Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Off Air

Off Air for a few weeks now I'm afraid ...

... mentioned last year that we'd been successful with various Olympic Ticket bids, and as confirmed a few weeks ago, we're off to London for our main summer-break :-)

Its actually our first proper family-holiday since last July and everyone is in a state of high excitement :-))

No more blogging for a few weeks; I'll also be leaving (metaphorically speaking!) facebook and twitter alone; e-mails won't be read directly by me; but my mobile will be on in case anyone needs to get me by phone/text urgently.

Also turning off anonymous comments on the blog - sorry - but been suffering quite a bit of advertising-spam recently, which has been filtered but I still get lots of unnecessary e-mails to deal with which I'd rather avoid whilst away. Will turn them back on when I return to Edinburgh.

Here's hoping the British weather picks up :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Well done Wiggins!

Well done Bradley Wiggins!

I was actually in Paris, in 1986, to watch the last day of the Tour de France when Greg LeMond (USA) became the first-ever winner of The Tour from an English-speaking nation ... it was a wonderful, wonderful visit and I'd recommend anyone - whether cycling enthusiast or not - to go to Paris for the last day of The Tour!

And it really is simply fantastic to watch the first-ever Briton winning it today, a full 26-years after that wonderful day in Paris :-))

I'd be willing to bet it won't be anywhere near another 26-years before another British win.

Allotment tidy-up

Bob's funeral yesterday was completely packed with very moving, and heartfelt, tributes to a man clearly held in the highest regard by many.

I couldn't make the event in Bonnyrigg afterwards, as had to dash up to Auchterarder for an annual family-gathering.

Back to Edinburgh late last night and a bit of allotment-therapy this afternoon ... blustery weather, but really mild.

Last visit before some annual-leave (at the end of this week), so quite a serious tidy-up was in order ... here's the plot after several hours of hard work ;-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Weaving The Century: Tapestry from Dovecot Studios 1912-2012

I managed to get along to the Dovecot Studios for a brief visit this afternoon, which has a 'centenary exhibition' running at the moment ... right through until early October.

The Studios are on Infirmary Street, in the old public baths building, just a few minutes walk from the Royal Mile, down South Bridge ...

... and if you go and see just one Edinburgh exhibition during this festival-August, you simply must make sure its this one!

You won't be disappointed - the building itself is stunning; but the tapestries are truly remarkable in their scale and rich diversity.

And - the centre even has a good cafe :-)

Really - don't miss it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

5-years and counting ...

I've just realised, that I let the 5-year anniversary of my daily-cycling routine slip by without note :-(

As close friends and colleagues know, I've been a keen cycle-tourer for decades and have undertaken one or two lengthy trips in my day ;-)

... but, only really took up the absolute commitment of a daily cycle-commute on 2nd July 2007.

I've got about a 2-mile each-way trip to work; 4-miles a day; 20-miles a week; 1,000 miles a year; circa 5,000 miles since 2007. Not bad.

Bit wet today, but - in the main - its a thoroughly enjoyable, healthy and uplifting start and end to my working routine ... long may it last.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bob McLean; a brief reflection

Back in Edinburgh now and no meetings today - what a relief.

Coming back from London on the train last night, I learned of the death of Bob McLean who was a long-standing campaigner for a Scottish Assembly/Parliament. I can't begin to tell you how saddened I am to hear the news.

I got to know Bob pretty well in the early 1990's when I moved back to Scotland (Edinburgh) and he, along with Campbell Christie (and many others), made me so welcome within the devolution-movement of the time.

I met Bob frequently through the auspices of the Executive Committee of the Campaign for a Scottish Parliament (CSP) on which we both sat; and also the Coalition for Scottish Democracy (CSD), which Campbell chaired.

Both men showed me ... a relative new-comer on the scene ... enormous generosity and never hesitated to advise, guide and simply spend some time with me when I asked it of them.

Bob, in particular, suffered my frequent impatience about the pace of progress with the calm demeanour of someone who knew his cause was just and would eventually be fulfilled regardless of occasional setbacks.

I learned a lot in those campaigning-years from 1993 through to the referendum in 1997 and the eventual opening of the Parliament in 1999, and my initial election as a Councillor in that same year.

I mentioned in a post last year, when reflecting somewhat on that period in my life, "that I'm not really one for heroes - but looking back, if I do have any 'political heroes' it’s those people – some of whom I was lucky enough to work with in the 1997 campaign – the ones who kept the flame of constitutional reform alive after the darkest of days. And, eventually they did indeed achieve what they aspired for."

Bob was one of those people.

Back in late 2000, Bob wrote a highly-regarded appreciation of Donald Dewar's life ... it ended with the following few paragraphs:

"The White Paper that Donald was so proud of was endorsed by the referendum on the anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge. As his troops prepared for a later battle, Wallace is reputed to have told them;

I have brought you to the ring. Dance according to your skill.

That is the challenge at the heart of Donald Dewar's legacy."

Well - I actually think its also a fitting epitaph to the many people, like Bob McLean, upon whose shoulders politicians founded the Scottish Parliament.

It beholds them all to remember such.

My thoughts are with Bob, his friends and colleagues - and with heartfelt thanks for his personal inspiration.


Friday, July 13, 2012

ERS Council (& General) Meeting

Talking of London ... off on the sleeper again late tonight for an Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Council & General Meeting in the big smoke on Saturday.

Catching the last (6pm, daytime) train back up on Saturday evening, so should be back in time for some much needed allotment-therapy on Sunday ;-)

Weather permitting, of course!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Olympics bound

With all the negative press about a small sporting event which starts in a couple of weeks, I reckon its as good a time as any to own up that our main Summer Holiday this year is to go to --- yes, you've guessed it: The London Olympics ;-)

We're off down to Kent for a couple of weeks at the end of July, and managed (some time ago, through the much-maligned bidding process?) to get 4 sets of tickets: men's football at Wembley (UK v UAE game!); men's volleyball at Earls Court; women's hockey in the Olympic Park; and the women's football final, back at Wembley.

Really looking forward to it all, and hoping ... probably beyond hope? ... that the women's UK football team makes it to the final: with Ifeoma Dieke and Kim Little in the squad, how can they fail :-))

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Power, the ability to act; and social change

Arnold Graf, one of the Board of Directors of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in America, was in Edinburgh today ...

... I was (very) lucky to be able to spend a couple of hours in his company, along with a few colleagues, when he came to talk to us about power, the ability to act; and social change.

Might sound grand - but his message was searingly simple - get organised; by being disciplined; be proud; let go; have fun; and just listen to each other.

He's coming back to the capital in mid-September, and he's set us a big challenge to fulfil between now and then ... I'm excited by what he's asked us to do; determined to do it; and looking forward to September and seeing Arnie again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Allotment crop and ongoing bad weather

Bit of a crop from the Allotment this evening: some broad beans, strawberries, gooseberries and a bunch of flowers :-)

Sadly, more bad weather forecast in the next 36-hours for Edinburgh ...

... please do read the information linked from here if you need any guidance/assistance.

And - if you need urgent help - then please don't hesitate to call the Council's Emergency Contact Centre on:

Telephone 0131 200 2000.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Local flooding

Back in Edinburgh and the weather has obviously been atrocious in the Capital too ...

... general information can be found here, with regular updates on the Council's facebook page and twitter-feed.

But, if you need urgent help, then please don't hesitate to call the Council's Emergency Contact Centre on 0131 200 2000.

Northumberland weekend

Down in Northumberland for a few days --- one of our annual camping weekend, get-togethers.

Very misty and extremely wet in Bamburgh on Saturday - this is the clearest view of the Castle I could manage ...

... yet, by Sunday, this is the beach (see below) at Low Newton with not a raindrop in sight ;-)

Only in Britain.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Allotment Fox!

Quick visit to the Allotment earlier this evening revealed a new visitor to the site!

This young fox seemed totally unfazed by our presence and was very keen to come and say hello ;-)

Think s/he was pretty hungry, but we didn't have any food to hand over ... maybe at the next visit?

(if you click on the picture, you'll get a closer view)

Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC)

Visited the new (Atria) developments at the EICC yesterday ... very impressive project, all looking to be on schedule for completion in the 1st quarter of next year (2013).

As impressive as the office developments are, the low-level expansion of conference and exhibition space is pretty stunning - even with several months to go to the end of construction.

This snapshot of how the finished product will look gives some idea of the scale of the expansion ... look forward to seeing it in such a finished state very soon.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Bridgend Growing Communities

Escaped the City Chambers this afternoon and spent an hour or so up at 'Bridgend Growing Communities' and was given an informative tour around the site ...

...very impressive project, more details can be found via this link.

Here I am enjoying a welcome coffee-break, just before a bit of lunch (see below) - which was all grown on the premises!

Of course, the provided-lunch had absolutely nothing to do with my decision to visit ;-)

Joking aside, the volunteers who showed me around couldn't have been more pleasant and helpful - they've all clearly benefited enormously from engaging with this project. Great to see.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

1st of July "Allotment update"

Made it to the Allotment this afternoon - weather perfect and all looking good ...

... pictures here of one the potato-beds and the onion-bed; a chard/beetroot-bed and a flower-bed; the pond and some tadpoles ;-)

Just click on any of the pictures for a better view.

Great time had by all - and won't be long now before we can crop more than just radishes and rhubarb!