Black and White Edinburgh

Saturday morning and the alarm goes off.

It’s about a minute later that my confusion fades and I realise how much of an idiot I’ve been. My excuse is that I was absolutely shattered on Friday night, even still, I felt a bit stupid. What did I do to deserve this level of self mocking, I hear you ask. Well, instead of altering my alarm from 7:45 to 8:45 I somehow got the hour and minute buttons confused on my alarm clock (which I totally haven’t had for at least 6 years). Thus my Saturday morning lie-in was rudely interrupted at 7:46. Not a great start to the morning.

If pre 9am still sounds a bit early for a Saturday to you, then ordinarily I would agree; however, on this occasion I was meeting Mel at the farmers’ market at ten and so had to be a little bit more organised than usual.

Black and White EdinburghDespite my (somewhat earlier than intended) get-up time I hadn’t quite managed to consume any coffee to kick start the day, and so altered my route so that I could pass a certain coffeehouse chain whose logo may or may not have a mermaid on it. This, conveniently, meant that the quickest way to the Usher Hall (where we were meeting) would now lead me through Princes Street Gardens, over the railway lines, and under the

Black and White Edinburghshadow of Castle. It’s a tough life, I know.

After a few minutes taking photos around the Usher Hall Mel showed up to claim her coffee and we headed down to Castle Terrace car park, or rather to the farmers’ market taking place there.

Black and White Edinburgh

As this isn’t the first time I’ve been to the farmers’ market I won’t go on too much about it, so if you want to know more about the wheres, whens and whys have a look at From Source to City, the post about my original trip back in August.

Today we were looking for something to make for lunch. So, as we wandered up and down chatting away we had our eyes pealed (the coffee had been consumed, thus making such things possible) for what we were going to get. We initially decided on a cheese and onion quiche (having discovered our old favourite from the St Andrews farmers’ market – the Arran Cheese Company were there), however, after finding the claret cheddar we got distracted by one of the butchers stalls (whose it was, I wish I could remember). On this stall they had venison, partridge, pheasant, pigeon and hare, but what caught our eye was the rabbit. Both Mel and I are partial to a bit of Flopsy (Mopsy or Cottontail), and so we decided that the rabbit fillets (if combined with a prune and red wine sauce) would make a most suitable lunch. Neither of us had actually cooked it before, so it was a bit of a trial run, but it all turned out rather deliciously. I also got a rabbit and apple pie for last night’s dinner, which was scrumptious. Black and White Edinburgh

At this point it started to rain and we decided to take cover in a doorway. On our way to find the bus stop I took a few more photos to continue my little theme of Black and White Edinburgh. All of these photos can be found over on Flickr and I intend to add more to it over the coming months.

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Space to Breathe

Do you ever have those moments when you notice something out of the corner of your eye that makes you look up and smile? Of course you do. We all do. Or maybe it’s just me. Either way I had one such moment the other day.

I was leaving the office the other day (OK, quite a few days ago now, but the blog was a bit too busy last week to mention it) and noticed for the first time that you can see Edinburgh Castle from the front door. If you look past the trees and the rugby posts (there’s a school playing field across the road from us) it’s right there. On the other side of this playing field lies a place with an even better view, one with a practically uninterrupted vista of the entire city skyline, Inverleith Park. As I happened to be going to town anyway I decided that I’d ditch the idea of the bus and take a stroll through the park. The perfect antidote to a day in the office.

Inverleith Park, Space to BreatheThe park is situated just north of the city centre and is one of the largest in the city. In fact at 54 acres it is one of the largest ‘urban parks’ in the country. If you’d like to find out a little more then have a look at the park website over here. The majority of the park is given over to big playing fields, but also has a variety of paths, gardens, a play park and (of course) its famous pond.

Inverleith Park, space to Breathe Having lived not too far from this huge expanse of green for so long it’s hardly surprising that I’ve been here a fair few times over the years, but I hadn’t realised until I walked through just how long it had been.

What I will always most remember about Inverleith Park is that it was from here that we used to go watch the end of festival fireworks when I was little. Like many we used to take our rugs and a little portable radio (to listen to the music that’s broadcast along with the fireworks, not to hear the actual fireworks,  you can most certainly hear the bangs from the park) and sit at the top of the hill, taking advantage of its uninterrupted view of the castle and of the Inverleith Park, Edinburgh Castle, Space to breathefireworks reflecting in the pond.

Unlike such summery evenings gone by, the other day wasn’t exactly what you’d call sunny (although it was dry, which I guess was something), so the photos are possibly a little greyer than I’d like, but I hope they convey just how big the park is (look it up on Google Earth if you still don’t believe me). But of course this less than summery weather doesn’t mean there weren’t people there. There’s always somebody here.

Inverleith Park, Space to Breathe

It doesn’t matter whether you’re running, playing rugby, tennis or football, letting the kids run around a bit, chucking a frisbee about, feeding the ducks or just having a stroll you’re pretty much guaranteed not to be the only one doing so. With its sheer size and proximity to town the park is a haven for many of the good people of Edinburgh. Be it the afternoon, evening, or the weekend it is a place for everyone to relax and have some breathing space.

With Stockbridge (a ‘little village’ within the city, and quite a picturesque one at that) leading to the centre of town at one side and the Botanic Gardens on another it is also used by many (myself included on this occasion) as a more pleasant way to get to the other side without having to deal with traffic and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In fact on this occasion I saw someone so relaxed by the whole thing they nearly walked into the pond, and when we were here with the dog last weekend (as in the one just passed, so the one after my afternoon walk through the park – don’t worry, I’m confused too) she was so fixed on watching every other dog around her that she managed to walk headlong into a lamp post.

True to form I was so relaxed by the time I’d crossed the park that I actually had to fairly pick up the pace to get into town on time. But that is no bad thing. I know that in Edinburgh we are very lucky to have as many parks as we do, and probably take them very much for granted, but I think we should all make a little time now and then to go for a walk in the park. What better place is there to get space to breathe in a city?Inverleith Park, Space to BreatheCr

A Year in Photos: Saturday – Black and White St Andrews

Today is the final post of A Year in Photos, ending a week of posts celebrating the first birthday of Contemplating the Clouds. Throughout this week we’ve had cakes, Munros, ice skating, lobsters, buildings, gin and snow (to name but a few); but now we’ve reached the final part of the saga – my love of black and white photos, and of St Andrews.

Having lived there for the majority of the time I’ve been writing this blog St Andrews has, unsurprisingly, featured with great regularity. Black and white photos have also appeared fairly constantly too, so in honour of this (and because I really like these photos) here are the final two photos.

The first of the photos was taken on the day of the Procession, in April, however, I used it in the post before, so it could stand alone. St Salvator’s was published on the 17th April. St Salvator’s Chapel – or Sallies Chapel, as it’s more commonly known – is the oldest surviving building of the University and is located in the main quadrangle, off North Street. The chapel tower, one of the tallest structures in the town, is a notable landmark on the town’s ever welcoming skyline.A year in photos, St Salvator's, St Andrews

Our final stop on this whistle-stop tour of the year comes from the 20th June and The First Few Days. This post represents one of a series (the only continuous series I’d done, before this week) about graduation week. This series follows my friends and I through our final days together in the Bubble. Doing various things around town we’d never got round to doing, the final days before we graduated, our graduation, and the end of an era, when we were no longer undergraduates of by “far and a way the best university in the world” (HRH Prince William, Feb 2011). Somehow I had never got round to climbing St Rule’s Tower (in the grounds of the cathedral) during my four years of studying, and so it was one of the final things we did. This photo is taken looking North west from the top of the tower, out past the cathedral, to the castle and West Sands, the golf courses and the mountains in the distance. It is one of my favourite views of all time.St Andrews, A year in photos

And there we have it. Those are twelve of my favourite photos that have appeared on the blog. I chose them from the 400 odd that have appeared here over the past twelve months for fairly selfish reasons, but also because I think they are a fairly good representation of the last twelve months. I hope you’ve enjoyed the seven posts of this series as much as I have and that you approve of my choice of photos. If you want to see any of them again there will be a special page with all twelve ‘A Year in Photos‘ photos on it as of tomorrow. If you like what you have seen, then I hope you will come back and read more of the blog soon (there’s a link to subscribe on the right hand side, near the top).


There’s just one last thing. This series wouldn’t be quite complete without my favourite photo of all. It is, of course, my header photo. I waxed lyrical about it in the 100th post back in August, so if you’d like to know the details please look there. Otherwise, just sit back and contemplate the clouds with me…Me at Stella Point, Mt Kilimanjaro

A Year in Photos: Friday – The Two That Don’t Fit

For the other five days of this week (if we include tomorrow) the two photos have had a fairly solid themes. ‘Travel’ was perhaps slightly vague, but today not even my imagination can come up with something. They say honesty is the best policy, so today we’re simply going with ‘The Two That Don’t Fit’.

The first of today’s photos is a fairly new, coming from The Colours, They are A Changing, on the 30th September. Originally this was going to go into yesterday’s Photoshopped, but I swapped it in favour of West Register House. This photo was taken almost by accident as I only happened to see it whilst out walking the dog (for whom ‘chasing leaves’ is a professional sport). I took it home and tweaked the colours slightly, and here is the end result.Changing Autumn Colours / A Year in Photos

I can’t really put my finger on why I like photo number two, I think there’s just something fresh about it (which, given the subject matter, you would rather hope). The original post – ‘From Source to City’: The Edinburgh Farmers’ Market – was on the 29th of August and, oddly enough, focused on Edinburgh’s Farmers’ market.It was my first trip to the market and where I happened across this fishmonger’s stall. I think there is something about these stalls, with the light shimmering on the ice and wet shells; and something funnier about someone finding out just how ‘fresh’ the merchandise is for the first time…

Edinburgh Farmers' Market A Year in Photos

Now can you see why I failed to come up with a connection? They’re not the easiest of things to draw connections from, but I hope you enjoyed them none-the-less. Tomorrow will see the final instalment of ‘A Year in Photos’, and for it I have kept two of my favourite photos (well, favourites of my favourites, if that makes the remotest bit of sense). The more eagle-eyed of you will have noticed that I have so far steered clear of black and white (most unusual for me, let me assure you), but tomorrow that is all set to change with ‘A Year in Photos: Saturday – Black and White St Andrews’.


A Year in Photos: Thursday – Photoshopped

Today’s A Year in Photos is going to focus on my exploits into the world of editing.

Regardless of how you do it, editing a photo can transform it from being dull and a little pointless into something teetering on the borders of art. Well, I don’t think I’d go as far as calling mine ‘art’ (far too strong a word), but they certainly are considerably less dull than before.

Photo number one is the newest shot that will feature this week, coming from only last week. It was the last photo in Edinburgh – Wandering at the Weekend from the 12th October, a post about how taking photos helps the dullness of shopping. The building in the photo is West Register house in Charlotte Square – which is a fairly impressive building by its self – but I deemed the photo a little too dull before as it seemed a little flat. The sky was grey and overcast, the stone could only really be described as stone-coloured (proper wordsmith I am…) and unexciting. I think the editing worked really well and you’d never know it was threatening to rain when I took it.Edinburgh - Wander at the Weekend/A Year in Photos

The second photo was taken back in August when I was unemployed and bored beyond belief. It comes from a post on the 21st entitled Photos in the Garden, which was basically me going around my back garden taking photos. It is off my older brother and I’s old garden swing which is slowly rusting away and looking a little less loved than it once was. The original was quite good, but I had little else to do that day, so I decided that a little enhancing wouldn’t do it any harm.Photographs of the Garden/A Year in Photos

And those are today’s A Year in Photos, what did you think? Editing photos can sometimes be very controversial (mainly if undisclosed), but I think it lifts these two photos from what would otherwise be quite dull images. Tomorrow’s theme is going to be ‘The Two That Don’t Fit’, so check back tomorrow to find out what photos not even I could find a tenuous connection between.