Friday, 30 October 2009

Skywatch Friday - University, with sunset

Just before 5pm on Wednesday there was the most gorgeous sunset over Edinburgh. I was stuck inside the University of Edinburgh's Old College. The downside of old buildings is that many of the windows have very old glass that is rippled by the effect of gravity. Add to that a layer of city grime, even in a city that no longer merits the name 'Auld Reekie', and it can be difficult to find a clear enough window through which to take a photo. The higher I went in the building the more fantastic the sunset became, with the rooftops and spires of Edinburgh stretching away towards the west, and the line of the Pentland Hills to the south. And the higher I went the dirtier the windows became. The frustration!

So this is the best I could do. No hills or spires, just the quadrangle of Old College completely outclassed by the sky.

More skies are at Skywatch Friday.

Monday, 26 October 2009


Today's news headlines in Edinburgh: the serialisation of Alexander McCall Smith's new novel. It'll appear in daily episodes in The Scotsman newspaper before being published in book format.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Small things matter

The correct spelling is indeed 'Canon Court'.

One week later:

I'm leaving the irate citizens of Edinburgh behind for a few days, along with internet access.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Narcissus Space Oddity 2009

That's what the card in the florist's window said, so I suppose that's what it is.

Saturday, 17 October 2009


Road signs in Gaelic and English, snapped by my daughter from a moving car en route to Oban this week. A long and winding road through the Western Highlands, but eventually Oban begins to appear on the signs.

Oban is the venue for this year's Royal National Mod, Scotland's main festival of Gaelic music and culture. All traditional instruments are represented, as well as story-telling and traditional forms of song and dance, and various cultural aspects. Culture extends to a competition class for under 13's in 'precenting' a psalm from The Scottish Psalmody. Precenting is where a leader gives out the words and tune of a psalm to a church congregation, line by line. You can listen to the precentor's line here. At church services I've attended on the West coast the congregations have improvised very freely on the line, and it has a scalp-tingling, un-European feel.

The Mod is held in a different location each year, and basically takes over the town. My husband and daughter were staying in a B&B just outside Oban (I couldn't go because of work commitments, sadly). Also staying at the B&B were some American visitors, who remarked innocently at breakfast, "Is there some sort of music festival thing happening here this week?". In a town hosting the Mod it's as if someone pitched up in Vancouver in February 2010 and asked 'Is there some sort of winter sports thing happening here just now?" To the American visitors' credit, once they were enlightened they went along to the clarsach and song events that my daughter was taking part in, so they had good cultural value from their night in Oban.

If anyone is passing through Oban and looking for a good B&B, my husband and daughter had a very pleasant stay at theLagganbuie B&B. Here's a quick shot my daughter took of the view from the front garden on her way to load the harp in the car.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Trams - one year on

Edinburgh's great Tram Saga - or debacle - continues. Every day there is a new twist, or conflict, or delay, or somebody is flouncing around in the huff or righteous indignation. It fatigues me to try to keep up with it, so I've stopped. All I know is that the streets are still dug up, buses no longer go remotely where you expect them to, and construction workers like the one above are just as perplexed as everyone else.

When I started this blog a year ago I posted a photo of Princes Street on the day it closed to traffic for the tramworks to begin. The shot above is taken round about where the mini diggers are in that shot.

One plus point of the works is that they have brought large Lego bricks to the centre of Edinburgh.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Skywatch Friday - the sky, from the sea

Photo taken by my daughter from a sea kayak, somewhere off the coast of Lochaber. The camera was a disposable waterproof one.

Below is the beach where the group camped overnight, looking out to the islands of Eigg and Rum.

See more skies at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Some random castle

...somewhere in Lochaber. My daughter took this shot of a 'random' castle on a school sea kayaking trip a few weeks ago off the coast of Lochaber, on the west coast of Scotland. She had a waterproof, disposable camera, but was disappointed with the quality of the photos. The best shot was actually one taken underwater. Which I suppose is what waterproof cameras are for.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

12 kuvaa/photos - my walk to work

Two Finnish bloggers, Krisu and Mari, have started a year-long project of posting photos taken in the same spot each month. I was thinking along the same lines, of tracking the progress of the seasons through my morning walk to work, so I'm slipping in a month late with October's post. Photos from September and October are already up at 12 kuvaa/photos, with the idea that the photos accumulate within each successive post to give a lovely time series effect.

The photo above is taken on the Water of Leith walkway, which runs from the port of Leith through the heart of Edinburgh and up to the hills. Much of it is on former suburban railway routes, now converted to bike and foot traffic. I took this shot at 7.50 a.m. on 1 October.

I may be bending the rules a bit by posting more than one photo in this first post, but there are points on my walk where I always notice what's changing, day by day, and so I've decided to include them too. In future I'll do an overspill post for these other shots.

Here I feel a hundred miles away from the city. The traffic is only a very distant hum, with birdsong and bikes to the fore.

Here's part of the grandiose wall where the walkway passes by Warriston cemetery.

When the tree-lined section of the path ends, the skyline of Edinburgh appears. Arthur's Seat and Calton Hill in the shot below, and then Edinburgh Castle in the first shot above.

Over the course of the year I hope to see an improvement in my photo quality. I have a photo course coming up as a birthday present, when I'll be initiated into the mysteries such as how not to have a white-out sky.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Edinburgh Suzuki Workshop

A weekend of music at the annual Edinburgh Suzuki Workshop. Pictured above is the 'playtogether' at the end of today - when all the students, from tinies to teens, gather to play the common repertoire. This repertoire is common across the world wherever children learn an instrument by the Suzuki Method. From the simple beginning of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star', students learn to play music as they learn their native language - by listening, repeating, and with praise and encouragement from teachers and parents.

Today we've enjoyed not only 'Twinkle', but Seitz, Monti, Handel, Brahms, all three movements of the Bach Double violin concerto, chamber music, African drumming, football, Scottish traditional music and a ceilidh. Families have come from Scotland, England and Ireland, and the guest leaders of the workshop from France and Denmark.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Skywatch Friday - beacon on the hills

Looking down the hilly, cobbled streets of Edinburgh's New Town, across the solid grandeur of St Stephen's Church to the hills of Fife you can occasionally glimpse what seems to be a beacon on the hills. A signal to the clans to gather and raid the Lowlands?

Unfortunately not. It's the flare from the Mossmorran gas plant, which does fractional distillation of North Sea gas into propane, butane and gasoline. But on a day of tearing westerly wind, with the clouds racing across the sky, I wished it was something more stirring.

More Skywatch shots are at the Skywatch Friday site.

And I've just realised that my blog is one year old. It's been fun!


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