Tuesday, 31 May 2011


We had a good day in the garden today. Iain and Duncan have nearly finished the sitootery and I managed to get some planting done.

Our sailing friends dropped by at various times today with their tales of drama and destruction on the west coast last week in the gales which gusted up to storm force at times.

Peter was storm-bound in Crinan Canal en route to Plockton in his own wee boat Kirsty. On an earlier trip he was unable to row out to his dinghy from the shore one night and ended up grabbing on to an adjacent boat who took him aboard for the night. It was a near thing because if he missed they would have been blown out to sea. I don't like to think about it!

Then Brian and Maggie gave us an up-date on treatment for Maggie's hand injury which she obtained when tying to secure a warp on the bow of their boat in storm force winds in Loch Aline. They had a bit of drama when the rope tying them on to a mooring broke in strong winds (and sea) and ... eventually ... with help, they got another mooring but Maggie got her left hand squashed and it involved all the palaver of getting to shore and getting her to the Belford Hospital in Fort William.

There was a lot of damage on the west coast (and in the Clyde) last week. Quite a few boats dragged their mooring and ended up ashore in Loch Melford and Loch Craignish. Thank goodness Iain's week sailing with Jane, Michel and Helene was only "driech", not "dangerous"!

Monday, 23 May 2011


The Scientific Method of Testing has to be A Good Thing! Generally speaking I hate 'problem solving' so methodical testing, i.e. changing one variable whilst keeping the rest constant, is not my first instinct when trouble-shooting.

However my use of computers and all the associated technology has definitely made me more scientific. By that I mean, when I come across a problem (after making a cup of coffee) I make an attempt at fixing it. I always start out by "googling".

Therefore ... the following is the result of one such exercise which I offer for other web users and as an aide-memoire to myself.

Checking your O2 phone bill on-line

[1] To view your O2 phone bill (in the UK) on the internet (you will have registered i.e. established your username and password ... and know they are correct) you click on


[2] If you get an security message coming up saying that the following site


is not secure, do not panic. There is a lot of chat on the web (several years ago) about this but here is what I have discovered ... and solves the problem. I did not click on it (and, indeed, it may be OK) but this worked on my Mac OS 10.5.8:

[3] The problem lies with the browser:

[3a] When using Chrome browser (the default one in their email link) the message is a red box exclaiming "The site's security certificate is not trusted!"

[3b] When using Safari browser the error "can't verify identity" comes up.

[3c] When using Firefox it worked.

[4] I don't know anything about zarkov and did not click on the link. Maybe someone can shed some light on this!

Saturday, 21 May 2011


Iain is back from his sailing trip and so that is us getting back to our normal routine. The weather was really very poor for their trip but they managed to get some sailing done: Oban - Mull - Lismore and back to Oban. Seol na Mara is still in the boatyard at Lagavulin waiting for someone to check the keel bolts after her close encounter with a rock 3 weeks ago.

While he was away I was happily occupied in various activities with the children.

Ishie is going to start school this August! She will be 5 years old at the end of December so is included in this year's school intake. Arrangements were made for the pre-schoolers to go to their new school for orientation. So here is Ishie on the day of her visit for the Teddy Bear's Picnic (held in the school hall).

She said she enjoyed the day and that "Teddy didn't want to go home"!

I went with her for her second visit, a week later. Here the children went to another room while the headmistress gave a PowerPoint presentation about the school and its aims. Then 15 minutes was spent on an exercise for the parents which was to illustrate what is like to learn to read when all the letters are new and strange.

It was very well done! Little booklets were given out. Each page had a cartoon and under each picture were, not alphabetical letters, but rather what I would call 'wingdings', i.e. web symbols to 'spell' the words relating to the text.

I had a chance to browse through the books which are to be used for learning to read. They are called the Oxford Reading Tree and are published by Oxford University Press. Apparently they are used all over Scotland.

Now that I know what is planned I should be able to pick up odd books in the charity shops for top-up reading when the time comes.

Meanwhile Alastair is having to learn to wave good-bye to Ishie. This is proving a bit hard as they pretty well do everything together. (We have to remember that it must be a bit like being a twin as they are so close in age!) Of course, he is his own wee person ... here he is sitting in the log basket in the living room munching on a Jacob's Cream Cracker.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


This is the last of the Oberstdorf collection of photographs. I did not take my camera on this trip and all the photos were taken on my iPhone. That being said the technology is such nowadays that there is plenty of good photos from such a small piece of kit!

Using the Photoshop software it is possible to alter photos to make them more artistic. Using the 'cut-out' filter I applied it to the following 2 photos. The top photo of the pair is the original; the bottom photo is the 'cut-out'.

On one of our walks through the mountains we passed through a farmyard where these cowbells were hanging neatly in a line outside the barn.

* * * * * *

The sign is for the toilet which was around the side of the farmhouse where we had lunch.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


The alpine flowers were out in full profusion while on holiday in the Allgäu region of southern Germany. When walking in the higher meadows there were gentians out both singly and in clumps.

The main species we saw in the higher meadows was, as far as I could identify, Gentian acaulis.

Dietrich's garden had lots of lovely tulips growing. This is one gowing midst the alpine strawberries.

After our morning hike along the well maintained paths through the meadows we always stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. The local bottled mineral water either fizzy or still was the choice of drink for most of our party. Trettacher brand is named after one of the several valleys that spur off the main valley where the town of Oberstdorf is situated.

One day we were treated to lunch by Manny and Carmen. They prepared all the food and went to a great deal of trouble to keep the beverages cool! Here is his Cooler with a View.

I brought along a carrot cake which I made from memory (bad idea....). It was no match for the meal that Manny had laid on. It was a joy to sit and eat someone else's cooking and we spent the afternoon eating and drinking, with our feet up, gazing across the tree-tops to the opposite mountain and crystal clear blue sky.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


While on holiday in Oberstdorf which is located in the Allgäu region (Bavarian alps) we were out everyday either walking in the meadows or hiking the numerous valley and mountain trails. From Dietrich and Reingard's house Sabena, Nora, Iain and I headed out each morning into the clear mountain air with the objective of improving our fitness level!

The meadows were full of flowers. There are numerous valleys to explore and in each of them it is possible to time it so one arrives at place where food is served. The menus on all occasions were full and varied: German beer, seasonal asparagus, local venison sausages, kartoffel kloesse (potato dumplings) or apple strudel.

Everywhere is tidy and tended. This graveyard of St. Jacob chapel (above village of Reichenbach) had flowers in every grave. The roadside religious statuary or little chapels (for this is a Catholic region of Germany) always had fresh alpine flowers placed in vases.

Horse-drawn carriages offered tourists, often elderly, a ride up the valley through avenues of apple blossom at this time of year. People live in the farms and the animals are still down in the valley grazing. The herds appear to be all diary cows.

The area is immaculate; no neon lights or turnstyles, no billboards, burger outlets, fun fares or race courses. The town of Oberstdorf has very up-market shops and all the winter sports activities (and there are a lot) are based in and around this centre.

The sun shone the whole time we were there. As it is off-season it was not particularly busy and those visitors who were there tended to be older ... much like ourselves ... and of a mind to enjoy this most peaceful valley of meadows and mountains.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011



We have been away in France and Germany for the last 10 days and have now safely returned.

Feeling rested, revived and refreshed from meeting old friends in Paris and then hiking in the Bavarian alps with our German friends we are now back home and preparing to return to our somewhat quiet domestic routine.

We are not hotel people and derive great pleasure from staying with friends as guests in their own home.

While the rest of London was gathering for the wedding of William and Kate we were moving through the Channel Tunnel on the Eurostar train to Paris ending up at our destination in the suburb of Suresnes. The day ended with C. and I raising a glass to the bride and groom while catching 5 minutes of BBC evening news headlines on the television.

Poppies in Rouen where we visited our host's daughter and family.

Geraniums in our host's house in Oberstdorf (Bavaria)


Time to raise another glass (champagne in Paris)

Today is May 10th. I suddenly remembered firstly, my advancing age as another year rolls over but also the fact that I launched this blog 3 years ago [here]!

So ... why not some flowers? Both photos were taken in our respective hosts' gardens.

These are C's glorious irises which were in profusion in her garden upon our arrival April 29th in Paris.

I took a photo of D's lilacs in the early morning sun today as we departed for the drive to Frankfurt-Hahn airport and our flight to Edinburgh. That clear alpine blue sky is what it was like for most of the days during our stay. Then add to that the fragrance of the lilac ... quite memorable!