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.

Monday, 19 November 2007


40 years of endurance can only be celebrated with the Good Stuff. So it is a back door chiller cabinet au natural ...

... and a front porch floral repositry and unfinished wine bottle chiller ...

... a meal and ceilidh with friends, including The Best Man, from all the airts.

Thursday, 15 November 2007


Reading should improve the mind. Time to put it to the test....

I was very taken with the following list of books and also the idea of a 'challenge' as outlined here. It is associated with this website. (Original discovery was here in the comments column.)

Starting January 2008 it will be interesting to see if, having decided to 'have a go', I can stay the pace!

The Twelve "Official" Novels by Month
January: Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (since Estella is our namesake)
February: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (African American)
March: Cat's Eye, by Margaret Atwood (Atwood for Atwood's sake)
April: Transformations, by Anne Sexton (Poetry)
May: Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote (Southern)
June: Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (Russian)
July: The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier (adolescent)
August: Maus I and II, by Art Spiegelman (Graphic Novel, Pulitzer winner)
September: The Secret Lives of People in Love, by Simon Van Booy (Independent)
October: The Human Stain, by Philip Roth (Contemporary/Jewish)
November: A Month of Classic Short Stories, Various - watch for a list
December: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (Dusty)

Photo taken July 2007. Gull accompanying Cal-Mac ferry from Ardrossan to Isle of Arran in the Clyde.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


Several years ago, sitting in a comfortable living room in the suburbs of Glasgow, Scotland, I picked up the book that was to be next month's choice of our Book Group. Idly turning it over I read that it was set in Turtle Valley, British Columbia. I had a real double-take! The mists of 40 years parted and I found my 'required reading', The Cure For Death By Lightning, was, indeed, set in my home territory - the Shuswap.

For the record, the Book Group greatly enjoyed the novel with one particular topic being greatly discussed: what, exactly, is a coyote?!!!

Her fictional style is described as 'Pacific Northwest Gothic' by The Boston Globe. Her latest novel Turtle Valley, published by Knopf Canada, came out September 8, 2007.

A summary of her work, taken (with permission) from her website here, states:

"Gail Anderson-Dargatz's novels have been published worldwide in English and in many other languages. A Recipe for Bees and The Cure for Death by Lighting were international bestsellers, and were both short-listed for the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada.

The Cure for Death by Lightning won the UK's Betty Trask Prize among other awards. A Rhinestone Button was a national bestseller in Canada and her first book, The Miss Hereford Stories, was short-listed for the Leacock Award for humour."

She currently teaches fiction in the creative writing optional-residency MFA (Master of Fine Arts) program here at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and lives in the Shuswap, the landscape found in so much of her writing.

An excellent video of her talking about how landscape influences her writing is here.


Photos from her website used with permission.

Monday, 12 November 2007


The Jameson family of Corbridge, near Newcastle, England shipped out their daughters and one son to B.C. in the early part of the 20th century. These girls whose family owned the potteries in Corbridge planted fruit trees as shown here below. The orchard farm was called Tynedale. The writing on the back of the photos says "Cross marks Tynedale barn and row of crosses [marks] the boundary of Lee's orchard." It marks the present day Lakeshore Road.

Lee returned to England to run the business - naturally - and the girls all married and settled in British Columbia. My grandmother, Gladys, now married with 3 of a family, stayed on this land and eventually my father, Allen Booth, continued to work it, first as an orchard with cattle and latterly as an orchard which he sold off bit by bit over the years for housing.

This was the Tynedale Orchard. When he married and settled at Broadview Corner with his trucking business and orchard he continued to pick apples from both orchards. The Salmon Arm Farmers Exchange, a co-op known as 'The SAFE', was where the apples were received and shipped to the lower Okanagan for export or, as was more often the case, for juice, i.e. they were 'second best'. He never made money as far as I am aware. And in the last years of his life I recall visiting and seeing how he had let the whole crop drop to the ground; it simply wasn't worthwhile picking them.

Some years ago Denis Marshall (of the newspaper The Observer) used one of the Salmon Arm Farmers Exchange apple-box labels and printed them on a T-shirt. I guess that about says it all ....

Monday, 5 November 2007


This lovely town (actually it is a 'city') is located in the Shuswap area in central British Columbia (north end of the Okanagan Valley). It is my home-town which I left in 1963 to head off to university and then the other side of the world.

The town grew up on the Canadian Pacific Railway which was completed in 1885. This town is a good example of how the railway united the whole country and opened up the west to settlement. Everybody came from somewhere else and made a new life for themselves; it is these good people who form the backbone of the nation.

Salmon Arm CPR station and platform

The CPR station, now closed, lies on my route, across these tracks in the foreground, to the Front Street stores. It was never the most salubrious part of town being 'the wrong side of the tracks' but has now been 'developed'. Long, long trains carrying grain and raw materials to the port of Vancouver head west and long, long trains carrying containers of manufactured goods head east 24 hours a day. There is only one passenger train The Rocky Mountaineer which passes once a day and you can set your watch by it.

Canoe Beach Crossing*

As children we had a game of placing a penny on the tracks near Canoe Beach. We would climb back over the fence and wait for the train to come by, wave to the engine driver and the man in the caboose, then scamper back to retrieve the flattened penny.

To this day I cannot cross the tracks without leaving a penny!


* Canoe Beach Crossing photo taken by Alastair MacLeod. Permission given.

Sunday, 4 November 2007


Due to a landslide washing out the road at the The Rest and Be Thankful, the drive to Ardrishaig and back had to be taken the long way around. The good news was that the colours of the countryside were a joy - along Loch Lomond, up to Crainlarich, over to Tyndrum, Dalmally, and finally Inveraray and Ardrishaig.

The day was light but not bright and either lightly raining or just about to. Nevertheless it is always worth stopping just for a minute and 'have a go' at taking a photo.

Looking at the variety of colours of the larch and other mixed forest near Tyndrum made me pull over in a lay-by, get out of the car and point the camera at the hills across the road.

Number one photo is the original one.

Number two photo is 'adjusted for level' using the histogram. While brighter it is a different, not necessarily better, photo because it is missing the misty, mosity romantic dampness of Scotland!

Thursday, 1 November 2007


Mr Frog-From-the-Deck now in for the winter but looking a bit out of place!