Thursday, 30 September 2010


We are still here and still moving slowly, very slowly, toward completion of this house renovation. The walls have been put in upstairs and the plastering is finished. Next will be the stairwell to be put in. It came in 2 crates from Italy last May. There were no instructions for assembly but it seems that the modern method is to get it off a pdf file on the internet. Quite good actually; you never lose that piece of paper! At that time everything was unpacked and checked off. Then all the treads, bolts, bars etc have been stored under Iain's bed in the back room ever since.

The outside of the house is still not finished. Weeks and weeks go by and no sign of workmen. Someone turned up to do some work on the chimney last week. Is he finished? Is he coming back? The scaffolding sits and waits...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


We had an outing to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery at the weekend to see the Glasgow Boys exhibition of paintings. Yes, the exhibition was worth seeing but much of our stamina was needed to keep the kids amused whilst various adults took turns to join the rather large number of people making their way around the rooms.

Ishie's curiosity at the big entrance doors was rewarded with them opening and letting the throngs through.

Many of the paintings are in Glasgow's 2 major galleries but this time they had gathered works from other galleries and private collections.

Kids can only concentrate on one thing and it isn't art! The ice-cream van situated across from the entrance occupied them for much of the time. Fortunately, it sits next to lots of grass, flowers, path and stream so they were able to play.

We really ended up with more ice-cream time than art time but we can always go home and select bits of what we saw on the internet e.g. here and here.

Monday, 27 September 2010


Brian E sent me this* ... which I just have to post as we all could do with a laugh just now! This is a Florida visitor ... looking for the mouse! Ho, ho!

Computer problem in Florida / A True story

TECHNICAL SUPPORT: "How can I help you?"

FEMALE CALLER: "Last night my computer started making a lot of hissing noises at me so I shut it down. This morning when I turned it on the computer started hissing and cracking, then started smoking and a bad smell, then nothing."

TECH SUPPORT: "I will have a technician come over first thing this morning. Leave the computer just like it is, so they can find the problem and fix it, or change it out with another computer. Give me your address; phone number and the technician will be there just as soon as he can."

When the technician got there, the lady showed him where the computer was, said what happened to it. This is what the technician found wrong.

And you thought YOU had computer problems!!!

* Photos: Apologies to whose source this is. It seems to be floating about the internet.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Today, Sunday, was another beautiful autumn day in Glasgow. And for once, I got out for a good few hours with the camera - at Mairi and John's invitation - while we (kids included) headed off to see the Glasgow Boys exhibition (paintings) in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery as the exhibition finishes on Tuesday.

More about this wonderful exhibition later .... Meanwhile one's time and effort is always taken up with keeping the wee ones amused. It is hard work but the idea is to think up ways to keep them from running away or tearing up the place for 5 whole minutes.

So here is The Grandma Strategy (I mean, ya gotta use the buzz words these days ....!) : go and visit the sculpture which are on the grounds outside the building.

So with Ishie sitting beside me on the grass we looked at this sculpture in metal called The Vital Spark by George Wiley. It is a boat and it even looks like a boat. It is the type that used to ply the coast of Scotland and was fueled by coal hence the puffs of black smoke that came from its funnel.

Now there is a word that proved interesting - funnel. First of all, I asked Ishie if she liked the thing we were looking at. Not riveting (sorry about the pun) but agreed that it was OK. She noticed that it had the shape of a house. Well that is true! And as we discussed ... the purpose of the chimney is the same as that thing shaped like a toilet roll.

Alastair was a different story. His comments: "There's no water"... "Can I stroke it?" So I am here to tell you he actually did go up to it and, for two whole seconds, stroked the side of the hull. Not being quick enough with the camera to show such aesthetic appreciation I am offering, however, this much more representative and very typical 'Alastair Moment of Bliss'! Please note the patriotic rubber boots (apparently much commented on by passers-by!)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


When one cannot get access to the piano to practice the only thing to do is get vicarious practice. By that I mean, when there was an piano competition all last week, i.e. the 9th Scottish International Piano Competition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow I booked myself into 2 of the performances. Now that we have moved house I am a very convenient bus ride (free for those of us of a certain age) both to and from the RSAMD building in the city centre.

So Wednesday night I headed off for the semi-final. This gal was one of three playing with the Brodsky Quartet. Her name is Oxana Shevchenko and she comes from a place I hardly know where to place on the map - Kazakhastan!

(The other two players that evening were also from that part of the world, namely, Nadezda Pisareva (Moscow) and Pavel Kolesnikov from Novolsibirsk, Russia.)

I had a most enjoyable evening sitting next to a gentleman who clearly knew a thing or two about this music competition and also the 5 grand pianos that were sitting on the floor of the auditorium. (The competing pianist tries them out and selects one on which to perform.) I never knew this man's name - had something to do with the organisation of the event - except that he was heading off to the Edinburgh train as I headed off for the bus home.

Then on Saturday night Colette and John gave me a lift into another evening performance for which we all had bought tickets.

Giving a recital was not a competitor but, rather, this lady, Idil Biret, a concert pianist from Turkey. Her website is here.

A gifted musician from the age of three (like many of the young competitors) she played with technical brilliance, and to me, somewhat Germanic... meaning everything was very muscular and loud. (My piano teacher would not approve....) Well, it's interesting to compare styles. One man gave her a standing ovation at the end; the rest of the 3/4 full auditorium did not. To me, that says it all.

However, again, I sat next to a most interesting person - a London Lady who chatted as much as I am inclined to whenever I am treating myself to an evening such as this. (I guess it comes from being single ticket holders.)

She was up for the weekend - as you do! I couldn't envisage her spending the following day, Sunday with rain forecast, in Glasgow so there was nothing for it but to take her out (to Ross Priory) and smell the flowers. Definitely the way to spend a driech day until the 4 pm final concert (she had a ticket) at which the winner of the competition was to be chosen (and receive £10,000 plus a Bluthner grand piano). And who was the winner (I found out today by checking the RSAMD website).....?

Oxana from Kazakhstan!

Photo sources: Idil:
and Oxana:

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


I have been away from the computer and also not been out with my camera so the blog has been very quiet of late. My apologies! Folk are phoning me to see if we are still in the land of the living!

Iain had his orthopedic appointment today as it has been 6 weeks since he was discharged from hospital after his fall from the ceiling space. (See Iain's accident in the CATEGORIES on the right for the details.) Basically not a lot came out of the visit, i.e. Iain saw the x-ray film of the cracks in the vertebrae. The fact that he has not put on weight was discussed. Where do we go from here? Dunno. He walks around and goes out to the park behind the house to exercise. Does he wear the brace? What do you think? Anyhow, the upshot was that he needs to wear the brace another 6 weeks.

Meanwhile life rolls along, i.e. the wee ones are growing bigger every day. Here is Alastair absorbed in his colouring book. All these shots were taken by Mairi on her iPhone.

This shows Alastair, quite literally, climbing the wall. He is trying to switch on the light. He has the strength to do these things as he has very strong pectorals, i.e. chest muscles. Quite amazing, really.

I took Ishie to playgroup this morning. She is very chatty! The conversation goes something like this: "My daddy is working." "Oh, and what does your daddy work at?" "He works at ASDA's [supermarket]... with the ladies."!!!

Just before I headed out to the Young Fiddlers orchestra practice tonight, the lad who is plastering the upstairs appeared in the doorway to say he would be back tomorrow. I asked about where he lived and was it his dad that dropped him off in the big 4X4? Yes, he takes his sister to school. I asked her age, and then I asked his (21 years). "And are you married?" "No, but I got a girlfriend and there's a wain on the way, but." [a baby on the way, but] He is going to see the scan tomorrow. "How does your dad feel about this?" "Surprised it hasn't happened sooner." ! "How does your mum feel about this?" "Haven't seen her in years." Oh dear....

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Members of the Clyde Cruising Club have been away on the Club's Centenary Cruise this summer. Photos are starting to come in of their musters and meanderings. I am editor of the Club newsletter so this material comes across my desk. (I have permission to put these photos on the web.)

Here are some photos of Barrie Waugh's which he took this summer. He sailed to St Kilda which is a group of islands off the west coast of Scotland shown in the map below.

It is actually a group of islands sticking up out of the water like this. This is Stac Lee. I think this is a fabulous shot. I sit here in my warm room looking at that cold, cold ocean and am mighty glad I am not out there! And that is in the good weather!

Leaving Boreray

Dun Hirta, St Kilda

Above Village Bay look down into the bay.

Everyone who has visited there thinks it is a most wonderful place! Yes, it is rugged and sits in splendid isolation. I have to admit that "splendid" is a word I would not use about St Kilda. I found it bristling with military attennae (which you never see in the chocolate box photos); its history is grim and so very sad.

So thank you Barrie for the photos. You capture the atmosphere exactly!