Sunday, 15 January 2017

Seeing in 2017...

2016 ended with another couple of trips away. At the beginning of December every year is a conference which is almost obligatory for professional education - never funded of course, but I love being in London at Christmas time so I usually combine it with annual leave and almost always get to meet up with friends and colleagues too.

Having stayed in some truly dreadful hotels over the years in London (budget constraints!) this year, on the back of a promotion, I decided to stay more centrally and booked a place close to the Southbank in easy walking distance of the conference and central London.

From the tube station I walked along the side of the Thames with the late afternoon sun setting behind the tower blocks...


The first evening I was on my own so just walked and walked, taking in London in its full Christmas lights glory. Didn't take many photos because it was so cold my hands froze! But loved the lighting on the Eye...


I had a lovely few days, got a bit more educated and walked a lot, reminding me how much peace I get from just walking and taking in the surroundings. One friend had to go back to work before the end of the conference so we got up early to get to London City Airport and then I walked back through Central London as the sun rose. It was quiet and beautiful and quite reflective. This is the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park...


For various reasons, both personal and more widely, 2016 was a year I was ready to move on from. Having had some great trips away and some lovely times that sounds ungrateful - I have some lovely memories from the year I was 50 but lots of challenges too, that I have opted not to record for eternity. Additionally, New Years Eve was always 'a big deal' for us when we were a 'proper' family and I was a bit desperate to mark the end of this year with something other than a struggle to stay awake alone till midnight!

Of course some of the changes that happen are nothing at all to do with divorce - children grow up and become independent and that is exactly how it should be. Inevitably and appropriately, they are doing their own thing over the festive season - we all got together and it was lovely, but the eldest two have their own homes and different extended families now so, just as mine were at their age, their priorities have shifted a bit. I am actually very at peace now with the end of my marriage - my only regret is that we haven't quite managed to build bridges so that the kids don't feel they have to divide their time between the two of us, but maybe that will come... Give it another 5 years!  I am lonely at times, for sure, but no more than I was when I was married and unhappy so I know I just have to continue the process of learning about myself and how to get the best out of the second half of my adult life.

With this in mind, when Paolo Nutini's email inviting me to his Hogmanay concert in Edinburgh dropped into my inbox it felt too good an opportunity to turn down! I have been a fan since he appeared on the music scene (I kid myself these emails are a personal invitation...😜) as is my youngest son who was going to be back from uni for the holidays. Plus...I have a very good friend and ex colleague who moved up there last year so seemed a good way to catch up too.

So, 29th December saw us on a train heading up the East coast past frosty fields...


Unexpectedly,  it was actually considerably warmer in Scotland with temperatures when we arrived in double figures! We spent the first day exploring this beautiful city, with its museums and lovely architecture. Like London, most of the museums are free to enter so great to call into for a couple of hours. On the evening of 30th we made our way into the city, heaving with people enjoying a huge Christmas market and lining the streets waiting for a torchlight procession through the city and up onto Calton Hill for fireworks. This is marketed as an ancient tradition and although, in reality, I think it is much more a commercial venture - the whole place is alive with an atmosphere of excitement and collective enjoyment of the three day Hogmanay Festival. Our concert was in Princes Street Gardens but we could see the procession cross the bridge at the bottom of The Mound - a long stream of torches lit the street for well over two hours. Down in the gardens I was glad it was unseasonably mild as we watched the support bands (who I had never heard of! But Tom seemed to enjoy!). There is something special about outdoor concerts and the setting, at the base of Edinburgh castle, made it especially so with the stage lights illuminating the trees...


The gardens have a kind of amphitheatre shape and even at this distance...


...the sound was amazing and Paolo did not disappoint, with the concert finishing in a blaze of fireworks, inadequately captured on my phone camera!



Sunrise is almost an hour later than at home at the moment so as we walked in across the Meadows for a bit more sightseeing on 31st it was still low in the sky...


I had something of an obsession with Greyfriars Bobby as a child - the story of the little Skye terrier who allegedly guarded the grave of his owner in the graveyard of Greyfriars Kirk for 14 years until he died in 1872 and was subsequently buried there too. His statue now sits opposite the pub bearing his name (you can just see it on the very right of this picture)... 


...with the atmospheric Gothic kirk and graveyard behind the pub...


As the sun got stronger the castle stone work seemed to glow - it is such an impressive landmark and very visible as you wander around the city...


We had deliberately opted to do 'as the local folk do' and stay away from the 75,000 in Princes Street on New Years Eve itself, instead meeting our friends for a lovely pub meal at the foot of Arthurs Seat then hiking up the hill for a view of the midnight fireworks. Tom warmed up with a Scots version of a 'Dark & Stormy', delicious spicy mix of whisky, rum and warm spices...


Then after dinner, from partway up Arthurs Seat it was possible to see fireworks all over the city with a spectacular display from the castle - lovely way to see in the New Year.




My tentative resolution on New Years Eve was to try to taker more photos again and walk more. These are both things that I find reflective and therapeutic. I'm not sure how manageable this is with my current working hours, and I am definitely not going to manage everyday (which was my plan!) but I have also decided not to beat myself up about it if I can't manage it! I got off to a good start...

1st Jan 2017, New Years Day, Edinburgh
Bright and very cold, lovely blue skies across the meadows...


Frosty autumn leaves...


...and gorgeous low light...


I have a bit of a thing for skies - I just love the light and colours through the clouds and the early evening outside the Portrait Gallery was beautiful...


2nd Jan 2017, Edinburgh
Having not made it to the top of Arthurs Seat on New Years Eve we decided to get out promptly and walked up as the sun was coming up - more lovely skies...


 Long shadows...


...glowing rock...



...and glorious views...








It was bitterly cold that day though, with the ground completely frozen underfoot and we were very glad to find a cafe open opposite Holyrood House (Clarinda's Tea Room - worth a visit if you are ever there!) which did a great breakfast that thawed us out!

3rd Jan 2017, Edinburgh
One last trip to the fabulous National Museum of Scotland, with its rooftop views across the city before a long train journey back home...


This was a huge treat and a lovely way to welcome 2017. I'm hoping this is going to be a good year!

S x

2 comments:

  1. loved your pictures of London and Edinburgh.
    So glad you had a good start to the year. I'd love to visit Edinburgh one day...maybe I should make it this year.
    Jacquie x

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  2. I absolutely love your photos! Really captures the beauty of Edinburgh. One of the best places in Scotland to go for new year is Edinburgh, I didn't get to go at the end of last year, maybe this year though! :D

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