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

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!

Cr

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

Cr

A Second Year of Contemplating

Picture the scene: It’s Monday evening after a long day in the office. I’m sitting on the sofa  slurping my way through a bowl of my roasted tomato and red chilli soup, mopping up as I go with a big hunk of crusty bread; the dog is, as ever, lying at my feet trying to soften my heart of ice with those big brown eyes. It was then that I had a thought. I dismissed it as a little ridiculous to begin with, but as I was finishing off my follow-up ‘course’ of a glass of lovely red wine left over from Sunday night’s dinner the thought came back to me and this time I couldn’t shake it – tomorrow is the 16th October. Contemplating the Clouds is two years old.

Yes, in the disorganised chaos of my daily life – it’s my preferred choice for organisation, it would seem – I almost forgot the blog’s birthday. This wasn’t the case last year – oh no – then I was so organised that I even went out and bought it a cup cake and a number 1 candle (have a look over here, if you don’t believe me). This year, the dog and I are sitting staring at the screen, wondering what to write (or in the dog’s case, why there isn’t cake involved this year).

The first year of Contemplating the Clouds was my first foray into the blogging world. It started with just photos, then was transformed by the addition of words. This time last year I thought that perhaps I was getting better at both the photos and the words; now I feel – I hope – that they have improved again – I know there are certainly fewer typos (and thanks to the friend that has no qualms about calling me out on them if they do appear; I do appreciate it, even if I don’t always sound grateful). But what of the theme and overall purpose of Contemplating? Well, that too has solidified a bit. This is a blog about a 20-something living, working, procrastinating, eat and drinking in Edinburgh. Oh, and about the adventures I run off on every so often.Edinburgh, Carlton Hill, Old Town, Lent, 40 Days of photos

I said last year I had no idea what the coming year would hold, and whilst it hasn’t been without its share of appearances from the drama-llama, I think it’s been a fairly settled one. At birthday numero uno I was three weeks into a temporary job that could end with virtually no notice in a company that had less than six months before it ceased trading  to say it was a little uncertain is a bit of an understatement, and the fact that I had no idea what ‘proper’ job I was ever going to get (if I would get one at all) was weighing pretty heavily on my mind. As it transpired I temped at the exporters for five months, and only left because I found gainful employment in the real – or perhaps that should be the surreal – world. I’ve now worked in internet marketing for the last seven months. It’s a massive jump from the world of academic biology that my university days in St Andrews were filled with, but I really enjoy it. Of course it’s tough at times and after seven months I feel I have only just begun scratching the surface of all there is to know – but that is part of the fun of it. Working mainly with the travel industry is also something I really enjoy – even if I do get pretty severe travel envy at least once a week – but perhaps what’s surprised me the most is how much I love writing. That may sound rather stupid from someone who writes an often fairly word-y blog, but when this started it was all about photos. My writing still has some way to come, I think, but we’ll see what the future holds on that front (although I wouldn’t hold your breath for a novel, quite yet).Defender of the Nation, Edinburgh Castle

The other thing I mentioned last year was that I’d like to go on holiday again. It was very much a passing remark, however, I am pretty sure it wouldn’t have made it in at all, had it not been something I really wanted to happen. And happen it did. With friends scattered across the country – and indeed the globe – I have been lucky to go away several times over the past twelve months, in fact travels have come to rather define the year. There was a little trip to London last Christmas time, followed Buxton, Peak District, Millers Dale, Wriggly Tin, quarry, hiking, viewpointvery quickly by another to St Andrews, the early new year was a bit dull, but the end of February saw the adventure of the Wriggly Tin (a long weekend to the Peak district, partying it up the likes of which Buxton has never seen before…). It took a while after that, but as the season that held the somewhat misleading title of ‘summer’ rolled around I put those accumulating holidays into use: first was my trip to Yorkshire for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and less that eight weeks later I was heading south again – this time bound for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the Olympic Games in my capital city: London 2012. For anyone that was reading the blog around then, you’ll know that I had an absolutely fantastic trip, I didn’t shut up about the Olympics for weeks. But as the Jub-Olympic summer was drawing to a close I had other travels on my mind – my whirlwind trip to Moscow, Vienna and Bratislava. Let’s be honest, my summer’s travelling has dominated the last twelve months, it was utterly extraordinary, and something I doubt I will ever get the chance to repeat.My tickets for the Olympic Tennis - so excited!

Icing dribbling over the side of the cakeAnd that neatly brings me to the present day. Whilst I have no idea what the coming twelve months will hold I am pretty safe in suggesting that it will certainly hold more of three things that have filled the blog with lots and lots of images this year (away from all my gallivanting). They are, of course, dog walking (Keira isn’t going anywhere, after all), my attachment/addiction to a single app on my phone, Instagram, which has spawned the weekly round-up of Instagrammers Anonymous, and my other huge and overriding passion – food and drink. These three things have kept me busy over the last twelve months and I have no doubt that they will continue to flourish – who knows where they might take me.

To celebrate one year of Contemplating the Clouds I ran a week-long series called A Year In Photos, which involved me picking out my favourite 12 photos from the year (plus perhaps a bonus one on the side). Whilst the connections between the paired up photos were sometimes pretty tenuous, we all struggled through and seemed to quite enjoy them, so to advance on that it’s my self-promoting pleasure to follow this long-winded essay by seven days of (considerably shorter) posts – A Second Year in Photos.Monument to Peter the Great, the Moscow river and the cathedral of christ the saviour

All that’s left now is to say thank you. There would be very little point in me writing this blog if I didn’t think there were others out there reading it, so I’d like to extend a thank you to each and every one of your who reads the blog; much as it is an enormous cliché to say, it does mean a lot to me. It doesn’t matter whether you read every post, or just the odd one or two; if you’re the person in Edinburgh or Auckland that visits virtually every time I write a post, or you’re the person in Singapore, the Bahamas or Kazakstan who has visited just a handful of times, the very fact that you read it makes me happy.

And here is the perfect time to raise a glass of whatever is you happen to have handy (mine’ll be a G&T, please) and say here’s to a fantastic year of Contemplating the Clouds and procrastinating to our hearts’ content; and here’s to the future, whatever it may bring.

Cr

Day 36: 5 Days to Go!

Yes, it is day 36 which means there are only five more days of my photos to be endured. Then it can go back to a casual couple of posts a week.

The sun is still shining here (or it is as I’m writing this) and we’ve had yet another glorious day. At least I think it was glorious, I was inside all day and the only time I was out was to walk five doors down the road from the office to go to someone’s leaving lunch and then walk back again.

As bus stops are not particularly photogenic I took another photo of Charlotte Square on my way home this evening for today’s photo – it can be found at the bottom of this post under the following ramble.

Today – the 29th – is one of the reasons I don’t like lent (hence 40 Days of Photos, clever huh?). Aside from all the reasons previously listed on day 1 and in pointless charade there’s a very self-centred reason why I never give up cake, alcohol or chocolate and that reason is today – it’s my birthday. Yes, towards the end of March I get another year older and so giving up lots of nice things would just put a dampener on things – and would also make birthday cake/drinks awkward and tantamount to torture. I love birthday cake (who doesn’t?) and have been fairly spoilt with a mum and friends who are fantastic bakers – I’m thinking of things like After Eight cakes and Mel, Kat and KD’s incredible meerkat cake from last year – and so not being able to indulge would be incredibly rude and very unfortunate.

So whilst I ‘eagerly’ anticipate turning a year older, checking the mirror to see if I look like I’m more than 15 yet (not holding my breath), looking to see what exciting presents I’ve been given (I already have an amazing Bombay Sapphire bottle clock from Mel), and tasting this year’s cake masterpiece I should probably point out that I’ve no idea what tomorrow’s blog post will be. There will be one, I just don’t know of what, when I’ll get a chance to write it or how many G&Ts I’ll have had before I commit the washings of my brain to said post. Please take this as prior warning.

Edinburgh, Charlotte Square,

Whatever you’re doing today I hope it’s fun and you have time to have a slice of cake or a G&T. And if you don’t have time, well I strongly recommend you make some.

Cr