New Year, New Start: an End, a Beginning

It’s hard to know how to start this, but let’s go for it anyway. If you’re a regular reader/viewer of Contemplating the Clouds, have you noticed that the frequency of posts has dropped substantially over the last month or two? Well, there are at least three of you that probably have, but then agian that’s because you already know.

Know what? I hear you ask. Well, to put none-too-subtle a point to it, Contemplating the Clouds is coming to an end. In fact, this is the final post.

Bratislava at sunset

The final sunset of my three-city holiday in 2012: Bratislava Castle

After two and a bit years of blogging away, it is time to move on and move up. From my perspective, Contemplating has reached a natural point at which to stop and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you for reading. Whether you read virtually every post or just one or two, I do appreciate the fact that it is being read.

In the last 26 and a half months the blog has come quite a long way – and I hope very much for the better. From simple photos with barely even a title that no one really saw to certain posts which get traffic almost every single day, and from silence to long wordy rambles; it has, above all, been one gigantic learning curve. One that has made me realise some things I absolutely love doing, helped me to get and understand my job, and one that has allowed me to share my passion for various things in a way that people seem to quite enjoy.

The Giraffe, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

The Giraffe in the NMS

Some of the most popular things that I’ve done are probably not too surprising: posts on the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the National Museum of Scotland and The Water of Leith all rank in the top 10 posts, in terms of visitors (with reviews on the NMS’s exhibitions on Mummies and Catherine the Great also featuring in the top 20). The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee gin-fest, the Olympics and my trip to Moscow are also up there, along with a couple of posts about St Andrews and Graduation (the latter two get visited almost every time either of them is in the news). All in all, I think I can say with some confidence that the blog that started out as a good way to procrastinate that looked more studious that staring out the window, contemplating the clouds, has morphed into something a whole lot more.

Tower bridge and the Olympic Rings

Tower Bridge, during the Olympic Games

There are definitely some things I’ve really enjoyed: going on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Virgin Money Festival Fireworks in 2011 was a treat, so was writing about the Olympics and my little holiday to Moscow, Vienna and Bratislava last year. The two blog-birthday ‘Year in Photos‘ series also rank in my highlights, as do the G&T cheesecake and the Chilli and Lime gin.  The entire premise behind Instagrammers Anonymous has been great fun, and that’s without even mentioning St Andrews and some of the heartfelt posts about it.

A year in photos, st andrews, sunlight

St Andrews: Where it all began

But in this world all good things must come to an end. It is not without sadness that I’m hanging up my boots for Contemplating – and don’t worry, it will still be here if you want to read it, there just won’t be any updates – in fact, it was not an easy decision at all, but it’s time to move on to something more.

Chocolate and Ginger cake with Orange butter icing

The Chocolate and Ginger cake – the most viewed post

In the round up of popular posts above I ommited an entire category of posts: food. Food and drink is, as is probably fairly obvious to regular readers/people that know me, a big part of my life. I absolutely love it. I love making it, I love sharing it, I love tasting it, I love talking about it and I love writing about it. Of the top twenty posts on this blog, 10 of the top 20 are based around food or drink. And if you look at the search terms the blog gets found for then 14 of the top 30 relate either to food or drink. Can you spot where this is going?

If you’re curious, then the top two search terms, and the most read post relate to this: the chocolate and ginger cake with orange icing that I made for my Mum’s birthday back in 2011. The searches in positions four and five relate to the second most popular page – the Gin and Tonic Cheesecake. Thinking about it, there’s a fairly obvious direction that we’re heading in.

Sure, I could have just continued on Contemplating and just altered the blog’s theme to be more foodie-orientated, but I took the difficult decision to start over a little while back. Since late November I’ve been writing a few posts and getting a few things sorted out elsewhere on the big bad world-wide web and now seems like the right time to take it to the rest of the world. Please let me introduce you to The Usual Saucepans. Here you will find my latest kitchen adventures, my successes, my ‘must do better next time’ dishes, my love for all things local, and many other things besides. Over the next twleve months I hope to add more and more to this little recipe list and maybe throw in a few exciting twists here and there. So why don’t you pull up a stool, grab a plate and a glass and join me?

I’ve had a lot of fun writing Contemplating the Clouds, and have learnt many valuable leasons from it. But with a new year comes new priorities, new opportunities and so much more. I hope you will come over to The Usual Saucepans and join me there, but first and foremost let me say thank you for reading Contemplating the Clouds and making it such a pleasure to write.

Until the next time,


The first photo to ever appear on the blog

The first (and last) photo to ever appear on the blog

Day 40: Playing the Tourist

Well, this has been fun. But this is day 40 which means this photo challenge is now at an end. It’s also over a week early – I forgot that Sundays don’t count in lent – but apart from this it has worked perfectly. It’s also fuelled my obsession intrigue with site statistics (perhaps all those stats at uni haven’t scarred me for life as deeply as I’d thought). Since the middle of February a staggering number of people have stopped by (over twelve-hundred of you, to be a little more specific), making March the busiest month on the blog by quite some distance. So I’m hoping you have enjoyed them as I have. To see any of them – and some of my favourite photos – have a look at the Forty Days of Photos page.

It’s been fairly diverse – beers to buildings, mousses to mummies and countryside to castles; through night and day, indoors and out  – and although sometimes a little same-y (spot the posts that I was struggling with so took photos on my way home from work…) usually it was quite different. But, as stated at the very beginning, they all reflected something I saw or did that day (or there abouts).

I pondered what the last photo should be for quite some time. It had to be part of my day, but also something interesting and something that could represent both the challenge and the blog as a whole. There were so many options, but none seemed quite right, so I took a walk. This walk took me through Princes Street Gardens and so there was a certain inevitability that it was going to, somehow, involve the Castle. I hope you like it, I felt like quite the tourist taking it.Edinburgh Castle, Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens, Castle Rock, Edinburgh


Day 39: Spring is Definitely Here (and about time too!)

Spring, Edinburgh, Trees, GreeneryJust before the start of Forty Days of Photos I mentioned that I thought the first signs of spring were beginning to come through. Well, now that it’s almost Easter, spring is most well and truly here. The clocks have gone forward, I’m officially another year older, and it has become significantly warmer. Yup, it looks like the dark days of (a fairly mild) winter are behind us.

It’s never more obvious than when we’re walking the dog. Yesterday we took her (and her beloved, if slightly battered, Spring, Edinburgh, Trees, Greenery, odd leavesfrisbee) out to Cammo and for the first time this year we didn’t take our boots; a simple pair of trainers now suffice. The fields have dried out – although the dog still came back with muddy/grass-stained back legs as trophies from some excellent cartoon-esque skid stops – and the parts of the paths that you had to wade through mud are now solid once more. But most importantly, there is green everywhere. Carpets of green leaved plants and grasses are covering everything they can and the trees are beginning to loose that skeletal appearance – apart from one that’s been gone for quite a while.Spring, Edinburgh, Trees, Greenery

Let’s be honest, it’s about time we got on the way to summer. Summer is a time for fun and sitting back and enjoying good company, a bbq and lots of Pimm’s under the watchful gaze of the sun, and I’m looking forward to it. Now where are my shorts and flip flops?


Day 38: What Represents a Saturday Morning?

With the sun setting on another Friday evening another Saturday morning is on the cards. Whilst for many this is an exciting day full of fun and adventures – I went to the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market last week – today it is not for me. I’ve spent the morning tidying up, looking at new bank accounts and filling paperwork. Obviously this is a clear indication that I need a life the life of a rock star, but it makes it rather hard to write an interesting blog post (for anyone thinking I should have written it about what I did last night, no I shouldn’t. I went to Sainsbury’s to buy Easter Eggs then came home and almost fell asleep watching TV. Even less blog-post-worth).

So, in the spirit of Forty Days of Photos, I got out my camera and took a few shots in the garden. Due to her interest in/confusion at what I was doing photo 38 is the one of the Keira (our dog). If you click on one of the pictures you should be able to see the whole Gallery.

Whatever you’re doing today, I hope it’s a darn sight more engaging than my morning.


Day 37: The Sun Continues to Shine (but for how much longer…)

It’s Friday and the sun is shining. Wonderful. Here’s hoping it lasts until I get out of the office later this afternoon. I feel I’ve not really made the most of this mini heat-wave, but as our office doesn’t have a retractable roof or a space for us to work outside I feel there’s not a lot that can be done about it.

According to Mr Weatherman this spell was meant to be over by yesterday, but I think we’ll settle for this extra two days quite happily. I also hope he’s wrong about the fact that we might well have snow by Sunday/Monday…

In a vague attempt to make a bit more of the sun I took a stroll yesterday down to Princes Street Gardens during my lunch hour. Once I’d out manoeuvred all the tourists taking photos of the statues and the Castle (I’ll let them off though, they were looking pretty good) and got into the gardens I took the path along to the Ross Bandstand – which needs a lick of paint, I think – and then down to the fountain. From down here you can also see the backs of the two churches that are nestled in the western corner. I’ve used St John’s quite a few times, but never St Cuthbert’s as you can only really see it from the Gardens. So to rectify this I thought it could feature today, with St John’s sitting in the background.Edinburgh, Princes Street Gardens, St Johns, St Cuthberts, Churches, Sun

Happy Friday, now go get a nice cool drink (preferably alcoholic).