Sunday, 28 August 2011


Flowers for a quite Sunday. While the east coast of North American braces itself for the arrival of a hurricane 500 miles across as demonstrated in the TV satellite pictures, we are feeling the first touch of autumn with dry north-east winds instead of our usual (Gulf Stream) wet south-westerlies.

Flower pots are blowing over but not the nasturtiums tied to the fence or stakes. They give so much colour outside; nothing is easier than bringing a bunch in to brighten up the window ledges.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Today is our day to collect Ishie after her morning at school. As it was a lovely day we decided to have a train trip to see the new Transport Museum which has opened on the Glasgow city waterfront (old harbour area).

I did not have my camera so took a few photos on the iPhone. I will go back and get some of the building which is very impressive. Here is a skyscape over the Clyde. The Glenlee is lying along side. This ship was brought to the Clyde as a rusting hull 18 years ago by enthusiasts who little by little restored her enough so she would float alongside the quay. (I remember going over her when they were re-rigging her with those big horizontal yards (spars) on the huge masts. I talked to the guys doing the job; they were from Nova Scotia. They had to be brought over especially to do the job as there was no one in Scotland to do it ... so they said!)

The Glenlee masts are reflected in the west facing side of the Transport Museum.

This is the veiw last night at 8:15 pm from the window at my left elbow as I sit at my computer. The direction is north-west. Every morning and evening ... indeed much of the day ... sees a sea gull sitting on the chimney of the house across the street. (I think someone feeds them; there are days when they make a heck of a racket!)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


We lifted the first of our potatoes today. It is the first time I have ever planted potatoes; we put in earlies, middle and late ones... can't remember the varieties. It is very satisfying work to dig in a potato patch! Oh boy! Growing our own food!

The soil is not great but this planting should help things along.

They were remarkably good looking, i.e. not full of slugs or diseased. And the yield was about 1/2 a bucket for one row... acceptable, I reckon.

They scrubbed up well.

I boiled them up and also boiled some frozen peas with mint from the garden.

The results: the spuds were very watery and tasted of nothing at all! Oh dear ... I am afraid the supermarket ones are a whole lot better!


Bottom: The Potato Eaters by Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, 22 August 2011


We thought that when Ishie went to school, as she did last week for the first time, she and Alastair would miss each other quite badly. (They are only 13 months apart in age and are always doing things together.) Wrong! Now that Ishie is away every morning, young Alastair is making himself much more vocal! He has become a right blether (as they say in Scotland, i.e. chatterbox).

They are both very good at language but occasionally a bit of straightening out is needed. For example, Alastair likes to tell us about his new cousin, baby Iain, who was born August 4th in Vancouver.

In the long flow of this story he tells us how his new cousin was born in Vancouver and lives in August!

Ishie, similarly, was practicing what I think are her stock responses to questions people ask: "I live in Primary One" and also at the same time says "I live in Glasgow." It must be really difficult to learn all these "in" phrases ... just think about being "in a hurry", "in bed", "in a muddle" etc!

But we always have a few laughs! The other day Mairi said to both of them "If you are not behaving you won't get ...." to which Alastair responds, "It's not fair! I am 'having!"

Photo is John's holiday shot taken in Wales 2 weeks ago.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


A big day for a wee girl ... Ishie started school today. She goes to the local primary school. In June she attended 2 short sessions to get familiar with the building and the other little people starting at the same time. Also the very friendly staff, and there seem to be a good number for this young age group, were all on hand so they were known faces today.

All children in all schools wear a school uniform of their chosen colours. At this age they haven't yet turned them into fashion statements; you should see the teenagers! You would be amazed at how they can jazz up a white blouse with school tie and dark skirt especially the 18 inch long ones worn with black tights!

She likes to be busy so is going to really enjoy getting stuck into all the activities and projects that are part of her new life! (I don't think she quite realizes that she has to do this every day for 5 days in a row!)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


I was telling Alastair that I really like Bansky's street art. He told me to see Exit Through the Gift Shop which is a film made, I discover, by Banksy. I finally watched it on TV; I loved it! It spoke volumes!

What's it about? I am going to stick my neck out here because having read a few reviews of it and also the Banksy website for the film I have not found anything which, to my way of thinking, addresses what this film is actually about ... namely, how art in the form of painting, has become a commodity.

This really well-written Guardian article written when the film came out over a year ago (!) says lots of things about what goes on in the film and concludes that Banksy "could be an important artist or just a silly fad – either way, in the street and with this film, he's providing pleasure while he lasts." He just doesn't get it!

I love this artist's irreverence! To me his creations (let's be clear: the guy can draw and his work is highly original!) are about throwing metaphorical ... well, visual, actually ... custard pies at the arbiters of style and taste that are in our culture ... I suppose they could be any culture. He is like the wee boy in the story of the Emperor's New Clothes. (This Hans Christian Anderson moral tale is about an Emperor who loved beautiful clothes and was told by his weavers that the invisible ones they made for him were very beautiful. Everyone went along with this. This was fine until a wee boy shouted out upon seeing him "but he's not wearing anything!")

So who are these people who decide what is art, what goes into art galleries, what has value and commands high prices in the art shows and sale rooms? Who buys "art" by whatever definition you want to give it, and why? It's all in the story line.

The best bit of all is the title: "Exit Through the Gift Shop", i.e. viewing works of art are about "come and see stuff in the gallery and we have made sure you cannot get out of the building without buying a mug or a mouse mat en route".

Images of Banksy website.


Monday, 15 August 2011


The Duke of Wellington (or "The Jooky" as he is known) is looking in the distance at a sight due east of where he is astride his horse: it is an American film company transforming some Glasgow streets in order to make a Philadelphia street film set for the Brad Pitt blockbuster £80 million zombie movie World War Z. BBC TV coverage of it is here and here. American cars, street signs and lighting have be specially brought in. Can you credit it?!

It is going to bring lots of money to the city and furthermore local people have been drafted in for some of the parts. A friend of Mairi's is one person, for example. I am afraid that when she told me about this in June all I could respond with was ... "Who is Brad Pitt?!!!!

Never mind ... I might just pop in to the city centre to see The Jooky and take a few photos on my blockbuster iPhone (like this one I took on a wet day in May)!

Sunday, 14 August 2011


The World Pipe Band Championships are taking place this week. So some of us headed off to Glasgow Green to soak up the atmosphere, follow the bands and marvel at all the kilted colour. My goodness, these (230!) bands come from all corners of the world and with them come individuals who either play or are interested in bagpipes (of all shapes and sizes). The park was full of bands warming up, drums practicing their routines, men and women, boys and girls all in their band uniforms meeting, greeting and competing.

Big screens were mounted in several locations in the park. In the main (Grade 1) competing arena there was a BBC team filming (live-streaming apparently) giving us both a bird's eye view plus close-up sequences. We have known the days when this event hardly ever got as much as a mention in the Scottish newspapers or if it did it was along the lines of a child fallen asleep on top of a bass drum.

​St Laurence O'Toole Pipe Band, Eire with their green kilts and Celtic logo.

Suddenly, to the side of the main area, we recognised a familiar face in the centre of this circle of red kilted players. It was Willie McCallum, THE Champion Piper of Pipers, hard at work tuning up their instruments ... of ... the Heidelberg and District Pipe Band! He is a Glasgow man who lives locally. He has many roles, one of which is his business which makes bagpipes. One of the band told me that he is tutoring them in Germany. Now, that is what I call having The Right Idea! I can confidently predict this will be a band to watch!

I am always amazed that so many folk compete every year. Of course, the Edinburgh Festival is on now and also many players take part in Highland Games that are being held all over the country.

Then there is the pub culture that must be an attraction for so many North American visitors. And for those who aren't attracted to the pubs which are doing a roaring trade in the city, there is always a chance to partake of Scotland's Other National Drink ... shown by that empty can on the grass: Irn-Bru!

Thursday, 11 August 2011


The rain hasn't stopped for 2 days. Apparently it is the worst since records began! (I thought they said that earlier this year in May and June!) Be that as it may, I picked some flowers today.

Rain-bashed cornflowers in a vase on the sideboard. I like their really strong blue colour.

The sweet peas were very late going in but are finally blossoming ... though a bit soggy from the rain!

I managed to tidy the garden before the deluge but did not get a chance to plant the blue agapanthus and white gypsophilia. They sit in their pots alongside Mairi's chrysanthemum plant she gave me last week.

The tomato plant my neighbour, Jack, gave me is doing well. His are growing in profusion in his greenhouse; my single plant is ... well ... holding its own quite satisfactorily! (I give him lettuces from my garden in exchange.)

And lastly our Canada Goose wind-sock is still thriving on the lawn in front of the nasturtiums.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


The house is now finished! Well ... the main outside and structural work is now complete. Tonight the men finished laying the paving slabs for the driveway. We are mindful that we have had some very cold weather the last 2 years and as a result there is ice on the driveway; it is simply a fact of life! So we laid slabs that are rough in texture to help with slipping and secondly we did not opt for full paving as the only possible way to navigate from down the driveway (on an icy slope) is to walk on the stones or "chuckies" as they call them in this part of the world.

The is the garage opening at the top of the driveway. The door is a remote control up and over arrangement - the best invention after the washing machine!

This is the view looking down the driveway from the garage door to the street, i.e. the entrance to the garage along the east side of the house.

The arrows point to a helicopter that was hovering overhead all the time the men were working. What was it doing? A bank robbery? A car chase?

The only good thing about the noise of the every-present helicopter (which is a sinister sort of thing to my way of thinking) was that the noise of its blades drowned out the noise of these guys with their Black and Decker concrete slab cutting machine!

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Cowes Week (Annual Yachting Regatta) has started and this means lotsa boats on the water in the south of England. We forget how crowded the waters are and also how you have to remember that those big cargo boats won't give way to you! The trick is to get out of their way when they (repeatedly) blast on their horn!

Have a look at this!