Tuesday, 26 December 2017


Alastair, Dawn, Indy have now arrived and we joined Mairi, Iseabail for Christmas day dinner at Mairi's house. She did all the work with iain's help.

John and children are in Wales with his parents.  A good day all round.

Boxing Day - a lovely day.  This is the sun at mid-day i.e. shining between rooftops of 2 neighbouring houses on the south  side of the garden. 

Everyone went out; I stayed in to 're-group'. More photos anon.

  The flamingos' winter coat gradually melted as the sun rose in the sky.

This chap looks like I felt last week - down with flu.  Now, however, have totally recovered. (Flu vaccination must have made a difference....)

Monday, 18 December 2017


Ellie (2 and 3/4 years) was with us today.  She helped decorate the Christmas tree.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017


A local landmark has had a make-over.  What was built originally as a Victorian mansion, then used as the local council offices, is now a smart hotel.  It is very much done up in the style for weddings, i.e. glitzy.

Having not been in the place since it was done up I was amazed at just what can be done with a dreary interior!  We joined others for a post-funeral tea  this week. Yes, the tea was just lovely with fresh, fat sandwiches, cakes and meringues beautifully all laid out on a slate plate.  And there was even a plate of the ever-necessary sausage rolls seen at every Scottish funeral tea.

When Iain and I came back from Chicago in 1969 we lived in the top of a house just at the back of those houses in the middle distance.  It was from there that we built our house on CVD.

The hotel has even done up the Victorian bandstand on the front lawn.

The frosty balustrade of the front steps sparkles in the midday sunshine.

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Ilona was looking for these German biscuits which I found lurking in one of the isles of Waitrose today.  And they are lovely: tasty, chewy... I think made from hazelnuts and sugar.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017


I spent some time in Millport this past weekend.  The cold clear wintery weather continues ... makes it great for taking photos. The sun is low, the shadows are long.

Thursday, 7 December 2017


I headed to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum for the 1 pm organ recital today  (CM playing). 
Their Christmas tree was very welcoming in the main hall ... having come in from very cold and windy weather.

There has been an addition of coloured lights flooding the organ loft.  M-m-m-m ... not great for the organist who has these lights shining up from his feet as he tries to read the music.  However the audience appreciated the flat screens below showing close-up views of the keyboard(s) played by the hands and the pedals played by the feet.

While there I took the opportunity to view the new painting by Rubens which now graces the gallery.  The story is here [Guardian newspaper]:

A long-lost portrait of perhaps one of the most famous gay men in history by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens has been found in Glasgow.
The portrait showing George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, thought to have been James VI and I’s lover, had been hanging in a National Trust for Scotland property [Pollok House] and was believed to be a copy of the lost original, which had been missing for almost 400 years.

Conservation work carried out by the art restorer Simon Gillespie has returned the portrait, which belongs to Glasgow Museums, to its original state.
This allowed for a new assessment of its attribution and the painting was authenticated as a Rubens by Ben van Beneden, the director of the Rubenshuis in Antwerp.


Wednesday, 6 December 2017


We are now in the darkest days on the year.  It was not really light this morning until 8:30 am.

This past weekend I put candles in the windows and also on the porch (above).  Linda Brooks gave me a battery operated candle and I always think of her when I switch it on at this time of year.  Ilona, in Skye, mentioned to me recently that she too enjoys using a similar candle that she got from Linda on her visit here a few years ago.

Meanwhile here are a couple of late afternoon photos taken last week in clear weather.  
 The fading light looking south-west from the back garden.
My rose bush is still flourishing; these roses are on the side which graces my neighbour's garden, opposite her back door (where I am in and out for cups of tea).

Saturday, 2 December 2017


Glasgow city centre ...
At the bottom of Buchanan Street a new Tim Horton's

And at the top of Buchanan Street...

Paperchase Made-in-China baubles

 Paperchase coloured paper

John Lewis display cushion

Donald Dewar still standing at the top of Buchanan Street

Late afternoon out for a cup of tea and a scone at Honeybee Tearoom at the end our local village centre (Milngavie)

We've had over a week of clear days and nights, absolutely lovely but rather cold.

Friday, 1 December 2017


Photo catch-up now that the calendar has had the last page turned over to the last month of the year.  

Alastair and Indy (6 years old) had a weekend break visiting the beaches south of Los Angeles.

Indy with his book on his living room sofa.

Ishie (nearly 11 years old but going in 15!) and Alastair (nearly 9 years old) were at Murrayfield for the rugby match last weekend.  Scotland vs Australia and Scotland won!  (John's photo.)

Harriet (4) and Ellie (2) down at Kilmardinny Loch where we went to feed the ducks.

Thursday, 30 November 2017


I found something in our local supermarket, Waitrose, which was quite new to me: 'lasagne sheets' which are, in fact, butternut squash which has been thinly sliced in large whole 'sheets'.

The packet is in the left hand corner above.  I simply made lasgane as I would normally and substituted the sheets of butternut squash for the pasta sheets.  QED!

This is the dish going into the oven.  The cayenne pepper I sprinkled on top was a mistake ... far too hot for my liking!  (The jar came off the boat.  I spend my life trying to use up these items I find stuck in the cupboard at the end of the sailing season!)
 * * * * * * 

Meanwhile ... Ellie and I make cupcakes


Tuesday, 28 November 2017


Last week I received an email from You Tube saying that they had removed a video from my Playlist as they deemed it "inappropriate".

Uh-h-h-h...? Excuse me? What are you talking about?!!!

The following screenshot is the letter about the offending video.  

The offending video apparently is a film of the book 'Riddle of the Sands' which, as Wikipedia states:

"The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service is a 1903 novel by Erskine Childers. The book ... is an early example of the espionage novel and was extremely influential in the genre of spy fiction. It has been made into feature-length films for both cinema and television."
It is about a man's adventure in a sailing boat off the Frisian Islands (coast between The Netherlands and Germany). I must have looked some part of it some years ago and saved it to my computer.  There are a dozen or so film versions of it on Youtube.  I don't even know which video it was as it is no longer there.
Not even knowing what a playlist was and not realizing this video was on it (along with Beethoven and Bach videos) I did my best to over-ride rising panic and got on to Google to figure this out. 

Whose criteria operates here? I can tell from the email that it comes from USA as it begins with "Hi....".  I have learned that spam emails always begin this way so I simply decided it was spurious and didn't touch it. I did not delete it either as I wanted to keep the email for reference.

A couple of days later I got a second email ... actually 3 emails, i.e. same one triplicated.

They thanked me for appealing against the decision  ... I had not .... stating that "after further review, we have determined that your Playlist doesn't violate our Community Guidelines."

I am still none the wiser.

* * * * * * * * *

It reminds me of an image I had taken down off this blog in a post of November 21, 2013.  It was the symbol which was used by a right wing German movement lead by a man whose name begins with H.  I posted a photo of a Rudyard Kipling book and this symbol was embossed in gold on the front.  It is a sacred Hindu symbol in the form of a rotationaly symmetrical arrangement (a cross) with four equally spaced legs of identical length each bent at 90 degrees in a uniform direction to create a pattern akin to a four-armed spiral.

It is still there with all of the images removed.   Doing a search on this site using word 'Kipling' brings it up as well as '4 legged symbol' word.

M-m-m-m .... interesting.  It is almost exactly the same time of year that these events occurred.


Sunday, 26 November 2017


We had a lovely dinner party with old friends from our wedding of 50 years ago.   At the last minute I decided to make some gluhwein (gluvine).  I tried some pre-made 'mulled wine'. The first, which was Marks and Spencer, was so sweet I decanted it back into the bottle for another day when I need a sugar boost. 

I am rather partial to Fitou wine so I simply poured a bottle of that in the pan. Ilona added sliced mandarin oranges and I threw in some almonds à la Christina Bell. Excellent!
I said to John MacLeod when his and my glass kept needing to be refilled:  "There's a terrible problem of evaporation in this part of the West of Scotland!" to which he quickly replied " Yes, it goes up into the atmosphere and comes back down as rain!"  Ha, ha!  I liked that! 

When planning our dinner I couldn't resist an impulse purchase of a (small) bottle of Mateus Rosé wine.  As we served this at our wedding in 1967 in Drumchork Hotel in Aultbea I just wanted a trip down memory lane.  Indeed, we all recalled that how this wine was the absolute height of sophistication in the 60s!

However I read on Wikipedia:
The Mateus brand has declined. In the UK in 2002 the wine was re-packaged and relaunched in a deliberate ploy to capitalise on 1970s nostalgia, although the wine itself had already been made less sweet and slightly more sparkling, in response to modern popular preference for slightly drier wine.

I tasted it: absolutely no flavour nor sparkle. Thumbs down. (However I still like the shape of the bottle!) 

These flowers have been on the window ledge in the cold 'garden' room for 3 weeks.  They were part of a large bouquet I was given at our final Bearsden Young Fiddlers Concert November 4th. The early morning November light on them today was lovely.
 These are the colours of the above photo that I wanted to capture.

An example of early morning light is best demonstrated in this painting by Norwegian artist Johan Christian Clausen Dahl

Ilona brought a lovely selection of her own preserves plus her own willow tray that she grew and wove. Also included was genuine Isle of Skye sea salt which is made using a polytunnel as a 'room' for production.

We received lovely cards and bottles of wine.  One card came from 'John'.  It turned out we have a secret admirer in the form of the young man who helps our next door neighbour with her garden.  If he had signed his last name I would have picked up my error of thinking it was from 'oor ain John' (who I thanked by mistake!)

Which reminds me Christmas is coming. Every year we always get one... always just one... card which is signed 'Mary' or whatever.  After much scratching of heads we always conclude: we simply do not know who it is!