Thursday, 31 December 2015


It is New Year's Eve and here I am just getting a Christmas blog post done!  We are taking in the bells tonight with all of our old neighbours at Sandy and Lesley's house ... so this is going to be a rush job....

Christmas, of course, is for kids but we had our share of fun, food, friends and frivolity.  Pictures speak a thousand words... so here they are ...
The front door with the collected green boughs from Willie's farm.

Delivering presents in my lovely Swedish cloth bag which came from Inger earlier this year.

Brussel sprouts for dinner thanks to Lidl's.  Amazing as it may seem I have never seen sprouts growing and these are a variety that were in the veg section on a great big stalk! I just whacked them off and put them in the pot.

Bill and Connie joined us for Christmas dinner.  Bill brought a bottle of wine from his cellar .... 1966!   Five of us enjoyed a sherry glassful each.  It was fine, i.e. not corked and had  'character'.  (I am so used to the big, jammy reds we get nowadays that these older wines seem 'thin'!)

 Ellie at the coffee table.

 Friends house for morning coffee December 21st.

Late post from Alastair.  An Amazon delivery after Christmas arrived with this door-stopper of a book for me ... a Jazz Fakebook ... what I asked for ... I had a great laugh when I saw the size of it!

*  * * * * JOHN'S PHOTOS * * * * *

Dinner table with Iain in the background and Harriet in a high chair, left, behind Alastair.

 Grandma and Ellie with leftover chocolate sticky pudding.

 And then there are the dishes to do ...

 Harriet getting kitted up for the job...

 Two flowers in the shower....

I want to keep this photo of Ellie (11 months) and Harriet ( 2 1/2) and show it to them when they are 18!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


On Sunday we had a pleasant, rather old fashioned, visit to our friend Willie who lives in the country.  I wanted greenery for the house and also I was looking for some pine cones thinking that I might make a Christmas wreath.

After a cup of coffee in his kitchen we headed off to tour his 'policies' meaning  the land that he owns.  As I stopped the car in the middle of the dirt road I pointed out that it might not be a good idea as we would be blocking it.  Iain said "For heaven's sake ... he owns it!."

When we got home we piled the boughs of cedar, pine and holly in the garage.

I didn't make a wreath as the only cones I found were hemlock. However I got some pheasant feathers which made me decide simply to make bunches of foliage for the front steps and inside the house.

Here  is one bouquet on the little window above the keyboard ... where I spend a lot of time.

 A closer view.

 Spot the difference!

Sunday, 13 December 2015


A British chidren's author, Michael Murpogo, was talking on the BBC Radio 4 programme Saturday Live yesterday (December 12). For UK people who can access the podcast, the interview starts at 10 minutes in: (Podcast website)

He was talking about his new book for children An Eagle in the Snow.  

As I lay in bed listening to the podcast I found myself getting more and more intrigued by the voice of this author and his lovely way of telling a story (about where he got his inspiration for the story line). 

He said he had come across the story of  a decorated soldier from WWI.  The soldier was an ordinary 'Tommy' whose name was Henry Tandey. The extraordinary thing was that over and over again the man exhibited great courage in battle.  Murpurgo wanted to find out more. 

It is long story and is told on many places on the web - references below. (The soldier, a very quiet modest man, returned to civilian life in Coventry as a worker in a car factory.)

However there was one crucial incident that occurred in a battle against the Germans in a village in France in 1918. As the enemy troops surrendered or retreated a wounded German soldier emerged from the smoke of battle and into Tandey's line of fire. Murpogo tells how Tandey did not shoot; he told him to go. The young German soldier nodded and the two men parted.

There is a whole second dramatic story about this incident ... in fact, I was so startled at this part that I sat right up in bed gasping in astonishment! 

Listen to the podcast ... or if not read about it here for all the details!

And finally ... regarding verifying the subsequent stories of the dramatis personae:
I was intrigued to hear Murpogo observe in relation to the work of historians ... they like to join up the dots (meaning that the truth gets portrayed in ways that may not actually be correct!)

Thursday, 10 December 2015


Last week a friend told me the story of how her little boy decided to glue his Christmas tree ornament using his father’s SupeGlue from his toolkit.  He got SuperGlue everywhere -  his school uniform, his hands etc.  

She took him to the sink to try and clean it off.  The only item to hand was a bottle of Boots Biological Environmentally Friendly Organic Hand Wash (liquid soap).  To her amazement it dissolved the SuperGlue completely!

With that knowledge in mind, today I headed outside to wash the steps covered in green algae in the shady part of the garden. I reckoned if Boots Biological Hand Wash could dissolve SuperGlue surely Brand X Hand Wash could clean, or at least deter, the green mould on the slabs outside!


Tuesday, 8 December 2015


It has been raining ...which is kind of normal in this, the west coast of Scotland.  However it has been very bad as seen in the photos below.  This is the Allander flooding at Tesco's in Milngavie.

 The entrance to Tesco's from the car park adjacent to the train station.

The Fish Gate

It was very frightening standing on the bank watching and listening to the water roaring down the Fish Gate. The Violence of Nature!

Thursday, 26 November 2015


On a Tuesday after school we have Alastair (7) and Ishie (8) for a couple of hours. Now that the days are dark and it is too wet for the playpark behind the house we light the fire in the living room and get out the jigsaw to help pass the time at the wrong end of the day!

When Mairi arrives with Harriet (2 1/2) and Ellie (9 months) they are keen to 'help'!  Iain is in the centre.

* * * * *

I have been very busy preparing material for various publications for the yachting scene.  This photo, for public use, came across my desk; it is of a lovely big classic yacht Mariquita sailing in the Mediterranean last year.

Using Photoshop to make a mosaic tile effect I thought it would make a good jigsaw.

And the same thing goes for this photo I took at the Prizegiving and Dinner Dance held last Saturday. That is the Clyde Cruising Club burgee placed on a side table which functioned as the Photo Corner. The red and green tartan fabric underneath is a pipe band piper's all wool plaid (2 metres in length) three of which I had purchased in the Barras some 40 years ago!  

* * * * *

And talking about puzzles ...  I couldn't understand why after the family left on Tuesday I heard some weird noises when I put on the washing machine the next morning.

In amongst the dirty bibs, the two Betty Crocker Icing-covered kids' aprons were .... a fistful of teaspoons. (M-m-m-m ... I wonder what the collective noun is for teaspoons?)  

Let me guess ... a Little Harriet Person seems to be able to get into the cutlery drawer now!


Tuesday, 17 November 2015


We think of our friends in Paris and join others around the world in expressing our horror at the bombing of 129 innocent people.

Tonight at Wembly stadium the football match between England and France is more about a show of solidarity for peace and accord.

A crowd of more than 70,000 sang La Marseillaise, the French national anthem,  in front of the Duke of Cambridge and Prime Minister David Cameron. 

Sunday, 15 November 2015


It has not been a great week. Iain and I both feeling under par as we have colds, coughs etc etc.  Half the population seem to have it at the moment. I wonder if is related to the very claggy, damp West of Scotland weather which has featured these past weeks? 

If you're 2 years old I guess all that rain is quite immaterial!

I thought we might be seeing a budding ballerina yesterday as Harriet, Our Little Beauty, gets ready to go the the playpark.

Thursday, 12 November 2015


Today John notified me of a wonderful item that was on BBC Radio 4 yesterday.  It is about, broadly speaking, gardening. The 12 minute program looked at the question: "Why are so many people drawn to gardening?"
There were several threads covered but I will expand on one, only, here. It related to the fact that in the field of neuroscience researchers noticed something, namely, "Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy".

I have always responded to people who ask "Are you a (keen) gardener?"  I always reply "Well, I do a lot of it because I just love being out in the garden puddling about, getting my hands dirty!"  Yes, I sit out in it from time to time, and I certainly cut flowers for the house, but this article (reference below) had me nodding my head in agreement as I listened the iPlayer podcast over a cup of coffee.  (Funnily enough, my 85 year old neighbour, from a farming background is exactly the same; that is why we spend a lot of time together!)

Tthe BBC Radio 4 programme is on iPlayer here:

For people not in the UK I found this article on the internet which relates to the topic in the first half of the programme:

Maybe all those microbes help gardeners come to terms with gardening failures .... like my strawberry crop this wet summer!  Nothing that a good bottle of vino couldn't sort!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Two weeks ago I took some photos of Stirling Maxwell sculpture which is in a field near Doune, Stirlingshire.

The stone with the inscription is also there but near the car park. I did not notice at the time that there was a shaft of sunlight on the stone highlighting the carved dates. With the use of Photoshop I managed to move it through the fog to his feet and 'plant' a few poppies.

And fields of poppies there are not, at this time of year but again, with Photoshop, it makes it easy to introduce them.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Prestigious events are a bit like Glasgow buses: there are never any for ages, then they all come along at the same time.

Iain has been very busy preparing a speech for the Royal Society meeting in Edinburgh yesterday  The occasion was a day conference entitled
Celebrating the Genius
and Legacy of James Clerk-Maxwell

Friends and family were able to watch the talk being Live Streamed from the Royal Society lecture hall.  It was wonderful technology ... really very well done!

These 3 photos are screen shots of his presentation.

His input to the day was to talk about Maxwell's experiments and thinking in the field of what is today called Structural Mechanics.

Always mindful to keep a difficult subject alive, he uses models to explain how structures behave and how certain mathematical equations came about in this field.

He was very honoured to meet people from science, engineering and astronomy who gathered to talk about Maxwell's contribution in their particular field.

 * * * * *

And on a completely different note, today he was involved in a Graduation Ceremony.  He needed his academic gown for this.  

Handing me a crumpled gown and hood which has been in the loft or some other not very ventilated place, I decided to revive it by hanging it on the line and letting the (days' long) rain do its work.

That was a good move.  The gown, made by Forsyth's of Glasgow in, probably, the 50s, ironed beautifully as the fabric is very good cloth. It is a PhD gown of Glasgow University, with the lovely red panels down the front.   "Doctors of Philosophy (Ph.D.) wear as Undress Black silk or stuff, with a collar falling over the yoke and full sleeves half the length of the gown. on top of this there are facings of crimson silk."  I wonder what "stuff" is...I have a feeling it is 'grosgrain' as described below.

The hood is an old friend!  I made it. The year must have been 1969 or 70.  I bought the black cloth and seem to recall it was barathea.

I found this:
BARATHEA: [neckties]. 1. A silk, rayon, or manufactured fiber necktie fabric with a broken rib weave and a characteristic pebbly appearance. 2. A fine, dress fabric with a silk warp and worsted filling, woven in a broken filling rib which completely covers the warp. 3. A smooth-faced worsted uniform cloth with an indistinct twilled basket weave of fine two-ply yarns.

GROSGRAIN: A heavy fabric with prominent ribs, grosgrain has a dressy appearance and is used in ribbons, vestments, and ceremonial cloths.

I simply copied another hood, bought some crimson silk material (actually I think it is taffeta) to match and sewed it on my Singer machine.

And it is still going strong!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


Christina has returned from Sweden with a book written by Inger's daughter, Anna Ribbing, for Mairi.  We met for lunch at Carluccio's and caught up on all the news.

She gave me the book and also the lovely cotton bag produced by Gudrun Sjoden.  I was delighted to learn that there is now a store in London at   65-67 Monmouth Street.  website:

On another window ledge in the I discovered that the desert type of plant that Mairi gave me about a year ago has produced a flower! 

Given that plants never do well in my care, at least in the past, I am quite delighted with this emerging splash of colour in the living room.