Tuesday, 30 July 2013


July has been a wonderful month!  The fine weather continues with occasional rain showers to keep gardeners and farmers happy.

Grandma's Trademark: Margaret River (Australian) wine in the garden. I bought a case from Marks and Spencer last Christmas and would do it again if and when we drink this lot.  I haven't been using up the wine supply this summer as friends and family are not drinking for one reason or another (i.e. health usually).  That's OK... it'll keep.

Talk about drinking ... here is Iain feeding Baby Harriet a few week's ago.  She is absolutely no bother.  I suppose being the 3rd they make sure they yell when they are hungry.  I hear Baby George, third in line to the throne, and born 6 weeks after Harriet, "cries a lot".  Sounds like things are pretty normal!

Grandpa's Trademark: Is it the sailor home from the sea or the hunter home from the hill?  No Iain is back at the end of 2 weeks' lecturing to French students at Strathclyde.

Big sister Ishie is covering Alastair with the grass clippings from the park behind our house.  Great stuff ... hours of play!

Kids' Trademark: in the garden on the step where you have to leap over the fence to the park.

Sunday, 28 July 2013


In the spring Ishie brought me a seed packet of peas.  I started them in a tray on the window ledge and then moved them outside to get bigger.  They sprouted extremely easily ... which is more than I can say for some other seeds I purchased.

We planted them out in April or early May.  There were dozens of plants and my neighbour reminded me recently that Ishie went about planting them "in families", i.e. groups of 3 or 4 about the garden in amongst the flowers.  And there they are above.  It is worth mentioning that Mairi was expecting in early June so the topic of "family" must have been in her mind at the time.

I picked the first harvest today.  They were big, plump and absolutely disease free.  Amazing!

I simply love shelling peas... could sit for hours doing this.  So here are some "families" on the place mat at the table while Iain cooks some chicken for dinner.

I cooked them (just for myself) in the microwave with a bit of mint from the garden.

The finished product.  The water from cooking tasted not only minty but quite sweet!

Monday, 22 July 2013


We were attending a funeral in Ayrshire this weekend and decided to stay on for an extra day.  Having had 3 weeks of solid sunshine the fields in Ayrshire are showing every shade of green to gold.

Always happy to "wing it" we found a lovely ol' fashioned B&B in Ballantrae and enjoyed exploring the area the next day.

Ballantrae Bridge with a shady riverside walk below.

 * * * * * * * * *


Iain wanted to explore an area of geological interest which lies just north of Ballantrae.  The rocks indicate that tectonic plates have collided because lava from deep in the magma has come up to the surface as seen in the examples of "pillow lava".  Not having a photograph of an actual example of what it looks like (e.g. what colour is it?) we took a few photos just so further research could be undertaken.  Maybe he is standing on a bit of it?!

These 2 photos are simply markers on the landscape so if we make a return visit we can get back to where we were looking.

This cave is opposite, i.e. an easy feature in the coastal landscape.  There's a cairn opposite with information about a hermit who lived there until the 1970s.

Friday, 19 July 2013


Here are the latest photos:

Harriet, 6 weeks old

Alastair, 5 and a half years old

Ishbel, 6 and a half years old

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


The glorious weather continues and has meant we are out in the garden every day.  

Today Inger and Maggie joined us for lunch.  Iain is lecturing this week so he had already done a morning's work when he arrived home to join the party. 

Work? No way! Instead of going out to a restaurant I headed to Marks and Spencer and got some salad and quiche and some more wonderful Scottish strawberries. I hope someone gives M&S a gold star for the quality of its food.  Very, very impressive! I reckon you can't get better in any restaurant.

Some years ago I purchased (in the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar Nursery, Argyll, Scotland) this Canada Goose which is a windsock.  It is a wooden stick with a plastic/fabric windsock with feathers painted on it amd is threaded on the stick.  It has a rigid circular opening at the neck of the goose which I have taped over the years as the weather has weakened the edge of it. (It must be 20 something years old and, having had a look on the web I do not see them for sale ... under garden ornaments as opposed to hunter's decoys or kites!)

At the moment it is stuck in the ground next to a plastic rook which sits at the corner of the (at the moment) empty triangular flower bed.  In the photo (above) is a real rook on the grass coming to investigate ... or maybe he was looking for scraps from the luncheon table?

Sitting out in the evening waiting for the sun to go down, i.e. leave the garden, I photographed the goose with its windsock filled having caught the breeze just for a moment.  (The upper photo shows the windsock "deflated".)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


Wee Indy who was born with a retinioblastoma in his left eye has had another operation to build up the socket of his left eye which had to be removed soon after he was born.  

It involves taking fatty tissue from his thigh and using this for the eye socket.  Then he is to get a new prosthesis.  He had this operation just after Christmas 2012 when we were in Vancouver visiting.  He was neither up nor down with it.  Both the eye socket and the thigh incision healed well. (The photo below illustrates the left leg scar.)

This time, Dawn says, he is pulling at the eye bandage and saying "eye" meaning "eye sore" I would guess.  So while is he more robust, i.e. bigger body weight and enjoys good health, he will have more oomph at pulling and certainly is more articulate about how painful it is.

 Hopefully this will be the last operation for awhile.  So the worst part is over, i.e. the surgery, but that doesn't mean the work and worry go away!  Now for the long haul of getting him to drink and then eat and keeping the wounds clean... not to mention getting some sleep in all of this.

 Every weekend we talk to Alastair and Indy on Skype.  It is absolutely wonderful as Alastair sits with his laptop on the coffee table and we get to see Indy playing in the room.  Here is a screen shot of him clomping into the living room wearing Daddy's trainers!

He comes up to the computer screen so that we can chat or sing a song.  This is another screenshot caught when he was not wiggling about!

Monday, 15 July 2013


Our house backs on to a children's park. That is the roof of our house in the left background. Today the children were with us for 2 hours so we took a notion to get the hose out and clean up the park bench and swings.  The swings had a lot of bird droppings which, due to the hot weather, had rather baked on the seats and suspended chains.

I like to sit on this seat while they lark around on the grass.  In this hot weather  I even seek it out for shade ... a thing almost unknown in this part of the world!

While Iain worked the pressure hose on the seat the children and I got to work with the deck brush and the floor scrubbing brush.

Once the hose came our way things got much more fun!  There is Ishie standing in our boat bucket of 33 years ... still being put to good use.

All nice and clean!

Sunday, 14 July 2013


Time for an update on Baby Harriet born one month ago.

 Here she is in the pram at the back door.

This is her mother at aged 2 months.  I will post another photo when Harriet is the same age.  In the meantime Iain and I thought the resemblance was quite close.

Saturday, 13 July 2013


As I am trying to drag myself into the 21st century (in terms of technology) I sometimes make a whim purchase.  When in Glagow's John Lewis's the other day I bought this mobile phone and iPad accessory: a Juice Sound Square made by Gusto.  Their website is here; appear to be based in Coventry, UK.

The cube is a speaker which allows "playback of music anywhere, without the need for a mains connection. This portable speaker can connect with any Bluetooth® device wirelessly, or wired to anything with a 3.5mm headphone jack to boost sound quality. With battery life up to six hours when using Bluetooth®, and up to ten hours with line-in....". 

Nice bit of kit!  Just try opening the package.  It took me ages to figure out that the clear plastic case was a slid-out arrangement.   Ah! It's got clear tape at the top ...

And this side ...

 And that one ...

 And the base ...

 And slide .... What was all the fuss about?!

If they are so ethically minded, and they make such elegant accessories, (complete with cord and wee bag) not forgetting the instruction leaflet which is good ... why not make a simple package? How about some origami sort of thing that simply unfolds?

Friday, 12 July 2013


We have a dog... that is, we have someone's lost dog.  It has been wandering around the neighbourhood all afternoon today.  Is it yours?  She has no collar.

Upon checking area, no one claims her.  Perhaps she is here on holiday at someone's house, i.e. being looked after by a relative or something?  The neighbourhood is Keystone Quadrant, i.e. up the hill from the Police Station and before you get to the Fire Station.

I have posted this photo on Lost and Found Pets in Scotland Facebook and also informed our local Milngavie Police (via Kirkintilloch station by phone).  They have contact details.

The dog is a female black Scotch terrier, the kind that is on the Black and White whisky label.  She is 5-10 years old, very biddable and responds to "sit".  Her coat is shorn. She does not respond to "Cassie" as I found on Facebook about someone missing a dog "2 hours ago in Milngavie".

Anyhow, she is not in any distress, is not particularly thirsty on this hot day.  Here she is:

LATER - FINAL OUTCOME: The owner reported the loss to police earlier.  Then we later reported her being "found".  [Did you know you don't phone your local police station any more.?  It is a central number: dial 101 and answer the button selection categories.] 

Owner and now dug re-united.  Ah-h-h .... she was a luvely pooch!

Thursday, 11 July 2013


Buchanan Street in Glasgow was abuzz with shoppers today ... out in the sweltering heat.

One of Glasgow's best kept secrets is the Apple Store located in this lovely Victorian building at the top of Buchanan Street.

Just to enter this store and stand and look around is a pure joy! Yes, staff in their blue T-shirts patiently answer my most mundane questions but I have to confess the real reason I like this store is .... 

... their beo-o-o-o-o-tiful glass spiral staircase to the upper mezzanine.  I took this photo at the top of the stair looking straight down.  The store is basically a rectangle, open plan, with rough stone walls (yellow sandstone as seen in top photo) on all sides.

I wondered about the curve.  The diagram above is a Fibonacci curve.  I superimposed (part of) it on to the photo above.

Just look at that!  The black line follows the inner glass wall of the stairwell.  The other stainless steel curve is the handrail.

Sunday, 7 July 2013


A very quiet Sunday today. Why? At 3 pm the Wimbledon Final match was on with every person in this part of the world glued to the television to see if Scotland's local lad (from Dunblaine) would pull it off.  I came in from the heat for the final hour of Murray playing  Novak Djokovic.  Both deserved to win but in the end it was, indeed, Andy Murray.  

As the papers say "Murray was willed on by the majority of the 15,000 spectators on Centre Court, [with] thousands watching on the nearby big screen and millions more around the country." It's all very historical as it is 77 years since there was a Brtish men's champion at Wimbledon.

It was so very hot today! After cutting the grass I said to Iain "What I would like is a swim in the Shuswap Lake!"  However I parked myself in the shade with another book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  It is The Angel's Game.  I came to enjoy his story-telling through his well-known book Shadow in the Wind.  The setting for these novels is Barcelona. He's a great writer and I also really like the excellent translations by Lucia Graves.

The view of the house from my seat in the shade.  Iain is in the garage (left) Black and Deckering (a new verb I have coined).

A bumble bee for company.

The first bloom on this particular rose bush which is loaded with buds.

Saturday, 6 July 2013


The garden is lovely these days as the weather has been hot and the rain coming at the right time.

The first roses of the season. Success at last!  The same bushes but the bugs are not there and the wet weather kept away long enough for them to bloom before getting bashed!  Actually a south facing garden does make a big difference now that I think about it!


The fragrance reminds me of my grandmother Booth's Roget & Gallet's Carnation soap.  It would appear from looking on the web just now that this soap is no longer sold. For starters, it is not on the R et G website and elsewhere, if itemized, it is marked "sold".  (How often does one see that in shops, i.e. the item is in the window but when you ask to buy it, it "out of stock" ... or "not in your size" etc.)

Lupins that got broken in the rain but are just fine for the the vase. The seedheads are allium.