Sunday, 31 August 2008


We had a most enjoyable evening this week at Joe and Irene's 50th wedding anniversary party in the Buchanan Arms in Drymen. It was a right horo gheallaidh (Gaelic for a sing-song, an uproar, or as I always think ... a bit of a knees-up).

Iain played the pipes to start things off by piping in the 140 guests to the banquet suite for dinner.

All through the evening we were entertained by the Allander Jazz Band providing music for both the dancing and the 'floor show'. All the good ol' tunes were played, the best being Shada! (Shada, shada! Shada a great big Chevrolet! etc etc)

Joe's 5 grandchildren were all up for the Eightsome Reel.

A post-script to the word horo gheallaidh. The only way I could find to spell it was look up Christine Martin's excellent fiddle book of session tunes called Horo gheallaidh !

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


In for a penny, in for a pound! Penguin Books had an idea to "get the nation talking" (presumably about their books). Actually what they wanted was to get people blogging, i.e. talking about their books on their (Penquin's) blog.

What they were offering was to send you a free book - which they did - once your title was drawn out of the hat. Talk about getting the short straw! I ended up with The Analects which I had never heard of!

OK. I guess that is the whole idea. I nobly read all 'proper' stuff in the middle, i.e. the actual Analects which, as everyone knows, is a collection of Confucius' sayings, and all of the beefy introduction.

Today I submitted by review which is to be posted, randomly, on their website which is here.

In case you can't wait, or are not interested in reading the reviews done by the hundreds (!!!) of other folk pulled into this project, here is my submission:

The Analects is basically a book of the teachings of Confucius. It is a collection of conversations with his disciples and is laid out in a series of twenty Books. Like Socrates setting down the teachings and conversations with Plato, it is the closest we will ever get to first-hand teachings. (These two collections of sayings have formed the basis of Eastern thinking and Western thinking, respectively. Both give points of view on how to lead a good life and how get along with each other in life.)

To read The Analects, therefore, is to get an insight into the similarities and differences between the two. Easteners are influenced by Confucian thinking; Westerners by the thinking of the Ancient Greeks. The Eastern way or 'Way' is that there is no absolute truth; one is always trying to find a path to the truth. The Western way is about black and white; logical thinking will out. It is about straight lines, sequential thinking, not circular thinking with the emphasis on achieving harmony.

This book is like a sandwich, i.e. The Analects themselves form the meaty bit in the middle. It is the 1979 version of 256 pages and is an English translation from Chinese. The book starts with an excellent Introduction by the translator, D.C. Lau. It forms the first 55 pages. The last third is made up of the Appendices - The Life of Confucius, The Disciples, and The Lun Yu which relate to the composition of The Analects - and a Glossary.

The translator's Introduction is sensitive and scholarly therefore greatly helping the reader in what is to follow. For example, a very important teaching of Confucius relates to practicing benevolence. (People brought up in a Christian culture would recognise a similar teaching: "Do Unto Others...." )

Lau, near the beginning, states: "As benevolence is so central a concept, we naturally expect Confucius to have a great deal to say about it. In this we are not disappointed. There are no less than six occasions on which Confucius answered direct questions about benevolence, and as Confucius had the habit of framing his answers with the specific needs of the inquirer in mind, these answers, taken together, give us a reasonably complete picture." He then goes on to point out that there are two components to benevolence. With the benefit of his language skills as well as his writing skills, we, in our Western culture, are given a lot of necessary help to enable us to get a better feel for, and understanding of, Eastern thinking.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


I had a go at doodling with words on the internet. The website is called Wordle and is here. With the help of technology I made this 'work of art'!!! (Not).

I can't seem to make the image any bigger and it won't go in the centre. Oh well ... sounds like a good reason to learn html at evening classes!

To see others like it go here. This image is in the bottom left corner. If you double click on it, it will appear full size. Now, if someone can tell me how to save it as a larger file, I would be grateful! I might just stick it on the wall above my desk!

Monday, 25 August 2008


When the sun suddenly comes out, it is time to drop everything and GO OUT! So Iain and I decided to head out of Helensburgh, 5 miles eastwards, to Loch Lomond. He ran up the hills adjacent to Luss and I doodled around the village with the digi.

The new road along Loch Lomondside now bypasses Luss and so the whole place is now free of the heavy traffic heading up north from Glasgow. It is a charming village much used for TV and film crews who need a Scottish Landseer* sort of misty-moisty setting.

This is Colquhoun country. They were the landowners who, in the early 1800s rebuilt the village partly so that they could house workers for the slate quarry nearby.

I found this tea-room but did not have time to check the state of the scones etc. However, I was very heartened to see that it was extremely tasteful in decor, in the selection of Scottish goods for sale and that it had the most enormous, on-the-premises baked scones piled on the counter. It goes on my list of Places to Visit. (So many places like this are downright dreary, I'm afraid!)

It is a tourist trap but that being said, perhaps because it is part of the Lomond National Park, it is not tacky. Somebody is spending money here! There is a tidy car park, litter bins everywhere, decent public toilets and a not-tacky Visitors' Centre. Maybe the powers-that-be have paid a visit to Orkney to see how well these things can be done!

Loch Lomond at the end of the day. This man came in to his mooring at 5 pm having had a day out with visitors. A good day in a short season.

* Sir Edwin Landseer, Victorian painter e.g. The Monarch of the Glen (a stag in romantic misty hill setting).

Sunday, 24 August 2008


There's no show without Punch, as they say. So today, Sunday, Iain was playing the pipes for the Challenger Flottila of the Dingy Section of the Clyde Cruising Club. Duncan's Yacht Chandlers have been sponsors for 10 years and this was an anniversary celebration today.

The Challengers are are made up of specially adapted multi-hull sailing boats for disabled people. Ian Taggart has been the driving force behind this group who are based at Bardowie Loch. There are many buddies and Club members who give their time voluntarily to help these people get out on the water, and indeed, participate in national racing events.

So after a sail-past everybody repaired back to the Clubhouse for the prize-giving and tea and sandwiches.

Over many years Boyd Tunnock of Tunnock's biscuits has supported sailing and this group in particular. No event would be complete without the ubiquitous Tunnocks Tea Cake!

Saturday, 23 August 2008


These photos taken yesterday (third week of August) show some of the archtectural and natural beauty in Glenarn Gardens at Rhu. I spoke to Mike who was out with the mower having been held back by all the rain we've been having. He was getting ready for the Annual Horticultural show. His role is to set up the bee-keeping exhibit.

"To find beauty in form instead of making it depend on ornament, is the goal..." was said by Albert Loos in Katherine Swift's book "The Morville Hours". Here are some photos of Nature's beauty of form.

Tiger lily perfection

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I don't know the name of this beautiful purple-blue flower. I need to speak to Mike.

Heather in the rock quarry garden area.

* * *


If ever there was beauty of form this bottle, found in the greenhouse, has it. Broad at the base for stability, it has the sort of shape I wish we would find in flower vases or coffee cups ... or even, Maggie, wine decanters!

And to go into the bottle: some 'bottle-brush'. (If I recall, so named by Joseph Banks, botanist on Captain Cook's expedition to Australia.) Very much an Australian flower with all its stamens. The bush at Glenarn was 10 feet tall and had an abundance of flowers.

Friday, 22 August 2008


Alastair's country is the west coast of North America. By that I mean it expands from the northern border of British Columbia to the southern border of California. This forms the Western Frontier of the (North American) Film Industry.

Our Man in Vancouver, aka One Cool Dude, has been doing Great Things in this country.

Like his dad it was: Go West Young Man! That was 9 years ago.

Alastair on the shores of Loch Lomond

This photo was taken exactly 2 years ago (Heavens! It hasn't been!) at Mairi and John's wedding.

Well this week he has taken the High Road. Alastair is moving into a new job and we are thrilled for him. The official announcement of his new appointment here !!!!

Described as "a veteran", the Vancouver Film School says that his appointment marks "the beginning of an exciting new era ..."

Are you impressed? (Remember, this is Scotland!) "Ach, I kent his faither* " !

Well, we all know he's wonderful and, anyhow, what are sons for if one cannot brag about them a bit?!

* The Scots Dictionary: I kent his faither is a derogatory phrase used to remind those who have achieved success (especially if achieved away from Scotland) that they are no better than anyone else.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


What's it like to be so photogenic? Here is Baby Alastair, at 6 1/2 months. We spent some time together today, as Ishie was in the Nursery all day. A trip to Tesco's using one of their trollies was great fun. And wonders of wonders .... the sun was shining!!!!!

Out on the deck to soak up that wonderful, rarely glimpsed sun! And real heat in it, too!

Who needed it more? Me with my 'rough' throat and chest or Baby Alastair with his small spot of nappy rash?

Isn't he just a charmer? I wonder what he will think of this photo when he is 21?!!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


John sent me a link which is a video of a fellow called Dean Potter climbing up a route on El Capitan in Yosemite Park, California. It is absolutely amazing! I had to shut my eyes! He talks about 'being in the moment' ... I mean like for whole time he is climbing the 3000 feet straight up the face, jamming his dusted hands into the cracks and/or occasionally clipping on to existing bolts.

There is 9 minutes of viewing in the video. Just don't look down! (Actually the music is good!)

I am sure I saw a ring on his left hand. I would have thought that would be a bit risky given that he uses his hands as 'shovels' or 'blades' jamming them into the cracks.

Says Dean "Some people think that what I am doing is complete lunacy but I'm just out there havin' a good time, enjoying the day!" Sheeesh!


Photo: Wikimedia

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


I have been reading The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift. The author used to be a rare-book librarian in Oxford and in Dublin before becoming a full-time gardener and writer in 1988.

She established a garden in Shropshire and writes about it all in this book. The book, however, is laid out in a special way which I quite like. It takes the form of a medieval Book of Hours. So the book is about time in the various ways we see it both from sowing, planting and reaping but also throughout the 24 hour day.

Her sense of place, of history are strong. The house she bought, and the land, is associated with a monastery. Furthermore, she structured the book according to the monastic hours of Divine Office (meaning duties) - a practical guide for the shape of the day. Vigils (midnight), followed by Lauds, then Prime (work then begins for the day), then Terce 3 hours later. Sext and the main meal of the day was 3 hours after that. None is about 3 pm then Vespers around sunset and lastly Compline.

Geilston Garden, owned by the National Trust is on the doorstep in Helensburgh and is the closest I can get to a monastery, garden or no garden. There is a large walled garden there, in fact, several walled gardens and these apples are all along one south-facing wall.

The vegetable garden had plenty to offer for sale at the table where the lady takes the tickets.

Lastly, with a nod in the direction of Katherine Swift here is my contribution to one of her maxims which she says came from Roymond Morimter:

Gracefulness, in things as in persons, results from an elimination of the unnecessary.

Simply 'Corn'

Monday, 18 August 2008


Hullo! What's all this?

Alastair and I travelled to Banff a couple of weekends' ago. It's a long story - enough to say that we were accompanied by a, uh, er ... Pig! Now this Pig has a history and it is to do with Dawn.

This is Dawn with her Friend-Since-Childhood

Piggy kept Alastair company when he boarded the Greyhound bus after work one night in July when I was in Canada. Now that in itself is not such a risky thing to do, except ... I hate to say it ... there had been a dreadful murder on the Greyhound bus (in Manitoba) the night before. You don't want to know the details, frankly.

On occasions like this, one has to fight irrationality, i.e. just because a guy came off his climbing rope to his death last weekend, is no reason to stop your husband going climbing the next weekend. Right?

Worried? No we're not worried, are we?

Well, that is how Piggy ended up on the Greyhound bus keeping Alastair safe on his 7 hour night ride from Vancouver to Salmon Arm.

And of course, he was. I met him at 1:30 am at the depot and we set off for Banff, in his car, the next day. Welcome Aboard Piggy and thanks for watching over Our Cool Dude!

A Cool Dude and a Cool Pig Riding Tandem

Piggy got out at the Rogers' Pass as the car occupants needed a leg stretch and wanted to breathe the mountain air. He really is a very well-behaved - and, I believe, a well-travelled - pig. Languages were never quite his thing, but like all pigs he has a healthy curiosity!

The most fun off all was meeting gophers. They were everywhere! Right cheeky and argumentative!

And to the smiles of on-lookers there was this Cool Dude lying on his belly with a long lens camera 'mongst the gophers!

Mr Gopher: eyeball to eyeball

Sunday, 17 August 2008


First Flush of Fotos of New Baby Kaylie!

Alastair visited Carol in St Paul's at had a great photo-opportunity with Heather and her Brand-New Baby, Kaylie Evelyn Osachoff - born July 2, 2008. Also there were Deb and young Alison.

Heather and Kaylie

Carol and Kaylie

Heather, Kaylie and Alison

Deb and Kaylie

An Angel in Attendance


Men with broad chests - it's all there at the Pipe Band Championships. Whether tossing the shotput or blowing the pipes, there were a lot of big fellas with well-developed pectorals!

The part of Glasgow Green where fellas were heaving great things down the field was being dominated by Poles. Good stuff! Big fellas with long Polish names were continually tossing things the furthest. It seems these guys all do the rounds of the various Highland Games and can make a bit of prize-money at it.

The field-full of tartan was put into second place by the Patiala Pipe Band from Lahore, Pakistan turned out in full glorious colour.

How many uses are their for a base drum? Or at least, a bass drum case?

Saturday, 16 August 2008


Glasgow Green was alive with thousands of pipers, dancers and caber-throwers today ... and that was just the participants of the Annual World Pipe Band Championships.

Maw, paw and all the wains were out in the cloudy, but very dry weather. There were old established bands and small, young ones. These fellas below must be the younger section of a bigger band where they old guard show the young ones the grips.

Who did we bump into outside the Highland Dancing tent but Debbie and Michelle Scott, here from Calgary!

Michelle in on the left. What does she want to do in her (limited) free time visiting Scotland? Visit wee Ishie! She has a bonus in store - Ishie has a wee brother!