I haven’t written much here about Pandemic Life for a while. Things have been busy since the start of August, when I started a new management role in my institute, alongside getting ready for the start of an unusual semester of teaching. As usual, until September we had no idea how many students would turn up, but with none of the predictability of normal times that would let us get close in our forecasting. At the back of everyone’s minds was the thought that all of our preparation for hybrid teaching, with online-only fall-back options for formerly face-to-face courses, might be for the benefit of half as many MSc students as usual. But as it turns out, our school has matched the record numbers of last year. Our Digital Education programme’s intake is up by half, and student numbers on my option course are up 60% on the previous peak. It seems everyone wants to improve their knowledge of digital education, and of its wider global context.
I spent a few days driving back and forth to Glentress with the kids last week, while they did separate mountain biking courses with Dirt School. While one was on a course I rode with the other, although rain on the second and third days slowed us down a bit. It was a chance to take some more photos of the place to flesh out the gallery I posted last year at Detail. Here are the new ones in their own right.
I went for a drive on Saturday, leaving the confines of Edinburgh for the first time in four months to take my daughter to the beach. It had been so long since I’d filled up the car that I’d forgotten how to open the fuel door. With that embarrassing hurdle cleared, we headed out to the bypass and drove twice as fast as we had done in, again, four months, stopping only for the inevitable traffic jam at every roundabout and exit on the way to North Berwick. We didn’t exit there, but headed on to Dunbar, to have a look at John Muir Country Park. The entrance is right next to East Links Family Park, which was heaving with people.
Even the Country Park carpark was almost full, but we found a spot and walked along a path behind the dunes to Whitesands Beach, a vast expanse at low tide, where even the high numbers of visitors were swallowed up by the space. It was virtually impossible to do anything except socially distance, so as far as infection risk went, it felt safer than doing the shopping or walking along our street. While my daughter ran in and out of the waves and buried herself in sand, I took a few photos, which look even emptier than the place did in person—the opposite of all those newspaper telephoto shots designed to make Britain’s beaches look packed. Here they are.
It was a pretty miserable weekend, so here are some sunnier pictures from the garden this month, with the roses out and the raspberries ripening. I picked some of the latter for dessert last week; might see if there are enough tomorrow to make jam.
Another spectacular sunset for the summer solstice on Saturday night. Click for bigger.
When everything kicked off in March, I wondered if I should set up a dead man’s switch to post an explanation of where I’d gone if I hadn’t blogged here for a month (viz: to the Eternal 404 in the Sky). It felt too paranoid an idea to implement, though, so I figured I’d just keep to a schedule of posting every weekend, until… I couldn’t.
It’s been hard to disentangle my thoughts about the week from the events of the country and the wider world, and even harder to get through the work I’m supposed to be doing instead of writing posts here. Trying to keep on top of a full-time job from home, with two school-age kids and a partner also working full-time and all the other constraints and tensions of lockdown, is like trying to juggle the contents of the computer cable drawer while walking calmly across the room. You’re lucky to get a few feet before stepping on a three-pronged plug.