Category: Photos

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Lighting in the dark

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we have a full tank of gas, half a packet of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses… HIT IT!”

Last weekend saw me driving through to Edinburgh as the last remnants of daylight faded to black, I had already taken my sunglasses off, and I don’t smoke, but the sentiment was the same; (mini) road trip!

The previous evening found me and several hundred other people, wandering the streets of Strathbungo, a suburb in the southside of Glasgow, enjoying the labours of many a budding window artist as we partook of the annual Strathbungo Winter Wanderland. With local roads closed to traffic, we took to the streets to peer over railings and hedgerows to see what was on offer. Most of the streets are three story tenements so there was a LOT of window real estate on offer.

The idea of decorating your windows is simple enough, yet the possibilities are endless and it was fascinating to see how the residents had tackled their part of the project. Decorate one window, decorate all of your windows or in some cases, get together with your neighbours in the rest of the tenement and decorate them all in a giant montage. One buliding had a giant lobster spread across several windows, another a homage to Jimi Hendrix in one window and in the next, with a small speaker perched on the window ledge, was someone playing classic Hendrix tracks live.

Smoke machines, projectors abound, balloons were deployed to excellent effect in some, and yet for me it was the simpler designs that often won out. Definitely one to watch for next year.

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Strathbungo Winter Wanderland

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It was with these images still fresh in my mind that I drove through to Edinburgh. I was heading for the Zoo and the Chinese Lantern display to see what all the fuss was about; it’s been scattered through my social media feeds for the past month and I was genuinely excited to see it up close.

On arrival one thing was very clear, I had not fully appreciated the scale of what was on offer. It was a bit odd being in the zoo at night and I completely lost my bearings, but we dutifully followed the sign posts and at every turn were greeted with a variety of animals, some animated, all light up bright against the night sky. All the way round to the central Chinese pavilion, where we were entertained by a display of acrobatics by a Chinese troop. Marvellous!

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What a fab way to spend a Sunday evening

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I didn’t plan my weekend to be quite so themed but such are the happy coincidences of life. I’m also not quite sure why such simple things are such an attraction but both venues brought the same level of delight to my heart, and a smile to my face, so I guess there’s something to be said for the humble light bulb and it’s modern cousin the LED.

And I wasn’t alone. As I wandered the streets of Strathbungo and zipped around the Zoo, it was the same basic human reaction that was on display. It’s the same you get at firework displays which illicit the same gentle smiles as the night sky explodes into life.

Is it a primitive preference of light over dark that draws us to such things? Do the lights offer a sense of primitive safety over the danger our long dead ancestors must have felt before they discovered fire? is it the simple contrast of colours against blackness that is pleasing delightful to the eye? Or, perhaps, in these days of doom and gloom, of Brexit and Trump and Syrian Wars, these glowing colours offer us a few small moments of wonder and marvel, enough to temporarily soothe our battered spirits and give us pause before the dawn comes again.

Moments of Beauty

“Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself……”

Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

I can’t recall where I first heard this advice, I know I’ve not read the book, but it’s stuck with me.

Part of me wonders if it’s always been something I’ve done; I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer, idly gazing around me as I take in the world, memories of childhood evenings spent sitting staring out of my bedroom window watching birds hop around the back garden, the dazzling lights of cars on the roundabout behind my parents house. The windows were old, with wonderfully imperfect glass that let me distort and reshape what lay beyond with a simple tilt of my head.

Always look up, I was once told on a visit into the “town” with my grandmother. You’ll never see what’s around you if you don’t remember to look up, she said. Sage advice indeed, but what else would you expect from a grandmother? Regardless, her advice rings in my ears whenever I am in any city, pausing me as I raise my head and lift my eyes to the skyline and a whole different view.

I’m not sure why certain things stay and become part of me but embracing a simple notion like finding moments of beauty everyday have had a subtle effect that, only now, do I realise have been quite powerful. Simply put I feel more aware of what goes on around me, almost like part of my subconscious is constantly scanning my surroundings to try and find that hidden moment.

My definition of a moment of beauty seems to be anything that makes me pause and smile; this morning it was catching a brief exchange between two strangers, one of whom was getting directions, and the moment when they parted with a smile. Instantly I find myself pondering the simple truth that there are many more people in the world who are willing to do good than those who do bad, something that can be easily lost in the ranting, whining, drama filled noise of social media. It made me smile.

Yesterday, it was a rainbow.

Today's moment of beauty

Rainbows may seem like a simple example. They are, without a doubt, a beautiful thing to see, so pretty and colourful, what’s not to like? However even a simple rainbow deserves a pause to fully appreciate it. Not just to admire how it looks but wonder at how it comes to be, nature in all it’s glory.

I don’t see moments of beauty everyday, but they are out there and they never fall to lift my spirits and make me happy.

Edinburgh Zoo

It was a crisp, fresh November day in Edinburgh. I surprised Kirsty with a trip to Edinburgh Zoo.

Mostly to see the pandas who are, in real life, just as adorable and fluffy and cute and ohhmygodcanwetakeonehome as you’d imagine. Smaller than I thought though…

Anyway. I took the camera and, despite the railings, fencing, plexi-glass and other such screens, managed to get some pretty good photos.