The Beast from the East

It was near the beginning of February when some amateur meteorologists noted that Sudden Stratospheric Warming might occur towards the end of the month and the beginning of March, bringing severe wind chill and heavy snow to the UK.

Sure enough, around 27th February it started snowing and by 28th February / 1st March Central Scotland was in the grip of what became known as the ‘Beast from the East’, a reflection of the fact that the cold air responsible for the event had originated in Siberia.

180301_035 McVean Place on the First Day of Spring

The Met Office issued an unprecedented ‘Red Alert’ (they’d issued only Yellow and Amber Alerts until then) advising people not to travel unless absolutely necessary, as there was a risk to life and property in these conditions.

By the morning of 2nd March, it had stopped snowing, apart from a few showers, and life was beginning to return slowly to normal. Public transport was still disrupted, most schools and many businesses were still closed, but people started to clear their paths and roads from the worst of the snow.

180302_035 McVean Place, Longcroft

It had been the worst weather we’d experienced for about eight years, and possibly even worse than the snowstorm of winter 2010.

The cold weather continued into the second week of March, and although the worst of the snow was past, many side roads remained passable only with care for several days, the shops ran low of essentials as deliveries couldn’t get through and there was still a cold, grey feel to the weather. The frozen lochs and ponds would eventually melt and the melting snow on the paths would make them muddy for walkers for some time, but the adventure was over. Let’s hope it’s a while before we see another one!

180305_105 Larbert Old Parish Church from Larbert Loch

180305_065 A pair of coots on Larbert Loch

180305_015 Larbert Woods in snow

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Lights, Camera, Action!

February was a month that took me (among other places) from the House for an Art Lover in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, to the Scottish Snowdrop Festival display at Gargunnock House, near Stirling. Add on several visits to Plean Country Park, between Larbert and Stirling, as leader of a Ramblers’ walk there, and a glorious day with friends walking along the Hermitage of Braid path and up Blackford Hill in Edinburgh (from where the picture below was taken), it wasn’t a lazy month!

180217_055 Arthur's Seat from Blackford Hill

However, among the host of places I visited, there were two real highlights for me: first was the Giant Lanterns of China exhibition at Edinburgh Zoo and the Edinburgh Lumen event on three sites in the city centre. The Chinese Lanterns exhibition featured over 450 giant lanterns, with around 30 ‘set-piece’ displays along an illuminated walkway.

180215_0115 Giant Lanterns of China, Edinburgh Zoo

180215_0265 Giant Lanterns of China, Edinburgh Zoo

The Edinburgh Lumen event features – it runs until 11 March – three son et lumiere displays, one at the Mound, one at the Assembly Rooms and one at St Andrew Square, all of which are designed to provide places of calm, peace and reflection. Each installation was different from the others, but all seemed to ‘work’ in their own way. 

180219_085 Ocean of Light at Edinburgh Lumen, The Mound

180219_225 Serenity Garden at Edinburgh Lumen, St Andrew Square

It was a month where the illuminations definitely took centre stage!

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White, Yellow and Amber

January always seems the longest month. Short days and long, dark nights without December’s distraction of the anticipation and excitement (or the busy-ness) of Christmas, January just seems to go on and on. Yes, other months also have 31 days, but these 31 days just passed seem to have gone on for ages.

180116_015 White fields, grey clouds, Camelon

January 2018 was particularly notable for the snow and ice that brought much of the country to a halt, or at least a slow-down, for several days in the middle of the month. The Met Office ‘yellow’ and ‘amber’ alerts were a feature of the news and weather; drivers were stranded overnight on the A74 on one occasion, while schools closed early and some events were postponed or cancelled.

180116_035 Snow-covered fields, Camelon

It wasn’t that the snow lay particularly deep; it was more the fact that, no sooner had it started to melt, the temperatures dropped and ice formed. The temperatures then rose again slightly, causing more snow to fall on the frozen, icy ground. It may have made for good pictures, but was no fun for those who had to travel in these conditions.

180117_015 A snowy afternoon in Longcroft

So now we wait to see what February will bring. One thing is certain: it will be a shorter month than January!

180116_075 Carron Lade path, Larbert

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Picture, Picture On The Wall

Had a short weekend break in Aberdeen in early January; a chance to relax and recharge the personal batteries.

180114_245 Aberdeen mural

Inspired by the excellent and extensive displays of murals in Glasgow, which I had spent much of 2017 seeking out and visiting, I did an internet search to see if Aberdeen had something similar and discovered to my surprise and delight that there was a whole festival devoted to them. Maybe not as extensive as the Glasgow collection yet, but there are some wonderful works of street-art to be seen in the Granite City.

180113_095 Nuart Aberdeen 2017 murals

180113_145 Nuart Aberdeen 2017 mural

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Back with a bang!

It is fair to say that 2017 wasn’t the best year I have experienced, so it was with great delight that we said “goodbye” to it and “hello” to 2018. The present year started with a bang as some of my family and I enjoyed the fireworks display at Stirling Castle.

180101_020 Stirling Castle New Year Fireworks Display

The general agreement from those around me was that this was the best fireworks display at the Castle for many years. Let’s hope that 2018 lives up to that level of excitement and joy.

180101_090 Stirling Castle Fireworks Display

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