The Twilight Zone

Dusk Fades Softly Into Night 01

Walking home along the Union Canal at Fountainbridge – as March moves on the sunset is a little later each evening, so as I have been heading home from work I’ve caught the extended dusk, the tail end of Blue Hour, when the streetlights have come on, the eastern sky is already darkening, but the western sky still holds some pale blue light and hints of reds and purples from the sun that has just dipped below the horizon.

Dusk Fades Softly Into Night 03

Evening Classes

I took these using the little mini-tripod, the type with the bendy legs. It’s only 3 inches high, and obviously doesn’t give the scope my main tripod can, but unlike that one, this fits into my satchel! Handy when I want to catch low-light or night shots but not have to carry the big tripod around town. Being to tiny I have to use other things to try and raise the height on it, so sitting it on the side of the bridge, or on a bench by the canal. It doesn’t replace my big tripod, but it is a very handy wee addition.

Ghosts Pass Under The Bridge Of Night

I always love the “ghost” effect caused by moving people when making a long exposure!

Colourful Dusk

This last one wasn’t taken with the main camera and the mini tripod – this was actually taken with my phone camera, as I walked home. I didn’t really expect it to come out, but thought I would try – I set the timer mode, and then steadied it as best I could, sitting the phone on the edge of the bridge. Quite suprised by the result.

Future’s So Bright…

Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades 03

I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher
He wears dark glasses
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing alright, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades
I’ve got a job waiting for my graduation
Fifty thou a year’ll buy a lot of beer
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing alright, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades
Well I’m heavenly blessed and worldly wise
I’m a peeping-tom techie with x-ray eyes
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing alright, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

Timbuk3.

Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades 02

Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades 01

Strolling By The Canal 013

People watching along the Union Canal on a very warm, sunny, spring evening, so many people in sunglasses, which always makes me think of the classic 80s pop song, “Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” by Timbuk3.

Strolling By The Canal 06

Strolling By The Canal 04

Giant Meccano

The giants cast vast shadows…

Giants Cast Large Shadows

Some huge cranes were catching the evening light recently, which drew my roving eye to take a few snaps, zooming in closer until it looked like giant Meccano sets in the sky. The declining evening sunlight also made them cast enormous shadows onto some of the modern buildings at the end of the Union Canal too, which was just begging for some monochrome shots.

Meccano 01

Meccano 02

Meccano 05

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).

Edinburgh Raft Race 2022 02

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.

Edinburgh Raft Race 2022 07

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.

Vid - Edinburgh Raft Race 2022 02

Vid - Edinburgh Raft Race 2022 01

Fiddling Below The Bridge 02

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

Making Music 01

Making Music 02

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

Evening Kayaking 01

Evening Kayaking 02

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.

Evening Kayaking 03

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!

Little Quackers 05

Little Quackers 03

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

Little Quackers 01

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.

Swan Family 05

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.

Swan Family 08

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.

Swan Family 020

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.

Vid - Swan Family 01

Vid - Swan Family 02

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:

The New And The Still To Come 01

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

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

The Swan Family

I normally keep an eye out for the regular breeding pair of swans we have on the nearby Union Canal, especially in spring when they have their cygnets. This year being furloughed for so long during Lockdown, with a single permitted daily exercise walk the only thing I could do outside the house, I had more of an opportunity to walk that way with the camera, and capture photos of them, from the small, fluffball stage of a couple of weeks old, to now, where they are rapidly growing to a similar size to their mother (Papa Swan is rather larger!), so I thought I would post a sequence of pics of this year’s cygnets to show how they have grown in the last few months.

Swan Family 08

Swan Family 09

Vid - Swan Family

Swan Family 024

This is our 2020 cygnets when very small – and supercute! I always love seeing them every year, but this year with the grim reality of Lockdown, the isolation and every threatening stress and depression, the magic and beauty of nature became all the more important, a wonderful escape as I took my once a day allowed exercise walk during the Lockdown (and of course where I go walking, the camera goes too).

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Swan Family 042

Vid - Swans Feeding

My friend who runs the Union Canal Swans Twitter and Instagram is so known to the parent swans they let her feed their babies each year, the short video above is her feeding them some porridge (being Scottish swans they love a bit of porridge!)

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Sleeping on the grass by the side of the canal

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Swans Family 102

You can see how much larger they are by this point.

Swans Family 103

Papa Swan shaking it all out.

Swans Family 108

Quick close up portrait before they slipped back into the water after resting on the banking.

Vid - Swans Taking a Stroll

I love that slap-slap-slap of those big, webbed feet on the wet towpath!!!

Swan Life

I saw the Union Canal swan family on my walk home at the weekend. This year the usual mating couple of adult swans had nine cygnets, back in the early spring, and I have been taking photos of them and watching them over the last few months. Back in mid-May they were just these tiny little balls of adorable fluff:

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By June they were growing, the fluff moulting out and their grey feathers starting to appear, as they got larger:

The Swan Family 03

The Swan Family 01

The Swan Family 05

The Swan Family 010

By August they had grown to around the same size as their mum and dad – here they are being hand-fed by the lady who runs the Union Canal Swans twitter feed which reports on them:

Feeding Time With the Swan Family 08

Feeding the Swan Family 06

And now in September they have learned to fly, with most of the babies having now left the canal and gone off to find their own spot, probably one of the nearby lochs like those on Arthur’s Seat, where large groups of young swans stay until they mature (and the grey feathers go to white), then they find a mate and strike out to find their own spot, like their mum and dad have on the canal near me. I passed them at the weekend, and now there is only one cygnet still with the parents, the left have flown the nest. It’s remarkable to see them go from tiny creatures to these large, elegant birds taking wing in just a few months, a small miracle right here in the middle of the city, but at the same time it is also sad to see them leave.

Family Outing 04

Family Outing Vid

Edinburgh Canal Festival

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 01

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 018

Last weekend was the annual Raft Race and Canal Festival just a few minutes walk from my flat in Edinburgh. I’ve been going since it started just a few years ago on the regenerated Union Canal where it ends around Lochrin Basin in central Edinburgh (although once upon a time I’m told it went a little further than this, crossing the nearby road, around the back of the old Co-Op building (which is why its back wall is curved) and through where the large modern offices of the financial district are to end nearer the West Port (I always assumed West Port meant ‘west gate’, port derived from French for a doorway), but it seems it meant port as in tying up many commercial barges). It started as just the charity raft race a few years back and obviously my camera and I went along to document it, all sorts of wacky boats and rafts taking part in a charity race. It has now grown into the Canal Festival with rides, acts, stalls and of course the raft race. And with the astonishing heat wave of weather it was pretty packed this year – was nice to go along, last year was the only one I have missed, as I was through to help dad every weekend while we waited on his operation, so I couldn’t go. Huge crowds enjoying the music, dancing, races and stalls, some cooling off by dipping their feet in the water while watching the racing.

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 016

Oops – some raft designs didn’t quite cut the mustard and, as they used to say on the Goon Show “”he fallen in da water”. The International Rescue (no, not Thunderbirds, Pete, don’t get all excited, mate) folk were on hand to fish them out with this nifty boat which has a ramp in the bow which hinges down to make it easy to haul people in out of the water:

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They also demonstrated how to help someone out who was in difficulty – contrary to the action scenes in movies and TV you are not meant to dive in yourself, you should try using floats or lifebelts on ropes if available to reach them from the banking:

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If there is a boat in the water ask them to help guide the person in distress (not that he looks very distressed here!) to the bank as well:

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All that kayaking demonstration is thirsty work:

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I’ve seen this handsome traditional rowboat with a fabric hull at several canal fests now:

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There was music, such as this folk group set up by the old Leamington Lift Bridge:

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This band doing some rather good rock and pop covers:

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And this French chap doing some cool pop music en Francais:

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The model boat club had some nice ships, some on display nearby, some powered and actually racing around in the canal:

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Everyone seemed to be having a good time:

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Even thought some found it harder going than they envisaged, they kept going:

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And the ladies from the local belly dancing class got big cheers for their gyrations:

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