Sunday, 8 January 2017

Arthur's Seat. Raven Tongue. Sunset Silhouettes.

                                              ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
One of the reasons I was determined to go to Edinburgh over the Christmas period to see the festive lights was this... I'd already been with Alan and his dog on Arthur's Seat in mid December 2016 and had a long range glimpse of what was on offer around Princes Street, with tiny figures milling around far below. I realized then it looked good to visit and there was also the fact it had been years since I 'd explored the city centre district properly- all my other visits concentrated on Edinburgh's many hills, volcanic plugs, cycle trips through the outskirts, canals or 'colourful' housing schemes few tourists would wish to go.
As Alan had been to Edinburgh but had never visited Arthur's Seat before I lost no time in going there. 'Seize the Day!' I always say... usually with my hands around a victim's throat. ( I've been reading a lot of crime novels recently at night and it's affecting my writing :o) This is Hibs Football Club and North East Edinburgh around Leith viewed from Arthur's Seat.
Edinburgh Castle. Again...
Holyrood Palace.. or more properly Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Swingers having fun in Edinburgh. Balmoral Hotel Clock Tower. This five star hotel used to be the North British Station Hotel and is on the cover of Neil Young's Decade triple album. J.K. Rowling famously finished the last Harry Potter book here and the room she stayed in then is still available at £1000 a night. Reputedly, Edinburgh is the most expensive UK city to live in after London.
 At the opposite end of the scale we passed a guy who was on hunger strike outside the Scottish Parliament Building (seen above in middle of photo in dark grey and white ) to highlight the plight of Edinburgh's homeless. A former teacher who had been homeless himself in the past we didn't know who he was at the time when we spotted him but I later read he had been taken into hospital after 24 days sleeping out with no food- just water.
I feel like I couldn't give a complete and accurate picture of Edinburgh unless I mention that we did notice dozens of rough sleepers begging on the streets during my city centre trips here and just like Glasgow a couple of months ago practically every street corner in both cities had one sitting with a cup or hat on the pavement. Some of them were surprisingly young.. mere teenagers- mostly boys but with an occasional girl. Belinda, her Mum, and myself also observed that they didn't go off to a hostel after nightfall but just curled up in sleeping bags in the middle of thousands of people celebrating Christmas and New Year and went to sleep. I wondered at first why they picked such a busy visible stretch of pavement with thousands of passing tourists to fall asleep beside then it dawned on me that any place quieter without witnesses might leave them open to physical attack or sexual abuse after dark. Competition to keep the best pitches for earning money from passing tourists might also be a factor in them staying put in the one spot. If I had to do that all winter I might just turn to drink and drugs myself, even if previously sober and reliable. I'm being honest here as it's not a life... it's just grim pain- filled existence from one day to the next with zero hope.

When you shop on the outskirts in retail parks, like we do usually for the last 20 years, you don't really see beggars much anymore, or maybe just the odd one or two. Even in my youth as a child we always had beggars in the city centre but they were usually old men with severe drink problems. Between both cities now you are well into the homeless hundreds by the look of it and it seems rather disappointing in 2016/17 to have so many folk living on a knife edge sleeping rough. I know hostel places have been cut in many parts of the UK due to budget restrictions, homelessness is up 30 percent in England... and Scotland seems similar going by what we observed.. and it's not just migrants but local folk as well... probably due in large part to the ongoing government benefit sanctions. Austerity means austerity... but if this is people "just about getting by" I'm very glad I'm not one of them. I'd imagine life expectancy is not that high for a rough sleeper of any age but happily there never seems to be any shortage of new recruits to replace them. It's an important growth industry for our country and not one you can easily ignore when it is so prevalent in many towns and cities UK wide.
Anyway, back to picture postcard land. Red Sky at Night at minus 5 below. A pavement view in sunny Glasgow.
Meanwhile, on Arthur's Seat, I decided I would pass up the chance of a £1000 hotel room for one night and just speak 'Raven Tongue' instead...this is Harry Potter land after all... and it worked. Within five minutes we had 21 young corvids playing with Alan's Dog. I was also inspired to create some sunset silhouettes after posting the excellent creative selfie video seen on here last week.
A T Rex.
Tropical Swamp and T Rex hunting.
A tasty snack. Four good efforts I think and no cardboard used at all.
A tightly packed Edinburgh unfolds below our feet.
Typical back street lanes off the Canongate on the way up Calton Hill through the old graveyard.
St Andrew's House where the Scottish Government officials carry out their business. Supposed to be
Art Deco influenced when it was built in the 1930s but it owes just as much I think to German and Russian architecture from the Hitler- Stalin era. Certainly wouldn't look out of place in Berlin or Moscow.. or a Leni Riefenstahl film.
Calton Hill. It's not as easy getting up onto this structure as it looks and many have tried then failed. Thankfully, Alan was a winner here.
More corvids having fun.
Dancing with dogs. Eventually Alan's mutt realized he would never catch them. He also accepted with a puzzled bewilderment that they were undoubtedly smarter. Even after he gave up and went off in a sulk they still nipped his tail or sat near him provocatively, wanting him to play. As he is a bouncy dog when he is fresh I thanked them for tiring him out as he slept happily all the way back in the car, his wee tail wagging at the memory.

Video this week is mountain bike trick artist Danny MacAskill as his videos are always works of  visual art, great Scottish scenery and feats of extraordinary ability combined. None of it is faked and the broken bones, sprains and bruises occasionally collected performing the jumps are very real.

An additional short video one of the guys in the club found on the internet. Is it real?... or is this just 'fake news'?... or is it genuine facts presented in a non histrionic manner? Does anyone even care what's fact or fiction anymore in the modern era? You decide.
Thank you technology for making our existence far less complicated and educating the masses towards enlightenment. You are truly a gift to the human race :o)


Linda said...

I absolutely enjoyed your beautiful photos! What a magnificent tour! Thank you so much for sharing, and Happy New Year to you! :)

Anabel Marsh said...

We were in Glasgow this afternoon and were struck by the number of sleeping bags in doorways, some occupied some presumably just marking space, on Sauchiehall Street. It's shocking.

Linda W. said...

I always love your tours of the cities in your country. Yes, here in the US we also have a large homeless problem. In downtown Portland, where I live, I see many young people sleeping in doorways. Many of these folks are mentally ill, and our country does nothing for these poor people. Sadly, I don't see it getting any better under our new (ugh!) president....

Rosemary said...

One of my granddaughters was in Edinburgh recently with her parents to visit the university and they were all shocked to see so many people sleeping rough - what a very sad idictment of our world.
Love those photos with the silhouettes - no idea how you made though.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda,
Happy New Year to you as well.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I was in two minds about mentioning that as I always get accused of 'ranting' whenever I get political in any way and didn't want to cast a downer over the post but it does seem that we haven't moved on much since the time of Dickens and George Orwell's Down and out in Paris and London. Because it was Christmas and New Year time they were getting money from passers-by but it's still not right in the 5th biggest economy in the world that teenagers, for whatever reason, should be sleeping outdoors for months in the depths of winter.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda W,
Yep. I think you are right there. Most of Europe is still in shock that result actually happened... including me :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
If anything it seemed even worse than Glasgow... or maybe it was just homeless folk from other areas and east coast towns drawn to Edinburgh city centre knowing they could get better money over the festive period with an extra 75,000 pockets predicted to attend over Hogmanay but it certainly paints the capital city in a very poor light for visitors. I've certainly never seen it as bad before and it's not often I'm shocked as I routinely wander into the worst areas of any city through personal inclination and curiosity. I do blame this right wing government and their relentless cut backs and sanctions as the same thing happens every time they get into power.For the last 50 years or so of my own observation they routinely take money and services away from the poorest in society any chance they get and reward the richest and it happens every time they get in no matter who is in charge of the party so I know who the enemy is by now. I don't have much time for the SNP or Labour either but they are not as heartless as this crowd of penny counting poverty deniers who still maintain that food banks are not necessary in the UK. When was the last time they walked through a British city centre?

I'm not as talented or inventive as the selfie video guy in the last post so everything in the silhouette photos is real captured action- just photographed then darkened in some instances or shot into the sun. I used some as DIY Christmas Cards.

Carol said...

That's why I just can't understand why we're letting so many immigrants in who also want to claim benefits etc. - we've enough of our own who are homeless and jobless without adding to those numbers. We should look after our own first. We have people sleeping rough in our small local market town - they sleep in shop doorways and then help set up the market 4 days a week (hopefully for a bit of cash) - I don't suppose you'd sleep through all the clanging poles anyway!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
It,s very hard to stop people getting into a country over a period of years if they are determined to enter by any means. USA and Mexico springs to mind. Build a big wall = shovels, spades or rope and ladder sales go up.
I've a feeling all Brexit will mean, after years of protracted negotiations to come, with 27 other countries looking out for their own self interests against one lone voice, is that we will end up with a half-baked deal that no-one is really satisfied with. Meanwhile prices will rise and the ones most affected will be, as usual, the less well off without a safety net or a cushion of money to ride it out.

I'm more concerned by the rapid growth of fake news, right wing crackpot politicians on the rise, tapping into peoples tribal fears, and deliberate distortions of truth and the demise of genuine factual reporting with real investigative journalists, thanks to the internet, creating a world where few really know what the real truth looks like anymore and you can pick a bespoke channel that will reinforce every distorted view or conspiracy theory you hold to the point where the real facts are buried so deep very few can see them or be bothered to dig them out.
You may find the short video I've added to this post interesting... or maybe not :o)

If real news reporting dies out, newspapers are no longer purchased by the general public in numbers, or people just stop believing the official media sources they used to in favour of sponsored online nutters with an agenda to push then we are all in a very scary place indeed.

Anonymous said...

Cracking post. Fantastic images of a real city with some real human stories of heart and sadness. We don't get much visible homeless in my town (Hereford) but I'm sure its there, in the shadows. It such a sad a tragic place to be. Living the very privileged life I have, I find it hard to imagine what desperate circumstances must lead to that.

Completely share your fears from your previous comment as well. I couldn't have written that better myself. The political and social climate change from the past 6 months really scares me.

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Andy,
The really scary part for me is the fact that, according to polls,(or other nationalities :o) 40 percent of Americans still believe 'The Donald' is the right person to be handed the power of the nuclear codes. That is genuinely mind boggling.