Tuesday, 31 January 2012


This blue metal badge has been in our possession for 40 years!  It was left by someone who came to a party we had in February 1975.  It is 2.3 cm by 3 cm and would appear to be a badge of a ski mountaineering club (3 alpinestocks or ice-axes and one pair of ?bear-trap style skis).  The colours are  blue and turquoise and white enamel.  The letters on the top right might stand for Civil Engineering. Is it yours?  The pin on the back has a simple, rudimentary clasp. Do you recognize the design?  Click on About Me in the side-bar and it will give you contact information.  Leaving a comment would also work.

Monday, 30 January 2012


Today Maggie and I met up with Inger and Agneta who are here from Sweden for some visiting and shopping and also Christine and Neil.  After we had a pub lunch we spent some time exploring the Lighthouse located in the city centre. I took these photos with my iPhone (!!!) from the viewing platform on the top of the building. They actually are quite stunning viewed on the Mac computer screen!

The Lighthouse is a Charles Rennie Mackintosh building (1895) which in former days served as the premises for the Glasgow Herald, the city's main newspaper. 

Here is the Lighthouse Gang.  While I like to shop in Stockholm they like to shop in Glasgow: e.g. things of good design in the Lighthouse shop, plus Marks and Spencers and Boots the Chemist.

A view of the rooftops of the city. On the right background is one of the few remaining examples of how the red sandstone Victorian buildings used to look, i.e.black from coal smoke. 

Sunday, 29 January 2012


Iain borrowed a video from John and Mairi in order to sit with a friend who had a stroke 10 years ago.  The gentleman was a very fine climber in his day and edited many books on Scottish Mountaineering (for example this one.)
Front cover

This has to be one of the most heroic and tragic stories in mountaineering.  As the cover of this video states: "The climbing sequences equal those of Touching the Void." The 3 of us sat and watched this film absolutely spell-bound!

The film is called North Face and is German with English sub-titles. The German title is Nordwand and came out in 2008, directed by Philipp Stölzl. It is based on an attempt in 1936  to climb the Eiger north face and the basic story of the climb is true, incredible ... but true.  Added to this, and off-setting the mountaineering drama, is the social situation in Germany - again, very well done.  It also highlighted the role of newspapers in their push to get a story (e.g. Stanley going out to search for Livingstone.)

The story is about 2 climbers, Toni Kurz (Benno Fürmann) and Andi Hinterstoisser (Florian Lukas) from Berchtesgaden, Germany.  For a trailer the link is here

Back cover

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Now that the holidays are over we are back to our normal routine.  We all headed out to Dobbie's Garden Centre on Sunday for tea and scones.

Meanwhile back at our house Iain is showing Alastair, who will be 4 years old next week, how to work our video.  The idea is that once Alastair learns - and he is very interested in on/off buttons and knobs that twirl - he can show me!

Ishie is now 5 years old and every Thursday I collect her from shool which is nearby. Today a heavy snow shower came over just as school finished so we came in quite wet and ready for sustenance - milk for her and tea for me with scones that I made earlier.

As the we cannot get out to the park at the back of our house we sit at the dining room table and spend some time together with paper, scissors and felt pens.  Today we made great mileage out of our many Christmas cards. 

Tomorrow she is to recite Lollipop Man by JK Annand (Scottish poet) at school so we all got to hear her rehearsal.... more on this anon.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


It's Burns Night ... we're awa' .... like this fella ... another Tam o'Shanter? ... gettin' fu' and unca happy!

We attended a most interesting lecture at the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow tonight: Liberty and Common Values by Shami Chakrabarti.  She is the Director of Liberty and talked about civil liberties and promotion of human rights.

After the lecture, over a glass of wine, I chatted to a wonderful lady who was/is a member of the Communist Party.  She was telling me of happy days singing in the Young Communist Choir in Glasgow (for many years).  She said that in 1959 the choir sang in the St Andrews Halls for the Burns Bicentenary (of his birth in 1759).  The concert was rapturously received and was apparently the only time a recording was made despite years of performances.  She said the BBC refused to record the choir presumably because they did not approve of their philosophy.

She was a lady who also performed in Burns's play, The Jolly Beggars.  As we raised a glass to the memory of Burns she quoted a few apt lines from the play:

A fig for those by law protected!
Liberty's a glorious feast!
Courts for cowards were erected,
Churches built to please the priest.

Later:  Here is one of my favourite people, Bruce Davies, giving the Address to the Haggis.

Photograph source: Wikipedia: Adrien Brouwer, The Bitter Tonic, Frankfurt am Main

Monday, 23 January 2012


Scenes of Vancouver on our New Year's Day walk following the shore around the city centre and Stanley Park.

The Polar Bear club were out for their New Year's Day swim in English Bay

Burrard Inlet looking west

One of many in the downtown area

English Bay looking west with cargo ships waiting to get into harbour - someone exercising

English Bay looking west with cargo ships waiting to get into harbour - 3:30 pm

Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park with snow-covered mountains in background

Coal Harbour in late afternoon with white float plane at dock; cruise ship quay is out of the picture on the right. Lights of North Vancouver on the opposite shore.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


When in Vancouver between Christmas and New Year we visited Queen Elizabeth park. These sculptures are strategically placed at the viewpoint over the city.

Here are Nessie and I investigating this camera-happy sculpture! I thought he was terrific!

This is what the camera-happy sculpture was looking at. That is the city in the background - quite lovely!

I was very impressed with the VanDusen Gardens which were next door to where we were staying for three weeks with Alastair. Here is a sculpture of David Douglas, the Scottish born botanist who travelled in British Columbia in the early 19th century, and named a lot of species of plants, including Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).

His is known in Scotland and is included as one of the Plant Hunters in a most interesting garden in Perthshire called the Explorers' Garden. His story is here on their website.

Finally I was most taken with this plant, the purple Beautyberry Bush or Callicarpa dichotoma. It provided a most eye-catching colour in this mid-winter period. As the climate of Vancouver is very like Glasgow I am going to see if I can grow this shrub in our garden. I noticed that the gardens in Vancouver had the same sort of plants that grow in our gardens and were at the same stage in December.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


Between Christmas and New Year be had a tour in the area to the south of Salmon Arm - Enderby. The sun shone and so did the Shuswap River which flows into Mara Lake.

And around the corner ... near the bridge....

Thursday, 19 January 2012


When visiting Salmon Arm between Christmas and New Year we were treated to visit to a couple of wineries in the Shuswap area.

This photo of Salmon Arm is down at the bird feeding area adjacent to the wharf and CPR railway tracks.

A similar view more to the right, i.e. from Don and Carol's house looking toward Mt Bastion on Shusway Lake with the wharf being on the left out of the photo.

Don drove us all to Granite Creek Winery (website here) in Tappen for a visit and a chance to buy some bottles.

Despite being mid-winter they were open for business and very welcoming. We spent an enjoyable hour hearing the story of the resident golden retriever's encounter with a cougar. (There is a photo of this dog on their website.)

While being the most northerly winery ... on the continent? ... (Latitude of Tappen is 50° 46′ 59″) located in the Shuswap which is adjacent to the Okanagan Valley (north end) in British Columbia, they also have become a source of interest because of this dog's adventure.

He went missing one day and despite searches for him he came back 4 days later injured with a missing ear (if I remember the story correctly) and teeth marks about him. He survived and is bounding about the place ... much to our amazement!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


In Salmon Arm there are several wineries. We visited the Larch Hills Winery between Christmas and New Year. Therefore these wineries are in the general region of Salmon Arm which is latitude 50.6 degrees N. (Think of the US-Canadian border which is latitude 49 degrees N.)

The location is the very northern end of the wine growing area which is mainly in the Okanagan Valley. Broadly speaking, this is a fertile valley between the mountain ranges eastward to the Rockies and the ranges of mountains comprising, broadly the Coast Range.

In my day it was all fruit growing but the trees have been pulled out and vines planted (where developers have not built or roads widened in the upgrade from gravel or asphalt to modern requirements).

The grapes they grow are mainly the type you would see in Germany, i.e. for colder climate. The acreage is not large.

It was a lovely day when Don took us there to sample the wines and buy some bottles.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


I buy wine for the label ... well not all the time but I make no apology for the fact that I do purchase a bottle if the label appeals. Men People gasp with incredulity but I am here to say I seldom buy a duff bottle.

Between Christmas and New Year we had a lovely meal in Salmon Arm with all the family gathered from the airts and pairts. The hotel served a good selection of wine including a range of Okanagan wines.

I fancied the name Rigmarole and we quaffed a few bottles. Look at the labels - lovely! They are a British Columbia winery and are based in Oliver (website is here) which is very close to the USA border, i.e. located in the south of the province.

This Sunday I was reading in the Financial Times an article by Jancis Robinson. It is here. This highly respected journalist/wine taster of many years states that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) did a study which showed that the alcohol content of many bottles of wine was greater than that printed on the label. While there is always room for a slight variation the difference, in some cases, was considerable. And then she goes on to look at the reason for this. It is to do with the wish for greater sugar content in grapes, i.e. later picking, and as a consequence of this the alcohol level is higher.

"For a working paper published last May by the American Association of Wine Economists, tens of thousands of alcohol levels for wines imported between 1992 and 2007 by the LCBO, the powerful liquor monopoly of Ontario that buys wines from all over the world, were analysed and compared with actual temperature increases in their regions of origin. The wine economists were able to show that the increase in average alcohol levels was much greater than could be explained by any change in climate and concluded 'our findings lead us to think that the rise in alcohol content of wine is primarily man-made'. They cited in particular 'evolving consumer preferences and expert ratings' as more likely to have driven up alcohol levels. In other words, wine producers perceive that wine consumers and authorities alike want wines that taste riper and in particular have softer tannins and lower acidity (acid levels fall as grapes ripen) and have deliberately chosen to have grapes picked later than they once were."

Monday, 16 January 2012


Thanks to the internet sites of Facebook and blogsites we are kept in the loop of all developments in the care of Baby Iain David - Indy, for short. Having had his left eye removed November 6th because of a retinoblastoma, today was the day for his first (of regular) monitoring in the form of an examination under anaesthetic to see if there is any early appearance of the cancer in the other eye.

We are all pleased, and relieved, that there appears to be no cancer cells. Alastair has started a blog now and all the details, as they happen, are here:

I think this is a lovely picture of Dawn and Indy! He is now 5 1/2 months and is coming along just fine, i.e. developing as one would expect for a child of his age.

They live very near the BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre in Vancouver and at this moment in time are awaiting Indy coming out of the anaesthetic.

He is going to be fitted with a prosthetic eye and it is to be ready by the end of this week! We are all very impressed with the care they are receiving as well as being in awe of the latest medical technology on offer today.

Sunday, 15 January 2012



1. Anyone who sails knows about rock-dodging.

2. Anyone who sails in the west of Scotland certainly knows about rock-dodging.

3. We know about rock-dodging. (That is another story.)

4. And we know: rocks move ... don't they? *


1. Anyone who sails knows about rock-dodging.

2. Anyone who sails in the west of Scotland certainly knows about rock-dodging.

3. We know about rock-dodging. (That is another story.)

4. Peter knows about rock dodging.

5. Off Port Ellen, Islay, in early May ... oh dear ... the rocks moved ... didn't they?*

6. That's our boat (drawn by Peter on his Christmas card entitled Scotched on the Rocks)

7. Out of the water all summer

8. For repairs to a hole in her hull.


*Answer: Yes, it is a fact .... because I read it in the paper!

Saturday, 14 January 2012


In an effort to overcome jet lag we made the most of a lovely day to walk on Mugdock moor adjacent to where we live in Milngavie (north-east side of Glasgow).

Our house is just out of the picture on the left hand side. This is looking south-west with Milngavie houses below left.

Storm damage was still evident with limbs and branches everywhere and the odd tree uprooted.

Looking south and eastwards that is the city of Glasgow below us. The white marks left of centre are the high flats (high-rise apartment blocks) which are next to the motorway that goes east to Edinburgh (45 minute drive).

Thursday, 12 January 2012


We're back! Unlike most towns and cities which are expanding ever outwards I am here to say that the global village is definitely getting smaller.

We flew back from Vancouver - half way round the world for us - and arrived home delighted with the smoothness of the trip. As there are no direct flights in winter to or from Glasgow we had to go through London Heathrow. Whether it was the British Airways carrier, the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow or the fact that more people are traveling ... or possibly more attention paid to travel logistics e.g. transport connections, check-in and security queues, etc ... we found the whole process over 24 hours very, very efficient and stress-free. Oh yes, computer booking and confirmation as well as seat selection must be a factor too. In total, much time-saving is evident compared to years ago.

Great piles of lovely mail to be opened ... and on a lovely sunny morning! Heaven!! ... well that along with having a sleep in one's own bed and an Only-Tastes-Good-in-Britain cup of tea!

Cards and letters bring talk of travels, health bulletins, births, deaths, achievements, photographs from recent or long ago, as well as talk of meeting up again in near or far locations.

Christmas card season (which we welcome as having moved house and being the age we are some people are sadly coming off our mailing list) is closely followed by Burns Season.

January is never long with us as some Burns Supper or variation of it, is on the go. Maybe it is a proper Supper with Iain playing in the haggis, or maybe a ceilidh or concert ... or maybe dinner with friends with Iain brushing up his Address to the Haggis or his pièce de résistance: Tam O'Shanter.