Bright eyed and bushy tailed

Made a new friend while walking down Middle Meadow Walk. Extremely busy at rush hour with folks walking home from work and legions of students from the nearby university, and here is this handsome wee chap darting around among the trees just a few feet from hundreds of people, most walking past without even noticing he was there. I love that little things like this can happen even just walking home from work in a bustling city:

bushy tailed chap 02

Sunset city

It’s now fully dark by the time I leave work, but I shot this just before the clocks went back, just after sunset, shot from the Northbridge which strides across the deep valley between the Old Town and New Town, Edinburgh Castle atop it’s great volcanic rock, silhouetted against the setting sun. I love the views I get simply walking home from work in my city…

sunset silhouette

Autumn on the Water of Leith

Beautiful weather last weekend, so went for long walk along the Water of Leith with my chum, first time we’ve gone for a long walk like that since he lost his wonderful old dog, felt a little odd not to have Bruce trotting there with us, suddenly bumping into him as he’d stop without warning to investigate an especially fascinating scent he’d noticed, nudging us occasionally to try and cadge a doggy biccy. We both needed out and a good long walk through this countryside route through the city was perfect – golden autumn sunlight on top of canopy while below on the path shadows cast by the trees, fallen leaves carpeting everywhere, we walked quite far, eventually left the path, passing a very old wee church, found a nice pub on the outskirts of town, relax for a while then walk back, pausing a couple of times on the way for some drinks then some food, an enjoyable day all in all. And naturally the camera came with me. More pics to follow when I have time, but here are a couple for now – the path of leaves leading to the kingdom of autumn:

the path of leaves leads to the kingdom of autumn

And we find, by the riverside, the ruins of the ancient temple of the fallen leaves of autumn:

the ruins of the temple of autumn

City of mists, city of golden sunlight

Edinburgh, autumn mist 05

Autumn can be a very odd time here in Edinburgh – the weather is very changeable, as indeed it is for all of the UK, but with the vast Firth of Forth running along the city’s northern and eastern edges we can get more weather conditions coming in from the huge river and the sea. And quite often in Edinburgh that means haar and mist. Yesterday the city was enveloped in mist from morning to night, as if a gray, silk shawl had been draped over the stone shoulders of this grand old lady. This was what I saw walking home from work last night – here’s Saint Giles Cathedral vanishing into the gray:

Edinburgh, autumn mist 02

And yet just the next day and we have perfect autumnal conditions – clear, beautifully blue sky, that stretched out, golden quality of sunlight. Even at half past five the lower parts of the buildings in the Old Town are already deeply in shadow, an artificially early sunset caused by the tall architecture of the neighbouring buildings, only the topmost parts stand tall enough to catch those final rays of sunlight. Saint Giles is already dark with long shadows, save for the elaborate ‘crown’ spire is glowing in the setting sun:

autumn sunset - Saint Giles 01

and a close up of that spire, old stonework now painted for a few brief minutes with molten copper:

autumn sunset - Saint Giles 02

I took my time walking home tonight, walked up to the Castle esplanade, which, sitting atop the great extinct volcano of Castle Rock, offers some great views over Edinburgh. Looking south east I could see the old rotunda of McEwan Hall (where my graduation ceremony was, a lifetime ago) at Edinburgh University, along with some of the brand new buildings at the Uni, while above a huge half moon is rising, chasing the rapidly descending sun in the west, while over my head the skies cycled through hue and shades of colours from pale blue to red, purples, orange and deep blue. Beautiful.

moonrise kingdom

Falling

The king sighed deeply. So few are left, he thought, so few, the last of my troops surround this final redoubt, this last keep. Most have fallen and now lie still upon the earth; the enemy is at the gates, the deep, chill darkness closes over all we are and we no longer have the strength of our greener days to withstand it. A final charge and it shall overwhelm our tattered, broken defences. Again the king sighed and regarded his now ravaged, increasingly barren kingdom. We shall all soon vanish beneath the approaching darkness, he told his few remaining subjects, but, he told them, holding his head high, no darkness lasts forever. We shall rise once more and it will be glorious. The king of the tree made his solemn promise to his remaining leaves and turned from autumn to face the shadow of winter.

Autumn

autumn colours

It’s Scotland and it’s autumn, pretty much my favourite season here – the sunlight (when we get it!) from a much lower lying sun now bathes the land in a more stretched out coppery-golden hue, a beautiful quality of light, the low height of the autumn sun meaning we get good light but also many shadows, making it perfect for photography (and painting). And then there are the riot of colours as still verdantly green leaves mix with some already turning yellow, gold and russet, lit by the warm bronze tones of the low autumnal sun.

backlit leaves

As I was out snapping some autumnal shots on Sunday I was briefly joined by this charming little fella, scooting rapidly between the old tombstones of Saint Cuthbert’s kirkyard, in the shadow of the Castle:

cemetery squirrel

Amazingly even as September ticked over to October there were still some flowers to enjoy – clearly now on the wane and yet still boasting some vibrant colours:

the last buzzing of the flowers 01

And remarkably given the time of year and the chill wind (which was a contrast to the warm, copper sun), the flowers were still awash with numerous insects busily buzzing around for the last of the nectar before winter sinks its claws into our northern kingdom:

the last buzzing of the flowers 02

Even the less flamboyant flowers were attracting attention from the insects scurrying around for their last hurrah of the season:

the last buzzing of the flowers 03

The autumn light is great for taking pictures of buildings too, such as the fine 18th century Pear Tree, quick snap from its huge, walled beer garden as chum and I refreshed ourselves (will that be the last proper outdoor beer of the year? Sure we can have more outside, but I mean proper one where you can sit without the coat and gloves on and enjoy a pint) in the autumn light in between visiting some of the annual Doors Open venues:

Pear Tree, autumn afternoon 01

Autumn in Edinburgh

Scotland in autumn, my favourite season here, not just because of the riot of colours as the leaves change, but because of the quality of light we get here at this time of year.

Greyfriars, autumn 01

Because our little kingdom lies so far north, as the world tilts on its journey around the sun Scotland is at such an angle that we have the sun much lower in the sky, casting long shadows and meaning the sunlight is stretched out to a redder part of the spectrum, meaning we get this glorious, golden quality. It’s like warm honey slowly dripped across the land, beautiful copper-amber colour that splashes over the landscape and the man-made structures alike, giving an amazing glow to everything from trees to the old buildings hewn from native stone. Gorgeous.

Greyfriars, autumn 02
(Greyfriars kirk as the evening autumnal sunlight splashes across the western end)

Greyfriars, autumn 03

And right now we’re in that perfect time when much of the foliage is still the deep green of spring and summer (doubtless helped by all that rain we get!) but parts have started to turn now, mixing russet, gold, vermillion and more colours, especially as the sunlight shines through them.

Greyfriars, autumn 05

Autumn bounty

Scotland, autumn; the sunlight is stretched out in our northern kingdom at this time of year, a soft, golden light that makes the stonework of old buildings glow copper and bathes the world, as if a tin of self illuminating copper paint were splashed across the world. It is the most beautiful time of year in Scotland. And as the trees beging to turn and green is joined by reds and golds before falling from the trees into ever growing piles (which beg to be kicked into the air). And as the “season of mist and mellow fruitfulness” bears out colourful fruit, an autumn bounty, I couldn’t resist sampling some as we were walking in Holyrood’s royal park by Arthur’s Seat. As these glowed in the golden light I took a photograph; a few seconds later I had scoffed many of them, delighting in the tangy, juicy taste and the childlike pleasure of sticky, purple stained fingers and lips.

autumn bounty 01

Autumn in Edinburgh

Its Edinburgh, its autumn, its beautiful…

Scotland, Edinburgh, Autumn



As I was walking through the New Town with dad for Doors Open Day we looked up Castle Street and saw two jet contrails describing a huge Saint Andrew’s Cross in the sky above Edinburgh Castle. Legend has it that a vision in the sky before a battle 1100 years ago is the reason that the Saltire came to be the national emblem of Scotland (and one of the oldest national symbols in the world, I believe), so there was something especially magical about seeing this accidental creation above one of the great symbols of Scotland. Few minutes later or from a different vantage point and we’d not have seen this special view.

the Castle, the sky, the Saltire

Strathaven in autumn 3


Strathaven in autumn 3
Originally uploaded by byronv2


Its Scotland and its autumn and (when it isn’t raining) it is stunningly beautiful – the blue of the sky, the soft, golden autumnal sunlight, its low angle creating long shadow as the year draws to its final quarter and the trees are a wonderful mix of green and gold and red. The wind carries leaves around in little spirals, slowly drifting on invisible currents to the earth where they gather in piles against walls, just waiting for a foot to kick them back up into the air again. Travelling through to dad on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow at the weekend past harvested wheat fields, the remaining stubble glittering gold in sunlight, short and wiry tufts like the face of a man who hasn’t shaved for several days, lines showing the patterns the farmer made upon the soil.

In the gutter

As autumn sinks into winter I thought I’d try and show a more positive side to lying in the gutter.

First sign of impending winter has already been: relaxing with a pint in front of a roaring fire in the pub (ahhhhhhhhhhh… sigh of contentment just thinking about it). Now the second sign has come to pass: first glass of hot mulled wine.

Strangely enough many of these leaves were airborne mere seconds after this shot was taken as a mysterious man joyfully kicked his way down the line. Remarked one witness, “I couldn’t see him clearly, it was a blur of flying foliage, beard and bandana before he disappeared humming the Peanuts theme and doing what appeared to be the Snoopy Dance.”