Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Setting up

The German market is taking shape on the plainstones beside the National Gallery.  As I passed through tonight the place was a bustle of activity ahead of Thursday's switching on of Edinburgh's Christmas lights and the market opening.  Much unpacking of boxes, tapping of hammers, fixing up lightbulbs, and animated chat in German.

It all reminded me of the chapter in The Wind in the Willows where the Rat encounters animals and birds making ready to hibernate or migrate - except in reverse.  "Many were digging and tunnelling busily; others, gathered together in small groups, examined plans and drawings of small flats...Some were hauling out dusty trunks and dress-baskets, others were already elbow-deep packing their belongings; while everywhere piles and bundles of wheat, oats, barley, beechmast and nuts, lay about ready for transport."

I always wonder - what do German Christmas markets do for the rest of the year?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Irresistible autumn

The blogsphere is full of autumn photos just now, so why not a few more to celebrate this loveliest of seasons.  

Below, Rothes Old Cemetery.  On the other side of the wall is a whisky warehouse, giving rise to many local quips about the 'spiritual' location of the cemetery.

The distillery itself, against a background of autumn colour.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Field of Remembrance

The Poppyscotland Field of Remembrance in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens.  

Below, a reminder that conflict is tragically ongoing since the World Wars.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Craigellachie Bridge

Craigellachie bridge across the River Spey is to my mind the most beautiful bridge in Scotland.  I spent the first four years of my life in the village of Craigellachie, and we then moved all of three miles away to where my father still lives.  So I grew up taking its grace and uniqueness for granted.

 The bridge was designed by the famous engineer Thomas Telford, and built between 1812-1814.  It was, I discover now, unique for having a very slender arch built of a single span of cast iron.  The journey made by the ironwork from its foundry in Wales must have been a major undertaking in itself: it was transported by barge overland and then by sea around Britain to the mouth of the Spey.  From there it came by wagon to Craigellachie.

The bridge was used by normal traffic until 1970, when a useful but bland replacement was built nearby.  You can still cross Telford's bridge by foot and bicycle - I'll try to post some photos before too long.

When I stopped to take these shots this weekend some canoeists were setting off from the little shingle beach.  It's a popular swimming spot in summer, but on Saturday the temperature was about 2 degrees and it was hard to imagine anyone willingly jumping into the river. 

As we watched, the canoeists got into the fast water beside the rock face, and suddenly one capsized.

Here he is, safely upright again.  The man on the left is setting off downstream in search of his colleague's paddle - which he did eventually catch.


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