What sort of Scotland?

Should Scotland be an Independent Country?  If we were asked that question in a school or college exam and we gave only the positive case for creating a new nation we would surely not expect to pass.  Yet we are being asked to vote YES on the basis of only the most optimistic forecasts – on the pound and pensions, on oil, the economy and the constitution, on welfare, education and defence, on speedy entry into the EU.  All will be well according to the Scottish Government. (more…)

Add comment September 2nd, 2014

What on Earthy is this?

Just for the record, I’ve objected to the ugly plans for Canonmills. Midnight is the deadline but my email to the Planning Committee prompted an auto response…the planning department officer is now away until Monday 18th. So I posted it on the City Council Planning Portal and got a response telling me my ‘truncated comment’ has been lodged.  Lodging an objection is not quite as easy as it seems, but it is still worth doing.  Why do I care?  It goes back a long way. (more…)

Add comment August 8th, 2014

Swanwatching at Pond Cottage

Phew! Great relief as mother swan appears round a bend in the stream with four cygnets in tow. We had an anxious half hour after arriving at Pond Cottage when only the dad and two young ones appeared at the bank to be fed. It’s not easy being surrogate swan parents!

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Add comment June 6th, 2014

Our excellent DIY Orient Express adventure

Why did we do it? There are quicker and easier ways to get from Edinburgh to Istanbul. You can fly direct from Edinburgh to Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in just about four and a half hours. But where’s the romance and adventure in that? (more…)

2 comments May 15th, 2014

Borders of the mind: the great distraction of nationalism

Raindrops smear a blurry, bleary view of the Borders. I’m on the train, hurtling through what is still (so far) UK countryside, crossing the invisible line that divides Scotland from England. A red mist gathers as I flick through the Guardian, headlines on every page proclaiming why the independence referendum is (to me) such a dangerous, indulgent distraction from the real issues.

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Add comment May 1st, 2014

That jiggery-pokery thing called life: Poem of the Week 3

At first I find it hard to choose a poem from Judi Benson’s, Hole in the Wall.  She became Writer in Residence at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary just a year after the death of her husband, Ken Smith, and there are lines in this book which I find painful to read. (more…)

Add comment April 14th, 2014

Knock knock: who’s there?

No fear of sleeping in these mornings. By 8.30 there’s a lusty knocking on the bedroom wall, nothing personal you understand, just a purposeful hammering and banging, drilling and pounding. I’m not complaining. They are knocking the old house into new shape and it’s good to hear sounds of life next door again. (more…)

4 comments April 11th, 2014

Poem of the week: 2 (Richard Ings)

Another Monday. Another Poem of the Week and by good chance  a brand new poetry book recently arrived in the post. Look out for Richard Ings.  His first collection, Occasional, is bursting with good things. Some wry, some sad, some playful, some serious, some simply beautiful. (more…)

Add comment March 31st, 2014

Treading softly: Poem of the Week/Number One

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

Just over a month ago I posted a poem on Facebook for Valentines Day.  It wasn’t my poem and I had gone to no great trouble to seek it out, in fact I pinched Wendy Cope’s beautiful If We Were Never Going to Die off the front page of the Guardian. To my surprise within a very short time I had clocked up a lot of Likes. (more…)

2 comments March 24th, 2014

Is Edinburgh finding its feet at last?

The news went more or less unnoticed last November.  I heard it with some surprise but it sounded thoroughly good news to me. Edinburgh was preparing for a bold step towards becoming a modern city centre, a European city with a little more room for people and a little less room for cars. Since the Living Streets conference did not attract mainstream media attention, Lesley Hinds’ announcement to a crowded room did not make it into the press. Given The Herald’s gloomy interpretation of a bright idea, it’s probably just as well. (more…)

Add comment March 10th, 2014

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