Sunday, 15 January 2017
A dazzle ship at Port of Leith docks. Due to the success of U- boats during WW11 and the number of causalities and ships sunk at sea, painting the remainder in bright colours as a form of reverse camouflage in the style of zebras and other animals was seen as a tactic to confuse the enemy, hopefully converting torpedo direct hits to near misses. It was thought that they might confuse the range, speed, distance and outline of allied shipping but according to the info boards there is not much evidence that it actually worked. But they had to do something and boost flagging morale... so it might have worked that way.
What I did fancy was to catch the end of Belinda and Anne's (her Mum) holiday trip in Edinburgh before they came back through to Glasgow. So once again a short time after New Year with the transport running normally again I boarded the Glasgow -Edinburgh bus in the early morning and made my way through there to hook up with them for a day of sightseeing and fun.
"No, that's a shoe or a hand." Her mother scolded after squinting up at the panel. "You are terrible."
She then turned to me. "take a zoom of that so we can send it to my friend. That's funny."
I eventually found the real explanation for the child figures, see link above. That's why I love exploring places as you learn so much about the history of everything and educate yourself in the process. I did know about 'Putti' but only as cherubs in religious paintings and not as depicted here in a long line of workers as the only subject matter. I wouldn't be surprised if this particular style and display is unique in the UK. Again an influence from European/ Italian art. I have seen examples in Glasgow but in a much more conventional setting.
For another muse and equally delightful inspiration. Every artist needs one... or two.
Fantastic graphics best watched full screen. Thanks for the invite girls.
Sunday, 8 January 2017
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.
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.
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.
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)
Monday, 2 January 2017
For a few years now I've been intending to visit Edinburgh at Christmas to see the lights but other things have always got in the way. I now have my over 60s bus pass-National Entitlement Card which allows me (and Alex, who got his last year) to travel anywhere in Scotland for free on buses. What an amazing Christmas present. Yippee! (I hasten to add I won't be travelling around with Alex much on buses as he's totally hill walk orientated and I plan to use mine to visit cities and towns which he has little interest in doing.)
As my friend 'Belinda' and her 'I'm up for anything' mum were going through to Edinburgh to take in the world famous Hogmanay street party and were intending to stay there for a week's holiday afterwards, I got an open invite and jumped at the chance to meet up with my lovely little slippery serpent again. (What? It's all in her name- look it up. I of course am 'bright in fame or valour'. Yippee. Lucky me again. What can I say about that outcome? Well, shit just seems happens when you're a woman :o)
I didn't fancy the New Year celebrations myself as I tend to avoid stuff like that but I did fancy going through a couple of days beforehand just to reacquaint myself with the city centre district and see the lights. Above is the Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens with the Royal Mile district behind.
This is the Cowgate in the old town around the Castle. Auld Reekie (on the sign below the udders) is the old nickname for Edinburgh with its packed narrow streets and tall tenements. Some of these go up ten floors high making them some of the first stone built hi rises in the world for living in.(as opposed to temples, pyramids,shrines etc.)
Great short history of the Cowgate here.
I may have been beguiled and in the company of two fair females but my wallet was, as usual, reluctant to escape its dungeon. I would instead act as an unpaid tour guide around the city. (more of which later.)
The Dome was once home to a prominent Scottish bank HQ but is now an upmarket restaurant, bar and nightclub facility known for its Christmas decorations around the pillars.
Keeping with the visual theme here's a fantastic short video that is really worth a watch. Art, entertainment, and sheer brilliance rolled into one. I can't believe there's only 112 views on You Tube for this. But then again Vincent Van Gogh never sold any of his paintings in his lifetime which says it all really... we often celebrate and worship bland mediocrity far more than any original thinking or craft.