Saturday, 31 August 2013


Bagpipes are best heard outside and no more so than at the graveside or in the parade ground.

Iain was asked to play at a funeral last week.  The piper heads the procession to the graveside. The hearse, then the family, then the visitors follow after that.  It was a mid August day with the surrounding fields golden and the hedgerows and oak trees in thick green foliage.

Iain has a stock of tunes he uses and always tries to choose one to fit the occasion, e.g. perhaps the person had associations with the highlands or one the Western Islands, say, Mull or Skye.  

At the tea afterward Iain enjoyed talking to people who he knew in Vancouver when he first went out in 1966.  Also the man who died was associated with the 6th Clydebank Cubs where Iain learned to play the pipes.  It turned out it was this man's father who taught him all the grips ... all those year's ago.

We spent an afternoon at the World Pipe Band Competition several weeks ago.  Here is the SFU band heading into the arena to play their competition set for Grade 1 Band. This Vancouver band had the bad luck of getting drenched in a passing shower while they played.  Heaven knows what it must have done to the pipes and the drum heads!

The BBC had gantries of cameras taking photos of their blue shirts getting wetter and wetter.   All this could be seen on the big screens around the park.  Iain recalls the days when he spoke to the Glasgow Herald to get somebody to go and cover the championships in a serious way.  Their usual coverage was to run simply a picture of a bekilted toddler snoozing beside his dad's big bass drum.

We were very lucky to be in the VIP tent when the shower came on having been given a special entry ticket by a contact of Iain's we met as we came in the gate.  Otherwise I don't think we would have lasted.  Fortunately the sun came out and the rest of the day was clear.  We were impressed with the school bands participating.  They were from all over and played to a high standard. Heartening.

Sunday, 25 August 2013


Having been away in Islay and Jura on holiday we are now home and back into our normal routine.

This photo of Saligo Beach on the west coast of Islay is exactly as it was on the day ... quite stunning!

And here is another photo of the same location taken at the same moment. Both photos look like paintings; they are not.

Evening light on an adjacent farm taken from Ballinaby farm where we stayed for a week.

The Eda Frandsen about to tie up at the Caol Isla distillery.  The Paps of Jura are in the background. The website for this lovely traditional wooden sailing boat is here. We remember her from a good few years ago; it's nice to see she is still taking visitors on special sailing holidays on the West of Scotland.

Port Askaig pier while we wait for the ferry to Jura.

Bunnahabhain distillery barrels out in the yard.

Friday, 9 August 2013


Some bits and pieces today...

Here is the latest photo of Harriet, now 2.5 months old.  She is grasping things now.  Ishie was quite funny the other day:  Mairi noted that Harriet was grasping a rattle.  When she commented on this Ishie announced, in a flat, matter-of-fact voice "No... she was grasping something (her bib?) last week.  She's well past that stage now."!!

After our pea planting last spring we had a bumper crop to pick yesterday. While shelling the peas on the park bench behind the house I said to the kids "Be careful not to knock that saucepan (of shelled peas) overboard or you will not be able to reap what you have sown."   "Huh? What does that mean?"

It's funny how we still have these things in our head that we carry around with us. Mairi and Anne and I were talking about this over coffee recently.  For example rules laid down as a child still resonate in my head: "Clean your plate"  "No dessert til you eat your first course" "Never stand up in a boat"!!!


These lovely yellow flowers were everywhere at Dunira.  I don't have the name but John does.  They grow about 4 feet in height and are quite dramatic in the (totally!) overgrown garden there.

Ishie now owns a Collins Gem Butterflies book for identification - what a great idea for her!  Alastair and I took this photo for her yesterday.  It was a butterfly in the garage.  Again ... I need to identify it.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


I travelled by train from Stirling in central Scotland to Glasgow earlier this week.  The whole journey was extremely pleasant!  Changed days!

The station in Stirling was clean, the  coffee in the coffee bar was hot and tasted of really good coffee.  The train arrived and departed on time; it was clean and comfortable.  It arrived in Glasgow on time. What has happened?

It just got better! The big train station that serves the east and north of Scotland, Queen Street Station, was clean (!) and people were moving with ease through the manned barriers.

On the suburban train to Milngavie I found new refuse collection bags mounted on the Partick platform.  After all those years of not having any bins it is a welcome change!  

What has happened?

The ticket inspector on the way home said that monitoring has been taking place the last couple of years and the railway company is fined for not meeting their criteria.  For example he said the platforms have to be cleared of puddles,  garbage picked up on the coaches. (Collectors come along with poly bags on mainline runs.)

The Commonwealth Games are due in Glasgow next year.   I hope the city fathers can muster a massive clean-up campaign along these the lines of ScotRail!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


Alastair, Dawn and Indy along with Mairi, John, Ishie, Alastair and wee Harriet all gathered in Perthshire this weekend.

These are the first of several groups of photographs to be posted.

 Alastair's photo of the 3 cousins: Ishbel, 6; Indy 2 and Alastair 5.

 Mairi and John's country residence in one corner of this building, Dunira Estate, Perthshire.

 * * * * * * * *

Out for dinner: Curry in Crieff.

 Mairi and (Big) Alastair

  (Wee) Alastair

 Iain, John and Alastair

 Ishbel and Dawn.

 Dawn and Indy

Friday, 2 August 2013


Al and Dawn have arrived from Vancouver and with them is wee Indy.  Here he is just a week before his second birthday.  How time passes!

The weather has been good so it is off to the park at the back of the house.

We have the use of Ishbel and Alastair's shopping trolley.  Wonderful ... except when trying to navigate through all Grandma's flowers!

This is a fairly typical shot showing how Indy gets a view on things.  He walks about with care and confidence using railings on stairs or asking for a hand.  He is just like Alastair when he was 2 years old, i.e. fairly quiet in  his movements, not roaring around the place (like his 5 year cousin old Alastair A.). He doesn't rush into things and will back off if he is not certain about what he heading into... fair enough.  However, he had a go on the slide (or "shute" as they call it here) climbing up from the bottom then swooshing down quite the thing.