Thursday, 28 May 2015

Lochend Park. Meadowfield Park. Our Divided Kingdom? Edinburgh.

                                            ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
As I don't get the chance to visit Edinburgh all that often these days (it's an 80 mile round trip and uses up half a tank of precious fuel) I decided to pack a lot in during my solo day visit. Teddy Bear Moon above.
Calton Hill. This folly adorned hilltop is well known to tourists and is plainly visible from the higher Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park but it was another less well known landscape that captured my attention off the tourist trail. From the summit of Arthur's Seat I could see a fairly large open green area filled with trees and a pond with islands and a ruined castle. I suddenly realized with a familiar,  but less frequent these days, thrill of the unknown, that this area close to South Leith was one I'd never visited before and it looked within walking distance.
The brutal architecture of St Andrew's House under Calton Hill. Although it has art deco embellishments it still reminds me of state buildings in Berlin and Russia. Statement architecture very much in vogue during the Hitler and Stalin era which is not that surprising as it was constructed from 1935 to 1939. Although rightly portrayed as the bad guys of history now, many high society types in Britain, Europe and the United States had a lot of admiration for Hitler and his achievements in turning the country around after economic recession and a lack of political vision. Over 1000 civil servants and government officials toil away in here
Although not the brightest bulb in the box long walks always get me thinking and I had plenty of inspiration and strange thoughts during this trip. Having not visited Central Edinburgh for a few years except for a wedding at Cramond last summer I was amazed at the amount of new building projects taking place. Tall cranes were everywhere and new build apartments were springing up in an already tightly packed central district. It looked like a Scottish Hong Kong in places.
In many ways Edinburgh is much richer than the, larger for now, post industrial Glasgow, being the capital of Scotland but also its financial and business hub, which is where the top jobs,wages and real money tends to get concentrated in today's economy. Edinburgh is Scotland's London, full of business people, top university graduates and intellectuals which was fairly obvious just walking around the streets, listening to snippets of conversation in passing. The subliminal direction of Modern art works, where to go for lunch with an eastern theme menu , debates about the best wine and coffee haunts, Westminster insider trading and support for David Cameron are not usually subjects discussed on the streets of Glasgow where most of the new build projects are student accommodation or new University buildings. Glasgow does have its own strong intellectual and university base which is probably larger than Edinburgh's but the capital has always given the impression of being more stylish, sophisticated and ever so slightly up itself whereas the general surrounding mass of working class Glaswegian's, like Liverpool, Newcastle or Manchester, tend to deter any pretentious conversation  or intellectual flights of fancy in public. Here it is given centre stage and applauded. Edinburgh is also much more cosmopolitan judging by the rainbow of different accents but even here they seem to differ between cities with Edinburgh attracting more of the cream and Glasgow the ordinary multi culture milk beneath.
Too much cream can be sickening though if you are not used to drinking such a rich diet and my bullshit and twaddle detector was working in overdrive. Most of the conversations I overheard seemed to be centered around money, spending, acquiring, or what you could buy with it and I was not paying particular attention to any one group just mingling on busy pavements or waiting at lights to cross main roads. A bit like Jeremy Clarkson promoting an £80,000 pound racing car as a bargain when I'm happy with a third hand banger that's reliable, doesn't leak water on my head, and I can get my bike inside with the wheel off. Who cares if it's cool or not. It's a totally different world although the Top Gear specials are entertaining.  
Rooftop gardens just seemed to emphasize the growing divisions in modern society between the have and have nots as last week I was visiting a friend at the new super hospital in south Glasgow then had a wander around nearby Govan to check out some details for my forthcoming new book. The last time I observed it looking so shabby and depressed was during the Thatcher era and you could tell a lot of people were suffering badly.
Desperate people tend to commit desperate acts and a polarized society is not a particularly healthy one. Unfortunately, it is the poor and disadvantaged who always seem to suffer at these times and central Govan resembled the cast of The Walking Dead with many limping or shuffling around from cut price shop to discount market and I'm not a stranger to this area. Is this the future of our divided kingdom? A polite and not so subtle ethnic cleansing and segregation, not of race, but between rich and poor.
Lion at Holyrood Palace. Interesting info at the end of this board description. Talk about getting your pound of flesh in a court of law!

It was actually a relief therefore to reach what turned out to be Lochend Park and get back to ordinary folk who, paradoxically, although they probably didn't have much, were less obsessed with money issues and competitive one-upmanship. The conversations here seemed to be more about football, what was on the telly, friends and family, and the park's youthful wildlife.
This park has a castle, a good path around a pond, a strangely submerged central island covered in water drowned trees and more wildlife than you can shake a hungry badger at.
Young coot.
Lochend Park Pond with Arthur's Seat in the distance.
Lochend Park and South Leith. An interesting oasis. Well worth a visit.

Being handy with wildlife and knowing Canada Geese and their feisty reputations inside out I cunningly imitated a large and rather fat boa constrictor to put them at ease. slithering closer across the short grass towards the young gooselings... geeselings... whatever. As an expert wildlife photographer well used to calming a multitude of beasts and other feathered reptiles and amphibians I was wondering why they suddenly appeared agitated and started displaying threat postures. Was my snake camouflage not working? Would a Komodo Dragon impression get me closer to this young brood and get them relaxed again? It was while I was pondering this option that I felt a sticky tongue lick my head and the hot breath and nose of a large Rottweiler enter my ear. It was higher than me as I was lying on the grass by this time to get a professional wildlife angle of the various wildfowl assembled. It's doggie pal, an equally large Alsatian investigated my horizontal body from the other side with its boisterous but slippy tongue. My head and face seemed to be a curiosity magnet for these two hounds with their wet intrusive implements but I held my nerve and position and concentrated on the shot.
The mutt's owner, a local lad, seemed equally curious about me.

"Whit ye dain tae aw thae wee ducks like?" Crawling aboot among them like a maddie! Ken, ah'll caw the polis if ye hurt them, ya muky pervert!"
I thanked him for his help then explained I was a renowned wildlife photographer of some standing, but was currently lying down to get a better angle.
"Dae ye dae requests?"
I looked suitably puzzled.
"Ma dug's coupons. " He explained. "fur a photie. A double dug selfie wi the wife in the middle, Ken."

I was not amused. " Firstly, my name's not Lichfield. Secondly, I don't do selfies. I'm above all that herd mentality fashion trend stuff." I replied sniffily..... "although I'm currently below it as you can observe." By this time certain liberties were being taken and I was no longer comfortable with my prone position. "Thirdly, your dog is romancing my shoulder sir! Vigorously!! Kindly call it away. It's disturbing the geese... and me."
"Suit yerself." He muttered, calling off his hounds who were still tonguing me with vigor and other unwholesome secretions. "Diaper! Mattress! leave the man alone. "
Not for the first time I wondered about the number of strange people I always seemed to run into when walking or crawling through the various districts of  Edinburgh. The place is stuffed to the gunnels with nutters!

My next port of call was Meadowfield Park which perfectly described it. A large open meadow on a rising slope under Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat. The views from here were panoramic over large sections of Edinburgh East and I was pleased to discover many districts here I've yet to explore. No tourists at all just local folk out walking dogs with unusual names.
From the park I identified three separate and fairly large woodland areas that I'd never been in and that same excitement of unknown lands and discoveries gripped me again and made my heart beat faster. New people to meet and new opportunities perhaps? I love exploring new places and having modest mini adventures... so you don't need large amounts of money to enjoy life. Just a zest for living and enough coinage to pay bills. Most ordinary folk don't require massive pay packets and competitive bonus structures and can get by fairly happily on modest amounts of income for a working week. It's not much to ask but even that is being slowly stripped away. Regular buses run from Glasgow to Edinburgh and this entire 4 to 5 hour easy walk can be done straight from Edinburgh bus station.
Meadowfield Park info board.
The old heart of Edinburgh. The Royal Mile District.
A view over the city.
 A second view of Auld Reekie or Edinburgh.
Heard this song a while ago but the video just seemed to sum up my gloomy mood when I found out the results of the election and another five years of Conservative cuts, more cuts, and persecution aimed mainly at certain sections of society. I'm not a rabid independence supporter as I think it's a can of worms yet to be opened and I don't trust any political party that much but hopefully the SNP can do better than Labour regarding the dismantling of public services under the illusion/delusion of reducing the deficit and growing the economy. Tax payers are already paying out for the banks and bonus culture, most charities and the renewable sector, what next? This video reminds me of the last time "robust negotiations" happened between Scotland and England during the Wars of Independence. As I've said before, having a Tory Government for a sustained length of time, given its previous history in Scotland, is just one more incentive for an independent country. Facing straight into the wind again without any shelter for another five years.


Linda W. said...

Thanks for the tour of Edinburgh! I like your first photo of the moon and sky.

Lux G. said...

That first photo just stood out. So magical. And there seems to be an image inside the moon.

You just put Edinburgh in my "places I want to see before I die" list.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
It's a lovely city to visit at any time of year.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Lux G,
I know there's an image inside the moon :o) It took me three attempts to put it there as the first two efforts made it look too obvious and I wanted a more natural "lunar landscape as a teddy bear" look just like the real thing has a face that changes expression depending on what lunar features catch the light.(man in the moon can look cheery or sad at times depending on angle but few folk notice that.)

The Glebe Blog said...

A couple of fine posts Bob. I agree, Edinburgh is a photographers dream and you've found some magnificent scenes to portray the city.
I'll tell you what disappointed me down the royal mile was the increase in the number of cheap shops selling junk to the tourists. There's still plenty of history though and if you ignore the majority of shops you get to see it.

Kay G. said...

Love the Teddy Bear moon!
Amusing to read your observations on the "haves" and "have-nots". You ought to live in America, it is even more obvious.
And I think it is "goslings" the photos.
I don't know if I will ever make it to Edinburgh, so I thank you for the tour!

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Jim,
Yes, I noticed all the usual tartan and bagpipe shops dotted around the castle. They were even selling William Wallace two handed broadswords. Ironic really when I've read in several history books that they didn't reach Scotland until well after his death and he never swung one. He was also a Renfrewshire or Ayrshire man and never went anywhere near the Scottish Western Highlands if he could help it yet he's always portrayed running over high mountains in films. Also funny that the modern kilt so beloved of tourists is of Irish origin as regards the original tartan pattern and is predominately an English and German fabrication anyhow, introduced in Victorian times by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Never let the truth get in the way of a good myth though :o) I like a fantasy myself.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
Thank you. One of the reasons I take a stand against the Conservatives despite not being interested in politics much is that I consider them to be the enemy in every way, hence the video. It is only my opinion of course but any time they get in here they seem to make life much harder for ordinary people and they have past history of importing numerous right wing philosophies from America. I get the impression from decades of observation that they would love to dismantle the welfare state altogether in this country and adopt the American system where there is no safety net for families if you lose your job or fall ill.
Although they always claim to be on the side of "hard working families" all I've ever seen is an already slanting table tilted further towards the elite.
A case in point is the recent privatization of the UK Royal Mail at a ridiculous knock down price. Best pals in the city Goldman Sachs and the government made a joint fortune from this car boot flog off which cost the UK taxpayer around £1.1 billion in lost revenue. Not long after that over 5000 Royal Mail workers lost their jobs and the chief executive gets a 13 percent pay rise for "streamlining" the company. That's a standard Conservative move and par for the course.
The gooselings -geeselings however was a joke which obviously didn't translate across the pond and maybe explains why so many UK comedians fail to make it in America. "Two countries separated by a common language." I should have put a :o) in there.
I'm normally mild mannered but that particular lot of jokers piss me off and have done for the past forty years.

Carol said...

Nah then lad - you can't tell me you only get 160 miles to a tank nowadays?? Even my Cortina probably does better than that (although not just now as its battery finally expired last night). And I have to drive a 50 mile round trip each time I go to the climbing wall - everything isn't to hand around here like it is in the cities :-)

"Most of the conversations I overheard seemed to be centered around money, spending, acquiring, or what you could buy with it "
yep - that's all a lot of people seem to care about. What sad lives they must be having!

Those rotties weren't really called that were they?

blueskyscotland said...

Evening Carol,
Every pound is a prisoner these days. Edinburgh and back is half a tank as I have a thirsty car... very cheap to buy though at the time.That's the reason why Alex always uses his and the jokes in the book about fuel costs. Two dogs did molest me in the park when I was lying down taking photos but the daft names were inspired by other different daft dog names elsewhere in Edinburgh as I'm not in the business of embarrassing people and the original names are so bizarre and un-dog friendly folk might trace them. Fun without any malice hopefully.