Sunday, 26 February 2012

Skywatch Friday - Banff Baillies

In the middle of this unsettlingly warm winter (temperatures of 12 degrees forecast this week) we had a sharp episode of normality last weekend. We were up in Speyside, where snow fell heavily on Saturday, then froze hard overnight. Snow usually comes in from the coast, 15 miles to the north, and this is its harbinger - a Banff Baillie. These towering snow clouds are named after the fishing port of Banff and its baillies, local government officers or aldermen. The officers would have been portly, florid characters, moving ponderously through the streets of Banff.

In my childhood everyone would have known what was meant if someone said that Banff Baillies could be seen in the north. I'm not so sure that would be the case now. I hope the term isn't dying out. It's a lovely thing to have a local name for a particular sort of cloud, and one that has come down through the generations. Do you have a local cloud name in your part of the world?

More skies across the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Why I haven't been blogging

Like Marcheline, I'm tired of UCAS too. But something has pulled me away from blogging, and here it is. Edinburgh's Central Library. After years of lapsed membership I rejoined the library in January, and since then have been gripped by a compulsion to read. Handily, or perhaps not, the Central Library is only a couple of minutes walk from my workplace. A quick lunchtime jaunt and - how have I managed to take out another 6 books?

So all through the dreary days of early February I've been hunkering down with my books in the evenings. I've still been taking photos during the day, but I've lacked that follow-through of wanting to publish them. Perhaps it's been the low levels of light, or a bit of 'ennui d'Edimbourg'. Until last week we hadn't emerged from the city or the little clockwork train routine of work-housework-sleep-work since the New Year.

But now I'm feeling re-invigorated through my book immersion, including finding several titles which have been on my 'to buy' list for a while. I've been even more invigorated, in a way that appeals to Scottish thrift, by realising that I would have resented spending money on some of them. In the case of 'When the Lights Went Out:Britain in the Seventies', I had looked forward to the social history of the decade in which I was a teenager. Instead it turned out to be heavy on what politician X said to trade unionist Y, and on pages of economic strategy. I know, I'm such a lightweight.

On either side of the Central Library there are dramatic glimpses of Edinburgh Castle, another reason to make a visit worthwhile.

One thing has just struck me while writing this post - out of the armloads of books I've taken out there have been no Scottish titles. Perhaps I should aim for one book on a Scottish subject per visit.

Oh, and just going back to UCAS for a minute, if Marcheline will forgive me: last week UCAS delivered the offer of a place that my daughter had been waiting for. Now just one decision left to hear about and she can finalise her choice.


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