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.

Coming home

New York was having an unseasonably warm day as we checked out of the hotel and walked down to catch the bus to the airport. I was wondering how many more miles I would manage to walk today other than the three blocks to the bus stop. Our driver on the return trip was a complete contrast to the one we had a week ago. He was very careful to ensure that we all knew which airport he was going to and which terminals all the passengers needed to be dropped at. He was amazingly adept at squeezing the bus between other vehicles in the city centre and soon got us out of town. Across the river I saw a huge cemetery with gravestones more densely packed in than any other I have seen. A real treat a little further on was spotting a bald eagle perched on a tree by the water’s edge. I was not expecting to see one so near to the city. Their numbers have increased over recent years due to conservation work as they had declined and in 2007 they were taken off the endangered list. Waiting to take off, I was plotting our route from the airport, across Manhattan and into New Jersey, now that I am fairly orientated, for our late June trip and then watched the film ‘Everest’ wondering about the motivation of those who take such extreme risks, leaving their families bereft. Back at Heathrow, we had a flight cancelled so a longer wait than expected for the connection to Manchester. I was so tired that I almost left my handbag at the gate and have not quite managed five miles around the airports. The temperature back at home is considerably less than that we left so the fire is now on.
Plane at JFK 9 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)

A day of great views

Taking note of the guide book advice to go early to avoid the crowds, we set off for the Empire State Building this morning. So far, this was the warmest day we have had here so there was some haze first thing.
View with Chrysler Building ESB 7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
We could even make out the Brooklyn Bridge where we were heading to later.
Brooklyn Bridge  ESB 7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Back at street level we did some shopping. I am usually shopping for shoes in the USA or Northern Europe as in the UK, it is harder to find women’s shoes in size 9 (US 11). If you type ‘Women’s size 9 shoes’ into the search box on Ebay in the UK, it comes up with transvestite-type kinky boots, not really my style! However, I was not looking for shoes today. As we have done so much walking (and I have done more than the 5 miles a day I pledged for Lent) we decided to go to the cinema. I had meant to see The Revenant before now but not managed to so we decided to do that today (I am not one for a feel-good movie). Afterwards, sitting in Madison Square, I spotted this sign, usually ‘Keep off the Grass’ but in this case:
Grass resting 7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Later, we wandered over the Brooklyn Bridge:
Brooklyn Bridge 3 7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
The craze for attaching padlocks to bridges which began in Paris, has obviously spread further afield.
Padlocks Brooklyn Bridge  7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
On the way back to the hotel, walking through the Village, we almost got run over by a motorised skateboard. We have seen several skateboards and Segways, marvelling at people who can keep their balance so well, but this was something new. As it was dusk and he had no lights, I did wonder whether he was allowed on the road but he zoomed off into the distance and we headed for our hotel.

James Bond, paintings and a very wet drive south

Saturday was rather dreich and after a slow start and some shopping in the morning, we were off to the local cinema mid afternoon. The Dominion has sofas and footstools, a very different experience from the usual. We were off to catch the latest James Bond Film. Ever since James had a bleep number of 007 thirty years ago when we both worked in the old Royal Infirmary in Stirling, we have had to see the Bond Films. The cinema was full and there were several children’s’ parties there. This morning, with slightly better weather, the plan was to see at least one of the exhibitions at the National Gallery or the adjacent Royal Scottish Academy. Not so easy. They have been renovated and unless you enter via the Princess Street Gardens, it is very difficult to find your way around from one to the other. Eventually we found what we were looking for and the galleries were quiet.

NGS 1 (1 of 1)

I was keen to see ‘Rocks & Rivers, a display of thirteen works from the private collection of Asbjörn Lunde, New York, which are on long-term loan to the Scottish National Gallery. I don’t think I quite got the lighting and colour right on these shots:

Giuseppe Camino Forest with Raptor (1 of 1)

Giuseppe Camino’s ‘Forest with raptor’ and Alexandre Calme’s view of Jungfrau

Alexandre Calame Jungfrau (1 of 1)

After this, a quick coffee and it was back to the flat to pick up the last few things and head south. As soon as we were in the Southern Uplands there was torrential rain a lot of water on the road which lasted all the way down. We passed one accident and left the motorway near Warrington as there were huge tailbacks ahead. We made very slow progress but are now sitting in front of a warm fire.