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Close to home in Vollen is perhaps the most famous swan in the area. Last year this females mate was attacked by a dog and had to be put down. Lucky for all who take the walk around this beautiful natural lake she found a new partner, and the result was a clutch of 5 bluish brown eggs – much larger in size than you may expect! The nest site is close to the waters edge built amongst the young shoots of bullrushes. What you can’t see in Aurora’s photos however, is the wire barrier that the council put up to keep both dogs and humans from getting too close. It is also forbidden to walk dogs without a leash throughout the nature trail. It takes you several kilometers past two lakes and through pine forest that leads down to the fjord and winds along the coast.

The male swan is called a Cob – the female – a Pen -and the youngsters Cygnets.


Hard work done and 5 eggs laid over a period of 2 weeks – now it’s incubation time and that’s 6 weeks keeping them at around 38 degrees.



Six weeks to hatching so plenty of sleep time!





First cute little cygnet. This was followed by one more which unfortunately didn’t survive. No one knows how it disappeared, but in the morning there was no trace, and she was still incubating the last three eggs and keeping this cute grey ball of fluff warm beneath her wing. She coats it with an oil from her body to help waterproof it’s down.


Not looking good for the last three!  After nearly two days since the first hatchling there are no signs of cracking in the eggs. The cygnets use a sharp hook on their bill to scratch their way out. They should be calling and she should be responding but the weather is cool and wet for the time of year and the norm is that all should hatch within 24 hours.



Most agree all hope is out for further cygnets – but she has one little beauty to spoil rotten!



Having lost about one third of her bodyweight during the incubation, she’s still a beauty!

The male swan helps the female, to look after their cygnets until they are a year old. The young don’t spend more than one day in the nest once they hatch. If the Pen is still brooding eggs, the Cob will take care of any cygnets that have already hatched and get them into the water. Though they can swim from birth, cygnets may sometimes ride on the backs of their parents or take shelter under their wings until they are old enough to strike out on their own. She will look after her cygnets for a year.



Almost two days after the first Cygnet was born she still turns the remaining eggs and calls in the hope there is still a chance of further hatching.



Afternoon nap.


Still in hope that her cygnet gets a brother or sister so she keeps the remaining three eggs warm and lets her little one tuck itself under her wing for warmth. It’s a very wet June!



Two days old and Mum and Dad are teaching by example. She still tucks him/her under her wing for warmth, but she no longer attempts to keep the 3 eggs warm and they go off for frequent trips across the lake.





Family time, and as a spectator it’s fun to see how the cygnet copies everything the parents do – school starts early when you are a swan.



With two devoted parents we all hope the best for this little one – there will be no lack of attention!


We want to take you on a pictorial journey around Barcelona in our next few posts, and we decided to kick off with some of the terrific views that you get if you find your way to the ramparts of Montjuïc Castle. You have two choices to get there – by bus (either the 55 or 15o) or if you want  something far more memorable, then use the funicular Montjuïc Cable Car.



View from Montjuïc Castle to the docks and the cruise ship terminal.



Container Harbour.



The famous Transbordador Aeri del Port cable car (the tower in the center left) and the now just as famous La Vela Hotel on the right.



Ariel shot of the Marina at Port Vell with the bridge to the aquarium and the cable car. A lovely area for a walkabout. A trip around the port on one of the boats that leave from the quay at bottom right of the photo is well worth taking time out for.



No wonder Barcelona is so popular, there are spectacular views everywhere and so much to see. Here looking down to Port Vell again.


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Last day in Edinburgh and it was a fine evening, so we decided to spend a few hours walking the length of Rose Street, take some
photos, and then head back down George Street to catch a bus back to Granton where we were staying.



Rose Street – A colourful walking street and home to many pubs and shops as well as service entrances to some of the larger stores such as Jenners.




Wetherspoons – The Standing Order. Neo Classic in design this
former Union Bank building is now home to what is probably
the best value pub in the area. We took the Rose Street entrance,
but you can also access from George Street. As you can see from
the photos,it’s popular and also has a great atmosphere – lots to see
and a great buzz about the place.



The Kenilworth – A lovely Victorian pub with everything you would expect from this iconic Rose Street attraction – full of history and fine detail.



The Black Cat – we didn’t go in but it looks cosy and intimate.



Auld Hundred  – one of Rose Streets earliest pubs from 1800. A
former mission hall, the name comes from the tune to the 23rd psalm.



This used to home to the brewery that produced Auld Reekie Ale for which the pub and restaurant is famous for.



Rose and Crown – Another Rose Street pub and restaurant with good reviews.





Dirty Dicks. Being a staunch Guinness fan I’d give my left arm for this tremendous clock on the facade of Dirty Dicks. You have to go in here – it’s eye candy in 3d and has masses of charm. We had
haggis here on our last visit and loved it.






Lovely bar, lovely beer, lovely Aurora!

We took a small Guinness and a Belhaven best in The Cafe Royal on Register Street. I am not sure what to make of the red light that bathes the upper floor at night – hints of Moulin Rouge come to mind, however the bar below is well worth a visit just to soak in the wonderful Victorian decor. Once your eyes have left the opulent ceiling with it’s gold leaf embellishments you can’t fail to admire the tiled pictures of famous inventors, the ornate columns, lamps and decorated glass.

Central in the building is the fine wooden bar which boasts a large selection of beers, ales and spirits which include all the whiskies you would expect from one of Edinburgh’s finest bars.

The restaurant section was open but since we didn’t eat it would be unfair to comment here.



The Dome – George Street: Everyone knows this fabulous
building.You used to be to just wander in and sneak a photo, but it
got a bit too popular and I believe they had to stop it, so there is
someone there to meet and greet now. If nothing else treat yourself
to a coffee or a drink and lap up the amazing interior. At Christmas
they really excel themselves and have become famous for the most


At the front entrance you’ll find a bar


In the hallway looking into the Club Room Bar


Beautiful  chandelier in the hall – snapped by Aurora of course.


One little memory from my schooldays: I was staying with my Auntie Carole for a few days. I was 15, and she decided she would send me back to my parents with some new clothes. Rose Street had some trendy shops in those days, and she found a pair of flared trousers for me – a whitish denim look with grey stripes running down the legs. They may have looked great on Marc Bolan but I hated them. You don’t say “no thanks” to your Auntie though, and she made me put them on and wear them for the rest of the day – needless to say, they remained on a hanger in my wardrobe until the day I left school and could pop them in a charity box.