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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Autumn colours

My ladybird is still here!  That’s a whole week now that she’s been putting in her evening appearance.   She scuttles all over my laptop, up and down the screen, over the keyboard, along the top of the lid….  She’s quite amusing, as she’s not too good with the flying thing!  She doesn’t appear to like the keyboard too much and often opens her wing case, extends her little wings and jumps over a couple of keys!  What’s more, she jumps backwards!   It’s quite extraordinary!  No, the flying thing is not one of her better qualities!  ladybird best one I actually managed to get some photos of her tonight, some clearer than others, as she took her evening constitutional!  If you click the pic you’ll see her pretty clearly!  The rest aren’t so clear.ladybird on screen


Here ,she’s on the screen, and just to prove it’s today, look out for the photo with the grasses in it later on!ladybird on lid2

One more then!  She’s scuttling along the top of the lid in this one!

I quite look forward to seeing her, always hoping she will come back.   Actually I’m a wee bit concerned about her right now.  As I said, her flying skills aren’t up to much, and neither is her ability to walk up things vertical.  She keeps falling off!  Anyway, earlier on she did one of her backward fly-jumps and landed on the wall.  So far so good, but then she started climbing, and – you guessed it – she fell off, right down the side of the table I am working on and landed possibly in the shoe box under the table or the pile of papers it is sitting on top of.  I heard the landing, but couldn’t see her.  Well…. she hasn’t been back up to the top of the table since.  I hope she’s ok.

I just had to go looking for her, and have found her in the lid of the box.  She’s ok!  I thought she wasn’t at first, but she’s back on the keys here now, scuttling around as much as ever before!  Thank goodness!  ~OMG!  She’s taken another backwards fly-jump and must be on the floor in front of my feet!  I can’t see her now at all!   Crazy ladybird!  I’ll just have to wait now to see if she finds her way back.

Anyway, today the wind  was blowing a gale, and the autumn leaves were just flying past my window.  The trees will be bare before we know it, and I hadn’t any photos of the colours!  peebles autumn across the river I took a couple of photos from my balcony of over the river, but I met Linda for lunch today at a tearoom not far from Peebles, and managed to take a few photos on the way there and on the way back.  I was greatly enthused about the colours in the trees, much to Linda’s amusement, as she thinks they aren’t that vivid or as colourful as the ones nearer Edinburgh.  Well, they’re further north than we are, so bound to be further on than us!!!!! What an excuse!  They’re less than 25 miles away!  Anyway, she has come to the conclusion that Ijust prefer less bright colours, and I was really thinking the colours round here WERE bright!  I’ll have to go up to Edinburgh and see the difference!  Anyway, here are a few of the photos I took today, and no, perhaps the colours don’t seem very bright, but then it was a dull day today. wee rowan my garden

My first picture was of my new wee rowan tree, planted in a pot and standing by the entrance to my garden – to keep the witches away!  It has grown a lot, being not even the height of the plastic tube that surrounds the trunk when I got it earlier this year.  I love its autumn red colour!

Jautumn road out of townust leaving Peebles on the road north, the trees were really colourful – right.autumn farmhouse



I love this farmhouse on the hillside a bit further on.  Not much autumn colour here but I took the picture anyway.

autumn cottage bank

At Cottage Bank the trees alongside the old Edinburgh Road had already begun to lose all their leaves.  What remained were also very pretty.  Shame it was such a dreich day. autumn brown dod and sheep

This is a view behind Cottage Bank, the hill called Brown Dod!  What a lovely name!  In Scots, a dod is a lump of something, and you could certainly say that the hill was a bit of  lump, brown or otherwise!  I love this view and probably have photos of it in all seasons!autumn eddleston tree

After a nice lunch and a good blether with Linda, she went north, back to Edinburgh, and I south, back to Peebles, taking my time and looking out for potential photographic opportunities.  I had to pull into the car park at Eddleston village hall to take a picture of this stunning tree, and a bit further down the road ,in a lay-by, I took this scene.autumn 703 layby2 - below.

Instead of continuing on the main road to Peebles, I detoured on to the road known locally as the Crossings – the crossing being where the old railway line once crossed the road  at this point -below -  autumn the crossings2


and at a bend in the road parked up and took a photo in each of three directions…..autumn by rosetta2


beyond the bend ,the road that continued back to town – left

autumn venlaw hill


the view looking across a field towards Venlaw Hll and  the outskirts of Peebles – right -  I can actually pinpoint where my old house is, in this photo! ….. and the beautiful farm cottage right on the bend itself -autumn standalane cottage  below left.

   I don’t think I’d like that conifer tree so near to my house.autumn on cuddy



So, back in Peebles I parked alongside the Cuddy Burn and took a couple of photos of the burn itself, first looking upstream towards Venlaw Hill (recognise the grasses?) autumn on cuddy portrait

then finally,downstream towards  Cuddy Bridge, and the shops at the Bridgend.  There’s a beautiful cafe  in the building on the left – a chocolate shop, serving all sorts of beautiful chocolatey cakes, and hot chocolate to die for, as well as teas and coffees.  I’ve been in there a few times since it opened earlier this year!!

So there we are!  I got my autumn photos before the wind blows all the colours away for another year.  Just a shame it wasn’t a brighter day.  I love autumn, but then I love spring too, with all the new fresh green colours!  Got to get through winter first!  It seems no time at all since last winter!  All that snow!  I hope we don’t get a repeat performance this year!

Talk again soon.

Monday, 25 October 2010

A wee pet!

I seem to have acquired a new pet!  She has been appearing in the early evening for the last three days, spending time exploring my laptop, rambling over my hand as I type, climbing the walls and flying about my desk!  So what is she?  To give her her proper name she’s an Adalia bipunctata, but to you and me, no doubt, she’s a two spot ladybird -  ladybug if you are anywhere else….. about 4 mm long with one spot on each wing case.  2 spot ladybird

The spots on my tiny visitor are like pin points compared to the ones in most of the pictures I’ve looked at, including this one!  There are hundreds of photos of two-spot ladybirds on the net, and as I haven’t got the right equipment to photograph her myself, I have unashamedly nicked some.  Isn’t she cute!  I say “she”!  Could be “he”!  Difficult to tell the difference really!

2spotady2s The two spot ladybird, I have discovered, is the National insect of Latvia.  Did you know that?  No, I didn’t, either!  I wonder, do we have a National Insect?  I must look it up!!  I somehow don’t expect we do.

A couple of other ladybird facts – there are an estimated 3500 varieties of ladybird in the world.  46 of them can be found in Britain, the two-spot and seven-spot being the most common.  They eat aphids which is why a ladybird will lay its eggs on the underside of an aphid-ridden leaf so that there is plenty of food for when the eggs hatch!

2-spot_ladybird_Jeroen_Mentens Mine was climbing the wall a moment ago , but she’s gone again.  Don’t suppose she’ll be too far away.  I wonder if she’s decided to hibernate in the house.  They do that sometimes, apparently, usually in groups – so maybe my one is not a she but a they!

I’ll let you know if I find more!

Thanks to Jon Law for the first photo and all his other beautiful ladybird photos here,   uksafari.com  and Jeroen Mentens

Talk again soon.


Well, I did say you never know what will happen at the weekend!  On Saturday night, after a bit of deliberating  Will I? won’t I?  I ended up at a party for friend Paddy’s 50th birthday!  I have never been much of a party-goer and find it more difficult now than ever when you find yourself the only single and everyone else is with a husband or partner!  Still, I wanted to at least turn up to wish Paddy happy birthday.  The party had been going on for a few days – sort of – and was in full swing again when I arrived.  Paddy was quite delighted with the digi-scrapbooking layout I had done as a present.love affair  The photo is of his wife, Samantha, at one of their previous parties, when Sam was persuaded to “give us a tune” on the double bass!  Her face, as she played along to the record Paddy had put on, gave me the title for the layout!  I got it printed off yesterday afternoon, to take with me.

Although I knew a few of Paddy and Sam’s friends, and was introduced to several of his relations, after a time spent chatting and dancing with them, I soon found myself on my own and eventually decided just to slip away and come home.  The kitchen was full of guests, the back door, which everyone uses, was through the kitchen, so I made my escape by the front door – luckily the front porch wasn’t in use as a guinea pig hutch, as it had been one time I was there.

So, today, I read in the local paper, there was a Woodland Festival taking place in the Peebles Community Centre, as well as a local foods event at the theatre!    I decided to go and take a look at each – and would you believe I left my camera at home!  Me, who always has her camera with her!   The food thing was all about local produce – venison, wild boar burgers, salmon, chilli jam – more a relish really - apple juice, clootie dumplings, ice cream, cakes, biscuits……. with a few tasty treats to indulge in!  I did like the clootie dumpling – a fruit dumpling boiled in a cloth  It’s quite a common thing in Scotland, but fewer people are actually making them themselves!  This company has filled a niche!  I keep saying ~I must make one some day, but maybe I’ll go for the easy option too, and order one from Clooties.

Then I paid a visit to the Woodland Festival – an exhibition of all things wooden!   I had to go home for my camera at this stage!  woodfest4  There were rocking horses,  (left)woodfest2




turned bowls and candlesticks (right).

little boxes with cute little drawers in,

woodfest5 things made from driftwood,

kiwicraftmirrorpretty stunning mirror frames  in a Maori/Celtic design mix,

bird callers – making convincing blackbird, robin, and owl calls among them – the idea being that you get the birds calling back to you in response to the sound you make!   I was very taken with the beautiful carved jewellery: woodland treasures earrings

woodland treasures holly pendant



bangles,  brooches,  woodland kiltpin

kilt pins,

combs even, but because of the fiddly work they are very expensive.  Here are a few of the designs, and if you click here you can see more of his work .

woodfest6 These wooden carvings appealed too!  Woodland spirits, carved on the old staves of whisky barrels – no wonder they call them spirits – and this owlwoodfest7 - he’s larger than life-size.    Again click on the link here to see more from the Wee Toon Carver of Campbelltown!       

Anyway, that wasn’t the end of it.  There was also a puppet show for the kids – about the dangers to wildlife in the stuff we humans throw away.  I think they did a series of different stories during the day.  woodfest ouppets In this one the squirrel got plastic rings for holding cans in four, round its neck and it was choking!  The pine martin tried to bite it off but couldn’t.  It was ok in the end!  The  squirrel’s human friend cut it off! Then the badger had swallowed a plastic bag!  Human friend to the rescue again, before getting the children watching to suggest what they should do with their rubbish – i.e. not throw it away in the countryside or on the ground, but take it to a bin or even take it home and put it in a bin!

There was yet more going on outside on the Green!  woodfest chainsaw owl A chainsaw carver made a beautiful owl and some meercats – they are so popular these days -woodfest on the green

woodfest chain saw meercats






there was a yurt, and some garden huts and chicken houses being displayed, and the Forrestry Commission turned the clock  back with their display - woodfestcoppicer with a couple of foresters planing bark off coppiced wood to make small implements and rustic fences, woodfest old lathe



and turning spindles on a makeshift lathe.  There was also a  fiddler, by the wood fire, playing tunes while the other guys got on with the work.

woodfest fiddler

It was a very interesting afternoon.  Just shows you that something  unexpected can turn up any time!


Talk again soon.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The rest of the week

Back to normal again this week, on Tuesday I did my morning stint in the British Heart Foundation charity shop.  I’m keeping an eye open for kilt skirts that have been donated for sale, that could be useful for choir members, but I never seem to find any to fit meinglis tartan I need a long tartan skirt now, for the social occasions – it’s short skirts for competitions; long for concerts and ceilidhs! 

This is the Inglis family tartan.  Based on the Douglas clan tartan it has additional red and yellow stripes.

Anyway, I found a small size short kilt skirt in our shop, and later got a long one, still too small for me, at another charity shop in town!  I think I should sell these at a profit and give the extra to the choir funds.  One or two of us were saying that as it cost so much to go to the Mod, it would be good if there could be a bit of a financial help from the choir funds!

My late friend, Vina’s, sister-in-law joined the volunteer staff at the shop  on Tuesday.  Ann and her husband Robin emigrated to South Africa in the 1960s, and have fairly recently returned to Scotland, both retired now, and have settled in Peebles.  Both their sons have heart problems so Ann has an affinity with the charity, and decided to become a volunteer.  She’ll be there the same day as me, so I’ll no doubt see a lot of her.  I still miss Vina such a lot.  This last few days there have been several occasions when I have thought – I wish I could tell Vina that.  She’d have been really interested.

In the evening I drove out to Newbattle Abbey for Part 3 of our Gaelic course!  newbarrlle abbey deirdre We’re learning quite a bit, and Deirdre reckons we are all doing very well.  The idea is to listen and repeat what we are hearing the tutor saying, but I like to write it down using my own phonetic method, but writing anything down at this stage is frowned upon!  We’re supposed to be learning like children do – repeating what we hear – but I’m not good at learning that way!  Deirdre and I had a bit of a discussion about it later, putting our points across, and I guess I’m going to have to compromise here!

 allan ramsay hotel Lunch on Wednesday with the U3A lunch  Group was meant to be at a lovely little inn at Carlops, below the Pentland Hills, but plans had to be changed fairly much at the last minute when an email was sent to the organiser, Anne, to say that they couldn’t do lunch after all, as the chef had walked out in a strop!  Oops!  The chef was the owner’s son!  So instead, we met at a local pub, where we had a nice meal, and a good blether, as well as being entertained by Martin, the barman and waiter’s wacky sense of humour!   It was a bitterly cold day too, though the sun was shining .  Someone said they had had to scrape frost off their car windscreen in the morning!  Oh this is too early for winter to be setting in!   Please let us have some milder weather, with some sun!  Usually milder weather in autumn means damp, dull and miserable – in a word, dreich, so frosty might actually be the better option!  At least we get sun and blue sky!

Colin was on phone in the evening.  He’s off to a Greek island on Saturday for six weeks!  Six!  Alright for some!  He and some mates are going rock-climbing on Kalymnos.  There’s a video here of Colin climbing in England, if you are interested!   Morag texted me to tell me her friend Lorna has passed her driving test!  She’s been going out with Lorna in the car in the evenings to give her some practice, so it has all paid off. 

Tonight some of the choir members got together to mull over some Gaelic work songs, mainly to do with fulling or waulking new tweed fabric.  These jobs need to have a rhythm to them so singing was used to keep in time.  I joined in too tonight.  One person sings the verses, and everyone joins in the chorus.  The verses are often only one or two lines so there is a lot of chorus repetition.  Good fun!  Click here to see a U-tube video of a waulking song, and here for another, but sung by a folk band instead of at work.  Oh, before I forget!  Here’s a video from youtube of the choirs parade through Thurso!  I’m in it!  So are Neil, Hilary, Lisa, Nuala and Finlay, all cousins of mine!

So I have finally caught up with things this week.  I don’t think I have anything very exciting planned for the weekend, but you never know what can happen.  Maybe I’ll have some more photos next time too.

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


This would have been posted last night if I hadn’t finished it at the very time Blogger was down for maintenance!  fay_alan_and_evee_at_lennoxlove

On Monday I met up with fellow blogger and friend, Alan, for a cup of tea and a blether in Edinburgh.  

This is us with his friend Fay last summer.

He’s soon to be off on his travels to Nepal again, but thinks he may not write a blog this time,alan himalayas as perhaps the trip isn’t going to be quite the adventure previous  visits have been …….and there’s nothing like a trek in the Himalayas for adventure  - in my opinion!


NMVI’ve told you before about Namuna Mahila Vidyalaya, NMV, the school for women in Kathmandu, which is at the moment struggling somewhat with funds and equipment basically. Well, this trip, Alan will be working with staff there to try and sort things out and set things off on to a positive route forward.  Amongst other things, his IT skills will be useful in setting up programs for accounts and general organisation within the school, and his experience in teaching English as a foreign language will also come in handy.  It is to be hoped he finds things going reasonably well when he gets there. 

I am sure it won’t be all work and no play!  There will be a wee adventure just waiting for him, I have no doubt.  I have to say I would love to go to Nepal, but for once it may not be the sort of country to visit alone.  We’ll see what the future brings!  I am already planning a long haul trip for next year, but more of that anon!

As I was meeting Alan in the afternoon in Edeinburgh, I took the opportunity to go up in the morning to Register House to do a bit more research on the ancestors.  It was an early start but I arrived just after 9.00a.m. and was allocated my little spot in one of the research rooms with computer all ready for me to look up all the records I wanted to or had time to look at.  The morning was spent quite profitably, and then Alan phoned to say he had arrived and was in the building.  After our cuppa and a good blether about all sorts of things including his forthcoming trip, he left to go back to Glasgow and I to add a few more search results to my Netbook. 

registers_house_edinburgh Register House was designed by Robert Adam in 1771 as a “proper repository for the Scottish Records”.  Construction did not begin till a few years after and although the basic shell of the building was up by 1778, it was almost an “Edinburgh’s 21st century trams” situation when funds were unavailable to complete it.  Someone styled it “the most magnificent pigeon house in Europe”, and I am sure they were not wrong.  It took six more years of lying empty and derelict before further funds were secured to continue with the job. Although another three years passed before it could actually be occupied, it wasn’t until 1822 that the building was completely finished  - “the earliest purpose-built record repository in Britain”  (Information from Julian Small).  The present research rooms surrounding the central rotunda  are not nearly as ornate as the galleried rotunda itself with its large dome and beautiful plasterwork.  Having recently undergone a large refurbishment the rotunda again looks magnificent.  I probably could have taken photos but I didn’t think about it!  Next time!

Next door, to the left of the photo is new reg house New Register House, similar in style, which is where the actual Births Marriages and Deaths records are kept on these shelves. New Register House



Over the years these records and many others have been computerised and now there is no running back and forward between the drawers of microfiche and the readers, which superceded looking at the actual record books.  Today everything up there and more, is on computer and available at a mouse click, and the two buildings have been incorporated into one big search unit called “The Scotland’s People Centre”.

All around are more beautiful buildings of the New Town – new in the 1770s, but still referred to as the New Town today.  the bridges from Register House This is the view from the front doors of Register House, looking up North Bridge , with the old North British (Station) Hotel, now the Balmoral,  on the right, and the Scotsman newspaper offices, now a hotel, beyond, while on the left is the old General Post Office, now general business offices.  Oh, and the guy on the horse in front?  He’s the Iron Duke, the Duke of Wellington, under whom  the war against Napoleon was won.GPO

From the steps this time, there’s the Iron Duke again towards the right, the old GPO and the buildings of Waterloo Place and the top of Leith Street.waterloo place calton hill

From Princes Street, the old GPO is on the right, next to Waterloo Place, with the observatory tower in the distance on Calton Hill.  There’s the Duke again, outside Register House.

Behind me is the mile long Princes Street, sadly not as beautiful a street as it was when I was growing up in the city, but still pretty impressive with its mixter-maxter of buildings on one sideprinces street and the Princes Street Gardens on the other, across which are wonderful views of the Old Town and in particular the Castle.   On the right behind the tree in the Gardens, is the monument to Sir Walter Scott, novelist and “inventor” of the Scottish tourist trade!  The clock tower belongs to the Balmoral Hotel and in the distance is the Calton Hill observatory.RSA and castle


The Edinburgh Art Galleries sit at the foot of the Mound, one of three routes which connects the New Town to the Old,– it’s a steep hill to climb!  Up at the top of the Old Town is the Castle  looking down on everywhere including the New Town.

So that was Monday.  It was good to see Alan again, and also  to have found a few more details about the ancestors.  My family tree is growing all the time!

Talk again soon.