We were at the allotment earlier, and weeded another corner of the plot. Here’s the before and after:
And here’s the sun going down over the castle (well to the left of the castle):
The last couple of Sundays I’ve been down at the allotment. Last week there were a few of us, and we cleared some of the old fencing and some of the assorted crap that was left (old carpet, bottles, broken glass, etc). No digging was done though – the ground was frozen solid! This picture gives an idea of the plot – this will eventually be divided into 10:
Today the ground wasn’t frozen, but it was only me this time (HD is still recovering from a very nasty cold, and the others have come at other times). I had thought I would shift the bricks that surround the old raised bed (see above photo, to the left in the middle), but they turned out to be big concrete blocks and too much for one person, so instead I did some weeding. Once I’d got rid of the remains of this year’s dead weeds (with their seeds just waiting to waft everywhere) I could see the new growth, so got rid of a bit of that. This stuff is in our garden so I have learnt this year just how rampant it is! So even if this isn’t our eventual plot, I don’t mind getting rid of/weakening the weeds, as they certainly won’t restrict themselves to just a small plot! Here’s the before, during and after shots:
And one more for luck – as if a view of the Wallace Monument wasn’t enough, turn round in the other direction and there’s a view of Stirling Castle as well!
I am now all achey, and it’s the usual soul-destroying thing of spending time working really hard for it to not look that different! Oh well – I’m sure once we all get going on it it will be done soon enough and we’ll be glad for these little bursts of effort over the winter!
Yesterday I had big plans to do lots of work-related writing, but then the weather was so fantastic I thought we’d better make the most of it (we probably won’t get many more weekends like this for a while!), so we headed out east to Queensferry and caught the Maid of the Forth ferry to Inchcolm Island, one of the islands in the Firth of Forth. Some folk from Ship of Fools had had a meet up there a few months ago, but as I was marking essays that weekend we didn’t go that time, but the photos convinced me I really did want to see it at some point. The island is home to Scotland’s best-preserved medieval abbey (it is 12th century, Augustinian) and also some gun batteries from the two world wars as the Forth islands were all used as defences, as there was so much nearby that were potential enemy targets (Edinburgh, the Forth Bridge, and Rosyth shipyard for starters). It takes about half an hour on the boat, they then drop you off for about an hour and a half then come and pick you up again. It is plenty of time to explore the abbey and the eastern side of the island, and I felt even with around 200 people on the island that it was really peaceful there. I’m definitely keen to go back sometime!
I took loads of photos, a selection of the best are in this flickr set.
We’ve been back a couple of weeks, but I realise I haven’t really blogged about what we got up to at the end of July.
I was already in Sheffield with work, and HD had a stag do there conveniently, so we started off in Sheffield, and then went on to see friends in York. This was meant to only be for 1 night and then leaving in the morning, but unfortunately Mercutio the Megane needed a bit of repair work, so we ended up in York for a bit longer than originally planned. We did reach our intended destination by the evening though, we spent 3 nights in lovely Whitby.
The following day was HD’s birthday, and we spent the day on the North York Moors Steam Railway. The tile shows the route we took, from Whitby to Pickering – it was through such beautiful scenery, it was lovely:
Once we got to Pickering we had lunch and then spent an hour or so looking round the very interesting Beck Isle Museum of Rural Life before heading back to Whitby later:
The next day we explored St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey. It is all very atmospheric, and no surprise to anyone that Bram Stoker set part of ‘Dracula’ in Whitby.
I wonder if Dracula had to walk up the 199 steps though, that might have worn him out a bit and caused him to do a bit less damage! Afterwards we went on a boat trip just out of the harbour on a replica of one of Captain Cook’s boats – it was a bit choppy!
After we left Whitby we headed to my parents’ place, but on the way we came across Kirkham Priory. As we are Kirkhams this was very exciting – I don’t think we could stake much of a claim on it though, so I guess we’ll leave it in the capable hands of English Heritage!
At mum and dad’s we celebrated my dad’s birthday, a month and a half early but they are going away for a few days on the day so we went for a meal while we had the opportunity. We don’t see them that often, but it was really lovely and relaxing and they were on form. Dad has bought himself a concertina that he is trying to teach himself, so that will keep him (relatively) quiet and out of mischief for a bit!
The final weekend was a different adventure, we ended up on an archaeological dig at Flag Fen, a Bronze Age site near Peterborough. The dig was arranged through crowd-sourcing, so all the participants (novices like us right through to old hands) paid to participate, and got lots of tuition about archaeology and got to do our little bit for the project. There was also a cracking pub quiz, which our team didn’t win but should have 🙂 My photos are in a flickr set. I really enjoyed it, but am not sure my knees will ever quite be the same again!
It was all a really busy but great week. I think though I might want to do something a bit more relaxing next year – we’ll see 🙂
At the end of the week I was in Yorkshire for a couple of days doing more interviews for work. They went really well and I am really chuffed with them (as well as really grateful to everyone who agrees to give up their time to tell me about their lives). On Thursday I had a few hours between interviews so as I was relatively near the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr I thought I would pop in. I spent the equivalent of my lunch hour wandering round taking photos and enjoying the fact that it wasn’t raining (unlike the quite scary journey down the day before), then spent a couple of hours on a bench in the shade doing some work-related admin and reading – it was lovely, so much nicer than doing it at my desk! I took a lot of pictures I was pleased with, and have put up the lot (good, bad and indifferent – well not the bad, I deleted a couple of them!) in this flickr set. I think I am pleased with the close-up shots and less pleased with the wider angle, landscape ones, on the whole – so that’s something I can work on. The last photo was of a flower bed right next to the bench I was sitting on to work. It was so nice to look up and see this!
This last week I was back in Sheffield for work, starting the interviews for the research project I’m working on. I stayed with lovely people from the Ship (including holly who used to blog here) and their two furry owners. As well as the interviews (which on the whole I thought went really well) I also managed to meet up with another shippie, Jengie, which was great, visit some of the gardens and galleries around the city centre, and make contact with an old school friend who now lives and works in Sheffield and, bizarrely, is the lead research governance person for my project! I may be going back there in a few weeks, so hopefully we will be able to meet up then, timetables permitting.
I ate a couple of times at a hippyish vegan cafe in the centre, which featured these clocks which really made me laugh:
As mentioned, holly and JonoT are owned by a couple of furry brothers, Charlie and George. I was freaked out before I even met them as every photo I have ever seen of them has them with laser eyes, both staring in the same direction and convincing me I was going to have to don a tinfoil helmet every time I went indoors. They actually weren’t that bad most of the time, although on my final evening I did have an audience while I was eating my tea which was a bit disconcerting:
The final interview was on Thursday evening, I had toyed with the idea of returning home straight after it but hadn’t because I had worked out I would get home at some stupid small hour of Friday morning so it wasn’t very practical. Which turned out to be a good decision given the rain/floods further north on Thursday afternoon/evening which meant that train travel anywhere up north was chaos, I was following several people’s torturous journeys home on facebook and very glad that I wasn’t having to go through that. On Friday morning when I did leave it was still bonkers, but at least it was daytime, and although I had to change a few times and it did take hours and hours and I wasn’t well which didn’t help, the train staff were all cheerful despite all the bonkersness that they must have been dealing with, and I am really happy to get home at last, though I struggled to stay awake till 8pm after a very long day.
Today the most exciting thing has been to buy some new pants (it must be an age thing, but I really like that satisfying feeling of knowing I’m going to be wearing nice new pants :D), and watch a gaggle of birds fighting on our bird feeder. And trying to ignore the length of the grass, which will bury the bird feeder from underneath if it’s not cut soon.
Apologies for radio silence – the last few days I have had the joy of a brief return to lovely Romania, where I was speaking at a conference in Bucharest. This is the first time I’ve been back since my PhD fieldwork 5 years ago, so I was really happy to be there (even though Bucharest is far from my favourite place in Romania). I was pleased that my language seemed to hold up and I could understand and be understood, and I think it is the first time that I have ever been to Bucharest where I haven’t felt on edge or like I need to be looking over my shoulder (it’s not helped by the fact that I usually stayed somewhere else in the country, and whenever I mentioned I’d be going there absolutely everyone would go “ooh, you really don’t want to go there” and be full of tales of ne’er-do-wells, muggers and thieves). This time I was relaxed, and wandered round more than I ever had before.
The conference went well I thought, and it was great to revisit my PhD material, particularly now that I’m not working on anything related to central/eastern Europe in my new job. I was a bit nervous about speaking, I had run through my paper in the hotel the night before and it went way over the allotted time, so I had to chop out quite a bit of it and I was worried it wouldn’t make sense, but people seemed to like it and asked interesting questions. I also chaired and acted as discussant for another panel the following day, I’d never been a discussant before (it involves summing up and generally making intelligent comments about the presented papers, and asking questions, pointing out areas for development etc) so was a bit nervous about that, but it seemed to go OK too.
The day before the conference I had a free day so as well as picking up some Romanian books from the university bookshop that I’d really struggle to get hold of over here, I did what I’ve been meaning to do but never had the time before, and went on the tour of the Palace of Parliament (known more colloquially as the House of the People – Casa Poporului) which is the massive building that Ceausescu had built in the 1980s, razing thousands of homes and churches in the process, and which is probably the most famous building in Romania, most likely to appear on pictures from Bucharest. I’m really glad I did it, though it was also pretty sobering, remembering all those who had suffered for its construction, and the megalomania that was behind it. The tour took the best part of 2 hours, at the end our guide told us we’d only seen about 5% of the building and had probably walked about 3km.
Here are various photos, firstly the Arcul de Triumf and Herastrau Park, near where I was staying:
Then various photos from inside and outside Casa Poporului (including me on the balcony – apparently Ceausescu intended it to be the place where he and visiting dignitories could wave to the people; this ambition was thwarted by the revolution and the only person who has actually waved to the people from it was Michael Jackson). The first chandelier is apparently the largest chandelier in Europe, and requires 4 people to change a lightbulb – I must admit I couldn’t help but think of *that* Only Fools and Horses scene:
Finally the logo of the Academy where we had the conference. We were given a tour of the building and talk about its history, where it has to be said women were noticeably lacking. In fact amongst all the portraits and photos of distinguished members, this was the only woman we found!
We went down to the wood again today, the bluebells were well and truly out! Here are some snaps:
While we were there a small low-flying plane flew overhead, I had my camera so pointed it up and was sure I’d caught it between the trees. Obviously I didn’t time it quite right – see if you can see it!
…. with new life! A couple of pics from the garden this afternoon:
The clematis now has hundreds and hundreds of these buds, which are rounding out and hopefully won’t be too much longer before they flower:
This picture doesn’t look very exciting, but I was so excited when I saw it – there are shoots! When Rain came to the UK on her travels we met up in Edinburgh and she kindly gave me a few packets of seeds. I am pretty sure that these are some of those (although as I didn’t have anything to label them I will have to wait and see to be sure!) – I think these might be the columbines. Hooray!
The weather was lovely today so I spent a bit of time in the garden. It didn’t feel at the time like I was doing very much (weeding, pruning, planting seeds mainly, plus mixing up the compost a bit) but 3 hours later I appear to have pretty much lost the use of my legs! I can only move accompanied by loud groans and creaks!
The white crocus has finally deigned to flower (it waited till the yellow one was fully over before even thinking about flowering). The narcissi as well are finally starting to open up, some time after their cousins on the roadside banks.
Some of the other bulbs I planted out are starting to emerge now, and the clematis too is a riot of buds like this (they are leaf buds, I have so far only counted 3 flower buds, but hopefully there will be more on the way).
My Stirling garden flickr set is starting to get colourful!