Saturday, 24 December 2011


Captain Vancouver discovered a lovely inlet
on the west coast of Canada a mere 200 years ago.

I discovered this wonderful garden across the road
from Alastair and Dawn's house
where we all went last night
to enjoy the Festival of Lights:

The VanDusen Gardens in Vancouver

(o - gremlin ....

Callicarpa dichotoma
purple beautyberry shrub ...
or maybe
it is the Callicarpa americana?

Anyhow it is my
Christmas wreath this year!

(Watch this space!
Now that I have learned about this winter-flowering plant
I plan to grow it
as it is thriving in the same micro-climate
as my Glasgow garden.)

"When you are old
You can wear ... grow purple!"



Just quickly ... some shots taken in Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) earlier this week. Catch you later.....

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Here are some photos of wee Baby Iain. He is doing very well - putting on weight and becoming quite animated.

Saturday, 17 December 2011


Alastair and Dawn's wee boy, Baby Iain David - Indy for short - is now 4 months old and is a wee pet! After seeing him on Skype all these past 4 months we now are delighted to meet the Real Boy! He is very like Alastair when he was that age, i.e. peach fuzz for hair and fair of skin.

Also he is temperamentaly like Alastair (and, apparently, Dawn) in that he is a quiet and contented, an Easy Baby! He is doing all the things that babies of his age do, beginning to grasp things in his hands and will chuckle if tickled or chatted to.

He has completely recovered from his recent eye surgery. The doctors are very pleased him and, of course, they are monitoring him closely. He will be getting a prosthesis for his left eye in January.

So here he is modelling his wee kilt which he is keeping in readiness for the New Year. He has a couple of rather stylish Pirate outfits, plus a Santa Claus red outfit - all necessary rig-outs for the wee celebrity-person that he is!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


And they came from the east bearing gifts for a baby .... Not three wise men but Iain and I preparing to enjoy what he maintains is his favourite view, namely, "looking back".

I found this wonderful painting depicting a caravan heading out, called The Magi Journeying (Les rois mages en voyage) by French painter, James Jacques Joseph Tissot, done between 1886 and 1894; an opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Brooklyn Museum.

He spent time in Paris and in London. "In 1874, Degas asked him to join them in the first exhibition organized by the artists we call the Impressionists, but Tissot refused." Wikipedia.

Monday, 12 December 2011


In Scotland we get a lot of "weather". Several people have asked me about the bad weather we had last Thursday (December 8th). Apparently it was on the news in various parts of the world that we had a Red Alert for "hurricane" weather. They elaborated that this "storm force" could results in structural damage.

This is where we live on the west of Scotland and yes, the weather reports on television and the radio did put out a Red Alert and, in my opinion, gave very good notice about a gale immanent and that it could reach "storm" force with gusts of "hurricane" force.

This shows the isobars and yes, it did arrive as predicted. Schools were closed. (I was due to collect Ishie at 3 pm which was to be the peak of the bad weather arriving from the sout-west heading east.) So I had her all day ... which was just fine.

People were let off work early (noon or mid-afternoon) to go home (and lose holidays over it). The news programmes showed how they were ready with teams of workers with chain saws to deal with fallen trees, railway staff to clear lines of debris (garden sheds, trampolines etc), several big bridges closed and fire and flood patrols to the ready.

As Ishie and I were having our lunch about 1 pm a strong gust whistled through our garden and took off the corner of the glass-house of our neighbour. We did not sustain any damage other than plastic buckets being blown around the garden. (What often happens is that roof tiles get loosened and then you begin to notice damp patches on the wall or ceiling.)

This wind turbine did not fare so well.

Basically, I felt the weather forecasting and public precautions were well done. After 2 bad winters (more to do with snow and ice) we are getting better at not going out unless absolutely necessary, in really bad conditions. (It only creates problems for public thoroughfares.)

In the past we have been in situations like this - it was July and we were anchored (2 anchors down) in a harbour on the west of Scotland ... so it is kind of "normal"!

On this occasion no major accidents occurred: one school bus was blown over but it was empty at the time and the driver was unhurt.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


I went into the city centre of Glasgow to do a bit of Christmas shopping today. The place was buzzing in a pleasant, seasonal way. My route took me from the train station at Queen Street through an alley to the Buchanan Galleries.

On the steps of the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall was a choir singing. No name and no collection being taken .... very pleasant listening to "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".

The window displays vary: childrens' toys, wanna-be celebrity outfits to the fun and funky. I liked this one in a window of John Lewis's department store. (I used to love gazing into the store windows - Hudson Bay Company or Eatons in the big city- as a kid. I loved it if there were elves hammering at the workbench or Rudolph's red nose blinking on and off!)

The Salvation Army were out today in Buchanan Galleries as I had a coffee and mince pie up on the cafe level listening to their carols. Again I have many memories of small groups of Salvation Army playing or singing carols every Christmas.

One particular memory is of visiting a home for unwed mothers that they had in Vancouver somewhere out near Grace Hospital (Shaughnessy area) as I recall. A sister of a friend was there just before her baby was due. That would have been 1963 - 64. To think of it now... the present generation simply would not believe what it was like to be an unwed mother in those days! (Come to think of it you never even hear that phrase used any more!) And it was the Salvation Army who provided a practical solution to a big social problem.

The lights on Buchanan Street highlighted the Victorian buildings in the late afternoon as people headed home.

Friday, 9 December 2011


'Tis the season of Christmas carols and concerts. Christmas is particulary busy for those who have been practicing all season for their seasonal choir or orchestra performance dates looming ahead.

This man's music is being played a lot this week. He is John Rutter and this video is the King's College Choir, Cambridge, singing one of his arrangements: Oh Holy Night.

Our youngsters' orchestra has now had their final concert. This is because, living in Scotland, we get involved with the St Andrews (Patron Saint of Scotland) season the end of November. Therefore, for us, it works to have our final concert early in the season as the children get very busy with their school or community Christmas activities.

Here is one of our youngsters (aged 10 years old) patiently waiting in rehearsal. (They rehearse from 6 - 7 pm and it makes for a long day.)

This is our practice "room" which is local and easy to get to for all the children.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Now that the yachting publication is away to the printers it is time to turn to Christmas preparations. It is like finishing exams; a weight is lifted off and I float to more pleasurable activities and also attend to things which were, of necessity, neglected.

I am quite please with the new working arrangement re. the 12 page publication now done at a graphics outfit. I simply send the material along and check over the proofs. It means a lot less eye strain for me and also I get to turn my attention to more creative stuff e.g. articles, notices, photographs.

First thing to do is bake some shortbread. It was very wet for days on end, so nothing for it but to get stuck in to the baking. Also Ishie comes after school so it gives me a "project" for her (cutting out cookies).

Ishie unpacked the Christmas decorations. Not having a tree to hang things on we did the next best thing - hung the (Canadian Tyre outside) lights of 110 volts on the clothes pulley and plugged them into the transformer under the sewing table (which runs my mother's Bernina sewing machine).

The first mail has arrived. I make a ritual of sitting down with a cup of tea and a letter opener and take my time reading the cards and perhaps circular letters, poems, etc that get enclosed.

Ishie walks around the house giving orders to herself about where things could be draped. "Now I think the best idea is to put it here but if you don't like it you can change your mind." I see a headmistress or hospital matron in the making.

We have now had our first fall of snow. However, this year, especially after the last two years, we and the public works department are much better prepared for it!