Tuesday, 25 February 2014


I am having a very quiet day as Alastair is with us today.  He is ill with a bug and cannot go to school.  He’s a quiet lad and quite happily plays in his bed (while I make him keep drinking).

So while I have a moment I must share with you something that made me smile recently.  He arrived here after school a bit cheesed off (unusual for him).  I think the problem was a little boy was egging him on and he was having none of it. He stood in the middle of the kitchen and made a passionate "speech":

“Nobody listens to me!
The Nursery Lady doesn’t listen to me!
Even the Other Nursery Lady doesn’t listen to me!”

Now I recently bought myself a book called Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth.

....Off-at-a-tangent for a moment while I explain the book....  

It's about words and it’s about grammar but I would say it is basically about Rhetoric.  By that I mean it is about how words are used in their delivery. If rhetoric is about the art of persuasive speaking, then this book is about the devices that are used.

We all know the more common ones:  hyperbole or exaggeration “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times!” and alliteration “dead as a door-nail”.

However I recognized that Alastair, in his speech the middle of the kitchen floor, used a rhetorical device called epistrophe!   It means ending each sentence with the same word.

Have we a budding orator here?

And while I am on the subject, at first I thought I was hearing a Winston Churchill orator-in-the-making.  No... Churchill was good at a different rhetorical device called anaphora, i.e. starting each sentence with the same words.

“We shall fight on the Beaches
We shall fight in the hills.
We shall never surrender.”

This is part of a longer speech given to Parliament in June 1940.

Sunday, 16 February 2014


I have taken the liberty of sharing a 17 minute video that Alastair posted on the internet.  It is a video made from the original film commissioned 50+ years ago which features  Iain and his mountaineering pals.

Here is the description given by Alastair:

"In autumn 1962, my father and seven other Glasgow mountaineers had a meeting to plan a climbing trip to the Taurus mountains in central Turkey. Initially their plan was to purchase a van to take them there and back and sell it when they returned. It was pointed out that the "Hillman Imp" car was going to go into production in Scotland in 1963 so they approached the manufacturer, Rootes, to lend them a couple of Imps for the trip. In return they would produce film documenting their journey and the use of the cars. Rootes agreed to their proposal. The advantage for them was that one of the party, Robin Chalmers, was an editor with BBC Television and an experienced TV cameraman.

So in August 1963 the eight of them set off with the two cars, a camera and film. It was only a 3 week trip so they had to travel hard; 800 km per day, stopping by the roadside, and sleeping in the open beside the cars.

Robin arranged for one of the cars to be fitted with clamps to support the camera for special shots and they stopped from time to time to make this film.

Hillman Imp from Alastair Macleod on Vimeo.

The climbing objective was Demir Kazik, the highest peak in the Taurus. They camped beside a village and hired donkeys to travel up to a high camp while the headman of the village guarded the gear. Six of the party got to the summit. Then a hard drive back to the UK.

In lending them the car and the camera, Rootes clearly took a chance on getting a useful film out the trip. For example they only had one camera and if that had broken down there would have been no film. It did not break down and as you can see from this video, Robin did an excellent job in shooting it. Rootes hired a firm to do the editing and at very modest cost (no bills for sending people on location) they got a very good promotional film. And my father and the rest of the team got a very memorable and inexpensive holiday.

The members of the expedition were: Robin Chalmers, Kenny Bryan, Chris and George Liddle, Alasdair Beaton, Eddie Thompson, Tom Murray and Iain MacLeod (my father)."

Can't recognize Iain?  Look for the mop of dark hair.


The snowdrops are out at Ross Priory on the south end of Loch Lomond.  
Here they are today with Ben Lomond snow covered in the distance.

 Blue skies between the showers!  Time to catch the sun before it disappears!

Thursday, 13 February 2014


There's a lot of interest is James Watt these days.  Today I was able to see an organ built in 1765 and is thought to be built by James Watt.  (This was just before or about the time that he went to Glasgow University to repair mathematical instruments.)

It is due to be restored and go on display soon as part of an exhibition celebrating Glasgow's flourishing years from 1714 to 1837.  

Glasgow University at 10 am today, taken from in front of Kelvingrove Art Gallery entrance.

In the Botanic Gardens there is a tea room where I had a very welcome lunch along with groups of folk (garden club people I think) and mums with pushchairs.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


It is a very British thing to always be talking about the weather.

It has been very wet in the UK since December.  Scotland has not fared badly however.

Very heavy rain and gale force winds are battering the south west corner of the UK today.  Flooding in the Southwest and in the Thames Valley is bad and, apparently there is another front coming in with a month's worth of rain about to fall at the weekend.

Time to call in the Navy!


Source of photos unknown....

Monday, 3 February 2014


Indy had his quarterly eye examination and the news is good.  Dawn gave a report on Facebook:

"Indy continues to be cancer free in his right eye! And he had an impression of his left eye made by the ocularist while he was under. So hoping in a month or two we'll have a better fitting prosthetic."

Certainly all credit goes to the Vancouver Women and Children's Hospital who are monitoring our wee fella.  Dawn and Alastair carry on with their good parenting too, of course.  Indy is moving out of the Terrible Twos as he will be Three this coming August.  Never an easy age and they have their work cut out for them with Indy's added needs ... like trying to find his artificial eye when it disappeared last year!  It turned up but not after they were tearing the place apart looking for it!

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Today is Alastair's 6th birthday.  The idea was to take the kids out to Loch Lomond to build a fire and roast hot dogs but the weather has been so wet that we decided to pull out a left-over aluminium (aluminum) tray with charcoal BBQ from the supermarket and based ourselves in the back garden.  Actually the sun came out and, though cold, stayed out for most of the afternoon (and welcome it was too)!

Grandpa built Alastair a bogie and here they are doing their test trial.  Mairi brought over the wheels and frame of a broken pram (baby buggy) and Alastair and his friend Jack were kept occupied in the garage with this project... a much more successful way to have a birthday outing than half a dozen boys screaming around the place! 

(One of the highlights was introducing the kids to French's Mustard ... no hotdog is complete without it as far as I am concerned. To rather blank kiddie faces I explained that this hotdog I was eating reminded me of happy times at baseball games, hockey games, on the beach (Shuswap Lake).... "Huh?"

Needless to say, the bogie has been given another name that has a bit more of a ring to it:
'Harriet's Chariot'

Hariett is now sitting up at 8 months old.

Last week we had a Burns Supper here  and Iain played the bagpipes for the occasion.  Harriet did not quite know what to make of it all at first, but with the help of Ishbel covering her ears (!!!!) Harriet did not really seem to mind it all!


And lastly here is Ishie: very industrious she is. After school she likes to get outside for a bit and even though the weather was a bit damp she managed half an hour with a bucket and rag that I gave her!

Saturday, 1 February 2014


Alastair is 6 years old tomorrow.  Mairi and the children came over for morning coffee (in theory) and we decorated a cake* that I had made earlier.

Here is Mommy and her little 'helpers'.

I made a birthday card for Alastair using a snail image I found on the internet.  This snail is on a scooter which is what Alastair is getting for his birthday tomorrow.

And here is the  snail cake* complete with chocolate buttons, lime or should that be 'slime' greeen marshmallows and ice cream sugar crystals from the local Italian ice-cream cafe.

Oh boy!   Is this what one might call 'All Hands on Deck'  ?!!!

* The recipe I use is  my mother's and is nothing like hers, i.e. mine is OK in texture but pale brown instead of deep chocolatey brown and tastes mostly of sugar.