Instagrammers Anonymous: Preparing to Light the Lights and a Sunrise

The sun is shining, the sky is a bright blue. And it feels about -5 degrees outside. Uh huh, that proverbial goose is definitely getting fat again as the festive season draws near. But not quite yet, in my books. Today is the 30th November, which means that I am still in Bah-Humbug-Scrooge mode – it is not time for Christmas quite yet. All that will change tomorrow, of course, as the 1st of December is the time for singing Christmas songs, wearing Christmas jumpers (the more horrific the better!) and, of course, having as much mulled wine as I can without falling over.

Someone asked me other day if I was writing a special post to celebrate the fact that today is St Andrews Day, and the short answer is no. I don’t subscribe to hand-on-where-your-heart-is-not patriotism, I prefer the British reserve for such occasions  so I will not indulge in public consumption of whisky or Irn Bru (partially because they’re both horrible) nor will I be eating haggis or be wearing tartan. Hopefully we’ll not be treated to too much pro-independence bullsh*t and can all get on with our lives. Perhaps we won’t be so lucky, but at least we have Instagrammers Anonymous!

Ahead of all the Christmas lights being turned on in the centre of Edinburgh, there has been a flurry of pre-Christmas decorating going on. With the wheel up, the tree here from Norway and in place on the Mound, the only real thing left was to string the lights across George Street. I was beginning to wonder if they’d forgotten about them, but in the time between me leaving work on Monday evening and coming in on Tuesday morning, the street was festooned with snowflakes and icicles.The Christmas Lights on George Street before the big switch on

The other addition to our little part of town this week was the annual St Columba’s Hospice Christmas tree In Charlotte Square. The hospice are running the campaign again this year where you can ‘Light a Light’ in honour of someone close to you who is no longer with us; all donations, of course, go to helping the hospice care for those who are soon to join the people who have had lights named after them. If you want to get involved, here is the Light a Light page.The St Columba's Hospice Tree in Charlotte Square

Finally this week, I – for some unknown reason – was exceptionally organised and in town half an hour before I needed to be this morning. Coupled with the crippling temperatures, we had a beautiful fire-y sunrise, which lit up West Register House like, well, a Christmas tree. This definitely put a smile on my face this morning and reminded me just how amazing a city Edinburgh really is.West Register House in the sunrise

I have a very busy (and exciting) weekend lined up, which I’ll no doubt share next week. It will also be December, so expect many pictures of lights, trees and the occasional Christmas jumper.

Have a great weekend.


Piers, Water and Hills: An Unplanned Cycling Adventure

Winter is the season that you tend to huddle up indoors, looking out grimly at the howling gale; but just occasionally you get out to have a little adventure. On Saturday I was a bit bored; I’d already walked the dog, put off all things I probably ought to be doing, the rugby hadn’t started (although missing that would not exactly have been a tragedy) and I was waiting for the wonders of technology to update themselves before I could progress any further on the blogging front (I really, really don’t get computers). As it was a nice enough afternoon – and by that I mean dry and light, those were pretty much its only redeeming features – I decided that it was time I went out on my bike and did a little exercise.

Bike at Granton Harbour, Edinburgh‘Adventure’ is possibly the wrong word to describe my trip; I didn’t actually go anywhere I hadn’t been before, but it was a case of “I’ll just go a little further this way” and “perhaps I’ll go right here”. But whilst I know my little corner of Edinburgh quite well I’d never actually cycled down to Granton. Urban regeneration – and other such buzzwords – have treated that part of town pretty well over the last decade or so, and on a calm day the whole place becomes rather peaceful.

We tend to think of Newhaven as the area for boats, with its stone harbour and lighthouse, but I always tend to forget that most of the little boats are kept along at Granton Harbour. It’s also substantially bigger than I realised, with its old (much more cobbled together than its neighbour) stone pier reaching out far into the Firth of Forth.Panoramic Looking down the pier Granton Harbour, Edinburgh

Once I’d sat and pondered my ‘discovery’ for a minute or two (it was a little too cold for sitting on stone for very long) I got back on my bike and went along in the direction of Gypsy Brae and Silverknowes.Looking out from the promenade between Granton and Silverknowes, Edinburgh

Back in the comfort of the well-known I went along the sweeping promenade, dodging inbetween dog walkers and old grannies loudly moaning about “yooffs” cycling along a walking path (I can only assume she left her glasses at home with her false teeth, as I don’t think I really come under that category any more and neither do the other adults cycling along the front, which coincidentally is also a cycling route).Crammond Island and up the Forth estuary, Edinburgh

By the time Crammond Island and its submarine-proof causeway came properly in to view I decided it was time I braved the cycle home. Whilst the shoreline might suffer with global sea level rises, the rest of this part of town really won’t; by the time I got to the top of the succession of hills and paused to catch my breath, the sun was well and truly beginning to fade away for the day. I got back in time to watch the majority of the rugby – and wish that I’d left the hill for later and taken the protracted trip back by Crammond and the river Almond.


Instagrammers Anonymous: A Busy Week In Edinburgh

Friday has come round again, which thankfully means it’s an end to a really busy week in the office. It also means it’s time for Instagrammers Anonymous!

The Instagramming week started on Saturday, when a friend and I decided at the last-minute to get tickets for the rugby. Whilst neither South Africa nor Scotland can really call it a triumph of a match, it was still a fun afternoon. Given that this week’s match is up in Aberdeen, I think we’ll just have to watch it on TV.Scotland Vs South Africa at Murrayfield

Charlotte Square seems to be going through another run of appearances on the blog (it seems to do this every so often, and not just because I work nearby), so here’s this week’s lunchtime wander photo.Sunlight in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh

Much as I think Christmas should be kept firmly to December – I heard Christmas music blaring from someone’s car yesterday evening and immediately turned into Scrooge – there are certain things that I realise need to be prepared for in advance. Edinburgh launches its Christmas markets and associated frivolities at the end of November (just in time for proper Christmas shopping to begin), one of the most famous parts of this being the giant ferris wheel that sits beside the Scott Monument in East Princes Street Gardens. Obviously a giant wheel is quite hard to miss, so when I was wandering about town at lunchtime the other day I decided to ditch the Scrooge hat for a couple of minutes to acknowledge that it looks quite good set against blue skies and Thunderbird 3 (aka the Scott Monument).The Christmas Wheel and the Scott Monument, Edinburgh, Christmas

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you can resist the Yuletide lure – just one more week then we can all be so excited we’re bored of it by the 15th!


Winter Chills: Impromptu Rugby, Winter Wanders and Mince Pies

As Monday, once again, rears its gruesome head it doesn’t feel so long ago that it was Friday morning and I was struggling to haul myself to work. Doesn’t time fly when you’re busy and having fun? But then again, I don’t think I actually did much. In many ways, actually, it was pretty much the reverse of last weekend (except I think I’m just about over the fact that there’s no Downton).

I was chatting to a friend on Friday afternoon – uhm… I mean I was really working very, very, very hard – deciding which pub we were going to watch the rugby in on Saturday afternoon when we had a much better idea – why didn’t we just go? Scotland versus the Springboks (A.K.A. South Africa) doesn’t come up all that often, and at £20 the tickets weren’t hugely expensive. An almost impromptu trip to Murrayfield it was.Scotland, South Africa and a spot of smoke and fire

Well, apart from the fact that it was a very underwhelming match – there were so many penalties it was stop-start-stop from pretty much the first whistle – and that we lost when there were more opportunities to score, it was a fun afternoon out. Whilst the crowd wasn’t quite to so fun as when the All Blacks were here last weekend, they weren’t exactly without the odd laugh in them. For all our flaws, however, at least we’re not Fiji. Once we navigated the pedestrian detour to get back into the city centre – bloody tramworks – we accidentally-on-purpose found ourselves in the pub watching Ireland walk all over the Fijians as though their line was a welcome mat. Even with a few sliced kicks our emerald friends found themselves 53 points the better of their Pacific opponents. As I said, at least we did better than Fiji; it’s just a pity that we had to beat the South Africans for any chance of a decent way into the next World Cup.

Autumnal Trees, EdinburghAfter a leisurely evening in the pub and an equally laid-back approach to Sunday morning, I decided to do some boring domestic things (READ: I had nothing to wear to work today, so thought I should probably do a little ironing), but I was thankfully interrupted by a friend coming over to walk her majesty, Queen Keira. With light fading earlier and earlier we opted for a stroll up Costorphine Hill. Crisp air and winter-esque sun being the order of the afternoon we pretty soon discovered that the bright colours of autumn are well and truly fading to that dull inter-season carpet of mushy-brown, but thankfully they’ve not all gone quite yet. What was going though, was that much-needed daylight. We were fine on the way up to the top of the hill, and were indeed treated to the bright glow as we crossed the fields on the far side; but as we came back down the eastward-facing side of the hill it was becoming ever more obvious that the sun’s time was pretty limited.Looking out from Costorphine Hill, Edinburgh

This weekend whilst in many ways mirrored last it differed in one key way: whilst The previous weekend was very distinct in its Autumnal-ness (totally a word), this week very much announced that winter is here. With that thought very much in our heads we hurried back to mine for a cup of tea and a discussion about the optimum amount of filling in mince pies (I kid you not).Sun and aircraft cloud, Costorphine Hill, Edinburgh

It seemed little more than a hop, skip and a jump around Brazil with Michael Palin later that it was indeed time to brace myself for Monday morning, but it’s not all bad, because I’ve been informed that I have this week to re-watch the first series of Spooks (the amazing BBC MI5 drama) before we will be watching the second series – with perfectly filled mince pies, presumably.


Instagrammers Anonymous: Princes Street Gardens and Charlotte Square

Normally Instagrammers Anonymous is a summary of the week that has just been as seen through my addiction to Instagram; however, it would have been VERY dull this week. Aside from a trip to the rugby at Murrayfield last weekend (obviously that doesn’t come under the dull category) I’ve done very little except work and look at flats.

My moving plans appear to be being thwarted once again – think mouldy bathrooms which are going to get “sorted, they’re painting it this week” (I kid you not), rooms the size of shoeboxes and rents larger than Greece’s national debt – but to counter act this dullness I thought we’d have a couple of photos I’ve taken during lunchtime wanders this week.

The first is of the Royal Scots Greys monument – better known to most of us as the guy on a horse at the top of Princes Street Gardens. It’s appeared several times on the blog before, in a post about Princes Street Gardens, to name but one, but most of us know very little about it. One of the UK’s longest serving regiments – in fact Scotland and the UK’s, as it pre-dates the Acts of Union – the Royal Scots Greys were part of its respective national armies for 293 years from 1678 to 1971. The statue itself dates back to 1906 and was to commemorate the fallen of the Boer war. More about the statue can be found here.Royal Scots Greys Monument, Princes Street Garden, Edinburgh

On the theme of ‘seen that here before’, the other photo is of one of my favourite buildings in Edinburgh – West Register House. Set in west side of Charlotte Square this one-time church is now part of the Nation Archives; but the building still retains much of its grandeur and pressence. From its site it looks across the square and has an uninterrupted view down George Street to the RBS building at the other end in St Andrews Square. I love this building for its green dome and golden top; standing taller than anything else around it, it looks especially good on crisp autumnal walks.Charlotte Square and West Register House, Edinburgh