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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

OK, not strictly from today, but when you're homeworking you can only dream of spending the afternoon in the pub with some Scottish Blogger mates.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Having momentarily misplaced my digital camera I am having to do as most digital photographers do these days: use the mobile phone. Here, you can see the side of the Scottish Parliament building from the Royal Mile. The rocks in the side come from every area of Scotland, thus a little part of Scotland will always be present at the home of our democracy.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The return commute from Fort William to Glasgow and then back to Edinburgh brought me this view at one point. Seconds earlier the sun had been shining but then the clouds drew in and creeated this. It is a colour photo but the tones of the landscape make everything look black and white. Outside it was about 4 degrees and most of the rivers we passed on the way down south were frozen over.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

This was the view this morning from my hotel next to Neptune's Staircase in Bannavie, near Fort William. I think this is Ben Nevis, but need some help on that one. I, in any case, would not have been climbing that. Some were, though, as the storms gathered at the peak.

Friday, February 24, 2006

How's this for a commute to work? I travelled up to Fort William in the Highlands for a talk tomorrow and managed to take hundreds of photos from the train - the Flickr tag is fortwilliam. These are some of the highest mountains in the UK. Breathtaking.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

28 Today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Scottish Border where I managed to catch the sunset as the rain swirled around the rolling hill tops. This is on the way back from London just at the point where the train nips over the border into Scotland.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pulling out of Glasgow Central station on the way to London for a meeting this is the ever-beautiful view of sunset over the River Clyde. The Finnieston Crane photo was taken about a mile furhter down stream. This is the City Centre, more famous now for its banking houses and call centres than the ship building that happened not so far away.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ferry from Dunoon to Gourock, West Scotland. I went home for one night to teach the German class of my old German teacher. Very strange feeling, but the end result - a podcast auf Deutsch - was really impressive. As is normal at this time of year the sky was grey and dingy, the rain coming on the minute I stepped off the CalMac ferry.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

This is the last whaling harpoon gun of the Christian Salvenson whaling company which operated out of Leith and Grangemouth from 1843. In 1963 the last whaling boat left Leith Harbour, but after a boom period where this one company had two factory ships, five supply ships and 10 whale catchers supported by offices in Leith, Antartica and South Georgia Island. 2000 people worked on this remote island solely for the whaling industry.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

This is my daily commute view about 20 minutes into the journey. This trip today was beautiful. In the foreground Linligthgow's church. The mushroom in the background is emanating from Grangemouth refinery, a monster construction spouting fumes above this idyllic landscape 24/7.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The 400-ton Victoria Swingbridge makes the link between two parts of the Shore and Leith Docks. It used to carry the tram link, too, that would feed the ships and warehouses either side. It now looks likely that the bridge will carry trams once more when the city-wide tram network starts construction in the next year or so.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A cold wind from the Forth and clear blue sky - a perfect day on the shore. In the distance you can see the ships you may recognise from other photos and on the left the Leith Lighthouse right at the point ships came in with their whale oil and wine. And more on that lethal instrument in the foreground tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Spring is on the way. This shot from Leith Links shows the view up towards town, happily obscured by the first buds of spring. Is it me, or is this really early?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Today we had a beautiful, sunny, slightly chilly walk around Leith harbour and the Shore. Every time we pass this life-size bronze statue of Sandy Irvine Robertson we have a wee smile to ourselves, and sometimes take a seat next to him. The statue, by Lucy Poett, was paid for by his friends in recognition of the work Robertson did to help Edinburgh's businesses burgeon.

Robertson set up his own wine business in Leith, but died in 1999 at the age of 57.

The larger-than-life wine merchant and Lothian businessman helped raise £2 million for charity and was a prime mover in bringing the Royal Yacht Britannia to Leith.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The tollbooth in Musselburgh High Street. A town's Tollbooth is its town hall and prison. We now use the building to carry out team-building and drama activities with children. No change there, then.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

This is more my cup of tea when it comes to waterfront living. These are old bond buildings from Leith's whisky and wine trades now converted into great little flats. They're not too expensive either. I've never worked out where one appartment ends and another begins and I think that's what I like best about these big long windows.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ronaldson's Wharf, and its like, is what Leith has come to know as "Luxury Appartments". The fact that, until ten years ago, those who could have been characters in Trainspotting would have quite happily shot up on the very ground these £7 million flats were built is neither here nor there for the luxury inhabitants, ready to pay £300,000 a shot for the waterfront views.

I like the building, I have to admit. The waves of the glass reflect the waves of the Water of Leith (although I don't see any suitcases containing bodies up on the penthouses). But every time I pass in the evening no-one seems to be at home. Too busy working, no doubt, to pay for the mortgage.

Friday, February 10, 2006

This is the view most tourists have as an Edinburgh bus driver on the Number 44 takes a corner. Far from running too fast or without due care and attention (that distinction has to go to Dublin bus drivers in my experience) Edinburgh drivers are wonderful. But their buses do have strong brakes.

So when you arrive in Edinburgh for your hols you, too, will be welcomed by the soothing classy colour schemes of Lothian Buses, together with Ned TV. Ned TV is the screen at the front of every bus that allows you to see what the people at the back and on the stair up are doing. Great entertainment when you're on the move.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The view at Loch Lomond, speeding back from a meeting up North. This was a beautiful drive back south, with the Munros and Bens reflected almost perfectly in the icy waters.

Loch Lomond is the second biggest loch or lake in the country, after Loch Ness. This isn't because of its size on the map (37 kilometers long) but rather its depth. Normally 37 metres deep it can get as deep at 190 metres. Ben Lomond is the southern most Munro (a mountain over 3000 feet high) and lies on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond (.wav)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I was working in Musselburgh this afternoon, the place where I started my teaching career and where the pupils reassured me that the town was certainly not a suburb of Edinburgh. Indeed, it is a town in its own right, the 'Honest Toun', in fact, where every year the Honest Lad and Honest Lass are crowned, celebrating this place's fascination with not telling porkies. Or something like that.

This is the River Esk snapped from the top of the Number 44, cutting the town centre in two and offering plenty of nice walks down to Fisherrow and the harbour. Musselburgh, as the name suggests, was once (and still is to a lesser extent) a fishing town serving Portobello, Edinburgh beach area and the towns and cities beyond.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

This is the view that greets me most mornings. It might just seem like any other train station but Edinburgh Waverley lies at the bottom of Britain's windiest steps (I've not tripped down... yet) and occupies the spot that, around 250 years ago, was the city's communal sewer. Some would argue that things haven't changed much, but I still get a thrill from taking the train in the morning, wondering what would really happen if I slipped onto the train to Plymouth, Newcastle or London. From Edinburgh to the world...

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Vital Spark, Inveraray, is just what I need this Monday morning. This week I'll be travelling around the central belt of Scotland, Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Musselburgh... the peace of the weekend will be gone for another five days. Enjoy this one while it lasts.

The boat was immortalised in the BBC's 1960s series of the same name, following the adventures of master mariner Para Handy.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I couldn't resist another photo of Loch Fyne, taken at the back of Inveraray. The sky changes on a minute-by-minute basis making it really tricky to choose one photo over another, and even more difficult to catch the scale of the sky, the water and the hills that surround this sea loch. As I took this photo the oystercatchers (they're birds, not people) were rising vertically from the rocky beach allowing their mussels and oysters to crash to the ground before swooping back to see if they had managed to open up the shell for the flesh inside - not a bad breakfast. But too difficult for this photographer to capture - the RSPB have some oystercatcher video and audio here to help capture the scene.

You can see all the other Inveraray photos that didn't make it here on my ScottishDailyPhoto Flickr page.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

This is an early morning preen from a pigeon on the pier at Inveraray, where I've spent part of the weekend speaking to Scottish teachers about the MFLE project that I help manage. It's brilliant to wake up in a place like this and go for a walk along the side of this sea loch, Loch Fyne. Especially when just an hour away you can have all the city life you like in Glasgow.

The loch (Scots for lake) is incredibly famous for being home to the world's best oysters and salmon, and there's the well-known Loch Fyne Oysters, a restaurant and shop (they do online, too) where you can buy some of the freshest seafood you've ever seen. I remember going in here quite often when our family made the 80 mile round trip from Dunoon every Sunday to go to Inveraray's church. We'd pop into the Oyster shop to pick up something for tea. The smell in the shop is pure sea. Not salty. Just sea.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I'm heading towards some of the last days in the beautifully quirky buildings at Dowanhill where Learning and Teaching Scotland staff plough on in search of educational nirvana. This is a view of sunset from the NGfL room, where all my favourite content editors and development officer pals create websites, content that would make Tony Hart blush for its creativity and eat cake.

It's set deep in the West End of Glasgow, hence the residential areas and trees that surround this old secondary school. Outside children scream in the playground of the primary school that is part of the same building (and Development Officers scream at having to upload their resources again) and the hip, trendy bars of Byres Road attract office workers and poverty-stricken students for their last drop before heading off on the Underground towards home.

A great place - shame we're leaving it in two weeks, don't you think?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Today marks my first step against the grain as a DailyPhoto blogger. I'm probably trouncing some unwritten Code of Conduct in the DailyPhotoUnwrittenManifesto.

Today features a guest appearance from another country.

Having spent the morning in Glasgow and then rushing back through to Edinburgh this afternoon I didn't manage to grab any photos, despite having a chat with Robin Harper, the Green Member for the Scottish Parliament on the train and being desperate to snap 'im.

No, this afternoon I am 'virtually' in Winnipeg, Manitoba, having spoken with Darren Kuropatwa and his team of teachers learning to blog. So, to honour our Canadian cousins (there are enough of them who are Scottish anyway) I am posting ScottishDailyPhoto of Winnipeg, via my appartment in Leith.

A DailyPhoto first?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Today I really will try to take that day off. It didn't happen on Monday, which turned into one of my most productive 'working from home' days ever. No, today, I am taking walks. Here is another cool view from my 'hood. This is the Water of Leith, about 20 seconds from my flat (10 seconds if you run). The Water of Leith is a small river that runs right through Edinburgh and following it up through the city is one of our favourite summertime walks. It begins to open up here into the Port of Leith, still in operation, although further out towards sea than it was in the past. A hundred years ago this part of the Water was where the ships ended their voyages, offloading Bordeaux, Whisky, Whale Oil and Whaleskin. The boats pitched there now are an architect's office and a soon-to-be-opened wine bar and restaurant. How things change. That large white ship was once the Indian Princess, a ship that did indeed travel back and forth through the various ports of the British Empire.

It's almost certainly for that reason that there are so many Leiths in the world now. If you want to sail from a Leith somewhere else and arrive in the original Leith, Edinburgh, you can even get your ship repaired at the white Building, George and Sons, the only steelworks and ship-related industry still open on The Shore, the cute name for this cute part of town.

Not always cute - 10 years ago I passed through here. It was a place the prostitutes and pimps dealt with the clients and pushers. Where Irvine Welsh set Trainspotting. The pushers are still here but getting pushed themselves by the young and upwardly mobile - the latest unsavoury bunch to be inhabiting the town's warehouses and luxury penthouse appartments.

Read a full history of Leith - it's better than I can do.