Sunday, 30 June 2013


Our son graduated from the University of Glasgow last week as Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechanical Engineering with Aeronautics.  We spent a happy day celebrating, and the sun shone on a city notorious for its damp climate.

The university's main building is a lovely setting for the traditional standing-about-happily-on lawns that is the best bit of graduation day.  Although the university is 550 years old, the main building is relatively recent - around 1870.

Below, the Bute Hall, where the ceremony took place.  Our seats were in the gallery, and were reached by a winding stone staircase in a turret.  A bit of a challenge for those of us in heels.

Below, in bow tie, our young man lines up to be capped.  As well as being capped, the graduands have their hoods put on at this point, which is why there is some nervous rearranging of this complicated bit of cloth and silk in the shot below.  They were briefed before the ceremony on exactly how to hold the hood and present it to the bedellus.  It was all done very swiftly, in a sort of academic ballet - if you want to see it in motion, have a look at any of the videos at this link.

The new graduate with very proud parents.

And with some classmates.

Kilts were much in evidence: both because of Engineering still being a male-dominated subject, and because students are proud to wear the kilt for graduation.  Our son's friend in the shot below, and again later, wasn't wearing a gown because he wasn't graduating that day.  However since he came along to see his friends graduate he put his kilt on for the occasion.

Some motherly rearrangement.

Our son chatting to the PhD student (in shorts) who had assisted with his final year project, and a new PhD graduate.

A good view of the gown and hood.  The gowns are made from heavy cloth, to the extent that our son's shoulders were aching by the end of the afternoon. Virtually all the gowns and hoods will have been hired from an academic robe maker and are returned after the ceremony.

Below, a good view of the kilt outfit, taken at the end of the afternoon when the gown had been returned.  Just below the hem of the kilt on our son's right leg you might be able to glimpse the deerhorn handle of the sgian dubh, the traditional single-bladed knife worn with the kilt.

And to finish, a gaze into the future.

Friday, 28 June 2013

The tempestuous morn (late)

Another year of mixed-up weather, if you take Matthew Arnold's poem as your yard-stick.  Unlike last year, when June was tempestuous all the way through, this year has been dry to the extent that I was longing for 'volleying rain' for the sake of the garden.  You can see previous June tempests at this link.

But just at the end of the month the seasons have righted themselves and we have rain and wind.  Above, where the Pentland Hills should be on the horizon, the clouds hang heavy.

"So, some tempestuous morn in early June,
When the year's primal burst of bloom is o'er,
Before the roses and the longest day -
When garden-walks and all the grassy floor
With blossoms red and white of fallen May
And chestnut-flowers are strewn -
So have I heard the cuckoo's parting cry,
From the wet field, through the vext garden-trees,
Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze;
The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I!"

Matthew Arnold, Thrysis
The longest day is past, but the roses are still with us.  It may seem strange to miss this sort of dark, damp weather at this time of year, but if you tune in to the rhythm of the British seasons then the tempestuous morn just feels right.

As long as it doesn't last too long.

This weekend I'll be posting photos from my son's graduation this week.  And however much I love the tempestuous morn, I was glad that the sun shone for us.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

A nice day for a run

Still in catching up mode, here's a look back to the Edinburgh Marathon Festival a few weeks ago.  The marathon itself took place on the Sunday, and on the Saturday there were a succession of shorter distance runs.  My husband ran the 10k, raising money for the British Heart Foundation.  The start of the race is as you see above: on the flat, in Holyrood Park near the gates of Holyrood Palace, the Queen's Edinburgh home.  Sneakily, the route then climbed up around Arthur's Seat...

Below, some of the variegated charity T-shirts at the start line.

Monday, 17 June 2013


At the end of May, and the end of the university semester, our daughter moved out of her student hall of residence - pictured above. By happy coincidence I had been in the same town for work that day, so once my meetings were over I joined daughter and son (who had come through from his university town to help his sister) in The Big Pack.  We filled suitcases and bags and boxes, and ferried them to the car.  Then during the evening my husband arrived with the bigger car (and roofbox) and we filled more suitcases and bags and boxes....

It was a soft, golden evening, the first warm evening of this grudging Spring.  And so happy, with all of us together again.  We drove home through lush farmland and a sunset which proved impossible to capture from a moving car, even tho I wasn't driving.  A couple of weeks later we are in the final stages of shoehorning the contents of one hall of residence room into our house.

Where has this year gone?  Time is flying far too fast.  Perhaps it's the comings and goings that seem to make everything accelerate.  We have our daughter at home for a few more precious days before she leaves for a summer job abroad.  As I write, our son is on a bus somewhere in Croatia, and then he will be home two days after his sister leaves, and preparing for his university graduation.  I am beginning to think of my children as the migrating swallows and swifts which mark the start and end of summer each year.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Early morning traffic

Very early indeed - 6.24 a.m.  The Grand Princess cruise ship glides silently up the Firth of Forth on Saturday morning.  She will anchor off the Forth road and rail bridges, and passengers will transfer by tender for a day's shore excursion.  

I'm still not sure if watching this vast wedding cake of a ship moving up river was a bonus on our early morning walk by the shore.  We were heading home from Edinburgh airport, where we'd just deposited our son for the start of an inter-railing holiday in Europe (first leg obviously not by train!).  His route, we now realise, seems to have been planned to take in as many cities as possible that are currently being evacuated because of flooding...

But back to the Forth!  The structure that looks like a very long Toblerone bar is the tidal causeway linking Cramond Island with the mainland.  Despite living in Edinburgh for over 25 years, I have never visited Cramond Island.  It was heavily fortified in World War II - you can see a gun emplacement in the first picture.  

I'll leave it up to you whether you prefer the scene with cruise ship or without - tho there is a slightly more low key oil tanker in the last shot.

Over the past month I have hardly opened my laptop.  My daughter and I have been to Turin for a post-exam holiday, a hall of residence room has been cleared and contents shoe-horned into home, daughter has had university friends to stay en route to their homes abroad, son has been home briefly to pack and is even now looking for somewhere to eat in Geneva - not an easy task apparently on a Sunday night.  And it is the best time of year in Scotland - long, light evenings.  I still carry my camera with me wherever I go, and am stacking up photos, but there has always been something else to do which has got in the way of putting them on my blog.


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