Sunday, 30 November 2008


Iain was up north this weekend and came back with some wonderful photos! The weather all over Scotland has been clear and sunny and very cold. Great time to get the camera out!

The Pap of Glencoe looking over Loch Leven.

The Pap of Glencoe. Ballachulish is on the right.

Loch Leven is in the foreground with the Ballachulish Bridge visible mid-photo.

Ben More and Stobinian

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Flowers are without hope.
Because hope is tomorrow and flowers have no tomorrow.

By Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

These flowers were given to me by Mairi and they are now in their second week gracing the front entrance of Larchfield. (The vase is Iain's mother's from years ago and suits the architecture here.)

However it all got me thinking of the book that was being read on the radio last week: Don't Sleep, There are Snakes by Daniel Everett. It basically comes into the category of ethnography and linguistics.

The book is on Amazon here. The Guardian review of it is here .

It is about a man who, with his young family, in 1977 lived with a hunting and gathering tribe, the Pirahãs, in the Amazon. His plan was to learn Pirahã so that he could translate the Bible. It took many years. He found them a happy, contented people but it is the dealing with the language that is most interesting.

Anthony's Guardian article states "We may all have the natural cognitive skills to derive meaning from language, but what determines the shape of the language, its basic architecture, is the surrounding culture." Pirahãs have little interest in that which they cannot directly verify. (Sounds a bit like scientists I have spoken to!)

There is lots of food for thought here. For example, the author of the book talked about how they basically live in the here and now. Is it that they have no concept of past and future? They do not have a word for "worry" for example! So that brings me back to where I started:

Flowers are without hope.
Because hope is tomorrow and flowers have no tomorrow.

Thursday, 27 November 2008


On Tuesday Iain and I went to Edinburgh to the unveiling of the James Clerk Maxwell statue done by Sandy Stoddart, sculptor based in Paisely.

It was Professsor Barr who got this going several years ago. "Sandy', he said "we need a statue of Clerk Maxwell. You're just the man to do it!" Funds were secured and Tuesday was a historic day when the great and the good (and the rest of us) gathered at the Royal Society of Edinburgh so honour both the man and ... to my mind, at least, the sculptor.

Before the unveiling Sandy Stoddart gave a short description of the work (and what a lot of work!) of conceptualizing the sculpture and its 2 bas-reliefs for the plinth (one relating to Newton and one relating to Einstein).

Several years ago we had a tour around Sandy's studio and over lunch he and Iain and Professor Barr chewed over ideas about how to portray in a bas-relief such concepts as gravity and time!

To listen (both several years ago and at the Royal Society) to Sandy describe his thinking was a real privilege! One day, one hour spent in company of such people is worth more than any holiday to a Florentine art gallery or going on a cruise to see Greek ruins in the Agean!

What am I talking about? See here and here.

So to the unveiling.... As we walked from the Bus Station, across St Andrew's Square, there was the statue swathed in polythene (on the right below) situated at the junction of St Andrew's Square and George Street.

That big fluted column in the square is the Melville Monument. It is 41m high and sits centrally to St Andrew's Square, dominating it and views along George Street. I see that it "is the statue of Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville. Viscount Melville (or Lord Melville) was an aristocratic 18th century politician, but more importantly the King's Chancellor, and has been described as the most powerful Scot of his day." Never heard of him.... (On the other side of the square is the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ, built to house Sir Laurence Dundas.)

Anyhow, where was I? Here is the sculpture awaiting the arrival of the dignitaries. The Royal Society is just down the street from here. Everyone forgathered there first and then proceeded to this site just before 1 pm. It was very cold and everyone was warned to be well-wrapped up. Also we had been told that at the moment of unveiling everyone was to throw their hat in the air. So we both brought an old hat dug out from the loft and shoved into our coat pocket in readiness!

Da-da! The Moment of Unveiling (done by Alex Fergusson, MSP).

This is the best photo because the back of that head on the left is the sculptor, Sandy Stoddart, in the brown coat. He is looking up at his just-unveiled work. (See also one of the 2 bas-reliefs on the plinth.) I wonder what he was feeling; what must it be like to have created such a work of public art?

Oh .... and the hats? One man behind me did and then quickly retrieved it!

Monday, 24 November 2008


The Bearsden Fiddlers 32nd Annual Rally was on Saturday and a good time was had by all. The Junior orchestra played at the beginning of the second half. Youngsters bring a freshness that no amount of talent in the Oldsters can bring. Two of our 15 year olds - lads - in the Young Fiddlers have fairly come on this year and produced a really good sound. It was much appreciated as the numbers were down due to flu. Everybody is down with it these days, kids included.

One of the dads of one of our 11 year olds was telling me now much the kids practice at home. Very heartening; they will always have this good grounding. Another dad was telling me how his 17 (going on 21) year old is away playing with a group now. This one plays by ear - wonderful! This dad spends 4 weeks on and 4 weeks off in his job in the oil industry in .... Kazakhstan. He was telling me during the afternoon the rehearsal about what an extremely risky business it is to build equipment which is to be used in the future to get oil out of the Caspian Sea. (As much oil there as Arabia, he tells me.)

Iain was the Fear-an-Tigh for the evening and because of this he kept the pace up through the evening. One thing these events are guilty of is that they run over time. Not this evening. The old folks, the familes and the youngsters get tired and so it is imperative to wind things up no later than 10 pm. As they say, Enough is as good as a Feast!

Sunday, 23 November 2008


This card arrived from Moira. I think perhaps this is her own artwork. Or perhaps it is Gwen's? I see the poem is by John Masefield; these lines come at the beginning of the 6 stanzas.

One road leads to London,
One road leads to Wales,
My road leads me seawards
To the white dipping sails.

One road leads to the river,
And it goes singing slow;
My road leads to shipping,
Where the bronzed sailors go.

Leads me, lures me, calls me
To salt green tossing sea;
A road without earth's road-dust
Is the right road for me.

A wet road heaving, shining,
And wild with seagull's cries,
A mad salt sea-wind blowing
The salt spray in my eyes.

My road calls me, lures me
West, east, south, and north;
Most roads lead men homewards,
My road leads me forth.

To add more miles to the tally
Of grey miles left behind,
In quest of that one beauty
God put me here to find.

By John Masefield

Sea photo by John Douglas
St Kilda in the Fog by Sandy Donald

Friday, 21 November 2008


John's parents have been to visit and had Quality Time with the 2 babes. Here they are getting 'ugs [Ishie's word for hugs] from both grandparents.

All photos taken by John.

Thursday, 20 November 2008


We had a right ol' knees up at Moira's 80th birthday party in Kentallen, Arygllshire at the weekend. About 40 of us were Moira's guests for dinner and overnight in the Holly Tree Hotel.  Eilid was there with her husband John and their 23 boys - all big lads now. 

Iain composed a 2/4 pipe march for the occasion which he entitled  Moira's Welcome to Kentallen.

After dinner we had a ceilidh where Rosie played both her fiddle and also the keyboard where she accompanied the other members of her band (accordion and vocals).

Monday, 17 November 2008


Iain and I did Granny Duty today as Big Ish was off with a flu bug. Ishie and Iain got dressed for the outdoors and went for a walk to Maggie and Brian's. Our Little Shirley Temple model can be seen wearing her lovely German cardigan in the bottom photo.

John arrived back on the scene to take over the sluicing down of wee Alastair who seems to have a sickness and diarrohea bug probably picked up from nursery.

When there is one less child to look after - no matter what the number - it is always easier! Ishie came back from her walk full of the joys. She'd had soup for lunch and was babbling away (incomprehensibly) about her visit. Her hair was wet from the walk and as a result she had the most amazing mass of curls!

Friday, 14 November 2008


Mairi took this photo of Ishie on the slide. It looks like it was at Mugdock Park. She is now coming up 23 months old and is enjoying Nursery 2 mornings a week. She just loves a joke. The other days we clicked glasses of apple juice as a toast and the splash we made delighted her sense of humour. She laughed and laughed. Poor Mom... she'll probably do this now every time she gets a drink in her hand!

Mairi took the photo on her mobile phone and then sent it to me, i.e. the new Nokia mobile phone which she recently bought for me. I have decided that I shall treat this rather smart new bit of kit as a camera with a phone facility rather than the other way around as I have no problems using a computer or a digi camera but struggle with (non-camera) mobile phones!

Thursday, 13 November 2008


Moira is 80 years old this week and we are going to Kentalyn for the weekend for a Big Gathering. Food, friends and a ceilidh. She, like so many of her contempories are wearing extremely well! The rest of us are coming up behind and hope that we will enjoy their level of good health. Maybe it was all those tatties and herring they ate as children!

Moira loves her garden so I put together this card which is a shot taken this summer at the Ardarden Garden Centre near here.

Iain has composed at tune "Moira's Welcome to Kentalyn" but as he is at the uni 2 days a week just now he has not had time to get the manuscript paper out for the Top Copy. Watch this space!

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Last night we held our Annual concert. With a corps strength of 19 players, i.e. 18 fiddles and 1 double bass, they played beautifully in Cairns Church. Our season is now over; time to put efforts into other things, namely, Christmas!

And look who won the Broons Recipe Book in the raffle! I had had a look at it earlier and thought that it was the best prize on the table! Lucky me! Now it's time to dig out the baking tins again. Actually, I was very taken with the way the book is produced. They must have used Photoshop; quite cleverly done in my opinion. (Again, I am guilty of admiring the paper and the layout rather than the content!)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

CHICAGO 2008 & AUGUST 1968

It is a historic day for USA with election of Barack Obama as the next President of USA. I listened on BBC World radio durinig the night and was particularly interested in Obama's speech taking place in Grant Park in Chicago.

Iain and I lived in Chicago in 1968-1969. We were recalling events of 40 years ago. What a change from last evening where large crowds gathered to applaud Obama's victory!

We recall another gathering in Grant Park 40 years ago. It was the Democratic Party National Convention and subsequent riot of August 1968. The convention was being held in order to elect a nominee to run as the Democratic Party’s choice for the next US President.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 demonstrators were arrayed against 12,000 police and 6,000 National Guard troops, with an international press contingent of more than 1,000 on hand to record events inside the International Amphitheatre and outside at locations from Lincoln Park to Grant Park.

The rioting which took place was publicized by the media, some of whose members experienced firsthand the strong-armed tactics of the police/National Guard. The next day the papers were full of it. I clearly remember these 2 photos!

The Chicago Tribune, a Republican, conservative paper, blamed the disturbances on extremists and provocateurs and was full of photos showing demonstrators beating up the police.

Covering exactly the same event, the other newspaper, Chicago Daily News, was full of photos showing police beating up demonstrators (and journalists).

To put everything in perspective:
When it eventually came to choosing a candidate, it ended up being Hubert Humphry (over Eugene McCarthy). Wikipedia states "Even though 80 percent of the primary voters had been for anti-war candidates [McCarthy], the delegates had defeated the peace plank by 1,567¾ to 1,041¼. The perceived cause of this loss was the result of Mayor of Chicago Richard Daley, and President Johnson pulling strings behind the scenes. Humphrey, even though he had not entered a single primary, had won the Democratic nomination, and went on to lose the election to the Republican Richard Nixon."

Monday, 3 November 2008


Dave and Judith are away for 2 months traveling abroad. They are visiting us en route to Tunisia having spent time in the UK looking up family for the King genealogical story.

They left Vancouver October 30th and don't return until December 30th.

Travellers need time to catch up and re-group (like Churchill with his battle plans).