Not that you'd think it to wander out onto the deck just now, but the weather in January was generally rather kind to us (or me at least). One grey but mild afternoon I took myself for a wee run round Loch Ken in the car. It's only a few miles from Kirkcudbright (it's where I saw the water skier in my Autumnal Sweepings back in September)
My main aim or the trip was to see the red kites that have been introduced into the area. I didn't have to try very hard in all honesty - they're doing very well and don't take much finding. In the last year I've spotted them outside the introduction area around Castle Douglas and nearly at Kirkcudbright. As reintroduction schemes go, it's been very successful. There's more information here.
For photographic purposes, I'm not armed with high tech equipment, or for that matter great patience, so I like my wildlife to be closer and stationary. Also, small appeals to my supply of bravery so this chap was ideal.
On the way back I spotted all these red kites flying over a wood in the dusk (honest each black splodge in the sky is a kite). They have feeding stations in certain places so I think I must have passed at tea time.
A few days later we were out for a walk in Edinburgh. It's good to see signs of spring. This blossom was pictured in Princes Street Gardens.
And crocuses too.
Edinburgh is amply blessed with much open space - some of it just about big enough to be countryside - within the city. Arthur's Seat is the best known but there is also Blackford Hill, where we went for a wander with a small picnic we had picked up at the supermarket on the way round.
Somebody somewhere has lost this rather excellent glove - I do hope they pass that way again and find it.
The winter so far (perhaps not counting the last couple of days which I believe have been chilly onshore as well as here at sea) has been quite mild but it's had it's windy moments. On Blackford hill a few fairly mighty trees have come a cropper.
And what with other branches everywhere, this is not a sensible place to be when the weather is wild.
This is the Royal Observatory where Edinburgh University does it's astronomical stuff.
They had a slightly different approach to building telescope domes in 1894. A touch classier than the white domes you see for modern telescopes.
I like to go window shopping for art on the internet from time to time. My virtual living room has millions of pounds worth on it's walls, both old and modern. I was admiring Alex Dewars painting here on my last trip and must have surfed up a couple of dozen photos of the High Street in Edinburgh to try and work out exactly where the second one down was. It's a street I can never remember in the right order. It's just a wee bit down from St Giles Cathedral. I thought I'd better grab a picture on the way past as we were going for a cuppa - anyway, red phone boxes make good pictures.
Who's that young chap? I hear you say. I've had a haircut and shaved the beard off in aid of my oldest daughter's trip to Borneo with Operation Raleigh. The hair can stay the way it is but the beards coming back - you can see it on the way already in this picture from the other day on the train. Profile picture changes can wait for the beard's return.
On the culture front this month, we went to see Scottish Ballet doing Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. First time I've every been to the ballet and thoroughly enjoyed it. They've their own channel on Youtube so you can have a look at it yourself here.
If you're planning a trip to the pictures then I can recommend The Artist which we saw on my last night off. It's up for a whole raft of Oscars and Baftas and has 3 Golden Globes tucked away under it's belt already and for good cause. Event the trailer deserves an award.
And finally, another shot of the blossom in Princes Street Gardens