Friday, 31 December 2010

Hogmanay provisions

Slick advertising in the window of Walker's bakery shop in Aberlour (population c.900). The Christmas display against a holly-patterned background was whisked away this week, to be replaced by the traditional provisions for Hogmanay - shortbread and whisky, with some fruit cake and cherry cake thrown in for good measure.

Wishing you a Happy New Year, and safe first-footing this Hogmanay.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Skywatch Friday - Boxing Day sunrise

At its height, the Boxing Day sunrise filled the sky with glory.

It started gently. This is the view south-east from my Dad's garden, towards the river Spey and the Conval Hills.

This was about 8.40 a.m.

The colour of the sky over the Convals was a shade that I can only describe as Laura Ashley duck egg blue. We have Laura Ashley kitchen seat pads in just this combination of blue and peach. It was rather nice to see it in the sky:

More glorious skies from around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

River Spey, Christmas Day

Our Christmas Day walk was under a grey sky, with just a glimpse of a pale lemon sunset in the west. The Spey was sludgy with floating ice.

To the north, hail showers drifted over the lower slopes of Ben Aigen.

A last shaft of sunlight brought out warm colour in the willows by the river, but the water reflected that unique icy blue of the midwinter sky.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Festive, Moray style

We were in two minds about the tastefulness of these Christmas tree decorations in Johnstons of Elgin cafe. On the one hand the mill produces tweeds worn by gamekeepers and lairds, so pheasant tail feathers adorning a Christmas tree seem quite in keeping. On the other hand, they struck us as somewhat removed from the peace and goodwill message. Perhaps we're growing soft down in the pampered south.

More comforting, in that familiar hasn't-changed-a-bit-since-I-was-a-child way, was the window display in Walker's of Aberlour. I was glad to see that this vast enterprise, purveyor of shortbread to airport shops all over the world, still has its retro window display of Christmas cake, mince pies, shortbread and Ecclefechan tarts. And against a holly-patterned cloth that reminded me of the Christmas wrapping paper of the 1970s.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Edinburgh Christmas bustle

The pre-Christmas 'bustle' at Here and There Slocan inspired me to post a similar shot of Edinburgh's 'Main Street' today. To get an exact comparison I had to stand in the middle of the road - not an easy thing to do in the middle of the day on Princes Street.

Many people are still at work, so it wasn't too frantic out on the streets. Marks and Spencer's food hall however was living up to its pre-Christmas reputation, so I was glad to escape to the relative tranquility of the lingerie department, from where I knew I would get a bird's eye view of the street.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Skywatch Friday - westering moon

A westering moon provides a natural floodlight for a game of beach football. Photo taken by my daughter on her school sea kayak trip in September. The time was about 8.00 p.m. Nearly time to light the driftwood bonfire and toast marshmallows.

What a great campsite. No road in, and the only way out is by sea.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Sea kayaking

Enough of snow! Even tho it has melted in most places the frost has returned and given us piebald patches of ice everywhere. I want my water to be liquid, so I'm turning to my daughter's sea kayaking expedition in September off the west coast of Scotland. Her school runs this expedition every year, just before the days turn too short to make it worthwhile. Although this looks landlocked, it is in fact sea - one of the long fingers of sea loch which indent the west coast.

I'm impressed that she managed to take any photos at all. It can't be easy juggling a camera and paddle in the sea swell. But as well as water we have some curvy rocks:

And a nameless viaduct (to go with last year's random castle). It could be the viaduct that the Hogwarts Express goes over, tho I'm not sure it looks high enough.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Early sunset

After our day of heavy snow on Monday that brought central Scotland to a standstill, Tuesday was a perfect day of frost and sun. The afterglow of sunset lights up the sky behind Edinburgh Castle. The time is 2.50 p.m. I seem to have a penchant for taking winter sunset photos at 2.50 p.m: I posted an allotment sunset from that time on Sunday at my Slow Growing blog.

For those curious about sunrise time, it was 8.31 a.m. today. Technically sunset is later, at 3.40 at Tuesday, but I judge sunset by when I can't see the sun any more. I have to admit that the bulk of Edinburgh Castle does mean that the sun is hidden that bit earlier, but from where I was standing it felt like sunset for me.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

When it hurts

As someone who has accumulated a few European languages, I'm fascinated by the different sound each language has for that sudden moment of pain - hitting your thumb with a hammer, or falling on an icy pavement. The Scots word for such moments is 'oooya', pronounced with the stress on the first syllable.

I spotted this advertisement today for the minor injuries clinic at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital. It was in the row of small ads above the windows on the lower deck of a number 23 bus. With our scenic and unprecedented amount of snow there were plenty of cameras being wielded as we came down the Mound, past the fairy tale turreted houses of Ramsay Gardens, and the white-clothed bulk of the castle rock. Except I was the only weirdo taking a photo of the inside of the bus.

Nice to know that someone in the National Health Service has both a sense of humour and a grasp of Scots. And no, your eyes don't need testing. The blurring is because of the vibration of the bus.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Empty Princes Street

Christmas shopping today was an interesting experience in a snowstorm. The shops were almost deserted, the city's buses stopped running and schools closed again. In some cases the buses stopped before a school closed, which for those pupils with cross-town journeys meant either a very long walk in the snow or an overnight stay at a friend's house.

Temperatures are supposed to rise to 6 degrees at the end of the week. I daresay we'll be wading through one gigantic puddle.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snowy Edinburgh

Well, what else can I call it? The view is from Blackford Hill, north towards the Castle. Photo courtesy of my daughter, who was on a sledging outing with friends on Monday when her school was closed. Tuesday was another snow day, but with studying done at home (the year of Highers exams), and it was back to school on Wednesday once the ground staff had cleared enough pathways round the campus. The problem is that the snow keeps falling. Edinburgh airport is closed, the Forth Road Bridge is closed, trains are cancelled or delayed. The city is quiet, muffled.

But for some there's a bright side. Capitalising on our huge dump of snow, my daughter's school has hastily introduced a 'house snowman' competition for tomorrow, to go with all the other house competitions that happen throughout the year.


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