13 November 2005

Yesterday, devoted the day to clearing out the hall cupboard.  In the course of this, fetched out a mountain of carrier bags, which Ben put to his usual good use.

Ben bags.

Today, went on a writing day organised by writing tutor Helen Boden and the Holyrood Park Writing workshopEducation Centre. We got an excellent tour of part of Arthur’s seat by a Park Ranger, who was able to explain the various volcanic activities and layers of rock in a way I could understand. It was a classic Edinburgh day, cold clear sky and diamond-hard light. We then had several exercises to help us write poems or prose in response to what we’d seen. Thoroughly good fun and I got a couple of bits of poetry out of it. But the main thing I took away was a better appreciation and understanding of a place I’ve always loved but not visited enough.
And it was free!

Most of what I wrote was about the contrast of geological time with our activities now. I’m not ready to post the longer poems till I’ve looked at them a few times, but here’s one haiku I liked:

On a giant’s shoulders
As he sleeps

Our brief parliament.

One thing I noticed was the sense of betrayal about the word ‘loch’ – St Mary’s Loch and Dunsapie Loch. The word ‘loch’ has always spoken to me of the seemingly eternal natural features of Scotland – Loch Lomond, Loch Ness. But these lochs, I learn, were commissioned and build by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, early in the 20th century, presumably for his own amusement and pleasure. Only Duddingston Loch is ‘natural’.  Nowadays I learn, Duddingston Loch is the home to nesting pairs of swans, who go there when they’ve met their mate. The unattached swans all hang out at St Mary’s Loch until they find a mate, making it a kind of singles bar for swans.

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