Monday, 26 September 2011

Installation of the Chancellor

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was installed as the Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh today. I was lucky enough to be at the ceremony, which was held outside in the newly restored quad of the University's Old College.

Above, the platform party at the beginning of the ceremony. At the left of the platform in the blue and red gowns denoting the 'Distinction of University Benefactor' award: J K Rowling, Mr Hugh Langmuir and Mrs Josseline Langmuir. The Chancellor's gown awaits Princess Anne, who casts it a sideways glance. Perhaps she's looking forward to putting it on - it was rather chilly out there, although we were incredibly lucky to have a dry, sunny day. To Princess Anne's left, the Principal studies his order of ceremony.

Below, the new Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor. Princess Anne is succeeding her father the Duke Of Edinburgh, who had held the role since 1953.

Princess Anne then had some duties to perform, including the award of Distinction of University Benefactor to J K Rowling. The Harry Potter author has recently donated £10 million to set up the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic at the University. The clinic carries out research into degenerative neurological conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis, from which J K Rowling's mother died.

There was a plaque unveiling, to commemorate the renovation of the quad.

It seems to have been quite jolly as far as plaque unveilings go.

As the procession processes out, celebratory fizz appears at the left of the shot.

The celebrations continued in the quad for most of the afternoon. Princess Anne kept her gown on throughout. She was probably the warmest of the lot of us.

One of the comments on this post remarked on how much good work Princess Anne does that goes unreported. I looked up yesterday's Court Circular:

"The Princess Royal, Patron, Seagull Trust Cruises, this morning named the new disabled passenger boat ST. JOHN EDINBURGH at Union Canal, Baird Road, Ratho, Newbridge, Midlothian, and was received by Mr. Thomas Martin (Deputy Lieutenant of the City of Edinburgh).
Her Royal Highness, Chancellor, the University of Edinburgh, this afternoon attended the Chancellor's Installation Ceremony and opened the Quadrangle at the Old College, South Bridge.
The Princess Royal, Patron, the Vine Trust, later opened the Global Citizenship Centre at Prince of Wales Dock, Leith Docks.
Her Royal Highness, Royal Patron, this evening held a Reception to mark the Thirtieth Anniversary of Motor Neurone Disease Scotland at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
The Princess Royal, Chancellor, the University of Edinburgh, later held the Chancellor's Installation Dinner at the Palace of Holyroodhouse."

This is from the 'official website of the British Monarchy', which has the wonderful web address of ''.

And just one further update, since there has been a comment about J K Rowling's heels - here they are in close-up:

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Piping in the rain

It didn't start out wet at Peebles Highland Games a couple of weekends ago. But they're hardy stuff, Scottish pipers. It rains - they put on their big black capes.

To begin with it was shirt-sleeves weather - as here, with St Andrew's tower in the background.

The first drops of rain appear, below, on one of the T-shirts that was being proudly worn by the members of my daughter's school pipe band. It is rather a nice litany of championship wins. The balloon - I think it's to do with practising squeezing the bag of the actual pipes.

The umbrellas come out, and the dancers get under a gazebo. Well, some of them do. I'm not sure why some are at the mercy of the elements.

The shot-putters follow with their umbrellas. Glenfiddich is a suitable sort of umbrella to have at a highland games, but Johnson & Higgins? My Google search brought up results as diverse as a brokerage firm and a cosmetic dentist in Lexington, Kentucky.

Still, not everyone is convinced by the rain. Among the lusty blowing, below, there are still some shirt-sleeves.

But eventually it's a cape-clad tramp through the streets of Peebles, and rather a nice umbrella to finish off with.

Oops - photo credits to my daughter! I'm in danger of taking my staff of roving reporters for granted.

And another oops - my photo of the shot-putters with their umbrellas somehow fell off the post. I'm getting rather frustrated with Blogger's photo manipulation at the moment. Perhaps it's my lack of technical skills - can anyone who has upgraded to the new Blogger set-up tell me if it's more amenable to things like adding photos and moving them around?

Sunday, 18 September 2011


If I lived in Elgol, this would be my house. The views! The blue door and yellow window frames! The woodburning stove in the extension at the left! (I know it's there because I zoomed in with my camera to have a good look.) And the little path leading down to the road, which ends at the sea a few yards further on where visiting kayaks are drawn up on the beach.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Loch Coruisk, Skye

Looking out from the haven of Loch Coruisk to the islands of the Inner Hebrides.

On the way in we passed seals basking in the sun.

The boat deposits its cargo of walkers, and heads off back to the village of Elgol.

Climbing up the rocks from the landing stage, you pass a natural infinity pool.

We had a brisk hour and a half ashore, walking round one shore of the loch, just missing stepping on a sundew plant in my case, and wished that we'd planned for a longer day's walking. Strangely, I have no photos of the loch. I felt curiously inhibited in taking photos - it was a place set apart. My husband may have some photos - I just have to wrest them from wherever they've been safely 'filed'.

I'll leave you with this slice of a mountain from the homeward journey.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Skywatch Friday - Loch Scavaig, Skye

The Cuillin range of hills outshone by the sweep of clouds above. Taken from the boat 'Bella Jane', crossing Loch Scavaig from Loch Coruisk to the village of Elgol.

Small boat or a walk in across the hills, including the notorious 'Bad Step', are the only ways to reach Loch Coruisk.

More skies across the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Fiery Festival Farewell

After the end of the Fringe, it's the turn of the highbrow Festival to say farewell to its orchestras, opera and dance companies from across the world. The Festival's final act is an evening fireworks concert on Sunday, with the Castle providing the launch pad and backdrop for the fireworks, and music coming from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra live in the gardens below. This year it's a Russian and Eastern European programme of Glinka, Borodin, Sibelius, Nielsen and Tchaikovsky.

All across the city preparations are underway. The road closure signs have gone up. The great British traffic cone is sprouting along key routes where people might be tempted to park and watch the show. It's very much an 'on foot' event. My children will be watching from the vantage point of a hill to the south of the city centre, which will mean a bracing climb. On Sunday evening the streets and footpaths will have a steady movement of people walking into the centre of town. I love this pedestrian, in the literal sense, aspect of the evening.

While the concert is sponsored by big money - Virgin Money this year, it is part of the 'feel' of the city, and enters into everyday life. As in the sign outside the Artisan Roast coffee shop on Broughton Street. As a local, you know what to look for that tells you how the preparations are doing. So looking up at the Castle from Princes Street yesterday, I noticed something different about the battlements. The usual tourist figures were there.

But look more closely and you'll see that what you might have taken for white-clad tourists (rash in this weather, but possible) are actually firework preparation thingies. I don't have a clue what they are, but they're definitely part of the big build-up.

My firework photography skills are hopeless, so I'm not promising any photos this year. However, my children might oblige, and I'm going on a photo course in the autumn which might improve my skills.


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