Monday, 27 February 2012


Mairi and the children were at the Science Fair where there are lots of hands-on exhibits. I can see one or other of these two becoming an engineer.  Maybe Alastair is the Get in There And Get Your Handsy Dirty type where Ishie might be the Ordering Everyone About type!

It reminds me of a cartoon Iain showed me once:  Leonardo da Vinci's mother was leaning on the garden fence chatting to the lady next door.  Little Leonardo is playing on grass at his mother's feet.  The lady next door is looking down at little Leonardo taking apart something on the grass and wistfully says to his mother "It's too bad little  Leonardo just wants to become an engineer."

Friday, 24 February 2012


Colour is now appearing in the garden!  A couple of sunny days and the place is transformed. 

 I planted these irises last year and suddenly they have bloomed.  We are very lucky that there is always something in the garden each month of the year even if it is green holly bushes or ivy during the months of December into January. 

We had our former neighbours over for dinner this week and Lesley brought these primulas that I will plant in the garden tomorrow.

 Using a plastic water bottle I  purchased a bird feeder attachment for it (£1.50) and it has worked a treat.  You simply screw the green seed holder section on to the neck of the bottle.  The birds perch on the edge and feed on the seed which drops down into the tray which forms the base.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


Glasgow has recently opened up a large Whole Foods Store.  While not located in our part of the city I headed over to Giffnock today with the intention of buying some supplies for a dinner party we are having tomorrow.
Well, I had a ball!   I remember the days when this shop (store) was Safeway's and it has now had a complete make-over.  It has a very West Coast of North America feel about the place with its wooden board exterior and brown grocery bags being packed by lads at the check-out.  Yes, it had all the grains, pulses, nuts and seeds and plenty else besides.  Yes, it was rather expensive but oh-h-h the range and quality! 


I said to the lad at the delicatessen area where sushi was being offered for tasting, "Goodness!  This could be Vancouver!" And just then a children's choir started singing "Do Lord, Oh Do Lord ..." negro spiritual!  Apparently 5% of the day's taking go to the school which whose choir was performing.

What I was looking for was blocks of chocolate for baking ... and indeed, they had it (lower left corner of photo).  I haven't seen that for years.  Britain does not sell Bakers chocolate in any shape or form.  Never has.

In the above photo I picked up [L] unsulphered apricots. Verdict: completely tasteless! [centre bag] red rice from the Camargue region of France [R] walnuts which apparently are the best ever according to Christina.  (Though she lives near Whole Foods I was unable to visit today.)  The Brownies are just out of the oven and are for tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 February 2012


John took some photos of the children last weekend. 

Here is Ishie flying a kite at Dunira.

Alastair practicing on his"climbing wall".

Thursday, 16 February 2012


 Dawn and Alastair have posted some photos on Indy's blog here.  I have taken the liberty of copying one photo and the text here to highlight the work that has been done to give Indy an artificial left eye.  Just look at the match in this latest photo! And furthermore, Dawn explains how the eye is fitted so that the prosthesis will move along with the other eye when it moves.  Amazing!

She says:
"Indy's prosthetic is really quite amazing.  If you were to meet him now you really could have a hard time telling which one is the real eye.  It's tracking along with his other eye quite well now and doesn't seem to be causing him any problems.
It seems there was some confusion about how it works so I thought I would write a post to clarify.

When they removed his eye they put in an implant, a sphere covered in a special porous surface that was surgically attached to his eye muscles.  His body won't reject it as it's made of a special material.  As it is surgically attached, he will live with this implant.  When he looks to the left, the muscles will move this implant as if it was an eye.  The implant is a pinkish color - you can see it at the top of this page, [i.e. the following photo]  covered by a see through "space keeper" which was put at the same time to hold the space for where a prosthetic would be added.

The prosthetic sits under the eyelids and over the implant and can be removed.   As the implant moves, it moves the prosthetic around, with about 60% of the motion.  When he's looking straight ahead both eyes look straight ahead (most of the time). I believe the prosthetic is made out of dental materials. The front was hand painted and is a really good match.  Even if you have a close look, the color and texture of the eye and iris are very similar."

Several days later ... here is another photo.  Look at how the two eyes are moving together!


Big Ish (Iseabail) and Wee Ish were here today after school for a few hours.  Big Ish always brings lovely books and Wee Ish really enjoys them.  We had a great afternoon as the sun shone which meant we were out in the garden for a couple of hours after school.  

I was showing Big Ish a blue velvet hat that belonged to her  mother and which has been in our dress-up box for over 40 years.  I took this picture because I want to be able to show Ishie in years to come that this really is her colour, i.e. when the day comes to buy a ball-gown or a velvet jacket, this is a colour that is quite stunning on her!

The other colour that suits her is fuschia which is what this little dress which came from Debra highlights.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Bournmouth University's Emeritus Professor Se├ín Street was discussing his new book 'The Poetry of Radio, The Colour of Sound on BBC Radio 4  today.
 "The book explores the imaginative connections between radio and poetry, looking at how poets have used sound since before the printed word, providing narrative through the music of the world that surrounds us."  (Quote taken from his website here.)

On the radio programme here Libby Purves and guests were talking about the aesthetics of ordinary radio [9.40 minutes in] i.e. accidental poetry  as opposed to a given poem being read out.  Prof. Street  maintained that "radio, at its heart, is a poetic medium… There are magical moments, particularly in the vernacular…. and also when people get emotional…. Language can become transcendent and they move into a poetic sort of utterance."

For example, there were Radio Ballads produced in the 1950s and 1960s.  The very first one was a ballad about a railway accident  The Ballad of John Axon in which an engine driver was killed.

Charles Parker the producer was reporting on this accident in the days when BBC journalists/broadcasters went out with  notebooks and wrote down what people said and then actors read it.  They were just going over to the use of a tape recorder for interviewing at this particular time when he talked to one man about why railways were important. The man said it was a tradition, it was part of your life;  railways went through the back of your spine like BLACKPOOL went through rock*.

To explain:  *rock is hard sugar sweet in the shape of a stick; a stick of candy a bit like a candy cane without the hook.  It is usually white with a red outside colour on it. The lettering, in red,  of the town or city is incorporated into the stick so that when you suck on it the name of the town is always there.  That being said, Edinburgh Rock is a different species but that is another story.

Photo is of the West Highland steam train that I took in Mallaig a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Indy has had another examination under anaesthetic to check if there are any cancer cells in his good eye.  With the laser they treated 2 suspicious cells just in case they were something that might develop into a tumor.

For further up-to-date details go to the blog about Indy's story here.


Photo: weathervane at Gartocharn Parish Church.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Just look at this little fellow!  Indy, now 6 months old, was fitted with his new prosthesis today.  The left eye makes a remarkable match with his good eye on the right.  And isn't he just a real Vancouver boy in that sweater and winter  hat?!!

It's Hats Off to the team at the BC Women Hospital and Health Centre in Vancouver for making such a wonderful job of creating and fitting his new eye.

The full story of Indy is here on the blog that his mum and dad, Dawn and Alastair, have created.  You can also see other posts on this blog by going to the side bar and under the CATEGORIES heading find "Indy" and click on that.

Sunday, 5 February 2012


The season for celebrating the memory of Robert Burns can last a good few weeks mainly because speakers, venues get squashed into this time of year and there is always a need to spread things out.  To that end we attended at most pleasant Burns Evening at Ross Priory (Strathclyde Univeristy's country residence) on Friday night.  We stayed overnight so were able to spend some time before and after getting out in the country air and having morning coffee with our hostess who lives locally.


The location is the very south end of Loch Lomond.  This photo shows the area which is now designated as a reserve for birds.

There had been a lot of storm damage to the trees.  The shore area was pretty water-logged anyhow so a lot of shallow rooted trees came down.  The clean-up goes on in the cold afternoon when I am sure the men with chain saws want to be getting home. 

  * * * * *

The building of Ross Priory used to be owned by various people including in the 1800s the Leith-Buchanans.  (This is Buchanan country.)  They used to entertain visitors and inside the present building is a framed article from the Scottish Field magazine.  It talks about how Sir Walter Scott visited and on one particular occasion the host thought Scott would enjoy meeting one of the local people:

"Among the guests invited to meet him [Walter Scott] at dinner was Mr Macfarlan, minister of neighbouring parish of Drymen, better known after as Principal of Glasgow University.  The talk had been of antiquities and traditions of the neighbourhood.  Mr Macfarlan ventured to quote, as a curious relic, a folk rhyme referring to a place in the parish. When Rob Roy appeared some little time afterwards [it was published in 1817], Mr Macfarlan found his curious folk rhyme at the head of one of the chapters."

"O Baron o'Buchlyvie
May the foul fiend rive ye,
And a' to pieces drive ye
For biggin'sie a toun
Where there's neither hourse meat,
Nor man's meal,
Nor a chair to sit doon!"

Scottish Field magazine, August 1906, page87.

 * * * * *

The countryside, the mountains and loch would be much the same as when Walter Scott visited with farmers moving cattle about (mud everywhere on the narrow roads) and all the trees bare of their leaves.

The photo above is the village of Gartocharn from the village hall car park.  Take away the  modern houses in the foreground I doubt that the country would be much different after 200 years. I wonder what he might have written had he visited now?

View of Loch Lomond from Kilmaronack Churchyard, Gartocharn  (Time: 4pm).  
 * * * * *

So to turn some  lines from Burns's ending of his poem To A Louse


O wad some pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us....


Here's some scenes the camera tae gie us
To see for ourselves how Scott might see us.

Friday, 3 February 2012


Take a look at this!



The clever people in Vancouver where Dawn and Alastair live are preparing a new eye for Indy!  And what a good job they are making!  The blog of Indy's story is here  and these photos are taken from it.

He is now 6 months and if he had anything to say it might be: "Mom... I'm only 6 months and I'm doing my best learning how to eat solid food ... and besides my gums are sore with teeth starting to come through."

Thursday, 2 February 2012


My iMac 10.5.8 computer which was bought in October 2006 has been running rather slowly.  "You experience poor performance in everyday tasks. For instance, a program doesn't respond or seems to take forever to open."* This is because as upgrades of software keep getting added they require more memory to run (at least I think that is the general idea).  Anyhow both Alastair and the Apple store lads said "You need more memory [RAM]."  Now it took me awhile to get my act together but I am here to say  that I have purchased and installed the equipment successfully therefore anyone can do it!

[1] You buy a piece of equipment called a memory module and put it into the back of your computer replacing one of the two that are already in there.  It is that green thing mid-photograph below. It is purchased from  *  It arrived in an envelope by post. The description on the delivery note states that it is Quantity = 1 of "Upgrade for Apple iMac 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Due (24-inch) System 2 GB 200-PIN DDR2 SOSDIMM 256Mx64 PC2-5300".

[2] To intall watch this video showing how to put it into the back of this type of "white Intel" type of iMac. (It's a shame about the hellish rock music but the demo is spot on.)  There are other excellent videos which can be found by searching "upgrade Mac memory or "to install RAM in an iMac".

[3] With a Phillips No. 2 screwdriver and a good source of light it is exactly as described in the video.

I don't know if it matters which slot the new one goes in, i.e. I took the top one of two out and replaced it with the one which is lying on the glass table top in the photo. (It was quite difficult to get out! The white plastic side clips are stiff, as described, but snapped as they were supposed to.)

So now the MEMORY has gone from 1GB to 2.5 GB.  (Screenshot on top is BEFORE; Screenshot below is AFTER.)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012