Life by the Canal

The last couple of months have seen the usual yearly increase in wildlife along the Union Canal, not far from my flat in Edinburgh. Ducks with fluffy wee ducklings, the Moorhens and their little chicks calling to them among the reeds, and of course our resident breeding mute swan couple who have been on this stretch for some years now, with their 2021 brood of cygnets, which have gone from smaller than my hand a few months ago to almost as big as Mama Swan now. As ever click the pics to see the larger sized versions on the Woolamaloo Flickr page.

Ducklings 02

Ducklings 03

It’s rather wonderful to have all this, right in the heart of a major city, we’re very, very fortunate to have it on our doorsteps, little slices of natural beauty in the middle of the urban jungle, a once polluted, dirty, industrial waterway now home to pleasure craft, houseboats and a great refuge for wildlife.

Moorhen and Chicks 01

Moorhen and Chicks 03

Swan Family 011

Swan Family 013

Swan Family 010

Swan Family 03

Of course, all this wildlife attracts the attention of the local apex predators!

The Hunter Watches 03

And naturally it is a great place for Edinburgh citizens to enjoy a stroll by the water and to see the wildlife (always makes my day a little better to see the swans and ducks and their young). Some don’t even just stroll by the water – this chap stretched out in his canoe and let it idly drift while he snoozed happily in the warm sunshine!

Summertime And The Living is Easy 03

Summertime And The Living is Easy 04

Others prefer to walk, cycle, or run alongside the canal, or simply sit by it in the sunlight, or read. I like to walk along to the floating cafe-barge, The Watershed, and get a coffee and flapjack there, sit by their open air tables by the water with my latte and a book before walking home. Great stretch for a wee promenade.

In The Sun By The Bridge 02

Tired

Hand In Hand 02

The Thinker

Sailing Talk 02

Marching In Masks 02

I Can Teach You 01

I can teach you to skateboard!!! I love the look of joy on their faces.

I Can Teach You 02

Serious Cyclist

Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades

Pause the walk for a rest and coffee and a read at The Watershed, the floating cafe-barge by the old Leamington Lift Bridge.

Coffee, Camera, Book

The Watershed at Dusk 01

The Watershed at Dusk 03

The Watershed at Dusk 04

Tollcross by night

Tollcross at Night 05

Walking home the other evening, taking some night shots as I did, this batch were around Tollcross, like the lovely old Cameo Cinema (seen above), with people waiting at the bus stop in front of it, standing under the marquee, or this cafe and neighbouring shop, still busy with people (had to take quick shot between the traffic flowing by this busy area):

Tollcross at Night 02

And here’s the distinctive red sandstone facade of the King’s Theatre at night, the green building on the lower right of the theatre is Bennett’s Bar, one of my favourite watering holes for many years (good real ales, has cool old tables decorated with OS maps, and it’s dog-friendly):

Tollcross at Night 07

Pavement cafe

In recent years pavement cafes and bars have become much more common even in Scotland, partly being a bit more Continental but also, I suspect, fuelled by the smoking ban inside bars and restaurants (and what a difference that made, nice to be able to enjoy a pint without leaving smelling like an old ashtray from second hand smoke). For the most part its rather nice sitting outside to enjoy a beer or coffee though so its a change I like, except when some establishments put out chairs and tables in very innapropriate places (like fairly narrow pavements, there are some places they just shouldn’t be) or when you get ignorant folks who keep dragging the chairs out further until they’re blocking too much pavement and forget folks actually need to talk past them. But on the whole its quite nice we’ve got a lot more of this now. This was a quickly fired off snap in Edinburgh’s New Town; I especially like the young guy sitting on the steps nearby looking over at the tables.

New Town in spring, pavement cafe

Magic!

I had one of those really great Sundays this weekend. Melanie and I met up at the fabulous little pastry shop/gallery near my flat I mentioned back in December, the Old Bakehouse. Scrumptious cakes and a wee art gallery, what a brilliant combination. Choux pastry filled with fresh cream and dusted all over (actually covered) with chocolate flakes…. Mmmmmm, choux pastry….. Lovely little independent gallery in the basement. Down the spiral staircase where you can slurp your coffee and harden your arteries with fresh cream in among the artwork. Terrific. The nice gentleman even gave us a goody bag of some fresh pizza slices since he was about to close and didn’t want to waste them. Result.

Skipped off through the nearby subway (newly decorated with cool stencils and art which I must photograph sometime – sure Olly would like it)to the cinema afterwards, full of coffee and cake and arrived in time to watch an amazing film filled with the cream (oh that word just keeps coming up today, doesn’t it?) of British thespian-hood: Sir Ian McKellen, Jim Broadbent, Tom Baker, Joanna Lumley…

Yep, Mel and I went off to enjoy The Magic Roundabout! And it totally and utterly rocked! It was far too good for the kids who were there and I suspect they were left bemused as to why we were so amused by Dylan the hippy rabbit’s references to grass and hot rocks. And Tom Baker as the Zebedee’s evil nemesis Zeebad was perfect, but then Tom is madder than a hedgehog on a motorbike (but we love him for it). Totally groovy – the only fault was they didn’t play the classic Magic Roundabout music! Why ever not??? I was all ready to dance around in a little circle to it. Oh, wait a minute, perhaps that’s why they didn’t play it…

Continuing our perfect timing we skipped back here through the rather chilly evening and caught the opening two episodes of Joey. Mel and I used to watch Friends together so this worked perfectly – comedy is always funnier when you share it with chums. And of course it is even better with chums with wine and popcorn. I thought Joey was better than I expected although his nephew/room mate does seem to be an amalgam of Chandler’s smart but hopeless with girls character and Monica’s neuroses, but we’ll have to see how it goes. And yes, I’m sure some of you will slag me off for liking Friends, but what the smeg…