Thursday, 30 April 2009

ALASTAIR & DAWN WEDDING: Part 2 of 2: Unofficial

Before Al and Dawn's wedding ceremony in downtown Las Vegas (April 25, 2009 - see Part 1) we all gathered in their hotel room for a glass of bubbly.

It seems every classy hotel suite sports a hot-tub these days! Well, when I walked into the room and saw this one it immediately brought back memories of 3o+ years ago.

One New Year in the early 70's Iain and I spent it with friends at their croft in Stein, Waternish which is on the west side of Skye. Their croft was on the beach, handy for rowing ashore when we arrived by boat (in the summer). They owned a Land Rover and on this particular New Year we all piled into it and drove up to a big stone house which had been a former manse. It was occupied but our friends knew the people and we all poured into the house with, if I recall correctly, Iain playing the pipes at the head of this merry band.

Well, it turned out that this was Dovovan's house and these were a bunch of his groupies in residence. (Who was Donovan? Pop/folk guitarist/singer - mid 1960-70s) Our host, Gerient, was keen to show us something ... so we all trooped up a set of stairs and entered a doorway. It was a bathroom! A very, very large bathroom! On the opposite wall from the door was wall-to-wall mirrors and down the right hand wall were a toilet, bidet and wash hand-basin all in black with gold taps and gold astrological signs painted on them. But ... the best bit was .... there, in the middle of the floor, was an enormous turquoise bath (like a rugby team's bath) sunk into the floor.

Well, nothing for it, but Iain climbed into this bath with his pipes under his arm and started marching ... all the while playing "Campbeltown Loch I Wish You Were Whisky" up and down the bath. And accompanying him the whole time were his multiple reflections in the mirror behind him!

So here is a variation on the theme of tub reflections à la New York New York Hotel!

Dawn's dad, Dave, drove the other car to the ceremony sporting this fetching hat!

No Las Vegas experience would be complete without a limo trip. We all piled in and drove to the Wynn Hotel for dinner - by far the Most Superior Way to Travel!

Just Married!

Monday, 27 April 2009

ALASTAIR & DAWN WEDDING: Part 1 of 2: Official

Alastair and Dawn were married on April 25, 2009 in the presence of both sets of parents, namely, Linda and Dave, and Iain and Barb. It was Alabama, USA and Scotland meeting Vancouver in Vegas.

* * * * *

After Alastair and Dawn collected the official forms in the morning, we six gathered at this building in downtown Vegas. It was a 'drive-through' wedding - observe the drive-in entrance on the left.

For the ceremony, the bride and groom remained seated in their Mustang while the parent-witnesses gathered at the back bumper. The door in the background left and the window indicate the office of the official person - a lady, as it happened - who appears at the end of the ceremony after the 'theatrical' part.

So the ceremony started with the fun part, namely, 'Elvis', a personable chap who, for 10 minutes entertained us with his Elvis Ceremony which included him, and the rest of us, singing Love Me Tender and Viva Las Vegas!

Himself brought along his bagpipes and played the Happy Couple into the drive-in window at the appointed hour of 2 pm. His kilt, being too much to carry as baggage - and too hot for Vegas - had to be left behind and in its place was the next best thing, his father's Seaforth Balmoral bunnet.

The ceremony finished with the official person "authorized by the State of Nevada" asking both: "Do you take this person ...? " and then pronouncing them "man and wife".

The Bridal Beauty

A celebratory dinner was held at 6:30 pm in the elegant Wynn Hotel, recommended by their friend Ryan, a chef, who took a video of the wedding. Dawn organised the cake (with the hotel) which was sponge with chocolate and butter cream filling. The tartan (included in her flowers and also Alastair's bowtie) is Dress MacLeod.

Friday, 24 April 2009


The caravan is loading up preparing to come home as we say "Farewell USA".

We leave behind lots of blue skies and sunshine and a bit of frost in the early mornings! We are saying goodbye to Oregon Pine trees, magenta redbud trees, white pear blossom, microbrewery beer, strawberry lemonade, beef roasts and garlic French fries, not forgetting some nice Oregon Chardonnay (and that was served - free - on the plane, actually 2 plane trips).

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


There are now 2 Mrs MacLeod's! (Actually if you count Mrs MacLeod of Raasay - a pipe/fiddle tune - there would be 3...)

Dawn and Alastair were married on Saturday, April 18th in Las Vegas. While many photos were taken I have none to show at the moment - can't download stuff yet.

Why the Mistresses? Many years ago, an elderly Scottish gentleman was writing my name on a form or something like that and as he wrote my title "Mrs" he spoke the word as " 'Mistress' MacLeod". I took that to mean "Mrs" as being simply the title for a married woman. I gather , however, that "Mistress", historically, could refer to either a married or unmarried woman. Needless to say, this is the origin of "Miss" and "Ms".

So watch this space where I will be introducing ..... da dah-h-h-h-h ..... the New Mrs MacLeod!

Thursday, 16 April 2009


If you like theme parks Las Vegas is the place to visit. Many years ago when I visited as a school-aged child the places to see were the Golden Nugget and Flamingo casinos or whatever they were called back then (late 50's)!!! They are still there and the same Las Vegas Boulevard is still there - even as a lot of palm trees - but everything is organised into hotel complexes. And each hotel complex is set up as a theme park.

There are lotsa malls and shopping areas with "retail logo apparel" and game arcades. This is definitely the place to load up on fridge magnets, Harley-Davidson T-shirts and any amount of fast food.

One thing that we want to investigate further is the area (city centre) where a lot of new tall buildings are under construction. They are quite stunning architecturally and we wonder what their use will be... Hotels? Offices? Apartments?

Tomorrow we are heading out for the day to see the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon.

Bye for now!

Sunday, 12 April 2009


The tourist season has started as can be evidenced by the number of cars, bicycles, camper vans and RVs on the Loch Lomond road. I had to pay a visit to Auchenheglish Lodge to check on our June booking for our Swedish and German visitors. The lodge is just out of sight of this photo. Alongside where I parked were quite a few other cars in the parking area, with their occupants grabbing their cameras to take photos of some fishermen (in their boat) out on the loch in the early morning. (They are out of sight on the right of this picture.)

And on the topic of beautiful landscapes ... I picked up our copy of Prospect this morning and came across this article. It seems we, as human beings, respond positively to landscape pictures. It doesn't matter what the culture, apparently.

This fellow thinks it might be tied up with our evolutionary background.

Apparently, in the 1990s an experiment by the expatriate Russian artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid showed that people in 10 countries preferred landscapes of a certain savanna-like sort - "with trees and open areas, water, human figures, and animals", the sort of thing you get in calendars.

Dutton thinks that calendar-makers, in responding to "human landscape tastes," are in fact "catering to prehistoric tastes shared by their customers around the globe," a yen for the territory from which we evolved.

"The art instinct proper," he writes, "is not a single genetically driven impulse similar to the liking for sweetness but [it is] a complicated ensemble of impulses - sub-instincts, we might say - that involve responses to the natural environment, to life's likely threats and opportunities, the sheer appeal of colors or sounds, social status, intellectual puzzles, extreme technical difficulty, erotic interests, and even costliness. There is no reason to hope that this haphazard concatenation of impulses, pleasures, and capacities can be made to form a pristine rational system."

There is lots about the book here on Amazon and it seems I already read this fellow as per the Art & Letters Daily link in the LINKS sidebar way, way, below right.

Saturday, 11 April 2009


The wonderful show of magnolias at Glenarn (see yesterday's post) were an absolute joy! There are a number of trees in flower just now and no more so than this one which must have been 40 feet high! It must have been planted in 1850 - 1900's (as were so many of them around Helensburgh and Rhu).

Is this how you get ideas for textile design?

Marimekko is one example of magnolias in fabric design. I am a walking advertisement for her designs. Finnish to start with (oops, sorry for this wierd a description for this outstanding Scandanavian firm) and always producing bold colours - just 'me'.

Here is some more Marimekko fabric I bought in Stockholm several years ago and while I first thought it was magnolia pattern, on closer inspection, I think probably not.

Magnolias in wallpaper design, 1888.

Finally, this design was done by Lewis Foreman Day (1845-1910). He was part, a founder member, of the Arts and Crafts movement; contemporary of William Morris. Book reference is here.

Friday, 10 April 2009


Glenarn Gardens has opened for the season and I have never seen it more lovely! Visiting in early April is something I have never done and therefore have missed all the big - huge! - magnolia trees that are dotted among the 25 acres of mainly rhododendrons.

Outside the house is this froth of white magnolias at the edge of the driveway.

Photos of the large trees all aflower do not do justice to the display. There are many varieties of which these are just a sample.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


On my way down to the pier today
I came across an abandoned shopping trolley.
In it were 2 red traffic cones.
Tossed in, lying their side.
Underneath were
A bunch of tulips
Smashed and neglected.
At least these 3 will see the light of day.

* * * * * SEVERAL DAYS LATER * * * *

The tulips above have opened up. This one on the left is showing the most amazing 'brush marks' as if someone came along with a paintbrush while I wasn't looking!

I don't think a human could do this if they tried! Come to think of it, maybe the Dutch painters of the 19th century did ... must investigae this and compare!


John has downloaded some recent photos of wee Alastair and Ishie. Here they are: Alastair is now 14 months and Ishie is 27 months.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


The Borders was the setting for the wedding of Alan and Lucy. This beautiful castle (which I will have to get the name of) is where John and Mairi spent the weekend with friends and family. These are all John's photos which I chose because of the way he caught the light.

In The Library ... awaiting the guests and the hour.

Did they have such things as The Sword Room (as opposed to The Gun Room)?

The Reception Room

Such brilliance!

Made for contemplation.

Sunday, 5 April 2009


Everyone is getting ready for the sailing season and no more so than Brian and Maggie on Arctica. So before everyone departs to their respective points on the compass, they had us all over to their house for a ceilidh.

Brian got the Merlot nicely chambréd and Maggie had prepared 3 (no less!) curries plus all the trimmings.

The guys, aka Bowling Harbour Ceilidh Band, played for the rest of the evening. That is Iain (left) with his electronic bagpipes, then Peter on the guitar, Brian on the harmonica and Ken on the recorder(s). Such talent - as usual they could play the whole night long ... and still manage to stick to the 'clean' versions!

They are preparing a second CD and are looking for a name. Finn suggested "Three Sheets to the Wine" ... oops ... a Freudian slip ... that should be "Three Sheets to the Wind"!

A great night! Maggie and I agreed that we are very lucky to have such talent in our midst!

Saturday, 4 April 2009


A new man has come into my life.
If you want to meet him you will simply have to join the queue.
But first let me tell you ....
There is a very, very, very, long queue!

Yesterday -
It was my turn to meet this Special Person!
After nearly 3 years he has arrived
Heralded by mountains, Everest High, of paperwork!

For now, I can tell you he is:
* 2 years old this week
* settling in with his new mum and dad
and is
* the Apple of Everyone's Eye!

* * * * *

Being, basically, an Earth Granny (with 2 grandchildren of similar age) the new parents, who are my friends, say I can be pulled in for some child-minding on occasions!

Thursday, 2 April 2009


It really made my day to hear from not one but 2 ladies 'out there'. One was Jane - a friend from our days at school in Salmon Arm (she now lives in Kelowna) and another 'Vagabonde' - someone who discovered me through the MV Aurora topic I posted in September 2007.

Jane says there is still a lot of snow in her part of British Columbia. She contacted me to say how much she enjoyed the daffodils! So - for her - here a some more! It was such a gorgeous day today I put any chores on hold and headed out with the camera to see what yellow bobbing heads I could find.
Helensburgh is south facing and the whole place really did have a smile on its face all day as it was bathed in glorious sunshine! Yellow dafs are all along Sinclair Street as you head out towards Loch Lomond.

On the street where we live, but further up the hill, is Hill House, now a National Trust property and best known for its distinctive architecture (inside and out) , i.e. that of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The house and grounds opened a couple of days ago for the season so I popped in to see if there were any daffs in the grounds. These clumps (above) are on the south side. A fuller description of the property is in another post here.

Pick to the bunch today, however, was Lesley and Sandy's splendid show right outside their door. It was about 5:30 pm - that magic hour for lighting.

And just before the sun disappeared, wee Alastair turned up with Mum and Ishie, back home from Nursery. Here is Alastair's wee Martian 'doll' hiding in the (miniature) dafs at the back door.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


Glasgow in spring really shows her colours ....! Or as they say around these parts "Pure Dead Brilliant"

No, this is not Kew gardens but dafs along Great Western Road, Glasgow. (Full marks to Glasgow District Council workers for their bulb planting.)

And why is it they are still flourishing, i.e. not trampled by the local neds? This is Kilbowie Road roundabout above Clydebank.

And further along the Boulevard at another traffic light.

And lastly on the corner of West Montrose Street and Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh, as I turn into our driveway.