Sunday, 28 October 2012

Real Scottish men...

...obviously have wide reading tastes.

Photo courtesy of my son, from a Glasgow branch of Tesco.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Unreal city

Edinburgh on a night of haar* - an unreal city.  On my walk home from work I kept thinking of T S Eliot's 'The Waste Land':

'Unreal city,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed under London Bridge...'

Below, St Giles Cathedral on the spine of the Royal Mile. 

The tower on the right is part of New College, the University of Edinburgh's Divinity department.  Behind it, the lights of a student hall of residence.

Waverley Station, complete with camera-shake (sorry!).

Princes Street gardens and the looming shape of the Scott Monument.

* haar - sea fog

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The concrete shore

Beside the entrance to the port of Leith is a housing development.  Tall, anonymous-in-a-European-way blocks of flats stand on infilled land that used to be part of the harbour.  The path that leads past them is our nearest access to the shore, good for looking across the Forth to the hills of Fife, or westwards towards the Forth bridges and the sunset.  The blocks of flats I find strangely desolate, so I prefer to look at the firth as it opens up towards the North Sea.

Yesterday evening the sea was a luminous, icy blue.  The setting sun picked out an oil tanker.

Below, the little lighthouse at the end of the harbour breakwater.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Skywatch Friday - framing the day

Now that the days are growing shorter sunrise and sunset are the backdrop to my walk to and from work.  Above, sunrise over Arthur's Seat just before 8 a.m.

Below, sunset behind the Mound and Edinburgh Castle at 6.20 p.m.

More skies from across the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Going to the pictures

Test your Scots vocabulary and place these films.  I can't call them 'movies' - I'm sticking with good old British 'films'.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Holidays and harvests

Down here in Edinburgh they're called the 'October break', 'October half-term', or just plain 'October holidays'.  In the North East however they're still called by the name I knew as a child - the 'tattie holidays'.  In those days the potato harvest was gathered by hand, with women and children following the tractor and picking up the potatoes, or 'tatties'.  I was always annoyed that my mother vetoed  my earning pocket money in the same way as some of my classmates.  This week, in the window of a travel agent's in Elgin, I was pleased to see that mass market package holidays and Scottish farming tradition were brought together.

The Scottish potato harvest is forecast to be the worst for several years, with yields down 50% in some areas.  Our wet, cold, dark summer means that the grain harvest is also late.  Below, cut fields in Aberdeenshire.  No vast, flat acres here - it must be alarming negotiating a combine harvester over the contours of this hill.

The slightly reddish tinge of the soil in the shot below situates these fields in Angus, between Aberdeen and Dundee.

Some fields are still waiting to be cut, as in this field between Huntly and Inverurie.  I can't quite make out what it is - either barley or oats I think.  It looks more like barley.  While I wasn't allowed to 'howk tatties' (gather potatoes), I did accompany my grain merchant father to many farms at harvest time and became familiar with the various crops.

And here's another of Scotland's harvests - the wind.  This wind farm is to the west of Aberdeen, beside a stretch of road notorious for being blocked by snowdrifts in winter.  The taller white poles with the red tops by the side of the road are snow poles.  These help drivers to have a vague idea of where the road is when the surface is obliterated by snow.  Hard to imagine that we'll soon be at that time of year again.


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