Monday, 26 April 2010


The kids were given these fireman's hats by Doreen. Every kid just loves a fire engine! ... and being firemen must be the next best thing!

Unless, of course, you want to be an engineer! (Or maybe that is a mountain climber?!)


Mairi, John and the babes were over for Sunday dinner today. For dinner we bought our local butcher (Lewis's) steak pie - 2 of - as the kids are getting to be big eaters. I made Anne's recipe for butternut squash and chick peas covered in a sauce (a bottle of Paul Newman's spagetti sauce) rather than the one called red pepper sauce made from scratch. Paul Newman's is better, frankly.

Mairi, Ishie (3 and 1/3 years) and Alastair (2 and a bit years).

Alastair and John. What is missing is the little hand reaching for the Fairy Cakes. Ishie and I put the cupcakes together before dinner was served. She loves helping and is very tidy about her work!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Having moved to a new house I was obliged to get a new email address. (All very puzzling as Virgin/Virginmedia was the service provider in both places.) I use a Mac and whether that was the source of the problem - more likely, it was just me - I aborted my many attempts to set up a new email address with Virginmedia.

I turned to Our Man in Vancouver (No. 1 son, Alastair) and he - after many phone calls holding my hand - got me sorted with a non-standard server provider.

If you regularly follow this blog, please take a moment to click on ABOUT in the right-hand side bar and note my changed email address. (Beside it I put the date in brackets.)

Why did I choose that particular address? I was obliged to make up my own address so I decided that I wanted words that give minimum misunderstanding. I find that addresses with letters f, i and l are not good and, of course, dots, underscores and hyphens are absolutely NOT ON!

Lastly I always have people asking "Is that Mac spelled mac or mc?" Fair question.

Therefore I looked to the radio alphabet (above) also known as the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, which begins with Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta...). In this alphabet the letters are assigned a special word to avoid misunderstanding. These words are used by pilots, sailors when giving information on a radio transmission. For example if you are giving the call sign of your radio and it starts with JAT you speak it by saying, not the letter, but rather the word of the alphabet letter, in this case: Juliet Alpha Tango.*

I assume whoever made up this alphabet was careful that the words were specially chosen so as not to confuse.

Finally the "55" was simply my choice of a number shape that should give minimal misunderstanding. (I hate it when I cannot tell if it is a zero, a capital O or a small o !)


* The whole radio alphabet is here.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


We have been enjoying wonderful spring weather all week! The leaves are just starting to come into bud so we are coming into the best week of the year. The countryside will be put on her green garments!

Every day we have been out preparing the small, south-facing garden. Most of the hard clearing work we did in the autumn so now it is time to lay out beds and put a few things in place.

First of all, the washing line aka "whirley gig". Iain had prepared an access path and when John and Mairi and the 2 babes dropped by today Iain was able to press John into helping him lift 3 three (re-cycled driveway) concrete slabs.

Thinking that everything was straightforward in the laying of these slabs they met their match when Herself - 3 year old Ishie with the aid of Teddy Bear - came to do an on-site visit and felt a few things had to be put to right.....

We had a great laugh listening to her earnest advice to the labourers: "Now if it was put a bit this way, Grandpa!" And John was up for keeping the dialogue going: "Uh huh... and what do you think if we put it the other way?"

(* A gaffer is the man in charge of the work force on a building site; the foreman or boss.)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


I missed April Fool's Day ... so here is my Late Offering. I was only having fun with a photo I took of wee Alastair playing at the sink last Sunday. (Actually I have been trying to set up my new email using Virginmedia. Very frustrating ... so I pasted this little piece together as a form of diversion therapy!)

Monday, 5 April 2010


Easter Sunday dinner was turned into a birthday party for Bruce. He and Iseabail drove through from Stirling. Mairi made the dinner of roast lamb with her special sauce (à la Delia), broccoli and fennel seeds veg dish and Ish brought a big dish of Dauphinoise potatoes (scalloped potatoes).

It reminded me of my mother's Easter dinners: a large baked ham and scalloped potatoes with perhaps corn or mixed veg. Can't recall what her usual dessert was ... probably lemon meringue pie. Mairi made an excellent bread and butter pudding - much better than mine ... quite delicious!

Grandpa gets big hugs.

Ishie (3 and a bit) in her Little Miss Chatterbox T-shirt along with Teddy

Alastair (2 and a bit) with Pig Hand Puppet.

Iain and Mairi in the kitchen (Carseview)


Easter Sunday found us at home with the sun shining and Mairi and the 2 wee ones over late morning. Mairi and Iain did some spring cleaning in the garage and I got out the baking bowls - real ones for Ishie (now 3 and a bit) and IKEA's plastic kiddy dishes for Alastair, our "helper".

We have definitely moved into new territory! Ishie is now interested in baking. She is very good at using her hands and when shown what to do is remarkably tidy about how she goes about things.

Full marks to Asda (a supermarket) for its Sponge Cake Mix! As a person who bakes from scratch I was very impressed with the results of our baking these 12 Fairy Cakes in the coloured cupcake baking cases that Maggie gave us from her supply.

6 tablespoons of water - well, more or less using real measuring spoons by little hands - and one egg. Mix and plop into the paper cases.

The trick to making a very ordinary cupcake into a Fairy Cake is to cut a well in the top. Take off the 'lid', turn it over and cut in half. Fill the well with cream and replace the 2 halves, inverted, so that they stick out like butterfly .. well, Fairy ... wings.

(I had some last week that a lady - another Maggie - made and she used a Victoria Sponge recipe i.e. basic white cake using fat, and filled the well with butter icing and jam with the wings on top.)

Saturday, 3 April 2010


I'm back! We have now moved and that marks the end of Phase 1 in our Downsizing Programme. My goodness! I think if one is going to undertake this exercise one should do it before you are 60!

We are both fine, actually very well considering March is (for me!) always such a long month. November is always so busy; January and February fly by - I hate March!

This year it was different. We handed in our keys of our Helensburgh flat March 31st and are now officially 'In Residence' - like the Queen - in Milngavie. Everything is a bit of a guddle as the work is nowhere near finished. But frankly it doesn't matter.

It's wonderful being fish back in our old pond.! Everyone visits and we have been happily enjoying people dropping in en route to whatever brings them through Glasgow. John MacLeod was in last week as he is here to get his liferaft serviced. (Helensburgh is lovely and we will miss it but people do NOT just 'drop in' as it is down the coast and one has to make a special effort to get there.) Martin is over from Texas so nothing for it but we headed to Lake of Mentieth for lunch yesterday.

So it is a bit like being back from honeymoon - having been away we are catching up with everyone!

Of course, the main reason we moved to this location is to be near Mairi, John and the 2 wee ones. We had a meal last Sunday with them plus Adam, Maggie and Brian. Brian and John and Iain worked really hard all day moving all our worldly possessions in the Jim Neary van Iain hired. The next day John's sister and husband joined the family and we all had coffee here to celebrate Mairi's birthday.

I laid on an Easter egg hunt and what fun it was! Do you remember Hide the Thimble? And your parents shouting "You're cold!" "Getting warmer... warmer... hot... Oh very hot!"