Sunday, 27 November 2011


Last night I attended the Clyde Cruising Club's Annual Prizegiving and Dinner Dance. This yachting organisation is one of the few groups of people who are still running these big events.

This year it was in the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow's city centre. This big hotel is typical of the ones built in the early days of railway travel. Last year it had an expensive refurbishment and it really is lovely! Modern hotel ballrooms can really be a bit like dining and dancing in an airplane hanger; not this place. It was tastefully decorated to highlight the Victorian elegance of the building.

Furthermore it is located in the Central Station itself so I was able to travel to it by train and not have to go out into the lashing rain and high winds tonight by simply walking through the concourse. I don't know the cost of the rooms or conference arrangements but I was very impressed with the service, food, and all the facilities.

One of the winners of the photography competition was Shona who gave me permission to print this photo (which is done as a cut-out). It was my favourite of all the photos submitted.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Here's Baby Iain now fully recovered from his operation. He certainly has emerged a star from having had his left eye removed 2 weeks ago. Friends and relations of Dawn and Alastiar have been sending him rather fetching pairs of dark glasses with which to pose for his (many) photo-opportunities!

Iain will be receiving an artificial eye in January. One of the cancer charities in Vancouver is offering to help pay for half of the cost of this.

We are now getting over the shock of all that Dawn and Alastair have had to deal with. Friends have been most kind and understanding. As one young mother from the children's orchestra that I am involved with pointed out "He will be all the more precious because of what has happened to him." Quite so.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


I have spent much of the day, indeed week, preparing material for the yachting publication that I (voluntarily) put together. There have been some stunning photos coming in and all by amateurs taken on their digital cameras.

Recently a decision was made to move to a different firm to produce this 12 page A4 publication as the previous printer went out of business. (It is folk like me that who do this work for nothing on their Macs at home that are bringing about continuing the demise of the printing industry.)

Well, I am absolutely astonished at how technology has moved on! I now send images and text to a graphics outfit and they do all the work (that I used to do on QuarkXpress which, I gather, no one uses any more).

It means less eye strain for me and they do a hugely better job, e.g. we are now doing full colour and lots of clever graphic stuff.

A couple of hours of having dragged and dropped files in Dropbox - another form of very helpful technology - and the whole job was turned around with a draft proof back to me as a pdf file.

We are not finished yet but while I wait for the last of the material to come (AGM minutes) here is a lovely photo a friend, coincidentally, sent me today. I think the photo is a Fyffe boat Hallowe'en which was on the Clyde in 2008.

So instead of hours of close reading and cropping images Iain and I are heading out for the evening for dinner with friends. The hostess is a wonderful cook! Once, when I asked her how she enjoyed a cookery course she attended several years ago, she responded "M-m-m-m ... I could teach them a thing or two!" Quite so!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


I enjoyed a discussion on the radio (Andrew Marr on Monday) where artists were collected together to look at the role of Art and Politics. One inevitable topic was about trying to find a solution to the present (dire!) economic situation.

The discussion was about the difficulties of sorting it out, i.e. everyone has their own solution.

Evona Blazwick (art gallery person) ..... talked about how people are trying to deal with the whole history of capitalism, how it is not like the Civil Rights Movement of the things are much less black and white; of how "we are in a land of euphemisms ... in a place where language has abstracted the issues ..."

Rory Bremner (comedian) highlighted the fact that we are told that we are stuck in this situation; there also are no alternatives... It's like the rabbit that has been caught in the headlights in the middle of the road: what do you do with it?

George Osbourne says: "Let's bang it on the head."

Vince Cable says: "Let's take it to the vet and do it humanely."

Ed Milliband says: "We have to put it down but let's do it slowly."

Chris Huhne says: "It's not my fault. The wife was driving!"

Photos are from the garden today.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Today is Sunday and the family are coming for dinner. I reached into the cupboard for some wine and found a bottle of my favourite Fitou and noticed that it wasn't an unopened bottle ... ooops... nothing for it but to check that it was still OK as it must have been there for many months!

Well ... one thing leads to another ... While boiling the lamb bones for the soup I headed out to the garden and picked, quite literally, the last rose of the summer. It was quite beautiful! and the perfume is lovely! (For months I have been looking at bashed and pathetic roses ..!)

Then waiting for the pie in the oven I doodled around taking photos of this lovely rose. It has got to keep me going just now as we head into the darkest of the winter days.

As is the way of things, I got side-tracked looking for some music, i.e. sheet music, on the internet. I found what I was looking for, namely, Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkle. The trick is to save the pages as pdf files and then printed out the given page, I got a perfectly useable copy (about 3/4 page size). Who puts this stuff on the web? Answer: The Chinese (I think from the Chinese symbols above the title).

Friday, 18 November 2011


The weather has been mild all week so it has been good for getting out to the garden or the countryside.

These are some recent photos of the grand-children, taken by John last weekend when they were out in the Blane Valley which is a couple of miles from us on the outskirts of Glasgow.

Alastair (3 and 3/4 years) very much a running, jumping, climbing boy

Ishie (nearly 5 years old)

I collect her after school every Thursday and we spend time together until dinnertime. Today she was humming (not entirely in tune!) repeatedly "There's no room in the inn ... there's no room in the inn"!

Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond are in the distance

Sunday, 13 November 2011



PART 1: This is Remembrance Sunday. There are ceremonies taking place at 11 am at cenotaphs and other places of public gathering all over the country. (Two minutes' silence was also observed last Friday, November 11th. I was in a church hall at the time.)

Iain's father was in the First World War and survived. He lied about his age to get himself accepted into the Scottish regiment: 4th battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. Iain tells the story that he learned from an old man some years ago. This man was his platoon sergeant and told the story about looking for a man who could shoe horses. "Is there a farrier here?" "Yes" said Iain's father. "Right. Come with me" ... and he missed the Battle of the Somme.

He is on the far right, front row. There is no date nor location on the back of the photograph which is actually a postcard. On the back, which is blank, is printed in large lettering "Carte Postale".

This is another postcard. It has no title. I think he is in the second row seated in front of the short man in the back row. Again no information about place (with Bell tents) or date. The stamp is British. Postmark is Kingussie.

The note to his mother reads "Dear Mother, I hope you are well. I am well here and am enjoying myself fine. I am writing this PC asking you to send me that pair of trousers I left. I want to get them before I go so that I will have the suit. If you can't send it by return don't send it at all as I won't get it before I leave. Yours, Donald"

............ move on 90 years to this man's great-grandson (who has the same surname) .............

Part 2: It was exactly a week ago that we waited anxiously for the outcome of the operation that had to be done on our wee grandson's eye. Doctors in Vancouver successfully removed his left eye due to a retinoblastoma. Only one eye has been affected.

Like Churchill's battle command in his bunker ... it is time to re-group.

Saturday, 12 November 2011


While the focus of the media is on the European Union, particularly Italy's rising debt, the rest of us go about our daily lives. To that end Maggie and I headed to Stockholm, Sweden for 3 days to visit friends and do a bit of shopping.

One advantage of living in "Europe" broadly speaking is that travel is so much easier than it used to be. Borders are easy to cross and there are these low-cost airlines operating (often using former military airfields) which have established a whole new economy related to movement of ordinary people back and forth. We flew RyanAir from Edinburgh to Skavsta (1.4 hours' bus ride from Stockholm) and it was absolutely great both ways. Yes, you have to obey the rules about luggage size and weight and have all your internet booking print-out in order but ... for a low-cost airline the 2 hour flight could not be faulted.

I am basically a Northern Latitude person. Apart from the lovely people that we know in Sweden I like the fact that I am simply "part of the wallpaper". Maybe I have Scandinavian genes somewhere in my background? Being tall and of light of skin and hair I don't stand out as a tourist. In the street I look just like all the other women. And I love Swedish cuisine: pickled herring, rågbröd (rye bread), cod roe paste and, of course, all those trees!

I took these photos on my iPhone... amazing! The time of day was 3:30 pm with the most glorious golden pink sky as the sun set.

The last of the sun just hitting the top of the clock-tower of Saint Jacob's Church (not far from Marimekko - my most favourite shop!)

Walking to the Gamla Stan (Old Town) from the city centre over the Riksbron Bridge.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Ishie and I were in the swing park at the back of our house this afternoon when we noticed the full moon rising. We were just high enough to see it and also to watch the wonderful pink sky as it started to get dark.

The leaves are now all away from the trees. Last week there were still a lot on the trees as we had to stand under them to avoid the sudden short showers passing over. Here she is in her pink jacket pointing to the moon as she sits astride the monkey bars. And as she pointed out to me she likes pink "it is for girls".

Maggie and I returned from Stockholm yesterday and here is a photo taken at exactly the same time of day in Tegnérlunden Park opposite our hotel. The lighting was a similar pink and taking about the same time to get dark (i.e. half an hour after the sun went down).

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Nearly a week has past and the waiting is over. Wee baby Iain of 3 months was taken to the doctor a week ago because Alastair and Dawn were worried about his left eye which appeared cloudy.

He was diagnosed as having a retinoblastoma, i.e. cancer of the left eye. On November 5th he was admitted to hospital in Vancouver and after an MRI scan he underwent an operation for the removal of the affected eye.

It appears that the other eye is not affected and for that everyone is so very grateful. He has come through the operation and is now back home recovering.

Thanks to the modern technology of the internet and Skype video communication as well as text messaging we have all been kept up-to-date as events unfolded. It has a been a worrying time but the worst seems to be over.

Thursday, 3 November 2011


What is it people say ...? "Feel the fear and do it anyway?"

How, tell me, does that work if one is worried?

All day long I am saying to myself -

"I'm not worried... I'm NOT worried ... I'm not WORRIED."

Our baby grandson of 3 months has to undergo a serious operation in 3 days' time. He is at home with Dawn and Alastair and we only wish we could be closer to them. We are in contact over the internet, thank goodness, but all the same I am finding it hard to get over the shock of this recent turn of events.

One thing to do is to keep busy. Fortunately it was my day to pick up Ishie from school. We made a card for her wee cousin (after we talked to Alastair on Skype which clarified the situation) and she printed her name inside it: "Ish ..." then a squashed "b" and then on the space above "eL". The crosses are kisses.

Food for comfort is tea and toast. For Ishie (and wee Alastair when he arrived) I make "soldiers" by cutting the hot toast with melting butter. (I have never adopted the British preference for cold toast.)

And so we all are thinking of one wee baby who is going to have to be a very Brave Soldier.