Peebles and the Borders Monday, Jan 5 2009 

5 January 2009
We rose early, had breakfast, bade our friendly hosts goodbye and stepped outside – into a Winter paradise. The sun was shining down, but everything was covered with a glorious layer of beautiful frost. For the next 2-3 hours we were treated to this spectacular, breathtaking display of nature’s glory as we wound our way through the Scottish Borders.
We did stop for a couple of hours in Peebles, placing a well earned break in the middle of the day. It was there that I took this photo of the Church of Scotland’s Old Parish Church of Peebles.
Peebles Kirk
After doing a bit of shopping and a bit of dreaming and a whole lot of wishing, we clambered back into the motorcar and pointed it southward. We were still driving through the borders and still marveling at every twist and turn in the road. The sheer power of the scenery was breathtaking and neither photography nor the greatest eloquence can describe what Mother Nature accomplished with her canvas on this day.
Eventually we wound our way to a major motorway, drove around Manchester, skirted Birmingham and eventually found our way to Kenilworth. We had dinner in an incredible 500 year old pub called the Famous Virgins and Castle (the locals call it the V’s). Now, we are relaxing in the face of the penultimate night of our journey. Tomorrow will be faced with a mixture of dread, fear, despair and a small amount of happiness. We will end the day in a big, probably faceless, corporate hotel just off airport property where we will repack and prepare for our return home. We are sad, but right now we are still here and delighted to be so. Thanks to everyone for following along with our journeys.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 5 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/400)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

We Visit Edinburgh Saturday, Jan 3 2009 

2 January 2009
The four day Hogmanay event in Edinburgh has ended and we have, sadly, bid farewell to our fabulous hosts at #2 Cambridge Street, and driven for parts North. But, not without one last goodbye stroll down Princes Street. On that walk, we took a slight detour into the "Tourist i" (a concept that the U.S. would do well to copy) for brochures on B&Bs in the areas we wished to visit. While there, we staged this one last photo of Edinburgh. I’ve just taken the time to learn how to use the timer on my camera and took full advantage of this new-found knowledge. Not fabulously composed nor framed, but I had only a small post on which to rest the camera while the timer ticked.
Self Portrait with Wife in Edinburgh
Tonight, I write this from the room of a re-fitted Hotel room in the lovely little village, Bridge of Allan. Downstairs the three bars are hopping, as is the Pub across the street. But, with the exhaustion of the last four days, I think I’ll stay in, write this post, and put my tired, happy arse to bed.
Cheers

~KR (Written on 2 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 2/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Edinburgh Castle at the New Year Friday, Jan 2 2009 

1 January 2009
The year begins with my wife and I on extended holiday. We arrived in London on Christmas Day and wound our way North so as to be in Edinburgh for the 4-day Hogmanay Celebration. Today, the first day of 2009 is the final day of the Hogmanay Celebration and incorporates a new festival into the Hogmanay fold. "Feet First" is the celebration and is an immersive, interactive two-block stretch of Performance Art and frolickry. Since it is brand new, absolutely no one knew what to expect and we were all amused and bemused by the entire thing.
We started our day by walking Castle Terrace around the castle and up to the High Street followed by a slow amble down High Street onto the Royal Mile and all the way to Holyrood Palace. Across from Holyrood Palace stands the new Scottish Parliament building which caused no small amount of controversy upon it’s erecting. An offhand, somewhat derisory, comment to our host at the B&B we’ve been staying at was met with patient explantion as to how & why it is what it is. I sit corrected & educated for which I am grateful.
We walked back up the Royal Mile looking for a place to sate our appetite for it was nearing on 1500. Eventually we did find a place that not only was willing to cook, but still had food to cook. So, we ate and drank at the Tass there on the Royal Mile. From there, we did a bit more shopping on our way back to the Castle. Once at the Castle, we strode the Esplanade and took a number of photographs as we waited for "Feet First" to start.
Edinburgh Castle by Night
Just before 1900, we started back down to the enclosed area for "Feet First" where we had a grand time for the next two hours. As I stated at the beginning of this blather, it was a series of interactive performance art and installations. It gradually swung from cool, to surreal to downright strange and then back again. The weather being benign (not rainy and above freezing), the crowd was large, energetic & friendly. But, after four days we’d had enough. We grabbed a Scottish burger and some chips at a trailer and strolled back to the B&B. We had packing to do after all. It was the end of a glorious four-day adventure the likes of which I may never experience again and the memories of which I hope never fade. Thank you for letting me share.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 2 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 1 sec (1)
Aperture: f/5
Focal Length: 18.6 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Hogmanay Fireworks Thursday, Jan 1 2009 

Midnight Fireworks

31 December 2008

Hogmanay!

It’s been a little bit strange to think about how different this year is right now, from the last sixteen New Year’s Eves. For ten years, on the 31st of December, we hosted one of the few Hogmanay parties in the U.S.  Before that, we hosted a New Year’s Eve Party with a theme. One year it was a pajama party.  Another year it was a hat party.  One year was “black and white.”  It was the year that the theme was “plaid” that we took the turn toward the recurring Scottish theme, did the research and began what we grew into a multi-tiered, annual, tradition and helped make “Hogmanay” a little more worldwide!

This year, instead of scurrying around the house, lighting candles, hanging lights, filling ice chests, and making wassail in preparation for forty or so guests, we are in Edinburgh Scotland making our dreams come true. We are here for the “real” Hogmanay—at the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve Celebration.  From the moment we first learned about this event, we’ve wanted to be here, and now, here we are!

Kyle has already written a beautiful post to the KRuMB about our day, and I truly have nothing to add to his heartfelt and artful essay. He is right when he writes that words cannot describe the raw emotions of the day. I only know that we can check another item off our life’s “must do” list. And that the only thing that would have made today any better, is if we could have had all of our friends and loved ones here with us! How we would love to have shared this evening with all of you!

So, I give to you (one of many) a photo of tonight’s fireworks.  It was one of the most amazing fireworks displays I’ve ever seen.  Afterwards, It was a full ten minutes before the smoke cleared enough that we could once again see the castle on the hill above us. 

Happy Hogmanay!  Happy New Year!

Happy Hogmanay! Thursday, Jan 1 2009 

31 December 2008
Happy Hogmanay! & a Happy New Year!
My goodness what a day. I don’t know how to begin to describe the emotions, the feelings, the sights, sounds, smells & noises. Overwhelming in a word, but comfortable in a sense. There was an absolute vibration that permeated every aspect of every physical being throughout the city.

We walked the length of Princes Street nearly to Calton Hill before deciding we were famished. We had done some shopping along the way, picking up last little oddbits we’d promised people but were well and truly peckish by the time we’d settled into a beautiful little pub called the Guildford Arms just off Princes street tucked away in a little corner of Register Street. As it turns out, this was another pub on my list of “must visit” pubs that I’d simply forgotten about. But, the selection of Real Ales here was, to put it plainly, astounding. We stayed here people-watching, pint-drinking & postcard-writing for a number of hours.

By the time we were ready to leave, Princes Street had been closed off, evacuated and re-opened for the Party in the Streets: The largest New Year’s Eve Party in the world (or so it’s billed). With our wrist bands (the street party ticket) on and our Concert tickets in hand we walked into a smallish, but vibrant throng of people. The true crowd (in fact, the largest crowd ever for a Hogmanay event in Scotland) was still on its way.
Ferris Wheel
(This is one of many carnival rides set up for the event. This ferris wheel dominates Princes Street right next to the Walter Scott Memorial Tower. I had a very difficult time settling on which photo to use for the day but finally chose this one.)
We walked the length of Princes Street before deciding on some more food before taking our place in the Garden Enclosure. We ate our Scottish Beef Burger (with mustard and brown sauce) on the way into the Gardens, stopped at the beer trailer for a Red Stripe (the only beer available) and took our place against a centuries old Oak tree where we could see crowd, castle & concert. What an extraordinary event. The castle sent fireworks up once an hour to mark the hourly countdown; the bands on the stage played shortish sets in between firework displays; the crowd grew larger & larger and drunker & drunker as time went by (outside Bourbon Street in New Orleans, I’ve never seen so many stumblers in one place). Groove Armada, the headliners for our stage, began their performance at approximately 2320. They played right until 2357, when they went silent, the stage went dark and a Master of Ceremonies came forward to kick off the countdown. At exactly midnight, the Castle simply erupted in a three minute fireworks barrage the likes of which I have never seen before. Immediately following, the largest Auld Lang Syne choir (all the ticket holders) ever assembled began the singing of the traditional song belting it out in pure raw, beautiful emotions that even as I’m writing this many hours later brings a tear to my eye and bumps to my flesh. As the final refrain ended, a lone piper emerged on stage and piped “Flower of Scotland” – the crowd went rabid crazy and sung louder and more fiercely than ever before. Groove Armada joined the piper on stage in the dying skirl and renewed the concert in a furious flurry of sound and emotion. I cannot do justice to the power of the event with mere words, it simply must be experienced. Now, some hours later, I’m awake and still trembling with exhaustion from the sheer emotional toll of the event. This has truly been one of the most brilliant events of my life.
Slainte Mhath!

Cheers.

~KR (Written on 1 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.3 sec (3/10)
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 14.3 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 4/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Torches Pass the Balmoral Tuesday, Dec 30 2008 

29 December 2008
We left the Oaks Hotel in Alnwick (the castle of which, I am told, had substantial Harry Potter scenes shot here) and headed coastward on the A1. The drive from Alnwick to Edinburgh takes you through some truly superb landscape; it’s no real wonder that early man settled this area. Plenty of arid land for agricultural endeavours and easy access to both winding burns and creeks and the North Sea. It’s very definitely a windswept area and I was glad of the constant “Sidewind” warning signs along the road. We stopped once to fill up with Diesel at .99p per litre (somewhere near $7.00 per gallon if I did my numbers right), once more when we drove near enough the coast that we could see Bamburgh Castle and one last time at the First & Last pub on the Scotland/England border (on the Scottish side). We had promised our B&B hosts a 1500 arrival and after fighting horrible Edinburgh traffic (between visitors arriving for Hogmanay and the roadworks all over the place as Edinburgh puts in a city-wide tram system, how could it not be horrible?) we pulled into a slot in front of #2 Cambridge Street and gave the door a few hard knocks. Our fascinating host, Erlend, greeted us warmly calling us by name and invited us in. The road in front of his absolutely fabulous flat is private so after unloading quickly, I drove the car across the street to the carpark. We enjoyed a quick spot of tea with Erlend and Helene then walked on up to the Royal Mile (Erlend headed to the library, so accompanied us part of the way). The Hogmanay torchlight procession is held two nights before Hogmanay each year. The Council sells torches for charity and invites all torch-bearers to march from the City Chambers on High Street to Calton Hill via the Mound, Princes Street and Waterloo street. Marita Beth and I chose not to march in, but instead to marvel at the magnificent procession. We started on High Street with all the marchers, but we took a different path to Princes street. By the time we got to Princes Street (approximately midway along the processional route) the Vikings that headed the parade had already begun the assent of Calton Hill. Looking back South and West, we could see the Mound and the steady stream of torches still coming down it. It was truly a sight to behold. We stood on Princes Street and goggled at the sheer number of people bearing torches. For a full 20 minutes we watched; the Vikings crested Calton Hill and still there were people marching down the mound. This lasted long enough that Marita Beth and I wended our way back up North Bridge, up High Street to Bank Street where we roosted to watch the remainder. The last torches were just exiting Princes street onto Calton Hill as we settled in. We did miss the end on Calton Hill where they burn a Viking ship in effigy as it was on the far side of the hill; but even from our vantage point a great ways away we could see the massive bonfire and we did have a most excellent view of the fireworks display. Balmoral Hotel & Torchlight Procession (The photo is of the tochlight procession as it passes the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street – this is not where we are staying; we are staying somewhere much better) After the incredible display, we returned to the B&B where Erlend offered to escort us to a free park zone some ways away. Since we had long ago decided we wouldn’t need a car while in Edinburgh, this was eagerly agreed to (the price for parking at the Castle carpark is £18.00 per day) and off we went. It’s a ways away, but in a safe zone near a police HQ. We returned to the B&B in Erlend’s care and visited with them briefly while MB showed off some of the photos from the torchlight procession. Then, it was off to bed. Exhausted, and very, very happy. (I’m sure I’ve left stuff out, if I remember bits, I’ll update) Cheers. ~KR (Written on 30 December 2008 )

Destination: Edinburgh Monday, Sep 1 2008 

31 August 2008
For the past 15 years (or so), Marita Beth and I have hosted an ever-growing Scottish Hogmanay party at our house for New Year’s Eve. Many years ago, we started planning to be in Scotland and attend the Hogmanay in Edinburgh some year. The 15th anniversary seemed likely and appropriate, so we chose this year. There were concerns with the weakening US economy and the skyrocketing gas prices and the spectre of potential layoffs at my company. However, it seems that with the gas prices dropping, and my job security seemingly ok, we are moving forward with those plans. So, come late December, I will be in my favourite big city in the world, Edinburgh
Edinburgh
If you’re in Edinburgh for the ring-in of the New Year, come join us.
Hogmanay, here we come.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 1 September 2008 )

Listening to:
Old Red Eyes Is Back by Beautiful South
Carry On Up the Charts

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.1 sec (1/10)
Aperture: f/5.5
Focal Length: 23.2 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

038? Saturday, Sep 29 2007 

28 September 2007
TGIF. Can it be said too many times? It was quite the week, but the week was over…finally. Knowing, this I slept in a little later than I had been and took a leisurely path to work. On the way, I stopped to take photos of yet another natural gas well. But, I decided on this one of the lock “protecting” the gate instead:
038?
Not that the images of the area aren’t worth the posting, I just liked this one best. I believe I’m becoming a fan of the close-up, the bokeh and extreme depth of field photo. Not that I can’t see the beauty in or even utilize other styles, I just think this is where my personal photographic journey is taking me.
Cheers.

~KR (28 September 2007)

Watching Scotland v Italy (Rugby)
on Setanta Sports (Delayed)
Current Score 18-13
Time: 56:54
(It’s still too close to call, and has been a cracking match. If you’re not watching the Rugby World Cup…shame on you)

 **UPDATE**
Scotland are through to the Quarter Finals with a win over Italy

Camera: Canon PowerShot S1 IS
Exposure: 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire, auto mode

Abstract Weave Saturday, Sep 29 2007 

26 September 2007
As you’ve likely sussed out, I’m behind again. The rapid posting behaviour only occurs when I’m days behind, if not weeks. In this case, I’ve done two posts, with 3 more to go before being up-to-snuff. One of the most frustrating things that occurs when I’m this far behind is that I will receive a new “assignment” between taking the photo and actually posting about it. This photo
Weave
would be great for the current assignment “Man-Made Abstract”, but since I’ve not technically received that assignment yet, I will simply use this as “Yet Another Day in Which I didn’t Take an Early Photo” image. I hope you don’t mind.
Cheers.

~KR (26 September 2007)

Watching Scotland v Italy (Rugby)
on Setanta Sports (Delayed)
Current Score 6-7
Time: 15:40

Camera: Canon PowerShot S1 IS
Exposure: 0.8 sec (4/5)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

The Moth Saturday, Sep 29 2007 

25 September 2007
The Moth cometh.
The day came early, too early for me. Although I’m not averse to getting up early, I’m not used to getting up early and really getting a move on. Today, I had no choice. It was the first day of a three day train-the-trainer session, and I was one of three main trainers-to-be-trained. True that my boss, and our ever present contractor were there but still I felt a certain onus, a responsibility. So, I arrived bright and early to greet our two representatives from the training entity (our new vendor). I also greeted this fine fellow:
moth.
You can’t quite glean his size from the photo, and that fault lies with the photographer (me)! He actually was a quite spectacular fellow. I’ve no idea his species, genus or phylum (is that correct?), but he was magnificent. Sadly, I believe he was also quite dead, or dying, as he didn’t move at all when I touched him. Later in the day he was gone. I don’t know what happened to him (her?). Did he fly off and live out his life, or did some unwitting boot or high-heeled toe take what little remained? Whatever, he was brilliant and beautiful.

UPDATE:
It’s a Banded Sphinx Moth
http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/efascfas.htm

Cheers.

~KR (25 September 2007)

Watching Scotland v Italy (Rugby)
on Setanta Sports (Delayed)
Current Score 3-0
Time: 2:08

Camera: Canon PowerShot S1 IS
Exposure: 0.04 sec (1/25)
Aperture: f/3.2
Focal Length: 38.6 mm
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire