Earlier in the month, down on Portobello Beach on a very blustery, cold day, wind howling in off the Firth of Forth. I was having a walk with my chum and his hounds when we saw this group in white robes, who got out of their car, walked down to the beach then facing out to sea they began to sing. We couldn’t understand the words, but it had the feel of a religious ceremony, and although we didn’t know the words (and despite the biting, cold wind!) their song sounded joyful. My friend had seen them in previous days that week doing the same thing, singing out to sea. We still don’t know who they were or what the significance of singing towards the sea was. A friend online said he saw a religious group do something similar when working in Africa, but he didn’t know why they did it either. Anyway, it was an unusual and intriguing thing to see…
Look, an actual day when it wasn’t howling a gale with the rain coming down horizontally!
And it was also very mild, temperature-wise, in fact too mild for me to wear my winter coat, had to slip to something lighter. Such a weird winter, we’ve had endless storms of high winds and driving rains then spells where the temperature has risen so much we’ve seen daffodils starting to poke out of the soil (even in December!) and petals appearing on the cherry blossom trees, then back to winter chills and gales again.
But this day was dry (it even brightened up a little later too) and fairly warm for a January day, and since that coincided with a weekend lots of folks hit Portobello beach and Promenade (lots of kids wobbling around on new skates or bikes they obviously got at Christmas but have had little chance to play on because of the lousy weather). Also gave me a chance to play with the new camera (lousy weather means I’ve had little chance since I got it, especially during the sort daylight hours), still getting used to it.
I wasn’t the only one taking photos of course!
While others were lost in thought
And some just happy to sit down by the sea and relax…
And there’s always coffee and snacks from the Little Green Van to perk you up on your Promenade strolling
(as ever click the pics for the larger versions on my Flickr)
Down on the coast near North Berwick, short but beautifully golden winter day, sun setting, casting long shadows and warm, copper coloured light over the distinctive triangular shape of North Berwick Law (a major local landmark, it can even be glimpsed from parts of Edinburgh on a good day) as the rising Moon chases the sun from sky:
Chum and I wandered down to Portobello the other week (Edinburgh’s seafront area), rather grey and stormy day as we walked along the promenade, as you can see:
This howling, freezing wind, rain and grey mist and clouds, the crashing waves and blowing sand didn’t stop a few hardy souls from trying to fly kites on the beach though!
We ducked out of the weather and into the Espy, a very nice pub and bistro right on the promenade by the beach at Porty (very child and also dog friendly place too, if you’re looking for one) and settled into the dry, welcoming warmth of the pub, finding a pair of nice, old leather Queen Anne chairs to relax back into, ale in hand, for a relaxing natter. And then the barman told us that there was someone from Innes and Gunn, the very fine independent Scottish brewer, set up in the back with samples of their wares and we should check it out. And naturally we did and had a nice talk with the brewery rep who talked us through some of their different ales, from ones we had seen and tried before to some new ones and some export only ones (they sell a lot abroad – Canada and Sweden are two of their biggest markets now).
There was an interesting stout finished in Irish whisky barrels which gave it an interesting taste (also it was, pleasantly, not as heavy and thick as some stouts can be – some feel like drinking a liquidised black pudding – this was a touch lighter, with a reddish tinge to it) and a Canadian one made with a touch of maple leaf syrup (it could only be more Canadian if you had a hockey stick projecting from the neck of the bottle). I’ve had honey ales before, some are good, some simply way too sweet, but this had a nice balance, the sweetness not too strong, just a nice touch.
When the brewery chap left we were talking away to the bar manager and some others, he showed us some interesting import ales he had gotten in himself, then decided we may as well all try samples of those as we had the Innes & Gunn beers, naturally we agreed (be rude not to) and a much longer than planned for but rather pleasant evening ensued… I noticed one of his imported beers was from the American brewery Flying Dog and the label for it, Raging Bitch, was drawn by the great Ralph Steadman, no less. Nice beer and cool art, not bad!
Walking down at Portobello and we saw a pair of fab small hovercraft having fun on the water – and the land too, since they can just come straight on out of the sea onto the beach as they please.
And look, right up onto the beach, no having to jump out of a boat and stick your feet into the cold waters of the Forth to push it up onto the surfline, oh no, just straight on up:
And a very short video giving an idea of the noise (one of the owners left a comment on my Flickr page later to say it was super noisy that day because of an exhaust break – apparently they were up and down the coast and even out to the islands in the Forth where they could go right up the beach to stop there for a while easily in the hovercraft then back out to sea again – very cool!)
Sometimes you just come across the simplest scene – a woman sitting with her back to you, looking at the sea, a couple walking in the background on the beach, low winter sun casting long shadows – and somehow you think hey, this would make a decent photo. I have no idea why but in colour I just knew it wouldn’t look like much, but shot in black and white it suddenly had something…
Down to Portobello this afternoon with my mate and his dog to let him have a run around off the leash on the beach (the dog, not my friend), only to find what was a cold wind in the city centre of Edinburgh was a howling gale coming right off the North Sea at Porty, whipping the waves up into big foaming gray peaks and slamming right into the sea wall so hard they splashed right up the side, across the Esplanade and hit the wall of the structure on the other side. That was when we decided to walk around the block at the worst bit 🙂 Pictures are a bit fuzzy, the wind was so high my camera lens, glasses and my face were all getting whipped by flying sand granules and salt spray, had to clean them repeatedly but within minutes they just got covered with a film of it again.
… down on the beach near Yellowcraig, as dusk falls and a huge flock of birds fly over and the Fidra Lighthouse comes to life…
…Raindrops pooling along the brim and then dripping off of your nice Panama hat you put on to keep the summer sun from your face as you went on a walk of several miles along the beach…
Of course, being Scotland it was still sunny as it rained. Another thing you don’t want to see, raindrops running off the dark lenses of your sunglasses.
And add in a a t-shirt that was now two-tone, darker on the front where it was soaked and sticking to me (yes, ladies, you missed Joe’s Wet T-Shirt Beach-a-thon, try to contain your disappointment or your lunch, depending on your point of view or inclination) and still the normal on the back where it was dry. Still being summer the rain was reasonably warm. And when the sun came back out again the rain made all of the plants glisten as if covered in diamonds.