Monday, 31 March 2014


Over the centuries in Scotland I have come across 'notices' (meaning a sign giving information) where feelings run high.  They may be plaques, monuments, headstones or obelisks.  The subject is always a passionate one, sits in a public place and, furthermore, doesn't mince words!

These notices have always intrigued me: certainly feelings run high and, clearly, someone was behind the drive to erect the structure plus carve the text. Someone (or group) 'noticed' that something needed to be said about a topic which was being overlooked or unheralded and felt justice needed to be served. Basically they about wrongs needing to be put to right!

Here is the first of several I am about to post: 

William Wallace Monument which has the following text carved on the base around the back.  
Aberdeen city centre.

The text states:
    Edward First of England, having attempted to annex Scotland to his dominions, was opposed by WALLACE, through whose consummate wisdom and valour the English were driven out of Scotland and her independence was restored.
    Renewed attempted by Edward to conquer Scotland were heroically resisted by WALLACE, till he was treacherously deserted by the Scottish Nobility and betrayed by Sir John Monteith.  He was thereupon seized, conveyed to London, and there arraigned as a traitor to the English King, amid mockery and indignity, which, conscious of his integrity, he bore with dignified compare.
   On 23rd August, 1305, this GREAT HERO was led to Smithfield, and, with Edward as an eye-witness, was there put to death, solely for his love of liberty, his effectual resistance of aggression, and his fidelity to his Native Land.

This gives 'the other side of the story'.  Question: is this aspect ever taught in history lessons?  M-m-m-m there is a title for a history series "The Backside of Scottish History" or better still .... "The Underside of Scottish History" (lots of material there!)

Carved in stone at the front:  In honour of William Wallace
Guardian of Scotland

'Guardian' is a word that deserves another history lesson.... but that is another story.

Top photo is Wikipedia: the bottom 2 photos are mine with thanks to Alec and Christine (December 5, 2013 in the middle of Aberdeen dodging the traffic!)

Sunday, 30 March 2014


The bulbs I planted last autumn are now flowering as the days are longer and the sun is higher in the sky. While the leaves are not out yet on the trees these bulbs and tree blossom give us very welcome colour... spring is just around the corner!

 Outside the entrance to the back door and garage.

 In  'garden room' which joins the main house and garage. These daffs were bashed and blown about from the recent wind but when collected from where they lay on the ground and put in a vase I found they had a wonderful fragrance (unlike supermarket daffs)!

At the front door. The primula is one Maggie gave me about 6 weeks ago when she bought it at a garden shop in Wales.

Blossom on Nethermains Road, Milngavie, about 11am this morning.  This is pretty typical of the weather we have had this week, i.e. low cloud with a cold east wind.

(A good day earlier this week!)
My view of the sky when putting my head back high on the swing in the kids' park at the back of our house.

Saturday, 29 March 2014


It was Mairi's birthday this week. Time to down tools and have some fun.

Mairi and two of her friends and I had a night out at a 'James Bond' dinner with my Wine and Dine group.

The last time (come to think of it, the only time...) I had a martini it was with John Hembling in a nightclub in Vancouver about 1964.  He was so-o-o sophisticated; I, definitely, was not!

After school cake baking time: two cakes from Marks & Spencer's chocolate cake mix (which are better than my efforts) meant that there was no squabbling.

We have this ritual "Cooks get to taste the baking" but sometimes things get a little out of hand... like  "I just need to taste it to see if it's gone off!"

* * * * * *

Here is an up-to-date profile of Mairi's gang:

 Alastair, aged 6, who can now 'go the monkey bars'.

Ishie, aged 7, who is long, lanky, a whizz with numbers and loves being a Big Sister.

And who gets lots of cuddles? 
Harriet, aged nearly 10 months  with Alastair and John.

The perfect play place for pulling herself up!

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Today was Ishbel's year at school (Primary 3, Mosshead Primary) to present their project work.  It was Knights and Castles.  We were treated to a short stage presentation and then free to visit the classroom to see their work.  After this we had a 'banquet' of (mum's dad's) home baking in the main school hall.

Here is Ishbel in her Lady of the Castle outfit. She is beside the castle her group of 4 built. They had worksheets where they learned all the vocabulary related to castles e.g. broch (the earliest Scottish castle), motte and bailey, portcullis etc and clothing related to amour e.g. gauntlet and ... a word I did not know...  'sabaton'  which is what the shoes of a suit of armor are called.  (I should have guessed that as I recall the French Canadian song Avec mes sabots (with my shoes).

Each child designed his/her own shield by incorporating images related to their family.  So here is Ishie's: Scottish flag of St Andrew's, the flag of Wales where her other grandparents live, the Canadian flag in the lower right (well done!) and I am not sure what the lower right is ... I'll have to come back on this....

This is Ishbel's description of life for a woman (again, impressive ... did you ever get this sort of stuff at school?!)
"Babys - Child birth was often dangerous for medical knowledge in the Middle ages was limited and standards of hygiene were low.  Many mothers and babys died but families were still often large. Noble women sometimes gave their babies to wet nurses to breast feed rather than doing this themselves."

They also had worksheet arising from the topic of chivalry.  There was a list of characteristics: bravery, truth, honesty, politeness, courtesy.  They then had to write their own sentence illustrating the meaning of the word.  Again, what an imaginative way to introduce these values into the classroom.

Here is our RSVP to 'Lady' Ishbel's invitation to attend the banquet. I had great fun composing it and printing it out using Photoshop and the computer. The crest is MacLeod, of course with its motto 'Hold Fast'.
"Lord and Lay MacLeod of Caisteal Dubh are pleased to accept Lady Ishbel's invitation to the King's Banquet at Castle Mosshead on the Isle of Albiston.  We are planning to arrive in our birlinn 'Dunsinane' and will need a protected harbour on your island where there will be water available and no risk of night-time raiders.  We are also bringing our deerhound Thane.  He chases sheep and only eats McDonald burgers."

As 'Lord' Iain spends a great deal of his time trying to solve Scotland's energy situation* this display in the hall of another classroom caught my eye.  It is 'Renewable Energy Primary 5/6'.   Again ... very impressive!  Clever wind turbines!
* Since you asked ... No, he hasn't solved it yet.

Sunday, 23 March 2014


Alastair's school held a Learning Festival this week.  Their project was The Vikings.  He had to dress up as a Viking and here he is in his garb complete with a kilt pin which was given to him when he was born.

We were very impressed with how he said his lines on the stage.  He learned them 'word perfect' and, with some coaching from us through the week, he said them loudly and clearly so that we could hear him in the back row of the hall. The Festival concept included many aspects of Viking life and culture: their boats, exploration in the  northern latitudes, their influence in Scotland, etc.

Ishie and I had some fun a couple of weeks ago - the two of us headed of to Ikea to buy a high-chair for Harriet.  As soon as we arrived we headed upstairs to browse through the displays.  Immediately at the top of the stair I spotted this multi-coloured rug.  I said to Ishbel "Oh-h-h-h I like that rug.  I'm going to buy it!" She immediately responded "Right" and moved on.  Well I had a real 'double take'!  I am so used to ... "Whatdya want to buy that for?" "Do you need it?"  Delightful! We must do this more often!

Here is Grandpa teaching Alastair how to tie a reef knot.  Our Viking needed a belt for his outfit and this odd piece of cord did the trick.

Finally as they were getting their shoes on at the door, and I was holding Harriet, I said to Alastair "I think we'll keep Harriet here to stay with us..."  Without missing a beat he replied "If she stays, I stay!"

Thursday, 13 March 2014


Time for digging and planting.  Alastair 6 and Ishie 7 are helping in the garden after school this week.

Last year we planted peas and they were a huge success meaning that there was lots of "play" for them.  Peas sprout easily and seem to grow wherever they are put in the ground.  Last year Ishie planted the little peas that sprouted in the trays we prepared in what she called "families" or groups in the ground.  Who needs rows anyhow?!

Here is Alastair digging in the garden.  It was a glorious day and he spends all his time out there looking for worms.

I said to him that he would make a good farmer. (I can see him pitching hay effortlessly from the ground up on to the back of a tractor.)  He said "Definitely not! I'm going to be a racing driver." Now that I can believe!

Saturday, 8 March 2014


Harriet, aged 9 months, started to crawl this week.  Now the fun begins....! (She is wearing Maggie's lovely hand knitted sweater giving to Ishie 7 years ago.)

Sunday, 2 March 2014


There is to be a referendum in September 2014 in which voters in Scotland will be asked:

 ‘Should Scotland be an independent country? 
The topic is not without its funny side!

Here's a newly written map of Scotland.  It is easier to read all the humorous place-names if you click on the image to make it larger.

Meanwhile,  the face of Alec Salmond, the First Minister for Scotland who is leading the drive for independence, appears on the front of a current Scottish (i.e. The Royal Bank of Scotland plc)  five pound note replacing the countenance of Lord Ilay, First Govenor" *   of The Royal Bank of Scotland [plc] which was formed in 1727.

* Goodness!  This man was a Campbell ... i.e. Campbell of Argyll. who eventually became the 3rd Duke of Argyll in 1743. 

As Wikipedia states: "Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll, 1st Earl of Ilay (June 1682 – 15 April 1761) was a Scottish nobleman, politician, lawyer, businessman and soldier. He was known as Lord Archibald Campbell from 1703 to 1706, and as the Earl of Ilay from 1706 until 1743, when he succeeded to the dukedom."   [1745 was a dark time in Scottish history to do with the Jacobite uprisings which lead to the Highland Clearances.]

Saturday, 1 March 2014


It has been a week of winter bugs getting to everybody.  Alastair got a virus that has now been doing the rounds through the family, as is the way of these things.

 Something to do while he is off school.

 Ishie got the bug after Alastair and was off the rest of the week.

 Harriet was the last, along with John, to come down with it.  Here she is mid-week.

This was taken a couple of weeks ago as she sat in the laundry basket at my feet while I worked on the computer.

Indy in Vancouver, is hale and healthy!