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!

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!

 

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….

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She’s there somewhere, I think?!

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Oo, a cheeky peek-a-boo!

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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.

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Duddingston Loch.

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

 

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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.

 

 

….meanwhile in lockdown

Kia ora, dudes! Day Whatever of lockdown. Today I’ve come to a decision to be more impetuous! Yeah, I know you all see me as a carefree, live for the moment kinda moose, but not really. I may not post that often but that’s because I put it off to do other stuff (like faffing, watching telly, surfing YouTube and occasionally some cleaning). My table is covered in bits of notes for blogging ideas that I haven’t got round to writing; when something grabs me I don’t rush to share it, my head goes, No, take a note, think about it, write it up later. Needless to say, impetus lost, I don’t. Listen Head, shut up, if ever there was a time for some impetuosity it’s now. There’s nothing that needs to be done that can’t wait. That picture taken on a walk? Share it! Great vids on YouTube, resurfaced memories, Fringe friends up to stuff? Don’t write a note, write a blog post!

A few notes lying around – Jäähyväiset! (I think that’s farewell in Finish), a voodoo octopus, lamb with anchovies – dauphinoise potatoes, The Trap Pleasance Over the Road 2, Jam With Humans, Will Hay, zombiesaur. Guess the ones relating to Will Seaward! I’ll get back to those later 😂😂 See? Did it again.

Today a Facebook friend shared an episode from 60 Second Docs by an artist Mike Bennett from Portland, Oregon who makes great pieces of cartoon art from recycled wood and paints then sets them free into the wild! Well, he puts them out for people to enjoy and raise spirits. He’s raised money for local charities with his artwork, a really nice guy. The artwork is quite Seussical, not in style but in flavour, mischievousness and joie de vivre. Check it out!

Another share (obviously up rather earlier than me) was a brilliant video by Tusk Puppets for the New Zealand Police Facebook page. Hmmm, the NZ Police page has good stuff, some great kiwi humour on there to brighten up lockdown. And bubbles! I haven’t heard mention of bubbles here in the UK, I love the concept, bubbles, it’s a cheery word, not all doom and gloom. Yes, I feel more content now, visualising my bubble around me, gonna float along next time I’m oot. Anyway, Tusk Puppets have written and performed a great little number called “One day I’ll go outside again”, it quite rocks out towards the end!

From there I wandered through the New Zealand Police and Tusk Puppets Facebook pages (my tablet sneakily changes Tusk into Rusk, it just tried to do it that time too😄) where I found a video of a lovely lady tap-dancing with a puppet from Tusk, oh my, impressive! (makes me wish I’d kept up my own tap-dancing from my youth).

Whilst I’ve been tapping away, my friend has also shared a vid by the lovely Carl Marah of Logan’s Close. He’s singing a Bob Dylan cover to his washing machine, I think he may be taking lockdown hard!

Well, I suppose I should head out for my daily trot around the park. It’s great how many people are there everyday now and not just at the weekend, yes, there are quite a few folk out but everyone seems to be generally adhering to social distancing rules. Guess we’ve all been appreciative of the lovely sunny weather we’ve been having recently (yes, that’s right, lovely sunny weather in Edinburgh, Scotland) and that we have an awesome piece of rugged parkland close by the Southside.

I shall leave with another artwork of Edinburgh in smithereens by Pete Standen. Oh, and I’ll stick a piece of graffiti I came across on a walk last week (yes, something I’ve sat on to use later), look twice, there’s something really quite sweet there!

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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.”

 

 

‘Allo Vera!

How I love the smell of gorse flowers in the evening! After a warm sunny day the heady perfume from all the gorse around Holyrood Park is quite intoxicating; it lingers into the twilight with the occasional whiff on the breeze. If you’re wondering what this heavenly scent is like just think suntan lotion with aloe vera. God, I love it, in fact one year I decided to attempt to bottle it!

I had pondered on the idea for a few years, so with a few old books on wine-making and Google to assist, I set out to capture this nectar of the gorse in alcoholic form. Did it work? Umm, if I ever tried again I would hold back with the raisins, whilst I get that they help with the sweetness it was too sherry-y for me which I put down to the raisins. Mind I still have a couple or three bottles of it! They do say try some of your endeavours young but lay some back to mature. There’s also a bottle of greengage wine from a few years ago, up there in the winerack, gathering dust, occasionally winking at me.

Anyway, yes, the last two evenings I strolled down to Holyrood Park to enjoy the scented evening air and a spot of bat-watching. My favourite place for this is St Margaret’s Loch, or the Bottom Pond as I just called it for years (halfway up the park is the Top Pond aka Dunsapie Loch). There may be other good places to see bats in the Park, probably near Duddingston Loch, but they might be creepier to walk home from in the dark! At dusk there are still plenty of folk in the area, some winding their way down from Arthur’s Seat or the Crags, others heading up (I do hope they have torches); St Anthony’s Chapel above St Margaret’s Loch always attracts a few.

A blackbird was blasting out his evensong as I approached the Loch yesterday. There was plenty of other snippets of birdsong which seemed to turn into disgruntled squarks and squabbles as everyone settled in for the evening. A few ducks flew off and the swans all settled down, no longer bothering to follow anyone walking by the lochside. And then the bats came out to play!

With such clear skies both evenings the bats were very visible at the start. I was making my way along the path on the hill side of the Loch when I saw a few bats skittering above the gorse bushes towards the end of the water. Oh my, there were loads, don’t think I’ve ever seen so many there before, a bumper year for bats? Once I see one bat that’s me for a long while, just standing, enchanted by them. A few folk walk past, some look decidedly in front trying to avoid eye contact with the weirdo standing staring into the gloom, whilst others notice the bats and often stop awhile too.

Just round through the trees to the end of the Loch and there’s another great spot to see them swooping all around you. The longer you stay still the closer the bats will come – you’re attracting insects and so too the bats! Two evenings ago a couple of American tourists stood awhile with me, the lady was worried by the old myth of bats flying into hair, but I explained the insect deal and assured her the bats wouldn’t land in her hair – unless she moved really suddenly at the wrong moment!

After a long while I headed back up the road side of the Loch; there are some great spots along this stretch, just where the trees clear by the water’s edge for seeing more bats. Then sadly, much as bat-watching is fun, the chill and darkness became apparent and time for home. Up on the hillsides in the Park random torchlights shine and snippets of music and chat waft down. Heading back into town the Cursed Earth (sorry,  Dynamic Earth to you guys, I called it that when it was being built and it stuck) looks like some giant malevolent bug.

I love that I live in a beautiful city but have this abundance of wildness on my doorstep 💛

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A moose at Easter

Happy Easter!!!

After a day of non-stop rain the sun is actually shining for National Egg Hunting Day. I was hunting the last few days for a Chocolate Buttons Easter Egg, but no joy! So I settled for a Smarties one instead – its a calfhood thing. Of course, egg rolling is a big thing too; the little darlings spend hours with tongues sticking out in concentration as they paint mini-masterpieces on eggs only to smash them to smithereens on a local hillside. Arthur’s Seat and every other slope in Holyrood Park will be liberally covered with bits of brilliantly coloured eggshell and hard boiled egg remains by late afternoon. The local wildlife must enjoy a slap-up Easter Sunday tea! I do enjoy a walk round the park late in the day – after all the little darlings have left.

As I said, it was a wet day yesterday so I stayed in with the Gotham box set series 1-3, oh yayyyy!!! It is bloody magnificent! That’s series 1 recapped now, but I’m tempted to slip in Peaky Blinders series 2 before I go back to Gotham, I do have tomorrow off as well and I have until a week Tuesday to watch the rest. Gotham is truly outstanding tv, Marvel may make the better films but DC totally win the tv battle with this.

I also have GoT7 to watch, but I definitely want to watch GoT6 again before moving on. Yes, I haven’t seen it yet, I’ve been busy, and right now it’s way more important to rewatch all of previous Gotham!

Hope you all have a great Easter whether you be bingeing on chocolate or viewing, or both!

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On the fringe of the Beast

It’s been an odd month, what with Scotland actually beating England at the rugby and snow that’s actually lasted more than half a day. Yes, this may be Scotland but don’t assume it’s all covered in snow in winter, many winters Edinburgh will get one covering of snow, usually a weekday morning, that’ll be gone by lunchtime. I think the last decent snowfall was 2010, that lasted weeks and now the Beast From the East has dumped an almighty load on us. Yay. Today was a snow day off work,  so where better to head than Holyrood Park, the home of Arthur’s Seat, and today also home to sledgers, snowboarders and even a few skiers. All sorts were out to enjoy this rare occurrence, quite a convivial atmosphere helped to take the bitterness out of the cold.

2018-03-01 13.03.57.jpgThese two were just taking a break when I moisied over. I did wonder if I would be able have a go sitting in the middle of a board, there is room between their legs after all, but my nerve failed me. Downhill, at speed, maybe not.

I took my life in my hands quite enough last weekend, trying to get a drink at the Doctors. The pubs in Edinburgh are all heaving during the Six Nations rugby, especially the Scotland v England match, circumstances meant that for the first time in years I would not be out in the scrum. That was until the end of the first half, like, huh? Scotland were actually doing rather well, I’d reached a natural break in my diy and decided such a game warranted a drink in a crowded pub – so off to Doctors I toddled. Haven’t actually been there in some time, used to be in fairly regularly but the last “refurbishment” rather spoilt it and the prices had become ridiculous. So why did I pick there? Couldn’t say, but a great choice by me, it really was packed to the gunnels, I found a place at the bar and stayed there! What a game, see Scotland can play when they want; the pub, the town went wild, Flower of Scotland snippets floating in the air everywhere. It was like hogmanay in Tesco’s with the amount of alcohol being bought. Scotland had one mass collective hangover on Sunday morning!

Wonder what fun March will bring, and how many storms, and what will they be called? And so, I bid you goodnight, I think it will unfortunately be back to work tomorrow. I shall leave you with another pic of me in Holyrood Park.

Stay warm and safe, peeps.

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