How to make a moose smile

Bored now. Following random thoughts around Facebook at two in the morning after Buffy is not a good sign. My long walks have tailed off a tad too. When will life be normal again? Will it ever be normal again?

Its late July, the town should be plastered with show posters, the Pleasance should have it’s bar built by now, George Square Gardens should have a giant purple upsidedown cow being inflated in it, Bristo Square should be all cordoned off as this year’s creation is created, Charlotte Square is empty and locked up. I’m not bored – I’m down!

But then, sometimes in the wee small hours following Facebook trails can throw up wonderful things. Things like John Robertson talking about mental health stuff, the guy is just sooo brilliant. Yes, he’s scary too, and definitely not for everyone, but if you get him you love him (like marmite, or vegemite).

Quick scrolling through, he’s a pandad. What?! Yep, he’s a pandad in an inflatable panda outfit. This guy has not let a little thing like Covid19 slow him down, John Robertson seems to have slipped online with ease. He does a lot of stuff on something called Twitch, sigh, another new-fangled wotsit. Oo, and a mention of his book The Little Town of Marrowville, it’s doing rather well; apparently Amazon UK had run out again!! Of course, I’ve no idea how many that actually means but hey, it’s got to be good news (unless you have yet to get a copy).

It couldn’t happen to a nicer book! I notice there’s an audio version with Mr Robertson himself reading it, wow, that’s pretty tempting! I could quite hear him as I read it, I could actually hear him with the audiobook, hmmm. I was umm-ing and ahh-ing over getting the book last year, I was aware he’d written it and had brought copies to sell after his Fringe shows. I didn’t, but a good friend went along to Teviot to buy one and even got it signed for me. Hurrah! Best Christmas present last year!

2020-07-29 12.40.35

It’s one of those books that’s supposedly meant to be for kids, but there’s plenty like me who will love it. It’s funny, surreal, dark (as hell in places), sharp, and it has that great Aussie dryness and wit through it. I love how descriptive the writing is, painting vivid pictures of the characters and their surroundings; I’m guessing our author may be utilising some dungeon mastering techniques here? I would definitely place it up there with China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun and Clive Barker’s Abarat as books to expand and encourage young minds. All three are deliciously creative and slightly warped.

Oh, you’re wondering why Neil Gaiman wasn’t included there? These three share a certain type of dark surreality that I don’t find in Gaiman, his darkness is different. I would say, a child who loves The Little Town of Marrowville will go on to like the Abarat series but not necessarily Neverwhere (which is one of my favourite books). Un Lun Dun is from the mind that gave us Perdido Street Station, nuff said, it will open a young mind to all sorts of realms.

So, what words of wisdom did Mr Robertson write in the front of my book?

2020-07-29 20.50.17                                                                I think he nailed it. The answer to life, the universe and everything maybe 42, but this is definitely the answer to, how do you make a moose smile? These words read like a big, warm, reassuring hug. Good man, that John Robertson!

Toodle pip!

I see shut pubs

Another Friday night and I ain’t got nobody …… so I’m staying in having feasted on lamb shank, cooked in a rustic rosemary and red wine stew, with sweet potato mash and cabbage. Tea does not get better than that! Time to open a bottle of Laughing Llama, yes I totally chose it because of the name. Mmmm mmm, not bad, deep berry flavours, a tinge of pepperiness. It’ll do.

Edinburgh is slowly opening back up, a few more pubs are doing offsales now. I suppose if they’re ready for re-opening next week the beer might as well be started on! So far pubs with outdoor areas (that’s beer gardens and pavement tables, which is not that many in the town) have been able to open after a fashion. In England pubs have already opened indoors after a fashion. The government wants us to go out to shop and eat, spend money but only after a fashion. 

There’s plenty of pubs, shops, cafes and others that won’t be able to open again yet, if ever. Even with one metre distancing some of the best pubs and little shops won’t be financially viable from the numbers they’ll be allowed through the door. Our governments and media love sound bites, yes, businesses are opening again but only after a fashion, they won’t be fully open, open like open used to be. We’ve got a long way to go before open means what it used to mean.

And talking about fashion, why are so many desperate to shop in Primark and Zara? Other large stores may have queues too, but walking along Princes Street, like wow! Why?! I made inquiries to a couple of female friends. Turns out they don’t understand it either, mind both admitted they wouldn’t shop at Primark anyway, but also, both mentioned that during Lockdown they’ve realised how many clothes they own and really, a few months of not acquiring any more was a good thing. See, that I get!

So, I’ll just continue to trot up to the Jolly Judge for offsales ciders; I’ll admire my friends’ clothing to be informed that it’s  been in their wardrobe unworn for years; I’ll arrange a wee picnic with friends at a spot in the Meadows that we won’t have to book a two hour time slot for. Life won’t be back to normal for some while yet, I’m one of the lucky ones, I’ll get by.

I leave you with my favourite Pete Standen picture, another apocalyptical one, the view of Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat is not that far from my own view! I think it quite nicely sums up life just now, it is a life in Edinburgh after a fashion. 

2020-06-30 20.21.52

The Long Dusk

Errol Flynn sure did have some wicked ways! Yes, I’m still reading My Wicked, Wicked Ways, it’s tiny print – plus I only read it on sunny days out in the Park. Boy, was it sunny yesterday! I took myself up Whinny Hill to find a quiet grassy spot hidden in the gorse, annoyingly my usual “go to” spots had already been got to by others! I wandered higher and higher to find a suitable spot – so I’m particular, bite me. The sun was so sunny and the book was so fascinating, it was going on for seven o’clock before I headed home for tea.

Tea over I headed out again, well, it was still very warm, I reckoned it would be a good night for bats. As it would be quite a while before any bats came out there was plenty of time to head to St Margaret’s Loch the long way round – right round the Park! For the back of ten o’clock there were still quite a number of folk out taking the evening air watching the dusk deepening (dusk takes it’s time in Scotland in the middle of summer).

20200626_005443

There was still some birdsong, oh, and a peacock sounding off over at Prestonfield House, a posh affair just south of Holyrood Park. The jackdaws were all away for the night, a few swallows zoomed about but most noticeable was the sound of the grasshoppers (grasshoppers/crickets? I looked it up, pretty sure it’s grasshoppers here). That sound! It evokes other places, other times, dreams! It rose up from the large sweeps of long grass around that area; I will definitely go on more evening walks up around Dunsapie Loch. And then, bats, oh my!

One, I hadn’t even thought there’d be bats around Dunsapie Loch (where would they roost?) and two, it was much lighter than when they usually come out down at St Margaret’s Loch. They were flitting around by the trees in the carpark area, had the swallows just knocked off up there? – I have a thing that the bats aren’t allowed out until every swallow has parked up for the night. You’ll always see the odd one or two cheeky swallows taking their time with a few last flybys. It was definitely much lighter, I was able to walk at the edge of the Loch and see the bats skim way across the water (by now, at quarter to eleven). I would have walked to the other end of the lochside but ahead I saw the swans were all asleep on the path, apart from one that was obviously on duty. Nope, I backtracked enough to find another way back on to the road, I’m not stupid!

Only a couple of bats flitted by as I walked down the road towards a more wooded area. In the gloom under the low hanging trees I saw an animal ahead of me, it slunk along looking for trouble, umm, black and white. Aww, it was a cat, a cat that glared at me for calling it Puss, a number of times to no avail. Didn’t I realise that tonight she was a badass Nightprowler?!

20200625_230509

Wow, even at that time there were walkers and cyclists going past me up into the Park. One cyclist had no lights AND he was on the path under low dense trees! I could hear something odd ahead and luckily decided to move off the path as I could see the road better. Finally down at St Margaret’s Loch it was very gloomy, but no bats!? I stood and waited in my first spot (I’ll wait around a long time to see a bat), nothing, walked to the second spot (I have my five best spots to  bat watch around the Loch), zilch. Third spot, come on, guys, it’s definitely past bat o’clock by now. Fourth spot, and oo, one, then nothing. I was sure it would be Bat Central there but instead, just Norman-No-Mates.

I headed home somewhat perplexed. I do hope the bats are okay, I would hate to have anything happen to them. Yeah, course they are, what do I know about bats? Not a lot, they’re just great to watch, like vampires. Yay, Buffy was on telly when I got in. Marvellous!

20200626_011655

Ah, those fair meadows 💛

Last weekend would have been the Meadows Fair if not for the Lockdown. The Meadows Fair, as it says on the tin, is held in the Meadows a well-loved parkland area on the Southside of town, always on the first full weekend of June. I say always but in the last few years there has been some doubt as to it’s continuation as the council, well, behaves like it does!

See the Meadows Fair is just a lovely local event for local people, there’s no big sponsors or money in it, tourists don’t come for it – ah, of course, that’s why the council are so unhelpful, it’s just for locals! Not that you wouldn’t be very welcome should you be in Edinburgh, dear hearts, everyone’s very welcome but like I said, it’s not a big flashy event, it’s a free, volunteer-run grassroots affair; various stages with live music, kids’ activities, a dog show, performers, a beer tent, some of the best bric-a-brac stalls you will ever see along with plenty other stalls (and the usual overpriced food stalls) and a travelling fair always sets up beside it just off Melville Drive on the Marchmont side.

Apparently it was founded in 1974, and plenty of folk look like they dig out their old 70s gear to wear for it! Hippy Central it is. Many just chill out in front of the main stage, the odd few have a wee boogie-about, you can always stretch your legs by a wander round the stalls. At the other end of Middle Meadow Walk is a smaller but equally loud stage showcasing young upcoming local bands, worth checking out, the sets are quite short so if one band isn’t to your fancy, don’t worry, there’ll be another along shortly!

People come back year after year, the once young hedonists come back pushing buggies, trying to be hip-cool with their teenagers, sharing a beer with grown-up kids each reminiscing their times at Fairs gone-by. Of course, even though it wasn’t on this year I just had to take a trot up there and boy, the locals were out in numbers (all observing social distancing, I hasten to add). There were family groups, flatmates, couples, plenty sitting one chatting to another at the appropriate distance, it was really good to see. The whole area was dotted with folk enjoying a summer afternoon in the park.

One thing though, I’ll bet the folk on Saturday left all sorts of rubbish behind! I was always taught from very young to never litter, even if the bins are full, no excuse, take it home! At the end of both days of the Meadows Fair a small army of volunteers go round collecting up all the rubbish leaving the place spotless (frankly there shouldn’t be any on the ground as there are plenty of bins). There’s also donation buckets going around, I always give to help this marvellous institution survive another year.

Roll on the 5th of June 2021!

FB_IMG_1591570378097

On checking a few factoids I’ve noticed it’s officially called the Meadows Festival, well I’ve always known it as the Meadows Fair and thats what i intend to keep calling it!

 

Just strollin’ in the rain

The rain is lashing down outside, tomorrow’s gonna be way cooler, yay, it’s June! It was forecast (the rain not June) for this evening, it tried to start earlier but all that could be mustered were a few very pleasant drizzly showers. We had a lovely warm day here in Edinburgh with balmy breezes too, the drizzle didn’t seem to put off anyone from going out, including yours truly; some were prepared with brollies or rain jackets, others just didn’t care as it was so warm, so Holyrood Park was still a popular place for the day’s exercise.

20200602_191723The scents wafting on the breeze were intoxicating, the gorse, of course, and now the elderflowers are adding their sweet sherbetiness, there’s plenty of dogtooth roses out now too (they always make me think of my father). Plenty of other smells too mingling in, especially after a shower. This afternoon I noticed how many foxgloves seem to have recently popped up, they are some of my favourite flowers.

The big tree by the side of Dunsapie Loch was literally buzzing with life (well, bees). The swans were proudly showing off this year’s brood, six cygnets all looking well with one being a bit of rebel, dawdling doing it’s own thing (there’s always one in every family!) An inquisitive young spaniel was subjected to the most awful language by the father, well, he did sound like he was swearing. Poor pup wasn’t even that close to the water’s edge when the swans came by, possibly the fact that the pup was quite wet made Pops decide best to discourage any future doggy paddling.

As often proceeds heavy rain the birds were all singing like billy-o; a fair few keen amateur photographers were about trying to catch sight of them. The poor jackdaws were ignored as usual, I like them with their shiny black caps, all hanging out together in their bovver boy gangs on the craggier parts of the park. Somewhere on a lower spot a pheasant would occasionally let out a few raucous squawks, not a pleasant sound!

I did notice today that some parts of the Park were looking quite parched and both the ponds were looking lower than usual, the rain will be very welcome. And the good folk of Auld Reekie can go back to moaning about the weather!

 

Moon stalking – tricky under Scottish skies!

Today’s outdoor exercise was hunting down the Flower Moon, more like the Shrinking Violet Moon. The city sky was almost clear but the East Lothian skies were full of clouds for the moon to stay hidden behind. She hopped from one cloud to another, it’s not often I go out of an evening just to watch the moon, try it, she moves faster than a watched kettle boils! I know, who’d’ve thunk it! I calculated it would probably be around midnight before she reached clear sky, no chance, I wanted to be home way before then.

Why,  I even forewent watching Antony & Cleopatra from National Theatre Live tonight to go moon hunting. I’ll watch it at the weekend (mind, as time goes by, who, like me, wonders like a certain magnificent Dowager Countess “what is a weekend?”). I have never seen Antony & Cleopatra but should like to as I studied it at A-level, will any of it come back to me?!

Last night I had the great delight of more spooky tales from Will Seaward! Usually I have to wait ’til August to get my fix of silly spookiness, Wednesday evening was my third dose this year already!! Yes, three times already and its only May! Jam With Humans are doing a lot of stuff online including co-hosting Will Seaward’s Spooky Ghost Stories, with the Jam With Humans supplying very atmospheric musical accompaniment. This week’s terrifying tales were about a spooky castle, and then one set in the Wild West; both thoroughly enjoyed along with a rather nice bottle of Sicilian red wine and a large plate of spag bol!

I would continue but I’ve just noticed it’s way past bedtime. I’ll never stay young and pretty without my beauty sleep. I shall leave you with my earlier game of hide and seek with the moon….

20200507_233903

She’s there somewhere, I think?!

20200507_234623

Oo, a cheeky peek-a-boo!

20200507_235014

After all that I was expecting something more spectacular – like with bells on!!

 

Fluffy bunnies, fluffy bunnies!

Fluffy bunnies! Why? Err, a friend in school said it to me many years, told me it was the first thing you should say to anyone on the 1st May. Who was I to argue? I just googled it to see if it really is a thing and apparently some say “white rabbits” at the start of March, while others say it at the start of every month. Hmmm, a tenuous similarity. Does anyone else say fluffy bunnies on 1st May?

I had thought I would trot up Arthur’s Seat early doors to wash my face in the morning dew on May Day – tis said this will keep one young and fresh-faced! Yeah, right! As every other year I’ve battered my alarm off and gone back to sleep. Besides, there is social distancing to be adhered to, supposing hordes had descended on the same hill? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Goodness, time is marching on and I’m yet to my own marching for the day. I shall leave you with some pics I’ve taken out and about recently.

20200501_134754

Duddingston Loch.

20200424_161404

 

A pheasant in Holyrood Park enjoying the view over Portobello and the Forth.

 

20200501_140423

Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile in the foreground, part of the high rises of Dumbiedykes visible behind, all dwarfed by the Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park, with Arthur’s Seat peeking over at the back.

 

 

The end of the world as we know it??

These are strange times we are living in. I think I would much less surprised if our local extinct volcano came back to life now than I would have been a few months ago. This coronavirus thing is bad, I’ve seen less scary zombie films; and like in zombie films there’s the dumbass “cool” guys, all showing off flexing their muscles, reckoning they’re somehow immune to the dangers. Newsflash: You’re Not!!

Being a moose, I, like cats and dogs, can’t get Covid-19, but just to be on the safe side no more hugging until we can ALL hug together again. I did see a worrying post on Facebook the other day, it asked folk not to abandon their pets as they can’t spread coronavirus. What?! Please people, do not abandon your pets, it’s times like this the affection and solace of a animal companion is to be cherished. In a way I can understand the consuming, confusing fears some owners will feel; but I also know that some folk are callous, heartless bastards. Sad but true.

I’m almost surprised there’s been no apocalyptical, doomsday cults popping up out of the woodwork. Or is this just too real and immediate a situation for them to create fantasies from?

If you’re wondering about the picture, it’s by Peter Standen, originally from Surrey but he’s lived in Edinburgh for ages . For some years now he has been at the West End Craft Fair during the Fringe, showings his etchings and postcards. I bought this one just last year (I have three others bought in previous years along the same destruction of Edinburgh vein). When I saw it I actually initially laughed with delight; from when I first learnt that Edinburgh was situated on an old volcano (as in the picture, Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat are two of it’s vents) there’s been a scary, fantastical What If? in my head and here it was in front of me. No, it’s not framed yet. I’m happy to wait for the perfect frame, I just haven’t seen it yet. No worries.

Stay safe, peeps, and as my father used to always say “Be good.”

 

 

Hello 2019!

On New Years Day I made my traditional trek up Arthur’s Seat to welcome in the year. This year along with my hip flask of Laphroaig, I took a slice of my rather damn fine Christmas cake, a reward for reaching the top and sugar rush to get me back down! It maybe somewhat tiring going up, but it’s trickier getting down again (well it is for me, I’m much more sure-footed ascending but descending I go so gingerly and worry about slipping).

Twas a beautiful sunny morning and rather breezy at the top, thankfully not as windy as when I did my practice run two days earlier, I almost took off in the wind a couple of times! So many different languages and accents can be heard at the summit, most heard is “Could you take a photo of me/us?” I do like to oblige when asked.

From there I scrambled down from the peak and explored the other areas around the top, finally heading back down via a path I’ve never used before and probably never will again. It took bloody ages to negotiate the slip slidy mud and steep parts. By the time I was back down to the road the annual triathlon was in full swing with cyclists whizzing past, it was a while before I had a chance to leg it over to the pavement.

I really should go up Arthur’s Seat more often, there’s so many paths to follow and such beauty to behold. I used to wander around the park much more in the past, ah yes, New Year Resolution – must walk in the park more often.

Toodle pip!

You should go see Incredibles too!

Just in from seeing Incredibles 2, wow, that was sooo good! Brad Bird is a genius! Tomorrow I’ll do Mama Mia 2 straight from work, see I’m getting in the film-going now before the Fringe starts on Wednesday. Nothing wrong with a bit of Abba – I’ll balance it up with some AC/DC in the car afterwards 😎

There’s pockets of frenzied activity around the town and bright young things wearing lanyards are buzzing everywhere. Posters adorn walls, fences, railings, lampposts. It’s nearly here!! The Death Squad are on their way, apparently by boat according to Facebook. By this time next week I’ll have seen nineteen shows, yay!

I will be putting photos n stuff on Facebook, just look for Bruce T Moose (the T is for Theo, bet you thought it was The, didn’t you?)

Here’s to a great August, I hope you all wherever you may be have as good a month as I intend to have   💛

TTFN