Monochrome and Colour: a Spring Weekend in Edinburgh

We woke before dawn on Friday to what became another bright, sunny day. The last week or so has persuaded us that spring might really be here although we have had some night frosts. I had a meeting to attend in Liverpool and so was on my usual early train, quiet with commuters reading, listening to music or catching up on sleep. The meeting finished, I caught a train to Wigan North Western where James was going to pick me up and drive on to Edinburgh. This train was also quiet as most people were heading into the city, not away from it. Just before St Helens, I saw an abandoned factory and covered in street art and wondered about finding it some time to add to my abandoned and derelict photography collection. As I was early, I took a stroll into the town centre where people sat in the sun having their lunch and a busker played while his dog snoozed, soaking up the heat. I had a coffee and the woman behind the counter (whose hairdo resembled that of Bet Lynch from Coronation Street) debated how many celebrities had died this year with another member of staff. Her broad Lancastrian accent reminded me that I had indeed left Merseyside behind me. Back at the station, a hen party had commandeered the ladies toilets in order to get changed and made up before catching their train so I stood in a queue there for quite a while. James arrived eventually and we headed north. Rooks busy in the rookeries and lambs playing in the fields alongside the M6 and A7 all added to the spring feeling.

Saturday morning was devoted to art, the afternoon to a walk with friends around the Hermitage of Braid and the evening to film. The Scottish Gallery of Modern Art has several exhibitions but art begins outside with installations and landscaping.

No miracles  SGMA 23 Apr 2016-1

Water  SGMA 23 Apr 2016-1

Inside, a small exhibition of Bridget Riley’s work charted her progress from monochrome to colour and back to monochrome. There were also several other displays of pop art and Young British Artists whose work involves a variety of media. I enjoyed seeing David Hockney’s Rocky Mountains and Tired Indians, painted during a residency he undertook in Boulder, Colorado and Jessica Warboy’s Sea Painting, Skateraw Bay 2016.
Brigit Riley 1 23 Apr 2016-1
Brigit Riley 2 23 Apr 2016-1
Rocky MOuntains & tired Indians 23 Apr 2016-1
Jessica Warboys Skateray Bay 23 Apr 2016-1

The evening’s treat was Dheepan, a very powerful and moving film. Today, on our journey back south, the weather seemed to chime with Bridget Riley’s journey in paint as the sun disappeared and were treated to very heavy rain which could in no way be described as an April shower. There was even some snow on a Pennine Ridge – back to monochrome.

Books and plants in London

Today was another day that began with books. On our way back to the hotel last night, we spotted a notice for the Bloomsbury Book Fair which was to take place today. It is a regular fixture but this is the first time we have coincided with it. It was quite large with numerous bookstalls and also maps, prints and ephemera. I found two books for my New Naturalist collection and one for my old Baedekers. I have to carry around a list of the volumes I have or I would be buying duplicates. We also found a 17th century map of Africa.
Books 10 Apr 2016-1
We then took the tube to Kew Gardens where we saw a small sample of what is to offer and I took some photographs which might be inspiration for abstract paintings at some point.
Kew Gardens 1 10 Apr 2016-1
Kew Gardens 3 10 Apr 2016-1
Kew Gardens 4 10 Apr 2016-1
The tulips were out, the daffodils almost over but there were some magnificent magnolias.
Kew Gardens 6 Magnolias 10 Apr 2016-1
Kew Gardens 7 Magnolia Stellata 10 Apr 2016-1
Afterwards we had a long leisurely lunch with relatives in Kew before heading back into Central London and planning for tomorrow.

On the rails to London

The weekend began with books. An early train got us into Euston just as the rain was easing. Wandering down to Waterloo Bridge and over to the South Bank took us to the book market there. Secondhand booksellers are not renowned for being early risers and they were still setting up so we had a coffee and watched them get organised and the rest of the world go by. My only find there was a small volume for James’s Christmas stocking which will remain a secret until then. There were some maps and prints but nothing that grabbed us. Later we made a decision not to go into the Map House in Beauchamp Place as we had only recently bought some 17th century maps and are running out of wall space.
South Bank book market 9 Apr 2016-1
South Bank Undercroft Skate Park was saved from development a couple of years ago but we were too early for skaters today.
South Bank skate park 9 Apr 2016-1
Back over the river we had to avoid crowds gathering for a parade and various demonstrations converging on Downing Street. St James’s Park was a welcome relief with cherry trees in bloom and the chance to try out my new camera on the birds there. Female coots were sitting on their nests while some of the males were having a bit of a sparring on the water. This goose was having a rest.
Bean Goose 9 Apr 2016-1
I had thought about seeing the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition but the crowds waiting to get in put me off, so we headed back for a rest after lunch via one of my favourite bookshops in Bloomsbury where we did find some reading material. In the evening we headed to Soho for some Chinese food. Had I not been so tired after a busy couple of weeks and a virus, I would have been tempted by craft gins and live music as an aperitif but not this time, I also had to walk past Ronnie Scott’s and other delights. London is still full of cranes (the mechanical sort, not the birds) and I enjoy spotting specialist shops.
Cranes from Soho 9 Apr 2016-1
If you cannot find a rope for your boat in this chandlers, you don’t deserve to be on the water.
Ropes for boats shop 9 Apr 2016-1