Friday, 26 June 2009

Taking a break

End of school today (and I'm not chancing even waterproof mascara for the ceremony), then one child off to France this afternoon, the other starting a holiday job next week, and I'm heading north for a week to see my Dad and to breathe the Speyside air. So I'm taking a blogging break, and when I come back I might indulge myself by enjoying other blogs for a bit rather than being on photo opportunity alert.

The Albertine rose in the shot above symbolises this time of year for me. It grew in my parents' garden, and now I have it in mine. At my primary school we would take in flowers for the teacher on the last day of school - as happens the world over. It was rather coals to Newcastle, as everyone had whopping gardens by Edinburgh standards, and no shortage of their own flowers. Still, it was the thought etc, and in those days no-one would have dreamt of BUYING anything. On the last day of Primary 2 I remember very clearly standing at the classroom door waiting to go in, holding my bunch of Albertine roses with their stems wrapped in silver foil. I remember the polished herringbone parquet of the corridor, the brown varnished wood of the classroom door, the bare grey floorboards of the classroom. The room was suddenly huge and echoing, with all our artwork taken down the day before. And I was suddenly conscious of the moment, aware of myself standing there with my bunch of roses, and aware too that I would never live this moment again.

So I'm taking a break to immerse myself in just enjoying the moment.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Stepping out

... to the Leavers' Ball, and on to the next stage in life. I should just say that I do have permission to post this photo of my son on his way to the formal ball that is one of the events in this whole end of an era business.

We hired this outfit - since we're not sure that he's finished growing yet, we're not risking getting a kilt made and then finding it's too short 6 months later. And believe me, there's nothing worse than a kilt that's too short. Although between us my husband and I cover two of the main royal houses of Scotland, our tartans were spurned on this occasion in favour of Ramsay blue tartan. It was exactly the right shade to tone with the dress my son's partner was wearing. I call that gentlemanly.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Techie stuff/moving on

Here's one of the techie things that I want to be able to do - not to have a white sky when focusing on something in the foreground. On this occasion I was so taken up by the combination of new camera (courtesy of my mother-in-law - thanks so much, Barbara!) and of my son deciding that the shot would be improved by his presence that I couldn't even think about what the background would look like. The thing is, numbers just escape me. If dyscalculia had been invented when I was at school I would have had it, in spades. I still remember the look of horror on my mother's face (she was a primary school teacher) when I told her that my IQ test had been easy and that I'd 'just' missed out all the questions with numbers. She obviously saw a future for me that consisted of sitting at the back of the class with raffia (any other British readers remember Thora Hird in 'Pat and Margaret'?). But I need to get to grips with numbers to do what I want with my camera. As always, I turn to a book for help. At the moment I'm thinking of getting 'Digital Photography for Dummies'. Any other suggestions?

When this photo was taken in early May it didn't seem all that poignant to me. The school chamber choir had just reprised their 'Jephte' at choral evensong in Dunfermline Abbey. Now, I realise that my son is about to leave behind all things to do with school, including school uniform. With a few days left of school, and that newfangled invention of 'study leave' having morphed into a few weeks of limbo before the end of term, the sight of him in uniform already belongs to the past.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Vivaldi in the National Museum

In my Scotland Street post I mentioned my long-suffering teenagers, waiting after a morning of playing in a concert at the National Museum of Scotland while I took photos. Here's what they were working hard at - a concert featuring the music of Vivaldi. Their school has a community baroque orchestra, and two groups from it played recently for Sunday visitors to the National Museum. Here they're playing Vivaldi's concerto No. 11 in D minor for 2 violins, cello and strings. My daughter has longed to play this with an orchestra ever since we attended the Suzuki World Convention in Turin, when it was played (from memory) by hundreds of young violinists, violists and cellists from 28 countries - the common language of music. My daughter is at the extreme left in the front row of standing violinist, and my son is second from right in the two standing violists. The acoustic in the museum is glorious, and the orchestra really enjoyed playing there.

In taking these shots I realised even more my photographic limitations. The museum has beautiful stonework, but I need to find out about exposures and all that stuff. This is hard for me - it involves numbers.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Skywatch Friday - walk the walk

The brilliant pink big top cum pavillion at a medieval joust - part of the set-up for Edinburgh's Moonwalk on Sunday night. Over 10,000 women and men will walk the walk over a 26 or 13 mile course through the city to raise money for breast cancer research, wearing decorated bras.

The big pink start tent is in Inverleith Park, with Edinburgh Castle as a backdrop.

More Skywatch shots at the Skywatch Friday site.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Scotland Street

For Tash and chrome3d, and any other Alexander McCall Smith readers, here is the real Scotland Street. Needless to say, No. 44 doesn't exist. In the summer months especially, puzzled literary pilgrims can be found combing the street for the elusive No. 44.

It's a short little street. The top end is in the posh New Town. The bottom end has just a hint of the more ordinary Broughton and Canonmills. Just the mix Sandy McCall Smith envisaged.

The red box in the foreground is for kerbside recycling - cardboard in red boxes; paper, glass and aluminium in blue.

The walled-up windows are a relic of the window tax imposed in Edinburgh for several hundred years until the mid 19th century. Rather than pay tax, residents bricked up their windows. Goodness knows it's dark enough here already for 9 months of the year.

This is looking towards the top, New Town end of the street. I'm sure Bertie must have posted a few letters in this post box. Horrible exposure in this shot. I must learn about all this techie camera stuff. As usual, I was in a rush taking these photos. Family in car nearby, pretending they didn't know me. Hungry teenagers after a morning playing in a concert at the National Museum of Scotland. Long-suffering husband. Still, they indulged me.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Taxi outing

In June each year the Edinburgh taxi trade runs an outing from the city for what are termed 'vulnerable' or 'disadvantaged' children, including disabled children. This year the outing included visiting children from Chernobyl. A huge fleet of decorated black cabs travels in convoy from the city to the beach at Dirleton, on the East Lothian coast. The taxi in the shot above is rather low key, but it was out and about very early. I hoped to see more extravagant decorations on the remainder of my 40 minute walk to work, but I must have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Part of me wonders about the whole singling out of children as 'disadvantaged' in this way, but there's no doubt that the event is still going strong after 63 years. It reminds me of the annual outing that my father enjoyed at primary school in a tiny village on Speyside in the 1930s and still talks about today. The entire 2 room school was taken by steam train from Craigellachie (yes, the original of the Canadian Pacific Railway version) to Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth Coast, a journey of 17 miles. On arrival they were treated to lemonade and buns. They then walked to the wide, sandy beach backed by dunes, and played until lunchtime. I don't imagine any of the children owned a swimming costume - it would have been frocks tucked into knickers for the girls, and school shorts for the boys. The school then walked back into town, where they had lunch that still makes my father misty-eyed: soup, mince and tatties and ice cream. Then back to the beach for games of cricket and races, before taking the train back up into the hills. All this was organised and paid for by a wealthy lady landowner, and for most of the children it was the only time in the year they went beyond a 2 or 3 mile radius of the village.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Cycling Project - home comforts

After nearly two weeks of basic camping, including tents blowing down in gales, the group spent a night in a Youth Hostel near the end of the trip. It was newly opened after refurbishment, and the highlight for the group was the LEATHER SOFAS. In taking the photo above my son obviously thought that it represented everything that was luxurious: lamplight, mugs of hot chocolate on a coffee table (a coffee table!), a can of 'squirty cream', and windows that keep out the wind. The time, by the way, was 1o.54 p.m.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Cycling Project - farmhouse stop

On the long, flat run down from Tongue to Lairg the group stopped at a farmhouse and was invited in for a very welcome hot chocolate. It also happened to be feeding time for an orphaned lamb, and turns were taken at feeding it and holding it. It must have been rather well fed by the time it had been round the group.


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