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Welcome to my blog. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you'll stay and enjoy reading about where I've been and what I've been doing!

I don't mean this to be a replacement for personal emails, but it gives me the chance to put up photos and my scrapbook layouts, so I don't block up your in-boxes, or have to send the same photos and stories to everyone separately!
Thanks, and welcome, to the followers of my blog. I'm very honoured that you enjoy it. Drop me some comments from time to time! It's good to hear what you think about the posts. Come back again soon.

Thanks also to Mary of Mary's Mixes for doing all the work on the blog's heading. You are great, Mary!


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

250th birthday celebration

Monday 26th Jan.
Yesterday 25th, Robert Burns, the famous Scottish bard, would have been 250 years old - had he lived! Oh yeah, ha ha ha! Very funny! In fact he died at the very young age of 37, having achieved more than many in that time!

My great great great grandfather, Rev. William Inglis, and Burns became friends in the time that the latter lived in Dumfries, and apparently, according to the story handed down the Inglis generations in a manuscript of the family narrative, Burns, on his deathbed, repented of his wicked ways to GGG gf, and announced his intention to give up all his bad habits if he was spared!!!! Now that would have been something! Could he have given up all the womanising and the houghmagandie, because that's really the only thing he could be held to account for in his life - well, apart from maybe his drinking habits..... I'm not going to give you a life history of the man, you can look that up for yourself - click here -

Anyway, because of Burns living latterly in the town of Dumfries (DumFREESS, in case you wonder), a new tourist board scheme, thought up to encourage more visitors to Scotland, was launched yesterday in the town! Homecoming Scotland 2009! It all centres on the 250th anniversary of the ploughman poet! Events are taking place all over the country this year, I understand, and they all started off there in Dumfries, south west Scotland.

I drove down there yesterday to meet up with the Aussie cousins, Ian, Berny and Sally, for the beginning of this new festival, our ancestor having the connection he did with Burns. The programme outlined the events of the afternoon and evening. The main attractions were to be the processions of homemade lanterns around the streets culminating in a gathering in the centre of town, and a bonfire, actually the burning of a wicker sculpture of Burns' character Tam o'Shanter who disturbed a coven of witches and had to flee before they caught him. He just reached the bridge over the river when the youngest witch caught up and grabbed at his horse Maggie's tail. She of course couldn't cross water, but before Tam and horse managed to escape over the bridge the witch managed to pull the tail off "leaving Maggie scarce a stump!" The fantastic wicker structure was of Tam on his horse Maggie, on the bridge, and the witch pulling at Maggie's tail, all this on steel plates on a floating platform in the middle of the river just downstream of the old bridge, now a footbridge over the river Nith. We understood that there were to be fireworks too!

I would have thought that the lantern processions should have taken place when they could all have been lit up, after dark - and let's face it, at this time of year that's about 4.45 pm, so not what you'd call too late for kiddies to enjoy. If I had arranged it I would probably have had the proceedings begin with the Welcome speech from the town representative at about 4.30, then people could watch the processions of shining lanterns following the pipe bands coming along the opposite riverbank in the gloaming - or near dark. They would gather in the large car park on the town side of the river, near the stage and then there would be the short speech from the Scottish First Minister, with the lone piper on the bridge before the bonfire was lit, and simultaneously fireworks would be let off! As the bonfire was burning, and as an impressive firework display was set off there would be music from the bands, and as the evening wore on, more music and probably dancing, culminating by about 9.00 with everyone singing Auld Lang Syne - the traditional way to end any Scottish ceilidh (kayly) - and of course written by Robbie Burns - well some of it! He collected the rest and tidied it up!

Instead there was an interminable amount of hanging about waiting for things to happen. The speeches were made around 3.00 and then a couple of bands played for about an hour. Then the parade came along the river bank still in the daylight, following pipers whose music was drowned out by the rock band on the stage. Finally the processions arrived, on the street next to the carpark and no-one seemed to know what tp do next! Eventually it was announced that the bonfire was to be lit, and still it wasn't! More music from the stage. Finally when it had grown dark the lone piper on the bridge played "A man's a man for a' that", and at last the fire was lit, when someone threw a burning torch onto the base of the structure, from a boat. The wicker bridge, Maggie, Tam, and finally the witch began to burn up. A few fireworks had been hidden in the structure so they went off, but I'd have said they were hardly worth the bother. That's one to the right of the bonfire and I'm afraid that's about as good as it got! Only two small rockets whooshed up into the sky before dying ignominiously! We all stood there watching the bonfire burning down - it took a while - and I am sure I wasn't the only one who wondered when the proper firework display was to happen! It didn't! We waited and watched till the fire was almost done (yawn, bor-ing after a while) - still no more fireworks!

Finally frozen-nosed youngsters were carted off home by equally frozen parents and grandparents, while the stalwarts headed down to the stage at the far end - I'd have put it nearer the bridge end - where more music began and the by now lit up lanterns were paraded round informally, through the crowd. That was actually one of the best bits! The Aussies had already left to head back up to Glasgow - hope you had a safe journey, guys! I left soon after that so don't know how the rest of the party went. It was due to finish about 7.30 with everyone who was left joining hands and singing Auld Lang Syne, and I hope they had all enjoyed themselves.

I found though that it was really kind of disappointing, all in all! Sorry Dumfries! I really think it could have been a whole lot better!

Tuesday 27th Jan.
I've been having more computer problems! For the last couple of days, whenever I tried to upload photos the pooter froze, so I posted this without piccies or the story would have been totally out of date. However this time - SUCCESS! Photos!! Have a look at a few more of the amazing lanterns!

Talk again soon.









A fabulous dragon,




and a giAdd Imageant mouse or maybe it was a clown with big ears, on its side

Here's the world!






some yowes (ewes), there were cows and a couple of horses too! This photo was from the big screen beside the stage.




Add Image

St Michael's church
and a sailing ship
mother and baby with the Homecoming Scotland sign lit up in the background

a plane, maybe a spitfire?
and a heart.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Fancy dress

Am I dreaming it, or did I not write another blog for you after eating out at The Oyster Bar? I was sure I had written something since then! OK! Well, if that's the case I must remedy it!

I went to a fancy dress party for a friend's birthday last weekend! The theme was "A film" or "a genre"! Now I'm not a big film goer. In fact I can't even remember the last time I went to the cinema, but sometimes I watch a film or two on the television, and very occasionally hire a DVD, So what to go as? I looked through the list of DVDs we hire out at the store, but nothing really jumped out and hit me - The Bee Movie? The Incredible Hulk? (No, that's being cruel to myself!) I'm not exactly a Girl with a Pearl Earring (though I know someone who is), more like.... Ladies in Lavender! I found myself a rather nice lavender coloured top and jacket - one of these all in one ones - and although the colour was said to be bluebell, I thought it was more like lavender! There was a pashmina in the same colour with silver threads through it, so I got that too. In a charity shop I found a string of glass beads in the same shade, and in another charity shop along the road I managed to unearth a floppy straw hat to which I attached a purply grey fabric rose on a clip! I had hoped to be able to find a pair of wide floppy linen trousers - are they called Palazzo pants? - but in the end when they were impossible to find in a charity shop, I just wore a pair of baggy greyish trousers with the rest of the ensemble! - and didn't I forget I had a few stems of dried lavender flowers hanging in the hall that could have decorated my hat too!!!!

Turning up at the party Julia our hostess in sari, and fake tan welcomed me in. I'm not sure if she guessed my film or not. Hers was a genre rather than a film - sari, India, films, BOLLYWOOD! Of course!

Cath was the Girl with the Pearl Earring. She looked fabulous!

Chrissie's was more difficult to work out. She was dressed as a hunter - complete with crocheted beard - and carried a soft toy animal that I thought was a kangaroo - Australia? No! It turned out to be a bambi toy she was carrying - any guesses? Shall I wait to the end to tell you, and you can have a think in the meantime? Yeah! Why not?

Ian was The Man in Black, in black suit and dark glasses.

Joanna, dressed in checked shirt, jeans with cowboy-style fringed jacket, stetson, and cowboy-type boots, carried a tin of pasta - long thin string pasta? She had to be a spaghetti western! A guy I didn't know had a frying pan on a string round his neck, On the bottom of the pan was a pattern like a maze - ? Pan's Labyrinth!!! Groan! - and a woman I didn't know was St Trinian's.

There was a Pirate of the Carribean (Joan just looked the part of Captain Jack Sparrow), a rather subtle Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that involved a long-ish necklace with some cryptic clues about truly scrumptious and a couple of firecrackers attached, Lawrence of Arabia with the headgear if not the flowing white robe....... what else? Oh, I can't remember! Oh yes, Julia's son and his partner were there for a while just dressed as normal. "What film am I?" he asked me. "You'll all have to leave first though!" Thinks! (Thinks I'm not going to get this!) Ah! Inspiration! Home Alone? "So what am I?" asked Tina. "You have to be Home Alone 2!" I got them! Anyway it was a lot of fun, and the wine and beer flowed sweetly, though as I was working early the next morning I had to be like Cinderella and get home before the last stroke of midnight - and that was only going to allow me about 5 hours sleep! So only a small glass of wine and an even smaller one of champagne to toast Julia's birthday, and that was my lot!
So have you thought about Chrissie in her hunter gear with the toy bambi? She was The Deerhunter - and I just remembered Alison's! How could I forget?
Her "costume" was actually just this glove!
Cool Hand Luke! (Cool hand! Look!) Clever, eh?
Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Lunch at Newhaven


I lunched at the Loch Fyne Oyster bar the other day, but I didn't try the oysters! I don't know that I could pour raw oyster down my throat, and I'm not sure if they serve them any other way. Instead I had scallops, beautifully tender, cooked in garlic butter with a little serving of green salad and balsamic vinegar, accompanied by boiled potatoes! Dee-lish-us!
Oysters! For centuries oysters were gathered from the Firth of Forth, till at last they must have been fished out. None left here now!


It was quite a spur of the moment visit to Newhaven, so, sorry Bondbloke, I didn't have time to get in touch beforehand!


I had gone up to Edinburgh, about 25 miles from home, to meet Linda for lunch, and she suggested the Oyster Bar as an option, which I readily agreed on. It is located in the old fishmarket alongside Newhaven harbour, on the Firth of Forth, and all its huge glass windows look out onto the harbour and the lighthouse at the end of the harbour wall.

The morning had started beautifully with sunshine and blue sky, so my first photo, of the lighthouse, taken before lunch, was in lovely weather, but as we ate we could see the weather changing... and not for the better. The sky grew grey and dull, and the views into the distance were lost in mist..... for a while only, as later we were able to see again the two bridges some few miles up the Firth.

After lunch I wanted to take a photo or two so while Linda set off to walk to the lighthouse, I took a wee walk over the main road to look at some of the mixture of buildings that make up today's Newhaven. In days gone by, it was a small fishing village outside the city, famous for its fisher folk, the women particularly, in their colourful costumes, who took the fish their men landed at the harbour to Edinburgh to sell. I remember when I was about 3, probably about the last of them coming to our front door with wicker creel of fish, and mother choosing the day's dinner. (After some reading I think this fisherwoman was more likely to have come from Fisherrow, further east along the Firth of Forth.)

I have maybe included this scrapbook page of a group of fisherwomen before but it is interesting in that the photographer, D.O Hill, was my great grand-uncle and the elderly man on the right of the photo was my great great great grandfather, though it was 60 years before the two families were to come together in a marriage!

Some of the old Newhaven buildings remain, but a lot of the old buildings have been demolished and replaced with new housing. One particular little courtyard was rebuilt in the style of the old with the outside stairs to the house on the upper storey, and stores of nets and fishing gear below at ground level.







I'm not sure how old or even how modern some of the buildings are in this next photo, but it still has the air of the 18th/19th centuries.

From here I recrossed the road and looked at the harbour where the incoming tide had quickly set the boats bobbing. I saw this boat last time I was at Newhaven and was curious, and here she is again. She is called the Robina Inglis. My dad was Robin Inglis! I'd love to know who Robina was/is! Not a relation I shouldn't think.


I retraced my steps past the old fishmarket and continued along its length before turning towards the lighthouse, meeting Linda on her way back. It was kind of breezy out there. Quickly I reached the lighthouse and took another couple of photos, looking back to the Oyster Bar and the slipway, and further to the right to the old church that now houses a climbing wall.

I have to tell you that my friend Colin in Yorkshire, started up a climbing wall in the north of England, and on one of his visits north to Peebles, we found ourselves driving up to Newhaven to take a look at "Alien Rock"! I have to say, I laughed my socks off at the guy who runs this wall and Colin having a verbal "Keeping up with the Joneses" over whose wall was superior!


"We've got this kind of surface." whatever it was.
"Well, we have this and this." whatever this was.
"Ours is so high."
"Our longest climb is this high." (higher)
"We can accommodate so many climbers."
"We can take this many." (more)


It reminded me of a song sung many years ago by Julie Felix, about two little boys who are arguing about their dads! It was called My dad's better than your dad! So I made up a little ditty on the way home called My wall's better than your wall! Wish I could remember it all now but I teased Colin with it all the way home! You survived though, didn't you, Colin?

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Losing the plot!

Well, I really do seem to be losing it! Honestly! Yesterday I decided to heat up a pie for my supper, so turned on the oven to preheat it. Now at this point I will tell you my oven is one of these combi-ovens that can cook like a conventional oven, or microwave. The oven came to temperature so I placed the pie, on the baking tray, inside and closed the door. To set the timer I punched in 10 individual minutes.....beep beep beep beep beep up to 10. However as I got to the tenth one the LCD informed me that the oven was now cooling! I hadn't actually cooked anything yet! Then I realised I should maybe have set the 10 minutes by pressing the 10 minute button once, which I proceeded to do. I left the kitchen and came back to the living room waiting for my ten minutes to pass!

Suddenly about 8 minutes later I detected a slight smell of something burning, so of course smartly headed back to see what was happening to my pie! Clouds of grey smoke from the kitchen met me in the hall! OMG! What's going on? Holding my hand over nose and mouth I reached the micro and "ping"ed the door open! More smoke billowed forth! - I had to waft the kitchen door back and forward to try and clear the smoke - and finally found my pie - completely ruined and burnt black through and through, just a pie shaped lump of pure carbon!

So I deduce that pressing the ten minute button when the oven had begun to cool, had made it revert to being a microwave oven! One pie, a microwave oven, ten minutes? A recipe for disaster indeed!

What am I like?!

Talk again soon!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Cats!

My friends, Marjorie and Peter lost both of their cats last year, leaving a huge hole in their lives that just had to be filled. So...... enter brothers Cosmos and Jinty.
At 15 weeks old they are still very small, but the vet is quite happy with their progress. Their favourite spot at the moment is on top of the central heating radiator in the sitting room. When they get bigger they will have to find somewhere else to sleep, as there really isn't much room up there!
Aren't they cute? You can see that Jinty has a kink at the end of his tail. Cosmos has the same!

They look a bit like Gremlins at the moment but in time should grow into their ears!
A short blog again today! Keeping two blogs going is proving very time consuming!
Talk again soon.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Wee story!

Just so you can laugh at me..... This morning I woke up with a start at 7.20. The alarm was set so why hadn't it gone off? I was late for work! I leapt out of bed, and ran for the phone, thinking it was odd that Joyce hadn't rung me! Throwing clothes about, attempting at least to get dressed, I dialled the number, and it was quickly answered. "Joyce, it's me! I've slept in. The alarm didn't go off! I'll be there as quickly as I can!"
"It's alright, honey!" she replied, "Go back to bed. It's only Saturday! I'll see you tomorrow morning!"
Aaaagh!
Oh, and the alarm was set for later, so I did go back to bed, and was wakened by the radio coming on a couple of hours later!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

A trip to the seaside

Thursday
A couple of days of days ago I went with Morag to Eyemouth over on the east coast at - where else but - the mouth of the river Eye, where she was to be visiting clients It was my day off so I decided to have a day out! While she was working I would go exploring and we'd meet up for something to eat later.

I had a great time! Nothing much was open, certainly neither of the museums, I discovered as I walked around the narrow streets and through the occasional narrow passageway connecting to the harbour.



The Eyemouth Museum





Eyemouth has been a fishing port for centuries and is still a bustling place landing fish to be sold in its fishmarket. Apparently about 80 boats sail out of Eyemouth and probably around the middle of the day most would be out on the open sea.



I saw a couple of boats returning through the narrow entrance between harbour walls, and a few tied up at their moorings, where gulls were enjoying picking for leftovers, among the trawling nets and accoutrements of the fishing industry, but I wasn't quick enough to photograph the medium sized flounder that disappeared down this gull's throat in two gulps! Quite satisfied with its quick feed, it flew off again, leaving a place for the next comer, amid great squawkings and shriekings! Wonderful sounds!


Herring gulls


Later I enjoyed a stroll along the curve of rough shingly-sandy beach, all the while taking photos of the rocks and cliff, shells and stones, and of course the sea - the North Sea, next landfall Denmark!





There were only a couple of other people walking their dogs, who being curious all came bounding towards me - Freddy, Ben and Hamish, I discovered while exchanging the time of day with their owners. The opposite end of the beach beneath the cliff seems to be the spot where the flotsam and jetsam come ashore, and bits of old rope, odd pieces of plastic, etc. lie tangled with seaweed, shells and pieces of driftwood. Oddly, some of the natural arrangements are quite attractive! At the end of the beach it looked possible to continue along the coast by clambering over rocks, but without a stick for balance, it wasn't something I reckoned on attempting so after a look at a few rock pools left by the receding tide, I turned back to a slipway where I could return to the town.


It was amazing to see that some of the seawater caught behind an old concrete seawall had frozen! I seem to remember that salt water freezes at a lower temperature than fresh water, so it must have been a lot colder over preceding days.


So, from the slipway I headed back past the shops, and little passageways between buildings, getting a real feel for the town's relationship with the sea. To find out more about Eyemouth and its story click here.

Back at the harbour I watched a seal swimming about and photographed some seabirds on the rocks. Out on the harbour wall the wind was strong - and icy, so a return to the Fishermen's Mission for something warming to eat was very welcome. Morag met me there for lunch of homemade lentil soup and a filled roll - wonderful! There are branches of the Fishermen's Mission all over the country, providing support and acting as a social club to all fishermen, working, retired or disabled. The canteen/cafe is not just for the fishermen though. Open to anyone, it is one way of raising funds. It's a pleasant environment - no frills, and excellent food at reasonable prices. So we had lunch followed by a huge mug of tea, before we headed off to the other side of the river to have a look at Gunsgreen House, a beautiful house built for an 18th century merchant, who may well have been involved in some of the tales of smuggling connected with the house as well as with the town itself! There are said to be passages and tunnels and secret chambers under the town itself. Gunsgreen is going through a major refurbishment at the moment and should be open to the public sometime this year, restored to its former glory! It will be interesting to see if there are secret passages, and fireplaces that move to allow access to tunnels, as rumours have it that there are!

The wind was getting up again and felt very chilly so we did not linger long - just long enough for me to take a few more photos of the harbour - before we began our journey homewards.

Friday night
Sorry I have taken so long to get this episode uploaded! I think I'll finish at this point for tonight as I have one or two other pictures to show you and they can wait for another time!

Talk again soon.