Out at the weekend with dad, visiting Field of Bannockburn, the memorial to the incredibly pivotal battle which secured Scottish independence against the violent Plantagenet tyranny spreading across the British Isles, and changing the way the history of these islands would play out. The sun came out from behind the clouds and in the distance, looking towards Callendar we could see this magnificent site:
Where the already impressive hills of Scotland start to rise into majestic mountains, still covered in winter snow but now basking in early spring sunshine, glittering and shining, gateway to the Highlands, the great stone spine of Caledonia and a reminder that our Scotland boasts the most beautiful scenery in the whole of the British Isles.
Walking through historic Greyfriar’s kirkyard at the weekend (walking off a delicious Semla – a Swedish cream cake made only for a few weeks as part of an old Lent tradition), spotted little squirrel sprinting across the grass between the old tombstones, pausing to pick up little twigs and leaves. Couldn’t get a photo as he was too darned fast, zipping along then onto a tree, up and around to the other side. I followed him around but there was no sign of him. Then I saw movement, and noticed a small hole in a knot of of the tree trunk. And sure enough it turned out to be his little hidey-hole, and as I watched patiently he stuck his cute wee head out for a look down at me (you can see him right in the centre of the pic):
A few moments later he darted out, grabbed more of his little collection of twigs and leaves and dragged them back into his little tree home, front paws fiddling around inside while his bum and bushy tail hung out the entrance. Either that or I had just been mooned by a squirrel…
Every now and then I post a photo to my Flickr and it the viewing figures leap up for no reason that I know of – even with the pro version of Flickr the stats page is annoyingly vague, often lists a percentage of links from “unknown source” or not at all. In the case of this photo of dandelion seeds read to blow away for some reason I got over 1600 views in less than 20 hours, just for that one pic. To put that in perspective, three of four years ago I got around 600-800 views a day on average for my whole Flickr, on a good day maybe 1000, 1200, 1500 if the pic had been shared somewhere prominent. These days I get 3000 to 6000 on average a day, some days north of 10,000 though. I suppose some of it may be sheer weight of numbers, given I have well over 10,000 images on there now if even in in 5 gets a single viewing each day in one of the groups I shared it in on Flickr it will mount up, along with larger views for newly posted items. But getting 1600 views in less than 20 hours for one pic? No obvious links posting to it, perhaps it featured on Flickr’s front page for a few hours and folk just liked it. Not complaining, nice to get the views, just wonder sometimes why some leap up all of a sudden:
At last, very belatedly signs of spring here – walking home tonight it was a fine spring evening, glorious light quality, bright, clear. I noticed a lot of daffodils in full bloom, a full two months late – those should have been in bloom back in March but such was the appallingly, unseasonably cold (even for Scotland)weather for much of this spring they are only now blooming. It was so nice I went slightly out of my way to walk along the Union Canal on the walk home from work, and saw that – finally – the blossoms on the trees are starting to flower, again weeks later than they should (really they should have flowered and fallen by now leaving carpets of soft white and pink petals across the pavements). Normally I would shoot these delicate petals and the clear, blue dome of sky above in colour, but for some reason I felt like trying them in monochrome and actually I’m quite pleased with how they came out, which I attribute to the beautiful light quality more than my own eye.
This short film by Rutger Hauer and Sil van der Woerd is as hauntingly beautiful as the lifeforms it celebrates – the last blue whale, the largest creature ever known on our life-rich world, comes eye to eye with the only predator it ever really had – a human:
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.
The changing of the tides at Cramond just by the edge of the rivers Forth and Almond on the edge of Edinburgh, bringing out a huge number of birds from graceful swans to howling seagulls (ye gods, what a racket!) and some ducks.In the 2nd century AD you’d have seen Romans moored hereabouts on their way to the Antonine Wall.
To the right of this picture is a causeway which is submerged by high tide, leading out to an island which still has the shells of hastily constructed buildings for gun emplacements to protect the Rosyth Naval Base just up the river a bit further. I used to cycle out here with friends when I was a student (and fit!); I still remember going out to the island at low tide one day with my friend Leonie. As we walked over to the far side we heard music – live music, not a stereo brought by someone having a beach party. We cleared some bushes and came down the far side to see a group of old WW2 buildings on the edge, each one with musicians in a doorway playing away while a friend filmed them with a video camera as yachts sailed past and further out in the deep channel tankers sailed slowly by; quite a surreal experience.
We went off for a good walk past the harbour and up the Almond, past the weir and into the gorge – I’ll probably post some more pics from that bit later on, but when we came back down the way the tide had all but gone out and you could walk to the island again.
Workers on that mighty piece of Victorian engineering, the Forth Rail Bridge, have spotted a pod of Orcas swimming past them in the River Forth, right up past Edinburgh. There are seals on some of the islands in the Forth, which may be attracting them, although it is remarkable to see them swimming so far upriver. That would be a sight to cheer you up on the commute from Fife to Edinburgh, wouldn’t it? How cool is it that a couple of miles from my door there are killer whales swimming in the river?? And why couldn’t those darned Orcas arrive over the weekend when I could get out there with my camera?!?!? Mind you, I suspect the local seals have a somewhat different view on this.