Esther? Is that you?

Today’s constitutional was a once round Holyrood Park, just on the road, nothing off piste today. I just needed a good long walk, and to get milk too. The park can be quite busy on a Sunday but I wasn’t expecting to see so many folk up by Dunsapie Loch…..

I thought, wow, I know people like to take photos of the swans but this many? Is it a photography club outing?! The chap hunched down at the water’s edge had the longest lens I’ve ever seen! Just one swan swam majestically in the middle of the Loch, loving the attention.

Ah, hang on, no, everyone’s attention was on something else, something to the left of the swan. A ripple, did a fish just jump? And another one. And I saw it – an otter! Holy mackerel, Batman! That’s a first, an otter in the top pond, and it was having a fine time frolicking! Oh, she knew how to work the crowd, a little peekaboo here, a frisky leap there, disappear a while to keep us in suspense, only to reappear a short distance away for a brief flirtation before diving down again with a flick of her tail.

Honestly, that is an otter, I promise you.

Toodle pip!

They’re baaaaack!

Yes, indeed, the uni students arrived in droves today. Well, in cars, with anxious parents trying to figure out where to go. I noticed at the halls, where once a very handy Homebase stood, a big sign saying “10 minute drop-off time”, i.e. throw your precious darling and their possessions oot the car and go! Mind, some will probably have been glad for a reason to get rid of smothering parents quickly.

My afternoon walk took me past the halls on Holyrood Road, up the Pleasance and left along Holyrood Park Road, so plenty of fresh new students around. After that my wanderings took me along the Innocent Railway, Bingham (I only know that from a sign), out to near the new Royal Infirmary, returning past Craigmillar Castle, through the woods and back up Old Dalkeith Road. A very pleasant couple of hours, it’s been a warm and balmy day (and another couple are forecast, yay).

It will be interesting to see how the students behave with all the Covid restrictions. Will they adhere, or be like students? I do have some sympathy for them, especially the first years; this should one of the most exciting and wild times of their lives. God, yeah, poor bastards, not much of a Freshers Week to look forward to! They should be mixing and mingling, making lots of new friends – this is the worst year ever to start uni. I shall strive to be tolerant when they clutter up road crossings and dawdle in hordes across pavements. At least the council has widened a lot of pavements, maybe it will prove to be useful after all.

Oh, and I’ve noticed that The Auld Hoose has put a teaser up on Facebook, looks like they’ll be re-opening very soon, they know their main demographic! There’ll be quite a number of pubs that’ll be well down on how much they would usually take from students in the few weeks of autumn term. There’ll also be quite a few locals who will enjoy the lack of student pub crawls. Again, I do feel sorry for the first years!

Anyhoos, it’s very late. My bed isn’t just calling to me any more, it’s tutting, most aggrieved at it’s emptiness. I shall leave you with two pics taken on my walk today.

The other castle in Edinburgh, Craigmillar Castle – a castle for your inner child!
Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park from Craigmillar way. That’s Salisbury Crags to the left of the photo.

A seat with a view

As today (well, technically yesterday) was the third Saturday of NotFringe2020, I took myself up Arthur’s Seat to sit awhile and stare out over Edinburgh. I would have stood but the wind was scarily strong, so I hunkered down low to stop from being blown away. Why today? Barry Ferns, for some years this was the day of the big Gala performance (well, he and three other comedians he’d manage to persuade to walk up Arthur’s Seat), it seemed fitting to trot on up and read a bit of poetry.

I say trot, more of a trotting start, slowing to an amble, with more and more pauses “to admire the view” as I went higher and higher. Oo, I took a different route to my usual up near the top, quite daring of me in the high winds and blinding sunlight. The views today were great, so pics were in order,  at least one to prove I made it up there! It was difficult to judge which bit of Edinburgh was in the background but I got lucky – zoom in and to the side of my ear is McEwan Hall and the university area, a smidgen further and there’s George Square Gardens, further again the Meadows and Marchmont.

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And, of course, a panoramic shot from the castle far left, taking in the Forth, across the city to Edinburgh’s Disgrace on Calton Hill on the right.

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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. 

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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).

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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?!

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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!

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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!