Friday, 31 October 2008


In trying to find suitable accommodation for our German and Swedish visitors next June I paid a visit to this lovely place - Loch Lomond Youth Hostel. Will it suit a party of 14? It will need further research.

A lovely day to get some shots of the views from the terrace looking east to Loch Lomond in the distance.

This must be a Japanese maple probably planted 100 years ago. Quite stunning in the afternoon sunlight.

Thursday, 30 October 2008


Baby Alastair is now 9 months old. He has started Nursery along with Ishie. He is now pulling himself up and will be cruising around the furniture soon. He has a lovely "pu-r-r-r-r-r "sound he makes, a bit like an outboard engine putter-putter-puttering.

Ishie is 22 months and loving Nursery which she goes to 3 days a week. She is a very busy little lady who loves to be outside 'helping'!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Iain took this photo this week when he was out walking behind Helensburgh in Glen Fruin. The days of being lost in the mountains are not exactly "gone" but perhaps "disappearing" would be a better word. Always my last words to him are "Have you got your mobile?"!!!

It was National Poetry Week last week so here is a poem that fits the photo. I don't know Hamid Shami but it intrigued me that his best friend was a McLeod!

To quote my distant friend Imran McLeod
'A man with no culture has no identity'
The last I heard of him was, he was off
To the Himalayas.
He had a very confused childhood.
Father was Scottish,
Mother Pakistani.
They'd always be arguing over many things
Concerning him.
One was religion.
Father wanted him brought up
A Catholic; mother wanted a Muslim.
Was the only boy on our street who went
To mosque on Fridays and chapel on Sundays.
But in the mountains
God's sure to find him.

Hamid Shami

Poem by Hamid Shami, from Wish I Was Here: a Scottish Multicultural Anthology, Pocketbooks, 2000.

Sunday, 26 October 2008


It's been raining here in Helensburgh! (Apparently the Lake District had more rain this weekend than they normally get in a month!)

Somebody needs to turn the tap off!

Moments of sunshine between the deluges of the last 48 hours means that I am likely to get some 'weather' photos. This is Argyll Street which is at right angles to Colquhoun Street and is on my route to the shops.

Duck Bay on Loch Lomond. I am looking for a place for our German and Swedish visitors to stay next June. Many of the old haunts have been considerably smartened up I am delighted to see. There is an answer here somewhere; it will take some further 'research'!

A goose on the lawn of Cameron House which is on Loch Lomond. I checked out the hotel (5 star) - very smart, very expensive; very busy! Who stays in these places??!!

Friday, 24 October 2008


A guy in the States who made loadsamoney betting against US subrime home loans has written a letter to his shareholders of his company (Lahde Capital Management of Santa Monica, California). The letter (not long) is on his website here. It makes interesting reading. He refers to his "stupid" traders for making him rich; he thinks banks he says are too risky to deal with, and pleas for a philosophy of economics.

He is now off to spend more time with his money.

Well here is a somewhat double-jointed Adam Smith, fresh off the back of a Clydesdale Bank £50 note. If he does not look happy it is because he thinking that the best he can hope for is good luck; certainly not good management. Wheww! He must be turning in his grave these days!

I wonder what he would think of this fellow's epistle to the shareholders. Apart from smacking of the Dear Brutus Syndrome (all the world is to blame) there is something in that letter that really sticks in my craw. He deliberately deceived people. That, to my mind, is fraud. Furthermore, that is the lowest of the low when it comes to social, financial, or should I say, economic, deviance.

Sub-Plot: What one does for Photoshop Art: I wanted a picture of Adam Smith. I ended up at the Clydesdale Bank. We are, as it happens, long-standing customers of this Scottish Bank (owned by Australians). Where was I? I was told to come back in 10 minutes for the note...which I did. I needed to hand over my debit card (in order that the money change could be recorded - yes, really....) All the while, I told the teller what I wanted it for. Then I asked, after handing over my £50 in smaller notes, "What if I was not a customer of this bank and wanted that particular note?" "Ah well," he replied, "it would cost you 5£." !!!!!!!!! ROGB (Rip Off Great Britain)

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Today, we paid a visit to Mairi and the babes (John was away to the mountains) for the afternoon. Ishie is 21 months old and Alastair is 8 months old now. What fun they are! Both are looking well, glowing with health after their holiday in Perthshire. Both weigh about the same even though there is 13 months between them.

Thursday, 16 October 2008


Iain heads off the the hills, albeit rather low ones, behind Helensburgh and the other day he took the camera. He is keeping fit by getting out regularly. Recently there have been some glorious and here are a couple of shots he took of views looking over Loch Lomond.

Now that we are in the days of the mobile phone it is certainly less of a worry when he heads out there by himself.

That is, if he remembers to have it switched on!

Hazel sent me this ... They seem to float around the internet; credit where credit is due.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Iain and I had lunch aboard Seol-na-Mara on Sunday. He made lunch and I put my feet up.

Happiness is being couried doon in the cockpit basking in the sunshine! Having spent far too long in front of the computer just sitting there looking out on to the water is very restful for the eyes!

Or maybe I should say because I have been listening to the radio a lot this week of global meltdown it was nice just to switch off and enjoy the scenery.

One of Peter's fleet of 7 is across the basin but he doesn't seem to be aboard. Lots of other 'live-aboards' appeared from their bunks - something to do with the smell of Iain's cooking!?

Sunday, 12 October 2008


I was reading John's copy of The Oxford World's Classics 'Rudyard Kipling - The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories" to read. Well actually, it was more a case of dipping into it. I enjoyed one very short story called In Flood Time. It involves an inner story of a man who recounts a tale while he and the narrator wait to ford a swollen river. It reminded me of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner manner of story-telling. I liked Kipling's opening line: "There's no getting over the river tonight, Sahib."

I struggle a bit with Kipling mainly because it is so dense and the place names and vocabulary keep slowing me down. That being said I am always intrigued by what I find. For example I did not know this about hookahs (water pipes). In the story the native river man states that to take it 'like a Mussulman' is to inhale through a clenched fist, so that the lips do not touch the mouthpiece. I had often wondered about that. I wonder if North American Indians' shared peace pipes were smoked in the same way?

Last night I was listening to a radio programme 'The Palace and the Beeb' which traced 75 years of the BBC's relationship with the Royal Family. I learned that in 1932 when King George V made the first royal Christmas BBC broadcast to the British Empire, it was transmitted live from his small study at Sandringham, in Norfolk, where the Royal Family always spent their Christmas holidays. The speech was scripted by Rudyard Kipling and began with the words: "I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all."


Top photo: Kuřák vodní dýmky, Shisha Smoker, Wikimedia.
Bottom photo: Jean-Léon Gérôme,
The Hookah Lighter, c. 1898, Wikimedia.

Saturday, 11 October 2008


The week is over. The dominoes are tottering .....

In a nutshell:

"You're as well spending it as banking it." *


* Source: Our butcher this morning.

Friday, 10 October 2008


You'd better not go alone.
It's lovely down in the woods today,
But safer to stay at home!

Thanks to Gregor for this photo!

Thursday, 9 October 2008


Problem solving does my head in! I can't receive emails. ( is my server.) Very puzzling. In these circumstances I have now developed a technique to, basically, save my sanity. The first thing I do is get up from the computer and make a cup of coffee.

Upon return I try to put my mind into the way I think a 10 year old might operate when it comes to problem-solving. This is because I hate problem-solving. Do you remember swimming pool questions at school? "How many gallons of water come out of a pool if it is x big and the amount of water going it is y."

The good news is that Google is absolutely the business in helping to think of questions to ask which then gets you on the right road for coming up with answers.

So for those other folk 'out there' who find themselves stuck as I do right now this is what to do:


[1] If your server is (is that UK based? I don't know. I am UK based.) go to this site here to check the STATUS. This is Most Useful as you can quickly assess if the problem is YOURS or THEIRS.

[2] You can check your email by going here. (This is what you do if you are abroad.) Click on MAIL in the top right column. If this doesn't work it means it is because of the red light in number 1.

[3] Some key words to type in Google: 'Virgin internet service is down" Don't ask the question; it is better to activate the verb in the form of the answer that you want.

Apologies to the Prague painter of the 19th century: Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max: The Ecstatic Virgin, Anna Katharina Emmerick, Munich 1885. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Is somebody up there looking after me? Is it good luck or good management (or, in my case, good driving....)?

I was involved in a traffic accident on the Loch Lomond road today. Having spent the day in Glasgow going to my piano lesson, then on the the Clyde Cruising Club to stuff envelopes and lastly enjoying a pleasant lunch with Maggie and Brian, I headed back to Helensburgh at 4 pm.

This view of Loch Lomond was taken by Iain last week when he was up on the hills behind Helensburgh on a gorgeous autumn day.

This is where I ended up ... in the grass (well, not this grass as this was taken 2 weeks ago in the Rest and Be Thankful).

A car coming in the opposite direction (i.e. east going towards Glasgow) crossed the white line into the path of the car - a big 4x4 - in front of me and they collided. Fortunately, either because I was not sitting on the tail of the car in front, or because I was not going really fast - only the same as everyone else on the road, or because I know how to handle a car in a skid.... whatever the reason, I managed to successfully steer clear of the pile-up in front of me by bumping onto the road edge and skating along, swerving around the rear end of the car in front of me, and ended up sliding through the wet grass and mud where I came to a halt. No damage done! Sheesh!

All the services - ambulance, firemen and the police - were there very quickly to set up a road block and attended to the person in the car who caused the accident. It appears the lady driver had been watched for several miles driving erratically. Somebody having a heart attack?

I was glad to get home! (View of pyrocantha and Ian G's roses outside our oriel window taken last week as the sun was setting in the late afternoon.)

Tuesday, 7 October 2008


Iain and I had an outing on Sunday. We took the ferry from Helensburgh to Greenock where the QE2 is paying a final visit on her Farewell Cruise around Britain. She was here for one day before she heads for the east coast and then on to her final destination, Dubai, to be a hotel.

She was built by John Brown & Company, Clydebank for the Cunard Line and was launched on 20 September 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Her maiden voyage in December 1968 was cut short by turbine trouble and she completed her full maiden voyage in May 1969, traveling between Southampton and New York.

I sailed from New York to Southampton on her in September 1969. I have one (among many!) particular memory of this voyage!

Iain and I lived in Chicago in the late 60s. In 1969 he took up a post at Glasgow University and we returned to the U.K. We booked to sail on the QE2 and were supposed to come together but he was ill (or something happened...) and he ended up flying back to the UK while I kept my ticket for the sailing.

On the day of departure 2 neighbours from Chicago arrived with 3 bottles of champagne (supposedly for the 4 of us). Well, we quaffed champagne - all of it - until they had to go ashore. I went down to my cabin (Deck F) to get a coat in order to go on to the upper deck to way goodbye and see the Statue of Liberty as we departed.

Well, I sat down on the bunk and said "I will just stay here for a minute - as I had a fairly fuzzy head - and then go on top." The next thing I knew we were off Newfoundland! I was sick as a dog (but quickly recovered) and, to this day, I have never seen Staton Island nor the Statue of Liberty!

* * * * * ON-LOOKERS * * * * *

These are frigates from both the British and the French navy.

When a fella has to go, he has to go....! (ferry boat crossing)

Good Craic dressed over-all.

Greenock was basking in sunshine and everybody was out - maw, paw, and all the wains!

We finally arrived back the same evening where we had started in the morning, i.e. Helensburgh Pier. This is an earlier shot as we departed on the ferry across to Greenock. (The final evening photo below is taken in exactly the same place looking out across the water.)

At 9:40 pm there was a fireworks display (from the QE2) which we watched from the Helensburgh pier in the lovely calm evening. Iain took this shot.

At 10:00 pm she slowly moved off ... down the Clyde. Folk were straining to see her disappear beyond Rosneath Point. Every so often there would be a deep, resounding "Boooooooah" of the ship's horn sounding in the darkness.

Some of the white haired folk in the foreground could probably tell a story or two about their experience of the building of this ship on the Clyde.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


Iain and Peter and Angus were away sailing for the long weekend. I met up with them at Carrick Castle (west shore of Loch Goil). Angus cooked dinner aboard and we all had a wee ceilidh afterwards.

Iain rowed me ashore in the morning and I returned to Helensburgh (an hour's drive) with my camera at the ready.

The leaves are starting to turn now. I forgot to take the ordinary lens but enjoyed trying to get some photos with the big, fancy close-up lens.

A horse chestnut tree with all the chestnuts forming and falling to the ground.

The Rest and Be Thankful was quite busy. The old road is in the bottom of the glen. The traffic is moving along the present day road.

There were light showers coming and going. When I stepped out of the car to take a photo down the glen I turned around and just caught this rainbow. By the time I lowered the camera, it was gone.