A month ago today I took the kids out to a place J. and I had visited a couple of times when we first moved to Scotland: Culross in Fife, former Royal Burgh and home to a striking ochre-harled palace. We spent an hour walking around the town admiring its seventeenth-century buildings, before driving to nearby Valleyfield Woodland Park for a walk in the woods to admire miscellaneous fungi. We finished the day at Queensferry at sunset, taking in the red glow of the rail bridge while eating some of Edinburgh’s finest ice-cream and fish and chips. It was an enjoyable afternoon, captured in these galleries of Culross, Valleyfield and Queensferry.
I was excited to see a sample of Sir Clive’s handiwork at a school open day yesterday…
They said it still works.
Two weeks ago today I wasn’t feeling quite right, and thought I’d better do a lateral flow test from the kit we’d recently been given, just in case. Within moments I was confronted with this:
Now that I’ve got 2020’s sounds out of the way, time for a post about 2021’s (so far).
After last year’s non-holiday summer, everyone in our family was yearning this year to get out of Edinburgh for a proper summer holiday. With the Delta variant on the rise, international travel was off the cards, whatever the state of vaccinations, so like the rest of Britain we were looking closer to home. Luckily, school holidays in Scotland start earlier than in England, so we faced less competition for holiday homes in remote locations, and were able to book one without much trouble. It wasn’t cheap, but not as bad as some reports of costs down south.
This was a low-key spring compared with last year’s, without as many visits to the garden to track the growth of the flowers, but I managed a few photos of blossoms and blooms, plus my best-ever shot of a giant panda at Edinburgh Zoo (though don’t raise your expectations too much). This modest gallery ends with a sunset on Portobello Beach, briefly observed while picking up my teenage son from a friend’s place the weekend after lockdown ended. The way the summer is looking, I’m not sure how many more of those there will be.
As we’ve been doing for the past few years, we booked the kids onto a mountain biking course at Glentress for their school holidays this Easter, but when we made the booking six months ago had even less idea than usual about what the conditions would be like the following April. It turned out, of course, that this month is the tail-end of Scotland’s second Covid lockdown, when we’re all still supposed to be staying local, which for Edinburgh residents means no driving beyond the Pentlands.
A year ago today was my last day in the office before the first lockdown, with our university telling us all to work from home a week before the prime minister did. For almost three months we’ve been in Scotland’s second lockdown, which is only now starting to ease: older primary school kids (including ours) went back to physical school full-time yesterday, and younger high school kids (including ours) have started going back a day a week until Easter.
There was no time to write anything here this month, so instead I’ll mark this latest period of lockdown with a photo or two of early-February snow.
This is no time to neglect the blog, with covid cases rising steeply in the UK, the first visible impacts of Johnson’s hard Brexit, Trump rallying his thugs to storm the Capitol on the sixth, and the prospect of worse in the next nine days. America is playing out all of my fears of four years and two months ago, and like much of the world I’m holding my breath.
But a new lockdown in Scotland has meant that the kids didn’t return to school on the sixth and probably won’t for another month and a half at least, and four of us are trying to make this a workplace and a school and a studio and a cinema and a home and a refuge and an escape under the same modest roof again. January is always a busy month, with new courses coinciding with marking last semester’s, and this year I have additional management duties and less time in the day to manage them, so I don’t have much hope of doing much here. But I’m posting this anyway, to put in place this month’s sidebar of this morning’s frosty window and leave the door ajar in case I feel compelled to vent about the state of the world.