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.

Friday, 28 October 2016


Greetings to our lovely Swedish friends: this is for you!

Last week a friend and I went to see Scottish Opera'S production of The Marriage of Figaro.  It's a well-known and much loved Mozart opera but neither my friend nor I had ever seen it.  Indeed, I played the Overture to M of F in our Salmon Arm High School Band...about 1960 or so.

What a treat to come across this fellow!  He is Tobias Ringborg and is from Stockholm!  He is presently in Glasgow conducting this opera.

Because my friend is visually impaired she reminded me that it would be best if we could have seats right down close to the stage.  Well we ended up in the front row about 6 along to the right of the conductor and also had a bonus of a bird's eye view into the orchestra pit.
Yes, the staging and the singing and the acting - so animated! - was up to its excellent standard, and there were even super-titles.  But I just couldn't take my eyes off this fellow!  He conducted with just a hymnary-sized hardback book on his podium and silently mouthed every singer's part.  He would have his head up all the time and occasionally stop to leaf over a fistful of pages and then carry on... (unfortunately seldom pausing for applause, however. Well... it is a rather long opera.)
The audience - and we are talking about a Glasgow audience who are a very, very special group of people at whatever the occasion! - gave the orchestra a very warm and appreciative applause at the end.   (I am not talking about the American style where people shout and stand up ... no this was hearty and sustained.)  I had never heard it before; it was wonderful to be part of it!

* * * * * * * *

These 2 photos taken by Ryan Garrison, 2012, are from the Tobias Ringborg website:

What do I like about this one?  The red barn wall ... so Swedish ... says it all!

Thursday, 27 October 2016


40 today

* * * * Time to Toast the Lad * * * *

Morning: A second cup of coffee with a batch of scones

Lunchtime:  I opened the bottle of wine that Louise gave us last week when she was here en route to the airport for her trip to Canada.

Evening: A dram

(Visited here a couple of weeks ago.  The whisky I bought is what I pour into the bottle above.  It's the label that counts!)

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


We headed off to Ardnamurchan for a couple of days in the lovely Indian Summer we have been enjoying.

 Coran Ferry crossing over to Argour

 Salen Harbour.  Very impressed with the village. The jetty has been restored (Telford built originaly).  The village store has wifi along with teas, supplies and helpful folk to fill in the story of their village plans for improvement.

Wonderful B & B at Heatherbank 2 miles up the road from the Strontian Hotel which is on the shore road. This is the view from their front window.

Rowan berries in Heatherbank driveway looking over to mountains.  Iain wants to return so he can bag another hill.

Up the road from our B & B was the old lead mine. The element Strontium takes its name from the material found here (village of Strontian).  Iain insists it is pronounced 'Stron TI an'.

Not only did we find a lead mine but we also discovered as 'goldmine', so to speak, when our B&B hosts showed us the above book published a month ago and presented to them by the author on his recent visit.

Details are below.  We were thrilled to read about this man and all the places he 'geologized' particularly on the west coast as it is the area we know so well. 

[From the Amazon blurb] Professor Matthew Heddle (1828-97) was a larger-than-life character, a renowned academic and one of Scotland's most famous mineralogists. His rich legacy includes: Encyclopaedia Britannica 9th edition (section on Mineralogy) A fossil fish Heddleichthys A mineral named after him (Mattheddleite) A summary of the Mineralogy of Scotland (published posthumously) 55 scientific papers 5,700 specimens from his collection now housed in the National Museum of Scotland and the National Museums Collection Centre. 10 children. This book, by Heddle's great-great-grandson, [Hamish H Johnston] is not an account of his scientific work but is about Heddle the man; it provides a much fuller picture of him than anything that has appeared before.

Matthew Forster Heddle: Mineralogist and Mountaineer by Hamish H. Johnston. National Museum of Scotland Enterprises Publishing, 272 pages; 2015; £14.99 (softbound)


This photo is for the children.  It is a sample of galena (compound) with lead (element} in it. When I asked Ishie is she could guess the connection to the pencil, she got it right away.  Sheesh ... and she is just coming up for 10 years old.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


We've been out on the west coast exploring the Ardnamurchan Penninsula. These maps can only give you a rough idea of where it is.

Among the many places in Scotland to look at rocks this is one of the most interesting.  The satellite photo helps to see the circular shape of a former volcano.

We spent time exploring old lead mine workings in Strontian ... from where the name Strontium derives.  [Another post]

 The approach road to the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is at the western tip of the peninsula and this is the view north towards Rum and Eigg.

Alec and Christine.  I have memories of this foghorn... indeed, I have memories of this lighthouse.  Hour after weary hour waiting for the light to appear when sailing north, or sailing south.  Once you could see the light directly abeam you knew you had rounded the most westerly point of mainland UK.

One time we had just passed the lighthouse and were making our way south to Tobermory when the fog descended.  There we were with this big horn ... at least I hoped it was the lighthouse horn and not a Cal-Mac ferry ... booming regularly.  We dug out our little red fog horn, sat in the cockpit and pressed the ball at the end to make our presence known.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this blown-down wind tower about 50 feet from the Stevenson structure on the point!
The Fresnel light removed and placed in a display room.

Twa Dugs

Saturday, 15 October 2016


I came across this photo of Indy taken recently by Alastair.  My goodness! Who does he remind you off?

Indy 5 years old

Monday, 10 October 2016


We have had a glorious week of autumn weather.  I have enjoyed taking some shots of the early morning light and then the last of the afternoon sunlight... all on my iPhone. 

 Early morning sunlight of the oak trees in the park.

Last of the afternoon sunlight on the washing line.

Small tree in the garden ... don't know the name.

  Alastair, in the early  morning before heading to school, throwing the caber which is actually my lady's size garden fork.

 Similar photo only it shows the garden better.

When is a crop circle not a crop circle?  When it is a fork 'circle'.

Sunday, 2 October 2016


A couple of weeks ago we spent some time in the East Lothian (east of Edinburgh) during a beautiful spell of weather.

The architecture reflected this rich and bountiful part of the country. We stayed in a fine place which was associated with an old manse.  East Lothian clearly has been ... and I would guess, still is ... very wealthy.

An extensive  garden both for leisure and eating.  Rosy red apples in the late afternoon light.

Reminded me of Sissinghurst but with ... dogs, ducks, geese ...and apples along with peas from the garden for picking.

 East Lothian fields of golden wheat

Tasteful decor throughout

Shades of Vermeer