Ice balls

It was a cold day after a cold night. I still needed to get out and get some light at lunchtime, even though the wind nipped at my hands and the tips of my ears. And it was worth it – look what I found!

I first noticed, walking by the Water of Leith near Stockbridge, that the edges of the water sparkled with little bright circles. Looking closer, I realised that they were balls of ice, hovering above the water level.

How did they come to be there? The water must have frozen overnight, along the edge of the burn, then thawed in the morning. As the sheets of ice broke up, the weight of the balls lightened until the leaves could spring back a little, pulling the last spheres up out of the water.

Or the fairies left them behind when they were playing marbles.

Ice balls.


Taken 31 January 2006

Frosty Day

Today was astonishingly cold. It was one of those days where I step outside the door in the morning, then duck back in to get my gloves on properly before venturing out for real. The sky was clear as crystal, and I watched a flock of fourteen blackbirds fly above me as I walked to the bus. The breath from my open-mouthed smile clouded in front of my eyes.

Things didn’t thaw as the morning progressed, either. I took a brief walk at lunchtime (after spending most of the hour indoors, with companions who object to frostbite and nicknames like Nine-Fingers and No-Ears), and the world was still frozen. Wow.

This is not an aerial shot of the antarctic desert from a high-flying airplaine, but part of the pattern of ice on a windscreen. The driver will have had an interesting time this evening.


Taken 30 January 2006

Frost-rimmed leaves, a pattern shot.


Taken 30 January 2006

This evening the fog descended like cotton wool. It was as dramatic as the ice, but a lot less photogenic.

The good part of a bad day

I was on a course on Tuesday and Wednesday, on leadership and the bank’s culture. And things did not go well – one of my colleagues did not demonstrate the skills or values around which the workshop was built. (Actually, he did not demonstrate the basic manners that we expect from adults, nor the courage and grace to apologise when he sobered up. But I digress.)

While I was outside in the hotel’s extremely sparse grounds, cooling off, I took a few pictures. Most came out badly, but these two are the best of the lot.

These trees with the dangling seed heads are pretty common, but it takes a lot of luck to catch one not waving in the wind.


Taken 25 January 2006

The spiral growth of seed heads on an ornamental shrub. This photo has been cropped.

Taken 25 January 2006

Actually, the best part of the day was the way that my other colleagues supported me in that difficult situation. I found one jerk, yes, but eight or ten trustworthy people. They even joked about taking him out into the car park, with sundry West Side Story references, but I didn’t want to damage the plants. 😉

January Walk Shots

It’s been a while since I’ve posted photos, mostly because I’ve been too ill to take many. The flu this year has been dreadful, and it made its mark as it swept through our household. Alex was ill week before last, Martin got it last week (and still coughing now), I fell ill last Thursday and didn’t really resurface until Sunday, and now Fiona is just coming out of a bad bout.

I have taken a few pictures over the past week or so, as I have walked my way back to health. But the muse hasn’t really been there. Here are the ones that made the cut.

The first crocus leaves, peeping up from the soil at the foot of my road. I think they are in for some difficult times.


Taken 12 January 2006

Gate hardware, Drum Street. One of the few manmade items I’ve been drawn to photograph, mostly because it looks so human!.


Taken 12 January 2006

Wrinkled rose hep, on a back path through Gilmerton.


Taken 12 January 2006

Grass underwater in the Water of Leith. (This photograph has been cropped and its colour altered to reduce the reflections off of the water.)


Taken 18 January 2006

View through the fence, Powderhall.


Taken 18 January 2006

Reddening ivy 1, Powderhall.


Taken 18 January 2006

Reddening ivy 2, Powderhall.


Taken 18 January 2006

Go Get-a Milk

One of Fiona’s favourite Christmas presents this year was a pushchair, from Grandma and Granda Sutherland. Ever since she got it, she’s been putting her new teddy bear or her latest doll (“Baby”, the third of that name in our house) into the seat and bustling it around the living room. “I’m going home,” she’ll inform us, “Bye! Have a good day!” Then she’ll walk it to the entry hall door, open it, and vanish from sight.

Moments later, she’s back, grinning hugely. “Hiya!” Bustle, bustle, then “I go get-a milk! I go to the shop! Bye! See you later!” And out again. She can do this for half an hour at a time, easy.

So yesterday, since we actually did need milk, I decided to walk out to the corner shop with her, Baby and the pushchair. (Martin and Alex were at the cinema, and I needed to tire her out before her nap. I also had to get outside and get some light after Saturday’s catastrophic mood crash.) When she realised we really were going to go out and get milk with the pushchair, she practically floated off of the floor.

We set out, and she was all over the pavement in her delight.


Taken 8 January 2006


Taken 8 January 2006

It took us half an hour to get to the foot of the road (a sixfold increase on my average time when heading for the bus). It was worth every minute in the cold air. We paused to take some more pictures, including a rather nice portrait of Baby.


Taken 8 January 2006


Taken 8 January 2006

By the time we were in sight of the crossroads, Fi was getting tired (it’s a long slope for short legs). So she tried carrying Baby on her shoulders, which didn’t really work. (Baby is falling in this picture).


Taken 8 January 2006

Eventually, as I expected, Baby and the folded pushchair ended up in my rucksack while Fionaberry sat on my shoulders and got dirt on my jacket with her little feet. The trip home, across the field and over the fence, was faster and muddier, but less memorable, than the trip to the shop.

Up the Hill

Although the weekdays this winter have been really good (because of my desk lamp and my lunchtime walks), the weekends have been very difficult. This one has been no exception. Not only has the weather been overcast these last days, but Alex’ recent illness left him unwilling to toerate bright lights. I spent yesterday in a dim house, and by today it was starting to tell on me. I felt unfocussed, off-rhythm, and deeply depressed. I wanted to curl up in a corner and simply cease to exist for a while. (This does not mean I wanted to die. I simply didn’t want to exist.)

Martin, saw me sitting by my light box, leaning my forehead on it like it was my only friend. So, though he was unwell, he sent me out of the house while Fiona napped and Alex played video games. I decided to do something energetic and definitive: I would climb Arthur’s Seat, and take some pictures on the way.

So I did. There wasn’t a lot of light even out of doors, but what there was, I got. (I also took 75 pictures. Luckily for your bandwidth, dear reader, my usual 33-50% good photo ratio did not hold up! I was just short of 20%, partly because of the low light.)

Photos of big stuff

My camera isn’t much on the big shots – I feel that it makes them all look like snapshots. (Or maybe I’m not a landscape photographer…) But I got a few wider-angle pictures that were special enough to post.

On the way up, looking north.


Taken 7 January 2006

The moon rose over the ridge as I left. (Note that this photo has been cropped)


Taken 7 January 2006

Coming down the hill, toward Newington.


Taken 7 January 2006

Rock shots

Stone from the wall by the Commonwealth Pool


Taken 7 January 2006

Fragmented rock at the summit


Taken 7 January 2006

Stone from the wall by the Pollock Halls


Taken 7 January 2006

Plant shots

A single thistle head in the grass


Taken 7 January 2006

Gorse blossoms


Taken 7 January 2006

Dead thistle heads.


Taken 7 January 2006

Gorse against the sky


Taken 7 January 2006

Bramble leaves


Taken 7 January 2006

Moss and dead grass


Taken 7 January 2006

Stone in the hillside


Taken 7 January 2006

Seed heads against the sky


Taken 7 January 2006

First Day Back

Back at work today, moved onto a project that I’m not expecting to be as fun as the one I’ve been on for the last 18 months. (That is a high standard – very little I have ever done professionally has been so enjoyable.) The rest of my gang is still together, launched onto something else, leaving me with the strong impulse to sulk and kick the furniture.

Rather than do that, I took a walk to the Botanics at lunchtime, getting my dose of daylight and my usual smattering of photographs. There were some OK ones, which I don’t intend to post, and some entirely uninteresting ones. But four really stood out.

Fern leaf, belly-up on the grass.


Taken 3 January 2006

Pattern: the dead leaves of a palm, still hanging from the trunk (this photo has been cropped, a thing I usually don’t do.)


Taken 3 January 2006

Lone bamboo shoot


Taken 3 January 2006

Bamboo thicket…another “pattern” shot.


Taken 3 January 2006

I also stopped by the California Bay Laurel again, just to smell the leaves. Then, completely accidently, I found the Botanic’s only tan oak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), which I had planned to search for this month. Just walked straight to it, thinking, “That looks like tan oak.” And so it was.

A Day at the Beach

So the last day before I go back to work, the New Year’s Bank Holiday, we decide to go to the beach for the day.

Actually, we managed about 45 minutes on North Berwick beach itself before the kids got too cold. And with everything shut for the bank holiday, we didn’t even get to take refuge in any warm place but the car. Martin did a bunch of photography with the big cool camera while Alex threw rocks in the water and Fiona walked around exploring the sandy world. (There was also a certain amount of climbing on rocks, running about and shrieking, and generalised beach fun.)

Nonetheless, I did see a couple of things that just needed photographing, and as usual, the camera phone came through!

Rock and seaweed


Taken 2 January 2006

Roseate seaweed


Taken 2 January 2006

Rocks and sea glass. (I am particularly fond of sea glass, for long complicated reasons.)


Taken 2 January 2006

I love the dark trails in the sand under this bit of seaweed.


Taken 2 January 2006

Yeah, yeah, more seaweed. But I like it.


Taken 2 January 2006

I did a bit of colour messing with this shot – but only a tiny bit. I love the textures, but I know I may be alone in that.

Taken 2 January 2006

This is the prize shot. I tried it with the big fancy camera, but actually, this one from the phonecam is the best of the day. In my opinion.


Taken 2 January 2006

(And, by the way, happy new year.)

Abi’s Wishlist

As usual when I try to make these sorts of lists, I find myself overwhelmed by how little I actually need, or even really desperately want.
I’m very lucky.

My clothing sizes are:

  • Tops UK size 12, US size 10
  • Bottoms don’t even try – they never fit
  • Shoes UK size 5 1/2 – 6, US size 8 – 9

Please do consult Martin before getting anything, to avoid duplication!

I am aware that many bookbinding items are excruciatingly expensive or a pain to obtain. If there is something you want to give me, but don’t speak enough binding jargon to obtain, I would be delighted to receive “money toward” any of these items. Martin has prices, if you want to do a price-based query (I’ll never know!)



  • Star Trek, the original series box sets
  • This is Spinal Tap


  • A massage (preferably “Theraputic massage” at the Floatarium
  • Dinner out somewhere nice, with childcare
  • A jewelry box – preferably wood or leather – with multiple small compartments
  • Hair ornaments – hair sticks, clips for extra-thick hair
  • Chickens. Everybody needs more chickens.
  • A bike. (or anything else from that site for the Third World)