Friday, 28 May 2010

Skywatch Friday - Princes Street cloudbank


It was a good day for clouds yesterday. Our weather system this week has come down from Svalbard, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. Here comes the snow, bearing down on Princes Street.

The National Museum of Scotland, about to be engulfed:


Life is still work, exams (finished yesterday!) and hospitals. I will emerge, at some point.

Meantime, more skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Exam season...to the end


Rows of exam desks in the University of Edinburgh's Playfair Library. Used as a working library from the 1820s through to the 1960s, it's now the venue for prestigious dinners, receptions, lectures...and exams.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Exam season - from the beginning...


It's exam season in Scotland. All the way from national exams taken by school students, up to university variety. The same advice helpfully provided by Blackwell's, the university bookseller in Edinburgh, holds good for all of them.


Essential revision material - past papers from previous diets. SQA = Scottish Qualifications Authority: the exam body in Scotland which covers all national qualifications except university degrees and some professional qualifications. This week my daughter sits Intermediate 2 French. It would be much appreciated if French readers of this blog could send French thoughts to Edinburgh.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Skywatch Friday - Calton Hill


A morning sky striking enough to make me stop for a photo on my long uphill walk to work on Monday. The highest tower with the sort of mast on top is the Nelson Monument, which is visible from ships on the Firth of Forth. From 1852 (tho with a gap of some years due to disrepair), a time ball has dropped from the mast at 1pm Greenwich Mean Time each day, originally as an aid to navigation.


The concertina glass roof on the left of the shot above is Waverley Station, Edinburgh's main railway station. Away in the distance are the Firth of Forth and the hills of East Lothian. One of the lovely things about Edinburgh is that you can see hills and countryside even from the centre of the city.

More skies from around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

12 kuvaa /photos - my walk to work May


For my walk to work today I hauled out of the cupboard my thick winter coat, gloves and woolly scarf. "Rough winds may shake the darling buds of May."


See more in the 12 kuvaa/photos series here:

April:



March:



February:


January:


December:


November:


October:

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Skywatch Friday - sunset with flaming greenhouse


I agree with chrome3d - enough of the election. Here's a sunset from when we were up on Speyside a few weeks ago. Having spent the afternoon tidying up my Dad's garden (he's still in hospital, but with an operation coming up soon), we enjoyed an evening bonfire.


We thought the backdrop of the greenhouse worked very well. Simple pleasures - who needs TV when the whole family (teenagers included) is happy to watch a bonfire of an evening.

More skies from around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Ballot paper


My ballot paper tonight, just before I put my pencil cross on it in the voting booth. Our son came with us to vote in his first UK parliamentary election. We explained to him beforehand that he would need to make sure he voted for the candidate he intended to, as some of the party names are very similar. The Scottish Labour Party, and the Socialist Labour Party. The Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Liberal Party in Scotland.

No, I'm not sitting up all night to watch the results. Tomorrow morning will be soon enough.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Scottish Election Sausage


I should have known better than to post something about the election. People have asked me to explain the British political system (Pamela and Alli, your curiosity is commendable) . That's like being asked to explain cricket. A visual aid is always good, so with the help of the Scottish election sausage, here goes:

The election sausage explains the political landscape in Scotland. The SNP is the Scottish National Party (nickname 'the snips'. Their leader is Alex Salmond, who is nicknamed 'Eck the Fish' - Eck is a Scottish diminutive of Alexander. Their deputy leader is a Nicola Sturgeon, thus pleasingly continuing the fish motif) They are a left-wing/social democratic party committed to Scottish independence from the rest of the UK (we have oil, I think is the basis of the argument). At the last general election they won the most seats in Scotland and now form a minority administration in the Scottish Parliament.

The Liberals are a UK wide social democratic party. They were one of the two main political parties in the UK until the Labour movement in the 1920's, when they were pushed into 3rd position. Recently they have had a resurgence, and are hoping for big gains this election, including in Scotland.

The Conservatives are our right wing party, but without for example a strong base in Christian groups as in the US. In favour of less state intervention, less European Union intervention in national affairs. Think Margaret Thatcher. They have only 1 of the 59 Scottish seats in the UK Parliament.

The Labour party is the current administration, centre left in terms of European definitions of left-wing. Not as left-wing as certain parts of the US media would have us believe.

And the Green Party is a left-wing environmentalist party which doesn't have any members of either the Scottish or UK parliaments (correct me if I'm wrong), but can make a strong local showing. Green politics is much bigger in continental Europe than here. **Edited to say that
Jacqui and Svenske Floyd have pointed out that the Greens have 2 seats in the Scottish Parliament. Which is shameful of me not to know, because I have voted Green in the past.**

Phew. On to parliaments. I'll have to speed up - I'm out of time for blogging! A referendum in 1997 led to the formation of a separate Scottish Parliament with its own members, separte from the United Kingdom Parliament in London. **Edited to say add that Wales has had an equivalent, in the National Assembly for Wales, since 1999.** The Scottish Parliament has certain powers devolved to it- among them agriculture, fisheries, environment, health, education, taxation (to an extent), legal system, economic development, sport, the arts...The UK Parliament has reserved powers which include defence, foreign affairs, social security and monetary stability. The reference to 'devolved cost' in the poster above is an in-joke about the devolution issue. And a 'porkie' is either a lie, or a pork sausage.

Just to stress - we have completely separate education and legal systems from the rest of the UK. Worth several posts in their own right.

That's it. Out of time. Please comment and fill in my woeful gaps.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Skywatch Friday - election skies


Lamposts all over Britain are sprouting election placards. Down to the last few days of campaigning now, before the general election on Thursday. It's apparently a two-horse race in our constituency between the sitting Member of Parliament, Mark Lazarowicz, Labour (left-wing), and Kevin Laing, Liberal Democrat (sort of left-of-centre). Certainly their placards are the most prominent in our area. The other two main parties are the Conservatives (right-wing), and the Scottish National Party (independence for Scotland). You can tell politics is not my main interest.

These shots were taken when I was out running with my daughter this morning. I did see a few Conservative placards, but I couldn't take a photo. I have had a rule imposed on me that I can only take a photo when we're in a walking segment of our run/walk programme. So I had to run past the Conservative photo opportunity, with my daughter turning a deaf ear to my pleas.


More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

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