Thursday, 29 November 2012


As the days shorten and the evenings lengthen here are some images on the dark side:

 Champagne at the Prizegiving evening.

The children put a plastic solar glowing star in the garden and this is it all arty with Photoshop.

 Candelabra from a dinner dance we attended last week, again "Photoshoped".

 Yacht on the Clyde, full spinnaker, made into a dark object with glowing edges.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Now that the other commitments have finally been met it is time to turn my thinking toward Christmas.

A few things are on the critical path: a visit to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh in order to purchase some seriously good one-off cask strength whisky as presents for one or two folk.

I am a member so it is my pleasure to take people to the club room in Leith where there is lunch which can be ordered while one tries out some of the bottles on offer. 

Time to catch up with Inger! She has now retired so is free to be a Lady Who Lunches with the rest of us.  (Don't put too much emphasis on the "lady" bit ... but never mind!)

We stayed for several hours in the club room (converted from an old bonded wharehouse some years ago).   The weather was dry (unlike Glasgow) but oh my goodness ... are the streets of Edinburgh in a mess as they tear them up - block after block after block - to lay the lines for the trams that are to be installed.  There are diggers everywhere and transport in the centre is simply not possible.  It means looping around back streets to go anywhere.  It has been going on for several years and, really, it's getting worse!

So we had a lovely day with Inger as Iain joined us later in the day.   She hasn't changed a bit but ... oh my ... another thing that has not changed:

What is the best thing about Edinburgh?  It is (still!) the Glasgow train!

Saturday, 17 November 2012


The National Library of Scotland has acquired the archive of Patrick Leigh Fermor.  It has been bought with a grant from the John R Murray Charitable Trust which assists NLS in the care and promotion of access to the Library's John Murray Archive. Leigh Fermor was published by the Murray family.

National Library of Scotland link is here.

Its arrival at NLS was just before the publication of a new biography of Leigh Fermor,  An Adventure, by the writer and family friend Artemis Cooper. It is published by John Murray, October 2012.

Artemis is PLF's literary executor and a good friend. Her father, the historian John Julius Norwich was a friend of Paddy’s for many years. The book will fill in many of the gaps in his life story, including more details about the last stage of his 1934 journey through Bulgaria, Romania, and Thrace to Constantinople.

Jan Morris wrote a review in the Telegraph newspaper here

There is an another long and interesting article here written by Jan Morris at the time of PLF's death in June 2012. 

Lastly, there is masses of material about him on this website here.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


While there is much good design about, there is also a lot of bad.  Furthermore there is bad design produced by ?people/companies?/brands? that pride themselves in good design.

These are my current offerings simply because they are of a size and scale that can be photographed.  (Some day, sometime, will someone please photograph department store layout (e.g. IKEA), traffic lanes and pedestrian walkways that leave one shaking in fright or despair!)

[1]  The container for V8 Vegetable Juice Original.  Back of box states "Campbell Foods, Belgium".


Look at the foil disc that stays as a flap at the opening once the green cap is (with great effort) screwed off .... a perfect medium for germs.


[2]  The plastic container for Ocusan eye drops.  The plastic is so thick/stiff that, even using 2 hands to squeeze out the watery liquid (while trying to aim the drops correctly), I usually end up abandoning the effort.


 [3]  Leather watch strap with buckle.  The top photo shows how it sits on my arm.  The straps are sufficiently unequal to make the topside clock face and the buckle sit weighted to each side. I have tried putting an elastic band on one side to keep it from sliding around... about 40% successful, i.e. it stops it sliding completely out of sight!

 [4] Espresso Coffee Machines.  No, it is not the noise of them that rates an entry here, it is the milk heating jet and the practice of cleaning it (or not).   Next time you stand at a counter waiting for your espresso look at the way the equipment is laid out and used.  When they go to make you latte or whatever, they take the cup up to the milk jet (white arrow) and the  jet heats everything up (or whatever it does).  When the cup is taken away, the dripping metal jet is either left as is or wiped with a cloth*.

In this photo, from Wikipedia, it actually has a wine coloured cloth hanging on a hook (blue arrow).  Milk is one of the best media for growing germs; cloth or no cloth - this design guarantees it.

* Watch how it is usually a J-cloth and it's the one that is used to wipe the spills on the counter or trays ... you get my drift!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Soup-making has never been easier now that there are these wonderful hand-held stick liquidizers which seem to have replaced the counter-top glass jug-type containers.  Today I thought of Louise as I stuck my head in the fridge to survey the leftovers from a dinner party on Saturday plus some week old vegetables that are in the crisper box in the bottom on the fridge.

And that is what gives this soup its name: BOF, i.e. "bottom of fridge" ... as passed on to me by Louise many years ago.

So ... today it was a lot of potatoes plus some celery and one rubbery looking red pepper.  After browning an ordinary onion the coursely chopped veg are added, then the stock from the leg of lamb at the weekend.  Once that is cooked in the pressure cooker (as is my habit) a good zap with the blender being careful not to over-do it finishes the basic soup.  (The idea is that you take the implement to the soup pot rather than the other way around; that to me is real progress in the kitchen.)

However, as it was a really dreach West of Scotland day today, I threw in a handful of barley and cooked the whole thing a bit longer. Done ... chunky, thick and delicious!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


I am very keen on the internet video lectures entitled TED Lectures. |These are lectures given by very articulate people in big conference halls anywhere in the world for an invited audience who pay (lots!).

There was one in Edinburgh in July.  In our part of the world we have similar twice-monthly lectures in the winter season here in Glasgow.  They are run by the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow.

As TED says "Great talks to stir your curiosity"

wTED Talks Infographic

Attribution to

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Ishie is with us today as she is off school - running a temperature and full of the cold. She arrived this morning with her Dora video under her arm. I finally got it to work after pressing every button on the handset (as is my practice)!

I was through in the kitchen making soup when I hear a wail, "I can't make out what they're saying!" "Oh heavens!" thinks I with my Public Health Nurse background "Has the child an ear infection?"

I squat down in front of the TV, "Can you not hear Ishie?" ... at which point Dora and her Explorer friends highlight the problem: it's all in Spanish!!!!

Monday, 5 November 2012


Our Junior Orchestra held its final concert on Saturday.  The 25 players aged from 10 to 16 years played for their parents and friends.  The season is now finished until we start again next August.  (The children are too busy with Christmas and extra-curricular  activities to do any more.)

I can now get on with all the other things that get put on hold while I run around trying to attend to the various details relating to this concert.