Wednesday, 23 May 2012


This Google Doodle appeared this morning when I opened up my Mac.  I use Safari as browser and thought I would have a go at seeing what this GOOGLE logo is about.  Usually they are fun and funky.  This is all that and much, much more!
Reading comments on other sites it would appear a lot of people can't get it to work for one reason or another.

For the record I am making a post out of this as a form of FEEDBACK.  This  DOODLE works! 

It is a synthesizer (and the doodle has been created to celebrate the man, Bob Moog, an engineer, who invented the Moog synthesizer.  (Today he would have been 78 years old.)

Using the mouse for positioning, the white keys sound, the black keys sound; all the oscillator knobs do things; the on/off toggle switch works, the roller volume works, and it is possible to make a short (very) recording by clicking on the red button on the reel-to-reel recorder on the right. The dial lights up and the pause button also works!

What a tricky bit of technology!  Full marks to the Google people!  (Who writes this stuff?!!)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Yesterday we attended the funeral of a family friend, Alastair Cousins, in North Connell, Argyllshire.  The service was held in Ardchattan Church on the shore of Loch Etive, Argyll.

Iain played for the 1 pm arrival of family and friends. After the church service, Alastair's sister's youngest son played his pipes for the procession from the church to the graveyard behind the church. Around 40 people moved in a line up the slope to where the burial took place. Iain then played again for everyone departing. (That is him above.)

While some people find bagpipes a bit hard going (usually because they are being played indoors) it is on occasions such as this that they have a special role and which people find quite moving. It comes about from a combination of things: the beautiful outdoor setting on the side of Loch Etive in the Scottish highlands (along with the lovely weather), the many colours of tartan in the kilts ... all taking place in a very old churchyard .... Combine this with the overall sad occasion ... and finally add the piper playing a  lament .... stirring stuff.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Alastair was with me all day; we had a few laughs!  He is keen to do tidying jobs so it was out with the big industrial size vacuum cleaner that sits in the garage.  First things first, we cleaned the inside of the car.  (Remember we now have a functioning garage which means on wet days, like today, we can do this work under cover.) 

 I know for certain that we have a mountaineer in the making! The electrical cord wasn't quite long enough for the job in hand ... I heard the time-honoured shout which took me back to those times when I was gripped on some mountain ledge in the past ... "More rope!"

Cleaning can have its moments of levitation! This is him sooking up the plastic Croc shoe (clog type) that we keep in the porch for trailing in and out of the garden.

After Ishie came back from school they sat at the table and were colouring pictures from a colouring book.  In Scotland children talk about "colouring in" as opposed to "colouring".

I was impressed with Ishie: in a very hushed voice, spoken in a measured and gentle way, she suggested, diplomatically, "See if you can stay within the lines."  And he did (for 2 whole minutes) but then went back to his rather broad-brush colouring technique!

Monday, 14 May 2012


This book has been in the news recently because Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth are here in Scotland to make the film based on the book.  The story is about one soldier’s battle to overcome his torture while a Japanese prisoner of war in World War II.

It is a book that had to be written; it is a book that should be read by everyone particularly people involved in conflict resolution, counseling, also people of all religions or none.  After five decades he pulls his life together.   As he says in the very last line: "Sometime the hating has to stop." I would go so far to say that founders of all the great religions must have reached this point, i.e. figures emerged at time propitious for ordinary people (of whatever culture) looking for a new way of thinking about how to get along together.

It is very well written ... yes, very traumatic ... but the way it resolves at the end (when he goes to Japan and Burma after 50 years to meet one of the Japanese men involved in his torture) helps to square the bigger picture in the drama of man's inhumanity to man.

The Telegraph (April 27, 2012) states:

"[They] will shortly start filming ... the true story of how Eric Lomax’s wife helped him overcome the trauma he suffered in Burma during the Second World War. Mrs Lomax set up a mission back to the Bridge on the River Kwai, where her husband confronted Nagase Takashi, the interpreter at his interrogations."

* * * * *

Lomax mentions (page 236) Helen Bamber, Director of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.  He states "Helen entered Bergen-Belsen with the Allies at the age of nineteen in 1945, and stayed for two and half years." I am aware of this story of going into Bergen-Belsen at the end of the war.  I played the fiddle with a gentleman who arrived there in the back of an army lorry at around that time.  He was a shorthand writer and his job was to be in the room where the Camp Commandants were being interviewed.  These interrogations were the job of the  Judge Advocate General (the legal advisor for the Armed Forces).

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Another year, another milestone. Getting older does not bother me except when I try to remember how long ago things happened.  "Madame!  It has been three years, not one,  since you last came to us for .... whatever!"

And so it goes; it has been 4 years ... not "a couple" ... since I started this blog!

Do people visit it? Yes, mostly friends and family but I can see from the "Statistics" set up by the Google people for these sites that visitors are from every corner of the world.

Do people comment? Basically, no... but there is one lady in Florida  ... oops, that should be Georgia! .... who does. However, people do email me and they do this by clicking on View My Complete Profile on the right-hand side and there is text giving information.

Can you see what people are looking at on your site? Yes. Part of the Google service is that there is "real-time" list of the top 10 showing the frequency and rate are of interest.

What sites are the most popular?  Technical stuff.  By far the most visited post I have had in 4 years is the one where I took a photo and described in text, where to find the fuse box in our little Skoda car!

Aren't bloggers just list-makers and train-spotters?  Possibly but "collections" are a repository for thoughts, ideas, musing and observations instead of spoons or first editions.  It appeals to people who keep diaries or journals. 

Are you not in danger of spending all your time in front of a computer?  Do you not need to get out and a get a life?!  Yes, possibly to the first ...  especially today when it is raining and it seems to be on for the day.   To the second: thankfully, I have a life ... which reminds me I had better watch the time as I have to collect wee Ishie from school at 3 o'clock.

Would you not be better helping Iain solve the Energy Crisis? No, but I will take up... well, actually join ... a One Woman campaign and fall in with Lynn Truss as she focuses on the bad grammar we have all around us in signs, government forms, website headings, film titles, shop fronts ... you get the idea.

Here is my first submission and there will be more, i.e. where it is possible to take a photo. 

Poster in he Museum of Football, Hampden Park, visited in April 2012.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


John and the family were away camping at the weekend at Arduaine, Loch Melfort.  They had a visitor to their campsite - a fox. (These are John's pictures.)

This animal has never been domesticated and yet is not really a wild animal either.  While mostly associated with slyness and cleverness, I always think of a fox more as a marginal animal .... and this photo is a good example as it shows the animal lurking on the fringe of the camping area.  In literature I seem to recall the fox being used as a symbol, or a name given, for people who live on the margins of society.

This stunning photo reminds me of lines from D H Lawrence's short story The Fox where 2 women are struggling on a farm in rural England about 1919 and they have a problem with a fox.  I vividly recall the lines about them having eyeball to eyeball contact with this fox:

"For he had lifted his eyes upon her and his knowing look entered her brain. She did not so much think of him: she was possessed by him." [1] 

He was writing in the early days of psychological studies and psychoanalysis. This particular scene was all about willpower, i.e. who was going to get the better of whom.


[1] Source: Doris Lessing Guardian article of 2003.

[2] Wikipedia states: The word shenanigan (a deceitful confidence trick, or mischief) is considered to be derived from the Irish expression sionnachuighim, meaning "I play the fox".

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Marks and Spencer are a brand that stands for quality.  To that end I bought a cylinder of seeds for £4.00 last week.  They are a mixture (never a good idea, I have found but never mind....).

I opened the cylindrical tube and emptied out the contents.  It is mainly vermiculite; there are about 10 seeds.  There may be more but I cannot identify them. There is nothing on the packet stating contents composition nor number of seeds although the flowers to be produced is given.  Furthermore, I had no idea what to do with it (no instructions on the packet).

So for the record  ... and to fill the gap in my ignorance... [according to Wikipedia] this stuff is 

[1] "a  soilless growing media: exfoliated vermiculite is combined with other materials such as peat or composted pine bark compost ... for the professional horticulturalist and for the home gardener. These mixes promote faster root growth and gives quick anchorage to young roots. The mixture helps retain air, plant food and moisture, releasing them as the plant requires them.

[2] Seed germination: either used alone or mixed with soil or peat, vermiculite is used to germinate seeds. Very little watering is required."

[3] Here is what to do with it:
(a) Fill a plastic sandwich bag with moistened vermiculite.
(b) Place the seeds into the vermiculite and seal the bag.
(c) Place the bag in a warm, bright area. When the seeds germinate, carefully remove them from the bag and plant in a small planting pot filled with a mixture of equal parts of vermiculite and sphagnum peat moss. [Full reference is here.]

Art out of ignorance.

Sunday, 6 May 2012


Anne told me about a Really Useful App.  If you live in the UK and use the buses here is an app available to download (for £.69).  It gives you the bus times for your particular area.  No, it does not give you a real-time bus schedule but rather the published (or not) bus schedule.

It is called NextBuses and is available from this website here. (This is for the iPhone but there are other sites.)

It works ... it really does!


Saturday, 5 May 2012


Last night we drove out to Loch Lomond to attend a soirée  at Ross Priory. It was  a lovely evening and the view of Ben Lomond and surrounding mountains was superb.

After the champagne reception and our 4 course dinner we adjourned for an hour of music being performed by a young group of brass musicians.  They were lively and upbeat which was good as the audience of 57 people was mainly retired folk from Strathclyde University and residents of the area.

I chatted to them before the concert and they said they were going to be playing on this barge which is being used for the Queen as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations next month.  Kings and Queens regularly moved about London on this type of barge on the Thames as they went from place to place e.g. Hampden Court residence down river to the city centre. 

Today she visited the 94 ft Gloriana as part of the naming ceremony for the vessel.

Lots of preparations are taking place just now at national and local level.  I am going to a concert at the end of May where the choir is currently practicing music from 5 monarchs' reigns. In June we are going to join friends in Argyllshire for a weekend Garden Party - BBQ.  I believe everyone is going to be building bonfires which are to be beacons across Scotland and the rest of the UK as well as all of the Commonwealth.  This website shows all the 4,000 locations.  This is how it is going to be done and has a photo of the man who is in charge of organising it!


Photo: VisitBritain website

Thursday, 3 May 2012


I do not know how to paint pictures and, for starters, I wouldn't have a clue how to choose colours.  However this evening I think I have stumbled upon a solution.  It was a lovely evening; the days are lengthening; the sun is setting later.  This means the evening light is coming into my window on the north side of the house.  It also means the flowers in the front garden catch the evening light.  

Here they are: all the tulips.  Underneath each photo is a colour swatch of the colours in the photograph (Photoshop screen shots).


So the question remains:  how does one get from  HERE



Shadow Play by Bridget Riley [Source: Wikipedia]