Friday, March 30, 2007

Early Bird - Early Starts?

Archaeopteryx - a truly early bird

What's in a saying? Yesterday I had cause to think about 'The early bird catches the worm', and what it means. ('you'll probably find something here to interest you!') list the meaning of that particular nugget as "Success comes to those who preapre [sic] well and put in effort." Like putting effort into spelling, perhaps? They attribute the birth of this adage to John Ray's Collection of English Proverbs, written in 1670. I wonder how John came up with his saying - presumably he was sitting in his post-Elizabethan kitchen munching on some precursor of the crunchy nut cornflake and watching the blackbirds in his garden. Those that flapped down late from the surrounding trees missed out on their wriggly breakfast compared to the first few individuals. Dropping the bowl into the sink, the next addition to his new book of proverbs hit him "Yes! I have another - the bird that arriveth late to said party, misseth outeth on yonder Oligochaete bounty! Hussah!"

So seem to impy the saying means if you preapre - or prepare - in advance, plan carefully, you'll come up trumps in the end (itself an entry in the phrase database of course, derived from an old card game called triumph, apparently). Anyway, these days, the 'early bird catches the worm' has almost universally become applicable to things happening to those who arrive first, or get up the earliest - a la the blackbirds in John Ray's garden. Sales, special offers, competitions - these all offer incentives for those of us who can summon up the energy to crawl from our beds before sunrise. Of course, if you live in Scotland and get up before noon, you usually get up in the dark anyway. One rather amusing irony in me considering this phrase is that for a while I actually had to catch worms, as I was studying their numbers in various eastern English estuaries. So I can unequivocally answer that the early student doesn't catch the worm, as I was in bed with a hangover and went in the afternoons.

So why was I thinking about this particular phrase yesterday? Probably because I was busy thumping the alarm clock as is bleeped maniacally at 4:15am, rousing me from dreaming about Rovers winning the FA Cup. I had a meeting to attend in London, so needed to catch a 6:30 flight to the other capital, in order to be at Guy's Hospital for 10am. When you have to get up that early, there's a sense of disbelief when the alarm sounds, as you can't quite imagine it's that time already. But my clock is made by Oregon Scientific, so it must have been right (anything with the word 'scientific' in or on it has to be believed, surely?). By the way, looking at their website, surprisingly it pictures their products used by fit and healthy-looking model types studying, working out or otherwise bettering themselves - no pictures of bleary-eyed northerners punting their products across the room for forcing them out of bed in the middle of the night.

So, here I am in London. Only four days after mooching about on the Paris Metro, it's the Tube this time. The flight was fine after my early start - I'm not sure I caught any worms, but I learned some more interesting stuff about cancer. And besides, I've caught tens of thousands of worms in my life, I reckon I shouldn't disturb them any more than is necessary. One thing that amazed me was how busy Edinburgh airport was at 5am - long queues for all the flights connecting with other UK cities, people going to meetings or catching onward flights. A party of Egyptians in front of us in the queue had all kinds of luggage problems - how do you decide what to remove when the check-in desk lady curtly instructs you to take 2kg out of your suitcase? We got our boarding cards and walked past him, furtively rooting about in his luggage for things he didn't need back in Cairo, armed policemen eyeing him suspiciously.

The upshot of my Early Bird activity was by about 2pm I was seriously flagging - but of course as my boss reads this, I was still highly alert and motivated, taking copious notes and thinking of piercing questions to ask. By the time I got to my Grandparents in north London, I was just about done. After one of my Grandad's special pie and sausage combos, that was it. I went to bed and slept for almost twelve hours, as the worms of this part of the city rooted about in the ground, safe in the knowledge that I was coming nowhere near them...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Provins Problème

Sunday afternoon Pétanque

Awkwardly-received gifts can be a real nuisance sometimes. Not just the stereotypical Christmas jumper - but all kinds of other things too. In AD133 Henry I of Champagne (a kingdom with boozy coronations, no doubt), was given the head of a saint, of all things. Saint Quiriacus lived as Judas Cyriacus, when he happened to direct Empress Helena to the possible whereabouts of the 'true cross'. This "have you tried digging over there?" helpfulness got Judas baptised, made Bishop of Jerusalem, and then martyred in a truly horrible way by the persecutions of Julian the Apostate. Somehow his head was acquired by Henry I, probably under the influence of his native brew. "Wow. Guys, that was some session last night, eh? Ow. So, what happened? I didn't get pissed and buy anything stupid again did I? Hey - why is there a receipt for a Saint's head in my wallet?"

Why do I mention this? Well, Henry brought the head back to France and decided to build a cathedral around it. In time, this grew to a small town, which in medieval times was the centre of the region. A series of well-timed protection orders meant the architecture of Provins (as the settlement was called) was safeguarded, and has since become one of the classic walled medieval towns of Northern France. Sunday was our chance to walk these ancient cobbled streets, and maybe poke about in a few saint's head-related touristy gift shops. However, the bloody clocks went forward, and we missed the train. I was already struggling to adjust to the +1hr of CET, changing times on my watch, alarm, Macbook, iPod, etc etc - totally forgetting that they had to advance another hour. So we arrived at Gare d'L'Est with half an hour to spare, bought tickets (€20 apiece), and casually noticed the lack of any Provins-bound trains on the destination boards. Erika asked a ticket information person - the next train for Provins was at 5pm. That would be a quick day trip.

So - we had an emergency Sunday day out in Paris. When I lived in Sydney, if I had such an occurrence, I'd go to Manly. Always the same, always great, always plenty to do. Being in one of the world's greatest cities as we were, it wasn't hard to find something to occupy us for a few hours. The weather was bright and sunny - something of a shock for me - so we wandered along the canal amongst relaxing Parisians out with their dogs, kids, bikes, cans of beer. They were sitting outside cafes in sunglasses looking at everyone who came past, clanging petanque boules around in giant cat litter trays, ruefully flicking through day-old copies of Le Monde and wondering whether to plump for Sarkozy or Royal. They were also gathering in their hundreds outside the Hotel de Ville - we inadvertantly blundered into a mass rollerblading rally to celebrate Frances' 50th year in the EU (I think). They were giving out free tshirts - if you know me, you can imagine the Richard-shaped cloud of smoke that appeared as I belted over to get one.*

We walked for miles, through twisty backstreets and main boulevards, into the Marais where every person in Paris was crammed between the buildings, shopping in one of the few areas where everything was open. Here tourists got in the way of locals, who spilled onto the narrow roads getting in the way of scooters who cut up cars. Women cycled along with dogs in their baskets, people gripped dark, twisted baguettes like looted treasure, at one corner of the Place des Vosges arcade a classical quintet chello'd out a number for the crowd. Everywhere you looked there was a classic Parisian scene. It really is one of the best cities in the world in which to stroll around, there is always something to look at, something to catch the eye. Every time I leave Paris I realise a little more how much I enjoy going there - and every time I leave I promise to myself I'll be returning as soon as I can.

* because it was a tshirt, not because I saw something free...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Green Peril

Items left at van Gogh's grave, Auvers-sur-Oise

In 1890 Paul Gachet was a village doctor in the small town of Auvers-sur-Oise, 16 miles north of Paris. He was also an amateur atist, and a serious hypochondriac. Because of his regard for the arts, he became renowned for treating painters for their many foibles and illnesses, advising amongst others Manet and Renoir. In May of that year, Camille Pissarro wrote to the good doctor about another troubled genius from the impressionist movement, Vincent van Gogh. Before that time Vincent had been staying at an asylum in Saint-Rémy, near Arles. He realised that if he moved north, he could live near his brother Theo, and talk through his issues with Dr. Gachet. So he moved to Auvers-sur-Oise.

As you can see from the photo above, it didn't go too well for him. He had a spectacular two months in the sleepy town, producing approximately seventy oil paintings in seventy days. His first impression of Dr. Gachet was not good - "He is sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much." I'm not sure what Vincent thought of his new surroundings - he certainly cranked out some amazing art in that short period - but to me it looked like a typical French village as we turned up this afternoon on a battered local train on a day-trip whim (courtesy of the Rough Guide to Paris). Coming out of the station, a signpost pointed the way up an alley to the graves of the van Gogh brothers, so we followed it through the church grounds depicted in one of his final works.

Past the church the lane continued on, out of the shelter of the buildings and into an open field. The weather was still grey and cold, and the wind was fairly belting off the countryside as we scurried along to look at the simple headstone of a painter we knew little about. Eventually we found it, next to Theo's (who died of syphilis six months after Vincent shot himself in the stomach, in that very field). Covered in ivy, the small graves had merely the names and dates of the two brothers, Vincent's made slightly more remarkable by the offerings left by present-day admirers. There was nobody else around, it seemed as if the entire place was deserted - but thankfully we found a modern-looking restaurant open and had a fantastic three course meal for €20 apiece - terrine of rabbit, roast lamb and barley, and a selection of local cheeses. C'est superb!

Afterwards the weather was so rubbish something indoors was the only option. We had two choices - the Vincent van Gogh Museum, or the Absinthe Musem. So, apparently absinthe is derived from the mixture of certain herbs, including Anise, Fennel and the one nobody has ever heard of - Grand Wormwood. Initially given to French colonial forces in Algeria to ward off dysentary, it became the Parisian intellectuals' drug of choice (or one of them, at least) as the toxins it was said to contain had psycoactive properties. Entirely unrelatedly, sometimes manufacturers would add Zinc or Copper to make the liquid a more greenish colour. Yes - we walked past the van Gogh museum, and eargerly forked out €4.50 to find out more about a drink that tastes utterly vile. Or in my case, look at the pictures and then Google it when I got back to Paris to find out what it all meant.

The drink was banned in France in 1915 - giving me a good chance to use my legendary 'absinthe makes the heart grow fonder' joke (normally very hard to get into routine conversation - but when in a museum dedicated to the stuff, a crime not to wheel it out), not that it got a laugh. It's still banned today, although 'Wormwood based drinks', are not. It's definately still illegal to manufacture in the US, but not illegal to own it there. It was never banned in the UK, however (hoorah!). Apparently the gift shop of the museum in Auvers-sur-Oise is one of the few legal vendors of the stuff, and there were indeed several bottles behind the proprieter. But we had to make a sharp exit after I was caught taking photos inside, against her instructions, so I never got the chance to buy any. Not that I would, as it's truly disgusting stuff. Vincent van Gogh drank a huge amount of it during the last seventy days of his life - it was rumoured to have a significant effect on his mental health. He called it 'The Green Peril'.

Absinthe Museum website - apparently you have to be of legal drinking age to view this link - so don't tell your parents. Also, that's the woman who had a go at me for taking pictures, not unreasonably I have to say. This was the photo in question. Worth it, I think...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gris à Paris

Ou est la friterie?

So, here I am once again in Paris - I think this is my 6th visit now, possibly 7th. Only an hour from Edinburgh, but a completely different vibe going on (as you'd expect). I say only an hour, but in reality I left my flat yesterday at 11:30am and got to my friend Erika's at 8pm. British Airways, in their wisdom, decided to sell their BA Connect airline - the carrier for the Edinburgh to Paris CDG route, so until the new owners have sorted themselves out there were no flights available (or they had totally sold out). Either way, I had to travel the lengthy alternative via Glasgow, then Prestwick, then Beauvais "This looks like Cumbernauld Airport!" said the man in front of me at the arrivals queue - it is basically a tent in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, by the time I popped up from the Metro at Erika's local station, the neon signs for Tabacs and Pharmacies let me know exactly what country I was in.

The next morning, it was grey, cold and windy - as it always seems to be when I come here. So after a leisurely morning involving several pastries from the local boulangerie, we indulged in the age-old Parisian tradition of aimless wandering around the streets, punctuated with the occasional cup of coffee in a small, smoky cafe. After a while the leaden sky turned to heavy rain, and we quickened our pace a bit, ducking into the odd shop now and again. The highlight for me was undoubtedly coming across a large group (10-15) of Chinese tourists animatedly watching a man trying to parallel park a battered black Renault. The space he was going for was far too small, but being Parisian he nudged and bonked his way in (bumpers are for bumping, after all), each collision causing the crowd to shriek and point. Glaring at them, he eventually parked and rolled down the window, shouting at them in French, which Erika translated as along the lines of "This isn't a show for tourists! Why don't you piss off and go on a guided tour?"

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Birthday Bridge

Today - the 19th of March - sees a very special birthday. If I had only a single card to send, it wouldn't be to Bruce Willis or Ursula Andress (and not just because they have yet to thank me for the Christmas card). It would be to that modern wonder of the world, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was officially opened 75yrs ago today, minutes after it was unofficially opened by a disgruntled sword-wielding army officer. I love the Harbour Bridge, it was a pleasure to see and travel over it when I lived in Sydney. By train on the way to work, I'd stand by the window so I could look out, even though I'd seen the same view the day before. Walking home from Milson's Point, as the sun was setting over the harbour, is one of my abiding memories of my time there. So to celebrate, here are the pick of the photos I took of the 'Coathanger' - the birthday bridge.

Shimmering in the sun, as the Manly ferry glides past

Three Sydney landmarks in one shot

From Circular Quay metro, I can't think of a better view from a station

Towering over the Rocks, wobbly streetlines and all

Blurry fireworks at New Year's Eve 2005

Crowds of people on Australia Day

Minutes after my final walk home over the bridge, at sunset

Harbour Bridge Celebrations [Sydney Morning Herald]
History of the bridge

Thursday, March 15, 2007


The other night on BBC2, the corporation's premier science outlet Horizon began a new series with a programme about dinosaurs. As I've mentioned before in various posts, I had a serious dino phase as a youngster - in fact almost all seven year old boys love them, I think it's in the rules along with liking throwing stones in water, getting dirty, and being generally insufferable. Later on as a biologist I began thinking about fossils in a more complex light than "Wow! Fossils are COOL!" (although admittedly only slightly more complex), I started wondering about what it would be like today had some things not happened the same way. Like if we'd flopped back into the sea, instead of starting to shimmy up trees. Or begun feeding our young by regurgitating food like seabirds. But one of the outcomes I've pondered off and on over the years most of all was the subject of this Horizon documentary - what would it be like if dinosaurs hadn't become extinct, and we lived here in modern times alongside them?

It was done in a half-jokey fashion, much to the annoyance of some of the following day's TV critics (the perennial 'dumbing down' debate). But the lengthy assumptions made in the science meant it needed to be done in a light-hearted manner. It's all just conjecture, namely the examples given had dinosaurs present as we commonly imagine them alongside our evolved selves - e.g. the idea that small dinos might have developed a similar urban role to foxes and raccoons. There was a great clip of a woman shooing a couple of them out of her bins - she should follow my Grandad and weight the lids down with bricks. Of course, reptiles had a head start over us of several million years - so allowing for development at similar rates, maybe we should be rooting about in their bins?

This was also touched on at the end - the idea that adapting to the changing Earth would have prodded dinosaurs into even more of a bipedal, upright method of getting around, in short - would they now be humanoid? Wonderfully, the programme finished with a selection of what looked like Dr Who extras shopping in a supermarket alongside normal-looking humans, albeit strangely unclothed. Wouldn't they have evolved modesty, too? Anyway, forgetting the 'scaly humans' side, if dinosaurs were around today in their Jurassic Park-type forms, what kind of uses would we have for them? What kind of uses would they have for us? (Food, mostly). Could we live side by side with them? Eat Stegosaur omelettes, ride T-Rex's to work? (you'd always get a parking space, at least).

Imagine going for a lovely walk in the country. Well, you probably couldn't. Swimming in the sea is definately out, too. Just look at the terrifying Pliosaur. Although that particular picture looks like a giant crazed penguin, it would still puncture your lilo. So there'd be no days at the beach, no walking the dogs (more on them later), no picnics. Forgetting the cheese knife would be the least of your problems. Every day, people would be garishly rendered by terrible creatures just by stepping into the countryside. It would be like living in Australia, basically. Dino exterminators would make a fortune, as unwelcome giant lizards find their way into garden sheds. It would take a lot of boiling water to get rid of a nest of those things, I can tell you. They would be hunted remorselessly, blunder in front of trains, knock over power lines, eat fields of crops, and savage Tokyo with strangely blue breath.

So yes, on the one hand it would lead to untold misery and destruction, and death on a colossal scale. But it would be fun though. For a start, there's be no dogs or cats. Primitive humans wouldn't have bothered domesticating the wolf, when they could hunt using velociraptors. Pets would be a thousand times better. Forget horse racing - you could go to a sport where the mounts wouldn't just refuse to jump a fence, they'd eat the jockey. Dinosaurs were found on every ancient continent (including Antarctica), so there'd be no need to trek to deepest Africa to see some exciting large wildlife, you could just go to the local park with a frisbee and you'd hit something toothy and bad-tempered (probably not a good idea, actually). I have to say, if I co-existed on Earth with dinosaurs, I'd even start wearing Fred Flinstone-esque caveman gear - and for that reason alone, it would be fantastic.

Horizon Dinosaur Special

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Making ironing fun

Ray and Dean letting the iron do the work

It's been a tough few weeks for the digital TV industry here in the UK. Firstly, the 'ring and win' channel ITV Play was heavily censured for misleading viewers. Basically, they pose a query - in this case 'Name an item commonly found in a woman's handbag', and you phone in to guess the answers, some of which will win cash prizes. The example they gave was 'mobile phone' - and viewers started to add their guesses - at 75p a time - along the lines of keys, makeup, diary etc. Trouble was, the answers turned out to be 'plane tickets, ibuprofen, dog, mittens, driving licence, contact lenses, umbrella, elastic band, false teeth, dog biscuits, directions, balaclava, and Rawlplugs'. Amazingly the first seven of these were guessed correctly, but miffed viewers complained to the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, who ruled that ITV’s solutions “were not reasonable answers to what appeared to be a straightforward question”.

Then last week customers of the newly hyped Virgin Media service had some of their channels blanked from their (paid) subscriptions, because of a long-running feud between Virgin and Sky. Licensing agreements couldn't be reached, so Sky took their ball home with them and removed the content from Virgin's cable package - effectively pulling the plug on thousands of households who had already forked out money for a guaranteed service. However, this was soon brushed aside as a few days later another TV storm broke, when several leading premium rate phone ins were taken off the air as it was revealed some channels ran 'live' competitions that had been pre-recorded, so viewers calling in their answers were competing in competitions that didn't exist. One of the guilty parties was ITV Play, which was hurriedly pulled off the air.

So what's going on with digital telly? Surely this never happened in the days of only four channels. Back then, you actually had to change programmes by physically getting up and walking over to the telly to push the button. Apart from my Uncle Pete, who bought a ten foot length of cane from a garden centre, pushed a cork on the end, and used it to prod the telly from across the room (it was also perfect for prodding my brother). Today, the 'original four' - or three if you remember prior to 1982 when C4 started - have spread into dozens of others - BBC3, BBC4, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, ITV Play (although not at the time of writing), E4, E4+1 (E5?), More 4, More 4+1 (More 5?). Not to mention the new competition, the channels from other providers that languish at the higher end of the Freeview listings (we don't have cable, or anything fancy). Are any of these actually worth watching?

A few days ago I conducted a small experiment. Between 8-9pm I randomly chose a high numbered channel, and sat through an entire hour of primetime television output, to see if really there was anything to grab the attention. I don't know what I was expecting, but if the TV producers out there are regularly chucking out the standard of programme I watched, then I can only salute them, as it was truly brilliant. I chose number 22, which turned out to be the 'Ideal World Channel', of which I had never heard. For a solid hour of open-mouthed amazement, I observed 'Ironing Solutions with Laura Star, hosted by Dean Wilson'. It was sixty minutes (plus commercials - all of which were about Ideal World's products) of two men trying to flog irons.

But no ordinary iron! (which was pretty much their prime selling point) - the LauraStar Steamax G2, with 3.5bar Swiss steam generator, multi-directional soleplate (with optional pressing soleplate), and a whopping 0.8dl boiler. Yours for a penny under £190. The show was hosted by an incredibly cheerful ironing fetishist called Dean Wilson - his bio on the official Ideal World website (yes, I looked it up) says 'Dean has been presenting live TV for 12 years and, with his unique style and cheeky approach to life, he likes to bring a smile to the faces of the viewers.' Indeed. His job was to coax us smiling viewers to parting with the cash by prompting the 'expert' into demonstrations of the iron's stunning performance. That particular expert was a bloke called Ray - and if Dean quite liked ironing, let's just say Ray probably has prefect pleats in his sexual organs.*

"I'm ex-army and I'm ex-navy and I want creases down my shirts," he said at one point, causing me to hestitate in poking fun at him. Do the armed forces have a laundry division? I suppose navy uniforms can get heavily stained.** Ray quickly got to work, steaming a selection of creased garments, some of which were crumpled by the able Dean beforehand - like when an escapologist gets a punter to check that the padlocks are real before slipping them off. In one instance, he held up a blue shirt, saying "When you get off a plane, this is what your clothes look like," before swiftly skimming the iron over a garment that looked like it had been trampled by a herd of elephants. He solemnly explained how the Steamax G2 tackled the 'three D's of ironing' - Dark (it avoids the unwanted shine effect), Delicates (causing Dean to squawk 'You can't iron that!' as he brought out a spangly chiffon sari - which of them it belonged to was never revealed), and Don't Know (as in 'I don't know if I can iron this').

It was a revelation. With this product, no longer do you have to turn things inside out to iron them. The reason being, the steam is cold - which Ray demonstrated by pointing the thing at his face and calmly blasting a jet of vapour at himself, as Dean hurriedly shouted "Do not try this at home, folks!!!". He also became something of the philosopher - "You've got to iron for the rest of your life whether you like it or not," - obviously his dual-service combat laundry experience has given him a reflective outlook. My response to that point would be 'not if the iron stays in the cupboard', but it was Dean who continually nudged us along into thinking our lives couldn't possibly be complete without this product. "I'm really passionate about this - I usually spend an hour a week at my ironing board, it took me fifteen minutes to do these jeans!", he explained, probably trying to curry favour with Ray.

For a solid hour they badgered away with this, steaming creases into pillowcases while admonishing the UK for their lax ironing standards - "Some people don't iron their duvet covers, Ray!" "I know, Dean. I know." The stock flew off the unseen shelves, in fact at one point they added extra stock - strictly against Ideal World regulations! "I don't normally do this, you know," said Dean, almost believably. They shifted the lot (although it was never revealed how many they originally had), even when at one hilarious moment, Dean pointed out to Ray that he had missed a bit and left a lapel wrinkled - "Yes, yes - but I'm doing it quickly, aren't I?" he snapped, tossing the jacket off-screen before they could get a closeup of it. So did I ring up and order one? No, of course not. But then I was busy on the phone anyway. I've got to keep my place in the queue for when ITV Play comes back on the air. I'm going to answer Rawlplugs to every question...

* or rather, Ray allegedly has prefect pleats in his sexual organs.
** Feel free to add your own joke at this point.
Laura Star UK

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Spring in the City

I can never remember when Spring officially begins - but the start of March is usually near enough. The first signs are always the crocuses, they sprout en masse in a multitude of colours. Here they carpet Charlotte Square in the west end of the city centre. Behind is the St. Pauls-esque dome of West Register House (it was designed in 1811 as a copy of the famous London cathedral), now home to the National Archives of Scotland. The horseback statue is Prince Albert, and was unveiled by Queen Victoria herself.

My local neighbourhood doesn't have many crocuses about, but it looks much brighter than ususal in the afternoon sunshine. The distinctive Edinburgh four-storey sandstone tenement buildings march off down the hill, windows gleaming. Here's the same view (from the other direction) 100yrs ago.

Built in 1870, Fettes College is the swankiest public school in a city full of them. Wealthy city merchant Sir William Fettes gave £166,000 (in 1815) for the education of poor children and orphans. Fees are now rumoured to be around the £20,000 mark - it has occasionally been called the 'Eton of the North', partly because of it's image, and partly because students study for English A-Level qualifications instead of Scottish 'Highers'. Tony Blair went to Fettes, and so did James Bond (Ian Fleming wrote that he had been transferred from Eton for an 'amorous incident with a maid'). Ironically, Sean Connery's pre-acting job as a milkman may have taken him here too, as apparently Fettes was near his route.

The best place for fans of the family Iridaceae to head for is undoubtedly the Meadows, where they fling themselves out of the ground left right and centre. I know nothing about Crocuses, so I looked them up on Wikipedia - as I do for most things I need to learn more about. 'The name of the genus is derived from the Latin adjective crocatus, meaning saffron yellow', apparently. Also, it turns out they do not grow from bulbs, but corms - they may look identical, but inside have a solid structure instead of a layered one. So don't let me catch you asking for Crocus bulbs again, eh?

So my crocus knowledge is zero. But I do know about the Meadows, having lived near it for over five years and walked along every inch of it's pathways at some point or another. A large semi-circular park on the southside of the city - after the Crocuses have come and gone thousands of yellow daffodils appear, by which point the cherry trees have started to blossom. Much of this is wasted on the local student populations as they scurry from their lectures to the pubs. And who could blame them?

So, Edinburgh gripped by the joys of Spring. About an hour after I took this photo, it was pouring down...