Instagrammers Anonymous: Hello 2013

So, uhm, it’s 2013. Anyone know what happened to 2012? It seemed to pass quite quickly…

2013 may be set to be a slightly quieter year than 2012 – although that said I’ve a couple of exciting things lined up, including a little trip to the States in September for a good friend’s wedding – but I think we can all agree that’s probably because 2012 was something of a vintage year.

Here to see out the old, and usher in the new is the New Year edition of Instagrammers Anonymous:

Edinburgh is quite big in the New Year (or Hogmanay) stakes, and this year was to be extra special because it was the 20th anniversary of the first major street party. I’m not entirely sure what happened in 92/3 to warrant such a party, but 20 years on it’s still going strong. One of the big highlights each year is the torchlight procession that weaves its fiery way through  the streets of the Old Town ending in a light show and firework display on Calton Hill. I’d realised that I’d never actually been before, so this year I made a last-minute decision to go along and see what all the fuss was about.20130103-114830.jpg

Being the hard-working individual that I am I was in the office in between Christmas and New Year [insert noises of pity here]. One of the upsides to this – aside from the cake – was that I got to see the spectacular sunset on the 31st from one of the highest points in the New Town. This was what we saw looking out over Charlotte Square.20130103-114823.jpg

And finally, New Year just wouldn’t be the same without a healthy does of fireworks. We quite like firing rockets and the like off historic monuments in this town, and New Year is no different. After Sunday night’s show on Calton Hill it was the turn of the Castle to bring in 2013 with a big bang.20130103-114838.jpg

All the best for the coming year, and here’s hoping it’s everything you wish it to be and more.

Cr

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Instagrammers Anonymous: Moving Closer To Christmas

And so this is Christmas – or so the song goes – and as if to confirm it there was a light scattering of snow on Edinburgh Castle this morning (I’m being uncharacteristically organised and writing this on Thursday). But at the same time, I’ve found myself questioning quite a few times where on earth December has gone. I’ve not even had any mulled wine yet this year – so that’s not even a potential excuse for loosing a few days/weeks.20121213-143400.jpg

I guess the biggest reason for the festive season’s disappearance is that I moved house last weekend. Yes, packed up lock, stock and most of the barrel and decanted across town. So whilst tidying, packing and unpacking have sapped most of my time, I can confirm that life is back on track and I can once again think only about all things festive!20121213-143332.jpg

Talking of unneccessary festiveness, another completely unnecessary trip to a well-know, tax-avoiding coffee company happened this week. But it has a snowman on the cup, so I’ve totally justified it to myself as being festive. In the branch across the road from the office, they have, however, learnt my name. And what size of drink I have. And what type of drink I have. And that I don’t want cream on top. Come January, I think it might be time for a change…20121213-143343.jpg

And finally this week, since it’s Christmas we’re going to have an extended edition of Instagrammers Anonymous!

It’s the office party today (Friday)! Yes, that awkward time of the year when everyone tries not to get too drunk, but inevitably someone has one too many and photocopies their backside. We’re trying to counter that this year by going out for a nice meal, but so as not to be too dull, we’re also having a Christmas jumper competition! Here’s my entry, and yes, the nose and scarf do stick out…20121213-143350.jpg

And if one extra wasn’t enough, here’s a second. Hamilton and Inches have my favourite festive display of the year. Not for all the jewelery on display and not for the little trains they have going round each window, but for the fact that in one of them there’s also a little piece of track on which a tram that can go nowhere is sitting. This subtle, festive dig at the city is by far my favourite thing I’ve seen this Christmas; good work H&I!Tram in Hamilton & Inches Christmas display, Edinburgh

I’m off to find my hangover tea now, in preparation for Saturday morning. Have a great weekend.

Cr

Instagrammers Anonymous: Tied to the Kitchen & Boxes

Whilst the weather outside isn’t frightening it is a touch on the bloody freezing side. Monday’s ice managed to partially melt by Thursday it was back this morning with a vengeance; the number of Christmas trees is also rising almost exponentially. As they say in the song: it’s winter time, in the city.

Although whilst I have encountered my fair share of the ice whilst walking the dog, I have spent a lot of this week in my warm kitchen, going on various baking adventures. So here is this week’s quick round up of festive fever – Instagrammers Anonymous.

Last weekend I went up to Perthshire and took lots of photos of the frost. I also took advantage of Historic Scotland’s offer of a free trip to Edinburgh Castle.Edinburgh Castle from the Esplanade

I bit the bullet and finally made good on my pledge to attempt to make macarons. Sure, they weren’t even in the slightest bit successful, however, the newly-branded dark chocolate and almond bites taste lovely, and go really well with the white ganache. This is what they looked like, before they didn’t quite rise in the oven.Chocolate macaron ready to go into the oven

And finally this week I have the excuse for not writing a post for Monday.The key to my new flat!

Yes, this is my new front door key! I’m (finally) moving house this weekend and consequently don’t think I’ll have much time for anything that doesn’t involve lots of cardboard boxes. On the plus side, my new flat is less than two minutes walk from a cheese shop; that can surely only be a good thing.

Enjoy the weekend!

Cr

A Weekend of Frozen Adventures

I think we can all agree that winter is now well and truly with us. But, on the plus side, it’s now CHRISTMAS TIME!!!!!!!!!

I’ve ditched my “It’s not even sodding December yet!” hat and replaced it with one of festive excitement and (bad) singing.

This weekend I definitely got well and truly into the festive spirit, and then promptly got back out of it by attempting to do some Christmas shopping. However, with a mince pie in hand and the Michael Bublé Christmas album on in the background I’m getting back into the mood.

Frosty leaves on atree trunkI went on a bit of an adventure on Saturday up to Perthshire, to go visit my great uncle. I don’t get up nearly as often as I’d like, but when I get the chance, I don’t hesitate on breaking free of the city and head of to more rural lands; so with the dog in the backseat we headed up the A9 for a day out. This is where most of my festive spirit came through – it was beautifully crisp and clear day, and the hills were all dusted with frost and snow. With the Christmas music drowning out my tuneless singing it was hard not to wish it was the 25th already.dog looking at river

To give her Majesty a bit of a walk I stopped off at The Hermitage, near Dunkeld. This turned out to be both a lot of fun and a bit precarious as it was, for the most part, a large ice rink. Keira had a whale of a time, of course, and I only had one unscheduled sit down, so I would definitely call the walk a success. It also gave me plenty of opportunity to take photos of frosty things. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by them, but each time I’m out and about I end up taking more photos of them.

Once I’d ditched the boots we headed off to the village of Blair Atholl for a few hours of coffee, cake and chat (he still thinks I’m slightly nuts for going to Moscow, but we put pretty much everything else in the world to rights and I learnt a lot about Burma during the second world war). By the time we got round to leaving it was pitch black, but we were just in time to make a quick visit to one of my favourite shops – The House of Bruar. Whilst I would love many of the jackets and boots they sell there my salary doesn’t quite cover it, so I made do with a visit to the foodhall. On the somewhat transparent excuse of ‘looking for Christmas presents’ I managed to come out with some roast duck pâté, claret-infused cheddar and some honey and whisky smoked salmon. Definitely the best shopping I’ve managed so far, and definintely not one I’m keen on sharing. Our drive home was pretty uneventful, but I can confirm that my singing abilities did not improve.

Front of Edinburgh CastleSunday was another bright and early start, but this time to make use of my free Historic Scotland weekend pass and go have an up-close look at Edinburgh Castle. I only discovered last year that Historic Scotland do this pass each year on a weekend around St Andrews day, but some friends and I decided to monopolise on their good will and take a look at the most famous landmark in Edinburgh. Very little has changed since I went last year, which I guess isn’t hugely surprising but it was a lovely morning to stare at every horizon. One thing I did observe though, is that people are rather dim and were definitely waiting for the One O’Clock Gun to be fired, despite the large sign that says that it isn’t fired on a Sunday.

After our trip to the Castle I went on an unsuccessful attempt to buy others presents and have established that I am not a fan of festive shoppers. I am also very disappointed in the selection of Christmas jumpers on offer! Even the Jeremy Kyle recruitment centre (aka Primark), which has many in its window, couldn’t provide me with something for the office party. And even more upsetting, Whittards had sold out of Mulled Wine tea! I did get an orange and cinnamon rooibos, but it was the icing on the cake of a spectacularly bad (even by my standards) shipping trip. Time for mulled wine and Amazon shopping, I think.

Click on one of the photos below to see the slide show.

Cr

A Second Year In Photos: 50 Shades of Grey(scale)

Of all the wonders of photography and all the joy and vibrancy that colour brings to an image, I still love a good bit of black and white. Perhaps it’s the drama that they create, but there’s something about black and white images that I really like. Not all the time, that would leave you feeling a bit… uhm… grey, but if done occasionally it really makes it stand out.

Over the past year there have been quite a few black and white (or greyscale, if you prefer) photos on the blog, but unlike many of the other categories for A Second Year In Photos, I had no problems selecting which two images to use. In fact it was quite the opposite; I thought of these two before anything else, then found a category that would fit them both.

The first is the wonderful Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens, as see one sunny lunchtime in early March.
Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens, Sunlight, Walk, Spring, EdinburghThe second was taken during the Olympics when I was walking up the bank of the Thames. It’s of St Paul’s Cathedral, the millennium suspension bridge, and (possibly most importantly) the clouds and sky above it.
Black and white St Paul's Cathedral over the Millennium bridge.I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do.

Tomorrow, for the final instalment of this year’s favourite photos, I’ll be returning to my old, but never tiresome (to me, at least), favourite: sunsets.

Cr