Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Baby Ellie is now 6.5 months old.  She's a bright wee person who is now just about crawling. Here are some photos taken today and earlier last week.

Friday, 24 July 2015


I like growing herbs and this year I am having great success with them.  The nice man in the garden centre at Anniesland Cross said that the trick is to keep trimming them.  I regularly gather great handfuls of bits cut off from various plants and, not using them, put them in a big bowl on the window ledge.
This is bergamot.  I don't know the species however the genus is Mondara. 

I offer these 2 photos as my MONDARA MEASUREMENT of weather:


This photo was taken in what be described as 'normal' cloudy conditions.  It shows droplets of water on the plastic garden table cover.  The rain comes, and it goes and then it comes again mainly in the form of showers which can sometimes be heavy. 

But wait for it .... a minute later .... 


Thursday, 23 July 2015


I came across this topic today.  It is about new technology for the dentist.  This company, Reminova,  has developed a revolutionary technology that could mean the end of dental filling, injections, and drilling.   [www.reminova.com].

This British firm is bidding to consign dental drilling and filling to the medical history books by launching an equity crowdfunding campaign today (Wednesday 22 July 2015). King’s College London spin-out company, Reminova, wants £500,000 from UK and US individuals.

The Glasgow Herald today states:
"[The] Perth-based Reminova, a spin-out from King’s College London, has developed what it says is a pain-free treatment which reverses and repairs early-stage tooth decay."

[King's College description] states that the process is to re-build the tooth and heals it without the need for drills, needles or amalgam. By accelerating the natural process by which calcium and phosphate minerals re-enter the tooth to repair a defect, the device boosts the tooth’s natural repair process.

[Herald continues] "The device uses electrical pulses to restore growth to natural tooth enamel – a process called remineralisation. 

The developers are appealing to investors to get behind the company through what is believed to be the first equity crowdfunding campaign to be run simultaneously in the UK and the US."


It seems very exciting as I would imagine that it would be well supported as dentists whose practices are small businesses would be in a good position to invest.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Iain is heading off for the boat this morning.  He will collecting 2 friends en route to Plockton where they are going to have a week or so sailing.

I was eating my breakfast of peanut butter on toast (actually peanut butter and banana but leave that for the moment) when I said to him "This is a joke ... OK?  A JOKE [I have to kind of spell it out when I tell jokes}: Tell Andrew [his friend] that I offered to send along some peanut butter for him to have on board but that you declined my offer." I added "I'd love you to do it just so you would have to listen to the diatribe!" ...

to which Iain responded laughing,  "Oh, I get it ... you make joke and I get the diatribe!"

In my nearly 50 years of living in the UK I can honestly say that 99% of the people I know (and remember I am talking about folk born 1930 and 1940s when there was rationing until 1950s)who do not only dislike peanut butter but positively HATE it!  I fear to mention the word, much less offer it to eat, for fear of opening the sluices starting a verbal Niagara Falls!

Ishie and I made jam yesterday.  It was good fun.  She had the job of using the scales to weigh correct amounts of fruit and sugar. (She loves working with numbers.)

She asked me to take this photo:    Snow on Strawberries

For a break we walked down to the new Waitrose supermarket and treated ourselves to hot chocolate and a cupcake in the lovely, brand new cafe.  Great fun!  Energized we returned to pour the hot jam into the jars.   (Today, I find the set is not as good as I had hoped but ... as Ishie and I say when things don't go to plan. "Och, well...nobody will ever notice."


Sunday, 19 July 2015



A strange sound from the other side of the fence prompted me to investigate.  My lovely neighbour, Mrs K,  was at the back door keening ... by that I mean moaning, wailing, clearly upset; not shouting out for Help or sobbing with tears.

 She had been electrocuted and was still alive to tell the tale. 

In her 80s, she had been cleaning a cupboard under the sink and decided to put the plug to the washing machine from its given place in the socket to the adjacent one.  What she did not know was that it then made the washing machine live due to faulty wiring/plug. When she went to take wet clothes out of the washing machine she got a jolt through her body down to her feet.

She was OK. Eventually we sorted everything out with Iain coming over to pull the plug etc.  Clearly things are a bit old in the house as must be the case in many houses of elderly people.

Her husband (these are his begonias) berated her for being .... you can imagine the rest!  He called the ambulance a bit later who found she was OK and then departed.

But it gave me a wake-up call about what number(s) to call and under what circumstances.  (It also made be appreciate the NHS and its emergency services!)

 * * * * *      WHAT EMERGENCY NUMBER TO USE     * * * * * *

999 for any or all emergencies.  They will deal with it if you have something that needs redirected because it is "less urgent".

Is EXACTLY THE SAME but applies to ALL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES (of which the UK is one) and neither has priority over the other.

   * * * * * *   HOWEVER  * * * * * *

Call 111 if  you need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency or if you think you need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service or if you don't know who to call or you don't have a GP to call.

POLICE - report a burglary, stolen car, public disturbance etc


REFERENCE:  This website explains it very clearly and also clears up misleading information:  www.mountainsafety.co.uk/EP-999-or-112-Which-is-Best.aspx

Friday, 17 July 2015


The Shipping Forecast is the final item broadcast at 0048 hours on BBC Radio before it signs off for the day.  I have always like its 9 minute monologue  starting "Attention All Shipping" for (1) its regularity; to me it's a ritual that let's me know all is right with the world no especially when I am listening to it outside the UK, and (2) its theme tune 'Sailing By' composed by Ronald Binge.

Seol-na-mara in the late 80s having a close inspection of Fastnet Rock. That is me in the red jacket on the foredeck.

This poem was mentioned on a radio programme today.  It is by Carol Ann Duffy, the nation's Poet Laureate.  In the last stanza she has articulated the very thing I always felt about the Shipping Forecast!


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

  Seol-na-mara a few years ago in Lerwick harbour.

From BBC archives it mentions that she was once asked if she thinks poetry 'to some extent takes the place of religion' in a secular society. She replied, 'It does for me: I don't believe in God.' Her sonnet 'Prayer' is the voice of that secular spirituality.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Some recent photos of the 5 grandchildren; Mairi's 4 and Alastair's 1:

Alastair (7) and Ishbel (8) are now enjoying school holidays.  

 Harriet (2) with John in the middle holding baby Ellie ( 6 months).

Indy (4) who lives in Oregon was away camping with Alastair and Dawn last week.  I talk on Skype every week to Alastair and am able to chat to Indy and watch him playing while talking to Alastair and Dawn.

Monday, 13 July 2015


Roses and raindrops ...   one way of making the most of this colourful, if damp, state of affairs!

The big, blousy blossoms are giving us lots of colour as they hang heavily with raindrops.

Here us a photo John took of Harriet (2 years old) last week.  She is sitting in Iseabail's living room in Edinburgh where the windows on the opposite side of Scotland Street can be seen.  My photo of a wet rose provides the background.

Rosebuds and raindrops

Friday, 10 July 2015


'Been baking lately.  It's a wet weather antidote.

I make scones once a week and freeze them. Now that we are in the days of the microwave all it needs is a couple of seconds and it's defrosted.  

Strawberries fill the shops now. I would imagine that the adjustable polytunnels that are now used means growers have not suffered too much with all the rain this spring and summer.

'Been baking bread a lot lately. I have discovered that Tesco's Organic Strong White Flour is quite wonderful to work with.  By that I mean the dough is more smooth and elastic given that I use basically the same procedure with various flours.  Now why should that be?  Dunno. 

Baking bread is something I can do with Little People in the kitchen. Harriet and I have a secret hideout for 'chockies' which are planted in the bottom drawer where the flour is kept.

(I had a little 4 year old neighbour, Euan, in this morning for a couple of hours.  He helped me to make bread, i.e. he used his portion of dough to makes various shapes for some bread rolls ... quite imaginative: bow tie, dog bone and dandelion!)

Had a go at Baklava last week.  I made it for a BBQ.  I love this eastern filo pastry and nut sweet and have a happy memory of buying a large, sticky piece of it from a kiosk in Sydney Harbour in 1980.  It was a wet  night and we had walked down to have a look at the Sydney Opera House.    It positively gleamed in the wet night ... wonderful gazing up at it as we walked around the outside of it  munching my way through the baklava held in a white paper napkin to try and keep it dry.

Came upon this in the supermarket!  Delicious! After fish 'n chips, curry is Britain's second most popular food so this variation on this Scottish dish is hardly surprising!

Thursday, 9 July 2015


This morning:  "I spy with my little eye ... something that has become a rare siting this summer - a great yellow orb in a blue sky! 

 That has brought on the seedlings and also the roses.

Wild roses are plentiful along lanes and various corners of streets, car parks and hedges.  This one is near Tesco's car park.

Another year and another Big Show from the red rose bush in the corner of our garden.  It gives both me and my gardening neighbour, Dot and Jack, lots of colour as we move in and out of our respective back doors.  I am glad to share the pleasure of this well situated bush at our adjoining fence as I gain pleasure from having their (well maintained) greenhouse situated next to the same fence.

Small roses in a neighbouring garden where the bush spills over the street corner hedge.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


We visited Argyllshire this weekend.  Having sent off the final big section of the Sailing Directions manuscript to the publisher it was wonderful to pack up and head off for a few days.  It felt a bit like the end of exams ... phew!  Done, finished, finito!

We were invited to join friends at a BBQ out on the coast. As a concession to my... or our ... advancing years I requested that we upgrade our usual overnight arrangement (tent) so managed to book Bed and Breakfast accommodation for 2 nights. Conclusion: smart move  Note: do it again!

On the drive north we stopped for fish and chips at Cairndow, on the east side of Loch Fyne.

It was a glorious evening as we sat outside in the garden overlooking the loch. This hostelry has been one of our favourites when we headed up to Tayvallich where the boat was.  It has changed hands and I must say, it had a nice feel about the place - smart, tidy, pleasantly busy.  The one thing we missed, however, was the old shepherd and his dog who always sat in the same corner of the bar!

Here is Iain in the garden in the evening sunshine.

While I am on the subject, here is a recent photo of Iain taken by a professional photographer as the photo is needed for a publication... still looking very extinquished ... oops... distinquished!

The Bed and Breakfast decision turned out to be great success.  Heavy showers kept passing over during the Saturday BBQ and later the midges came out.  Perhaps a bit too early in the evening we said our goodbyes, and fled up the road to 'cover', that is, back to the lovely old drover's house B & B. Midges were everywhere! Arriving back, we bolted out of the car, dashed to the front door of the house (unlocked at all times), slammed the bedroom window shut and dived under the big summer duvet.  No tent walls flapping, no rain dripping through the seams, no hard ground to toss and turn on ... and no midges!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


A friend emailed me regarding the fact that today is 'Canada Day'.  I had not forgotten ... only in my day it was called 'Dominion Day'.

I downed tools this evening to take a moment to have a solitary celebration with a dish of ice-cream and some of the Canadian Ladies Club little flags from one of the luncheons. I am pleased to say we have nearly finished updating the CCC Sailing Directions for the Northeast of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland.  That is the old edition of the Shetland section that sits at my left elbow.  (Ever heard the expression "The closer you get to finishing a job the longer it takes"?)  It's true!

Anyhow instead of trying to sort my way through the 'voes' of Shetland I thought I would pull out a few Canadian photos from my archive, i.e. the few that I have scanned for whatever reason.  

This was the time of year in Canada when exams finished in June and we headed for the beach.  Phew ... I spent all my youth on the Shuswap: as soon as school was finished until the day before it started again in September!

Salmon Arm High School Graduation 1962. Not sure why this photo was taken as there appear to be gaps. 

And of course it was cherry time.  Here is the stand on the road in 1973 with baby Kim about 6 months old.  Memories of cherry-picking?  Hot, dusty and cherries went for 25 cents a pound.  As our fruit stand was on the Trans Canada Highway (Broadview Corner to be exact) I recall cars coming from the east screeching to a halt with dust flying everywhere as they stopped, doors opening and everyone piling out to look at the big cherry trees next to the highway loaded with their plump, dark red clusters of fruit.  "Look!  Cherries!"

This photo was taken by my mother in 1948 and shows the level of high water at our cabin at Canoe Beach [50°45'16.32"N   119°14'54.70"W] namely along the tracks toward Salmon Arm from the present Canoe Public Beach.  I was 4 years old then.  I recall paddling around at the back door and going (easily) under a big plank that was situated on the bank and laid so you could get access over to the back door.
This unremarkable photo was taken in 1963 in Golden, on the Kicking Horse River.  That was the year the Rodgers Pass opened and, having finished a Senior Matric year, I headed to Golden to work in the Chevron Gas Station cafe at the top of the hill on the brand new highway.  Loved it!  One abiding memory was that 'Abilene' was the tune most played on the small coin operated record machine in the cafe.  Summer job finished, I eagerly migrated to Vancouver and UBC (aged 19) ... in my '57 Chev!


Ellie was with me today.  She is nearly 6 months old now.  I have a really good pushchair for her so she decided we should walk down to the new supermarket that has opened up on the main Milngavie Road.  We needed to check out the wine section.

On the way back up the hill we stopped to smell the flowers.

... roses tumbling through a hedlge in an overgrown garden.

Harriet, 2 years old, was here yesterday and we spent the whole time out in the garden in the first of some really hot weather!

We have game we play: when she first arrives in the house she goes to the bottom drawer where there a little elf has planted some Smarties.