Monday, 30 November 2009


The neighbours are very impressed with Iain's engineering project in the front garden. He is building a wall behind which the (second) car is to be parked. The earth that has been removed has been barrowed up to the back of the plot (see right hand side pile behind green clothes pole below.)

We have calculated that the sun, at the time of the Winter Solstice - Dec 21/21 - will not go any lower than the roof top in mid photo. I am monitoring the situation... 3 weeks to go! However, the tops are being trimmed off the 2 spindly trees and the result will be sun all day long on the garden. The trees are on the south boundary.

So here is Himself laying out his line for the wall. The setts are from elsewhere in the garden (of which there are hundreds!)

With the completion of the garden work at the back (south side), and the work of stripping wallpaper inside the house, the end of Stage 1 has arrived. To that end we really can do nothing more until the first trademan/men, builders arrive. Not sure when....

So as of today we are de-camping back to our flat in Helensburgh. That means I am now back at my desk with my computer (a big Mac - no not a hamburger!) Ahh - normality!

This photo was sent to me today. It is part of an excellent group photo of the Clyde Cruising Club's 2009 Prizegiving Dinner Dance last Saturday night. Iain went along (I am ill with a chest infection...) and had a great night. And remember, he had spent the whole day mixing concrete and laying out setts - quite amazing!)

Today is St Andrew's Day. I have only just noticed Google's creative contribution to kulchure. For what it is worth, that is Edinburgh Castle with the flag of St Andrew flying (blue with a white saltire cross).

Sunday, 22 November 2009


I treated myself to a CD this week: Sans Fusils Ni Souliers A Paris. This gal is from Montreal and sings Edith Piaf's known, and not so well-known, songs. I think she's fab. And I like the piano accompanist: Thomas Bartlett. I must find out more about this fellow....

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

CD - 3D

Alastair has been working on this film:

A Christmas Carol 3D

Production year: 2009 ... like this month
Country: USA
Cert (UK): PG
Runtime: 95 mins
Directors: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Bob Hoskins, Callum Blue, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Jim Carrey, Michael J Fox, Robin Wright Penn

I have to go and see it, of course, but in the meantime apparently it is full of motion -capture technology (that is where Our Man in Vancouver [Alastair Macleod, Head of Animation & Visual Effects at VFS] comes in) and other high-tech cinematic stuff.

What do the critics say?

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Disney's A Christmas Carol by Robert Zemeckis (and Charles Dickens, of course) is an exhilarating visual experience and proves for the third time he's one of the few directors who knows what he's doing with 3-D," he writes. "The story that Dickens wrote in 1838 remains timeless, and if it's supercharged here with Scrooge swooping the London streets as freely as Superman, well, once you let ghosts into a movie, there's room for anything."

Wendy Ide of The Times: "Like it or not, almost from the very outset, chimney pot-skimming action is what we get. At times, it's like zapping through a Dickensian version of Google Earth. We are whisked from Stepney to St Paul's in the blink of an eye, leaving our lunches somewhere near Bow."


Photo: Wikipedia with some input from Photoshop.


Appearing at a concert in Milngavie last week was this fellow! That such talent should be on our doorstep never fails to simply blow me away! He is a pianist and graciously played for the better part of 2 hours on the resident Steinway grand in Milngavie Town Hall.

His name is Tom Porter and I had never heard of him. Winner of many competitions and now getting a name for himself - and he's not even 30 years old! - I am here to say he was absolutely wonderful. I haven't enjoyed such a nice evening in ages!

And no music! ... At all! ..... I went home and couldn't decide if I should give up or simply practice all the harder! Not a difficult decision as I end up quite inspired by these young folk. Phew! He performed his first concerto at 13 years of age! Ho- hum....

Photo obtained as downloadable file from his website here.
Copyright: Hanya Chlala.


Driving back to Glasgow on Sunday afternoon I stopped at the side of the A9 dual carriageway to take a photo of this valley looking west toward Dunblane.

These following 3 photos are As Is, no doctoring with Photoshop.

First, I took this photo looking eastwards - blue skies, golden fields.

Westwards - 4 pm and getting dark.

15 minutes later.

These 2 photos below were simply used as an experiment in doctoring a photograph:

The same valley and orientation but no sunshine. I tried to lighten the river and puddles in the field. (The main river is untouched; the puddles are 'dodged'.)

I stopped on Main Street, Buchlyvie, outside The Pottery Shop to listen to the end of a BBC Radio 4 interview. While sitting there the sun was fading behind the church, with a clock face, further along the street.

Monday, 16 November 2009


Scone Palace in Perthshire is where in ancient times Kings of Scotland were crowned so it is historically very significant. Alas, it is a place I have never been, that is, until this weekend when I found myself in Perth with a 'freebie' ticket in my hand to attend an Antique Event in this illustrious location.

Sandy and Leslie, now away on a cruise ship, passed on their invitation and I was delighted to have the chance to spend time browsing the lovely Royal Doulton, Chinese embroidery, not to mention fishing rods and stuffed animals. (This is Perthsire, after all!)

Well, it certainly is a slice of society; I do not know much about antiques - lots to learn!

After I left the (very beautiful) interior I headed out to the garden and wandered around the Old Scone graveyard. The Scone Palace website gives some history and brief descriptions here.

The angle of this wall would make the Leaning Tower of Pisa look positively upright!

Wandering 'mongst the graveyeard it would appear that just about everything there was 'squint' (a good Scottish - ?British? - word for crooked).

More squinty stanes (Scottish for 'stones').

Finally, around the back of the chapel (in front of which is the stone throne where Kings of Scotland were crowned), my eye caught these modern gravestones (next to the wall of the church).

There is a grey and a light maroon (what I take to be) St Andrews' Cross mounted on a stone base. Then there is a (familiar) crucifix and another one to its right which is a Celtic Cross. In the foreground on the right is a Celtic Cross (buff coloured).

Anyhow, I am at a loss to know anything about the 2 modern X shaped cross forming those (?fairly recent?) gravestones.

And, I keep having to remind myself, it is pronounced "Scoon" as in "moon".


It was a treat to head north-east this past weekend to a friend's home to be pampered in rural Perthshire. After days and heavy rain the autumn colours were showing their best in the sunshine.

Taking an early Sunday morning stroll after a pleasant evening of good food, wine and chat I enjoyed wandering around the garden catching the light on plants, fruit and berries. The aspect is south-facing with Gleneagles Golf course is out of view to the right (west).

The following 3 photos are Pure and Unadulterated, i.e. As Is for light and colour (e.g. the sky!)

The view looking north on to the fields... wonderfully rich soil; rolling farmland as far as the eye can see. Always present are birds, flocks of them swooping over the fields.

Finally, Auchterder is where the 4 x 4 country vehicle comes out and the Lamborghini is kept in the garage ... and sure enough one passed me. (The fence above is just out of the picture on the left.)

Thursday, 5 November 2009


Our children's orchestra - Bearsden Young Fiddlers - is preparing for their 10th Anniversary Concert which is taking place this Saturday, 7 pm, in Cairns Church, Milngavie.

I took some photos for publicity at the rehearsal this week. This image is a web-friendly contribution.

I am here to say that, in Scotland, there are lots of young folk out there with their fiddles whether in orchestras, their friends' kitchen or in formal competitions.

On that note (oops, sorry about the pun) Bob and Kate invited me to join them last Sunday to drive to Blair Atholl to be part of the audience at the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championships (taking place in Blair Castle).

Sitting in the great hall opposite the painting* of Neil Gow we listened to 8 invited young competitors play their Slow Airs, Marches, Strathspeys and Reels as well as selected pieces by William Marshall (of whom I have written elsewhere in this blog).

As a member of the audience (of about 300) it is always fun to try and pick the overall winner. I put my 'money' on this gal ... Rebecca Lomnicky: you will have to go to her website which is a blog about her day ... and, wait for it! .... she won!

And well deserved!

For once I did something right: As it happened, I went up to her at half time and said I thought she played absolutely perfectly ... 10 out 10. As you can see, she is still in High School and lives in Corvallis, Oregon.

Source: Wikipedia. (My photo is rubbish!)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


It is now November and the days are getting noticeably shorter. The leaves are going off the trees and the foul weather is upon us (flooding in many areas of the country). However, there was a break in the weather systems rolling in from the south-west. Ahh... sunshine! Out with the camera!

And out with some washing (which gets a soaking with the heavy showers that pass quickly over) and there it is dripping from the line. Yes, I know... but it still is better to bring it in fresh smelling and soaking than not to have at least some time outside on the line.

With the very good weather in October I was able to dig over most of the garden. My rule is "an hour a day". That way I don't get too tired or fed up with the work of it all. I don't have a porch (or similar cool place) for flowers so what I do is place them outside opposite the kitchen window. These flowers are from Mairi - see close-ups below.

The setts (rectangular cobble-stones) are piled there awaiting their new home where a friend is going to use them in the garden. There are hundreds in this garden (laid out in 1960). We will keep what is required for the up-dated layout and give away the rest.

The pots are planted with narcissus bulbs and other bulbs (unknown species) which I dug up as I was tidying the beds in the front of the house.

The good news about sunshine and showers - especially at this 'shoulder' time of year in the calendar - is that the angle of the sun's rays is lower which makes for wonderful light and shadows.

These photos of the flowers are "as is"... I have not touched them with Photoshop.

These will become amaryllis if they don't drown before flowering! I bought them in Lidl's (many items from continental Europe) ... very cheap; they come by the truck-load from Holland.


Ishie (nearly 3 years old) and Alastair (nearly 2 years old) were with us all morning early this week. After we had a bite of lunch (scrambled eggs and toast) they were on hand to help vacuum the mess under the table.

We must have the only house in the world where it is OK to draw on the walls, spill on the floor, tramp dirt in from the garden, splash water all around the bathroom sink! The floors are bare boards or carpet that will be replaced; the embossed wallpaper is about to come off (one layer only therefore easy to do).