A Quick Trip to the Park and a Scratch Behind the Ears?

I am currently a member of the great ranks of graduates who are scouring the globe for someone who wants (or can be persuaded) to employ them. However, I don’t think the dog sees it that way. Without too much anthropomorphism, she appears to think that I have come back to be her personal walker and feeder, with nothing better to do with my day but give her my undivided attentions.

I actually quite enjoy walking the dog, fresh air, exercise, and it’s quite a handy escape every so often as well. It should also be ample opportunity for going out with my camera, but sadly it’s not. Our daft mutt sadly isn’t allowed off her lead (it is 9 metres long, so don’t feel too sorry for her) as she is a) scared of other dogs, but usually deals with it by jumping at them; b) deaf as a post; and c) is a little bit stupid – likes peering over cliffs/large drops, and out at traffic.

For a little while I’ve been thinking about creating some sort of stop-motion video thing, and walking the dog seemed like a fairly easy place to start. I selected yesterday pretty much because I was on my own – so if it went horribly wrong I could just pretend it didn’t happen. The other reason for doing it now is that I’m going to be away the next two weeks, most probably without the internet, and thus would have the time to sort it out if it took forever. Luckily, it was a fairly simple process – erm… I mean vastly complicated and impressive… – and turned out fairly well for a first attempt, if we ignore the rain. Might even make another soon, but in more clement conditions.

It actually took two attempts to go out for the walk. I decided to go out about mid morning, but whilst I was getting my boots from the door the dog stuck her nose out, gave me a look that would roughly translate as ‘You’re kidding, right?’ before turning and heading back to her bed. As I was not particularly enthused about going out either we decided to reschedule it for later.  When I decided it couldn’t really be put off any longer we headed out, camera in hand (modified to be a little more shower-resistant, in the most classy fashion…), into the pouring rain. Camera Prepared for the RainBasically, we were out for about 40 mins and I took a photo roughly every ten steps. That resulted in about 350 photos, now 1 min 18 seconds of video.

For your delection: Walking the Dog in the Rain…

Cr

Castles, Gardens, Gin and Cream Shorts

Saturday was sunny. Very sunny. Thus it was the perfect day to chill out in the sun and ignore everything else that needed doing. Town seemed a popular destination, with Princes Street Gardens being a very popular idea indeed. Hardly surprising, when you think about it, with the lush grass, sun-traps and areas of shade all with the castle as the back drop. And surprisingly relaxing, despite the buses rumbling along above on the street.

Yup, the sun decided to a special headline appearance in the weekend’s weather. In fact it took up almost the entire bill. So it was time to take advantage of being able to go out without ending up drenched through. It was summer, no sheltering in a coffee shop window watching the rain roll down the streets turning them into large canals or other mid winter activities. Oh wait, that was a fornight ago, wasn’t it…

As Saturday afternoon was going to be spent catching up with Mel it seemed perfectly reasonable to meet in Princes Street Gardens. This of course could only mean one thing – a picnic. However, to make it a little bit more interesting we decided to have a G&T picnic!

This of course threw up the perennial problem: how to keep the G&T cool until I could get it into town? If being a student has taught me anything it is that there are always solutions to these little problems in life; however big the issue there is usually a fairly simple answer (well, to the gin based sort, that is).

If you’re saying that ice could work you would be wrong. A) it would probably melt by the time the bus decided to show up (don’t get me started on Edinburgh buses) and got itself into town, and B) that would dilute the gin. No, the solution is similar, but without the dilution issue: Tonic Cubes! However, the flaw (as I’m sure you’ll have noticed) is that ice/tonic cubes do not fit in bottles of G, nor in fact T. And we still haven’t resolved problem A). Whilst giving the grey matter a little bit of a workout on this problem I was struck by a previous gin drinking memory and how funny it had been to have a casual G&T in the library… It was around this point that the idea struck me. Or rather I was struck by how dim I was being, having conquered a very similar predicament before. The trusty thermous flask. Suitable for containing G, T and TCs (and of course lime, or in this case cucumber), with the added bonus of keeping it all cool – after all ‘vacuum flasks’ were originally invented to keep things cool, not hot (fun fact).

I’m afraid I totally forgot to get photos of this touch of genius* (*ropey definition of the word ‘genius’ being used here) as I was running slightly late – as always – so you’ll just have to visualise it for yourself. Slightly later than planned I reached the (very busy) gardens, met Mel (who happened to have a delicious chocolate, apricot and ginger loaf with her – conveniently enough) and we sat down for our gin-dominated picnic.

For those who don’t know Edinburgh, I should probably describe the gardens a little. The West gardens (where we were) are flanked down one side by several statues – such as The Royal Scots Grey’s, to remember those in the regiment who died in the Boer war; below and in the header above – and Princes Street (oddly enough) and on the other side they nestle into the base of Castle Rock (which, surprisingly enough, has the castle perched on top of it) and – combined with the East Gardens – formed the majority of the Nor Loch of the middle ages. This is where all the sewage and rubbish of the Old Town was drained/thrown into, unsurprisingly leading to it being ever so slightly polluted. It was also used for witching trials (during which suspected witches were dunked int the water in the belief that only a witch would be able to survive it – if you drowned you were acquitted). These days the grounds have been partially filled in and have been lush, fertile gardens (rumour has it without much need for fertiliser…)Royal Scots Grey's Monument

There was only one slight technical hitch with our plan. Whilst it had been brilliantly sunny all day (and continued to be so whilst we were there) it had been quite wet the night before. Initially the grass seemed perfectly dry, but after a while we both started to have those nagging doubts. By the time we had indeed established that the grass was slightly damp we’d had our cake (and eaten it) and drunk the contents of the flask. There was of course not a lot we could then do, so we ignored it. It was then only as we were getting up to leave that the slightly damp, slightly muddy grass revealed it’s slightly cruel/hilarious trick – or rather my stupidity – as I realised I was in fact wearing cream shorts. Now adorned with beautiful wet, muddy butt cheek marks. Wonderful. And not at all embarrassing.

Needless to say there is really only one way you can deal with that situation and we both left the park in fits of laughter.

Cr

ROAD TRIP!

Before you get too excited I have to admit I might have been a bit over enthusiastic with the title. I went on a trip, in the car, which was on the road – so technically it’s a road trip…right? Whilst technically the answer to this is yes, in practice it wasn’t really the long-haul, open country road, music blaring trip-of-a-life-time debauchery we tend to associate with the phrase. But would you have read this far if I’d not employed a little artistic licence  and actually told you that it was really a day trip to Perthshire with my parents (and the dog) to visit my great Uncle? Didn’t think so.

Whilst I am sure it’d be fascinating to recount the conversation we had at my uncle’s (“don’t use the great, it makes me sound old”. He’s in his 90s…) I don’t think I will. Let’s be honest, you’re not interested. Like most, I’m not always the biggest fan of the obligatory visiting of relatives, but this for me is different. Let’s just say that if I have stories which are half as good as his when I’m old I will have lived a very varied and happy life.

Dog in the back seat

Owing to being away for a good 9 or 10 hours we decided to take the dog along with us, so I was slightly thankful that it wasn’t too hot as the dog was in the backseat with me. For those of you who aren’t aware of the joys, ‘hot car dog smell’ is not a particularly pleasant aroma. And that’s putting it mildly.

This of course meant that she needed a walk somewhere, so we took her to a national trust park en route for a bit of a wander round. The Hermatige sits nestled in the forests west of Dunkeld and is literally a stone’s throw off the A9. The National trust describe the area as an “attractive woodland walk” (they really do, honest), and I can’t really fault them on that description, as it is a rather pleasant walk – if you discount the group of French school children, that is.The main attraction, however, is where this lovely set of paths lead to. It might not looking much at first, a stone bridge and a little circular folly on what appear to be on the side of a slight crevasse, but once on the balcony outside you realise pretty quickly (if your auditory sense haven’t already made you guess as much) it is what cut through the stone that is of most interest here. The Black Linn Falls.Admittedly with the recent rainfall the falls are a little more impressive than usual at the moment, however, their power can only really be described as awesome (and I don’t mean in the Totally AWESOME, duuuude’ sense). Even dog – who was even more hyper than usual – stopped and stared at them. Well, for five seconds at least.The only problem with such a tremendous tour-de-force by nature is that the beautiful settings which surround the falls are pretty much forgotten, whilst everyone gazes at the pounding of the water.

We didn’t really get much further than the falls, because we realised that at half one we really ought to get some lunch before the family visiting  and so we meandered back to the car park. Sadly by the time we got there the dog wasn’t really that impressed with me because I’d declined her obvious desire for a swim in the river – at a less turbulent point, I might add. If you think I am somewhat of a kill joy for such an act then let me just share with you that the temperature was steadily increasing and my tolerance for the notion of the car smelling of wet dog was going even more steadily in the opposite direction.

I’ll skip out the next few hours, but I will share one little part of our discussion – well a teaser for it. I now have a new alcohol making experiment to try, courtesy of my (great) Uncle. Might have to be careful making it, however, as it might come with health warnings citing the Scoville Scale if I’m not careful…

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It may not exactly have been my idea of an epic road trip, however, as days out and visiting family go I think I got off pretty lightly.

If you’ve read this far through, I also apologise for my little artistic licence in the title. Hope you weren’t too disappoined.

Cr