Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


Dynamic earth - multi-media exhibition and display near Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace.  Certainly dynamic and actually informative, plenty of sound and effects for presumed short attention spans too!

Arthur's Seat and walk above Edinburgh. Can be steeper than you think. Super views on a clear day.

Botanical Gardens and walk along Leith.  These are extensive and really beautiful. Pay the £5 to go into the glasshouses with a wonderful variety of exotic fauna.

Music - Organ recital at St Giles, folk music in Sandy's and singer at No. 1 High St.  Plenty of music of different styles on offer of course.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Stops in Edinburgh

Halfway House pub Fleshmarket Close off Market St. Very handy for the train and train-themed. Real ales and a cosy feel, may or may not be food available, wasn't when we got there.
Seems to be for locals and tourists.

No 1 HIgh St, of that address on the Royal Mile and despite the address just off the very touristy end of town.  Reliable food, pub-style but seems freshly and locally done.  Haggis tower looks and tastes great.

Sandy's Bar Forrest Road, nr. George IV Bridge and Greyfriars.  Quickly crowded but an authentic feel and certainly the place for live acoustic and Scottish traditional music.  Traditional beers too.

Cafe No. 33 Stockbridge. Take a walk along the Leith and stop here for really good coffee and paninis, sounds hipsterish but isn't, just decent modern food and OK prices.

Clarinda's.  This is a must if you want an olf-fashioned tea-room theme with breakfast, lunch and tea and cake menus with friendly service.  Towards the Holyrood end of the Royal Mile and worth the walk if you're at the other end of town.


Something about ports in a post-coastal era where a few passing ships and otherwise tourist trade and newer but soon dated shopping mall, and noisy fun-fairs are left, something inevitably left aside, part closed-down and part run-down, grey walls with spots like rust or foxing on the inside of a title-page, tasty bite takeaway by the Chinese predecessor with the for sale sign in the window.  Bars and cigarettes and people off at work in the city heart a bus ride away. The mall's standardised walks and the disco-popped synthesised tannoy outside mainly for the family groups on an afternoon out or the pre-teens, the brief secluded sea enclosed around the corner with the moored ships being the evidence  of port or harbour.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Edinburgh contin.

Castle from Grassmarket.  


Across towards's Arthur's Seat, above Edinburgh, beatiful day and people enjoying Easter Day in the sunshine.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Malvern Spring

Paraglider in action by the Malvern Hills (Worcester Beacon).

Live music in Brum

To show the offering Birmingham hs these days, I coulld have been at three quite different events and styles of music in the same evening.
As it happened, I still got  two.
Thanks to one of the excellent groups in, I went first to see the regular very high-standard pub band at the popular Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath in South Birmingham - there most late Saturdayafternoons, I think - followed by a short trip on the famous number 50 bus to the also-popular if slightly more niche Ort Cafe in poorer Balsall Heath, where the Celebrating Sanctuary Festival featured a Congolese band playing gentle, rhythmic traditional music, and a young (more musicians are young these days ...) singer and guitarist manipulated Playback pedals effectively to layer his more contemporary sounds.
At the same time, others were listening to Bach's Magnificat in Birmingham's Anglican cathedral, St Philip's, in the city centre.
Wonderful variety and expertise on display.  

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Free Raif Badawi campaign

The Amnesty International volunteer group I belong had what we call an action as a small part of a worldwide campaign for the remarkably brave Saudi Arabian Raif Badawi, imprisoned and beaten for expressing opinions mildly critical of the authorities and the influence of religious conservatism on the country's development.
Web campaign details via or follow twitter at #FreeRaif and #FreeRaifBadawi .

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Musical offerings

Live transmissions of plays, concerts and opera have come into vogue fairly recently.  The multiplex Cineworld cinema in Birmingham shows performances from the Metropolitan Opera in New York, yesterday The Merry Widow by Lehar.
I found this absorbing and entertaining, the piece suited a Saturday evening with the chance for a drink afterwards.
While it isn't the same as being in the main auditorium, you actually are part of an extended audience in the cinema.  Mostly retired to go by appearances, and regulars at these shows too, going by the myriad sandwich boxes which appeared in the interval (also a way to save money on the usually overpriced food at cinemas).
A few attempts at applause to join in with the New York Met audience, this is the one thing that doesn't quite work in the cinema, but you can sense the involvement all the same, not least at the couple of (very brief) points when the satellite transmission failed to a Mexican wave of sighs from the crowd!  
£15 isn't cheap for a cinema ticket, but next to $200 for the Met itself it is, as they say, a bargain.  £12.50 concessions.
Well worth it.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Film tip - Kontiki

Thor Heyerdahl and friends' balsa wood voyage across the Pacific to prove that early Polynesians were settlers from Peru and not Asia. Real human drama of individual charisma against institutions and individuals in confined and dangerous circumstances, struggling to cope and persuaded (just) by the charisma of their leader.  In the end, team work wins out as everyone pulls together to end the voyage successfully.
Fascinating, absorbing, action thriller and traditional drama in one.
Saw this at the MAC in Birmingham, their page here for details.

New Year

Rather lost any plot with this blog over the last half of last year, maybe with my father-in-law dying, sadly, after a long life and a traumatic few weeks ending that life, maybe with business of a newish job and lots of training work to do in a new term, which seems to result in doing less writing outside of work, but then maybe just inertia, getting stuck or disillusioned.
So here's a good standby, some photos: 

Fields near Cannon Hill Park.

Lights on the River Rhine.  

Local robin, singing through Winter.