The birds are chirping and wheeling in pairs and small groups, and a crocus is flowering in our garden. We have been excited to see two blue tits around the nest box. Makes me want to clean the window, but I don’t want to scare them away by doing it.

Last Valentine’s Day Shane was at a hospital appointment and I was contemplating managing living aboard alone while he received treatment in Burton upon Trent. We were somewhat trapped in a small area due to a works on a bridge at one end and a river section on the other, which we feared could be impassable in the February stormy weather that we experienced. This February is less stormy but we are restricted to a much shorter section of canal and won’t be moving Bartimaeus at all.

Quickly the vision of being treated there vanished and he began assessment and treatment in Edinburgh. He feels fit as a fiddle and this Valentine’s day he is off cycling (with another woman!) He has been enjoying a number of energetic bike rides. With the tandem on the boat, we aren’t having cycle trips together, but have had walks together and extended our walk range by taking a bus out to Musselburgh and heading along the coast. This guy greeted us near the start, his eyes are a bit scary, but I like the knitwear texture detail. I just finished a jumper made of wool one of my many sisters gave me that she had picked up in a charity shop. She doesn’t knit, but she knows someone who does… The flecked and bobbly nature of the wool covers any uneven stitches. It would take a sharp eyed person to spot them.

Musselburgh has a tidal river and we stopped to try to make out some ducks. They did a lot of diving and were a bit far away and we took a long time trying to identify them. Scaup?, Goosander? Widgeon? We got a better look at them from the other side and our final decision was that they were goldeneyes, which perhaps I should have guessed having noticed a golden eye early on but the background is more golden than the eye in my distant photos.

Goldeneyes on the river in Musselburgh

On the ledge at the back of this picture are a cluster of grey birds and had no chance of making them out until much later we saw them closer and were able to see the bright orange legs and found they were redshanks. Before we managed to identify them, we were tempted to ask advice from the many twitchers we saw with impressive cameras on tripods. Apparently this is quite the place for lesser spotted varieties. Without such equipment, you will just have to take my word for it that these are redshanks on the rock – they made an impressive sight as they flew off in formation and in full voice. There were lots of oystercatchers and their shanks are every bit as orange.

Redshanks on a rock
Oystercatchers on a rock

Golden Sky over distant Edinburgh with faint outline of Arthur’s Seat

We had a lovely bright day for our walk and finished up at Prestonpans and had a swift half before catching a bus back into Edinburgh. The New Prestoungrange Gothenburg pub (known locally as The Goth) is interesting inside and out with a surprising feature for east Scotland. I can tell from the detail that it isn’t stolen from a native American tribe, and is locally themed.

My other walks have been a little closer to home and included the Dovecote Textile Studios, the Cowgate, the Talbot Rice Gallery, the Saughton Rose Garden and glasshouse and everywhere the flowers are popping up. I am particularly fond of the little irises that seem to have suddenly opened in lots of gardens this week.