Edinburgh Living


On the 19th May approximately 4,000 people turned up at Holyrood for Pedal on Parliament, calling for Scotland to become a cycle friendly nation. The question is how do we get there? There are two models which are generally given as examples of how to go about it, the Dutch and the Danish. It is interesting to note that, as a result of the Pedal on Parliament protests, the Scottish Transport Minster, Keith Brown MSP, is going to Amsterdam on a fact finding trip. This is to be commended, let’s hope he learns something useful.

He could also take a fact finding trip to Copenhagen to find out more about the Danish model. However, as this would be at the tax payers expense and Copenhagen is rather more expensive that Amsterdam, a cheaper solution would be for him to attend the Bicycle Culture by Design talk in Edinburgh on the 15th June as part of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling.

I have been told that the Danish model is an easier fit for the current conditions in the UK. While I make no claim to be an expert on the difference between the these two models, the Dutch model is not just infrastructure, but is a whole approach which the Dutch call Duurzaam veilig or Sustainable Safety. Whereas the Danish model is more based around the infrastructure, if I have got this wrong no doubt I will be told on the 15th June by Copenhagen’s bicycle ambassador himself. There is much that we can learn, back in the 1970’s Copenhagen was just as car-clogged as anywhere else, but now 36% of the population arriving at work or education do so on bicycles, from all over the Metro area. 50% of Copenhageners use bicycles each day. They all use over 1000 km of bicycle lanes in Greater Copenhagen for their journeys, one side effect of this is to improve the quality of life for those living there. Even Britain’s best known petrol head, Jeremy Clarkson, described Copenhagen as paradise.

Apparently Copenhagenizing is possible anywhere, so why not here?

Copenhagenizing is possible anywhere

The thing we want to avoid is the London scenario, where the only thing they copied from Copenhagen was the colour of the paint.

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To think that just six days ago I wrote a post called Hints of Spring which I illustrated with pictures of crocuses that had appeared along Melville Drive and now look what has happened …

Where did spring go?

But then I did warn that when March comes in with the lamb, it goes out with the lion, remember Ne’er cast a cloot til Mey’s oot …

Where did spring go?

… and the hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is a long way off flowering round here.

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Here in Edinburgh there are hints that spring is in the air, the crocuses have appeared along Melville Drive, there are birds beginning to sing tentatively in the pre-dawn (by the time the sun rises the rush hour has started and the noise drowns out the birdsong, so the birds have given up the competition and started singing early). However, don’t be fooled by those clear blue skies and bright sunshine, it is cold outside, and in spite of the wall to wall sunshine the maximum day time temperatures are not yet getting into double figures.

The important thing now is to get out and enjoy it, there are dark mutterings among the locals that this might be more sun than we will see in summer (just like last year), and remember that when March comes in with the lamb, it goes out with the lion…

Crocuses

Crocuses

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The first event in the Edinburgh sporting calender used to be the New Year’s Day Triathlon, which started with a swim in the Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh (locally known as the Commie), followed by a cycle and a run around Arthur’s Seat. Then the Commie closed in 2009 for refurbishment, and the annual Ne’erday Tri stopped. Back then I was new to the joys of DSLR photography and took the opportunity to grab a few photos:

Edinburgh Triathlon 2009 (1)

Edinburgh Triathlon 2009 (2)

Edinburgh Triathlon 2009 (4)

The Commie re-opened on 21 March 2012 following a £37.18 million refurbishment, and the Ne’erday Tri is back! This was the cue for Ulli and I to go out and take some more photos…

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

Edinburgh Tri 2013

It was interesting to see the range of people taking part, and the bikes they were riding, TT bikes to MTBs with knobbly tyres and everything in between. There are more pictures here. It was great fun to watch!

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We are twelve days off the solstice and the days are short. So when we came to look for a place to go on a Sunday afternoon we didn’t want to venture too far afield. We wanted somewhere with a view and a chance to use our Historic Scotland membership, this was how we came to visit Craigmillar Castle. For those unfamiliar with Craigmillar its name comes from the Gaelic Crag Maol Ard, meaning “High Bare Rock”, it is a league to the south east of Edinburgh Old Town (i.e. about 3 miles), for us this means it is just a 15 minute cycle ride away.

Craigmillar is said to be an “up and coming area”, that is to say that they have set about demolishing much of the post-war housing schemes (which have a reputation as being a setting for the film Trainspotting) and are replacing them with something newer. Sitting above this is the “High Bare Rock”, the bit where Simon Preston (son of Sir Simon de Preston, Sheriff of Midlothian) or possibly his son, Sir George Preston (no one is entirely sure) built a tower house in the late 14th Century. Over the following centuries this has been expanded (then ruined) to become the Craigmillar Castle we know today. Rather than witter on about, it I think I will just show you some of the photos we took.

The castle in the changing winter light:

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

And then there were the views:

Berwick Law and Bass Rock in the gloaming
Berwick Law and Bass Rock in the gloaming

Edinburgh skylinethe Edinburgh skyline

Edinburgh skylineincluding Salisbury Craigs

Edinburgh skylineThere is snow on the Ochills hills beyond the Forth

Edinburgh skylineEdinburgh Castle

Edinburgh skylineNot too sure about the way the Quartermile was allowed to impinge on the Edinburgh skyline

Pentland sunset
Then finally the sunset behind the Pentland Hills.

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