Sunshine and jazz in Edinburgh


This gull had found a quiet spot to enjoy the sun we have had for the last few days but many more people were sunbathing in the Meadows, St Andrews Square or Portobello Beach. School and university are out for summer and the tourist season is in full swing. We were here mainly to get some work done on the flat but managed to escape for dinner with some friends on Sunday evening and for a trip to the Jazz Club on Monday evening. The Jazz and Blues Festival runs from 14-23 July before the main Festival and Fringe start. The Jazz Club’s resident Big Band were participating on this occasion. An early evening meal at Biblos which is almost next door meant we were first in the queue when the doors opened. Seating is fairly restricted at the venue and I did not feel like standing for a couple of hours that evening. Biblos has live music sessions in the B Bar throughout the year in Fridays and Saturdays. Here is the Big Band getting ready to perform in the Jazz Bar.

One of the festival staff asked whether I had seen them before and I had to explain that until this summer I had a choir rehearsal on Monday evenings and until last summer had to be in Liverpool early on Tuesday morning so Monday evenings in Edinburgh were not possible. He said the band had played every Monday evening for the last 10 years. The Jazz bar also runs jam sessions in the later part of the evening during the festival. Musicians can just turn up with their instrument and tell the door staff they want to play. Admission is free. They often have music going on until 5am. We enjoyed the selection of music from the Big Band but left well before morning. I made a note to get on with learning to play the alto saxophone. Wednesday was still very warm although overcast and we had a fairly uneventful drive home.

The slow road back home

Sunday always brings out interesting vehicles and as today was sunny, all the convertibles. On the Edinburgh bypass we were overtaken by a Corvette, an Official Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1968. The countryside next to the bypass has enough pylons striding across it to satisfy a member of the Pylon Appreciation Society. Yes, it does exist; see http://www.pylons.org/. Our slow drive home started by heading to the Glenkinchie Distillery so that I could photograph it for the book I am slowly compiling for James, of all the distilleries in the British Isles. We clocked up quite a few last year in the Highlands, Orkney and Northern Ireland and need to continue filling the gaps.
Glenkinchie 5 June 2016-1
Afterwards we drove down the A68 passing the wind farm just north of Lauder. Scotland is way ahead in renewable energy than other parts of the UK but we could still all do more. The only traffic jam of the trip was in Lauder, as there was a vintage and classic car event at Thirlestane Castle. Parked in the village was a pale green E-Type Jaguar, I liked the colour but James disagreed. Further on we crossed the Tweed we had walked along the day before and passed the Leaderfoot viaduct I had photographed last year.
Leaderfoot viaduct (1 of 1)
On Carter Bar at the border, I got a discount on my coffee for bringing my own mug and admired the views in peace until a German tour bus arrived.
Carter Bar 1 5 June 2016-1
Carter Bar 3 5 June 2016-1
We carried on over the uplands and back down into fields yellow with oil seed rape flowers. In Stanhope we saw another classic car – a lovely red Lotus. There were also lots of bikers out on the B roads but these inhabitants should really have been in the Andes, not the Pennine Hills.
? alpacas 5 June 2016-1
On the A66, signs warned us about horse-drawn vehicles as Appleby Horse Fair was held this weekend and is a big event for the travelling community. South of Brough and on the surrounding roads they were camping for the evening with tethered horses grazing on the grass verge. We drove alongside the Settle-Carlisle railway which I must incorporate into one of my train journeys to Edinburgh at some point. All the way from Cumbria into North Yorkshire the flax was blooming in the upland bogs and buttercups in the lowland meadows. I stopped for a photograph of the Ribblehead Viaduct before we got back onto bigger roads and found ourselves following a shed on a trailer.
Ribblehead Viaduct 5 June 2016-1
The last leg of the journey was on dual carriageways and the motorways around Manchester. From the traffic reports we were hearing on the radio, avoiding the M6 seemed to have been a good decision. As ever, I made a mental note to revisit some of the places we passed in the evening with my camera.

A short walk

No, not in the Hindu Kush but in my own garden. When work and other things keep me at home it is tempting to spend a lot of time thinking about the next trip which of course, I do and have several planned. However, after a few hours at the computer, I need to stretch my legs and at this time of year, there is a lot to see right here at home. Inspired by swathes of agapanthus at a house we rented near Biarritz two summers in succession, I bought two plants a few years ago. They originate from South Africa so need care in a hard winter but this year, they flowered for the first time.

Agapanthus 1 (1 of 1)

I grow a lot of plants loved by pollinators and they were flying around in their dozens. I could not catch a photograph of the butterflies on the buddleia but I let teasels self-seed, pulling out those growing where I don’t want them and watched this bee for a while:

Bee on teasel (1 of 1)

My last treat was the pygmy water lily I added to the pond this spring, was in flower.

Waterlily (1 of 1)

Weekend in Kew & Richmond

A fairly uneventful drive in late summer sunshine down to southwest London to stay with friends. Dinner on Friday evening was in a local French restaurant and after a cooked breakfast provided by our host we all had went to Kew Gardens. I don’t think I have been there at this time of year before and cannot remember such a warm September. There were many new things to see and taking a note of Nasreen Mohamedi’s close-up paintings of sections of buildings, I took some photographs of parts of plants. We climbed to the top of the Treetop Walkway and enjoyed being among the tops of the trees.
Autumn Crocus Kew Gardens Sept 2014-0031

Grass Kew Gardens Sept 2014-0037

Leaves Kew Gardens Sept 2014-0036

Cricket was being played on Kew Green when we left the gardens, a very English sight. After a drink in the local pub we took a bus to Richmond for a pre-theatre dinner and then saw The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd by DH Lawrence at the Orange Tree Theatre which is in the round. I have read Lawrence’s novels and poetry but was not familiar with this play. The gas lamp and furniture of the set and the East Midlands accents took me right back to my great aunt’s house and there was even a reference to Old Brinsley Pit, near where we lived and only a couple of miles from where Lawrence was born. The first half of the play kept us enthralled but the second act petered out at the end leaving us feeling something else should have happened. Anyway, we took a taxi back to a pub which had live music and ended the evening there. On Sunday, before leaving, we visited Richmond Park. We had coffee on the terrace at Pembroke Lodge, watching some jackdaws searching for food that had fallen on the ground and then walked around the area, admiring the views and the forest.
Jackdaws Richmond Park Sept 2014-0057

Gate Richmond Park Sept 2014-0059

All too soon we had to get back for lunch and then back up the motorway with the temperature still in the mid twenties centigrade.