Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Skywatch Friday - Bass Rock

Regular readers will immediately notice that this is not the usual quality of photo on this blog. All that slow motion water stuff and a vaguely artistic sky.

I spent a bone-numbingly cold Sunday afternoon on a beach near North Berwick on a photo tuition session, getting to grips with our 'big' camera. The one with all the f-stops and other items. Out to sea, the Bass Rock provided a convenient point for explanations about focal length and composition. Afterwards my mind was a jumble of numbers.

But I've signed up for a weekend course in October. Meantime normal photo standards will be resumed.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.


One of the lesser-known poems of Robert Burns - "66% extra free". Happy Burns Night!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Envirionmental adverstising

On a wall at Edinburgh University - a charity event, environmentally advertised. Who says students these days only think about themselves?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The train to Glasgow

Heading for the 13.15 train to Glasgow last Saturday. We were taking our son and belongings back to university, and to free up room in the car my daughter and I elected to take the train and meet the men there. Very noble of us. It also gave us a shopping interlude together in Glasgow before taking the underground to student flat land in the West End.

Here is the train to Glasgow.

I hope Scottish readers will recognise this as the first line of Wilma Horsburgh's poem of the same name. I didn't see the driver, and thought the embarrassment factor for my daughter would be too great if I asked the guard if I could take a photo of him. So I can't really say:

"Here is the driver,
Mr. MacIver,
Who drove the train to Glasgow.

Here is the guard from Donibristle
Who waved his flag and blew his whistle
To tell the driver,
Mr. MacIver,
To start the train to Glasgow."

It's a great poem for chanting with children, who even if they can't remember the whole thing, always come in triumphantly with '...the train to Glasgow' at the end of each verse. The poem has a cage of escaped hens on the train saved by the actions of a wee boy, Donald.

"Now Donald was quick and Donald was neat
And Donald was nimble on his feet.
He caught the hens..."

No hens on our train, just a quiet 40 minute journey through the snowy countryside.

Above, Linlithgow, with churches and chimneys and crow-stepped gables.

At some stations the original buildings have survived. Looking at all the chimneys, I was nostalgic for a station waiting room with a glowing coal fire.

Others are of post 1970s bland box style.

But even here there are compensations, when you can glimpse the hills beyond the Firth of Forth.

Even the 'output' from the oil refinery at Grangemouth didn't look too bad.

And finally to an empty Queen Street station. Everyone was in the shops, that's why...

Friday, 14 January 2011

Skywatch Friday - turning a corner

Sometimes a Skywatch grabs you by the scruff of the neck, and sometimes it steals up on you, like the extra minutes of daylight on a January day.

So with this thin grey line traced in the sky. Nothing striking, but once you've noticed it you start to wonder. What was it that made this plane come to the edge of the bank of cloud and then turn a corner in the sky? At that altitude air traffic over Edinburgh is usually heading towards Greenland, taking advantage of the earth's curve for a short cut down over North America. How I love that huge emptiness, seen from 38,000 feet, of tundra and lakes flashing in the sun, and knowing that you're heading for Vancouver or Los Angeles.

But back to Scotland... If you look carefully below, you'll see that a second plane has also executed an 'oops, time to turn' manoeuvre, 10 minutes after the first on my walk to work.

Not remotely bothered by planes was this seagull enjoying the steamy warmth from the Lady Haig poppy factory chimney.

And even in January, there's a glimpse of sun to come.

More skies from around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Old? and new

This is my 'old' school, in Elgin. Old = built in 1969. I should say that it is not normally surrounded by barricades...

Below, the beginning of the new Elgin Academy. The old one is now too old. Next time I'm up in Elgin I'll take a photo of the real 'old' Academy, which needless to say has lasted longer than 40 years.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Here's hoping

One of the casualties of our snowy weather has been the weekly rubbish collection. Many streets seem to be too icy for the refuse lorries to venture down. We're especially hoping for a collection tomorrow, since having a Monday collection day means that it's coincided with the Christmas and New Year public holidays.

Houses have their individual green bins, usually kept in the garage or the garden, while blocks of flats have communal bins situated on the street, as above. And it's all piling up.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Skywatch Friday - whisky skies

Do these plumes of smoke spoil these midwinter skies?

Perhaps not when you know that they come from the boilers that fuel the copper stills that make the malt whisky. In the first shot, the Glen Spey chimney, and Glen Grant in the second.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


The snow had gone by the time I encountered this sign in the Aberlour chemist, but I thought it was a good example of joined up marketing.

You can see Gammack's snow shovels here.

Saturday, 1 January 2011


When a walk by the sea offers only shades of grey disappearing into the west - the wall of Hopeman harbour, Burghead on its promontory, and the hills of the Black Isle, all under a fine, small rain - you take any colour you can get.

The green of these seaweed-covered rocks recalls the lush grass of May.

Below, a burn running down to the sea brings out lilac and mauve tones in the sand.

Orange lichen on ruddy sandstone rocks, with some beach art as a bonus.


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