Saturday, 31 January 2009


Here is the Birthday Boy! This is before he got stuck into the lovely birthday cake that Mairi prepared! (More to come on this.....!) One might call this photo "Before"! Wait until you see "After!"

We all had a wonderful party today at Mairi and John's. Lasagne and Moussaka with salad for luncheon. Chris and Dorina and young Martin were there with other friends and their youngsters.

Friday, 30 January 2009


Ishie loves to wear hats.

Here she is - Hatless - a couple of months ago (above) and then this photo (below) was taken this week.

Our first item is The Hat-Bag or should that be The Bat-Hat? Mais oui ... Le tout ensemble ... the pink pyjamas, pink stripy socks and matching 'handbag'!

And those informal days ... like climbing a mountain using dad's helmet!

And finally ... out for a day's shopping.

Thursday, 29 January 2009


When in Oberstdorf (Bavaria) Germany in September I bought some knitting wool in one of their very lovely shops. Actually it is wool and silk. I finally finished them today. Maybe it is a case of Taking Coals to Newcastle but I have never seen that type of yarn here (nor the range of quality yarns either, e.g. Italian and German).

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


We attended a most interesting lecture this evening at the Royal Phil Society. After a pie and pint at Babbity Bowsters we headed up the hill to hear a lecture on Burns. It was supposed to be by Michael Russell, MSP, but he cancelled at 6:10 pm because he was required to vote in the parliament at Holyrood on a budget question.

Faced with no speaker some members of the committee had the great good fortune to be sitting in the lecture room when Dr Catherine Smith arrived, early from visiting her publishers. Someone had the foresight to take a long shot: "You don't happen to have a lecture in your bag, do you?" "I do!" Holding their breath: "It isn't about Burns, by any chance?" "It is!" Serendipity!

Scotland will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns on Sunday and a new book by this author has been published to coincide with the event.

It is a dense book, exploring how Burns’ mind worked. She has written the alternate view of the poet’s life explained how she believes Burns was as much influenced by myth and magic as he was by the new scientific age of the 18th century.

“There was a lot of superstition around then. Even some senior thinkers believed in astrology. I’ve found out what he was probably told about his horoscope. But he knew horoscopes are a bit like economic forecasts if you resign to them, they destroy you."

And what is this lady's day job? She is an International Banker! There is definitely a topic for another lecture - "Burns and the Credit Crunch"!

Sunday, 25 January 2009


The For Sale sign can now come down ... much to everyone's relief! Details still to be attended to but today marks the beginning of the end.

This might be entitled a January Illusion as the fact of the matter is there is 3 feet of snow but no icicles hanging from the gutters as Alastair attended to the cleaning of them last summer. Thanks goodness!!

Friday, 23 January 2009


In anticipation of our VIPEV ... Very Important European Visitors - what am I saying? We are all part of Europse, are we not? ... coming in June here are photos of the accommodation that has been arranged for Dietrich, Reingard and Sabine. Iain and I will be with them to bring the total, in this house called Bonniebanks Cottage, to five.

The main website is here and it gives geographic location as well as details of rooms, etc.

It is set in trees on the Arden Estate which is on the west shore of Loch Lomond about 5 miles north of Balloch (and a 10 minutes drive from Helensburgh). It is not on the water's edge of Loch Lomond but is set back from the shore in the area which was once used as the place for the coach and horses and worker's cottages. At the moment I do not see the road or trail to the water's edge but it must be here somewhere!

That is a deck outside the French windows. There is also a BBQ area to the bottom left, out of the picture.

On the right of this picture shows the old coachhouse which has been done up to 3 different sizes of apartments. Details, are on the website.

As I drove out of the estate, I saw Ben Lomond in the distance with snow about halfway down. In the foreground were some hardy golfers out enjoying a round on a day which was about 2 degrees Centigrade!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Ian Hamilton, QC, is stirring it up again. He is proposing to sue the Royal Bank of Scotland because he feels that they must have known it was insolvent when they sold him shares in the spring of 2008.

The Scotsman today states:
"There was at least one call on Mr Hamilton's website [ here ] yesterday for a 'class action' against RBS with other aggrieved customers joining him in a major action against the bank. Politicians admitted Mr Hamilton's claim could have 'enormous implications', and may pave the way for "'a speedy nationalisation'."

His small claims action is described in the Times Online here.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


The days are getting longer. After a beautiful, sunny day with heat in the sun as it streamed through the window it was imperative to get out and make the most of it. Iain managed a walk up the hill at the back at mid-day; I headed out to Helensburgh Resevoir just as the light was starting to go (4 pm instead of 3:15 pm).

Monday, 12 January 2009


We encountered some very sniffy ducks today. Big Iseabail, wee Ishie and I went to Mugdock Park to check out the playground and feed the ducks. We took some lovely, old uneaten chocolate mini-muffins from a store which shall remain nameless. (There was a reason no one ate the muffins at the party; they weren't up to much....)

And blow me ... the ducks turned their noses - oops, beaks - up at them! At least the female mallard in the foreground did. (Muffins are courtesy of Photoshop!)

But now for something really worth watching.

This video was sent to Iain from Al Christie. It's terrific!

Sunday, 11 January 2009


While in Oxfam before Christmas, looking for kiddies' books - what a source! - I bought myself this wonderful book which I have now just finished. The weather has been awful so nothing for it but to start on the To Be Read pile of books at the bedside!

Having spent hours - nay, years - on a boat looking at, and, indeed, taking photos of clouds, I found this book a good source for learning about Cloud Nomenclature. Yes, there is a Linnaean classification system for which I (a) heartily approve and (b) regret I never learned at the time of learning the Kingdom/Phylum/Order/Family/Genus/Species for plants and animals all those years ago.

Crepuscular rays shining above the Stratocumulus. Photos taken at Dobbie's Garden Centre, Bearsden, in the autum afternoon. The light is scattered by particles and droplets in the atmosphere. (So now you know...)

This is officially known at a Tuba. This photo was taken by Elisabeth Scott, aboard Monkey Business, on their trip across the North Sea to Norway last summer. The book states, "In and around downdraughts associated with large Cumulonimbus and Cumulus congestus clouds, a vortex of swirling air can develop like that in water draining down a plug hole. ... It is a column or tube of cloud extending down the middle of one of these vortices."

Ralph Waldo Emerson described the sky as "the daily bread of the eyes ... the ultimate art gallery above". Journal, May 25 [?18th], 1843.

So what was Mantegna doing here* when he painted the clouds in the background of this painting of St Sebastian? The small picture shows a rider in the clouds at the upper left corner of the larger painting. The cloud is white and the rider has a scythe, which he is using to cut the cloud. The rider is Saturn who in ancient times was identified with Time ... i.e. time is passing.

*Andrea Mantegna, St Sebastian, 1459-60, on wood, Art History Museum, Vienna. (Wikipedia)

Saturday, 10 January 2009


I'm in a hole at the moment as my email "Mail" (for the Mac) is corrupted and I am trying to think of ways to sort it.

O.K. .... Think the Opposite.

Turn everything off including the ON/OFF switch at the wall. Leave it alone and go and have a cup of coffee - that, honestly, for me, has always been the most effective course of action!

So time to play with some photos while I await INSPIRATION in the Trouble-Shooting Department. (Also the weather is howling outside which is dampening my intentions to head out for the day....)

Here is One Cool Dude in the sheep fank doing what Audi0-Visual Effects and Animation people do.

This is another of the neat books John and Mairi gave me for Christmas! I love it! Always one to look through the wrong end of the telescope I found this book an oasis in a desert of arid imagination!

Our photo-model shows up in the most unlikely places.

Thursday, 8 January 2009


Dawn has a friend, not an imaginary friend, but a furry friend of the Porky Variety. He really wanted to come on Alastair and Dawn's trip and (between you and me) I think it was because he was searching for his ancestors.

He started out in the north of England staying at a Hunting Lodge. I think he was probably looking for the Scottish poet, James Hogg, known as the "Ettrick Shepherd" who lived in the Borders of Scotland.... Well, that is just north of the Lake District....

Piggy probably was jet-lagged or he had had too much champagne ... sorry, poetry .... on his first evening on his cultural adventure.

To get a taste of history he has a sniff of Hadrian's Wall. He was very impressed thinking about all those Romans peering over the wall wondering if the invading hoards from the north were about to descend.

Well if you can't beat them, you might as well join them. Piggy ended up Christmas Day at Dunira, central Scotland, where everyone was waiting for him! Not being able to muster any kind of red nose he did his best to join in the Christmas spirit by pretending to be one of Santa's furry four-legged sleigh-pulling friends.

One little person thought he was too much fun to be left in charge of the television. This is when he was in Piggy Heaven getting his full Cuddle Quota.

(The mp3 file of the voice of Ishie telling you what Piggy says does not want to load on this blog. It may be the technology; it may be that Piggy language or possibly a two year old's language, is beyond our ken.)

Where were we? Oh yes... Piggy then headed off to Achiltibuie to continue on his ancestral search. I'm not sure pigs were thick on the ground in Wester Ross but he was determined to go and have a good look. First, there was Glencoe and the Black Rock (mountaineers) bothy.

Enroute, he either thought he'd have a look for the Loch Ness Monster and/or check out Castle Urquhart in the background.

No it is not his Cambridge Cousin en route from a Highland Holiday. This is Piggy paying a visit to Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Duich. Piggy said he was fed up with all the chocolate box and postcard photos of this famous castle near Skye. He felt a little gravitas needed to be added to the occasion, or perhaps, sublety, i.e. no castle just Me and My Scarve.

Who is more curious here is hard to say. In freezing temperatures in the north of Scotland he wonders if James Hogg might have written about highland sheep on frozen hillsides. Piggy thinks - or is trying to think that - it is all very romantic... at least it could be if it wasn't for being stared at by one of the locals: "Excuse me... but do I know you?" Or as I can atest to from my experience, it is more likely to be: "Uh-h-h er're not from around here...."

Feeling he has just about had his bristles frozen enough for one trip Piggy takes refuge in Alastair and Dawn's hired car. He is thinking "I'm off to the nearest pub...maybe there will be a roaring fire where I can order a pint and roast my hind quarters" ... oops... I mean " get warm by the fire!"

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


Over a cuppa, early this morning, I had a look at some of the books I was given at Christmas. One was the Good Food Guide. Now this is a book I have never bought, nor looked at even although 2 of my friends (whom I bring to the Wine & Dine nights) are really into this sort of thing. Actually, it made fascinating reading! As one would expect, there are ones I know from having visited and agree, and similarly have visited and disagree. Then at the other end of this broad spectrum of experience, there are ones I do not see on the list and feel are up there with the best (but would never write in to contribute because that would inevitably change the restaurant by the very fact of having done so).

I could write a long treatise on The Dining Experience based on the premise that the pleasure gained is directly related (should that be "a positive co-relation"?) to how you come to it. For example, Mairi and I, trauchled and weary took the 2 wee ones (2 years and 11 months) to a PlayPark in Possil - not the most salubrious part of Glasgow; it's where the old Blindcraft Factory used to be. We let the kiddies loose on the foam mats and frames and plonked ourselves down on the adjacent couches with the low coffee tables. She ordered 2 coffees and 2 blueberry muffins. I am here to tell you that was the best coffee I have EVER tasted! I didn't see the machine behind the counter (nor hear it which often completely ruins a meal for me in a restaurant) nor do I know the brand. Costa? Algies?

Anyhow I am sure we could all write a Good Food Guide to the Greater Glasgow Area based on our enjoyable meals out. I would start with just about any Italian restaurant.... Sartie's on Wellington Street for example. Another Guide could be Places Women can Eat Alone and Be Comfortable. Again, Sartie's gets full marks here.

Sunday, 4 January 2009


Christmas has come and gone! It's New Year - 2009! Before I have the fun of posting lots and lots of lovely photos I must attend to the leftovers of the seasonal festivities.

Can I live without a Christmas tree? Well only if Number One Son brings me a better substitute ... and indeed, it came in the form of himself bearing a bunch of (wooden, painted) tulips from (Schipol) Amsterdam. Wonderful!

Here they are in pride of place on the window ledge which is part of the beautiful south-facing oriel window in the living room. A few Jingle Bells from Ishie's toy box (well, Grandma's toy box kept for Ishie) add the (quite unnecessary) seasonal flavour.

The 2 lovely cards are from (left) Margaret McArthur, our old neighbour across the road and (right) Marek and Iwona who live in Warsaw.

Christmas has to have light, any kind of light and the best I could do this year was one candle. I have 3 boxes of candles and for the life of me, could not find one candlestick or holder. They appear to be resolutely packed away. So no Swedish snowballs this year.

Never mind! IKEA Bargain corner on the way out is a place Mairi and I cannot pass without a very quick look. And the problem - for me - was solved. One glass candle holder for £1 and 50p for little red boxes (Christmas tree ornaments). Done. When searching for the candlesticks I came across our lovely dolphin bowl (a birthday present to me from my mother).

And the flame in the candle? Photoshop! Pure experimentation, i.e. I couldn't possible repeat the run scheme! But such fun I had doodling ... what a time-waster! (It's freezing outside and Iain and I are both nursing colds.)

Look at some of my Christmas presents! John's CD The Einaudi Collection is buried in the pile. It's a real stress-buster; I must remember to put it in the glove compartment of the car.

Leftover clootie dumpling back from Dunira. We are pretty well dumplinged out at the moment. The Richard Scarry book underneath is Grandma's Perogative, i.e. I buy books in the Oxfam shops that I like. Hunka Munka and Lowly Worm are old friends from the 1970's!

And so to New Year... Somewhere it came and went midst all the whirl of people arriving and departing plus Ishie's birthday on New Year's Eve. This, I can see, is going to take some getting used to!