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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!


Sunday, 31 May 2009

A Christmas present!

I had my Christmas present from Morag and Mike on Saturday! At Christmas Mo gave me a photocopied ticket for Gardening Scotland, the big Scottish (of course) show held annually at Ingliston to the west of the city, next to the airport! Saturday was the day!

The sun was shining, the sky was a clear, cloudless blue, as we set off early from Peebles to make the most of the day. There were already loads of cars in the carpark when we arrived, and crowds already milling round the stalls and gardens. Ingliston is nothing like as big as Chelsea or the other big English shows, but has lots to see, lots of ideas to pick up, and lots of stalls to lure you into spending money. I bought two beautiful clematises, one called Silver Moon, a very very pale, almost white, mauve, and a white one called Wilhelmine. Otherwise I was very restrained. My garden is actually packed too full of plants and I need to do some weeding out!

In the Crafts marquee there were some beautiful stalls and I gave in when I found some Bentala Bali jacket wraps! So useful for taking away on holiday as a cover up for cooler evenings, when even a light jacket would be too much for me! I hate being too hot! I like cooler climes better!

Anyway, we had a great time just wandering the showground, picking up ideas - I want an arch like this for outside my front door -












admiring plants


and flower arrangements - I'm not into flower arranging but I have to say, some of the displays in the inside area were stunning.



There were ice cream stalls and hot doughnut stalls - oh, those doughnuts! Yum-my!


- displays of dry stane dyking (building stone walls, arches and bridges etc. without mortar),

chainsaw carving,
pots and planters, alpine trough gardens,
and garden furniture including this recycled cable reel rocking chair and garden spa pools (not that useful in Scotland, though nice in a glass conservatory perhaps),

There were garden ornaments from birdfeeders to fairly large metal giraffes, and everything in between.


Frogs are popular!







There was music to entertain,

birds of prey to admire - these are a barn owl with her handler and a tawny owl -



tiny bonsai to marvel over,

and of course the show gardens. Small gardens mainly, with an emphasis being placed on recycling and eco gardening these days, there wasn't a great deal of variety. Sheds seem to be the in-thing too! I liked these gardens though!









Then there were the ever popular pallet gardens,
miniature gardens in effect, the bases being about a metre square.

I think one of the displays I liked best in the whole show was the Volkswagen Beetle! Great fun, this one!
What a great Christmas present - but the day was not over! More next time!
Talk again soon.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Glasgow

Time I caught up with the last stage of Don's and Nancy's visit! We spent their last day in Glasgow, doing the sightseeing tour on the open top bus, as we had done in Edinburgh. It really does help to get your bearings.

When we first arrived in George Square though, there was a huge marquee set up in the centre of the square. It was the Taste of Scotland Exhibition, something we thought we ought to see!!!!!


In case you don't know, this is a map of Scotland, filled with food that has been produced here. The exhibition is an attempt to get us Scots buying good local products, and to let others see how good our products are.

Well, Nancy is quite certain of the excellent taste of Tunnocks wafers. She got hooked on them last visit and is making sure she has a supply to take home!



This was her big moment though!


We had a great time trying out the different tastes: oatcakes and cheese or chutneys and pickles, icecreams, soups, fruits, jams and jellies, tablet, bread, veggies, wines, beers, samples of smoked fish and slivers of meat....


.....and Nancy and I rather took a fancy to this lean hunk of young Scotch beef!

There had been a pretty heavy shower of rain while we were in the Marquee, but it had gone off by the time we were crossing over George Square to pick up the tour bus. It was quite amusing to find clumps of pigeons just sitting in the puddles! Some were having fun splashing about in the water, but most were just sitting there!


The tour by bus was really amazing. Many people would be surprised at how beautiful the city is despite its reputation as the industrial capital of Scotland. Rather than put in loads of individual pics I have made up a couple of collages of just some of the fabulous architecture so that when you click on them to enlarge them, you can move around from building to building.












In Buchanan Street we followed the sound of big drums, and found Clanedonia, a group of several wild looking Scotsmen pounding out a rhythm on the drums, with one lone piper looking equally wild, just about making himself heard above the sound of the drums. In this photo he is just encouraging the drummers.

At the foot of Sauchihall Steet we encountered Scotland's very first First Minister, Donald Dewar, who sadly died before the end of his first term in office,

then we walked up to look at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed Glasgow School of Art,

and on to the National Trust owned Tenement House. Tenements evolved in the cities of this country as a way of packing lots of people into a small ground space. Eight families once lived in flats accessed by this one front door, including in the 1900s, Mrs Toward and her daughter. Because of the hoarding nature of Miss Toward, and her reluctance to modernise, after her death in the 1970s, the flat was recognised by the inheritors to be a fund of historical knowledge, and passed it to the National Trust, who now look after it and open it to the public.


By the time we had finished our visit we were all flagging so back we came to George Square, to catch the bus to the airport hotel Don and Nancy were staying at, to enable them to catch an early flight out next morning. After tea, it was time to say our farewells - reluctantly - but it was time for me to leave for Peebles again and for them to try to get some sleep before getting up early for the first leg of their journey home.


I enjoyed their visit so much and really missed "hanging out" with them afterwards, but in September I plan on using up some of my pension entitlement to go out to visit them. Busy making plans right now! It's such fun! More of that anon!

Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Holidays!

I booked my holidays today! Well, I booked flights to Ireland in June! Haven't been over there in such a long time! My friends in Galway have moved house and have asked me for a visit, and I plan on revisiting somewhere I went on holiday years ago! That's the village where Ian (in France) and I met when we were "nobbut kids!" There's an Italian garden on an island there, I remember, but I wasn't much into gardens at that age! I'll enjoy it now though - as long as the sun shines!

It will be interesting to see what the place is like where our two families stayed all those years ago! That's it, on the right of the old postcard! Then I'll visit David's friend in Limerick too, so all in all it should be a good holiday! Not long to wait either!!!
Talk again soon.

Friday, 22 May 2009

French letters! Go on, read on. It's OK!

I made a great discovery today! A website that can add French accents (and a variety of other languages' accents) without using the numeric keyboard which doesn't exist on a laptop!

It's not that I write French that often, but as I subscribe to a couple of scrapbooking websites from France, I try to reply to forums, add comments on scrapbook layouts, etc. in French. It was reasonably simple to do on the PC, using "alt" plus certain three digit numbers on the numeric keyboard. It didn't work with the numbers on the ordinary keyboard. However then I bought a laptop! Ah-ha! What do I do now?

So, I went Googling today and came up with a forum giving advice on just such a problem - no can do on laptop keyboard! There were several letters giving advice, all of which sounded terribly difficult and long-winded, until I came to one referring me to a website called http://french.typeit.org/ It's brilliant!


All you need to do is type your letter in French, and when an accent is needed, you just click the one you want!

Ça va? écossaise, après, hôte, à la carte..... You can also do french speech marks «Bonjour,» dit-il.
Once you are finished you go back and correct your spelling (spot the mistake!!!!!), then simply edit/copy then paste it into your email or blog or word document.....

Formidable!!! Only "formidable" doesn't have any accents in French!


Talk again soon.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

On the road again

Two things!

First of all, apologies to Chris, who IS in the photo of the Class of '67! I must be losing my marbles, but I honestly couldn't see her there!

The second thing is a photo I received from my friend Jean in Dirleton. She had a far better day when she visited the Falkirk Wheel and got this shot of the upper part of the canal, looking back to where the wheel "docks" Obviously the wheel is on its way round, but in this photo the end of the canal is just a very solid gate, beyond which is .... a big drop! Thanks for the photo, Jean. It's excellent! Next time I'm going to walk right out to the end!

So I must get back to the adventures of the Canadian cuzzies. I don't think anyone should miss out on the opportunity to see the Forth Bridge! After all, it is famous all over the world, even if that's just because of the saying, "It's like painting the Forth Bridge!" (By the time you get to the end it's time to start again at the beginning - in other words, a never-ending job))

So I had it in my mind one day that we'd do a tour, visiting Queensferry, for views of the rail Bridge (1890), lunch and a look at the village itself, then over the more modern road bridge (1964) to Fife - the Kingdom of Fife, it is called because of the royal connections with Dunfermline since long long ago. I had two main destinations in mind in Fife, Culross and Dunfermline, so off we went.


(South) Queensferry is a very old town with a narrow main street with wee nooks and crannies to explore and terraces to walk on above the shops. The Queen in question was the 11th century Queen Margaret who married King Malcolm III. She was instrumental in bringing Christianity to her husband and his subjects, and it was she who had a church built in Dunfermline which soon became a place of pilgrimage to the devout Queen who was honoured with a Sainthood in te 12th century!


A ferry across the river was also set up in her name, and for centuries it plied across the Forth in various guises till the 1960s when the Forth Road Bridge was built.





But it was the original cantilever bridge that was to become the famous bridge, due to its unique shape, opened in 1890 to carry passengers and freight across the Forth on the trains.
When I was a child the puff of steam from an engine crossing the bridge was a thrilling sight, travelling as it was so far above our heads.
We would often cross the river on the old car ferries, and watched with interest and excitement as the road bridge began to take shape!
There is an interesting photo I once saw in the Scots Magazine I think it was, of the railway bridge from the air as a train was crossing. Now if I remember, correctly...... no, I'll look it up - Here's the story, from the Scotsman newspaper:- The bridge was a prime target for the Luftwaffe but the Nazi bombers never hit their mark. However, the German propaganda machine tried to claim success by inverting an image of the bridge so rocks in the Firth looked like clouds of smoke. It was also to do with shadows I seem to remember and could easily have been taken for a bridge on fire! It was very clever, but false!

We explored the village, noting dates of buildings from as far back as 1623, mind-boggling for my Canadians,


















admired the Jubilee clock











,

and enjoyed the odd little view between buildings of the bridge.

Time to move on and after crossing the road bridge we entered the Kingdom, and headed west to Culross, (pronounced KOOross), an example of typical 17th century living in Scotland. It has been preserved and renovated by the National Trust for Scotland in its Little Houses Scheme and while some of the buildings are open to the public, most of the old houses are rented out, so that Culross is still a residential village and not just a museum piece. It is fascinating to explore, and I am sure I have already covered a visit here in a previous blog.

After lunch at the Red Lion, Don, Nancy and I decided to do the guided tour of The Palace, the Study and the Town House, as well as explore the old cobbled streets. We learned a lot of the history from a video at the Palace, and got a flavour of the town in its heyday, at which time the village was not the pretty white it is today. It would have been a very dull, dirty smelly village, due to the industries of the day.



Originally the sea came right up to the edge of the village, and the Town House would have overlooked the water.





An idea of how George Bruce, the merchant would have dressed in the 1700s (again from the video) I missed getting the rest of him in a photo!



In fact Bruce's Palace was built in a position where he could monitor the ships plying the river. Today the harbour has been reclaimed, and the water of the firth (estuary) is a distance away.
Photography is not allowed on NTS properties, but I took this view from one of the uppermost windows of the Study, where another merchant worked and oversaw the Forth, which would have been full of sailing ships.

This is the mercat cross and some of the wee houses on the road that leads to the Abbey. The houses are painted in traditional colours, though whether they ever appeared like this in 16th and17th century Culross is debatable,








and one last photo from Culross is the memorial to George Bruce, his wife, and their eight children - 3 boys and 5 girls - in the Abbey on the hill above the village.

I could show you far more photos, but now we are off to Dunfermline for a quick look at the Abbey before returning home.



Here's part of the ruined abbey with the tower of the Abbey church behind it!

and this is the tower of the Abbey church itself. On this side it reads - KING. On the other three sides you will see ROBERT, THE, and BRUCE - King Robert the Bruce was buried there - though his heart travelled to the Crusades and back to the Scottish Borders where it is buried at Dryburgh Abbey.

A quick photoshoot here as time was getting on and we were all beginning to wilt a little. Our last stop was at North Queensferry where you can really get up close and personal with the Forth Bridge!! It always seems to be swathed in "bandages" at the moment, poor old thing! You wanna get closer? How about this then?

Don't you feel you could just reach up and touch it?





So, the sun was slowly sinking in the west as we took our last look at the bridge that would take us homewards.

Another great day!
Talk again soon!