Sunday, January 20, 2008

Punishing With Spontaneity

At 3 pm on Friday, I learned that the work planned for Friday evening and Saturday daytime had been postponed, and that I would not be starting work until 4 pm on Saturday "Hooray" i thought - "that gives me most of Saturday to iron, watch Doctor Who, get my hair cut, alphabetize (checking the spelling of that, I see it's IZE rather than ISE, which is apt and thus memorable, at least) the contents of the kitchen, and stroke my compulsions in any other way that took my fancy. Helen had other plans, which is why by noon, we were speeding towards the Trossachs to visit Queen Elizabeth Forest Park (above). This was possible thanks to the City Car Club, which enables non-petrolheads such as ourselves to hire cars for a couple of hours, to be picked up and returned at unmanned locations within walking distance of home.

It was all arse-about-face, I thought, sucking in the greenery, air, space, and calm before an eight-hour shift at the command prompt. I stand corrected: I started work in a much improved frame of mind. Hooray for the City Car Club.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pounding Scotland by the Angle

I ran the Great Winter Run (5k, around Holyrood Park, remember) on Saturday in what appeared to be under 25 minutes, thanks to a very focused training regime (running uphill steeply for 25 minutes every other day) and an inspirational medley of Genesis MP3s that reflected the course and its challenges. That's the hard one out of the way - on now to the 10k, half marathon, and marathon that will occupy my legs until Summer. They're longer, but crucially, flatter. The races, that is, not my legs.

The picture above is me the following day, taking it more gently above the Water of Leith near home. Note my massive thighs. If my torso looks equally massive, that's just because I'm wearing four layers of clothing, and not, I stress, because I eat too much.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Nuptials Revisited

Perambulating through the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh this afternoon, we stopped to admire the Redwood Grove, where we were married in 2004. No regrets, I hope Helen is thinking here.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Adieu, mon beau sapin

Unsettling confrontations

On Wednesday, this happened:

"When old people come up to your table in a bar, cafe, or restaurant, and ask "Is anyone sitting here" of the empty seats next to you, so you reply "No", imagining they want to take the seats away, but they sit down right next to you, utterly cramping either your solitude or your intimate conversation, and making you feel so angry with yourself for minding that you don't even bother with a dessert or a coffee, and get out, letting them enjoy what you had naively believed to be your own table before the advent of geriatric collectivism."

Yesterday, I had my disconcerting run-in with authority.

This morning, while walking across the park opposite the house, I was greeted by a man walking a dog, and casually returned his "Morning". He seemed to want to carry on talking, and I had to signal that I was wearing earphones under my snow hat and take them out.

"Have you see the television this morning?" he asked.

This worried me. The last time I was asked this question was at 07:00 MST on Tuesday September 11 2001 in a car part in Colorado Springs. It did not bode well. It was something that must be seen rather then just known. What had befallen whom? Was it related to the snow covering the city?

"No", I confessed.

"The Portuguese", he began. This was bad. This sounded more like a Falklands invasion than a 9/11. What had happened? Fishing dispute turned nasty? Annexation of Spanish or North African territories? He continued "Have said that they think it was Gerry and Kate who killed their daughter".

Gerry? Kate? Much as my heart goes out to the poor McCanns, I do not think of them in first-name terms. Nor does the latest twist in their unending ordeal give me pause to accost strangers before daybreak in public parks. I honestly didn't know how to respond, and mechanically busked that I'd "have a look when I got to work".

I thought the man was a bit strange. Maybe he'd lost a grandchild or even a child when he was younger, and had locked on to the McCann case as link between the news and his own experiences. Did that explain his familiar reference to the parents?

I did not risk taking any photos today. Here is a shot from our New Year break of the woods near Grantown-on-Spey. Note the complete absence of any outgoing individuals with challenging etiquettes or unwieldy social protocols.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Snow and Security

I have decided to post a picture as often as I can, and took my camera to work today. Having cycled, wearing shorts, and carrying nothing less modest, it cruelly started snowing in the morning. I decided that a shot of my bike covered in snow would be the perfect summary of this first day back at work, and ventured into the car park to take oneat lunch time. The snow was a bit camera shy in my shot, so I started taking some others of snowfall against the building. After a minute, a security guard came out and very directly asked whether I had permission to take photographs. Much apologizing, both to him, and the site security director followed, and I contritely agreed to delete the shots of the building, which is, I suppose a fairly high-security site. I would have had to have been a completely rubbish criminal to actually have though I was doing something clandestine, though.

So, today's picture is of my bike at a secret location where you can't see it snowing. Are you happy for goading me into blogging more often, Peter Anghelides?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

A week in the NW of England followed by a couple of nights up in Grantown on Spey made for a very replenishing Christmas and New Year.

The final leg of our journey to the latter was made by steam train: