The Raft Race Returns!

Last weekend saw the return of Raft Race and the Edinburgh Canal Festival for the first time since before the Pandemic years. I was at the very first Raft Race, taking photos back in 2007 (I hadn’t realised how long ago it actually was until I looked back at those photos and saw the date taken).

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It started as a fun Raft Race, with people building wacky designs (sinkings were common and still are – part of the fun!), and over the years evolved into the local Canal Festival. We had a warm, sunny weekend for it (you can’t take the weather for granted for outdoor events in Scotland, even in summer!), and a lot of folks turned out to welcome it back. I met several friends to watch it, two of whom had never been to it before, so this was all new to them, which of course made it more fun.

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Despite the warmth and sun, it was very, very windy – this wee raft was the only one I saw with a sail, which I imagine was as much for decoration as anything else originally. But with the strong wind, and fortunately for them, in the correct direction for the race, they scurried along at a great clip! Lucky!

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It’s not the Raft Race until someone ends up in the drink!!!

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This chap in costume, with the recumbent bike approach to his design, was going great guns, handily ahead of the others… until it broke down and he was trying to fix the pedals and chain as the others caught up and passed him. They all got big cheers anyway.

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As you can see, it was a pretty busy day, and everyone was having fun, cheering on the rafters. I think we were all just enjoying being able to hold these events again after the last couple of very difficult years.

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There was also live music – this lady in the pic above was playing her violin under the stone arch of the old bridge over the canal at the bottom of Viewforth, which gave amazing acoustics. Others played by the side of the canal or even on passing boats!! Insert pun here about performing Handel’s “Water Music”!!!

Water Music

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Making Music 02

As ever, if you click on the pics you can view the larger version on the Woolamaloo Flickr photo stream.

I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside

Very windy but sunny and warm day off, met with chum and his old hound, off down to Portobello for a stroll. Despite being a weekday it was still quite busy, when among the folks on the beach, something caught my eye – a woman in a totally white costume, with a white inflatable ring with an animal head around her waist, trotting down the beach, then joined by a man, also in a white costume and clutching an inflatable palm tree.

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The pair of them then ran down towards the shoreline, where they were joined by another chap with a camera, so I imagine it was some sort of photoshoot, although I have no idea what for. Still, it was a wonderfully odd thing to just come across and grab some pics of – hope their photos for whatever it was come out too.

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A little further long the beach we spotted something else that was rather delightful: someone had created a wee sculpture of the TARDIS and a Dalek, mounting them on the post of the wooden groynes that run along the beach periodically, to help stabilise the sands. I do love when artists create something like this, then leave it somewhere public so anyone who spots it can enjoy it – certainly made us smile!

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(as ever click on the pics to see the larger versions on my Flickr stream)

Fun on the Water

Sitting on a bench by the side of the Union Canal on a very fine evening, reading. Hear some splashing, look over and see a kayaker coming along, enjoying the spring evening. Managed to grab the camera for some very quick pics as he came towards where I was, then turned as he passed and saw a traditional “Indian” style canoe coming the other way.

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They both moved over to give each other plenty of space, passing with friendly smiles and waves, all enjoying a very welcome evening of warm sunlight after several days of rain and wind.

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And while we’re on the canal theme, here’s a nice bookend to my recent photos of this year’s new cygnets – this year’s new ducklings on the Union Canal! All looking unbelievably cute and fluffy, also looks like I caught one of them here mid-quack!

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As ever, click on the pics to see the much larger version on the Woolamaloo Flickr site (now over 24, 000 photos!)

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New Life

We’ve reached that time of year when something rather wonderful happens: I heard a few weeks back that our resident breeding swan pair on the Union Canal had nested, laid their eggs, then hatched them. The main nest is along near Wester Hailes, but the pair claim a roughly five mile stretch from there right into the city centre where the canal ends at Lochrin Basin.

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Well, as you can see from the photos taken on a canalside stroll, the we cygnets are now strong enough to start swimming up and down that range of canal with Mama and Papa Swan keeping a close eye on them. I’ve been waiting for them to be strong enough to start going up and down the canal, and had heard from a friend they were around our area the previous night. I went for a stroll the next day, not really expecting to see them, assuming they would have drifted back down the way before I was there. I had reached the final section of canal and given up on a chance of seeing them – with them moving up and down several miles, it is pure luck if I happen to be walking by a section they are in at the right time.

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I paused at the Watershed, the floating cafe-barge moored by the old Leamington Lift Bridge, and as I was waiting for my coffee, I happened to look over – and there they were, the Swan Family, happily bobbing around in the water right behind the barge. Just when I had pretty much given up for that day and assumed I had missed them, that they had already headed back down the canal, there they were. I’ve taken photos of their broods each year going back quite some years now, but it still always makes my heart sing to see them with their new cygnets, especially when they are at this size, just adorable, fluffy, beautiful little creatures, sticking close to Mum and Dad.

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I’m so lucky to have this just a few moments walk from my flat, and right in the middle of the city. Always cheers me to see this little annual miracle of nature, then to try and follow them through the next few months, taking more photos of them as they grow into adolescents, before one by one they fly away to start their own lives. So many people out walking or cycling by the canal stopping to admire them, it really does brighten the world for many of us.

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They swam back along a little further, then up through the reeds onto the opposite banking, a spot the mother and father know well and often use as a temporary nest for the little ones to rest for a while before heading back along to the main nest. As ever, click on the pics to see the larger versions on my Flickr.

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Photography Milestone

This evening’s uploads to my Flickr photo stream saw the Woolamaloo Flickr pass the 24, 000 images mark. Since I first purchased a Pro Flickr account back in 2007 I have uploaded 24, 000 photos and videos to my Flickr, and it has taken some 33.7 million views of those images across those years, which to be honest is pretty damned amazing. Quite a milestone – to mark it I thought I would pick out some photos from 2022 so far:

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People watching in Princes Street Gardens, folks enjoying a bright, spring day

Lock Life 06
Water pouring over a lock gate on the Forth and Clyde Canal

Smoke Signals
Sudden burst of warm, spring weather, of course some men will cook up a huge cloud of very stinky BBQ smoke to ensure everyone within a hundred yards is enveloped by it! It’s like an inexorable law of nice weather here…

Snoozing Rowboats 01
Evening light creating some lovely reflections of the old rowboats on the Union Canal at Harrison Park and the surrounding area:

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Barefoot
Barefooting it at Porty Beach

Literary Butterfly 02
Came back from getting myself another pint to find the book I was reading had fanned itself out like this and was being illuminated by a burst of spring light coming in the pub window, of course I had to take a pic.

People Watching On Princes Street 02
Juggling a tote bag on Princes Street

Beginning To Bloom 02
The annual spring miracle as the cherry blossoms beging to bloom again

Falkirk Tunnel 06
The Falkirk tunnel for the Forth and Clyde Canal, finished in 1822, running some 630 metres. In an interesting historical aside, two of the navigators – navvies – who excavated this were Irishmen, Burke and Hare – yes, the later, infamous Resurrection Men and Bodysnatchers of Edinburgh’s Old Town…

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Krow on stage at the welcome return of the Shoreline of Infinity journal’s Event Horizon evenings in the Pleasance Cabaret Bar; as it was March, the month that includes International Women’s Day, the line up of musicians, performers, poets and writers was entirely female.
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Peaceful Pub
Peaceful afternoon drink and read in Cloisters pub

Nothing Beats A Good Cuppa
Nothing quite like a good cuppa! Street photo of chap enjoying a cuppa in a cafe on the Grassmarket

Sunny Seaside Selfie Smiling By The Shore
Smiling seaside selfie by the sea shore (how’s that for alliteration?)

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Daffies!!!!

Holy Corner At Night 02
Holy Corner at night; improvised night shot, just after work so I didn’t have the tripod, made do with sitting camera on timer mode on top of the button box for the pedestrian crossing to steady it.

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First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, chairing a talk with the Scottish Makar, Kathleen Jamie, as the Paisley Book Festival in February, and bestselling Scottish author Denise Mina being interviewed at the festival.
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Dreich night! Pouring rain on a cold, dark, winter night by the Royal Scottish Academy

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Wee dusting of snow around Holy Corner

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Union Canal towpath at night, Fountainbridge

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Dusk on a winter’s evening at the Union Canal, viewed from the old, stone bridge at Viewforth

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Stewards guiding the huge crowd coming from Murrayfield stadium after the opening Scotland versus England rugby match of the Six Nations.

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Haymarket at night

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Shops and cafes at night, Bruntsfield

As ever click the pics to see the larger versions on my Flickr.

Snow day

Light snowfall overnight, woke up to cold but bright winter morning, snapped a few photos on the way to work:

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Holy Corner (so named because it has a church on all four points of this busy junction) was looking especially beautiful on this February, just a small amount of snow, but draped across the roofs, chimneys and ledges, outlining them in white against the slowly rising winter sunlight, had to grab a couple of photos on my way into work. The Italiante architecture of Morningside United Church (where Eric Liddell, whose story was told in the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire, worshipped – one of the stained glass windows still commemorates that Olympian) looked especially handsome.

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Quoth the Raven

Quoth The Raven

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
” Edgar Allan Poe

Snapped this with long zoom, simply looking out of upstairs window back at the family home on a very dark, grey-skied day, seemed very brooding and Gothic, so Poe came to mind.

City of Night

Being December, it is now dark here well before four in the afternoon; while most people bemoan the very few, short hours of daylight we get in our wee northern kingdom at this time of year, I rather like it and tend to use it to get some nocturnal shots of my city.

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Project Coffee and Cafe Grande after dark, in the Bruntsfield area of the city. There’s something about the dark, winter night outside and bright, warm lights and people inside the cafes and diners and bars that just cries out for a good black and white photo. Slightly rough as these were all taken freehand on the way home from work, so no tripod with me.

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Fountain Bar at night, Fountainbridge

Blue Note

Blue note: corner shop lit up brightly against the winter night, Fountainbridge.

Ghost By The Steps

“Ghost” strolling near the benches by the Union Canal. I love the way long exposures capture the surroundings clearly, but a moving person or object becomes blurred and translucent, like a ghostly, spectral figure, which sometimes quite suits the photo.

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Festive Barge 02Homes With A View

Golf Tavern At Night

Tenements overlooking Bruntsfield Links, one of the ancestral homes of the game of golf (there's still a putting green there right in front of the apartments). Always coveted one of these flats, but way out of my price range. The old Golf Tavern can be seen on the far right of the upper pic, and a closer view of it in the second pic.

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Theatre Crowd

Busy junction at Tollcross at night, and the King's Theatre, with a crowd waiting to go in for a show.

Cinematic Nocturne

Cinematic Nocture: people waiting at the bus stop under the marquee over the entrance to the lovely, old Cameo Cinema. I miss marquees on most moden cinemas, to me they were always part of the magic, all lit up, the regularly changing signs telling you what films were screening, I like that the Cameo still has it.

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Edinburgh Castle during a light show, seen above and behind the old Victorian tenement buildings around Bruntsfield Links and the Meadows, because you just get views like this in Edinburgh as you casually stroll across a park path after work...

Autumn reflections

In a quiet loop of the River Forth just outside Stirling, dad and I found late afternoon – just an hour or so of daylight left on the short, winter’s day now – on a bright day was perfect, casting golden light, with the still water creating some wonderful reflections of old, rotting boat hulks on the muddy banks, some nearby industrial buildings and the Ochil Hills.

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In the distance in this one, you can see the tall, Victorian-era Wallace Monument, which celebrates the life of the great Scottish hero of the Wars of Independence, Sir William Wallace, whose greatest victory was at Stirling Bridge, not far from this spot.

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The Ochil Hills were catching the lat hour of daylight, the sun so low in the skies now it was stretched out to a beautiful, honey-gold colour. The river was very calm, this loop fairly far from the main roads, so also quiet and peaceful, just the sounds of the birds on the river.

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Changing Cityscape

Walking home from the cinema last night, I paused to take some night shots as I walked by the Union Canal in Edinburgh. As I had been to the movies, I wasn’t carrying my tripod, so these were rough, improvised night shots (I’d guess about half of my hundreds of night photos on my Flickr have been improvised), sitting the camera on a railing with the timer mode to steady it for a long exposure.

I took a shot across an empty, dark block, once home to part of the massive Scottish and Newcastle Brewery complex, which used to sprawl over several blocks on both sides of the road, high, dirty walls and stink dominating this part of town (very glad it is gone, also the beer they made was industrial swill for the most part, bleah!). This looks over the final block waiting to be redeveloped, towards the new Boroughmuir High School next to the canal, on the next block along, while on the far right you can see an old, brick industrial building, once the North British Rubber Company (making wellies for the trenches of WWI), later part of the brewery complex, now home to Edinburgh Printmakers:

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And here is pretty much the same viewpoint, taken back, also at night, in 2008 – the foreground is just recently cleared of the demolished buildings, but in the background you can see a handful of industrial brewery buildings awaiting their turn for demolition:

old Slateford brewery at night

And here’s another night shot, again shot from pretty much the exact same spot, this one taken in 2016 – the last of the brewery buildings is long gone at this point, and you can see the new school that’s in the most recent, topmost photo here, still under construction, cranes towering over it in the dusk sky. In another few years that remaining gap site in the foreground will be built on too, and again this view will be changed. Perhaps I’ll take a photo of that too.

(as ever, click on the pics to see the larger versions on my Flickr pages)

new rising from the old

Saint Cyprian’s in Autumn

After days of heavy rains and dark, grey skies, for a few hours the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds, illuminating the autumn colours on the trees. Dad and I paused by Saint Cyprian’s in Lenzie – framed by the trees and their changing colours, with the autumnal light on the old stone of the 1873 church it was a rather beautiful scene.

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The spire on Saint Cyprian’s boasts some handsome gargoyles at the top (if you are wondering about the difference, while gargoyles and grotesques are both sculpted forms of monsters, odd beasts or humans and have symbolic meaning, the grotesques are non-functional, purely decorative, while gargoyles contain water spouts for drainage, usually from the mouth).

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