Sunday, 30 March 2014

Saltires over Westminster

On a recent trip to London we stayed just across the river from the Houses of Parliament at Westminster.  Given the amount of air traffic overhead, on the approach to Heathrow, it's maybe not surprising that a few contrails should cross and give the effect of the saltire, the diagonal cross which forms the Scottish flag.

With five and a half months to go until the vote on Scottish independence, you might see portents in the sky according to your political view.  A heavenly sign of independence, or the continuation of the Union?  

But I'm not going to get into politics!  Our reason for being in London was our daughter's Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award presentation at St James's Palace.  The presentation was by Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh himself at over 90 no longer doing many presentations.  Prince Edward was very chatty with the recipients, and John Loughton, founding director of dare2lead, gave an inspirational speech.  But imagine the luck of a more recent presentation group, who had Benedict Cumberbatch as their inspirational speaker... 

Farewell darkness

With the change to British Summer Time today we're bidding farewell to the dark months of the year.  Various artistic efforts are made to counterbalance the dark, such as this Field of Light display in Edinburgh's St Andrew SquareIf you click on the link you'll see the display from above, where it looks much more artistic than it did to me as a groundling.  I was all too aware of the yards of cabling.  Perhaps a good view was had from the restaurant of Harvey Nichols, which is the tallest building towards the right of the shot.

After Earth Hour yesterday, what strikes me about this scene is just how lit up our city darkness is.  Some find this comforting, but the longer I live in a city the more I wish for proper winter darkness of the countryside.  It seems - strangely - less dark than the overdose of artificial light.  

For the next few months, tho, natural light is growing all the time.  Even if the first day of Summer Time is a grey haar brought in by a bitter East wind.  

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Preparatory reading

Thanks to the well-stocked travel section of Edinburgh's central library we've been doing some preparatory and aspirational reading.  Excuse the blurry shots throughout - obviously my hand was shaking with the excitement of escape.

Vancouver was for our daughter, who now has exciting plans in place.  We were in Vancouver very briefly as a family in 2007, en route to a Suzuki music institute in the southern interior of BC.  So briefly that all we saw was the airport, an airport hotel and then the airport again.

Below, London x 2.  More on this in my next post.

Below, dreaming of the south, as is normal at the end of the Scottish winter.  Even such a mild one as this.

And in contrast, aspirational planning for a trip towards Ultima Thule.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Glasgow is Happy

Despite the rain, Glasgow is Happy, joining the worldwide trend of city 'Happy' videos.  And what's more, they're happy in kilts.  My son did indeed have a great 4 years at the University of Glasgow - catch a glimpse of the Hogwarts-style cloisters at 1.04 and several points throughout.

There is an Edinburgh Happy video, but made by a tourist.  Not that I'm drawing any conclusions from that...

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Felled by a tram?

If you've read my last post way back in January you might think I've been run over by a tram - and they have now been spotted testing in daylight, although I've yet to see one.  Nothing as newsworthy, I'm afraid, just flattened by work, and by January and then February.  

Once the reclining Lanterns of Terracotta Warriors were upright, they put on quite a show.  Originally created for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Warriors were set up in the quad of the University of Edinburgh's Old College to mark the Chinese New Year.

The quad is normally a restrained sort of place - not much graced by sunlight for most of the year, and not the sort of place that members of the public venture into.  But the Warriors attracted people in their droves every evening.

Photographers were out in force, of course, with phalanxes of tripods and serious cameras.  What surprised me was the number of children.  You can see buggies in the shot below, but every evening the quad was enlivened by children darting about or just standing mesmerised by the glowing figures.

I am increasingly fascinated by the use of public space in cities, by how people make space their own and change the feel of a space in ways that were never intended when they were built.  If I could go back and choose, and IF I had the slightest mathematical capability, I would be tempted to be an architect.  But since neither of those is the case, I'll just continue to marvel.


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