It was another busy year at Speedysnail, with many new galleries at Detail and posts on Brexit, Trump, and the Covid-19 pandemic that dominated all our lives. Here’s the year and its category archives, and here’s a gallery of the banner source images.
It snowed a couple of days ago, and the sub-zero temperatures have kept it lying around, although today the icy slush has started melting away in the rain. A couple of days beforehand I went for a bike ride along the Water of Leith and the Union Canal, while after it snowed my daughter and I went for a hike in the Pentlands, which is as far as we could go during lockdown. Here’s a dozen photos of those outings to see out the year.
As part of tidying up some loose ends before midnight, here’s a new gallery of panoramas taken this year, which will eventually be supplemented with whatever I take locally next year. Most of them are from a day-trip to Fife with the kids in the October school break, which is as far from Edinburgh as we’ve been since February.
It’s the end of the year, and I doubt I’ll have a chance to do the best-of music, movie and TV lists that I’d wanted to—maybe in January, but given what that’s looking like, probably not—but there’s still time to squeeze in one last gallery at Detail.
It’s the end of the bleakest lead-up to Christmas that I can remember. Boris Johnson is touting his just-agreed EU trade deal as if it’s the best Christmas present ever, when in reality it’s the hardest Brexit short of no deal and will set Britain back for years. Thousands of lorry drivers are stuck in queues at Dover after borders were closed because of covid, when they were already racking up because of increased delivery traffic ahead of the end of transition. A new strain of the disease is spreading across the UK, with Scotland just over 24 hours from a new lockdown and UK covid cases approaching the peak of the first one. The prospect of widespread vaccination still seems a long way off.
After a hard-fought three-course meal with the president of the European Commission yesterday, Boris Johnson has this evening tweeted that “now is the time for the public and businesses to get ready for the Australian option on January 1st”, using that mealy-mouthed euphemism for No Deal guaranteed to make resident Australians laugh with bitter irony. “The Australian option.” Hope you enjoy your Dinki-Di Meat and Vegies.
My old photos of the Pacific don’t end with Fiji. At the end of June 1993 my father and I flew Air Pacific from Nadi to the island of Tongatapu: I was continuing my PhD fieldwork on tradition and politics in Fiji and Tonga, while Dad came along to see a country he’d never visited. We arrived just before the King of Tonga’s 75th birthday celebrations, which also commemorated his silver jubilee. I immediately made contact with a senior member of the Prime Minister’s office, and through them scored tickets to some of the key events of the week: a day of performances by school children, and a royal feast held on the grounds next to the Royal Palace. Surrounded by Tongans wearing their finest mats, Dad and I feasted on roast suckling pig and watermelon, and then watched a succession of dances from a perfect vantage point, sitting on the ground at the front of the audience a few metres away from the King himself.
Last week the students on my course Digital Education in Global Context were looking at social media, and talking about the spiral of silence that can cause some to avoid posting on it. I check Twitter every day for useful links and an oversight of the news from those I follow, but don’t tweet much, because many of those who follow me are colleagues and students, while most of what I would want to tweet are political observations, jokes and random things spotted online. I get caught the other way when I want to tweet digital education links and observations to colleagues and students, but know that other people who follow me won’t care about them.
A few weeks ago our students on An Introduction to Digital Environments for Learning were looking at Tom Flint‘s excellent project replicating Jupiter Artland in Minecraft, which prompted me to share with some of them the two galleries I made in 2014 of my first visits to the real-life Jupiter Artland.
Looking at them again made me realise that I’ve taken a lot of photos there since, and have posted hardly any of them here. So I’ve made a new gallery, covering the art and the nature of the first two. Many of the artworks featured aren’t in the first gallery, because they weren’t there yet, but there’s some overlap.
On Saturday we made another trip out to Jupiter Artland before it shuts for the winter. As with everywhere in these pandemic times, we had to book a time-slot for our visit rather than just turn up, and it was a time we wouldn’t normally have gone: arriving at 3 p.m., 46 minutes before sunset. But it turned out to offer a whole new perspective on the place we know; as well as the obligatory sunset-over-Jupiter photos, I took several of the rising full moon behind Cells of Life, Love Bomb, and other Artland fixtures. We also got to see Joana Vasconcelos’s Gateway pool, which had been closed for most of the pandemic. A dozen of these photos of Artland at dusk round out Artland Seasons.