Monday, 30 April 2012


Several years ago I won a prize in raffle at the Playgroup Nativity Concert and that really started something!  The prize was a visit for 6 people to one of Glasgow's 3 main football parks, i.e. stadiums or should that be "stadia"?

Anyhow, where was I?  I got together our former neighbours and we had such a good outing to Rangers Park at Ibrox (I spoke about it here  in February 2010) we decided to repeat the exercise and visit the opposition i.e. Celtic Parkon the south side of Glasgow.

Like the previous visit to Ibrox, I found it an absolute eye-opener. I am not passionate about football (my loss....) but just about everyone else is!  The following is huge! Books, films, TV, newspapers, magazines are full of it: the game, the money, the colours, the history, the players and their wives/managers/coaches, the wins, the misses, the send-offs, the trophies, the tribalism, rituals and superstitions, the fans, the traffic jams, the safety and security, the atmosphere, the role models for kids etc etc etc.  But what really struck me was ... the branding.  This stuff is Big Business!

See the picture above.  It is Celtic Park football ground.  The seats are green (Celtic colours) with white lettering and the Nike brand in to top section. There you have it.  You see it on the players' shirts, in the club shop and on the backing board where interviews are done.  

This week we made a third visit: Hampden Park which is the National Football Park for Scotland.  It has been rebuilt and upgraded over the last 20 years.  It has the BT (British Telecom) brand about the place and the Milllenium logo (Lottery funding was provided).

I was impressed with the place. What was so good about it? 

[1]  The colours: a lot of thought has gone into this by the good folk whose job it was to do the decor, i.e. carefully selected colours of outside, inside, corridors, linoleum, tiles, stairwells, stadium seats.  The photo above shows the blue (I wonder what the manufacturer's coding was) and red.  Everything was well-finished; nothing tacky.

[2] Multi-purpose function:  the 52,000 capacity is used for pop concerts and the like as well as football. 

Again, this is Big Business in this big city. (They are getting ready for Olympic football matches starting in July.)

Finally, these figures peeping through the holes in the fence are part of the Hampden football museum.  There is something for everybody.  Every wee boy from 5 to 95 would revel in the nostalgia:  heroes, kid's games and cards going back over 100 years,  hands-on things to do, a video showing a football game in 1937 with probably 120,000 all standing on terraces .... again, all part of the Hampden Experience! Yes, they even played us a recording of the Hampden Roar (of the crowd) on our tour of the pitch.

All in all it was great fun and, while not my thing, I can see why generations of followers are "crazy about football"!

Saturday, 28 April 2012


From the third week of April until the end of the month Scotland starts to turn from Winter white, brown or grey to Spring green.  First the deciduous trees come out along with the hawthorne or beech in the hedgerows.

It is stunningly beautiful and a great time to be out with a camera.    John has been in Loch Tummel with his mates and took the first two photos below.

I was in Stirling today for the Canadian Ladies Luncheon which is where we "colonials" get together twice a year.  My route took me below Stirling Castle.  I drew into a layby and grabbed my camera to take a photo of the castle.

Although this shot seems a bit washed out compared to how I saw it, I know it was worth the stop to admire as there was another car pulled over doing exactly the same thing as me - out with his camera to capture the breath-taking view.

I fell into conversation with him (as I do...) as we oohed and ahhed our subject matter.  Suddenly, a noise emerged from his car in front of us ... There was his wife looking up at us - pathetically - and two black and white sheep dogs in the back started to howl "For Heaven's sake, man! Stop blethering and get a move on!"

Friday, 27 April 2012


On April 14, 2012 the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders (IESIS) held a ceremony of remembrance for all those members who perished in the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago.  After the disaster a plaque was erected in the foyer of the old IESIS building (built 1906-08 at 39 Elmbank Crescent, Glasgow).

Upon the arrival of the guests and at the start of the ceremony Iain played three traditional laments: Flowers of the Forest, Turan Iain Ruaidh (Lament for Red Iain), Muile Nam Morbheann (Mull of the Cool High Bens) and one by Arthur Gillies which is nowadays commonly used at funerals, called Samantha's Lullaby.

The plaque behind Iain on the wall is made of marble and bronze and was designed by the sculptor Kellock Brown. The inscription reads:

To keep alive the memory of the engineers of the "Titanic" who all died at their duty on the fifteenth day of April 1912 when the ship was lost in mid-Atlantic.  This tablet was erected by the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland.

Then the list of the 36 who perished is in 2 columns below.

After the ceremony in which some descendents of men who died were in attendance we adjourned to the hall upstairs.  There are many stained glass windows in the building.  This one is of William John MacQuorn Rankin, a most remarkable man who has many things named after him one of which is a temperature scale.

From a close look at the photograph the top banner appears to be:
"W J MacQuorn Rankin, FRS  LLD".  

The lettering on the bottom rectangle seems to be:
"Wisdom ...... obliterated ...... prudence  findeth out  knowledge of witty inventions."

This is from Proverbs 8:12 King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.), namely,
"I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions."

His full biography is here on The University of Glasgow website. It describes how he was Regius Professor of Civil Engineering and Mechanics from 1855-72 and did a lot for the education of civil engineers including the introduction of sandwich courses where students are required to work in industry and academia.

Rankine worked closely with Clyde shipbuilders. He was a founding member and first President of the Institution of Engineers & Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1857.

The building was sold in 1968 and it now is the home of Scottish Opera (who have it on lease from Glasgow Corporation; the windows belong to the institution).  So Professor Rankine now looks down (from his position in mid-window) upon tympani and black music stands which were there while we were allowed in to have a look during a break in their afternoon rehearsal.


For the record there is this:   A. Barr’s eulogy “W. J. Macquorn Rankine, a Centenary Address,” in Proceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, 51 (1923), 167–187. [Source is here.]

Thursday, 26 April 2012


Alongside the harbour quayside in Anstruther, opposite the Fisheries Museum is a 70 foot Fifie herring drifter.  She belongs to the museum and is maintained by volunteers who belong to the Museum Boats Club. She is called the Reaper FR 958 (FR for Fraserburgh). A work party was just arriving for their early morning restoration and maintenance work.

The full story is here on the Scottish Fisheries Museum website.

Built by J. & G. Forbes of Sandhaven in 1901, she is 21 metres long and of carvel construction, using larch planking on larch and oak frames. First registered at Fraserburgh in 1902, she operated initially as a sailing lugger with a main dipping lugsail and a mizzen standing lug sail. There would have been a crew of around eight to work the nets which were set at dusk and hauled in at dawn. Once the haul was complete, a swift return to port would ensure the best prices for the earliest-sold catches.

Reaper later spent many years in Shetland fishing for herring in the summer and she was fitted with an engine between the Wars. During World War II she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and served in the southeast of England, often being used as a barrage balloon mooring. After the war, she resumed fishing in Shetland and continued until 1957.

From 1959 she served the local council as a general purpose cargo boat until the introduction of the roll on-roll off ferries when she was retired from service. [Wikipedia]

Reaper was purchased by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, Fife in 1975 and restored to her traditional sailing configuration as a two-masted sailing lugger, much as she would have appeared when first going to sea in 1902. Renamed Reaper FR958, she is one of the last authentic survivors of this type of vessel, once plentiful on the east coast of Scotland. [Photo and text: Wikipedia]

Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, she sails regularly in the summer months. [Photo and text: Wikipedia]  Here she is at Dunbar on the East Coast of Scotland.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Anstruther seems to be where the yachting fraternity leave their boats (as opposed to Pittenween which was all fishing boats). 

After checking in to our accommodation we wandered down to the harbour having been directed to locate the Anstruther Fish and Chip Shop which is 2012 Best in the UK.

Yes, the fish and chip shop was there ... and it was good ... but what caught our eye was the yacht moored opposite the shop in what appeared to be the prime location in the rather busy harbour/marina.

What a fine name!  Braveheart of Fife!  But it was the mast and not one but two booms that had us pacing back and forth trying to figure out how it operated.
The blue brand name on the forward boom:  "Carbospars Aerorig"

The photos show that there are no stays from the top of the mast either forward or back and that:

"The AeroRig® is a highly aerodynamic rig, which comprises of a free-standing wing shaped carbon fibre composite mast and softly rounded boom structure that extends forward and aft the mast. The whole assembly rotates on a self-aligning bearing at deck level. This arrangement enables full sailing control via a single rope, the mainsheet."  (Source: The Royal Academy of Engineering statement about this design being a 1999 finalist for a prize.)

The website (last updated 2007) links to a fuller news article here.

Monday, 23 April 2012


Crail, in the East Neuk of Fife is lovely. Once a very busy fishing village it is  now a very nice, very smart, village for tourists.  At least that is the impression I got walking around.  It was the Easter holidays and the rows of tidy, nicely painted cottages, once housing fisher folk, how had 4x4s and sports cars outside them, i.e. a few of them, otherwise the place was deserted.  Where are the locals?  Where are the visitors?  Where do they get their day to day provisions?

We had a long beach walk to the point of land north of Crail that sticks out into the North Sea known as Fife Ness.  (Ness means 'head'.)   Here, carved into the rocks on the shore is the ....  template?... for making the stone for lighthouse construction off the coast. While the Bell Rock Lighthouse is out of sight northeast of here it could have been for other structures built on reefs and rocks off this coast.

Crail Church (of Scotland)  and its church yard was extremely well tended.  I know that the building is a much admired venue for the very high calibre musicians they get for the East Neuk of Fife Music Festival held each year at the end of June into early July.

I fell into conversation with a man passing through the grounds as it appears to link one street to another.  He told me to look along the above wall and see where arrowheads were sharpened.  M-m-m-m ... the only think of interest I could find was this bolt between the stones.  I have no reason to doubt him; it is just ... how would one tell?

The stone tablet over the doorway of this small building in the churchyard says
"Erected for  ......uring the DEAD: ANN  DOM:  MDCCCXXVI " 
Roman numeral date is 1826.

Roof tiles on a small building next to the entrance of the churchyard.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Iain and I have been away visiting friends on the east coast of Scotland.  This part of Scotland sticks out into the North Sea and is flat, very fertile and while cold, it is a dry cold, rather biting.  (The west is more of the misty, moisty damp kind of cold!) It is only a couple of hours' drive but has a completely different feel to the country compared to our west coast.

There are picturesque villages dotted all along the coast; this is Anstruther, down at the harbour.

An old lifeboat on the pier wall at Anstruther sits on display along from the very fine lifeboat building in the far right background.

I was taken with this sculpture above the entrance doorway of one of the Victorian sandstone buildings in the town.  It is Waid Academy, a secondary school on St Andrews Road, Anstruther.  It was opened in 1886 from money left for the education for the sons of poor mariners and fishermen in the East Neuk of Fife.  In 1959 it received a coat of arms.  It was designed by Stewart Lees, teacher of Art at the school from 1953 to 1960 and shows a ship passing between towers or pier heads. The logo is underscribed by the Latin phrase Multi Pertransibunt Et Augebitur Scientia - many will pass through and knowledge will be increased.

Monday, 9 April 2012


It is Easter Monday and most folk are having a quiet day.  For some reason I cannot understand these (miscellaneous) videos I have been posting recently are getting a lot of hits.  How do people find their way to this website?  I had no idea!

Anyhow for those of us who remember Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire .... have a look at what those clever people in the film industry can do:

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Ishie and I had a Girls' Day today.  It is the Easter holiday and Ishie was here all day.  It all turned out extremely well as I had just signed off, first thing in the morning, the April issue of the yachting newsletter that I do 3 times a year.  After 4 proofs going back and forth, I finally nailed it this morning.  Done!  It is like finishing exams ... LET'S GET OUTA HERE ... so off Ishie and I went to have a jaunt to Mugdock Park.
Upon our arrival the whole pre-school playpark was under construction: an "improved" play area was being built in place of the old one.  The old one had robust logs and rope or chain swings and logs for climbing frames. The new one is a plastic kit-build which looks like it might last a year.  I was really disappointed.

However, all was not lost.  Hidden in the adjacent trees was an excellent play area for older children, done in the old style as can be seen in this photo.

Excuse me while I point out something:  that forest green pullover is one I knitted 30 years ago for my children but was never worn as far as I can remember.  It suits Ishie well both for colour and also for the fact that she doesn't like wearing a coat.

A celebratory cup of cocoa with pancakes and jam was our treat in the tea-room.  We were quite cold and I, for one, enjoyed every high-calorie mouthful.  Ishie and I have decided that we do not need to pine for The Three Chimneys restaurant for high-pleasure eating out.  (This is an extremely fine restaurant in Skye always, deservedly, in the "foodie" guide books.)  There are many chimneys at Mugdock.  Next time we go there we will count the chimneys on the castle and give it a new name: The X Chimneys restaurant.

When time hangs heavy for a wee girl it is amazing what a piece of chalk and a row of concrete paving slabs can do to in a long afternoon!  This is Ishie playing Hopscotch having laid down her own numbers quite correctly up to 25.

Today's Ishieism: When we arrived home from Mugdock, Ishie reminded me that I forgot to buy "slug propellents" (i.e. slug pellets)!!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


This is for for sitting in the bathroom, tap, tap, tapping ... and having the tears rolling down your cheeks ... oops, sorry about that!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Well, it's April ...!


Alastair is 4 years old ... and not a Wee Boy ... "Grandma! I'm a Big Boy!"  While Ishie has always been a blether Alastair is coming up from behind as he now chatters away both when alone and with other people.

We all have a collection of Alastair-isms!  Here are my current ones:

When playing by himself I overhear phrases "sharp and dangerous" [Mum?] ... "Check it out guys!" [television?] ...  "according to the map" [Dad?] ... "I can hear the sun raising".  We were chatting to the driver of a shiny black (funereal) limosine outside New Kilpatrick Church last week.  He counted the number of door handles: 3 on each side.  "They must have a lot of kids!"  And lastly, he was telling me about animals they had seen at Crieff" chicks, and a pig.  "Porky Pig?" sez I. "No, Porky Pine" !

He made a rocket and a launch pad in the middle of the kitchen floor recently.  There had to be a slight modification of the Launch Procedure (which might interest NASA): instead of   "5-4-3-2-1... lift off"  it was .....   "1-2-3-4-5"!  

We had a preview at Sunday dinnertime  of Alastair in his school uniform for next autumn.  He starts at Mosshead Primary (where Ishie will be going into Primary 2).  Is he excited?!   I should say so!  Will he stand still for a photo?  Dream on, Grandma!