Thursday, 28 March 2013


School is out today for the Easter holidays!  Today is Thursday and my day for having the children after school.  So we made a bit of a fun afternoon with a hunt for Easter eggs in the garden. 

Two heads are better than one.  

Ishie has changed after school from her white blouse and grey skirt and sweater. Alastair is still in his school uniform.

There was snow on the ground this morning but it had all gone in the warm sunshine which came out for an hour this afternoon. The daffodils in the garden behind them are up but no blooms yet.

Monday, 25 March 2013


Ishie goes to Mosshead Primary School in Bearsden.  On Friday her year (Primary 2)  had a morning event in the form of a sort of pageant for parents and friends.   They presented their work on The Vikings. It lasted all morning and was absolutely terrific! 

Ishie had to be dressed as a little Viking girl. Mairi obtained a dress from the charity shop and we followed the teacher's drawing as to what a Viking child would wear.  We used an IKEA apron from my kitchen drawer, along with some spare Viking-like buttons we sewed on the dress. Then it was Mairi's beads and scarf and a little black purse to make le tout ensemble.  

A couple of the children had been selected to show their costumes. It was done in the form of a catwalk modelling session... down the middle of the Assembly Hall between all the rest of the children seated on the floor and the grown-ups in chairs.   Great fun!

It was a one hour presentation where each child spoke lines and a PowerPoint screen of images was used (on the stage) to illustrate the topics: where the vikings sailed, what their houses were like, their food and crops, the names and  images of their gods, their longboats and the Shetland Up Helly Aa festival.

It was lively and so imaginative! We sang songs and mini-plays were enacted: One fierce Viking 6 year old says to the collected group of other Vikings: "Are you up for adventure?"  "Yes!" they all roar. "And are you prepared to die in battle?"  "Yes!" they roar... "Well ... uh ... no, actually!"
After the 1 hour pageant (and a presentation of awards for the other years, e.g. "Award for "Listening'....!)  we were invited to walk through the Primary 2 classrooms to enjoy their table and wall displays.  The photo of Ishie above is of her at the food table offering everyone oatcakes with jam, brown bread and butter and 'mead' to drink.

This is the display of Ishie's weaving on display alongside the Runic Writing.  Goodness! Did we ever learn interesting stuff like that at school!  And this is for 6 year olds!

I had good fun at the "Design a Shield" table.  Their workbooks about Vikings were out on the table. Ishie is now making sentences so answers the questions in the book... which she loves doing.

One dad had a novel idea which he mentioned to The Young Viking Shield-Maker in Charge ... as manifested by me in the silly sign above.

So full marks to the teachers and staff involved in the Pageant of Primary 2!

Sunday, 24 March 2013


Coffee with Anne this Sunday morning as usual. For a treat she brought out her Simnel cake that she had baked... something I have never eaten.

For all that my mother baked cakes at Christmas and Easter she never made that one and somehow I never took up the habit.... which is mainly what my baking tends to be, i.e. things that she made.

Anne has been unable to taste anything in the last 6 months so bringing this out was a treat for her as well.  It was bitingly cold out this morning so this is just what the doctor ordered ... not just for the week before Easter but, more importantly, getting us through March!

All the family are well and healthy.  As I speak Iain is away up Dumgoyne for his Collie-Dog workout.  Mairi has just over 2 months to go before Baby Number 3 arrives. 

Roll on next week when the clocks go back!

Thursday, 14 March 2013


I spilled a glass of wine on to the keyboard and was forced into doing a spot of spring cleaning.  Badly needed!

There are instructions on how to clean a keyboard on Utube. I simply followed them as described below.  It is very, very easy and you cannot come to any harm.  I suppose it would apply to any keyboard. Mine happens to be a Mac.

[1] Unplug the keyboard. In good light take a photo of the whole keyboard making sure you can see the symbols clearly; my photo could have been a little sharper.  

[2] Prepare a bowl of warm soapy water (use ordinary washing up liquid). 

[3] Using a letter opener or similar flat, narrow implement pop off the keys.  It is easy and they don't break. Insert the implement under the centre and lever it upwards. Pop!  Don't worry about remembering where everything goes; your photo will keep you right.

[4] Put the keys in the basin of water and wash. Rinse off the suds and lay them out on a towel to dry.  Make sure the centre cylindrical core is dry.  Maybe use a Q-tip to get out all the dust and crumbs from the keys that have springs.

[5] Clean the keyboard using soapy water and a cloth or cotton wool.  Maybe isopropyl alcohol is OK but I couldn't find any place that sold it.

[6] When bone dry replace all the keys using your photograph for guidance. Maybe leave overnight?  I didn't and everything was fine.

Extra thoughts: 

[1] If a key doesn't work, check that it is on the right way around!  I had the space bar on backwards! (The slope goes to the back. The springs were sloppy until I turned the whole thing around.)

[2] Occasionally tip the keyboard over and shake out crumbs and fluff.  

[3] If a single key ever sticks or is flaky when pressed, think nothing of popping it off to check underneath.  I have now learned - it is all amazingly easy... and effective!

Friday, 8 March 2013


Our friend, and Iain's long-time climbing and hill-walking pal, Donald, died February 7, 2013 aged 84 years.  He was a mountaineer and strong moving force in the movement in Scotland to improve access to the mountains.

He wrote many guide books and sat on many committees over all of his life.   Every real or arm-chair Munro-bagger owns his book The Munros: Scottish Mountaineering Club Hillwalkers' Guide.

His loss marks the end of an era. 

Donald in 1992 at our 25th wedding anniversary held in the Millcroft Hotel in Gairloch, Wester Ross.  (We were married in Gairloch in November 1967.) Here he is singing  "She's Ma Peerie Weerie Winkle" song... or maybe it was "McGinty's Meal and Ale": he knew them all!

Donald took photos of the mountains whether it was in the Pampirs, Himalayas, Greenland or home in Scotland.  His period of mountain photography was the 50s onwards when he was climbing as a young man until he was struck down by a stroke 11 years ago.

In the early days he was developing himself black and white photographs for his publications.  He moved on to colour prints and slides (which we all took in the days of giving slide shows to the mountaineering clubs' evening lectures etc).

Anne recalls the candlewick bedspread on their bed being completely covered with drying photos ... so much so that she was having to call him from his work to clear the lot so she could get ready for bed!

The following are ones are duplicates that were on offer to people attending his funeral a fortnight ago.  I scanned them at high resolution but have posted them here at low resolution. You need them at a high resolution for publishing in a book or newspaper.  These won't do.  [The quotation marks indicate the handwritten text on the back of the photo where it exists.]

Sheneval Bothy - Beinn Dearg Mhor and Beinn Deary Bheag. ("Rowan tree is much bigger now."  stated Phil Gribbon.)

"Northern Highlands: Beinn Eighe from Loch Coulin. DJB"

"Glen Gyle House" [Donald's handwriting]

"Looking north-west from Liathach to Beinn Derarg and Baosbheinn DJB"

"Pitch Two on the Ciobh Nose, Sgùrr a' Chaorachain, Iain MacLeod climbing. D J Bennet"

[Yes ... that is oor Iain 50 years ago!]

"Winter in the Mamores"

"The summit of Trallval, Rhum, looking east to Eigg and the mainland. DJB"

"Ben Venue from Loch Achray"

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Mairi and John and the children have been taking advantage of the good weather to climb some mountains not far from Glasgow.  They are within easy reach of the city and are not too high for little legs.

Mairi asked Alastair:
"Did you like the hill walking we did?"
"No... because my legs were sore."
"Well ... that's part of the fun of it!."
"M-m-m-m" he responded, "That wasn't part of my fun!"

Granpa and Alastair in the back yard meausuring out the area for a wood shed.

While I was helping Ishie how to swing on monkey bars (a thing I could never do at her age) this little monkey had dragged two large cut branches to the base of this small tree ... and climbed his way up while my back was turned!  That is Alastair in his school uniform: "Oh Heavens! Alastair!... Don't let your mum see your muddy trousers!"

Long legged Ishie in the play park behind our house.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


Mairi introduced me to this restaurant in Glasgow a few weeks ago when we met up near the Western Infirmay on Byres Road, Glasgow.

I went there today giving myself a "Sunday" at Monday lunchtime in order to catch up and re-group.  The desk-top publishing work I do for a yachting organisation is now off to the printers. That is the Spring issue completed.

For lunch my habit is to order Soup of the Day and "you choose the sandwich or wrap or whatever to go with it".  I  have a social handicap: I eat anything.

This was the result: a lovely bowl of Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup with a wrap of hot veggies and other stuff - just what I needed to get warm and eat someone else's cooking.           

Again ... when I order wine like this for lunch I always say "Your house red."  Again this single glass that I had (don't know the grape) was at room temperature, i.e. not freezing cold out of the back store room, and quite lifted my spirits (oops ... sorry for the pun) as I gazed upon the REAL daffs in the little glass vase sitting mid-table. Heaven in a glass ... well ... actually two glasses.

And this is the wallpaper - lovely.  Fig leaves, fig fruit with a wasp painted sitting on one of them. Fig. 2 lettering painted above it - clever!

The place simply ticked all the boxes (particularly the really basic ones like hygiene and food flavour and temperature):

Ladies washroom: spotless
Kitchen: clean and tidy
Ambience: The fireplace had a real fire in the grate under the big fire surround
Basic or Extras?: Local newspapers to hand
Service: existed and was appropriate for the occasion
Value for money:  Excellent - Lunch £5.00 for soup and sandwich. 

The Two Figs
5 and 9 Byres Road
Glasgow, G11 5RD
Phone: 0141 334 7277