Sunday, 31 January 2016


It's the weekend ... the weather is cold and snowy

Iain and I have finally got the manuscript away for this book (actually it includes the NE Scotland & Orkney book as well) away to the publishers.  The photographs still have to be tidied but basically we can rest on our oars now and start to get our life back!

It's a long day for little people (and big people too, who have to turn up at work every day during the week) so we volunteered to keep the 2 youngest 'Munchkins" for a few hours on Saturday.

Saturday is also the day we have our weekly chat with Alastair and Indy on Skype.  Here are Iain and Ellie in front of the computer while we gather round to talk to them.

Harriet 'helping'  Ellie upon arrival.

Ellie is a real toddler now ...

 Double Trouble ... 

Harriet loves puzzles...

Friday, 29 January 2016


Because of gale force winds causing traffic distruption today our music class was cancelled.  That left me with space in a day which I had not expected.  As I was planning to meet Christine and Agneta, over from Sweden, I headed into the city early to visit some of my old haunts.

En route to the train station I saw this branch that had fallen on top of a parked car.  Some poor bloke is going to get a shock ... however there appeared to be no damage to the car.

There is an exhibition on at the Lighthouse of Paul Smith's designs.  Here is one of the Mini's he was commissioned to paint some years ago.  I love it!

Carluccio's at lunchtime ... very civilized.  We don't meet for lunch enough... must to do this more often!

Monday, 25 January 2016


Celtic Connections is on in Glasgow.  This winter music festival of concerts, ceilidhs and general get-togethers have come a long way since it started 22 years ago. I recall the early days when it was largely about groups of Scottish and Irish youngsters and bands arriving with their fiddles.

It now is more about "... folk, roots, indie, world and traditional music festival celebrating the links between Celtic music and cultures across the globe" i.e. based in Scotland but very much it is a joining-up with home-grown Scottish talent.

We had a really good night out!  I have to hand it to organizers of these and similar big junkets; we would certainly not be heading into the city centre on a wet Sunday night but for the fact that we are meeting friends for dinner and heading to a musical venue right across the road from the restaurant.

The evening from start to finish - over dinner and at the concert - was all about bagpipes. The concert was called Just for Gordon and was a celebration of a Perthshire piper who died about 10 years ago aged 41.  Clearly a lot of work had gone into the venue which was multi-faceted and ... ran to time! (Believe me they don't usually!)

The name of Gordon Duncan we did not now as he was after our time. The lineup was: Ali Hutton, Ross Ainslie, Ian Duncan, Angus MacColl, Allan MacDonald, Stuart Liddell, Tannahill Weavers, Duncan Chisholm, Julie Fowlis, Susana Seivane, National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, Innes Watson, Duncan Lyall, Jarlath Henderson.  

Yes, they could play - all very snappy with pipes in front of stage and rock band musicians behind.  Yes, big speakers and everything connected to amplifiers.  Bagpipes amped up?  She-e-e-esh!

We had a table on the floor and enjoyed the lively, full hall atmosphere a bit like a son et lumière show. It was a long way from the military stuff I have listened to (and, indeed, played on the fiddle) all my life.  However, it is definitely all good stuff; it means it is  now "cool" to play the pipes* ... and that has to be A GOOD THING!

This is a photo of Gordon Duncan taken from the website of the Gordon Duncan Trust []

* Over the years worked hard at getting the Glasgow Herald to treat piping events seriously.  I recall one year when there was a photo, I think the only one, taken at The World Piping event in Glasgow Green and it was of a 2 year old boy sound asleep slumped against his father's big bass drum.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016


Words, words, words .... every day I am coming across words that I use and no-one else uses such as: get to first base, cover your bases.  These are  Americanisms I use a lot and realize that if you don't know baseball then the metaphor is a bit lost!

Children have a huge vocabulary now-a-days because of TV, computer usage.  For example I was having a New Year drink with my neighbours at the weekend when their 4 year old, who was playing on the floor with a computer game, pipes up "Where's East?"  Heavens?  When did I learn about the 4 points of the compass?  10?  12?

For us silver surfers (this me feeding Ellie at Christmastime) here is a fun article sent to by Jane in Kelowna (British Columbia). It is based on North American word usage.

Lost Words From Our Childhood 

Words gone as fast as the buggy whip! Sad really! The other day a not so elderly (65) lady said something to her son about driving a Jalopy and he looked at her quizzically and said what the heck is a Jalopy? OMG (new phrase!) he never heard of the word jalopy!!
She knew she was old but not that old...

Well, I hope you are Hunky Dory after you read this and chuckle...
by Richard Lederer

About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. These phrases included "Don't touch that dial," "Carbon copy," "You sound like a broken record" and "Hung out to dry."
Back in the olden days, we had a lot of moxie. We'd put on our best bib and tucker to straighten up and fly right. Heavens to Betsy! Gee whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy moley!

We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn't accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when's the last time anything was swell?

Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers.

Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn't anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, Well I'll be a monkey's uncle! or This is a fine kettle of fish, we discover that the words we grew up with- the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, go the words of our youth, the words we've left behind. We blink, and they're gone. Where have all those phrases gone?

Long gone: Pshaw, The milkman did it.
Hey! It's your nickel.

Don't forget to pull the chain.

Knee high to a grasshopper.
Well, Fiddlesticks!

Going like sixty.

I'll see you in the funny papers.
Don't take any wooden nickles.

Heavens to Murgatroyd!

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills.

This can be disturbing stuff !

We, of a certain age, have been blessed to live in changing times. For a child each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We, at the other end of the chronological arc, have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It's one of the greatest advantages of aging.

See ya later, alligator!

Friday, 15 January 2016


Loch Lomond today.  This is second day of glorious sunshine.  Here is the view of Ben Lomond out at Ross Priory this afternoon.  The snow covered hills were stunning.  This is mid-afternoon as the sun was going from the edge of the loch but still on the mountains.

 Connie and I had tea in front of fire and enjoyed the view out to the bitterly cold blue sky and water of Loch Lomond.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016


We had a laugh at our nearly one year old grand-daughter, Ellie.  She has just started talking. Up until now she has only ever said “Da da” …. until, out of nowhere .... when sitting on my lap … she looked up the ceiling light above us and said  “Whatzat?"  .....  with a distinctly strong Glasgow accent!

* * * * * *

  Time for tea towels to tie every cupboard door shut!

Thursday, 7 January 2016


Good things come not in small packages but in a carrier bag from a lovely neighbour ringing our front doorbell!  

My neighbour, Gillian, was clearing out her cupboards and came across some wine that had been there for a few years.  Not being wine drinkers, would I like it?

I think this calls for (another) wine-tasting party.  The one we held 2 years ago in May for our Big Birthdays was such a success that I fancy repeating the event with the same friends and family who are up for a bit of sampling.  I am still in touch with the people who were in a wine-tasting class some years ago - time to give them a call!

 May is one of the best months in Scotland.  While we wait in these long winter nights (well ... not quite so long now as we have turned the corner with the Winter Solstice) here is a photo I took this week of a hellibore flower out by the washing line.   Yes, wet, wet, wet but gives colour as I stand over it hanging out the clothes.  (Also I am aware that everything is green ... no ice, no snow ... with green tips of bulbs starting to show.)