Sunday, 30 December 2007


Lines from the poem Rannoch Moor Incantation by Alexander Hutchinson

... the face of Rannoch Moor in its remoteness

... cloud-banks that range across the sky

... the cold clear air

... the first light of the waking of the day

Acknowledgment: John A's Highland Images continued from Rannoch Moor 1

Thursday, 27 December 2007


Two weeks ago John was away to Loch Rannoch in central Scotland. With his good eye and his good camera he came back with these shots. Beautiful, just beautiful!

A.E. Housman wrote "A Shropshire Lad".... While it was England he had in mind these images of his northern neighbour seem apt ....

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007


A wee person at the end of a busy day ... and not the best photo but this is definitely her colour.

A poinsettia brought by Marjiukka is temporarily on the doorstep in the always-to-be-relied-upon rain. Why I grew up always calling it 'pointsetta' I do not know!

Shoals of cards arrive and are received with great joy. At last there is time to sit down with pen and ink to read and respond.

The cards this year, as always drawn by Peter, feature the Faroes for the setting. We stopped to assess how many years we have been producing our own – thirteen! Amazing! Time to think about producing a book perhaps including each year's sailing log (if we have them all).

Monday, 24 December 2007


We are very well served by our postman (and woman). If ever there is a problem it invariably lies with the sender, i.e. wrong address or incorrect postage. Santa's helper, in the form of Angus arrives with Amazon packages, both my own order plus family orders to our address.

Below is a big Amazon box with Wish List fulfillment as delivered by courier.

There is a whole economy of these vans running around the country: TNT, DHL, Parcel Force, FedEx. Anytime of day or night they are scooshing along the motorway, clogging up the side streets of the west end, parked on double yellow lines, stopped outside shop entrances ... doing what they're doing.

Nigella has arrived. As a scone baker of some renown – a batch coming out of the oven as the box arrives – I am living in hope that I can start working on my image as some kind of Live-in-Hope Domestic Goddess! As they say, nobody can take away your fantasies!

Flowers from the music group, wine from Angela and the last of the 'messages' in the porch with Glenda's Lady Gardener and Mr Seal from Loch Ranza.

Sunday, 23 December 2007


A house in the neighbourhood at 4:30 pm December 22nd. As I was walking home the full moon came out from behind the clouds.

Glasgow Cathedral, ast Saturday at 7:00pm, on the way to the Carol Concert.

The area in front of the west door of the Cathedral with David Livingstone looking on.

Saturday, 22 December 2007


Two snowball candles, a present from Inger. My mother's 1940s vase with rosemary snipped from the bush at the back door – still happily thriving in our west coast climate.

The wonders of Photoshop "cut-out" filter:

A driech day ... time to put the fire on, put my feet up with a dram "Here's to the return of the sun!"

Thursday, 20 December 2007


Of the many Glasgow words that I just love, my favourite is: "swally"! I first came across this, years ago, when Tony in the BSRU workshop said to me on the Friday afternoon before the Christmas break, "You'll be joining us for a Christmas swally!" "A what?" "A swally ... a drink!"

So nothing for it, but time to have the neighbours 'round for a swally. All very pleasant; I explained that it would be nothing fancy, just putting our feet up in front of the fire with a bottle of the good stuff. Normally I'd go for a dram, but we had 2 bottles of Montana Chardonnay Pino Noir Brut CuvĂ©e– sparkling wine from New Zealand – left over from our 40th anniversary party. Once chilled in the cooler (i.e. porch in temperatures just above freezing) it was the perfect drink for the occasion.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007


The 'Vital Spark' puffer is in Bowling Basin this week. Normally berthed in Inverarry, she's down in the Clyde to mark the 150th anniversary of the construction of the first puffer.

Formerly called 'VIC 72' she was built in 1944 at Hull. She is one of the last VIC class puffers built to have a loadline certificate to carry cargo and is powered by diesel engine.

VIC stands for Victualing Inshore Craft.

The puffers were designed to negotiate the Crinan Canal and their max length could not exceed 67 ft.

'Eilean Easdeal' was the name given to her by the Easdale Shipping Company who used her commercially on the west coast. She was re-registered in 2006 as the 'Vital Spark' after the puffer in the stories written by the Inveraray writer Neil Munro who wrote about 'Para Handy', skipper of the 'Vital Spark'.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007


Our lovely black Victorian upright piano has now been tuned. The name carved on the underside of the upturned lid in the centre below the hinged music shelf says "Steinberg". On the same surfact located on the left there is a decal stating that the agent is "James Chalmers, 11 Newton Terrace, Glasgow West". The stamped number inside left of the cast iron frame is 19586. And that is all the information known. (Nothing found on the internet - yet.)

Bought in the early 1970s in MacTear's Saleroom, off St Vincent Street, Glasgow, it sits in the dining/family room against the west wall.

Quite hidden on the inside are the lovely painted flowers motifs on the gold painted metal part of the frame.

Norman Curie who tunes the piano has many wonderful stories of his life as a piano tuner. He started as an apprentice (over 50 years ago) in his mid-teens in Glasgow and is still working at the same job.

Hopefully, with a bit more effort some light can be shed on the age and make of this regularly played instrument.

Sunday, 2 December 2007


John has been in the Alps in southern Germany (Karwendal) enjoying blue skies and sunshine! I chose 3 pictures from his collection here.

Thursday, 29 November 2007


Photo by Charlie Craing taken from the other side of the Clyde looking over to Govan shipyard.

The Glasgow Police Pipe Band

Hundreds of youngsters in attendance. How many knew the words of "God Save the Queen"?

Tuesday, 27 November 2007


HMS Diamond is the third of the new Type 45s destroyers to be built and launched at at BAE's Govan yard on the Clyde. The Type 45 will replace the Navy's ageing fleet of Type 42 destroyers.

Six in total have been commissioned to be built and launched in Glasgow securing work at the Clyde yards for the next 15 years.

All 6 vessels - HMS Dauntless, Daring, Diamond, Defender, Dragon and Duncan - are due to be launched from the Clyde.

Today it was the Diamond.

A pause after the bottle was swung... a very VERY long pause ....!

Then the fireworks ...

And she was off!

Three cheers as she disappears down the slipway, leaving an empty space in the yard.

Monday, 26 November 2007


The sun is low in the sky at this time of year. Sometimes, especially here on the west coast of Scotland, we can go for days without seeing the sun because of the grey cloud cover. However, when the morning starts off with a blue sky and there are long shafts of weak November sunshine, it is Out With the Camera! No time to travel or explore; just capture what is on the doorstep.

Rose bush under the kitchen window (9:00 am). The sun no longer reaches it. The petals are quite solid (despite having put a poly bag over the bush the previous night) and the water droplets are frozen. Later in the day, when the temperature came above freezing. the petals were none the worse for the experience.

Leaves in the driveway at Kilmardinny House, 9:30 am.

Leaves in the car park at Kilmardinny House, same time.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


Ever one to judge a book by its cover, this book in Andrew Reid's bookcase, caught my eye. It is published by Macmillan in 1915 and is a collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling. The red textured hard cover had an intriguing gold embossed medallion-looking feature in the middle.

The Ganesha Roundel:
On close inspection it shows the head of an elephant with a drooping flower in its curled trunk and the swastika symbol on the left adjacent to the circular edge.

All is explained in an article by Michael Smith of The Kipling Society site here. A much better image of the elephant's head is shown. It explains that the circular symbol is the 'Ganesha roundel'.

"There is always a small 'right' [right-facing] swastika between the elephant's forehead and the circle enclosing it. Ganesha, the most immediately recognisable of Kipling's 'logos' shows the elephant headed [Hindu] God who was the son of of Siva and Parvatti.

The elephant is the symbol of wisdom and foresight and shown with the trunk down and curled means good forum [fortune]. The trumpeting elephant, on the other hand, represents anger and thus ill-luck."

The Swastika:
This was Kipling's trademark for nearly forty years. The Kipling Journal stopped using it in 1935. On his death in 1936 the swastika frame was replaced by a thick black line of mourning.

"The use of such a symbol, however, can be traced back in antiquity. In Sanskrit the word means 'fortunate' or 'well-being' but it was used in the Neolithic Europe as a potter's stamp, was incised as a mason's mark in Minoan Crete, was found in Homeric Troy, and in early Indian civilizations.

Kipling knew, also, that the Hindu trader opens his annual account-book with a swastika in order to ensure an auspicious beginning. Buddhist migration carried it as far as China and Japan, and other influences to West Africa and America. Early Christian art employed it as a 'fylfot', filling the foot of ecclesiastical stained-glass."

Apparently, on introductory pages, the left-facing one was used, as this example illustrates, (and the right-facing one was used in the roundel).

The Swastika in the 1930s:
"Once the Nazis had usurped the swastika Kipling ordered that it should no longer adorn his books. A craft bookbinder at Dartington Hall recently reported that she had bought an original of the block used by Macmillan showing clearly the space from which the swastika had been excised."

Publishing Anecdote:
"The extraordinary feature of the use of the symbol by Kipling's publishers was that there was no uniformity in whether the right turn or left turn was used. Edgar Brown's article (Kipling Journal July 1929) stated that neither Kipling nor Edward Bok, with whom the author corresponded about the subject, was certain which was propitious and which the harbinger of misfortune."

December 2013:  I notice that the images on this post have been removed.  When did that happen?  Why?  I will have to look into this.... I know that the top image was my own photograph of the cover of Andrew's book.  Now, what were the others and do I have a copy?  BM

November 28, 2017:  In to have a look at the site and its removed images of a Hindu symbol.  I had a playlist video removed from my computer by YouTube stating that it was 'inappropriate'.  It was a  1903 novel Riddle of the Sands by E Childers.   

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


A visiting yacht tied up at one of the excellent pontoons in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands. (Forgot to note the name of the boat ... possibly Jigsaw?)

Iain Robertson sent along this photo taken in Acarsaid Mhor, Eriskay (Outer Hebrides). Lass of Ballochmyle is in the background.

Lying in Bowling Harbour Seahorse's name is reflected in the water of the sea lock at the west end of the Forth and Clyde Canal.