Saturday, 31 December 2016


As the year comes to an end all of life 's events are being played out.

It is Ishbel's birthday! December 31st! She arrived 10 years ago when we were having our New Year's Eve dinner with our Carseview Drive nieighbours - Peter, Lesley and Sandy, Haig and Adam. Ishie has the distinction of being the first of four children to Mairi and John!

Our lovely 91 year old neighbour, Jack, died last night. He died of pneumonia which in my day was called "the old man's friend" (for carrying off the living to a better place). That is his greenhouse and my December dead roses. His lovely wife cared for him until just a few days before he died. She's a real pal of mine; we lean on each other a lot.

Time to bring out my black hat which I bought in Salmon Arm at the ladieswear shop next to CIBC.  In the bottom left corner of the photo is the artwork for our Christmas card, done again by Peter.  I am only half way through my Christmas letters.  They will all get written in fullness of time (as everyone knows)!

That is last year's Christmas card which functions as a tent. The figures are felt pens from IKEA.  They change arrangement every time they visit!

So we move to the midnight hour and the bells. Iain and I will be joining Mairi, John and the family for a birthday drink for Ishie before returning home to have a few of the neighbours in when we will be raising a glass to the memory of Jack.

Alastair, Dawn and Indy are having a winter holiday in Banff.  We usually have a Skype call every Saturday from them but this probably will have to be deferred today!  They are all well and enjoying their move to New Jersey where Alastair is now in a new job working for Jon Stewart, formerly of The Daily Show.  His input is animation for a new project being undertaken. Basically, he has moved from the film industry to the television industry, i.e. west coast of USA to the east coast. (He says he enjoys smelling the Atlantic Ocean again!)

Wednesday, 28 December 2016


When visiting a gentleman recently we were intrigued to hear how his nephew is employed aboard this rather fine yacht:

This is Octopus, a luxury yacht owned by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft. This 414 ft superyacht is manned by a 57-strong crew.  It is equipped with a submarine and Remotely Operated Vehicle, for a variety of rescue and research operations... a great life for a young man!
[Photo by Ship Dreams]

Today I passed several marinas with lots of masts showing that there are yachts a plenty on the Clyde.  

I am happy to think that all their owners get pleasure from their summer sailing and winter maintenance activities.

However, for me, happiness is the sight of a CalMac ferry especially if it is already in at the slipway ... as was the case today as I headed home from an afternoon concert at Millport.

The lights of the ferry lit up the darkness as the bus unloaded everyone to get the 3:50 pm ferry back to Largs.  I felt I had been away for the weekend instead of just an hour's car ride journey (to catch the ferry) down the Clyde from Glasgow.

Monday, 26 December 2016


 Fairtrade handpainted birds-on-a-bell hanging from our hall table

New Kilpatrick Church, Bearsden, graveyard where I regularly park my car on a Friday morning. Just caught the sun burning through the morning fog.

Alastair lighting the Christmas pudding.  Grandma got a little heavy handed with the SMWS whisky poured on to the pud!

An idea - one for the Book of Good Design - is this item from Bill Donaldson who  brought the wine for Christmas dinner. A woman from (I think I am right...) from Latvia) taught him this tip for creating the right size cork for the leftover wine.
 One burnt out penguin!

Saturday, 24 December 2016


It's Christmas Eve  and so time for .....

Carols from King's College Cambridge on BBC TV

Having a dram whilst opening the Christmas mail ... from Iain's former student

Having a dram whilst opening the Christmas mail ... from friends

Having a cup of tea with Christmas cake ... more cards; from relatives

While outside storm Barbara has passed and storm Connor is arriving.  The red bit is red alert for Outer Hebrides

* * * * * * 

Another sighting over Glasgow Cathedral

Friday, 23 December 2016


A collection of the week's events or observations ...

I went to collect a forgotten sweater from Harriet's Nursery at Bearsden Ski Club.  I parked the car outside the door and when I opened the door to get out of the car my eye caught this chap on the artifical ski slope poma lift...!

The Duke of Wellington is still in the city centre complete with the traffic cone on  his head. Lots of Christmas lights are around the city; makes for a background night photo of the Duke.

Chestnuts and jingle bells in one of Mairi's Darlington wine glasses.  Alan Duff's pottery salt pot is still in use after 40 years!

That's another issue of Tidelines done. We are now going digital so most people will get it by email. Some still have to be mailed. Envelope stuffing is always easier when helped along with mince pies.

A bit of greenery from the garden helps lift a black hat at this time of year. The last of the Fitou is in decanter waiting for the Christmas leftovers.

See that empty bottle?  It is Strathmore bottled water.  Plain Scottish water.  Iain ordered it at a table we were hosting recently at the Radisson Blu Hotel in the city centre.  Cost?  £9.99 !!!!!!    Talk about Rip Off Great Britain!   We are used to having a hotel supplied bottle of wine costing 3 times as much as you would pay in the shops, but not water! 

* * * * *  Next day * * * * *

Another sighting over Glasgow Cathedral

Thursday, 15 December 2016


When reading the front page of 'The Guardian' newspaper the other day I thought I spotted a typo.  I am one of these people who is a bit twitchy about such things. I know The Guardian is careful with its text so I was a bit taken aback.

The following photo shows the example.  The subject relates to the mobile phone coverage in the UK, lamenting the fact that compared to other countries it is not very good. It is worse than 
"Albania, Panama and Peru. Our roads and railways can feel like digital deserts and even our city centres are plagued by not spots where connectivity is impossible."

Not spots?  Surely that is an error? Somebody typed an 'n' instead of an 'h'?

Wrong ... it is a new word meaning places where there is no mobile phone signal.
It's a good word; I like it! 

This chap seems to have obtained a signal ....

...  unlike these 2 who are still waiting at Charing Cross in Glasgow.
 [Photo John Albiston]

Saturday, 3 December 2016


Life is hard when you are three years old.  Harriet has chickenpx and is confined to barracks just now.

She can't go to Nursery which mean Iain and I have had the pleasure of her company on a couple of occasions.

To keep her amused we get out the felt pens at the kitchen table.  Here is the Waitrose (supermarket) robin complete with spots (snowflakes, I think) so we were colouring robins today... or as they say in these parts "colouring in". 

For 3 years old she has remarkable dexterity!  We have also graduated to making paper chain figures ... which takes me back. Again she can hold scissors extremely well for so one so young!

She makes us laugh with some of her words  "Grandpa is at his 'puter."  "I don't like that. It tastes 'gusting!"

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


It is St Andrew's Day, November 30th. Before the day is out I must share my story of my November night sky observations.

For much of the month the weather has been remarkably bright and clear both during the day but also at night. On several occasions  when I was up during the night I observed a bright white light ... and as I reported to Iain in the morning ... the light had a port and starboard light on either side.  Weird ... but that is how I saw it on repeated occasions.

It was in the south-east and low in the sky. I could not hear a plane coming overhead, nor find any planes arriving at Glasgow airport (using Flighttracker24). 

I mentioned this to a few folk over the weeks and got interesting responses:  "Yer mad Woman!" (Iain) .... through to ...  "Get yourself a star chart and see what lines up. (Alastair).

Well, it is a star! This website* clinched it for me when it said  "anyone familiar with the constellation Orion can simply draw a line through Orion’s Belt, to the left. "  The star is Sirius and appears, especially in November  in the northern latitude, low in the sky and very bright.

This photo is the position of these stars as seen from the back garden.

But what about the colour? I had never realized that stars could twinkle in colour.  They do, and Sirius can be seen with any number of colours; it has been given the name The Rainbow Star.

And the following explains how this occurs:

The brightness, twinkling and color changes sometimes prompt first-time observers to report Sirius as a UFO. But these changes have nothing to do with Sirius. Rather, they are what happens when such a bright star as Sirius shines through the blanket of Earth’s atmosphere. The light from Sirius, which often appears fairly low in the sky from the mid-north latitudes, passes through a long column of air before it reaches our eyes. Changes in density and temperature of this air affect the light and cause the flickering and shimmering we see when we gaze at this star. This happens for other stars, too, but it is more noticeable for Sirius because it is so bright, and because it appears low in the sky.
 * Ref:

* * * * * * * * * *  

While I was fascinated to learn about this star I also learned 2 other striking things:

[1] In my report of this sighting (I genuinely believed I was looking at a plane coming in toward me as we live on a flight path for Glasgow Airport but the flights are not usually from that south-east direction) I used descriptive words which skewed my 'report'.  If I had said I saw a white shining light with red and green on either side I might have had a different/better/less shrill reaction.  But having seen exactly that kind of light at sea (ships in the distance coming towards us, or, indeed, passing far away on the horizon heading for some port or other) I used that terminology and unwittingly affected the outcome.

[2] This observation could form a nice little kernel for a sociological study on personality types!  Glass half full people reactions vs Glass half empty reactions!

[Thanks to Jane in Kelowna for this wine glass image!]

Later - some feedback:  you omitted to give the Engineer's take on the glass half full situation which is "the glass is twice as large as it needs to be"!!!!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016


It's all over ... and nobody was more shocked than this woman!

(Facebook - no source given)
* * * * *

Maybe Canada Should Build a Wall?

Friday, 4 November 2016


Sheds seem to be the 'in thing' these days.  I have known writer's huts, potting sheds and cottages (even!) called 'sheds' but nowadays things have been taken to a much higher level.

Take this fellow: Phil Sisson in his Glasgow shed making  Raindrops on Roses, a Belgian Wit style beer, brewed with rose petals. He has recently won a prize in which he stated "It is just fantastic to have been able to impress the judges with my own creation. I originally brewed the beer as a present for my wife's birthday and my daughter chose the musical-themed name, so it is a truly family affair."


This week an arrangement of poppies has been set up at the Milngavie centotaph. At first it was the large splash of red that caught my eye but on closer inspection I had a double-take; they were all knitted!

 And some of the contributors were ... a local 'Men's Shed'!



Wednesday, 2 November 2016


Hallowe'en is an exciting time for the children.  Here are some photos taken by John of the whole gang when they went on an outing this week to buy a pumpkin (or two).
Mairi, Alastair (8.75 years), Ishbel (9.75 years)  with Ellie (1.5 years) on her shoulders, John with Harriet (3 years) on his shoulders.

Alastair, Ellie, Ishbel and Harriet

Harriet ... I really like this photo!

and lastly  * * * * * * * * *  a joke ....

A man arrives in Camelot and notices the Knights sitting at the Round Table.  "That's a rather nice table." he says.  "Who designed that?"
Sir Cumference!

Monday, 31 October 2016


We were in Blair Atholl on Saturday at the Glenfiddich Piping Championships.  Perthshire was looking wonderful in all the autumn colours. The event took place in the Ballroom in Blair Castle. We joined John and Ilona who were down from Skye.

Blair Castle grounds

Blair Castle

Champion of Champions - Roddy MacLeod            [His Facebook page]

BBC Report states:
"A piper from Glasgow has won the prestigious Glenfiddich Piping Championship for the fifth time.
Roddy MacLeod claimed the 2016 title after competing against some of the world's most highly acclaimed pipers.
The championship was established in 1974 to bring together the world's finest players.
All 10 competitors who were invited to take part at the event at Blair Castle in Perthshire had won other piping events during the past year."  

 And 4 cetureies ago....

De doedelzakspeler ("Bagpipe Player"), Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1624 [Wikipedia]

 * * * * * * * * * * *

 Meanwhile back in Scotland ... the next morning

First light on the rooftops in Pitlochry

5 minutes later -catching the morning light.     I think Brugghen would have approved.