Edinburgh: the Book Festival, part 1

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This year I am diving head-first into the Edinburgh International Book Festival, just one of the many festivals going on in the city this month. Conveniently self-contained on Charlotte Square in New Town, the Book Festival grounds consist of several theaters, a big book shop, a couple of bars and cafes, and lots of lovely outdoor seating (some of it covered, perfect on a drizzly day). Continue reading

The Falkirk Wheel and the canal in the sky

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The Falkirk Wheel is one of those things we’ve been meaning to check out for a while. Some curious houseguests were a good nudge to finally go explore. Continue reading

Notes from another summer in Edinburgh

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One of my recent paintings. Available here.

We haven’t seen darkness in months. Not real darkness, anyway – here the sun goes down and hovers just below the horizon before coming back up in a few hours. It adds to the general feeling of strangeness and anticipation that summer in Edinburgh brings.  Continue reading

Orkney Islands: Stromness and more hiking

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For the second half of our stay in Orkney, we were based in Stromness, on the western end of Mainland. Smaller than Kirkwall, and oozing a bit more old-timy charm, Stromness proved a good base for exploring the western part of the island Continue reading

Orkney Islands: hiking Hoy

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On our second morning in the Orkneys, we woke up to snow. It was lovely to look at, but made us wonder about our plan to catch the ferry to Hoy for the day. From what we had read, Hoy was supposed to be very beautiful, but there wouldn’t be much to do there if the weather wasn’t cooperating. While we were at breakfast, the sun came out. Continue reading

Edinburgh: the giant, stinky, misshapen-penis flower

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Big, smelly excitement in Edinburgh this weekend, as a titan arum (also known as amorphophallus titanum, or giant misshapen phallus) blooms for the first time at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Continue reading

Orkney Islands: diving into prehistory

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Sheep exploring the outside of Maes Howe burial mound.

The Orkneys contain a fair number of prehistoric sites to entertain the tourist. Most of these sites boast superlatives such as “the oldest known X”, “the most complete Y”, or “the only Z still in existence”, so it’s hard not to think that one really ought the visit them (even if one is not a fan of pottery shards or overly ruinous ruins). Continue reading

Orkney Islands: in and around Kirkwall

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Kirkwall Harbour

There are a few different ferries from Scotland to the Orkneys; we took the hour-long one from Gills Bay to South Ronaldsay. From there it was a short drive across the Churchill Barriers to our B&B on Mainland.  Continue reading

Exploring Scotland: Dunrobin Castle

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We had some excellent Scotland adventures in April. I spent a week in Gardenstown at a workshop led by a very talented Scottish artist, and then Scott came to join me and we headed further north. On our way to the ferry to the Orkney Islands, we stopped for a couple hours to check out Dunrobin Castle. Continue reading

Isle of Skye: the Old Man of Storr

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The Isle of Skye is a wonderful place for hiking, if you’re lucky enough to have cooperative weather. We spent an afternoon exploring the Trotternish Peninsula, topped off with a hike up the Storr to visit its old man. Continue reading

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