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: 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

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

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.

Cr

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.

Cr