Walking around Edinburgh

The flooring guys arrived at 8am before I had even finished my coffee and decided what I was going to do in the next 11 hours. The first imperative was to get the caffeine fix from a local cafe. Everything else (galleries, libraries, shops I might have wanted to go) were all still shut, most not opening until 10am and some (Till’s bookshop near the University, McNaughton’s in Leith Walk and the Arts Club do not open until 11am. So I decided just to start walking and walked all the way down to Leith. By this time the rather dreich start to the day had improved and the sun came out over some brightly coloured ships in the Port.

Ships in Port Leith Feb 26 2015 (1 of 1)

and this lovely building dating from 1600.

Building from 1600 Leith Feb 26 2015 (1 of 1)

I decided to walk back up the Water of Leith path and the ducks and moorhens were feeding in the better weather.

Mallard Water of Leith Feb 26 2015 (1 of 1)

Moorhen Water of Leith Feb 26 2015 (1 of 1)

At Inverleith I hopped off the path to visit the Botanic Gardens and after a coffee spent some time in glasshouses with my macro lens. Aside from this fern, I took some other shots to use as the base for some abstract painting.

Fern uncurling Botanics Feb 26 2015 (1 of 1)

There are a couple of antiquarian bookshops at the bottom end of Inverleith Row but I did not find anything that grabbed me there so I returned to the Water of Leith to Stockbridge, passing the colonies were we almost bought a flat several years ago. After a quick lunch and browse in the shops there, I walked up to the West End and had been planning to go to the Arts Club but a bout of neuralgia left me feeling less sociable so it was a bus to Morningside to get some things done in the library.

Beachcombing in North Berwick

Having to escape from the flat all day as the hall floor is being restored today was a good excuse to head out of town. I followed the exodus of students from Marchmont, across the meadows and towards the university but left them as I was heading towards the station. It was a lovely sunny, still morning without the cold wind of the last few days. On the station platform I was sitting next to a lady with a West Highland White Terrier. The dog looked hopefully at me but I had to explain that as my dog was not with me today, I didn’t have any dog treats in my pockets. On the train I was back with the students as far as Musselburgh where they all got off for Queen Margaret University. It was then quiet until we reached North Berwick. The tide was out so beachcombing on the East and West Strand was essential and I added a few pieces to my sea glass collection plus a fragment of shell which has provided inspiration for an abstract painting. On the West Strand a group of children were litter picking. I had not been to the Scottish Seabird Centre for several years so I enjoyed wandering around there, looking at the submissions for a photography competition they were running and really getting to grips with my new telephoto lens. It is a little too early for the gannets and puffins to have returned to the Bass Rock but the staff said that there were some gannets on the north side, not visible from the centre. However, this pair of gulls was very obliging and posed for a shot.

Gulls N Berwick Harbour 25 Feb 25 2015 (1 of 1)

The harbour was quiet as expected in winter but had some very brightly coloured doors.

Coloured doors N Berwick Harbour 25 Feb 25 2015 (1 of 1)

The second-hand bookshop was finally open and I found a volume to add to my New Naturalist collection and in another shop, a birthday present for a friend. Knowing that I could not get back into the flat until 7 or 8pm meant that a bag of chips from the North Berwick Fry was needed to keep me going. I would have walked up the Law if the weather had stayed as it was in the morning as the view would be tremendous and it would be good training for hiking up Mount Etna and Stromboli in September. However, the weather was deteriorating so I headed back to town. A slow and circuitous route back to the flat finding some more National Geographics in a charity shop to plug the gaps in my collection plus some time in a library researching our Lincoln Highway route for next year meant the floor was dry when I returned. Even without the Law, the pedometer on my phone says I have waked 23,112 steps and 18.4km today.

Bass Rock 1 Feb 25 2015 (1 of 1)

Another moon

After walking around town for a few hours doing various things while the floor in the flat is being restored, I had just got back for a late lunch when I looked out the window and spotted that the moon had risen. I have been trying out moon photos for a while but getting this seagull flying past just as I pressed the shutter was pure luck.

Moon and seagull Feb 24 2015 (1 of 1)

Journey in the dark

Last night we had clear skies, Venus hanging low in the West and a crescent moon. Apparently Mars is also in alignment around now and that some say this portends doom. I was reminded that on my journey this evening I would not be getting my usual fix of the winter uplands as it would be dark by the time I was passing through them. However, this morning we woke to overcast skies with hail, sleet and rain so I consoled myself that even if it had been light, the cloud would be low and all would be grey. When we arrived at the station it was fairly busy, the majority of people being students returning after a weekend away from their studies. On the platform, two dogs were having a noisy argument and I wondered how it would go if they were both in the same carriage. Aboard the train, the last light was disappearing as we slipped past the industrial landscapes at Warrington and Wigan and it was dark by the time we got to Preston. The young woman sitting next to me was working on some mathematical equations but I was quite happy to read my book. The quiet coach was, for once, quiet. The rest of the journey was uneventful but I was pleased to see that there was no hail, sleet or rain as I stood at the taxi rank and that the crescent moon was visible in the Edinburgh sky.

crescent moon

Art from rubbish and weapons

Nothing at the major art galleries grabbed me this morning so having walked 4-5 miles yesterday, we wandered the very short distance to the British Museum. As in art galleries, I find I can only focus on and process a relatively small amount of what is on display at any one time so we only looked at a couple of rooms. Of the many things on display in the Africa gallery, two pieces were particularly striking. One is the tree made from weapons given up by a village:
Tree made from weapons British Museum 15 Feb 2015 (1 of 1)
and the other a Kente cloth made from bottle neck wrappers by El Anatsui:
Kente Cloth by El Anatsui British Museum 15 Feb 2015 (1 of 1)
I have some creative projects in the making derived from rubbish but hope that I never have to do any derived from weapons.

Books, maps and demonstrations in London

The secondhand book sale in Waterstones was too tempting and I did find a book on the Utah Canyons which will be very useful in deciding on detours from the Lincoln Highway. My collection of New Naturalist books has concentrated on the earlier volumes and I had not noticed that new volumes are still being published so finding the 2012 volume on Scotland was a nice surprise. One of the tasks of this weekend was to find a piece of jewellery to buy with the money from the sale of some of my mother’s. This was accomplished fairly quickly and we headed off to cross Hyde Park to an antiquarian map seller. At Marble Arch, there was a protest about the gender imbalance in Parliament.
Demonstation Marble Arch 14 Feb 2015 (1 of 1)
The walk across Hyde Park was a welcome injection of fresh air into the city and we were soon at our destination in Knightsbridge. James had spotted a couple of interesting maps on the shop’s website and the map seller found one. He could not locate the other and it resonated with experiences in the bookshop when we know we have the book as we have just sold it on the internet but it is not where it should be, in the shop. If it’s not in the right place, it could be anywhere amongst the 30,000 other books. On the way back, animal rights activists were demonstrating outside Harvey Nichols and Harrods, having taken the space occupied by some buskers we saw earlier.
Animal rights activists Knightsbridge 14 Feb 2015 (1 of 1)
Now, after a great Nepalese meal, we are relaxing and deciding what to do tomorrow.

To London via a few shops

We took an indirect route to Crewe Station this morning via Dagfields Antique Centre and the town centre. At Dagfields I found some silver dinner forks for the dining room (my cutlery is a motley collection accumulated from various places) but unusually for me, did not find anything that grabbed me in the secondhand bookshop.
Silver Forks 13 Feb 2015 (1 of 1)
In town, I did find a pair of shoes and then had a break in the station lounge reading some of the magazines there. I am a fan of periodicals and lament the loss of Borders who used to have an extensive selection. I enjoyed Wallpaper and Intelligent Life before the train arrived. The journey was unremarkable save something I noticed south of Stafford. Several large fields with metal hoops that would support horticultural fleece to protect whatever the crop was. I wondered what they did with the fleece at the end of summer (I reuse mine, have even been known to wash it for reuse and burn it when it is unusable) and hope it does not add to landfill. Near the farm there were several static caravans, presumably for the workforce, whoever they might be. Nearer to our destination I enjoyed the graffiti on some trucks in the sidings at Willesden. Once we had checked into our hotel, we headed for one of my regular bookshop haunts in Bloomsbury, Skoob Books, before meeting a friend for dinner. No books grabbed me on this occasion but I did add two volumes to my National Geographic collection. Some of this I have inherited and it spans 1948 to the present day with several gaps. Today’s find was one volume from 1957 and one from 1961 which describes a US coast to coast trip on Route 40. Having driven Route 66 in 2013, we are planning a coast to coast trip on the Lincoln Highway which follows Route 30 for much of the way, in 2016.National Geographic 1961 13 Feb 2015 (1 of 1)