Saturday, 31 July 2010
I have one last (large) cupboard full of things to sell which don't even have to run the gauntlet of 'did you make this yourself..?' The rest of the boxfulls have stocked charity shops across the land - several times over I suspect. Much of the remainder is vintage or alternative fashion misc but it includes wartime sheet music, bike magazines, velvet bags, fashion jewellery, little boxes, patterns, corsets, heels, (18th re-enactment outfits, candles, glazed picture frames and glass fishing floats. I've tried Gumtree, local ads, fairs, even tried bartering fer goodness sake. What is the best plan of action for someone time and energy and cupboard space poor: an online marketplace, an energetic and successful partner in crime, or a pet shopkeeper/ gallery owner? Tell me! I will give you chocolate cake :-)
Don't even get me started on the items I've drawn/ painted/ embroidered/ sewn/ built...
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
The placement of rowers in a boat - its "rig" - conventionally has the oars arranged alternately to the left and right. In this boat, however, the order is seemingly random. As the crew gingerly takes to the water, the first two men are pulling to the left, the next four to the right and the final two to the left.
The crew is testing a rig suggested by John Barrow, a mathematical physicist at the University of Cambridge. According to Barrow's calculations, this configuration should outperform the standard rig in one very important way:http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727701.200-master-stroke-a-formula-for-recordbreaking-rowing.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news
= Maths applied to rowers for the perfect teamwork. Watch out at the next Regatta (North Berwick, 28th August) I'd have been out to watch tonight's practice but I've been too sick to get out at all. I listened for sounds of splashing and swearing on the air, but nope, the rowers must have been in stealth mode.
In other news, Arthur's Seat had a grass and bush fire this afternoon which resulted in closed roads around the hill and park. I'm assuming its all under control now, I haven't been out to check. The grass and gorse will have time to grow back before being crushed by over 80,000 onlookers as the Festival Cavalcade passes through Holyrood Park on the 8th August. The Cavalcade will start at the Holyrood Park Road entrance at 2pm then travel along Queen's Drive, past Dynamic Earth, the Scottish Parliament and Palace of Holyrood House, before finishing at the Meadowbank Terrace entrance at around 3pm. Contact organisers if you want to request a protected viewing area for your chair.
And finally, it might be 2010 but the Jacobites are still in the news (EEN)
Published Date: 27 July 2010
The "single owner" collection, in "first rate" condition, will be sold at Bonhams' annual Scottish sale on August 17-20. Iain Glennie, Bonhams' head of ceramics and glass in Edinburgh, said: "They date from the years following the first Jacobite rebellion in 1715 and were decorated with secret symbols of support for the Stuart Pretenders to the British throne."
The set includes a rare Jacobite serving bottle from around 1740, which is estimated to fetch up to £4000 and an important wine glass from around 1750, worth up to £1500. A rare dram glass from the early 1760s is estimated to sell for up to £1500.
Monday, 26 July 2010
I was supposed to smile to make me look less ill, but seriously, is it not much more disturbing to see me smile while wired up like that? In my defence I am rattling with drugs, have a temperature you could fry eggs on and I can't actually see the nurses. Not why I was there either - this is just the sleep research lab!
I've had crazy sleep since I was a baby. Wild, completely real nightmares and lucid dreams every time I sleep (even naps), rarely - if ever - achieving the full 90 minute sleep cycle, as well as routinely sleeping only every second night. To top it all, during some dreams I hold my breath. I'm a dream researchers perfect subject matter, and a sleep researcher's nightmare. The sleep lab has to give priority to sleep apnoea patients and unfortunately for me it became massively oversubscribed almost immediately so my gineau pig options have been put on ice, as have my chances of finding that elusive, evasive, unbroken, fully-oxygenated, healing, dream-free sleep. Or at least getting a Phd out of the research...
Flat calm seas, warm, hardly a breeze, intermittent cloud cover to prevent glare and burning (with some looming black clouds for dramatic effect) it was very nearly perfect rowing weather on Saturday.
The beach looked splendid, with clusters of bright monocolour where crews, teams and supporters gathered at tents and markers. Dozens of children were swimming, paddling, digging holes and playing with the most dogs I've ever seen in one place. The skiffs sat along the shore and assorted other craft with varied sails bobbed about at sea. There were some very expensive pieces of camera and film equipment being dangled over the water as photographers paddled out for the best shot... The rescue boat (never needed) out at the marker buoys had the best vantage point of all.
Races started at noon and we soon realised that we could have used info boards all along the beach as the umpires' one was attracting enquiring crowds. High tide was mid-afternoon and came pretty high, so even I, parked half way up the beach with the starting horn, got to have a paddle. In fact, I (reluctantly) moved back three times yet still my wooden platform seemed to be promising that I would enter the next race as a raft. I was ready for it.
The spectators might not all have known of the work that went into this regatta - not least a long winter of organising, boat building then training - or known which race was which or whose team was in the winning skiff but they all looked to be just enjoying the general excitement, background bagpipes, intermittent blasts of the air horn, and frequent cheers. Several Row Porty green t shirted Towerbank primary school children helped out on the prom and beach all day doing everything from dog-minding to book selling to tea and cake carrying. They were great wee ambassadors.
If you have photos of the races you'd like to label here are the colours to check for:
bright blue 'Coigach Lass' all the way from Achiltibuie
cream hull, burgundy strake 'Boatie Rows' from Port Seton, crews wearing burgundy
royal blue hull, Oxford blue strake 'St Baldred' from New Berwick, crews wearing red
bright yellow hull, black strake 'Unity' from Eyemouth
Portobello's Icebreaker - white hull, pale mint green strake, crews wearing green
Tollcross's currach (non-competing) 'Mac Mhara Dhu', crews wearing flat caps
The skiff with the white hull and dark blue strake is the Jordan Boats prototype from Anstruther, crews wearing Breton blue and white stripes. If you can't see stripes then its the Newhaven crew you're looking at, as Anstruther kindly lent them their skiff so they could race too - and they won!
I didn't get any photos of the amazing cake-laden tables in the boat yard because, to be honest, I was just trying not to start eating them all. Tea and cake fuelled the teams all afternoon until the BBQ took over at teatime. Prizes then all-night celebrations followed, so not much sleep before heading back out onto the water on Sunday morning for even more racing.
I'd like to congratulate - and thank - the rest of Row Porty for this weekend's amazing achievements, and to all the visitors for travelling to Porty to take part. It was a wonderful experience. And the spectators too - I met folk on the beach who I haven't seen in ages, not to mention some new faces with very familiar names - its a small world!
The skiff rowers aren't even having a rest after all that work you know, they'll be straight back out on the water tomorrow night training as normal. Please come down to the sands if you'd like to know more or even get involved. I'd also like to thank the team for carrying me across the sand at top speed, which isn't something I thought was possible :-)
featuring a write-up in the blog http://scotland4thesenses.blogspot.com/2010/07/return-of-portobellos-rowing-regatta.html
A great wee clip of one of the races on the North Berwick website: http://www.nbrowingclub.com/
And now, the race results:
|1||Results of Portobello Rowing Regatta - July 24-25, 2010|
|6||12:00||W – open||Achiltibuie||Race 1||North Berwick|
|10||12:15||M – Open||North Berwick||Race 2||Achiltibuie|
|14||12:30||Mx – 40 +||Anstruther||Race 3||Anstruther|
|18||12:45||Mx – 40 +||Achiltibuie||Race 4||Portobello|
|22||13:00||M – Open||Port Seton||Race 5||Port Seton|
|26||13:15||W – open||Port Seton||Race 6||Port Seton|
|30||13:30||M – 40+||North Berwick||Race 7||Newhaven|
|34||13:45||W – 40+||North Berwick||Race 8||Photo finish Port Seton and Achiltibuie|
|38||14:00||Mx – open||Newhaven||Race 9||Portobello|
|42||14:15||Mx – open||Achiltibuie||Race 10||Achiltibuie|
|46||14:30||W – 40 +||Race 11||Anstruther|
|50||13:45||M – 40+||Achiltibuie||Race 12||Port Seton|
|54||15 mins break before the finals|
|57||15:15||Mx Open||Race 9: Portobello||Race 13||Portobello|
|58||Race 10: Achiltibuie|
|60||15:30||Over 60's||Port Seton||Race 14||Newhaven|
|61||Newhaven mixed ages|
|63||15:45||M – Open||Race 2: Achiltibuie||Race 15||Achiltibuie|
|64||Race 5: Port Seton|
|66||16:00||W – open||Race 1: North Berwick||Race 16||Port Seton|
|67||Race 6: Port Seton|
|69||16:15||M – 40 +||Race 12: Port Seton||Race 17||Port Seton|
|70||Race 7: Newhaven|
|72||16:30||W – 40 +||Race 8: Port Seton||Race 18||Photo finish Port Seton|
|73||Race 11: Anstruther|
|75||16:45||Under 18's||Port Seton||Race 19||Port Seton|
|78||17:00||Mixed 40 +||Race 3: Anstruther||Race 20||Anstruther|
|79||Race 4: Portobello|
|83||11:30||Men||North Berwick||Race 21||Port Seton|
|87||12:15||Women||Port Seton||Race 22||Port Seton|
|91||13:00||Mixed||North Berwick/Port Seton||Race 23||Portobello/Port Seton|
Friday, 23 July 2010
I missed the nine foot high five hour blast of Mach at St Giles on Wednesday, his 'Coathanger Christ' on brief display as a taster for next year's exhibition. Mach himself was there to unveil it.
This week has been great for Porty publicity. Boat clubbers (not as in seals) got us into BBC Scotland online with a great close-up of 'Ice Breaker' and news about the Portobello Regatta: http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/edinburghandeastscotland/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8845000/8845560.stm
Your truly was guest blogger in yesterday's online Guardian, talking about tomorrow's (24th July) Portobello Regatta, returning after 40 years thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of the members of Row Porty and similar communities around the coast: http://www.guardian.co.uk/edinburgh/2010/jul/22/edinburgh-portobello-regatta
with a wee mentions of upcoming events such as Big Things on the Beach's third installation for 2010 'Black Swan' on Saturday 31st July at 2pm http://www.bigthingsonthebeach.org.uk/
and of course the Big Beach Busk on Saturday 28th August from noon onwards http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=130342020329865
Also this week a timely article in /. looking at the possibilities for internet access while out at sea: http://ask.slashdot.org/story/00/05/31/0037251/Internet-Access-While-Sailing
Followed up the Portobello media coverage today is news of environmental community PEDAL's plans for a monthly food market in Brighton Park to make the most of Portobello and East Lothian's thriving allotments, community orchards, home brewers, home bakers, organic farmers and local independant businesses. I'd love to have a stall but I'd need a minion to man it :-) The plan is for the first PEDAL Portobello food market to be held on Saturday 4th September to coincide with Organic Fortnight and Scottish Food Fortnight. http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/edinburgh/Community-group-hopes-organic-market.6436577.jp
ION, there are some good activities for kids over the holidays:
There are a few places remaining on the children's kayaking course at Portobello Sailing and Kayaking Club http://sailporty.org.uk/?cat=4
this Saturday (with a great sea view of the Regatta!), call them fast to book either 10:00 - 12:30 for age 8 to age 12, or 13:30 - 16:00 for 12 to 15 year olds. £25 members, £40 non-members.
There are also children's places left on Big Things on the Beach's street art project running from Tuesday 10th to Fri 13th August 10.30am - 1.30pm, free but book now.
The Joppa Tennis Club, Joppa Grove are also hoping to hold a tournament for age 13 to 18s before the end of the summer holidays - contact them for details.
Alas, the Beach Volleyball Camp at the Swim Centre on the prom finished on 16th June, but ask staff if there will be any more before the end of the holidays.
Monday, 19 July 2010
Scotland's literary punks are back on stage this Wednesday at the Ghillie Dhu :-)
and from http://www.writers-bloc.org.uk/
We’re pure-mad excited over here at the Bloc Command Bunker. The next show is in the offing and it’s set to be the mutt’s proverbials. Planet of the Apps will be about all things techy, social media, webby, and with buttons that are just too small. Expect new stories about: next-generation Nigerian 409 scams; burlesque-themed alien abductions; stalkings via social media; park keepers dealing with digital debris; and a steamy extension to the Dewey Decimal System, all performed with our trademark energy and verve.
Planet of the Apps takes place at the Ghillie Dhu, 2-6 Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD, on Wednesday 21st July from 8pm. Admission is an affordable £4 (£2 concessions).
We’re trying something new too! We plan to have a live twitter feed during the show and we want you to get involved. As well as your general Bloc chat, we want you to submit twitter short stories leading up to and even during the show. The best story will receive a prize (more about that soon) and we’ll publish our favourites on the Bloc site.
Even more fun than that, we’re handing creative control to you, our beloved audience. As you may know, the titles for Bloc shows are rigorously researched months in advance, and much care and deliberation goes into the choice of theme and title…… honest.
Anyway, we want you guys to submit your ideas for themes and or titles for the show following our signature Halloween show. We’ll let you vote on the night for the best title/theme and we’ll that the focus of our post-Halloween show. You have been warned.
You can follow us on twitter as Writers_Bloc_UK and use the hashtag #blocshow for all your tweets.
‘App killed App! App killed App!’
and just to show how well-timed our themes are, this was in the BBC news today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10719042
Four days of workshops and events
Hosted by Big Red Door
Lady Lawson Street
Noon on Thursday till 1am Monday
Workshops and projects 12pm-8 pm.
Music, Dancing, Reveling 8pm-1am.
Recycled Costume design and create from 12-3pm. there will be a community junk fashion show on friday night so come down on thursday and get some tips and help with making some exciting outfits that you can then finish and model on friday!
Photography and photo booth project.
Uni-cycle, Walking ball and ladder.
In the evening from 8pm there will be a Live Music night - Bands, Solo performaces, Open mic, Jam with other musicians
Costumed life sketching.- come dress and up and sketch eachother in silly outfits!
Poi, Staff, Devil sticks, Hula hoop workshops
Dance music production and Dj-ing.
Junk costume making and fashion show.
Fire eating workshop
Nightime from 8-1am
Dances with Robots - Come and dance your sox off to a variety of DJ's, exciting visuals and performers. the junk fashion show will kick the night off at 8pm!
Drumming and Junk percussion workshops
Acro balance, juggling, clowning
Music workshops and Jamming
Burlesque workshop and electric can-can.
CabaRave Ceilidh - Scottish themed Cabaret with oomph!! performances, ceilidh dancing and some 90's dance tunes to add to the mix :-)
Stretching, Conditioning, Yoga, Flipping
Teddybears picnic and pyjama land party- come and recover from the night before and get ready for the one ahead!
Cheese Tasting and Listening.
Cardboard Armour and Weapons making extravaganza
Rum and Reggae appreciation- time to get a bit more lively before....
BOX WARS- with Local Live Punk and Ska to dance and bash eachother with cardboard to, Finishing at 1am this will be the last night of revelry!
There will also be a community kitchen- we are also child and dog friendly till 8pm :-)
And far too much more to mention! there will be live art installations, mural painting, face painting, fun and banter and general antics to be had - come See Whats behind the Big Red Door and help us re-open with style! Create, Learn, Teach, Participate, Listen, Watch, Practice, Perform. Enjoy Interactive Immersive Entertainment.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Programme now out for 50 events over 6 days at this year's Fringe By The Sea. Its a great wee festival and worth hopping on the train for. Tuesday 10th to Saturday 15th August
To carry on the theme of what is and isn't Fringe, I don't think this can be Festival Fringe. Its the Edinburgh Festival not the East Lothian Festival, so a Fringe by the Sea could only really be in Crammond, Newhaven, Leith, portobello and Joppa, not North Berwick. I'd dearly like to see the Fringe by the Sea in the near future so psst, folk in those areas get planning.
In the meantime, have a look at North Berwick's festival by the sea, its a grand day oot, in fact 6 grand days oot so take a tent if you can. I'm having trouble deciding which events to buy tickets for because there are some stonking performers appearing: Simon King, Orkestra del Sol, Fred MacAuley, Shappi Khorsandi, Pauline McLynn, Quintin Jardine, Phil and Aly and whole arrays of stand up comedy, animation, film, fishing boats, walkabout poetry, ceilidh, jazz and jive.
meanwhile, on a beach closer to home... its the same story every year and one that can't be tackled in a simplistic Daily Mail manner ie thinking that family picnics are ok, hippies might be tinkers and groups of teenagers are toxic. Its really all about whether the group turns aggressive and spoils the night on the beach for everyone else by ripping up fenceposts, smashing glass and hassling those around them. A group's volume level, hairstyles or age range isn't an indicator - the worst louts I ever saw on Porty beach were a family group, complete with grandparents.
I admit its hellish to feel intimidated trying to wheel quietly through a group of twenty bored tweenagers pushing each other across the prom, showing off their new swear words and trying to testosterone wrestle, but if that's as bad as they get then good for them, and you might be surprised by how human they are. Of course, if they nick yer purse, spit on you then shove you into the sea, then you're out of luck because you're not allowed to punch them or get them arrested due to their tender age. You can, however, beat the crap out of their parents.
Drunk yobs face beach arrest
by Alan McEwan (EEN)
The move follows a May bank holiday weekend which was marred by binge drinking and fighting among a group of about 20 people. Now Portobello beach has become the only area in Edinburgh where the local by-law is being enforced in a bid to reduce the threat of drink-related antisocial behaviour. The action has been welcomed by members of Portobello's Pubwatch scheme, which binds together bars in the area to combat troublemakers.
Inspector Kevin McLean, from Portobello police station, said the ban on antisocial drinking would run from the High Street to the beach, and from Eastfield to Seafield. Insp McLean added: "This is not aimed at people enjoying a family picnic or barbecue. This is targeted at the minority who cause problems. "During that May weekend, we had people fighting and young adults drinking and running about the beach. Officers will be able to use their discretion to stop people who are drinking too much and starting to cause a nuisance."
Officers from Portobello's Safer Neighbourhood Team and city council staff have been working to identify and tackle drink-related antisocial behaviour through Operation Drifter. Chief Inspector Tony Beveridge said: "During a recent bank holiday weekend we estimated that several thousand people had made their way to Portobello beach and it was apparent to our officers that some were drinking very heavily. "We dealt with many complaints of antisocial and threatening behaviour, most of which were drink-related. Whilst we are delighted to welcome people to Edinburgh who wish to enjoy themselves, it is important that they respect the rights of others to do the same. Those who obey the law while enjoying an alcoholic drink will not be targeted."
Jim Hunter, the city council's east neighbourhood manager, said: "We support efforts to ensure a minority of people do not spoil it for others."
Cllr Maureen Child, whose ward includes Portobello, said: "Nobody wants to stop people having a sociable drink on the beach, or interfere with local pubs, but a line needs to be drawn."
YOUR SAY: Should all boozing on the beach be banned?
Alex Lawrie, 36, writer, Colinton: "No, that seems excessive but minors should obviously be under greater scrutiny by police in that situation."
Sean Wood, 25, IT manager, Polwarth: "Not at all. It seems unfair that people who enjoy a drink responsibly should miss out because of some unruly youths."
Friday, 16 July 2010
'Raindrops keep falling on my head'
'Show me the way to go home'
I'm thinking I need some perkier pieces. However, the wee tunes are merely the back-up plan for the main attraction! Wait and see, I'm still making my hat for the act.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
When I reviewed shows in 2008 I refused to go to anything that cost more than a tenner so only saw the big swanky stuff when they did two-for-one special offers, which for me was more like three-for-one. Remember what the Fringe means, what its for: its the FRINGE of the FESTIVAL, designed to be a low-brow alternative to three hour queues for a five hour Wagner for a month's rent ticket price (now I do like Wagner but you know what I mean)
The Fringe is suposed to be irreverent, innovative, risky, surreal, scruffy, insane and AFFORDABLE. If big names want to play here they can do big money in big venues in the Festival or they can do Fringe venues with Fringe prices (or both separately, get funds and credibility in one trip to the Capital). You charge £60 for a seat, you're not Fringe, no matter how alternative, cool and sweary you are - deal with it and relist.
So, this was in the papers this week:
City urged to cut fees for Fringe venues
Now senior staff at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society have renewed their long-running campaign to cut fees. They have asked for three venues that they say make a "valuable artistic contribution" to the festival to get last-minute reductions in licence fees. They have also vowed to continue to campaign for fairer fees for future years. After a survey of venues, the Society has asked for reductions to be considered for the popular Roxy Arts House, long-running Hill Street Theatre and a double-decker bus that will provide children's shows on the Meadows.
The Fringe Society said a "number of conversations" have taken place with council officials about festival licensing and they agreed to suggest the three venues that deserved a discount because they helped "give the Fringe its distinct character". Christabel Anderson, head of participant services at the Festival Fringe Society, said: "We appreciate that it would not be practical for a large number of reductions to be considered and we have narrowed down the list to those organisations we feel would benefit most."
Zoo Venues now operates the Roxy Art House and will run four separate performance spaces from 40-200 seats. It faces having to pay £1273 for a theatre variation licence but Ms Anderson said a reduction should be given because the focus will be on dance, "an under-represented art form".
The Hill Street Theatre, which was the longest-running Fringe venue until it was unused last year, has been taken over by a new company, ReMarkable Arts, which will face an £849 bill for a temporary theatre licence. The theatre venue, which is actually a masonic lodge, has always had a temporary licence for the Fringe. It is not open throughout the year, so it does not have a theatre licence.
Ms Anderson said: "The programme consists of artists of high calibre who are at a breakthrough point in their careers and therefore a reduction for this venue would directly support Fringe artists and encourage forward-thinking business practices."
The Red Bus will be parked in the Meadows during the day and will offer a programme of children's shows. The local firm operating it is to be charged £106 for its temporary licence. Ms Anderson argued it deserved a reduction because it was unusual to have a venue like it, particularly one "catering to younger audiences".
A spokesman for the Fringe said all venue licence fees needed to be reviewed. He said: "We need to look at whether the cost of theatre licences, particularly temporary licences, are competitive with other towns and cities."
Councillors will decide tomorrow whether to give a discount to the three venues. In a report for councillors, Jim Inch, the council's director of corporate services, said any shortfall in anticipated fees would have to be met from this year's licensing budget. He added: "The committee is asked to consider, in light of the budgetary situation, whether or not to agree to a reduction."
Other adventures in the news this week feature disabled but liberated athletes Max Burt and Jonothon Miller, both inspiring and worth our support.
Bid to bring Clipper race to Capital's shores sets sail (EEN)
ONE of Britain's most accomplished yachtsmen is backing a bid to bring the world-famous Clipper Race to the Capital for the first time.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop, around the world, said that hosting the biennial event would put a global spotlight on Edinburgh.
Council figures and city business leaders met this week to begin the process of bringing one of the race's for the 2011-12 event. Inspiring Capital, which is one of just ten identical stripped-down clippers to take part in this year's 35000-mile race, has already received media exposure for the city worth close to £1 million during its first six months of the voyage.
Sir Robin, chairman of Clipper Ventures, which hosts the race, said today: "We are delighted that the city of Edinburgh is keen to field another entry to the Clipper Race and is working with us, its partners and city businesses to make it happen.
"The Clipper Race is a proven global platform for trade and investment.
"It would also be a real first for Scotland, to bring an international round-the-world yachts race and its influential sponsors to the Capital."
Other teams alongside Inspiring Capital have been fellow Brits Hull & Humber, the Spirit of Australia and Jamaica Lightning Bolt.
The current race, which left from the Humber River on September 13, attracted around 150,000 people, a global media audience and brought an estimated £9.3m to the economy of the region.
The council and the city's business community have now pledged their support to the project. Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "I support Clipper in efforts to not only continue Edinburgh's participation but also to explore the possibility of bringing the race here."
VisitScotland's regional director Sinead Feltoe said: "Edinburgh would be an ideal choice for one of the legs.
Disabled bike rider pushes it to the Max
(from the Edinburgh Evening News)
Max Burt, 45, received massive head injuries after a freak collision with a fire engine ten years ago. He was left paralysed on his left side and a permanent wheelchair user. The head injury also left him deaf in one ear, with uncontrollable tremors, and severe sight and speech impairments.
On Monday, August 2, he will end one leg of the journey in Edinburgh, before starting the next leg to Longniddry after a day's rest.
He said: "The route I chose for the leg from Edinburgh to Longniddry is over 25 miles. It's only a tiny fraction of the journey ahead, but it's going to be really gruelling. I hope the people of Scotland will come and cheer me on. My journey, as well as highlighting the positive common experience that disabled people share in overcoming obstacles, will also demonstrate that everything is possible."
By VICTORIA RAIMES
Despite being registered blind, teenage scout leader Jonothon Miller has decided to tackle the extreme obstacles of the annual challenge.
The 19-year-old, who has had extremely limited sight since birth and sometimes uses a stick or a guide dog, is set to complete the gruelling two-day course this weekend to raise money so he can take the Blackford scouts to Switzerland next year - becoming the event's first blind competitor.
In a team of three people, he will endure the 10km run and wacky tests.
Mr Miller, who heads a scout team of 32 children, said he was not worried about the task and saw it as a challenge.
He said: "I've never done anything like this before but I do enjoy sports and I've competed in disabled swimming galas.
"It'll be the biggest thing I've ever done but I'm looking forward to it and confident I'll get through it. My friend and fellow scout leader Janet is going to help me around and if there's anything that is far too hard she'll help me or I'll pass on it.
"She knows how my sight works. Sometimes I get annoyed when I'm not able to do things, but mostly it's the attitudes people hold towards blind people that annoys me. Just because I can't see doesn't mean I can't do things."
Mr Miller, who works with scouts in Liberton, has just taken on the role of leader after joining the scouts when he was seven.
Despite his condition, he has gained all of his badges and teaches other children how to play musical instruments, including the piano and accordion, and how to cook.
He said that he had aspirations to be a music teacher, but that he was frustrated universities and colleges would not accept him because he couldn't read music.
He said: "It seems unfair for me to be penalised when I learn all my music from ear and memory. I want to show that blind people can do almost anything."
This year's tasks and routes are a secret until the event starts, but in the past they have included haggis eating, dooking for apples and space hopper racing.
Up to 600 racers are expected to endure the mix of navigation, endurance, mental agility, running, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and abseiling.
Monday, 12 July 2010
Friday, 9 July 2010
Sadly this was Tom's final week as the first ever Edinburgh Guardian writer, so I wish him luck in his next job and hope he returns as a guest blogger too sometime!
This might be in place by the time Pauline returns to these shores from her round-the-world trip: http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/edinburgh/Forth-hovercraft-moves-closer.6410709.jp and I'll certainly be using it. As always, the comments on the eburghnewsonline articles are as entertaining as the reports themselves, so click the link to see those, otherwise here is the article:
Any service would be likely to operate between Kirkcaldy and Portobello, although the council said that Burntisland, Granton and Leith would also be considered as potential pick-up points.
Scottish transport giant Stagecoach has already piloted a cross-Forth hovercraft service and has confirmed that it remains interested in providing the service.
But the Perth-based firm, headed by entrepreneur Brian Souter, has always insisted that it needs "kick-start" funding from the public purse to make the project a reality. That means that any lack of public funding could scupper the plans for the service.
However, it emerged today that Stagecoach has secured £500,000 of European funding to help take its plans forward.
In the public contract notice, the council states that there is "no preferred vessel type" but said that the capacity should be no less than 75 passengers. It also said that the crossing time should be a maximum of around 20 minutes.
It also says that the crossing should operate every day for 16 hours a day with a 30-minute or better frequency.
But in a warning about the lack of available public funds, council chiefs said: "It is expected that this will be a self-financing operation and no public subsidy will be available for its operation.
"It is expected that arrangements should be in place for integrated public transport on both sides of the Forth and passenger-waiting facilities should also be provided.
"It is anticipated that the capital costs associated with the construction of port/landing infrastructure would be borne by the operator."
The idea is seen as a way of reducing congestion on the Forth Bridge, while also helping reduce the environmental impact of Fife commuters travelling into Edinburgh.
In the summer of 2007, Stagecoach held a successful pilot of its hovercraft service, which was used by around 32,000 passengers. The company estimates that up to 870,000 passengers would use the service every year.
Stagecoach also confirmed last year that it is on the brink of completing a deal with the Bland Group, which owns hovercraft manufacturer Griffon Hoverwork and Hovertravel, that would see both companies pledge £7m of funding.
The companies lodged plans for a landing slip and terminal at Portobello in January.
A spokesman for Stagecoach said: "We are continuing to examine the potential for a permanent service.
"We are aware of the council market-sounding exercise and we will study the outline specification in detail.
"Last month, the European Regional Development Fund approved £500,000 of match funding towards the hovercraft project following a joint application by Stagecoach and SEStran. In the meantime, planning applications for landing facilities on both sides of the Forth are continuing to be considered."
Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the city's transport leader, said: "We are inviting the private sector to come to the table with hard numbers. Only then will we consider committing public resources."
Friday, 2 July 2010
Today's top tip is to visit the Botanics while the exploding cucumbers are ripening to see them in action, or if you're really lucky, be the person who sets one off. Apparently they've shot more than a few guests already so anyone of a nervous disposition should perhaps avoid the arid lands glass house. Cucumber-proof armour not provided.
Today's main celebration is for the Barred! Amendment which was passed yesterday, fingers crossed for action from the very-nearly-accessible venues now. That reminds me, I was looking at the layout of this blog and wondering if there is a way I can have a direct link to my central database of venues rather than have you trawl through all the entries which mention pubs, clubs and events. It would be useful for me too as I could amend and adjust as things change.
And our main commiseration is for the tennis :-) Well done Andy, you'll squish 'em next time.