Monday, 28 February 2011


Yesterday, Sunday, we went down to the boat in Bowling Basin. The sun was shining as we sat in the cockpit and drank coffee with Peter. Lots of folk were out walking their dogs and generally having a look at the boats in the basin. One fellow came up and wanted to look through the boat as he had admired Seol na Mara but had never met the owners. He was amazed that this is the boat's 31st year and still the same owners!

The west entrance to the basin has not changed much: old hulks still lie in the mud at the entrance. What an eyesore! There is nothing sadder than a derelict boat lying rotting in the mud. (Well, actually there is ... I think a violin with its strings all loose and the bridge fallen over is a very sad sight to my way of thinking.)

Just to prove the sun was shining I just had to capture the mid-day shadows behind the wooden millenium posts (put in when they did up the Forth and Clyde Canal in 2000).

One of the rings at the edge of the canal. Lots of original bits and pieces are still in place around the basin including rings, hooks and bollards for tying warps.

Saturday, 26 February 2011


Another spring day so Iain was outside with Craig digging drains and barrowing earth back and forth.

It's Saturday: Ishie was with us this afternoon. You would not believe how content she was playing on her own with a simple, humble jam jar she found in the cupboard! Add to that a most wonderful source of treasures: Grandma's button box!

Is it because it isn't just any ol' button box but one full of stories, in fact, every button could tell a story! Think of all things that you can do with buttons! Someone should write a paper on Button Box (Mathematical) Sets!

I also recall a game for pre-schoolers where they sit in a circle and a button is passed behind their backs to each other. The person in the middle has to guess whose hand it is in by asking "Button, button! Who's got the button?" Once found that person takes the place of "It" in the middle.

She was fascinated with the neighbours' "flags" hanging on the washing line. Ah yes ... yellow dusters (washed and put out to dry)! So I found one for her very own to keep her industrious hands busy!

Friday, 25 February 2011


Jane, in Canada, sent me this today:

A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for her homework assignment. 

The teacher graded it and the child brought it home. She returned to school the next day with the following note:

Dear Ms. Davis, 

I want to be perfectly clear on my child's homework illustration. It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint surrounded by male customers with money. I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This drawing is of me selling a shovel.

* * * * *

It reminded me of the time Mairi brought home her schoolwork at the end of the year when she was in Primary 2. Browsing through her book of written stories I came across a story she had written at the start of her school year:

My Summer Holiday

"We sailed to Arran in our boat. Mummy went up the mountain with Auntie Iseabail and Curly. Daddy and Ricky took Alastair and I to the beach where he bought us ice cream and then went to the pub." !!!

Thursday, 24 February 2011


This was the day the roofers were scheduled to put the tiles on the garage and porch roof and ... would you believe it ... the sun shone! We have had really dreary weather for about 2 weeks and today we had a good few hours of afternoon sunshine.

So for the first time I got out with the camera and took a few shots of the new structure. I am really pleased with the look of the building(s). The asymmetrical roof of the garage means that it is not so imposing a building for our neighbour. I feel it puts the weight of the building in our side which is where it should be.

There you can see the adjoining porch leading to the garage. I have already found that it functions as a larder or 'cool room' for big cooking pots, vases of fresh flowers. I can now see the line of the roof in respect to the house roof. Again, the building is low and so it is deceptive as to the square footage of room inside (which is much bigger that I had imagined). We will be able to get a car in the garage and have room for Iain's workshop.

And so with the spring weather today all the good folk in the neighbourhood were out having an end-of-winter inspection of their gardens. Yes, there has been frost damage but amazingly some plants and trees have actually survived!

These are the crocuses that grow along the little garden between us and our (very patient and tolerant) neighbours on the east side of our house. I derive enormous pleasure from seeing the little dabs of colour that these flowers bring at this time of year! We know that it will be another 8 weeks before the trees turn green but these are the first ... well, the second after snowdrops ... to inject colour into the greyness of our winter climate!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Feminie intuition? I believe in it ... in fact, I believe in it more and more as I get older!

As Garrison Keiller says in his Lake Wobegon monologues "It was a quiet day today ... at least it was quiet until ..." and off he goes telling of the local happenings in his mid-West America Small Town.

Well, it was a quiet day today. I decided to stay in as I had a sore throat and my eye infection has returned (though not so badly). Whenever there are men working on the house I am aware that someone ought to be around in case of an accident. Today, the men were laying batons on the roof in preparation for the roof tiles to be put on tomorrow

At midday Davie opened the back door, sticks his head in and I see he is holding his hand dripping blood.

"@***!@@***" "I've done it again!" Several months ago he drove a power drill through his left palm when attaching a wing mirror on to his car. Today, he was holding a plank and his mate drove a nail, using a power nail puncher ... through the same place! A very neat hole was pouring blood from his very dirty hand.

Well ... could I find a clean basin (catching drips in the loft space) or the First Aid Kit (in the Black Hole in the loft space)? Could I find the Dettol (like all bottles and substances they are all kept up high out of reach of the grandchildren)?!

Never mind. Tip the bread dough out of the only clean bowl I could find, get the bag of cotton wool that I use for my sore eyes and a packet of Band-Aids, well, actually Elastoplast Band-Aids if you know what I mean.

We cleaned it up and he went back to the hospital where he went with his first injury. All turned out OK - skewered on muscle; he got off lightly! (I remember the days when I worked on an eye ward and I had a patient who had exactly the same injury but it went into his eyeball. He lost the eye.)

So ... a resolution: [1] get the First Aid stuff organised and keep it handy [2] always follow my instincts!

Monday, 21 February 2011


I never knew that Charlie Chaplin was a musician. I always thought of him as an actor and comedian. However archive material is coming to light on his background, early life in England and his other less known activities in the theatre and films.

He was very musical, played by ear and composed pieces for his own films. Apparently he was keen on the cello! (I notice he uses his left hand to bow.)

The story of his family background is very sad. Like so many immigrants who ended up in North America they did not talk about their past, and, as is evident in this family, it was for a good reason. However this man made a name for himself in the movies.

While I was aware of the song Smile [though your heart is breaking ...etc] I did not realize it was by Chaplin. The BBC program (an interview with Chaplin's son) played a recording of Charlie Chaplin sitting at the piano working out bits of a (unknown) new composition he was working on.

An example of a song he composed is Swing High Little Girl. It was the opening song written and sung by Chaplin for the 1969 re-release of 1928 film The Circus.

I particularly liked the following line:

ItalicLook up to the sky
You'll never find rainbows
 if you’re looking down.

The whole song is not unlike Smile in sentiment. I can't help thinking that it is a pity he did not develop that side of his talents more!

Eventually he and his wife and family settled in Switzerland. There are plans to make their Manoir de Ban home in Vevey into a museum.

Chaplin photos: Wikipedia
Duart Castle, John Douglas, 2008

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Work has stepped up these past 2 days. Joiners, bricklayers and all the rest of the squad have been out putting on the roof of both the garage and of the porch. Today doors and windows went in.

Davie arrived first thing with a small digger to level off the garden area. After reversing it off his trailer he chugged it into the front opening of the garage, then ... left wheel ... and drove it out through the door that leads to the garden ... as you do!

The gaffer has spent the day checking where to dig, where to dump the dirt and then he and Davie's sister (!!!) have been shoveling more of the stuff that is piled outside the front door.

Monday, 14 February 2011


Wonderful news! Alastair and Dawn are expecting their first baby! We are all thrilled! There is going to be a Little MacLeod arriving in Canada which will make this baby a cousin for Ishie (4) and Alastair (3)! It will be our third grandchild and on Dawn's side it will be their first. So it is cause for celebration all round!

Grannies love nothing better than a new baby and especially in their own family! I have never been one for the rocking chair but I am definitely one for the knitting needles.

Several years ago I was in Orkney with friends and on one of our days out Dot and I came upon a craft fair in Kirkwall Town Hall. On display were some of the most beautiful knitted garments I had ever seen. The tag in the photo says "Orkney Craftsmen Guild. No. 3615".

I ended up buying this yellow baby sweater and matching tam (hat) and it has been sitting in my bottom drawer ever since. So this is going off in the post for the new baby.

Meanwhile I will get started on a bigger sweater that is my stand-by. It a pattern from Iain's mother's knitting book Paton's Woolcraft 18th edition, no date but probably late 50s or early 60s. Price 2/6. (Page 44 is shown.) It is an absolute bible of instructions, descriptions and patterns and I know this pattern will work.

The yellow needle-case is made from a piece of stitching work Alastair did at school aged about 8 years old. I sewed it on to a piece of yellow felt and folded it to make a needle-case. It is shown "as is" i.e. needles for repairing sails and needles for darning woolen socks and sweaters!

Sunday, 13 February 2011


In order to keep our Little People, aged 3 and 4 years old, occupied we invent games and songs as they both love this ... and the more nonsense the rhyme, the better they like it.

Alastair likes dinosaurs (Good Heavens! I cannot spell that word!)

What is behind this shed door at Dunira?

Phrogs? Phesants? (There were plenty in evidence in the adjacent fields...)

Alastair climbs up everything in sight. Sometimes he can even get himself down again, but the full height of a shed door he still has to master! So with Mairi's help ....




We spent the day in Perthshire yesterday. Iain helped Mairi with DIY jobs at Dunira and I was on Kiddie Duty out on the grounds of the Duira Estate. It was good to get out even if it was a little cold with snow still on the lawns and fields from the recent spell of cold weather.

On the trip home the sun came out and there was mist rising from all the fields and water-logged pastures. Here is the view over Lake of Menteith.

As it was starting to get dark this photo turned out rather poorly but I jazzed it up with a strong wash of yellow to make a Gothic scene. Again it is at the same time of day and this was taken out of the car window as we headed home.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


After 4 weeks of cold and wet weather with occasional dry spells in between the workmen have now finished the walls of the garage and connecting porch.

Today was a glorious sunny spring day so everybody and his dog was out! As our garden i.e. construction site, was quiet I walked around and took some photos. Everything is coming on just fine. It has, however, turned out to be a lot more work (digging, materials etc) than anticipated.

The squinty (green) toilet for the workmen gives the front of our house a certain novel character. Add to that are the orange builder's bags that arrive by truck and are then unloaded by crane. Last Thursday night we had a gale from the southwest which brought with it great gusts of wind causing these bags and other material loose on the site to go careening down the street or into neighbours' gardens. I was out there tying blue plastic sheeting on to scaffolding. (This comes from my days of tying down sails on the deck to keep them from flapping or flying away!)

The roof trusses go on tomorrow. Soon we will have a place to put a car ... called a garage ... which, in the past, was mostly used as a storeroom for sailbags, boat engines, rope, yacht varnish, oars, not to mention IKEA boxes, bags of coal, bits of timber ... etc, etc etc!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Things have been quiet on the blogsite because I have been out of commission with an eye infection. It started last Friday in one eye and then spread a couple of days later to the other eye. Through John Iain was able to obtain a prescription for anitbiotic ointment. Being Sunday made it a bit of a problem but he found one open at Anniesland shopping centre. Iain has been applying the ointment very diligently every 4 hours and I am now on the road to recovery.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


This image provided by NASA shows Tropical Cyclone Yasi as it approaches Queensland, Australia, Wednesday Feb. 2, 2011. This NEXSAT image captured this natural-color image at 04:32 GMT Wednesday Feb. 2, 2011. The Category 5 storm is expected to make landfall at approximately noon GMT Wednesday. Associated Press.