Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Frodo & Sam enter the castle (thanX Grish)

The day started with a bang. Mel took one look at me first thing and was bent double ~ she said that l looked like Frodo Baggins from the movie Lord of the Rings. Arghh- l looked in the mirror and couldn’t stop laughing myself. That is the last time l go to sleep with wet hair!!!
Great start ☺

Sam and l travelled with G. to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute again today. I have written about the Isle of Bute and Rothesay before, you can read the older posts here if you fancy.

To be able to drive to work in the west of Scotland as we did today is a wonder and delight. Through forest, along twisting glens wrapped in towering peaks, lochs opening out with islets and castles. Waterfalls tumbling down mountains topped in mist. Scenery with real attitude to take your breath away. And not forgetting the local wildlife not difficult to see.
As we rounded the bend before Loch Long a red squirrel looped across the road in front of the car and then scooted straight up the embankment ~ just a wee thing it was. The Red is smaller than the larger and more aggressive Grey squirrel which has driven the Red mostly out of England. So to see this wee guy made me smile. Our local area has large areas of mixed conifer/deciduous forest, which the Red squirrels like. They eat the Pine cones as well as fungi, shoots, fruits etc.
LEFT PAINTING: Autumn Pheasants by Archibald Thorburn (1860 - 1935)
Further along the road, we had our usual ‘run-in’ with the pheasants ~ the most silly birds l know- always timing a run just in front of the car instead of out of the way!
We saw lots of sheep on the roadside before Colintraive and the ferry~ around here sheep are allowed graze on the roadsides! Locals get used to that but G. said the problem in the summer is that the sheep enjoy lying on the warm cosy tarmac. The only hazard apart from the obvious (cars) is the fact that in the hot midday sun the tarmac surface softens as they lie on it. When it later cools and they try to shift - their woolly bums stay stuck to the tar – wriggling sheep stuckdown - LOL.
On the way home a very large bird swooped down from the hills near Glenlean, flew low in front of us- wonderful! G. and l are still debating as to whether it was a Golden Eagle or not.
In Rothesay town Sam and l did some shopping. l always enjoy going around the second hand shops and got a bargain today - two old china tureens with lids and no chips (or fish:). They have a bishop marking underneath but l’m still not sure where they were made.
On the way home G. and l had a giggle at all the waves we could try out on the other motorists as we passed. My theory on waves here.

The day was really enjoyable apart from one incident on the way home. An older gent with a wild eyed expression came flying around one of the bends far too fast- his passengers (ladies) looked terrified and so were we! Luckily we had been taking it easy and so he had a bit more time to break however things could have been a lot worse.
Sam slept most of the way back- lots of fresh air had made him tired- me too. We had done a few hours of shopping first thing and then had gone into the castle for a visit- it had been years since l had been inside Rothesay castle. Sam and l climbed twisting staircases, climbed down vertical ladders into the dungeons (a tight squeeze) and along the ramparts! The great hall was quite grand and l enjoyed the chapel area too. You could see where the floor beams had been, the wonderful shapes of the windows, piscina etc. Rothesay castle is one of the oldest in Scotland and quite unusual with its rounded shape. Lots of fighting between the Scots and Norsemen went on here (early 1200’s). Lots of information on Rothesay castle here if you’re interested. l took so many photos but cannot upload them all so will pick the better ones for today.

After that Sam and l headed up High St. to St. Mary’s Chapel. It was the medieval parish church of Rothesay, that served as a cathedral of the Isles in the 17th century. I will post more on that later - plenty enough for now.
Bests all.

PISCINA: A basin with a drain-hole for washing sacred vessels, usually set in a small niche in the chancel.

Photos of red squirrel, pheasants and sheep on road borrowed from Google.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Another busy week

Last Friday we headed to Glasgow to do a bit of shopping and meet up with Daniel. The top photo is of St. George's Square - already sold out for this years Christmas celebrations and ice shows. During Nov/Dec St. Georgie's Square is filled in with ice for skating - there you can skate underneath the beautiful backdrop of the City Chambers and the Christmas lights- 'Glasgow on ice' it's called. More Glasgow images here.
l have been busy getting my head together for Christmas- making lists of things to do and buy- yes, the rush has started and as l do each year, promise myself that l will not be out shopping Christmas Eve- lets hope :)
My sister-in-law was due her wee one on Nov 24th, a few days back now. l am getting excited at the thought of this little ones arrival- to be an auntie again- wonderful!! Not long now!
My wee nephew, Jonah is going to be two on the 2nd of December- how time flies. I have two sisters who are pregnant at the moment and one sister-in-law. No more for me though - three is enough to keep me busy.
The other photos are of G., Sam and l as we took a stroll along the promenade yesterday. The weather held out for a bit although it was bitterly cold. There are Eider duck chortling away on the water in the afternoon sun and Oystercatcher squabbling in the rocks. We have decided that Sam is needing a bigger bike- his knees are almost hitting the handlebars on this trike. Good 5th birthday idea for January.
Tomorrow hubby is back to work. l am heading with him again to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute which has to be one of the best drives to work with also a ferry crossing. We shall only be there for the morning but the weather looks ok so hopefully l will do a bit of light shopping.
Melissa, Sam and l made Candy Cane reindeer this evening. l got the idea from Pea's blog- wonderful gifts for his wee friends at nursery. A big thank you to Pea also for the card and gift in the mail this morning- really cheered me up.

Bests all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shelter from the storm

It has been a good weekend. My G. is on holiday for the week so l am enjoying him being at home. Today Daniel was back to his university work and Melissa to her last year of studies in high school. When wee Sam went to his nursery today G. took me out for the ‘big breakfast’ at a local restaurant – mega calories and who cares on a day like today - we sat overlooking the sea whipped into a foaming frenzy by squalls. The storms have been so strong around here that even the ferry-boats were cancelled. We sat in the warm sipping hot tea and watched a late and sorry sailboat limping in and glad to make it. It was nice to have a little time together – hold hands and run through the rain.
This afternoon l have been busy looking for Christmas gifts online- trying to make things a bit easier and cheaper. Every year gets more expensive and pressure to ‘buy buy buy’. Not really what it was intended to be about is it anymore? But the ‘magic’ and the lights and the excitement is great for children – of all ages - for we are all children at heart.
The photos are of the back garden this past weekend- you can see the Maple tree with it’s beautiful red foliage. It mostly rained all weekend but we were happy and the sun shone in our house.
Bests all

Friday, November 17, 2006

Story by Sam (4years)-from memory alone

It is dark here now and cold- a real chill in the air tonight, brrrr. Daniel is travelling home by train and l am hoping that he will connect with the last ferry- l also hope that he is wearing a good jacket!
During these last few weeks l have been busy down at my Mum's house- she has been having her home rewired (electrical) so carpets have had to be lifted and furniture stacked. It has been a long road. Mum has kept so much from our childhoods and has lived in the same house since, so there was plenty to organise! Yesterday the bottom of the house was rewired and so we have been busy putting things back. Mel was down with me today and we changing around the kitchen units too. On Monday the electricians come back to do the upstairs so in the meantime l am going to enjoy my weekend with the family.
Below is a story that Sam recited to me a few weeks back when he was recovering from a cold. l grabbed my camera in a hurry but not fast enough so the beginning is missing. Anyway he did well.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

They (the family) were joined by a puppy that Pam found, a stray kitten that Chris found and a pigeon with a broken wing that Mr. J brought home. A rabbit with only one ear that was found with Mrs. J, a hedgehog and a sleeping tortoise also moved in.
One day they were so pleased when Gran came to live with them and then uncle John, the old sea captain and his parrot came to live with them. But there was no room left at all for them (this family) to spread.

“Oh dear what a muddle, what a noise, even the house is unhappy! Now l have nowhere to spread my building bricks!” Mumbled Chris.
So when Pam and Chris went to bed they wished and wished that the house would grow. And the house did just that, first it grew by one floor and then two! The old sea captain was delighted.

Now (the old sea captain) he had room of his own, to keep his collection of old ships, his seashells and his parrot.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A drive through Hell’s Glen

I went for a drive the other afternoon with G. and the kids. We were headed for Carrick, which is located on the shores of Loch Goil, Argyll. Here there is the remains of a medieval castle – one of many around here. Our hope was to get there and back before dusk because even by 3.30 it is getting dimpsy in this part of the world.

I managed to snap a few shots along the way as G. drove.
When we set out it was quite stormy and rained heavily. The photos are in order and you can see how quickly the sky and light changes.
We were headed to Gleann Beag (Hell’s Glen) pass which would take us from Loch Fyne to the head of Loch Goil ~ our destination. This road is appropriately named ‘Hell’s Glen’ because it ‘corkscrews’ steeply and has some really tight turns ~ is also a one-track road! Even so and contrary to its name the place is really quite beautiful. Most of my photos are from the inside of the car and it was difficult to get a shot of some of the more adventurous parts of the journey.
The places you want to get to take the picture are the hardest to get at – top of a tree or the edge of a crag.

Halfway down this twisting road is a drinking well, known locally as “Moses’ Well” ~ a lions head with water spouting from its mouth. Travellers used to stop here and rest. The older photo taken in 1926(above) is of this place too. I am not sure of the origin of Moses’ Well. One guess is that it has biblical origins, Moses being ‘drawn out’ of the water but what then of the lion? It could be named after the man who built it or perhaps after a man who used it. If anyone knows the answer to its origin please feel free to leave a comment.
In this glen there are birds of prey including Golden Eagle, red deer and red squirrel- you can truly feel the rugged isolation of the area- we only passed one other car on this road!
The photos truly do not do this place justice, the mountains rise up steeply all around you and gentle burns meander down, it is so very peaceful. The mountains are fired red and gold with the autumn leaf fall and the light has a luminous quality this time of the year.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bonkers for Conkers

This is a late post but wanted to show you what Sam and l did just before Halloween. We went for a walk to collect leaves for a nature collage, brought it all home and got very sticky with the glue. Sam got to learn about the different shapes of leaves and collect horse-chestnuts. The leaves were all just starting to change colour which made collecting them more fun. Bet you can't guess what one Sam did- he was very good at this!

When l was around 10/11years l loved to climb trees ~ l was a real tomboy. Our neighbours, the Mcgranigan’s, an Irish family of mostly boys had a large Chestnut tree in their garden ~ brilliant for finding conkers!
The fruits of this tree would give us much fun during Sept/Oct- when ripe. We would climb all day, going higher and higher, always in search of the biggest prickly casing. I fell from this tree once and landed on top of two garden pots - l was knocked unconscious, mum came running and all was ok in the end, however l did have two large ring marks on my back for a while- ouch! This was the 'conker' season.
We would take our best ones and thread a string (shoelace) through the centre; the conker would hang on a knot at the end. To find the best conkers for play you would put them all in a basin of water, the ones that would sink were harder.
Conkers is a game for two people, striking at each other’s conker with their own. If your chestnut survives the strikes or you manage to knock your opponents conker off the string then you call it a ‘one-er’. A winning conker can then go on to do battle with other conkers, each victory adding to the conker’s score. If lucky your ‘one-er’ then becomes a ‘two-er’ and so on. The Mcgranigan’s used to cheat by pickling their conkers to make them harder ~ l remember asking my mum for the vinegar too, oh the shame.
There are various different swings that people tend to favour- l used to swing down vertically. Others would swing from the side or diagonally- always looking for the weakest point of the nut. You had to watch out for the swing and not pull back- all a bit unnerving. We played this game at home and at school- there was real competition and everyone enjoyed because even if you lost you could still go home and string up another.
Sadly these traditional playground pursuits such as conkers, handstands, tag, yo-yos and even skipping are consigned to history as safety-obsessed councils and schools declare them 'too dangerous'. How on earth did we survive?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We Will Remember Them

My Grandpa's older brother, William, lied about his age to join up, he was only 15yrs. William died only a year later in France on 27th Sept. 1915 ~ he fought with the Durham Light Infantry.
There were eyewitnesses to his death, blown to bits by a mortar shell, his mother got the news. She cried on her husband's shoulder, " Oh William, how will we go on?" My g.grandfather replied, "by the grace of God we will go on." There is no grave but a memorial exists at Loos-en-Gohelle on the Pas de Calais. Proportionately more Scots volunteered for the 1914 British Expeditionary Force (BEF) than any other home nation. It was a minor force of just six divisions and massively outgunned by the German forces. In the early days of 1914 it suffered massive losses leading up to the defensive action at Ypres ( the first one). The flags were waving at home but the carnage had already begun.
During this same year my grandpa lost his wee sister, Mary(11mths) and his father (age 38).
My grandpa immediately became the breadwinner of the family and at the age of 14 left school to work in a bakery, then the steel works, and then he went down the pits (coal mining). There was still 12 of a family to feed! His younger brother, Arthur worked as a ‘Roller’ in the steelworks too.
My grandpa was always very sad about his brother, they were so close in age. My grandpa died in 1989. I think of all the years that he had compared to William.
So many many young men, on both sides, from so many nations died during these wars. G. and l both lost family.
We will remember them.

In Flander's Fields by Lt.Col. John McCrae 1915
..read by my G. on video below.

My grandpa (James) is pictured on a post below walking with granny (Jessie).

Friday, November 10, 2006

They went without me!

Surprised to see this wee chappie perched outside the back the other day when he should be down in Africa or at least the south Mediterranean. He is a Chiffchaff so named by its song. It’s a warbler that feeds on insects out of the air. I guess the mild autumn weather has kept him around this late. But not for long with the threat of frost and few flying insects around. It is amazing that this little srcap of bone and feather can fly to the west coast of Africa – and return again next Spring. I certainly couldn't walk that far :)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Walking Uphill

Just popping in to let you all know that l am still here. Can't begin to tell you how much has been going on.. birthdays, hospitals, dentist visits, rewiring, driveway, more birthdays ~ November is the month for us!! l have missed visiting your blogs and know that l have emails to write, miss you all loads. Onwards and upwards!!
Photo is of my Granny and Grandpa (Dad's side) ~ sadly they are no longer with us but l have wonderful memories of times spent together.
Bests for now all and will get by to visit ASAP. :) Hope you are all well.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hunter's Moon

Night temperature is going to drop to -4 here this evening and the moon is big and bright in a clear sky ~ l can see it from my desk. I’ve been talking with my husband over a cup of tea as we sit and watch the night sky. Himself being into Astronomy (has been so since boyhood) I pass on his thoughts on the Full moon which has always had special importance down the ages and especially so this time of the year. There are so many phases of the Moon that hold particular interest for us. Its constantly changing appearance has been noticed carefully since the dawn of civilization.
Most full moons are given names. The old Moon occurs after Yuletide; the Milk Moon in May; the Hay Moon in July.
So here’s a bit of astronomy. The Moon rises and sets every day, just like the Sun. At the time of the new moon it rises and sets at about the same time as the Sun. At the time of the full moon the Moon rises as the Sun sets and sets at about the same time as the Sun rises. I hope your all still following this ~ l had to hear this a few times before it sunk in- lol.
Autumn full moons tend to rise in the evening and because of the low arc the Moon appears to make through the night sky, it appears bigger and brighter than at other times of the year. This is a magnification of the earth’s atmosphere. Years ago when l lived in Maine, USA l remember being stunned at the size of a magnified moon- it seemed to be sitting at the end of my street and looked surreal.
As the days pass the Moon is said to wax i.e. it grows bigger as it rises later each day and sets later each night (around August/September).

The full moon which lies closest to the autumn equinox is known as the Harvest Moon. For farmers this is ideal to enable harvesting of summer crops to go on well into the night (and gave excuse for late night walks and crooning/singing).
The Hunter's Moon is the full moon that follows the Harvest Moon. This moon appears brighter as the nights are now darker ~ ideal for hunters but dismal for burglars!
On the North American continent some native populations welcomed the full ‘Beaver’ moon of November as a sign to get final traps set before the winter freeze.

For those with a warm coat and some binoculars it’s a good chance on cold clear nights to have a look at the cratered lunar surface.

This was today’s bit of lunacy- hope it didn’t drive you mad ☺

It was once believed, and to some degree still is, that the moon had a large effect on the human psyche, the way it does on the ocean tides. It was widely held that the full moon had the effect of heightening madness, and making people more prone to doing insane acts.
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