Thursday, 30 October 2008

Inside for winter

The older blocks of flats in Edinburgh have a basement floor reached by a stone staircase from the street. Estate agents call them 'garden flats', because they most often have a back door which opens straight out onto a garden, sometimes a private garden, and it sounds better than 'basement'. Strolling along a street peeking into these basement areas and the interior of the flat is a great diversion - I'm sure I'm not the only Edinburgher who enjoys this. Here's one I came across where the owner is well prepared for winter weather - the garden gnomes have been tempted indoors, but are still keeping watch on their property.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

No access

The Scottish countryside - safely fenced off. Actually this is at a lay-by, and the netting has been installed so that the less considerate motorists, of which Scotland has a few, don't merrily fling their picnic debris into the adjoining fields. All the same, it's a bit frustrating if you want to capture the rural scene beyond when every lay-by on the Edinburgh to Aberdeen road is fenced off like this. But with a bit of fiddling, while teenagers groan 'Muuuum' in the car, the netting can be bypassed.

This is looking towards the Mearns hills. I'm not sure what the turreted mansion is. (Edited to say it's probably a church)

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Wild harvest

Up in Speyside (malt whisky country) for the weekend, we couldn't resist doing some wild harvesting. This is my daughter picking rose hips, with the intention of making rose hip syrup (which didn't get made, but there's only so much you can do in one holiday weekend).

This looks a fairly tranquil scene, but in fact we had the northern version of the gale that brought down the branch in yesterday's post. It was quite tricky picking rose hips, as the bushes were buffeted around by the wind and the thorny branches were going every which way.

Monday, 27 October 2008

After the gale

We had gales here on Saturday, and this was one result - the entrance to the University of Edinburgh's George Square Gardens blocked by a large fallen branch. There's a pale wound on the side of the tree where the branch tore off.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Refreshment for the soul

Even traffic wardens need some refreshment for the soul before starting their day's work. I spotted this pair strolling through the Meadows, enjoying the low autumn sun. Then another pair appeared, then another. Perhaps it's their therapy before going out on the streets.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


So looking round for the missing abseilers I spotted their van, and guessed that they must be in there getting kitted out in all their gear.

But THEN this team came into sight, and I understood - what else would you do before launching yourself off a tall building but fortify yourself with a strong brew and a bacon roll. Or perhaps that Scottish delicacy, a Lorne sausage roll. I know I would (tho not the Lorne sausage).

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


This sign at the foot of one of the University of Edinburgh's shiny new buildings piqued my curiousity to look upwards. I expected a scene of dangerous but controlled activity, but this is what I saw:

Obviously a complete absence of abseilers. More tomorrow...

Monday, 20 October 2008

...and reality

Until last week this has been the colour of autumn in the city - murky brownish-grey, with leaves withering on the trees rather than turning. The heron and ducks are catching the early morning sun on the Water of Leith, the river that runs down from the hills to the sea right through the city. The building in the background used to be a printworks, but is now being turned into flats (apartments).

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Autumn in art...

Recently this was the best display of autumn colour I could find in the city - the Greyfriars art shop in Dundas Street.

Saturday, 18 October 2008


This trio of flags is in Edinburgh's broad and posh George Street, a grand Georgian street that runs behind the famous main street of Princes Street. My daughter and I were frantically searching for a bus stop after a hard afternoon's shopping - because of the tram works many buses are diverted onto George Street, but the diversions are now so thick and fast that the signage doesn't always keep up.

So I didn't have time to investigate in detail why the Scottish and Manx (Isle of Man) flags were there, but the middle one is obviously of the Lighthouse Board, the organisation that oversees the lighthouses and lightships round Britain's coast. I will have to go back to investigate.

The model lighthouse has a flashing light, which is a lovely touching thing.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

In mid chew

Taken in the North West Highlands, at Badrallach on Little Loch Broom.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Edinburgh taxis - Mary King's Close

The first in an occasional series about Edinburgh's taxis. They're the traditional London black cab, but carrying a variety of advertising, some more interesting than others. This one is advertising what is now a tourist attraction - a series of narrow, 17th century streets (closes) beneath the Old Town of Edinburgh. In the 1750's a new building, now the City Chambers, was built over these old streets, and for many years they were a forgotten archaeological curiosity, until tourism revived them.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Shetland cloud

Nothing between this cloud and the east coast of Norway. Shetland is a great place for cloud-watching.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Exit route?

I'd promised fellow Scot Alison, now translated to Kansas, clouds for today. But I couldn't resist this topical photo on the day when the UK government took a majority stake in RBS - the Royal Bank of Scotland - in response to our own little corner of the global financial crisis.

And what's their emergency exit route?

There seems to be an opening at the other end. A glimmer of light beyond the thick vegetation. I certainly hope so for the sake of the RBS staff.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Welcome Scottish style

Welcoming thistles on an Edinburgh gate

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Counting trees

Recently it's dawned on me that every mature tree in Edinburgh city parks now sports a little blue tag with a number on it. The younger trees are free from this branding, presumably because as they grow and expand the tag might well ping off. One wonders quite why so much effort has gone into tagging each tree. Perhaps if one escapes it can be brought back to the right place. I should ask the City Council. Maybe there's a job opportunity there - I would exchange my day job for one counting trees.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Closing down here too

Lothiane at Oslo Daily Photo has an atmospheric post about a little snack kiosk, closed for the winter. I passed the ice cream kiosk in Princes Street Gardens, in the centre of town, and saw that it had closed too. Behind it, the Scottish flag flies in the westerly gale. Perhaps it's an instinctive seasonal thing, like the migration of birds. All across Europe, starting in the North, the snack bars and ice cream kiosks are closing for the winter.

Thursday, 9 October 2008


The bride-to-be is perched on the chair at the front of the trailer, veil askew, and dodging a spray of champagne from a well-wisher standing beside the lorry. Her attendants are wearing a tasteful mixture of flour, treacle, cocoa powder and goodness knows what else besides. They've been spending a happy afternoon driving round the village, banging on the sides of the trailer, hitting pots and pans with ladles, blowing horns and whistles, and generally announcing the forthcoming wedding. People stop what they're doing and come out of houses, shops and offices to see the lorry go by, and to offer a few contributions to the merriment. This is a blackening, so called because the traditional annointing was done with soot, treacle, boot polish - anything black and gungy. It's usually a workplace thing, and this photo was taken on Speyside, where many of the workplaces are whisky distilleries, cooperages and coppersmiths, and where the tradition is still kept.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Tardis coffee stop

For Doctor Who fans - the Tardis coffee kiosk. It promises 'out of this world' coffee. Since I don't drink coffee I can't vouch for that, but it makes me smile every time I pass it, with its pictures of the Doctor, the original blue Tardis (which I'm old enough to remember in black and white on TV), and the childhood terror of every British person over a certain age - a Dalek.

This is one of a chain of 'Police Box Coffee Bars', the owners of which very enterprisingly bought up redundant police boxes across Edinburgh, and perhaps other cities too. These boxes were designed for police patrolling city streets on foot, and offered shelter, a comfort stop, and I don't know what else. They usually had a siren attached to them, to be sounded in the event of national emergency. With the demise of the 'bobby on the beat', the foot-patrolling policeman/woman, they faced removal, but now their future is secure. Here's another, without the time-travelling theme, plus a recent arrival of a Mojo juice box, only a couple of streets away.

If only someone would open a tea box. There is however a porridge stall nearby in the colder months - I'll post a photo once it reappears for the winter.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Borders views

Heading uphill towards the top of Trahenna Law near Broughton in the Borders - the region along the border with England. The heather has now turned brown, and the bracken is also turning.

The view south from Trahenna Law.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Reaching skywards

These tall chimneys need a ladder attached to them for ease of maintenance. I love the spiked finials - or whatever they're called! Everything about this roof seemed to be reaching up into the cloudless morning sky.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Food for free

The wild blackberries, or brambles as they're called in Scotland, are ripening. I took this photo on the Water of Leith walkway/cycle path which runs through the city from the hills down to the port of Leith. The brambles along the walkway always attract a varied collection of harvesters. This lady was the first I've seen this year, and she was very smartly dressed for the occasion. I didn't dare get any closer for a better shot, or take the time to zoom in. The wrath of an Edinburgh Lady is not to be incurred lightly.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Autumn in Eyre Place

An autumn corner in Eyre Place, in the Canonmills area. This photo was taken on Thursday. No photos today - pouring rain, westerly gale. Probably very atmospheric for photos, but there's a whole winter of weather like this to get through, so we stayed indoors.

Thursday, 2 October 2008


First day of digging up Princes Street, as part of the great tramworks scheme.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Bus gridlock

Bus gridlock on Waverley Bridge and North Bridge, on the day Princes Street and the Mound closed to traffic for tramworks.

Shetland in September

Lerwick harbour, with the Lerwick lifeboat in orange.

A mini Viking longship in Lerwick harbour.

The Hjaltland (Norse name for Shetland) Aberdeen-Lerwick car ferry in Lerwick harbour.

On the road to Eshaness.

Eshaness cliffs.

On the road to Aith.


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