Friday, March 28, 2014

The trams are coming

I had to be in our capital city yesterday, and had my camera at the ready, just in case I would spot any of the Edinburgh trams being tested, prior to the introduction of the regular service from York Place out to the Airport. I was not disappointed, and got a few shots, despite the rain! This is just along from Haymarket.

It's been a long, unhappy saga for the people of Edinburgh. But hopefully the trams will come to be appreciated. This 'tourist' just loved to see them!

The trams were supplied by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) of Spain who had the successful tender. The twenty-seven trams are numbered from 251 through to 277. These numbers are a continuation from the old tram system in Edinburgh, of which the number 250 was the last running tram. This information, and a lot more besides, from this website.

The driver was practising his stops on Princes Street, although no passengers were being allowed on. I just wanted a wee ride! He did give me a wave though. A driver's eye view of the route can be found here.

The trams have a great bell, if they need to attract attention!

Looking east on Princes Street, with the Scott Monument in the background. Have things changed in Edinburgh in the past hundred years or so?
Recently a friend gave me this old postcard, from the early twentieth century. Right in the middle of the shot is an open top tramcar. "What goes around, comes around." 

The new tram service is set to start running for real by May, if not sooner. The specific launch date has yet to be confirmed, according to the official website here.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Here Come the Daffs

I just love the way that spring quietly creeps along. Earlier this month, as the snowdrops went over, these crocuses brought a smile.

I remember clearly when I moved to Skip in the winter of 2002-03 that a lot of work lay ahead in the garden! I didn't know there were lots of bulbs waiting to come up. That was a wonderful surprise. In the first few years in the garden it was an encouragement every March to get on with the 'ten year plan'. I now look forward every year to the coming of the daffodils as they bring back happy memories of my first years in Annandale.

Actually, the first splash of yellow this year was not in the garden itself. The clump above are escapees into an ajoining field!  

In the garden itself, these were the first to flower this year.

These 'Tete-a-tete' are looking good in a container. Always reliable.

I planted a few bulbs in my new shrubbery too, and elsewhere in the garden. Narcissus 'Jetfire' from Taylors, bought as a pack of 30 bulbs for £5.99, with 'XL Value' on the packaging. And I think they have lived up to that. And hopefully these will bulk up and do well in the years to come.

I planted some other types too for next month. More pics to follow, hopefully.

With the usual optimism, seeds are going in and plugs are growing on. What sort of summer lies ahead, I wonder?

Photos © Skip Cottage

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Wamphray Glen: Part 1

A favourite walk which is almost on my doorstep is that up Wamphray Glen. It begins here, where the road over to Boreland heads east from Wamphray.

This was an early spring day, in March, with the sun shining. This is the Wamphray Water at the bottom of the glen.

There's nothing difficult about this walk. I did wonder, after all the rain, whether it would be a bit muddy. The original Wamphray Glen footpath was opened in 1988 by the Earl of Mansfield, the first Crown Estate Commissioner.

Sometimes the path is beside the river ...

... and if you follow the obvious route ...

... you find that at other times the path is high above the glen.

The signs may seem to be a bit superfluous.

Just follow the way they point, in this case, following the edge of the field!

Across the glen, that's the old manse.

Looking north, that's Dundoran Plantation, site of a fort, details here.

Wamphray Place. This is the site of Wamphray Motte, where there would have been a wooden tower. The site dates from around 1100 AD. The flat area would have been surrounded by a palisade where cattle could be kept safe and there may have been timber or wattle-and-daub buildings for stabling and storage. The site may have gone out of use by the mid eighteenth century.

That's Leithenhall Farm in the background.

A different view of the site of Wamphray Place. Archaeological details are here.

Just follow the obvious path!

The noise is impressive!

The Leithenhall Burn joins the Wamphray Water.

There's not a lot of traffic hereabouts!

The walk takes you past the old Wamphray Mill, now a private residence.

At Wamphray Kirk you need to make a decision. You can retrace your steps, or take a right turn and follow the road up Kirk Brae and then walk down the Boreland road past Wamphraygate Farm to where you left your car.

Or you can continue left, following the signs for the Wamphray Glen extended walk. That will be in Part 2, hopefully soon.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Into the garden

Last week didn't start too promisingly, with the Annan over its banks again.

However, by Thursday and Friday, with a welcome change in the weather, it was great to be able to get into the garden again, and see the first signs of growth. Yellow is definitely my favourite colour. No daffs yet, but these crocuses are looking good.

The snowdrops have given a good show this year, and are now just going over.

I was surprised to find this little Pulmonaria seedling in flower next to the pond. The main clump is aways behind.

I had a go with some miniature iris in containers over winter. And these provided the first hints of colour in the garden last month.

It will be interesting to see how the various shrubs that were planted last autumn in this space come away this year.

The spring clear up has begun. The compost heap is being emptied, and the contents spread around. Note to self - don't dump all the ash from the incinerator onto the compost heap this year!

And the seed compost has been purchased, and the first seeds are now in their trays. Fingers crossed that spring comes quickly this year, unlike last.

Photos © Skip Cottage