Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A great big lawn

After the ploughing, the laying of the turf. The makeover continues of the area of Princes Street Gardens that was mangled by the Winter Wonderland. This squad of gardeners was going about its work last week, with much witty comment and encouragement from those lunching on the park benches above.

I took several shots as the sunlight came and went, since I was just pointing and shooting in my simple way, and it was only on looking through them just now that I realised I'd missed the best shot of all - the shadow of the weeping willow which I've cut off here in its prime. I'll have to learn to look more carefully for the unexpected.

Still frustrating internet problems here.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Outward Bound

A day sack, a 65 litre rucksack, a Tesco bag with walking boots and gaiters, and a Tiso bag with bread, croissants (why not?) and fruit for the first night in a youth hostel. Everything a girl needs for 3 days walking and camping in the Scottish hills. This was the waiting-in-the-school-carpark-for-the-bus start of my daughter's Duke of Edinburgh expedition today. I wasn't allowed to take a photo of her ('Mum, don't be embarrassing'), but my daughter is the second pair of legs from the right. Just as I took this shot I heard a wail from nearby. 'Mum, you're so embarrassing!', and saw another mother trying to catch a shot of her daughter.

We're having trouble with our modem just now, which means that loading pages takes so long that I can't get round other blogs as I'd like. I see the thumbnails on my blog, but then can't get into the sites. Frustration.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Earth Hour Edinburgh

Switching off the lights on the Forth Rail Bridge, seen above in all its rusty-red splendour, was one of Edinburgh's civic contributions to Earth Hour yesterday. For some reason, this bridge is illuminated every night. Yes, it's a feat of 19th Century engineering - the world's first major steel bridge. No, we don't need to see it lit up at night.

During Earth Hour you would still have seen its partner road bridge illuminated in a ghastly orange glow reflected off the clouds.

These photos were taken by our intrepid Austrian friends right at the end of their round-Scotland bike trip in the summer.

In our household, we lit candles, turned off the lights and the TV and the computer(s). My husband and son were felled by sleep almost immediately - husband on the sofa, teenage son stretched out on the floor. My daughter and I looked at each other, sighed, and spent a peaceful hour reading by candlelight in a Jane Austen-ish way. Perhaps as a result of aligning body clocks to earlier darkness we were up with the sun this morning and on our way to the allotment by 8 a.m.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Skywatch Friday - Shetland rainbows

Days of sun and rain and March winds here just now, and after a winter in the city one suddenly longs to escape to the hills. "Blows the wind today and the sun and the rain are flying/Blows the wind on the moors today..." Robert Louis Stevenson's poem always comes to my mind on days like these, and to fit my mood I've chosen this photo of Shetland.

See more Skywatch photos at the Skywatch Friday site.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Scott Monument entrance

When I posted a photo of the Scott Monument, Tash asked if it was open for climbing to the top. It certainly is, for the sum of £2.45, and here's the sweet little gothic entrance.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Mother's Day

Retro stereotype? Or just a bit of fun and colour? I'd certainly trade a day in the office for sweet-smelling laundry on the clothes line, a blue spring sky with puffy clouds, and flowers in the garden.

This is the same florist that gave us snow in Edinburgh when all around was bare and grey.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Skywatch Friday - holding up the sky

The 'golden boy' on top of the University of Edinburgh's Old College holds up the sky.

See other Skywatch Friday photos here.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Scott Monument

The last time I climbed the Scott Monument I was 7 years old, on holiday in the big city. It's 200 feet and 6 inches tall, and I remember how proud I was of the certificate I got for making it to the top. Since coming to live in Edinburgh 24 years ago I haven't repeated the feat.

The monument was completed in 1844 in commemoration of the author Sir Walter Scott. It's graceful, gothic, and it reminds me of an illustration in my 1950's copy of 'The Wonders of Science' - one of those futuristic scenes beloved of that period, of a sleek space rocket resting on slender legs on the dusty landscape of a far planet, while astronauts in goldfish bowl helmets and silver space suits explore man's new domain. I was reading this during the 1960's, I hasten to add, but things in general, especially the Wonders of Science, moved slowly in North East Scotland at that time.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Tractor in the city

This is ghastly photo quality. I don't quite know what's going on at the bottom right of the image. As usual just now I was in a tearing hurry as I passed through Princes Street Gardens at lunchtime. But the sight of a tractor ploughing as if it was in a country field made me grab my camera.

The area it's ploughing is where the Winter Wonderland was in December and January. Ice rink, fun fair, the works - see the bottom photo in this post, taken from the other direction. When it all gets taken away the grass beneath is in a sorry state. Usually it's re-seeded and it pulls away and by May it's as good as new. This year however it's being given some pampering.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Six Nations sausage

Let's draw a veil over the result of today's Scotland v. Ireland rugby match. Instead, we can console ourselves that we have invented the Six Nations sausage, advertised here in the window of Crombies sausage and haggis emporium. The small print spells it out: pork from Scotland, leeks from Wales...If any Irish supporters are feeling up to a traditional Scottish cooked breakfast tomorrow after a night of celebrations they might well appreciate a few of these sausages.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Pick your nose

Red Nose Day again, when Britain picks its nose to wear in aid of Comic Relief - "doing something funny for money". The charity's huge aim is 'a just world free from poverty', and in aid of this normally sane people walk around with a large plastic ball on their nose - just as Kirk and Spock, Margaret Thatcher and Dostoevsky are modelling here in the window of an Oxfam second hand bookshop. Schools, workplaces, national TV, all do weird, wonderful or just downright pleasant things alongside the red nose wearing. My workplace today had its usual cake sale - a surfeit of Scottish homebaking to deliver a sugar rush for the day's tasks.

The chap in the flat cap behind Kirk and Spock is Prince Charles, by the way, gamely entering into the spirit of things.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Skywatch Friday - Ben Rinnes (5)

That precious thing in Scotland - a cloudless sky, with just a pink frost haze on the horizon.

Life is still far too busy, and the weekend will be even busier than the week, but I hope to get round some Skywatch sites.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Ben Rinnes (4)

My daughter trudges up towards the outcrops of rock at the top of Ben Rinnes. Away to the right the heather fires are still burning. And that eagle is still soaring...

Life has been too busy here lately for much in the way of posting and reading other blogs, and I've just realised that things are about to get even busier over the next week. After that I intend to have a luxurious catch up on all the great photos I've been missing.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Ben Rinnes (3)

A chequer-board effect on a hillside, seen from the slopes of Ben Rinnes. I'm assuming that this is related to forestry operations, since it would be difficult to burn heather (see previous post) so neatly. Speyside is quite heavily forested with commercial plantations, although some of the ancient Caledonian forest does remain. However, the dark green evergreens and the russet larches in this shot are definitely of the cut-and-plant-again type. Much ecological debate rages about these 'unnatural' plantations.

Photo credit for this shot and for most of this Ben Rinnes mini-series is due to my daughter.


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