Friday, 27 January 2012

Room 101

As I find writing a bit of a chore and it being only too easy to busy myself with some other activity, I have come up with an idea that I hope will get me tapping on the keyboard more often. As I am sure, even with your good self, there is many a time you would like to put someone, some thing or some activity into Room 101, as on the television programme. Working on the basis that it is easier to Moan and Whinge than it is to write or make positive comments, I hope that my blog count increases and I simply become more used to expressing my thoughts in words. I promise not to take advantage of this licence to M & W and will try to find some positive element in my desired additions to the dark recesses of that room.

CYCLISTS - There, I've said it.
                      I didn't wake up one morning with a sudden hatred of those of my fellow citizens who like to balance on a couple of spoked wheels as they make their way around the universe. Hatred is probably too strong a word, but I do find that on far too many occasions, I am possessed of an fearsome anger at the antics and some time dangerous activities that cyclist seem to think they have every right to perform. I am well aware that motorist (the subjects of a future rant) are no innocents but I am sick of the constant underdog tag that cyclists like to cling to, when I have for many years witnessed selfish, rude and sometime dangerous behaviour, in exercising their right to cycle where they wish. No one is forced to ride a bike, it is a decision that should be made, taking in to account all the factors. If the road is too dangerous, then that does not infer a right to cycle on the pavement instead.

Most Cyclists here in Edinburgh (and I assume elsewhere), seem to fall into one of two types. The first is kitted up with all the gear and while they are to be commended for taking such care, it does seem to grant them a position of superiority, they are always right and the rest of humanity is wrong. The second type ignores the special clothing, helmets etc. but does carry something else on their bike, namely, a big chip on the shoulder, probably because they would rather be in a car. As a pedestrian, I have been the victim of verbal abuse and threats of violence from both types. It makes me wonder at the health claims for cycling if the state of their nerves are stretched to such an extent that such automatic outbursts seem justified to them, even when they are completely in the wrong. It would appear that traffic lights etc. don't apply to cyclist. I should add that all of my experiences and observations of the above were collected while being a pedestrian or a bus passenger. As a driver, I fear cyclists and give them as wide a berth as possible, which is not always easy.

However, while I try to make allowances for the failings of my fellow man (it's usually male cyclists that cause the abuse), there is one area in which I can not forgive our cycling friends and it is the canal. Edinburgh is lucky to have a restored canal on which a pleasant and relaxed walk should be enjoyed along it's towpath. The Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal does not actually reach Glasgow but instead connects with the Forth and Clyde Canal at Falkirk. The connection was made in times past, by a staircase of locks but now the magnificent Falkirk Wheel, which is well worth a visit, does that duty. The canal starts (or finishes) at the Tollcross area of central Edinburgh and meanders through the countryside to the west of the city, following the contours of the land requiring no locks until it reaches Falkirk. This lack of locks gave the Union Canal the nickname of 'The Mathematical River'. The canal should afford a pleasant walk, enjoying the wildlife, plants and the lack of traffic fumes but I seldom take advantage of this linear haven as it has become a cycle expressway and the lack of respect for any other user of this quiet byway makes me very angry. I do not object to cyclists using the towpath but please respect others and do not treat this ancient thoroughfare as your own.

Now that is off my chest, may I close with this observation. When I had the day job, I walked home most evenings and my route took me along the former Corstorphine Branch railway line. This is used by cyclist and I am proud to say that I was on friendly nodding terms with most of them. Why this stretch of path should be different I do not know but I hope it shows that I do not hate cyclist as such but just wished that they gave some respect to others as they obviously expect themselves.

In closing, todays photographs are of photographs or they would be if I could get the system to do what it has done often before. How I love computers!

Correction, here are the photographs. I have tried to sell, at local craft fairs, a selection of my photographs on my Daughter's paper craft stall. My success has been limited, with my best customer being the said daughter !  However, I am very pleased with how they look on her wall and that has given me some ideas on display and promotion at the next fair. I am also planning to present them for sale on the internet in the near future, so I will continue to work on creating new pictures and trying new techniques.

Until the next time, best wishes.


Monday, 23 January 2012

Picnic at Blackness

 Today, my wife and I took a little trip to Blackness, on the south coast of the Firth of Forth. Situated to the west of Edinburgh and the two Forth Bridges (to be joined by a third in a few years time), this one time port is a very pleasant place to walk and enjoy the open freshness of the area and indeed it was very fresh today. Despite being only the 23rd. of January and rather cold, the sky was as blue as you see in these photos, which were taken last summer. I did not take anything today, just enjoyed the views and chatting to my lovely wife, who enjoys this area very much.

The Port of Blackness was once a very busy port and was and still is the official port of Linlithgow, my home town. The castle, which has guarded the port for centuries, is well worth a visit and there are also interesting walks, both east and west of the village. If you have a small sailing boat, then there is a club where you could keep your craft in the sheltered bay, ready for great sailing when the wind blows (which is often).                                                                                          

On our way to Blackness, we stopped off at the New Hopetoun Farm Shop, with the intention of spending a Gift Voucher which we had received as part of our Christmas present from one of my brothers and his wife. I wish that the critics of Scottish food would visit places like this and see the range, variety and quality of food that is available both locally and in Scotland. While I searched hard and long, I could find no evidence of Deep Fried Mars bars or the like. If you love food and appreciate quality and taste, then a visit would be very worth while. We found a number of items which made up a very pleasant and tasty picnic lunch, while enjoying the views and the fresh air.

Until the next time, Bye.

Thursday, 19 January 2012


I have recently become aware of the importance of memory and the crucial part that it plays in our individual lives but also that of our society and civilisation. We are nothing but a collection of memories, that if they were to disappear, would leave us with nothing but a blank sheet. It is what we remember that shapes our lives, the decisions we make and most importantly, how we interact with our family, friends and the world at large. If you read my previous blog, you will see that I was greatly affected by a past memory and in this case, not in a very positive way. Others might have reacted differently which illustrates that character can make a vast difference but it still needs the building blocks of memory, if they crumble, nothing is left.

I have reached that age in which I have many 'Senior Moments', having trouble remembering that actress's name in that play last night or what was my purpose for climbing the stairs or entering a certain room. In the past, I never made a great effort to remember the different elements of my life, content to think that they will be somewhere in my brain and that I will be able to retrieve them when required.

Our brains contain a time machine. It might be a bit wonky sometimes, rather like Doctor Who and his TARDIS time machine on a bad day but it is the best that we have and I for one, will be making every effort to use that powerhouse and the vast library of thoughts that it houses. It is my life and I would be a lot poorer if much of the joys, pleasures and even the sadness of the past were lost to me.

The above photo was taken in Dalry Cemetery on the western edge of central Edinburgh. It is an old cemetery and I doubt that it's occupants are bothered by any new additions to their eternal rest. As with any old cemetery, I find myself drawn to the shapes and lighting in these isolated islands in our cities. Now that I look at the photograph, I see that it would have been better to crop the image, to rid the picture of that dark area at the top. It was however, the word 'memory' that caught my attention on this stone, as I thought how many of the souls resting here would now be remembered. Their family and friends would now themselves be memories,  destine to fade as the world goes on.

This is a better crop of the picture which was taken on a pleasant summer afternoon. The image was processed as an Antique Colour with soft focus corners.

In closing, I have thoughts that my photography, each image a memory in it's own right, could also be a great tool in stimulating my own faltering brain cells. Keeping my memories alive, keeping them available so that I am not just a empty blank sheet.

Until the next time, Bye.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


After my first blog, I must apologise for the many errors that it contained. I can only say in my defence that I was so keen to publish my first blog, the care and checking that should have been done was hurried.  I shall, in future try harder to achieve a higher standard. As I want you to return, it is my duty to make my thoughts clear and well presented so that my blog is a pleasant and easy read.

Now, a little sob story, which I hope will give you some idea as to why I find writing this and other writings so difficult. It might also go some way to explaining why I must write this blog. It is not just about my photography.

When I was in the latter years of my Primary School, my teacher was a Mr. Cant. His name was very appropriate, as he could not teach and fell back on the old method of belting children if they did not appear to understand, rather than trying to find the best way to pass on the knowledge that would be with us for the rest of our lives. He obviously thought that it was all our fault and that we were being lazy and in-attendant. Every Wednesday afternoon, he would read a short piece that my classmates and I had to write down. Our work was then taken in to be marked and the following week we would be given the results and if we had a certain number of errors, we were belted. I can't remember if we were given the results before or after that Wednesday's piece but I do remember the feeling of dread when returning to school after lunch every Wednesday and the emotions of relief if I had escaped from last week's classs-work without being belted. It never occurred to me to mention any of this to my parents, it was my own silent torment which has coloured my character ever since. Writing has therefore always been associated with pain despite having a desire on my part to put down, in words, how I feel or to find expression of my ideas and thoughts. I realise that if my character had been different, perhaps stronger, this weekly torture might have had less effect on me. I am also aware that some of the fault may be mine and that I may be finding a scapegoat for my own failings.

However, the time has come to banish this all to the past. Our late Mother, when someone had been rude or nasty to her, had this marvellous knack of finding a reason why she thought they had acted in that way. This was not just a good Christian attitude, which she had in abundance, but was also a excellent way of dealing with the negative aspects of people and their demons. In the fifty plus years since that time, I have often wished Mr. Cant the horrors of hell on his soul but perhaps he had many demons of his own. I have a feeling that he was sacked for assaulting a child after I had passed from his dubious care. He certainly should not have had a job as a teacher. So Mr. Cant, I pray that you have found some sort of peace and I hope that I can now move on with the rest of my life without the burden that I took on silently all those years ago.

Despite the above tale, I have no problems with Wednesdays and in fact quite like that mid-week day.  

On a happier note, in my first blog, I showed a picture with unusual colours.

I have always liked paintings with strong unnatural colours and wanted to achieve a similar effect in photography. Not a desire to create a photograph that tries to pretend that it is a painting, that I think is pointless. I wanted to find a photographic equivalent. A little experimenting with my photo editing software has produced these images and many others.

Until the next time. Goodbye.


Saturday, 14 January 2012


Hello and welcome to my little bit piece of the wide world of the internet. I have started this Blog as a means of publishing my thoughts, opinions and no doubt, some slightly bigoted views on my and other peoples photography, my life, the world and everything. I have my lovely daughter to thank for getting me started on this new adventure and experience, although, any mistake and error or down right rubbish are all of my own creation. I hope that you, dear reader, will find my rambling thoughts worthy of a little of your time. One of the reasons that I wish to write this blog, is that I may find, as I write, somethings about myself and therefore, if you are tempted to return, we shall go on an adventure of discovery together.

At this moment, I shall say very little about myself but hope that, in time, more may be revealed as I ramble on about my interest and ideas. However, to give you some idea of the crackpot behind the keyboard I will admit to being male, in my early sixties, living with my lovely wife in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, which is the northernmost part of the UK. I am retired from the day job but still have difficulty finding time to do everything that I want to do.

The above photograph was taken at random from my collection and is a shot of Linlithgow Palace taken from the canal that flows through the town. The fine church in front of the palace ruins is Saint Michaels Church, one of the largest parish churches in Scotland. The original stone crown was replaced in the 1960s with the metal crown and even today, many feel that it does not fit in with the rest of the building. My late father, who was born and bred in the town hated the metal crown of thorns and after all these years and hundreds of visits, I am not to sure on which side of opinion I fall on. The building that lies below the church is the town's Burgh Halls. As with the Palace and Church, it is open to the public and is well worth a visit, with the bonus of a nice cafe which could be most welcome as you descend the hill after visiting the attraction that sit above the halls.

The town has many other places to eat and drink and amongst the other attractions, is the town museum at Annet House in the High Street. I spent the first few year of my life in the town and although the museum fails to make any mention of this fact, it does offer a splendid overview of the industries, people and history of the town. There is also much on the other famous person to come from the town, namely Mary Queen of Scots, the lady who was tragically executed by Elizabeth the First of England. There is also a present day politician who come from the town but we will not talk of him today.

I shall close now but leave you with the image on the left of which I shall say more next time.

For now, I wish you all the goodness you deserve and hope that we will get together again soon.