What will the future bring? I wonder…..

To paraphrase an old favourite from The Sound of Music which has been wiggling through my head all morning. You may, or may not be aware that the Scottish Parliament votes have now all been counted and the Scottish National Party is still in power. No surprises there, but what now? I awoke this morning with my head immediately buzzing with thoughts, niggles, questions; probably because late last night when I should have already switched off and gone to bed, I stumbled upon a Facebook page that, well, frankly it disturbed me. It was late, I was tired though stubbornly still up, I guess the words clung around as I finally went off.

The words? You know how some folk make mean, jibey comments on Facebook but you know they’d never actually say any of that stuff out loud, face to face? Well, this particular thread was written by nationalists who quite likely would say all of it and more, pitchforks at the ready to drive the English south and crowdfund to build a new wall. Actually, they kinda make me think of the Brexiteers, mmm, some nationalists are very sure on kicking out anyone English and/or unionist, I wonder if they’re aware that Scotland needs incomers? In England the PM has announced a deal which will allow students from India to live and work in the UK for two years after graduation, bet plenty there will have lots to say about that (the deal is reciprocated by India but I doubt certain factions will read that far).

Maybe I should reiterate at this point that I do love Scotland and the Scottish (well mostly). I know and like many nationalists, as I said last post, vive la différence, humans will be humans with all their foibles, just different foibles for different folk. God knows, a room full of yorkshiremen would have more foibles in it than some small countries! Scottish independence is inevitable now and while that makes me sad, I totally get why some many want it especially now. I don’t want Scotland to leave the UK but at the same time, the world of politics seems to going batshit crazy these last few years, English politics have gone right down the pan, yeah, why not? Bring it on, how much worse can things be?! Well, it won’t be utopia, a land of milk and honey, lambs will not be frolicking with wolves in the meadows. Scotland may throw out the can full of English government worms, but be sure there’ll be plenty of other worms in plenty of other cans just waiting for a can opener to come along.

I blame Trump for all this mess with political leaders. Okay, so there’s always been a cult of personality thing around like forever, but it seems to have escalated with Trump. It seemed ludicrous that he could become president, but that was just the starters! The cult of Trump showed how much a big personality can get away with and, well, Boris Johnson decided it was time for his big play. I reckon that he played everyone, even when things weren’t looking his way, he was playing the longer game moving all the pieces into place so that one by one they’d be removed from the board leaving him at the top.

This morning it occurred to me that maybe we’re all in just another play he’s manoeuvring now; see, this may sound daft, but, what if in actual fact Johnson does want rid of Scotland? He can’t say that directly but by manipulation and misdirection he can make it look like it was none of his doing! Indeed, a dear friend of mine endured some seriously passive aggressive behaviour by an Ex for months and months when he tried to manipulate her into being the “bad guy” ending their relationship, oh, she figured it out afterwards, after her unrelenting optimism (that he’d get over whatever was making him act mean) finally drove him to admitting he wanted to break up. Yeah, some good guys don’t like having to do things that’ll tarnish the image, they don’t realise that just being truthful will merely cause a blemish that will soon be gone as folk come around and respect their honesty.

Will Nicola Sturgeon take a moment, pause for thought, reflect on how the world has turned these last few years? Promises made can be shown empty when it turns out they were only on supposition that agreements would be reached to one’s own benefit. Will anyone remember that pride always has a fall following on behind? However things pan out I hope Scotland comes through, stronger and wiser. May my dark night fears of tiny minds, ego-led politicians and Kafkaesque bureaucracies just stay in the recesses of my mind, banished away by sunshine and smiles. To paraphrase from another classic film, It’s Springtime for Sturgeon and Scotland 😆

I shall leave you with another picture from my walks down here. The local river, I’ve spent many, many hours through the years beside it 💛

Escapee egg terrorises walker!

Winter came back this week with below zero temperatures every morning and tonight Edinburgh has a forecast of snow! There have been a few fierce flurries so far. Come on, snowflakes! I intend to be up early and am expecting the Park to look pretty enough for a picture or two. I’ve been trying hard to get up and out at a reasonable time this last week. It’s definitely the case that morning walkers are friendlier, I found that the earlier the hour the more eye contact and friendly greetings. Climbing high in the recent clear mornings has afforded me some amazing views…..

View from the Lang Rig looking across to the remains of the Camstane Quarries. In the distance to the left are the Forth Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing can just be spotted.
Looking across from Whinny Hill to the Lang Rig and Arthur’s Seat. There’s only six walkers at this time in the morning!

There were plenty of remains from Easter Sunday shenanigans scattered around the slopes; broken pieces of egg shell, plain, painted, and this one, so beautiful decorated, there was a true artist at work here. Nothing of any the boiled innards though, the Park inhabitants had done a thorough job of clearing every edible morsel.

Then as I headed down Whinny Hill I spotted an egg that had survived the annual rolling event and is now living feral on the hillside….

The jackdaws are all busy sprucing up their accommodations, going back and forth from the crevices in the wall below the Queens Drive as the road starts down towards Powderhouse Corner. As soon as one peeks over the wall there’s usually a flurry of jacks taking off but I think they’re getting used to me now. I always bid them good day and tarry a while to enjoy their noisy banter and aerobatic skills. I think some folk wonder what on earth I’m looking at as they pass by, don’t reckon the jackdaws even register with them.

I’ll leave you with a view that quite surprised me, I’m referring to the thing between the two cranes, this was the first time I’ve actually noticed it . A new addition to the Edinburgh skyline, a part of the new St Andrew’s Quarter (previous St Andrew’s Shopping Centre).The locals have given it a variety of names. I’ll let you just ponder on that!!

a postcard from Edinburgh

Happy Easter from an eerily quiet Auld Reekie. It would usually be packed this weekend, the Grassmarket would be buzzing, the pubs full to overflowing, but, hey, the sun is shining and I have a packet of seriously delicious passion fruit truffle eggs.

For you, a few views…..

St Giles Cathedral and Walter Francis Douglas Scott (who?) the 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensbury, apparently.
Victoria Street, looking up from the Grassmarket.
Victoria Street with Victoria Terrace above, it’s oh so quiet!
And back to the other end of St Giles and the Mercat Cross.

Of course, one place was hooching…. the Meadows. Everyone under thirty and their cousin turned up on Saturday afternoon. It’s just a shame they didn’t remember to leave only footprints when they left.

So Close so fine

Last Saturday night was the best Saturday night in the last year, possibly the top night of all nights in the last year. Yes, the lads were rather good! Logan’s Close really knocked it out of the park. Two hours of music and banter all wrapped in a psychedelic haze – bloody excellent!

Hats off to LimbicTV, the set up and production were excellent (not that I know anything about these things). The layout looked good and there were lights and cameras galore to capture all the action then mix it up with trippy video effects (I really liked them!), and there’s Dave, the laidback but authoritative voice, great with the banter and keeping the Close on track and sounding awesome. Well, it all impressed me.

Should you choose to check out what has me still buzzing almost a week later (aren’t you curious?) that’s Logan’s Close on LimbicTV (Live from Aluhpasonics), not only will you hear great music, there’s chat on such diverse topics as Scott’s fashion choices, local cuisine (Dunbar fish suppers and Pizza Crunch) and liquor of the gods, well, fortified wine of some monks, Buckfast. Like Dave, I was also at Glastonbury in 1986, such a shame I didn’t bump into him and all that buckie!

Did I mention how good the music was? The band were clearly enjoying finally playing live together, Carl and Scott both had new guitars to have fun with and their vocal harmonising is none the worse for all the time away, I assume Ollie was having fun (dressed all in black including a black facemask in a darker bit of the studio) on his six string bass, Alex on drums was wearing his trademark hat, Sean not only had his own keyboard but the studio piano as well, making full use of both (to think I was initially a tad dubious about the addition of a keyboard player, he’s a perfect fit in their sound).

Fifteen tasty treats, yum, some old, some new, two borrowed, a smorgasbord of sound to feast on. For starters they served up Eleonara, a new one, fun, catchy, a delight. Second was a song I’ve heard them play live before, I thought it was called Never Blue, err, no, turns out it’s Never Bloom, well, you know how it can be at gigs! It’s a cracking rendition of it whatever the name, lots of space in it (something I really like about Logan’s Close, they don’t overcrowd their sound).

Next up were Worked A Treat and Girl. The visual effects are amazing, layering two members of the band over each other, add it a psychedelic swirl of colour, wow! Loved the kaleidoscopic bits during Girl, was Scott able to see them on one of the screens? Did it disturb his concentration or did he just forget the words? Yes, I noticed but he covered it well.

Song five was Gallus Laces which I do reckon I’ve heard before, or it could be that it reminds me of the ambience and lackadaisical sound of Fur, a band I saw in Sneaky Pete’s a couple of years ago. I actually just went because the Close were supporting them but happily made a fine new discovery. Fur were meant to be back up in March but have had reschedule the gig to November.

Next song Babe Station was sublime desolation! When Carl sang the first two lines it immediately took me back to when I first heard Rodriguez, that same plaintive bleak but beautiful sound. The Close should definitely put out this track, please, please, like this, nothing added nothing taken away. Another newby followed, one Mock Marble Linoleum, good solid, a vague early Deep Purple feel to it. Fine but nothing special. Almost an hour in now and the band played Paralysed a regular live number for them, the visual effects go nuts, strobe city! Intense.

Give It To Me had Sean over on the piano for the intro, he’s rather good, you know. This is one of those goosebump tracks, the deliciousness of the guitar break gets me every time. We’re on the home straight now, In The Morning, I Want You, Listen To Your Mother, all sheer class. Scott really let loose on I Want You, as Dave said after it “What I love about you, Scott – you’re prepared to testify” Indeed, amen to that.

Oo, I was so pleased they played Fantastic Man next. This is a cover of a song from the late 1970s by William Onyeabor, the Close did a lockdown video of it early last summer, it was such a ray of sunshine! Last year’s single Lost In You was the last song and blimey, I love this song anyway but this was astounding, I want this version. I defy them to ever play it better than that! What a finish. But, of course, this is the current version of a live gig, so one more tune was in order, but what? A good old classic that the lads regularly play Please Don’t Go, one to go all out on, they did and so did the visual effects!

Now if they could compile a CD from this gig – I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s wishing for this! I wonder what the band thought when they watched it later?! If you watch it, do let me know what you think. It’s late, time I bid you adieu.

Adieu, dear hearts 💛

I heard it on the radio

This morning it was the first anniversary of Ken Bruce doing his Radio 2 show from home. He was mentioning it as I tuned in just after the start. I do like Ken Bruce, such a lovely voice and manner, a real gentleman. His music quiz PopMaster is a highlight of the morning, it gives me a reason to be out of bed before half past ten; I very rarely hear anything of Zoe Ball these days (the breakfast show until half past nine). Each day two contestants answer ten questions on pop music, the winner goes on to play Three-In-Ten (three UK chart hits by a particular band in ten seconds) to win a digital radio. Failure in this latter endeavour gets them a Bluetooth speaker; the runner-up gets a consolation prize of a One Year Out t-shirt, so called as one of the ten questions is to give the year that three singles charted, answers given often lead Ken Bruce to commiserate “One year out!” – said so often they made a t shirt of it!

About an hour later Tracks Of My Years can be interesting, depending on who’s choosing! Each week a celebrity picks two tracks every day and chats with Ken about their relevance between the two being played. This week it’s Sanjeev Bhaskar, so I’m paying attention, I’ve liked him since I first heard Good Gracious Me on Radio 4 in 1996 (yes, it’s another show that was on Radio 4 before going to BBC Two). A few weeks ago it was Adam Hills choosing his tracks, that was very entertaining and informative. Great to hear The Goodies’ Funky Gibbon in there with a really lovely anecdote about meeting two of them at the Edinburgh Fringe (a quick squirrel through my Fringe timetables showed it was in 2006, I saw both his and the Goodies show).

Tracks Of My Years is like the Radio 2 cousin of Desert Island Discs. I’ve spent plenty of time pondering on this and have decided it would be easier to pick my TOMYs than my DIDs. Why? Well, the TOMYs are more fixed it seems to me, those are the tracks you pick as having particular relevance to your life at various points, they are what they are from your history. DIDs are significant moments too, but chosen as the only eight tunes you’ll have to listen to for a long time, music for company, to keep your spirits up, to help keep you sane. See that’s why there’s a lot more pressure on those choices, TOMYs is just a bit of reminiscing with Ken!

There’s also the Inheritance Tracks feature on Saturday Live on Radio 4; a small feature that has grown legs and now has a podcast of it’s own. Every Saturday morning a celebrity shares two tracks, one they’ve inherited from a previous generation (often something a parent listened to a lot) and then one that they would pass on to the next generation. I’m not sure what I’d pass on but probably my inherited track would be Mockingbird Hill, I don’t remember who by (oh, I’ve trawled through Google, trying to find the version we had, to no avail!). It was one in a stack of 78 rpm records from our parents’ youthful days; as I recall it, they were just gathering dust in a cupboard (the records not our parents) until my siblings and I happened upon them, claimed them as ours and relocated them to beside the old Bush record player in our playroom. Oh, how we loved playing them and singing along with the likes of Frankie and Johnny or The Three Caballeros. Hmm, we were easily entertained young mooses!

I paused there for my tea. A dozen distractions later……the train of thought has been seriously derailed. Bugger! The kitchen needed cleaning after an interesting reaction when red wine met hot lamb fat and juices. I had to drink the rest of the wine to recover and got sucked into watching the telly. Oo yeah, something did occur to me while I was cleaning up – a track that would be a TOMY and a DID, even possibly my Inheritance track to pass on, Logan Close’s Listen To Your Mother, it ticks all the boxes. I do hope the lads play it on Saturday night, yes, that’s right, this coming Saturday night (27th March) the lads are doing a live stream event on Facebook! Yay! News good enough to make a moose smile!!

G’night! Sweet dreams!

What day is it?!

It’s been a while, I know, sorry, I’ve been distracted, befuddled, just downright apathetic. Another annual trip to the old country has gone by the wayside, Mothering Sunday. I spoke to mater in the morning over the phone, then went and snoozed some more; I wasn’t expecting to be called again, certainly not a WhatsApp video call, hadn’t even done my ablutions! In fact I didn’t step a single hoof outside that day, no excuse, shameful.

I really should do better. Ideas for blog posts have come, been scribbled down, looked at a day or two later and tossed out. I crawl to bed late, determining to do better on the morrow, then do the same thing twenty four hours later. How are you doing, dear reader? Have you managed to keep your pecker up? Does life in your area seem like an extended Twilight Zone episode? Have you embraced the new, the Zoom, taken it all in your stride? Have you kept your focus, or gone rather fuzzy like me? Have you had a hug today?

Ho hum. The sky is blue outside, the forecast promises a clear sunset, I shall away to the park and leave you with pictures taken the last time I ventured there (meant to be shared with you last week).

See, this is just not right! Snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils in the same photo?! Inconceivable!
Wishing I’d headed up the way, tougher but probably less muddy than Hunter’s Bog!
I always find myself stopping to admire these trees. Every time! Can’t help it.

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 💛