Thursday, 30 September 2010

Skywatch Friday - Arthur's Seat

A highland peak beside a sea loch? Miles of desolate moorland all around, the silence broken only by the curlew's cry?

A nice thought, but it's Arthur's Seat, in the middle of Edinburgh. Not bad, I suppose. It's not every city that has an extinct volcano in its midst, which is also linked to King Arthur.

My daughter acted as photo scout for these shots. She noticed Arthur's Seat wreathed in mist on her way to catch the bus to school, and texted me to go and take a photo.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Peebles Highland Games - dancing and swinging

Rehearsals, before the big moment. Must be difficult to get the footwork right on that tussocky grass.

Even if it's not your turn, you can still dance.

And then there's the swinging of the hammer.

And if that palls, there's always the traditional Scottish sport of crossing a bridge by the underneath.

Photos taken by my daughter at Peebles Highland Games a couple of weekends ago. Already these summery scenes seem far in the past. Autumn is here.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Skywatch Friday - falling sky

Southbound on the A9 on Sunday afternoon, at the turn off for Dalwhinnie. A dreich day, increasing the gloom of these narrow passes between the hills. It's not always gloomy - under winter snow or in the long light of June evenings the gloom disappears. But most of the time I'm glad we're speeding through in a car rather than trudging through the heather on foot or on horseback a few hundred years ago.

Edited to add, by popular request, a sound clip of the pronunciation of 'dreich'. Click on the link below. There's a smaller link in the pop-up window that comes up when you select the 'listen to the pronunciation' icon that lets you listen with your own audio player if you don't want to download the Apple one they suggest first off.


If that doesn't work, the nearest I can get is to tell you that the 'drei-' bit is pronounced like the 'ee' in 'feet', and then you add the soft Scots 'ch' as at the end of 'loch'

And just to show that it's not always dreich:

Snowy days at the Drumochter Pass.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Peebles Highland Games

The highland games season is drawing to a close. Peebles was lucky last weekend to have glorious sunshine for its games. The pipe band competition is a major part of the Peebles games, and these photos are courtesy of my daughter, who was there to support her school band - George Watson's College.

Before heading into the arena to play, the pipes have to be tuned. Here's the school band tuning up. Notice the electronic tuner being held up to one of the drones.

Over 200 students learn piping or drumming at the school, feeding in to the three bands. They enjoy huge success, winning World championships and touring to Japan every year.

The kilt is no obstacle to whizzing down the inflatable slide if you're one of the younger band members:

When the competition part of the games is over, the bands process through Peebles with their trophies carried before them. Another successful outing for the school by the look of it.

A sea of pipes and drums:

Friday, 17 September 2010

Skywatch Friday - Ben Lawers

A gloomy Ben Lawers overlooking Loch Tay. Photo taken by my daughter a couple of weekends ago on the annual family watersports trip.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Kilts and cassocks

The attire of the day in the centre of Edinburgh today for the Pope's visit to Scotland - an outbreak of kilts with a good sprinkling of cassocks. These were the scenes on Princes Street at 8.30 a.m. as the crowds began to line the route of the Pope's arrival.

The woman below is wearing the traditional Scottish country dancing costume (not including the jacket!).

Kilts, in ascending order.

Kilt and tweed jacket.

If you don't have a kilt, you drape a tartan rug over your shoulders.

One of the many flag stations.

The Pope joined in the tartan mood, wearing a tartan scarf around his shoulders. Today is St Ninian's Day, so a new tartan, St Ninian, was created for the Papal visit.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Environmentally friendly

You never know where you're going to meet a sporran in Scotland. The latest manifestation is on re-usable shopping bags from Tesco.

I have quite a collection of re-usable shopping bags - they're one of our favourite holiday souvenirs (a good Scottish souvenir - useful and cheap). E. Leclerc bags from France (2010 and 1998), Ferraro Foods from British Columbia, Adeg from Austria, cloth 'Die Umwelt zu liebe' from Germany...

What's your local re-usable shopping bag like?

Thursday, 9 September 2010


After days of Indian summer, a change in the weather announced itself this week in an eerily masked sun over the Cowgate, above, and the Royal Mile, below. The grand building with cupolas and flags is the Bank of Scotland headquarters. Edinburgh Castle peeks out behind the corporate magnificence.

A jumbled cloudscape, below, over Warriston playing fields.

One day of rain followed by a bit of a gale and now we're back to warm days. Bliss.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Dig update

The skeletons are still being uncovered in the dig at the University of Edinburgh's Old College. Here's a shot complete with archaeologist so that you get an idea of scale.

Still no news about the identity of the remains. Are they Mary Queen of Scots' third husband, Lord Darnley, murdered on this site in 1567?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Going places

We're not a 'let's just get a taxi' family, but I needed to jump in one to get to the Fringe concert my daughter was performing in. As well as getting me there on time, I was pleased that it was a University of Aberdeen taxi - my alma mater. I wonder what its founder over 500 years ago, Bishop Elphinstone, would have thought of taxi advertising? At the forefront then - it was the first university in the English-speaking world to have a chair of medicine - I like to think he would approve.

The University of Aberdeen

You may recognise the palm trees in the background from a post last August. The concert was at the same venue as last year: the Columcille Centre.

Tropical Fringe

My daughter was playing the clarsach and singing with another three young clarsach players and a fiddler. Two of the performers are about to go to music conservatoire to study Scottish traditional music. The other three are still at school. It was really gratifying that there was a full house on an evening when the Fringe and Festival offered goodness knows how many shows of different sorts.

Recording was not allowed, so I stuck by the rules, but here's one of the songs my daughter sang, accompanied by clarsach and fiddle: 'Follow the Heron Home', by the Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Skywatch Friday - those little things

When you live in a city the passage of the seasons is marked by different signs to those of nature. Here in Edinburgh, the signs this week are all about the end of the Festival, and therefore the end of summer. Take this view of Edinburgh Castle. It still looks summery. Blue sky, billowy green trees.

Look again.

That little yellow arm is busy dismantling the grandstand seating for the Military Tattoo on the Castle esplanade. The swallows haven't gone yet, but with the Tattoo seating being taken down we know that summer is over.

More skies from across the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Rapid response

When the roads in the city centre are choked with Festival and Fringe traffic, and some streets closed to cars completely, the ambulance service still needs to get through. Obviously there's no hospital transport provided by this part of it.

Having seem some of the acrobatic, contortionist, flame-throwing and just downright enthusiastic Fringe street acts, I wonder how much of the business was dealing with injured performers.

I hope to resume normal blogging service soon. So many things have combined to create that TBTB (Too Busy To Blog) syndrome.


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