Sunday, 28 February 2016


Iain and I are very impressed with Ishie (9 years old) and Alastair (8 years old)  in terms of their vocabulary!  They both love school and talk easily about projects they do which involve varioius skills.  

One topic they both like, and talk about, is mathematics.  I don't mean arithmetic ... but geometry, for example.

A few weeks ago, over our 5 o'clock "tea" as they say here, i.e. dinner of sausages and chips, before Mairi arrives at 5:30 pm to take them home.... we were dreaming up some examples of how we use the triangle shape to measure things.  Using the example of a mast on a boat is useful.

As luck would have it, I was visiting Anne who lives locally and has had part of a big tree blow down in a recent gale.  She is currently faced with the problem of the remaining tree and wondering about the risk of the rest of it, or part of it,  coming down.

Lightbulb moment!  Could we get Grandpa to show us how to determine, roughly, the height of the tree? If it fell could it hit the house? 

Applied Engineering Example Number 1:   
Grandma brings picnic rug and after-school picnic (French stick, cheese, juice) and sits in the February sun. Grandpa brings 2 x 4 post and 2 measuring tapes and gathers the wok force. Kids hold tapes and think about angles.

Post Applied Engineering 1 Observation:
Alastair was curious about various problems that might ensue if tree was blown down or cut down .... Ishie and wee Cat were curious about who could chase around the garden the fastest!

Thursday, 25 February 2016


From March 15 Canadians citizens will need to have their Canadian passports in order to travel to Canada – even if they are a dual national and have a British passport they will need to have their Canadian one.

This applies to me and to both of our children as we obtained Canadian citizenship for them as babies. We live in the UK and therefore it follows that
(to quote from their announcement):
"Canadian citizens holding dual nationality will be required to carry a Canadian passport to enter Canada. This means that even if you acquired British citizenship and have not had a valid Canadian passport for years, you will have to apply for one now. This includes your British born children who may have Canadian Citizenship, but who may never have never actually held a Canadian passport."

This becomes important when airlines are checking you in and ticking the boxes for clearance to travel.  Foreigners are required to get an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) clearance form*; Canadian passport holders do not need this.   The problem appears to be that if you are Canadian and not a passport holder there is no box that can be ticked.   GO automatically becomes NOGO.
The bottom line is: you will need to carry both your passports, British and Canadian to allow you to re-enter the UK on your return from Canada.
Passport applications forms and phone numbers are the web:

* If you’re a dual British-Canadian national, you won’t be able to apply for an eTA.

Monday, 22 February 2016


Time to catch up on what we have been doing.... We enjoy a chat with Alastair and Indy every weekend.  We now use Googlehangout and sometimes revert to Skype for our video calls. 

Here is a screenshot of Alastair and Indy as we chatted yesterday. Indy will be 5 years old in August.

I save up my techy questions for Alastair as he is quite  happy to "talk shop" i.e. talk about Photoshop ideas or difficulties.  My next question for him is going to be "Has he used the drawing facility on his iPhone?"  This is David Hockney's drawing.  It makes me feel anything he can do I can do ... well, not better ... but at least have a go!

Iain and I drove to a small place in Perthshire to check out a hotel for a group gathering this autumn.  The weather was gloriously sunny; the countryside was stunning!

The Bridge of Cally Hotel north of Blairgowrie. It's a 3 star "small hotel".

We had some visitors a couple of weeks ago... young lads who play in a trio. They were performing locally and we were on the hospitality end of things. At the end of the evening when we returned home I announced, as I usually do, "The bar is open what would you like to drink?"  Lots of people nowadays take non-alcholic drinks, tea, coffee or whatever especially late at night.

Well I nearly flipped when the first lad replied "Actually I like whisky."  And then the second and the third chirped up with the same response!  I was astonished and absolutely delighted!  I confessed that I am a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society ... and that I might just have something in the cupboard.  

So nothing for it, but to dig around at the back and bring out the good stuff. And I did have some seriously good whisky that Alastair and I had obtained in Islay when we were there 2 years ago.  There was also the last of one of my SMWS cask strength bottles.

There was a fair bit consumed but, frankly, if you have been playing your heart out at a 2 hour concert I can think of nothing better than a few drams to end the evening!

Friday, 5 February 2016


I visited the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum this week.  This exhibit of carved stone balls caught my eye.

They were excavated from burial tombs.  Their purpose is not known but they must  have been highly prized to have been placed in a burial chamber. 

One of many theories is:  "the movement of 'monument stones' has been put forward as a result of an observed correlation between standing stone circles in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and a concentration of carved stone balls, and it is suggested that these petrospheres may have been used to help transport the big stones by functioning like ball bearings." [Wikipedia].
I wonder if they could have been used to  move these stones which are at the south end of the island of Arran, west coast of Scotland.

 Alastair, aged 6 years

 Ishbel, aged 7 years and Harriet one year old.