About Me

I was born in Luton, known for hat making, Vauxhall cars, London Luton Airport and a great football team who once beat Arsenal at Wembley in a Cup Final, currently languishing in non-league football for the 4th season. I moved to Edinburgh in 1990 and now live in Leith, Edinburgh's 'waterfront'.

Married for 24 years to Louise (who is on day release from Fife), I have 4 children: Holly (aged 27) who's studying medicine at Dundee University, William (aged 26) at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, Alice (aged 23) and Maddie (aged 16).

We live in a 226 year old Georgian house which we are slowly renovating. We once had a note from an artist posted through the letterbox asking if our semi-derelict house was available to rent as studio space. Things have improved lately; the stonework has been repaired and we have shiny new railings. Just the inside to do now then.

Current CNPS score: 999


Header Image: Richard Bloomfield

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    2000 Miles

    Last Thursday saw the passing of the 2000 mile mark since I started cycling to work in April. It would have been good to have been out on a nice ride but the event passed quietly somewhere along the North Edinburgh Cycle Path on the way to the office.

    Instead, I clocked up a few extra miles on Saturday morning, having dragged Maddie and Alice reluctantly out of the house on the promise of breakfast at McDonald’s. We headed off along my usual work route, Maddie on the tag-along and Alice on her own bike, stopping at McDonald’s in Corstorphine. From there we headed out to South Gyle and up to Cammo Estate near Barnton where we locked up the bikes and went for a walk around.

    The grounds of Cammo House were laid out in the early 1700’s and there are some lovely trees (including Edinburgh’s oldest Ash Tree). Everywhere you go there are interesting features like the former horse stables, walled gardens and a water tower/folly. The girls had a lovely afternoon in the sunshine; Maddie now knows where conkers and acorns come from.

    Creative Commons License photo credit: kyzCammo Tower

    Back on the bikes, we headed over to The Cramond Brig then down the River Almond into Cramond village for a drinks stop at The Cramond Inn where, incidentally, a pint is still under £2! We then followed the promenade to Granton, onto the Trinity Path and back to Leith along The Water of Leith walkway.

    A nice ride, almost exactly 20 miles, nearly all of which was off road. If you want to try it yourself, you can see the detail here.

    Cordon’s off

    So, the ill-conceived Edinburgh congestion charge is not to be. The City of Edinburgh council has egg on its face. Eight million pounds worth of egg, to be precise. Our egg, wasted. Makes the hundreds of thousands spent on the rubbish dump fiasco seem insignificant.

    I voted NO. I’ve read a lot of opinion about the result today and the YES camp seem to have one take on this: the selfish car drivers voted against this because we don’t care. Well, that’s not why I voted against it. This scheme was more about another revenue raising plan for the Council than about traffic problems. Do you seriously believe that the additional taxation would be spent solely on public transport improvements? Like the money from parking fines. This referendum failed because the Council were greedy, they went a cordon too far.

    It has been suggested that the alternative will now be a ban on traffic in certain parts of the City. Great! Fantastic idea! Close the roads and you reduce the traffic. That didn’t take eight million pounds to work out, did it? I’m all for this move. What I’m not for is being singled out for additional taxation.

    Several commenters have pointed out that last week, during the school half-term, the traffic problem in Edinburgh during the morning rush-hour practically disappeared. As a parent who has to drive my children to school, it is quite apparent to me that one of the most significant things the Council could do would be to provide decent school buses. In this day and age it simply is not an option to send a seven year old to school on their own on a normal bus. However, a safe, children only bus, would be perfectly acceptable to most parents. And I could get to sleep in.

    By appointment

    I know it’s a bit late now, but I must mention the official opening of the brand spanking new and very, very expensive Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood which took place a few Saturdays ago.

    Alice had been badgering me all week to take her to see the queen and I have to admit that I wasn’t over enthusiastic to say the least. The few times that I’ve seen the queen in my life have been on major occassions like Charlie & Di’s wedding and it’s no fun, is it? I can remember standing crushed against a barrier for hours, only to see the entire royal family flash past in a matter of seconds. I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience with a six year old on a freezing Scottish Saturday afternoon.

    However, come two o’clock when she asked again for the twentieth time, guilt got the better of me and I gave in. We got dropped off at Abbeyhill and made our way down towards Holyrood, pushing through the, er, almost totally absent crowd. I knew we hadn’t got the wrong day because we’d seen the queen on TV just minutes before we left the house, so where were the hoardes of royal watchers? We strolled right up to the main entrance and positioned ourselves on a concrete block about 6 feet from the barrier. I was convinced we must have missed her, the Royal Palace being a mere 100 metres from where we stood. She was probably back in her sitting room laughing at us from the window.

    But no. A sudden burst of activity as police lined the barrier and the crowd doubled in size, swollen by the mass of plain clothes security people: you could easily spot the little plastic curly wire running from the collar to the ear. And there she was, right in front of us about 8 feet away, dressed in shocking pink and royal waving as she strolled slowly past. Needless to say, Alice was ecstatic. I took a couple of quick snaps with the camera phone, no mean feat with a six year old perched on your shoulders while teetering on the edge of a three-foot drop into an icy pond. Unfortunately, the camera phone being a crappy little device, you’ll need to play spot the queenie. At least you can’t see how much makeup she had on. Absolutely plastered in the stuff.