Edinburgh in the snow

Crikey, the improvised night shot I did of Edinburgh Castle covered in snow and lit a special blue for Saint Andrew’s Day on the 30th (see here) has now had over 800 views on my Flickr page in just 4 days. To put that in perspective my normal views average for my whole Flickr stream is around 750 – 900 a day, depending on if I have just posted something that gets a lot of interest, or if it is something tied to events people are following (like during the Edinburgh Festival, my Fringe pics viewings were mental). But 800 odd views in 4 days? Pretty please with that, especially for a picture I improvised by jamming the camera between railings to get a decent night shot when I didn’t have a tripod. And talking of improvised night shots, here are some more I shot around town in the snow on the way home. This pair are from North Bridge, which spans the valley between the Old and New Town, the first looking along Market Street and the edge of the Waverley Station, past the City Art Centre on the left and towards the Mound with the Bank of Scotland’s impressive headquarters and the Castle in the background:

snowy Edinburgh from North Bridge 02

And this one towards Princes Street Gardens and the Scott Monument, over the roof of Waverley Station’s west side; you can see the lights of the Winter Wonderland (very appropriate given the snow) and the lights of the German Christmas Market:

snowy Edinburgh from North Bridge 01

And this one is taken a couple of minutes from my work, it’s the Royal Mile in the snow, again improvised (being sans tripod) by simply setting the camera up on timer and sitting it on one of the bollards that stops vehicles using the Mile most of the time and letting it go. Quite pleased with this one, actually, given it was so improvised, like the red of the traditional (and now rare) British telephone box against the snow. Hard to believe just 12 weeks or so back I was shooting incredibly busy Fringe scenes here with wall to wall tourists and performers doing their bit to attract folks to their shows:

Royal Mile, winter night

And away from the night scenes here’s some from a snow walk around the Water of Leith then along the Union Canal; this is where the train viaduct and the canal aquaduct cross the Water of Leith, near the visitor centre:

Water of Leith, winter 08

There were plenty of snowmen around but someone had created a whole snow family here, sitting on a fallen tree trunk by the Union Canal in Harrison Park, as if they were watching the ducks and swans using the small part of the canal that wasn’t yet frozen. It had been a bright day but then suddenly faded and this snowy mist rose in the background, giving everything this eerie blue light quality which I thought was like the sort of light quality they use in movies when they want to hint it’s spooky or it’s night, or it’s night and spooky, but it’s the way it was, I don’t use Photoshop to fiddle my pics. The Guardian’s Edinburgh blog picked up on this one and featured it on Monday, which was rather pleasing:

three snowmen by the canal

Sax on the streets

Several times walking home I’ve heard some wonderful saxophone music drifting up from below the bridge that takes Johnstone Terrace (the road which curves up and around the back of Edinburgh Castle) over King’s Stables Road. Each time I think I must go down the steep stairs and get a photo of this player, but usually I am on my way somewhere and don’t have time. Guardian Edinburgh‘s blogger Tom Allan followed those lovely notes – amplified with a lovely tone by the arch of the stone bridge overhead – to shoot some video of Gordon Jones playing his soprano sax.

City notes – Gordon Jones plays Soprano Sax on Kings Stables Road from Tom Allan on Vimeo.

Blogging anniversary

Bobbie Johnson wrote a feature in the Guardian at the weekend celebrating the tenth anniversary of blogging (ironically just as I was celebrating the fourth birthday of the Woolamaloo blog), running through various events, from the first blogs, to the appearance of Boing Boing, politicians joining the blogosphere, blogs from inside Iraq, regimes trying to censor blog and imprison their writers, the first high profile ‘doocing‘, the recent case in France with Petite Anglaise (who I’m glad to see won her case against her employers) and hey, what do you know, a mention of myself and a certain sandal-wearing Evil Boss at the Bookstore That Shall Not Be Named. Funny old world. The Guardian, along with the Scotsman, was one of the first print newspapers to pick up on that case, here it is a couple of years on still being mentioned there.

Choice Point

If I may take a leaf from Matthew’s web-book and point you in the direction of an excellent story in today’s Guardian. Choice Point, the information company behind the disenfranchising – accidentally of course – of thousands of US citizens during the 2000 presidential elections in Florida are back in the news.

Choice Point have been paid millions of the American taxpayer’s dollars by the Bush government (who they helped into power) to gather data on the citizens of other nations. No, we’re not talking about criminals, drug lords or terrorists here – they want info on every person in these countries, most of which are friendly nations. They have allegedly secured the entire electoral register of Mexico – a grossly illegal and immoral act – and are gathering data on the date of birth, employment, education, marital status, bank and passport details etc. of all adult citizens in countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina and others. We have to assume Western Europe is on that list too. Quite why Uncle Sam requires this information on every citizen of neighbouring lands is not clear. Perhaps as with the spying on their own citizens – authorised by the so-called Patriot Act – it is to protect us from the Bad Men. Intercepting their own citizen’s emails and scanning their bank accounts while checking credit card details of tourist coming into the city and compiling dossiers on people all around the world – who are they protecting us from?

And who is going to protect us from them? If knowledge is indeed power our leaders – the British government is eyeing these moves up and planning an amended snooper’s charter that Blunkett tried to get through parliament last year – then our leaders are determined to get as much power over us as they can. Big Brother is alive and well long after 1984, complete with sinisterly-named Orwellian ministries, such as the Ministry of Homeland Security – eroding your rights to protect you. Spying on your citizens and allies, illegal obtaining of confidential data by suspect organisations, suspension of your democratic rights – who exactly is the bad guy now? Andy why do the American citizens stand for these repeated violations of all that is sacred to the American spirit? Keep reading and making your voice heard, people, we need to let these smeggers know we have teeth and that we’re watching them. We’re plugged into the planet, we’re smart and we have got power too – and nobody is going to take it from us without a fight, least of all our own ‘elected’ representatives.