So I may have taken a photo or two in the snow……

Can’t believe a week ago I was frolicking in the snow (and drawing hearts for photos not shared on Valentine’s Day, doh!)

Messing about in Dunbar Close Garden, a quiet nook, before heading off to the Park

Not a smidge of snow left in town now, just the Pentlands south of the town and the hills over the Forth in Fife have a smattering left. It’s a whole ten degrees warmer than this time last week! Last Saturday Dunsapie Loch was so solidly frozen that someone had gone out on it and taken the red sledge previously frozen there. Oh yeah, and there were clear markings that someone had been ice skating on St Margaret’s Loch, not sure I would have been so brave but I wish I’d seen it!

Right into the dark of Saturday evening students were still hanging out, a few still sledging on whatever remnants were even slightly viable. A number had obviously made beer runs and were heading back up to the Crags for some après-sledge! Whilst it had been a glorious sunset on the Friday evening (well worth taking in with a beer), the following evening wasn’t as clear, but I suppose Saturday night is still Saturday night and students will be students.

Ever hopeful even with only a slither of sledge left! Okay, so this bit of the Park is called Powderhouse Corner aka Students Meet. Friday evening sunset from Powderhouse Corner.

By Sunday afternoon the temperature was up above freezing and the snow starting to vanish away. Now that was a very clear evening, I was delighted to have Orion and his belt before me in the sky as I wound my way up round the Park on the Queen’s Drive. Can’t remember the last time I saw him, and I spotted the Big Dipper – they’re the only two constellations I know (oh, and the Southern Cross when I was down under). Dunsapie Loch was two thirds clear with the wind really choppying it up, the more sheltered end nearest the carpark was still very iced over. It was a beautiful evening walk, plenty of other folk had the same idea, and a few twinkling lights way up towards Arthur’s Seat denoted the hardiest of night strollers (one time it would be great to do).

Of course, there had to be one on watch, keeping an eye on everyone…….

Toodle pip!

Hello Darcy! (aka Beast from the East II)

As I’ve mentioned before, Edinburgh doesn’t get much snow, usually just for a morning then it’s gone. Just two months into this year and we’re already into a second bout of sledging! Okay, we doesn’t include me, unfortunately, my left hip is still a bit jippy so I’m watching everyone else going down any slope they can find, on anything they can find, yes, just about anything. The shops that are allowed to be open (Scotland is still majorly locked down) are all sold out of cheap tray sledges (so I was informed by a student holding a half-inched road diversion sign), they’re having to get creative! Best yesterday was a girl on a large two handled frying pan!

This was sunset on Monday in the Park, there’d been the odd swirl of snow but nothing major, tiny bits were still lying around from Christoph over a week before. Darcy was on her way – snow from the East, so that’s lots of lovely, dry, powdery snow. Yay! By Tuesday morning Edinburgh had a sparkly white covering, time to hit the Park again.

I noticed this little fellow in the trees near the Parliament.

Something a tad bigger must have made these meandering tracks on a frozen St Margaret’s Loch.

Heading up the road it was good to see that the Park Service had actually been round and cleared the snow from it (indeed, they cleared it again this morning). Mind you, walking on this snow has been fine so far, but tonight the temperature is to drop to around -6°C (about 21°F), it may be a bit hairier tomorrow! All the slopes that have been compacted down today will be super fast tomorrow, there may be a few tears and bruises before bedtime. I reckon quite a few will be sore and battered from today, but as I overheard one student say “This is the best Wednesday ever!” I think any bruises will be worn with pride as battle scars.

One chap had a large boiling pan with a cushion in it, yeah, that wasn’t a success. A friend of his had a large bin liner, now that was a success, it was surprising robust for such thin plastic. Certainly more robust than the washing basket that was already breaking apart after several goes and then completely lost its bottom, which was retrieved from halfway back up the hill. Another in the same group was using the two thirds remains of a tray sledge, he actually did reasonably well with it. Of course, there’s always various cardboard pieces and oven trays, one Aldi bag did ok, there was an Ikea bag but I didn’t see it tried out.

The pilfered road diversion sign went very fast, it did look to have been bent and shaped somewhat. An old hand shovel seemed a daring and somehow old-fashioned cobbled sledge. Today’s best was a camping ground sheet, yes, really. His mate helped wrap it around him then he hurtled off the side of St Leonard’s Crag (scarily steep). Wow! It looked scary, dangerous but somehow oddly safe, and very exhilarating!! Even when it completely spun round the chap was fine, cocooned inside. Genius.

Of course, there were plenty of sledges too. Some of the cheaper ones left shattered in park bins by the end of the day. There were also skiers and snowboarders around and about, they almost seemed quite dull compared with the antics of some of the sledgers. As I said, every reasonable and some rather unreasonable slopes have been playing host to young and not so young these last two days, a tonic for all who have ventured out! The snow could stay until Sunday morning as we’ll only get up to 2°C before then, after that the wind changes direction, brings rain and higher temperatures, and it’s back to normal winter weather for these parts. Bah!

I’ll leave you with two more pictures from Holyrood Park today. It’s possibly the most photographed sledge in the Park over the last two days…….

I so wish I could have been there and seen it when it happened!

It’s all over – bar the tinsel

That’s everything put away for another year, just got a carpet of tinsel to hoover up. I say everything but I can’t help looking around for something I’ve managed to overlook. One year it wasn’t until the end of February that I noticed my glass mistletoe decoration was still hanging in the hallway! I say I noticed it but it was a friend who was wondering what it was, I remember it, “What’s that?”,”What?”,”That hanging up there” oh bugger!

It’s quite astonishing how tinsel manages to get everywhere; I guess it uses any passing static energy to get around, I’ve found bits in the bathroom and the kitchen. There’s never been so many bits before, does tinsel shed more with old age? Some of the tinsel in my Christmas box will be over thirty years old! Maybe the tinsel feels obliged to leave traces of Christmas to be found months later seeing as there aren’t any pine needles to hide out in the carpet. I used to get real trees but one year, just after Christmas, Sainsbury’s were selling fake trees that had been £12.99 for about £6; I reckoned it was worth buying one for the following year, if it turned out to be rubbish I’d donate it to a charity shop and buy another one. It was fine and dandy!

My Christmas mugs and pint glass are washed and put back in the back of the kitchen cupboard. I had the last two slices of my cake this afternoon, oo, I’ve still to clean up and thank the penguins for their sterling work again this year. I did buy myself a Christmas pudding to have – unusual for me as I don’t generally bother but I tried some last year for the first time in many and, you know, it was rather good! It’s still not eaten, but the use by date is March 2022, so I’m saving it ’til the start of December, letting it mature.

The town is eerily quiet with just a few decorations brightening up the Royal Mile……

See what I mean? Oh yeah, they really jolly the place up! Just help to make it all look starker and emptier, I reckon.

And snowmen, sometimes I wonder about them – jolly and answer to the name Frosty or something more malevolent watching us………

The one with the mask is trying to blend in, the one below is checking out everyone going past, bottom left is calling down either a god or the mothership and the other, well, there’s one in every family!?

I really should head for my bed now. It’s meant to snow tonight, it was meant to be snowing by now, its not. I really do intend to be up early to walk on the virgin snow.

G’night, sweet dreams!

For one night only – Hog 2020

It’s nearly midnight, well, twenty minutes to go. I have a glass of cider and a bottle of Laphroaig for the odd medicinal swig and to toast the bells, of course! On visuals I have Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny on the telly, just dipping in to listen occasionally, as on primary audio I have Des Was A Bowie Fan: A New Year’s Eve Dance From the Valleys a find on Facebook which is wonderfully like a night at old favourite the Citrus Club, formerly of Grindlay Street. Just up for the occasional bop, otherwise I’m sofa-ing tonight……

Resting my hip ready for the morning
Guarding my Laphroaig from that bloody owl

Happy New Year, my darlings 💛

A windy day even before the sprouts!

Hello, my fine friends! I hope you had a lovely Christmas, or few days, depending how you roll. So did I rise at 9? Was Arthur’s Seat busy? Not quite and not at all, but I did make it!

See, there I am!

Right at the very top was a group of Japanese and Aussie students who wanted a photo taking, so I offered my services in return for a photo of myself. It was extremely windy up there, I was almost blown off the trig point! Luckily for me a lady was stood next to it and I managed to brace my leg against her arm when a gust tried to tug me off (she was very understanding, phew!). This was the best photo out the few snapped. At the time I just trusted that there’d be something useable taken, said my thank yous and headed down to calmer levels. As it’s not the most exciting pic I’ve funked it up on my Facebook, a collage of alien vistas, well, its nearly Dr Who time again.

Speaking of Dr Who, I felt like the Face of Boe on Christmas Day! Some clever clogs rigged up a large screen in a corner of the lounge at mater’s, so that they could include me in the family party by Skype – to the extent of making me join in Charades and quizzes where they’d hold up the question cards to the screen for me to take a proper turn in a team! I did serenade them with a few Christmas tunes on my ukulele while they ate. I’d already eaten a rather good Christmas lunch with a slice of my wonderful cake to follow. Bet my cake was better than theirs!

I shall love you and leave you with Me & My Christmas Lunch …

Have yourselves your own kinda Christmas!!

The old grandmother clock has just chimed twelve – Happy Christmas to one and all! I’ll have to head to bed soon, if I want to get up Arthur’s Seat first thing. Yes, first thing, no really, first thing, about 9am-ish. I’ve never been up there on Christmas Day, wonder how busy it might be?

Earlier this evening I watched the magnificent The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington, this year’s annual Christmas living room adventure by the Sleeping Trees. What a treat! And it’s not just me saying that, it’s getting great reviews – including in the New York Times! My sides almost split on first sighting the whale, ’twas a wondrous sight indeed! Pinnochio makes a cameo appearance, well, it is a mashup.

You’re encouraged to join in (well, kids are, small or big) speaking whale, making your own boat out of whats around you – I did, but it was immediately commandeered by an owl and a pussycat who installed their own captain, some dozey sheep! Moby Dick Whittington is still available to watch in a number of countries up until the 31st December for a very reasonable price and you can watch it again and again and again before the 31st ends (on the same device). If you’ve had a crappy year and need some warm, daft silliness, look no further!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pics I dug up from a Christmas Past, when my good friend Humphrey visited. Things got a little silly ……..

I was the King of the Castle!!
after six or seven eggnogs

So it’s Crimble à Chez Bruce

Wow, Saturday night was a real doozy! Possibly the best Strictly Come Dancing final I’ve ever seen and the worst news announcements possible with just days to go til Christmas. Sunday was a day of head scratching, bad tempers and/or sad resignation for many. I, myself, was on the phone back and forth with half my Yorkshire clan for plenty of the day. Obviously they all feel it won’t be a proper Christmas without yours truly to brighten up the room! We’re all crossing everything we can to hope that things will have calmed down enough by March to have a combined Belated Christmas Day/Mothering Sunday.

I’m fine with it all, hey i)I knew this would happen from the moment the five days grace was announced, and ii) being angry or upset would only negatively affect me and not make a blind bit of difference to the fact I have to stay put in Edinburgh (folks, I’m not usually this mature about things, who is this?!) So I’m just quietly continuing on, just slowly weaving together ideas, shopping lists, weather forecasts and TV schedules for my own cosy Crimble. Sadly the zoo isn’t open on Christmas Day this year otherwise I would have organised a trip for the late morning; so Arthur’s Seat it is, then, oh and hopefully Esther too.

My daily walks should put me in good stead for reaching the top of the hill with ease. Recently with the night falling so early I find myself in darkness even as I approach the Park but I have fairly good night vision – until I’m blinded by the extremely bright headlights some folk wear! Others are like ninjas, suddenly appearing three steps away, okay so maybe if I wasn’t listening to music on my earphones I would at least hear them draw near. I don’t mind night walking in winter, it can be quite pleasant. It is nice to see the decorations in tenement flats as I head back into town and the occasional Christmas tree in a square or garden. In fact…..

Spotted in the garden at St Peters at Newington
West Parliament Square by St Giles

Ah, Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter! Damn, that is such an earworm, and I’ve just put it back in my head, bugger!

But, Brucie, what’s happening with the cake? I hear you cry. It’s done! Iced in my inimitable style (a snowy wonderland) and the penguins have once again agreed to stand around on it for a few days – they like to pretend it’s an iceberg! So laydeees and gentlemen, I give you, cook and cake……

Poor Eric was worried what may be lurking in the moat of china below

Oh, and those wonderful silly boys The Sleeping Trees have come up with their own Christmas song The Ballad of the Reindeer – do check it out. It made me laugh, anyway.

Toodle pip!

2020 still has a few surprises…….

Fourteen days into December and we’re still allowed the five days around Christmas to see family. In just over a weeks time I’ll be heading to deepest, darkest Yorkshire with presents and Christmas cheer (and maybe some cider from the Jolly Judge!). Sorry, but I’m still can’t shake the feeling that the Sturgeon will do something stupid. Of course she won’t at this late stage …… or would she?!

Hands up if you’ve heard of thundersnow, I hadn’t at the start of this month but in the early hours of the 4th it got up close and personal with the residents of Edinburgh. Some folk phoned the police thinking they’d heard explosions, it even managed to set off some car alarms! Roused from my slumber, I couldn’t figure out if it was extremely long thunder or a very heavy truck crawling slowly up the road – Facebook provided the answer in the morning. Apparently it’s a phenomenon that happens when thunder and lightning mix with a heavy snowstorm, pretty rare in the UK but hey, it’s 2020, this would be the year for thundersnow to put in an appearance!

The following night was rather mental too, no thundersnow but hailstones like I’ve never heard before. You know the sound of heavy rain on outside of a little tent that you’re lying in, praying you’ll make it til morning? That’s how bad the weather sounded inside my little tenement flat. It started around 1am, I wasn’t long tucked up after more episodes than I’d intended of Lucifer series 3 (well, he is very more-ish); I ended up getting back up to watch it awhile from my lounge window. It can be quite mesmerising watching a hailstorm.

On the Sunday at dusk I tottled off to Portobello beach again, Now I don’t know if there was a connection with the previous recent weather but there’d been a tremendous amount of debris and driftwood brought up onto the beach (including an odd tree stump lying here and there). The locals had been busy and right along the length of the beach were various forms created from the driftwood, and, of course, a number of small fires surrounded by friends chatting away into the darkening night.

this structure was much closer to the shoreline than most so I couldn’t resist taking a pic in the gathering gloom

Strictly Come Dancing is nearing it’s end now and I’m pleased to say Bill Bailey is still in as a contender in the Final this weekend! He won’t win, that should be Hrvy or Maisie (should, they are the best dancers but as the Final is purely on the public vote it comes down to popularity rather than a flawless performance) but it’s great that he’s made it this far. He deserves it after bringing metal to Strictly! Oh yes, on Saturday night his second dance was a tango to Enter Sandman by Metallica!! (It was a pretty good rendition by the house band) And a nice bit of trivia, the song (Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey that Bill and Oti did a Charleston to was where Bill took his name from after a teacher kept singing it at school – his real name is Mark.

I really must mention our very own furry Esther Williams, she’s really wow-ing the fans now. Our neighbourhood otter was taking a breather on the rocks at the edge of Dunsapie Loch just feet away from folk all stunned to see her so close (ok, yes, I was fairly amazed myself when I saw how chilled she was at the close proximity to people). Even when she went back in, she swam along the bank, diving down every couple of minutes, stunning! I must admit I thought otters had little stubby noses but this pic shows otherwise. Honestly, it is the otter and not a strange looking dog!

Just a smattering….

Wow! This morning Edinburgh awoke to a smattering of snow! Most of it was gone by midday (as is usual here) but it was still about on the hillsides and well-insulated rooftops. The paths around Holyrood Park were a tad on the slippy side, so folk were having to choose between sliding on the path or in the surrounding mud. It all made for some rather cautious walking!

Mind, the longer effort was worth it for the view of Dunsapie Loch, still as a millpond, with a perfect reflection of Crow Hill and Arthur’s Seat in it…….

I was a bit disappointed the otter wasn’t around but just when I’d reached the other end of the Loch, I looked and saw that she had appeared. Yes, I trooped back round to see her! I couldn’t help myself, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to watch an otter blithely swimming and diving about in the wild. She’s gorgeous and she knows it.

Speaking of gorgeous, Logan’s Close have announced on Facebook that they’re intending to record their debut album next year. Oh yay! A whole album of rich musical gorgeousness, can’t wait!! In the meantime, they’ve come up with a line of sexy, stylish T-shirts and bags for the fans (about time!); personally, I think they should do badges too – yes, I do need badges, preferably not stinking, mind 😊

Toodle pip!

December in the Time of Covid

Ah, the first of December, the day it’s acceptable to put up something Christmassy and not before!! The fireplace, hearth and mantel, has been cleared and cleaned, my peace lily is holidaying in the kitchen and this year’s advent calendar now has pride of place. This afternoon I trotted along to St John’s Church at the corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road to check out this year’s Cards For Good Causes.

It’s a marvellous institution, been going for years, from October to December pop-up shops pop up all over the UK in places like churches, libraries, community centres, town halls and the like, mainly run by volunteers, selling Christmas cards for over twenty five charities. That is, twenty five national charities and then any local charities, like hospices. Cards For Good Causes is a not-for-profit organisation so all the proceeds after the overheads goes to the charities (and yes, the money goes to the specific charity for each pack of cards), last year it was 70p in every £1, which is way better than the charity cut from the so-called charity cards from some high street retailers!

St John’s Church

Of course, you can buy the cards at the charity shops themselves but I enjoy perusing all that’s on offer from the various charities then I make my choices – something sweet and cute, something more sombre. At the end next to the till they have Chrustmas paraphernalia, wrapping paper, tags, decorations, gifts for sale (the profits from these help to meet some of the running costs of the pop-up shops). Okay, so I would usually have already been along before now to have a peek at what was on offer, but, well, with all the social distancing measures I feel disinclined to go earlier, I wondered what changes they would have had to make, actually not a lot (besides the obvious hand sanitiser and screen at the till). There’s been a doorbell installed to buzz for entry, then one heads down the centre aisle to go one way up the side aisle where the cards are displayed back up to the till and exit side door. One obvious problem with this is some folk (erm, like me) would usually wander down the row seeing what there was before walking back up and picking out their choices; luckily for me, there was no one else there for a wee while so I was able to go back and forth a bit.

Of course, this being 2020, I’m still not definite where I’ll actually be for Christmas. The Powers That Be are currently saying the nation will have a five day window for family Christmases, but this is only the first of the month, with all their constant rule-changing I’m not convinced they’ll still be saying the same thing in twenty days time!!

I shall leave you with a lovely picture from a late afternoon stroll along Portobello Prom just last week. I say late afternoon, it was round about half past five and the moon was well up, I was quite surprised how many people were about on the beach and the Prom, but then, we’re not to meet indoors, so…..