included India, Malaya and Tibet and she was one of the first western women to meet the Dalai Lama.Ella was in her 40s when she travelled East, taking in China, Hong Kong, Russia and Japan in 1906 and 1907.In Kyoto she met Ella and Florence du Cane, authors of The Flowers And Gardens Of Japan, and on her return set about creating Shã Raku En, “the place of pleasure and delight”, helped by Taki Handa, a rare female garden designer trained at the at the Royal School of Garden Design in Nagoya.By employing specialists in Japanese garden design, Ella’s garden soon established an international reputation – Professor Jijo Suzuki, head of the Soami School of Imperial Garden Design, declaring it “the best garden in the Western World” and it became a tourist attraction in the 1920s and 1930s as well as a regular attraction in Scotland’s Garden Scheme, which Ella’s sister Alice Stewart helped found.Ella died soon after the end

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Covid in Scotland: Police break up hundreds of house parties

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Police broke up “at least” 300 house parties across Scotland over the weekend, with 14 arrests being made.

More than 100 fines were issued between Friday and Sunday, with officers having to force entry to three households.

Police Scotland said its analysis suggested house parties were being held “in every community and age group”.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said most people were following the rules – but “decisive action” would be taken where necessary.

  • New law to break up ‘super spreader’ house parties

New rules barring indoor meetings of more than six people from two households have been introduced in Scotland in response to increasing numbers of Covid cases.

Pubs have also been ordered to close by 22:00, and additional police officers were sent out to support councils over the first weekend of the new restrictions.

Mr Livingstone said officers would “use good sense and exercise discretion”, and that “the great majority of people are taking personal responsibility to do the right thing”.

But he added: “There can be no excuse for arranging, attending, or hosting a house party.

“It is against the law. Where officers encounter blatant, wilful, or persistent breaches, we will take decisive action to enforce the law.”

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Iain Livingstone said officers would take action against “blatant” breaches of the rules

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the figures had to be seen in the context of a country with a population of 5.4 million people.

She said “the vast majority” were abiding by the rules.

“Anybody who is not, and particularly anybody who is who are fragrantly breaking very clear rules against house parties, should really take a look at themselves,” she added.

“We know that house parties are one of the risk factors that can cause this virus to spread.”

While officers were called to a number of parties at student halls in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon stressed that the issue with indoor gatherings was not just about young people.

Mr Livingstone said on Friday that analysis suggested that only one in 10 house parties police responded to had been linked to students.

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Coronavirus: Police Scotland called to 405 house parties over weekend

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Police officers were called out to 405 house parties across the country over the weekend following reports of breaches of coronavirus rules.

Six people were arrested and one fixed penalty notice was issued, Police Scotland said.

Other people attending the parties were given “suitable advice” and then dispersed.

Two officers who went to a house in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, were allegedly assaulted.

The windows of two police cars were also smashed during the incident at 05:35 on Sunday.

  • New police powers to break up house parties
  • New rules limit gatherings to six people

Two men, both aged 47, have been arrested and charged and are due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff later.

Public nuisance

Police Scotland also confirmed that officers responded to 1,552 reports of noise, public nuisance and disturbance between Friday and Sunday.

That was an increase of of 41% compared with the same weekend last year.

As of 9 September, there had been 294 arrests for Covid-related breaches and 3,388 fixed penalty notices issued.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said the force “will not tolerate blatant disregard for the legislation which is there to help stop the spread of the virus”.

“In some of the situations officers were assaulted, which is horrific,” he said. “Officers have been spat upon as well as physically assaulted in other ways.

“The law is really clear – you can’t have a party within your house and if you do we’re going to be called and we are going to take enforcement action to make sure you don’t repeat that.”

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Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said Police Scotland would not tolerate “blatant disregard” for the law

It was announced in August that Police Scotland would be given powers to break up and disperse house parties.

The move came amid concerns about links between large indoor gatherings and the spread of Covid-19 cases.

A new law came into force on Monday, limiting social gatherings in Scotland to a maximum of six people from two households.

Police Scotland said officers had been involved in 68,000 “interactions” with the public since lockdown rules were introduced.

Mr Graham added: “Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, only using enforcement as a last resort.

“We will continue with that approach, but we will not hesitate to use enforcement action where it is necessary.

“We will not tolerate blatant disregard for the law, which is in place to help stop the spread of the virus, and we have been using our powers to disperse large groups of people at house parties.”

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