Saturday, 28 March 2015


It is Mairi's birthday today!

Tulips à la Karen Dinsen.

Party time tomorrow.

Monday, 23 March 2015


One of our sailing and mountaineering friends has died. Derek Fabian, aged 85, lived a long and fulfilled life.

He is one of the men who, had he been born in a previous age, should have been on Shakleton's expeditions.  Certainly he went on plenty of mountaineering expeditions and these were in the days when men were men and women were double-breasted!

He sailed out of Loch Moidart where he kept his boat .. or rather, boats ... as he had various ones over the years.  They were wooden and reflected the man himself - full of character.

Often combining sailing with climbing mountains he sailed the coasts of Scotland, including Orkney and Shetland, Ireland and Sweden. The burgee above is from an anniversary event of the Scottish Mountaineering Club.

A fine wake was held at Cruin Inn on Loch Lomond. There was a good turn out of old ... and I do mean 'old' friends.  Lots of craic ... lots of stories, especially ones which involved Derek! 
As is the nature of funerals, we all have our own stories.  When I first came to this country in the late 60's he and his wife were some of the first people I met.  What impressed me immediately was that he had built a North American style house!  As we had taken a notion to do the same ourselves  it was talking to him, and spending time in his house (made of wood, open plan, including open stairwell, with high celings) that put us on the road to building our own house in the early  70's.

While using his large circle of friends for his many ploys (including start of the sailing season's crucial boat launching to catch the Spring Tide) and ... as we all knew, using them "once" (as correctly !! stated in his eulogy) we also know that he was very generous in an unheralded way.  

M-m-m-m ... it has just occurred to me: last Saturday, the day after the eclipse, there was a 'super-tide' meaning that the sun and earth were lined up in such a way that the gravitational pull (of both) is stronger. The high tide was extra high.  Derek would have loved that, i.e. time to get the boat launched!

Friday, 20 March 2015


In Scotland the forecast cloudy weather was less dense than predicted so it meant that lots of people got a reasonable view of the solar eclipse today. Breaks in the cloud cover or blue skies in some areas gave lots of us a chance to photograph this phenomenon.

Outside our back door (Milngavie) at 9:20 am as there is 20 more minutes to go before the sun is completely covered (well, nearly completely).

The eclipse, in all, lasted 2 hours.  That meant that when I travelled to my home to a music class I attend on a Friday morning I was able to continue to see it. I park in a churchyard and so nothing for it but out with my iPhone to try a get a shot.

With a little help from Photoshop I was able to see the sliver of sun in this blue patch in the photo.  It is basically the above photo with adjustment of the exposure.

I tried using this pinhole technique to see the light shape on the rear piece of card.  It didn't really show up.  However another time a good trick would be to do the same thing but use a colander. It gives multiple images!

The BBC website shows this photo "Rebecca Beevers from Rugby, England, opted to observe the eclipse using the projection method - her pinholes marking out the date 20 March 2015."  It is the pinhole method as above but she dotted them to write this date.  Clever!


Before the eclipse started I took a shot of shadows in the garden in order to see what would happen when the sun was blocked.  Here is Mairi's clematic gift for Mother's Day awaiting planting. It is placed on the east wall of the little woodshed.

Daffodils - before the eclipse.

 Daffodils - as  eclipse where sun is 3/4 obscured.


I said to Ishbel and Alastair that they should note the shadows on the morning of the eclipse before it started ... and then see what happens when the moon starts to cover, then completely cover the sun.   Response:  "What's a shadow?!!!

John was out today with proper glasses and photography equipment for taking photos.  With the task of looking after 2 wee ones today he was not able to venture further than the backyard.  Harriet, 1 and half years and wee Baby Ellie (2 months) were part of the photography expedition!  Even with is hands full he was able to obtain good shots; here are 2 taken from his Facebook posting.

I hope the photo of Ellie with her solar glasses is going to be kept for her 21st birthday!

One television reporter stated when talking about the eclipse tonight on the news that it was "the greatest show on Earth!"  For once, I agree with this use of the superlative!

Monday, 16 March 2015


When is a piano not a piano? When it is 2 pianos of the same size put together, one on top of the other, on a special structure which has a keyboard (called a pedalboard) played by the feet, the sort of thing you see in pipe organs. It is a pedal piano and was part of the evolution of keyboard instruments.

I learned all this at a most interesting piano recital at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire.  Roberto Prossedo, not... not Prosseco ... from Italy played for an hour and let us have a look at the instrument brought from Italy.

It developed in the early days of the piano as we know it today (early 1119th century) and was a welcome instrument for organists who wanted to practice.  It meant that they did not have to sit in a freezing cold church and also they did need someone to work the bellows!

Photos: mine on the top and the other 2 are from Wikipedia.

Monday, 9 March 2015


Here are some recent photos of Baby Ellie, now nearly 2 months old and Harriet who is 1 1/2 years old.

I reckon Ellie is going to be sociable like the other 3 children. 

Harriet and I spent some time in the library last week.  Does she go for books? Not this time; it was the videos on the shelf she wanted.  Having said that she loves to sit with a book in her lap turning the pages.

Harriet and Hunka-Munka our toy monkey which sits at the front door.

Some years ago I knitted some socks with no particular child in mind.  It was simply to use up some wool from a pair I had knitted for myself.  Well, last week I found someone to wear them!

Here is a close-up of my little model.  She loves putting shoes or boots on and off and doesn't bother with such niceties as socks.  But as it was very cold outside I managed to get her to wear these socks in her weilies.  Quite a rig-out!