Wednesday, 30 October 2013


It's Hallowe'en tomorrow night so there is much excitement around our house. 

When Iain and I were Aberdeen several weeks ago we picked up this wonderful, round, fleshy pumpkin at a farmer's farm shop outside Dundee. Mairi did the artwork after Ishie and Alastair drew out their faces, one on one side of the pumpkin and one on the other. 

Pumpkins are a new kind of thing around here.  By that I mean in the last 5 or so years.  It's an import from America and a good one I would say.  (I have never, ever got anyone to eat pumpkin pie in this part of the world ... but that is another story!)

It's quite ironic, actually.  Hallowe'en ... at least the idea of witches and warlocks coming out on the night before All Hallow's Day (Nov 1) hence the name All Hallow's Eve ... is a Scottish thing.  So there you go.... started here and we end up with a pumpkin on the doorstep!

So here are a couple of photos of the gang in the living room after school today.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


The flowers at Cairns Church are always a joy when I arrive every Sunday afternoon for orchestra rehearsal from 2-4 pm. 

The congregation  has all gone home and what is left are all the flowers and sometimes leftover biscuits and shortbread in the biscuit tin which we are permitted to dip into (and put a donation into the Coffee and Biscuit tin).

We were through to East Lothian at the weekend.  Today, Sunday, the clocks went back.

This the chestnut tree in the square in front of the Russell abode. It was early morning.  Not shown is a skein of geese flying in V formation overhead.... lovely!

Friday, 25 October 2013


On our morning walk to school this week Alastair was telling me about a card game he had been playing.  He said that one of the cards was a "live" card  and that you could cheat with it.

M-m-m-m ... I think what he meant was a "wild" card !   I mentioned this and pointed out that it was a card that could mean either good or bad depending on whatever you decided in the game and that it wasn't really about cheating.... a Bad Thing to do!

Be that as it may,  here is a cobbled together Wild Card or Joker that I created (using Photoshop) from Alastair's drawing (last spring, aged just 5 years old i.e. Primary One) of an elephant.  I thought his artwork was rather good! He appears to have attempted to depict 3 dimensions with his line down the front of the elephant's head.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


 Engineer Identification Test*

"Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. The word "engineer" is greatly overused. If there's somebody in your life who you think is trying to pass as an engineer, give him this test to discern the truth.

You walk into a room and notice that a picture is hanging crooked. You...
A. Straighten it.
B. Ignore it.
C. Buy a CAD system and spend the next six months designing a solar-powered, self-adjusting picture frame while often stating aloud your belief that the inventor of the nail was a total moron.
The correct answer is "C" but partial credit can be given to anybody who writes "It depends" in the margin of the test or simply blames the whole stupid thing on "Marketing."

Engineers have different objectives when it comes to social interaction.
"Normal" people expect to accomplish several unrealistic things from social interaction:
  • Stimulating and thought-provoking conversation
  • Important social contacts
  • A feeling of connectedness with other humans
In contrast to "normal" people, engineers have rational objectives for social interactions:
  • Get it over with as soon as possible.
  • Avoid getting invited to something unpleasant.
  • Demonstrate mental superiority and mastery of all subjects. "
But what about the joy of:

 Problem solving ...

 Site visits ....

 * The full story here

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Act 1:

With ladies
With hearing aids
That don't work

Table set
Faux wooden table
No tablecloth

Act 2:

Meal partaken
Wine partaken
Coffee with
Bendicks mint chocolates

Act 3:

Monosyllabic lady on my right
Whispers in my ear
"Watch Her Ladyship opposite....
She's eating all the mints!"

Boredom is to be combatted
Desperate measures required.
"Let's push our plate of mints down the table
Towards her ... and see what happens."

Act  4  (The Disappearing Act):

Two mints on a plate
Being nudged down
Faux wooden table...
Towards Lady Who Scoffs Mints.

A hand, THE hand, reaches out
First one
Then the other

Stifled giggles
Coming from
Monosyllabic Lady and
Lady Who Should Act Her Age!

Monday, 14 October 2013


Iain's been away sailing this past weekend.  He arrived back this morning full of the joys. I collected him and the others down at Dumbarton.

He was away with Dick and Kate on their boat for a weekend in Arran.  They managed to get up a hill or two before having to head back up the Clyde where they spent the night in the James Watt dock in Greenock.

The yard in Dumbarton has a less-than-beautiful outlook: derelict property ?flour mill?

The wrecks are still gracing the shoreline. Can't make out if it is one boat in two sections or two boats lying in the mud.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


Another candidate for good design: a Christian Aid postcard brochure I saw lying on a table in a church hall (where I seem to spend a lot of time!)

It was not the text (i.e. the content) that caught my eye but the fact that it was something that looked like an origami card.  I picked it up out of curiosity, first to handle it: heavy card, colour images, different fold-upon-fold sections.  Then, and only then ... did I read it.  Nine times out of ten I never get this far, i.e. I am often given or pick up something like this and it is cluttered, badly produced (e.g. blue text on black background) and therefore unreadable... straight into the bin.

No this one. Each fold-out section has an image of a figure as part of a Russian doll, i.e. one  inside the other with a clear message on each fold-out.

The text is about tax dodgers who are hiding their profits behind layer of secrecy.

They wish to open up the system so that the true owners of these phantom firms can be revealed.

 "The UK should set up a public register to real owners of all companies and trusts ... so that we know who owns what, where, and for whose benefit."

Thursday, 10 October 2013


Last week Iain and I took Ishbel and Alastair out to Loch Lomond as they had a day off school (September weekend holiday). 

As is our habit we call these outings "an inventure".  This is an Alastairism meaning that it is an adventure, i.e. we do not know exactly where we are going to end up.  And our drive out to Loch Lomond (half and hour from our house) was rewarded as we found a smartened up car park at Malarkey Bay.  Loch Lomond is now a National Park so some facilities have been put in place in a more formal way.  I suppose this is to control the population visiting the area.

We did not have far to go before we found a circle of stones where there was a fire (a family were heading home so we took it over).  It was on the beach so all we had to do was gather sticks and get green branches for whittling 4 hot dog sticks.

I did not bring anything else besides a packet of hot dogs and French's (American) mustard.  Last time I took marshmallows and chocolate biscuits for them to make a toasted marshmallow sandwich.  It was not a success ... most marshmallows ended up in the fire.  Besides I really cannot be putting a toasted, fiery hot marshmallow in my mouth as I now have a partial denture.  My dentist would not thank me for a gift of melted plastic!

It was just great!  The kids could lark around on the beach and so we did not have a problem of figuring out where they had gone.

Monday, 7 October 2013


Autumn colours are lovely just now.  I walk to school with Ishie and Alastair and these is our early morning scenes on Wednesday of last week.

8:40 am at Kilmardinny Loch... and we came upon a heron situated about midline slightly to the right of centre of the photo. We kept very quiet and as we did so 2 swans joined, then some mallards.

 Mallards and a coot on the right in the mid distance.

Our route from the house along Kilmardinny Avenue.  We "leaf-plowed" our way along the avenue (as opposed to "snow-plowing".)

The trees that blew down in a winter storm several years ago have been transformed by a chain-saw artist.  This trunk has lots of animals carved on it.

The scene on my return about 9:10 am.  The early morning light has changed. The swans have come on to the grass to preen and wait for the dog-walkers to come along with bread.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


It has been a very busy week and I am now catching up.  Though not in sequence I will do a series of posts as I have some photos I have been taking over the last week or so. The weather has been lovely and a couple of opportunities presented themselves.

Ishie, aged nearly 7 years old, is about to loose her second top front tooth.  Here she is larking around the kitchen with my tea cosy from the table where Mairi and I were enjoying a pot of tea and some M&S cake.

Alastiar, aged 5.75 years, is about here some place...


Harriet has been joining me a few afternoons this week as I am in and about the house and she is still portable enough to take with me. Here is a photo of her taken on Wednesday.  The kids are all excited  "Harriet starts solids!"  I think they just want a shot of feeding her!  (Don't think about it....!)


Update with clarification:  This post was originally written in April 2010. I have amended it and the post, it was pointed out to me, is now appearing as a post of October 2013, i.e. 3 years after the event described.

Today we were very much looking forward to this gentleman - Michael Virlogeux - visiting with his wife. He was to give 2 lectures organised by EISIS (The Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland) as noted here. But the volcano in Iceland started spewing ash and ... after an hour by hour watch and wait ... the lecture had to be canceled as Monsieur Virlogeux was stuck in Paris at the airport unable to fly to Glasgow.

A structural engineer of over 100 bridges this bridge is one he designed and one that everyone finds stunningly beautiful!

This is the Millau Bridge in the south of France. Built in 2004 it is a viaduct spanning across the Tarn Valley."The engineering feat has drawn rapturous praise for its elegant lines, which allow it to blend seamlessly into the surrounding region famed for its gorges, medieval villages and Roquefort cheese." — Denis Thomas and Joelle Diderich, Reuters

[ ....................................THE MISSING LINK ...........................]

[The link above has been removed 06.10.13 by request of Google support.]

Hopefully another trip will be planned and that the forces of nature do not impede the plans!

Map: from Paris-World Guides

Photos: from