Monday, 28 April 2014


Alastair, Dawn and Indy are arriving tomorrow for a 3 week visit.  Iain and I have Big Birthdays coming up in May so this is all to do with us having a bit of a family get-together.  Also it is a lovely time of year so it is time to get out and make the most of it!

Nothing sharpens the mind for tidying better than having folk coming to stay.  Here is Harriet in her favourite place in the kitchen - the bottom drawer.  (The tea towels tied to the oven handle help avoid squashed fingers.) At the moment the drawer has  more toys in it than baking ingredients!

Ishbel and Harriet up to high-jinx.

I might try a Japanese approach: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo.

"Transform your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space with the incredible KonMari Method. Japan's expert declutterer and professional cleaner Marie Kondo will help you tidy your rooms once and for all with her inspirational step-by-step method."

"Once you have your house in order you will find that your whole life will change."  I look forward to that!

Sunday, 27 April 2014


BBC Radio Scotland is presenting a series of programmes which are related to the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow this July.  It is called Commonwealth Poetry Postcards where, as the blurb says, there will be "a poem from every competing nation and territory sent to Glasgow for the Games, capturing the essence of who the people of the Commonwealth are today.'

I heard a charming one today [BBC website here] written by Esther Phillips, a retired teacher from Barbados.  The BBC website shows her photo plus her 4.38 minute audio presentation.  Her poem is below.


(on teaching an adult male to read) 

He trusted me to break

the word, crack each segment
open until the mystery expired.

Not so this morning;

he stared bewildered

at the board then back at me:

"I never t'ought dat word
could be so small... F-i-x,"
he mused, "dis word so small."

How could his daily toil
of hammer, saw and nails;
an old lady's reckoning
of last month's window
against the patching
of her roof this week --

how could her life of sacrifice
and his of labour, sweat
and boiling sun
be totalled up
in this small word? 

from The Stone Gatherer, Peepal Tree, 2009

Saturday, 26 April 2014


It must be the spring sunshine that brings people out.  Or is it that everything happens in 3s, like the buses (i.e. there are none and then they all come at once)?

Well today was one of those days. I was out in the early morning with Harriet who is recovering from a tummy bug (having been picked up by others in the family). I headed off from Mairi's house pushing the pushchair like a homing pigeon retracing well-worn routes of years ago.  After my first stop in Joe's shop I headed off to the swing park and there I met a lady (my age)  from the neighbourhood I had not seen for quite awhile.  She was doing exactly the same thing as me... out with the one grandchild in a push-chair plus another one of 3 years old.

We got talking. She told me that her husband had died one year ago after a lengthly illness.  However I got an awful shock when she told me that exactly a year after his death her son had unexpectedly died.  He was a fit, healthy person of late 40s - heart attack - and these were his 2 children.

These while bluebells were growing in the area adjacent to the play park where we met ... quick photo taken with my iPhone.

Having delivered Harriet back late morning I headed off to the Canadian Ladies Luncheon in Stirling.  Goodness!  If there wasn't a wonderful lady there that I had not seen in 20 years!  She returned to Ontario, ran her own business and is back and forth to Scotland doing Granny Duty now that she is retired.  We agreed that we are both aging, if not gracefully, at least as well as can be expected!

And finally it was time to catch up with 2 other ladies I had not seen since the last luncheon.  One of them was a great gardener and trilliums were her specialty.  Here are some from the National Trust Garden at Geilston this week.  The maple leaves above are also from Geilston Garden this week.

Friday, 25 April 2014


There was a news item this week that Mairi picked up on the internet.  It was about an old WW2 mine that has been on the beach on the west side of Eigg.  The story is on the Daily Mail website here.   This photo accompanying the article has been doing the rounds on Facebook etc.  It is by Ben Cormack.

I took it from the Daily Mail website.  The caption says: "Ben's dog Captain Haddock has one last stand on the mine before it is destroyed.   Ben, 32, added: 'The mine was a British one used to protect Allied shipping lanes in World War II from German U-boats and warships. It’s a rare example as they are not usually found with the explosive casing still intact. That’s why they were very worried.'  "

It was the dog that intrigued me.  Anyone who sails knows this beach (Inner Hebrides) well.


I took this photo in 1997 and that is our boat, the yellow one, in the distance. I don't know the man in the photo but wonder if it is the same dog! There are, of course, many on the island....!

Again another time, another photo; this time of cows at the end of the day.  Both of these photos were taken in the days before digital cameras.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


The third week of April, in this part of the world, is when the country changes from winter grey to the green of spring.  Easter is now over.  The children are back at school and gardeners are out clearing, mowing and planting.

 Spring sunshine of the RC church at Cardross.

The National Trust garden at Geilston is selling plants: Easter Flower Pulsatilla Bell's Rod, or Pasque Flower.

 Not Easter lilies but trilliums in the walled garden.

The gazebo below the walled garden.

 Blue tit high above my  head.

 And farm life carries on again for another year.

Monday, 21 April 2014


Mairi, John and the 3 children joined us for Sunday dinner.  It was a trip down memory lane for me.  I made my mother's usual fare: a large ham, scalloped potatoes (aka Dauphinois) and vegetables. 

We (well, actually, it is me...) have the custom of going around the table - throughout the whole meal - and get folk to make a toast or a speech.  It was 7 year old Ishie on this occasion who had no problem with that: "I want to say Thank You to the Easter Bunny".... Raised glasses: "To the Easter Bunny!"

I recall Easter dinner in 1998 (i.e. date of the Good Friday Peace Agreement) because that was when we went around the table each person making a toast.  Anne Bennet was with us.  She is from Northern Ireland.  By the end of the meal we had pretty well been around the 12 people at the table (including my mother and Tudor) when it ended up with Anne.  "A toast Anne?"  She thought for a minute ... "Yes... Here's to Peace in Norther Ireland."  We drank to that! 

I made a very 1950s recipe, Daffodil Cake, from my Canadian Chatelaine recipe book.  The  kids helped me assemble and decorate it so it is heavy on Easter eggs and coloured sugar sprinkles.

Iain is working on the boat getting her ready for the season.  He and Peter took her out of Bowling Basin and she is in Rothesay Dock getting the hull cleaned and painted.  Here he is at the of a busy day.

I made some Ship's Biscuits from the Joy of Cooking book.  (These are really hard biscuits or crackers which are just flour, salt and water with a little fat to make them palatable.)  I decided they were not a success (even though I added some chopped rosemary from the garden) until we gave one to Harriet. All is not lost! They make great teething biscuits!

Here is Mairi nibbling on the last of the Easter Daffodil Cake ... but wait ... who is this in the photo below?

Mairi, aged 2 in 1977, nibbling on her birthday cake in the shape of a lifeboat!  The life preservers around the side are Life Savers that I brought back from Canada with me. The gingerbread men I made using a large cookie cutter bought in the States in the 1970s. She is wearing a lovely Aran sweater hand-knitted by a friend.

Saturday, 19 April 2014


Easter weekend and we're out in the garden.  Iain brought the table out (i.e. 2 saw horses with a board for the table top).  The flowers are out, the grass is cut and the sky is blue ... who could ask for more?

Harriet and I hang out together while mum tackles the post-holiday washing and tidying up.

Inger paid a visit this afternoon - wonderful! Harriet and I had to examine bottle, or, in my case, the contents thereof!

Thursday, 17 April 2014


The city is buzzing today.  Is it because it is approaching the Easter weekend and, indeed, the summer tourist season? Or is because the city is preparing to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games this July? The grass is being cut, shrubs planted along the expressway, shops and services putting on the spit and polish.

This statue in the Buchanan Street Bus Station is a meeting point for folk.  Today there seemed to be a stream of back-packers arriving, groups of foreign visitors clutching little booklets and ma, pa and all the wains heading off in all directions.

This fellow on Buchanan Street stands in mid-air.  He is painted bronze and is a 'robot' i.e. only moves briefly, stiffly when he sees an unsuspecting passer-by who could be startled by his sudden change of position.  (This happened to me much to the mirth of the gathered crowd.  I jumped a mile when the 'statue' moved - great hilarity all round!)

The cafes, bars and restaurants are gearing up with refurbishments finishing and signs getting put out on the street. Brown's Restaurant on the south side of George Square (near Queen Street train station in the city centre) is definitely worth visiting.

Scottish Ballet is now on for its spring season.  The pub across the road from (currently) the King's Theatre, does a roaring business; this is the sign to their doorway! They will be back in Theatre Royal once the refurbishment is complete.  I was in today to get tickets for Maggie and I for next Tuesday.

Mellis's cheese shop on Great Western Road is a favourite shop and wee Harriet thinks so too!

Tiles on the Hillhead Underground upper floor - so imaginative and such an improvement on its former interior finishing!

 Stain glass in a stairwell window in the EISIS building on Elmbank Street, home of Scottish Opera.

The same Let Glasgow Flourish motto as seen in display in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in its 'How Glasgow Flourished 1714 - 1837' exhibition which opened today and runs until the end of the summer.

Mitchell Library entrance

Entrance to a building on St Vincent Street around the corner from Queen Street Station. That is Mairi in the purple top.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


A joke that Tudor would have loved!

Ellen and her husband  Bob went for counseling after 25 years of  marriage.

When asked what  the problem was, Ellen went into a  passionate, painful tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the 25 years they had been married.

She went on and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and unlovable, an entire laundry list of unmet needs she had endured over the course of their marriage.
Finally, after allowing this to go on for a sufficient length of  time, the therapist got up, walked around the desk and after asking Ellen to stand, embraced her, unbuttoned her blouse and bra, put his hands on her breasts and massaged them thoroughly, while kissing her passionately as her husband Bob watched with a raised eyebrow!

Ellen shut up, buttoned up her blouse, and quietly sat down while basking in the glow of being highly aroused.  The therapist turned to Bob and said, "This is what your wife  needs at least three times a week.  Can you do this?"

Bob thought for a moment and replied, "Well, I  can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I play  golf."

Golf swing animation image: Wikimedia. Author: Persian Poet Gal

Sunday, 13 April 2014


Does a name make a difference?  Does a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

Yes.  I wish to put a case that it does make a difference. Here is an example:

This logo above belongs to a website that registers domain names.  One has to pay and in doing so one gets an email address that can be used on the internet. (Oops ... that's a tautology: where else would one use an email address....?)

Anyhow I have been on a very steep learning curve this past week: my email stopped working.  It turns out that my payment for its use had expired.  Fair 'nuff. However I did not pick up this fact until many, many hours of trying to figure out the problem.  The good news is that I learned a lot about computers in the process; the bad news is that it took me ages to get to the bottom of the problem.  (I am of the School of Thought: 'I am going to sit here til I figure it out'.)

What happened was that this domain registration company based in the States had sent me an email about the expiration date but it had gone into my Junk Mailbox (not unreasonably with a name like that!) Secondly I did not recognize the name at all so even then did not act, and thirdly, once I did act the bank fraud people were on to me about my payment.  Again, quite understandably.

I am now sorted (with the help of Alastair).  I rest my case.

Saturday, 12 April 2014


I bought this amarylis in the Milngavie Farmer's Market about 6 weeks ago and it now has 8 flowers with 2 buds hidden in the middle. Amazing!

Catching the sunlight this afternoon.

Harriet's away visiting the other grandparents so I use her high chair for floral display at the kitchen door!

The Canada Goose wind sock is still going strong ... especially today which was lovely but very windy!

Monday, 7 April 2014


A Scotsman phones a dentist to enquire about the cost for a tooth extraction.......... 

"85 pounds for an extraction, sir" the dentist replied.

"85 quid! Huv ye no'got anythin' cheaper?"

"That's the normal charge," said the dentist.

"Whit aboot if ye didnae use any anaesthetic?"

"That's unusual, sir, but I could do it and would knock 15 pounds off."

"Whit aboot if ye used one of your dentist trainees and still without any anaesthetic?"

"I can't guarantee their professionalism and it'll be painful. But the price could drop by 20 pounds."

"How aboot if ye make it a trainin' session, ave yer student do the extraction with the other students watchin' and learnin'?"

"It'll be good for the students", mulled the dentist. "I'll charge you 5 pounds but it will be traumatic."

"Och, now yer talkin' laddie! It's a deal," said the Scotsman. "Can ye confirm an appointment for the wife next Tuesday then?"