Wednesday, 28 March 2012

For mountaineers - and Marcheline

When you've just come down from walking, skiing or mountain biking in the Cairngorms, you need refuelling.  A recent discovery for us has been the Mountain Cafe in Aviemore.  I don't know how we've been going up and down the A9 for years without knowing about this gem.

Below, the Cairngorms on our most recent visit.  In the meantime Spring has arrived, so they'll look a bit different when we head north again shortly.  The lack of a proper winter this year has been bad news for Scottish skiing.

The spread of home baking is quite epic in scale.

For mountaineers everywhere, and for Marcheline, who sees cake wherever she looks.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mothering Sunday

The happiest of Spring displays in the window of Narcissus Flowers.  This shop, on Edinburgh's Broughton Street, always has creative seasonal displays.  A couple of years ago they had a Mother's Day display that cheered my walk to work every morning for a while. 

There seems to be an attempt to revive the term 'Mothering Sunday' here.  I've read a few mentions in the press of 'Mother's Day' being an American import, and encouraging a return to the traditional British 'Mothering Sunday'.  I don't remember the latter in my lifetime, and as my children tell me, I'm OLD.  Whatever it should be called, for me it marks the transition into Spring.  The best gift I had today was sitting outside soaking up the sun for the first time this year, in the company of my two 'children' of 18 and 21 years.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Skywatch Friday - calm grey skies

Calm grey skies are all that we have at the moment.  It's like living under a blanket of felt.  So to liven them up a bit here are some variegated chimney pots, plus a few pigeons.  How many of the latter can you spot?  For those more interested in the sea, the patch of water is the Firth of Forth, as it widens out along the East Lothian coast.

My workplace has a huge variety of buildings, some of which I'm still discovering even after 25 years.   I was at a meeting the other week in a room up in the eaves of a building which fronts onto the Royal Mile.  These shots were taken looking east, down the slope of the Mile.

Other skies from around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Street collection

Early on a Saturday morning, a group of students heads to Princes Street for a day of collecting money for charity, in this case Oxfam.

It certainly brightens up gloomy winter streets to come across a tiger or a fairy with lopsided wings.  Now that we're into March, it's the time of the Marie Curie daffodil appeal.  I came across a collector dressed as a daffodil outside the supermarket today, and annoyingly I didn't have my camera.  Hopefully I'll find another collecting daffodil before the month is out.  An aunt who died recently was cared for lovingly in her own home by Marie Curie nursesThis amazing service of end of life care is provided free, so every donation counts.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


We have entered the season of 'lasts' in our daughter's schooldays, and because she is our younger child, the 'last ever' to do with school. Tonight was the last parents' evening. Obviously I wasn't going to take a photo of the event, so here instead is a blurry, shot-under-protest ('Muuuum!') photo of the school outfitter's. Rows of variegated blazers and kilted skirts. How quickly the next few months are going to pass...

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Happy cows

If you make it to the end of the rather blurry shot of this label in Mellis's cheese shop you'll see why the cows are happy. Actually the implication that these Isle of Mull cows are uniquely happy made me smile, because feeding cows with the spent grain from whisky distilleries is commonplace in Scotland. My father was a grain merchant, and I grew up with phone calls from farmers wanting this grain, or 'draff', for their cows, or my father trying to sell excess loads of draff to farmers, or giving haulage firms directions to remote farms deep in the hills in the days before satnav.

That apart, a visit to Mellis's shops in Victoria Street, just off the Royal Mile, or in Morningside or Stockbridge, is a treat. The shops are more like caves - cold, dampish caverns stacked with great wheels and pillars of artisan-made cheese.

The happy cows also made me smile as I remembered my student vacation job as a tour guide at Glenfiddich distillery. It was a disappointment if someone didn't come up with a 'happy cows' remark when hearing about how the spent barley was disposed of. The fact that there was no alcohol in the barley was beside the point.


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