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

Sunday, 27 February 2011

A weekend away

The day after the Fiddler performance I drove down to North Yorkshire to visit Colin for the weekend.   It was a foggy journey, especially on the long climbing road to Carter Bar, the border between Scotland and England.  There was no point in stopping in the visitors’ car park for the views that day!

I arrived at Colin’s  in time to take a look round the garden centre owned by his friends, and landlords, Mark and Janet, where Colin does a lot of the odd jobbing.  It was the first time I had seen it, since its take over and improvement, and I was quite impressed at what they have achieved in less than a year.   They are known in particular for their water gardens and tropical fish!  Not that the tropical fish are kept in the water gardens.  They are inside, in dozens of tanks, big fish, little fish, flat fish, round fish, frilly fish, stripy fish, fish with hats… you name it and it’s probably there!  I have to say I’ve never been much of a fan of fish in tanks, but these were really interesting!  discus I loved the discus fish, and the  orange capped orandas . orange capped oranda 





fighter fish The colours of the frilly fighter fish were stunning, angel fish




and the angel fish followed you serenely from one side of the tank to the other.

The water gardens weren’t really looking their best, but what can you expect for February in Britain?  I’ll look forward to seeing them again in the summer.  However, the settings were nice to look at – paddock water garden2 the Mediterranean garden,


paddock water garden3



the Japanese garden, the garden with the rustic cottage…  paddock watwe garden1


…all with a pond of some sort.

There was a lot to see.  You can take a look at their website here.

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Been feeling very much “under the weather” these last few days!  The cough that I had nearly got rid of came back with a vengeance!  Watching Fiddler on the Roof last week I found myself coughing, trying to keep it to noisier moments, and not spoil the show for others around me.  fiddler-logo-color What a show!  It was great!  I had quite forgotten the story of Tevye and the life of  “Tradition” in the village of Anatevka!  Tevye , SLO-style, was a very worthy Topol sound-alike, trying to come to terms with changing times for his homeland.  I loved it!  Jackie, our choir conductor, played the part of Fruma Sarah, in the imagined dream sequence, where the dead wife of the butcher – who has asked Tevye for the hand of his eldest daughter – appears, to bring curses down on the forthcoming marriage, just Tevye’s way of persuading Golda his wife that their daughter should marry the tailor instead of the butcher.   She was very good indeed!

I think even despite my cold coming back I would still have shed tears at the eviction from Anatevka by the pre-revolutionist troops, and the disagreement between Tevye and his third daughter, who married out of her people, leading to him disowning her – yet finally showing the glimmer of hope for a reconciliation as the refugees left their village for their journeys to new lives.   An excellent performance, with good revues too, I saw later!!   I was pleased for them.  Just to give a little bit of background on the company, it was begun in 1897 by 30+ men and women from the south side of the city interested in singing light opera – hence its choice of name the Southern Light Opera.  The original performers would no doubt be thrilled to know their legacy lives on to this day, with such an enthusiastic group of members!

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Having fun!

It was quite a fun day all round the other day, the day I started writing this!  I spent the morning in the charity shop which I always enjoy – I prefer to be in the front shop “behind the counter”, although I don’t actually spend all my time behind it!  Karen the manageress was back after a few months off due to illness, so she was going round the shop sorting things out to her own satisfaction, making sure the standard of the second-hand clothes we sell was good enough, discarding those that were already on the rails that she felt weren’t good enough!  I followed her about, filling the rag bag, as well as doing my usual jobs of tidying and rearranging , and of course serving the customers, and chatting with them.   That’s my favourite bit!

After lunch I was due at the hairdresser’s where Kim coloured my ever-greying roots, and cut my hair about two inches shorter – quite nice, I think.  She works from home so a session there quite often involves a visit from her gorgeous little black cat.  I usually make a big fuss of Fizz if she comes to me, which she did yesterday!  I do love cats!

Back home, I moved some furniture around in my bedroom – still trying to get it properly organised, and then it was time to head off up the road to Newbattle Abbey for the second term of the Gaelic class.  There are five of us continuing this term, and there’s a new student to be joining us at some point, who has already done some of the units we are working on, plus some other Gaelic classes.  It was good to see the others again.

I was home again around 9.30 and began to play on the computer with my digital scrapbooking software.  I don’t have any of the big ones, Photoshop, etc. but I can still create some reasonable elements to add to my pages!  I experimented with making …. now would you call them buttons?  Yes, probably!   Bubble badge buttons, I guess!  Here’s one I made !  Spring





raindrops on limetrees i


The weather is still dreich, but I took a few pics from the window

– like the raindrops on the limetrees…..


the robin feeding at the tray on my balcony…..



blue sky for once!


a bit of BLUE sky!!!!!  Those white clouds didn’t stay around long!  The grey clouds moved in almost immediately.


Today I am meeting up with some of the U3A members who want to learn Italian, and Yours truly is going to teach them!!  We’re just going to bash out the when will we meet and where, and maybe just do a little introductory lesson.  We can decide if the class is be weekly, or whatever?  They are all complete beginners, so are all starting from the same place!  More fun!

Then tonight two friends and I are driving up to Edinburgh to see Fiddler on the Roof, at one of the city’s main theatre, the King’s.  Normally it would have been choir night but Jackie our choir conductor is performing in the show so we’ve got the night off.  However quite a few of us are going to support her at the theatre tonight instead!

I had meant to post this last night so have just added the last couple of paragraphs and am going to press the button now, in case I forget again! 

Talk again soon.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day

valentine Large Web view


I’m glad I checked out Mary’s scrapping website.  Her roses were just the thing to finish off this card for all my friends, relations and followers.  Have a lovely day, and thanks, Mary!

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Something’s happened to the memory cards for my cameras!  At least I hope that’s all it is!  I’ve used the cards in each camera up till now, but the other day I couldn’t get one out of my SLR.  In the end I had to use pliers to pull it out of the slot, and since then, trying it out on my wee compact as well as the SLR, a message has come up  on the camera screen saying the card is write-protected -  and I can’t take a photo.  I’ve tried the other card too in the SLR and the same happens.  I put it back into the compact – can’t use it!    I’ll have to look up the instructions about formatting the cards and see if that will do the trick.  I’m hoping it isn’t something that’s wrong with the SLR!

So no photos until I can sort out the problem!  I’ll go crazy!  The camera goes everywhere with me – just in case an opportunity arises to take a shot!


Last night was the first annual dinner of the  Tweeddale Photographic Group, held at a local hotel.  We were able to eat in a private function room, and after a delicious meal , listened to our guest speaker talking about some of his photographic projects while showing a presentation of his photos.  It was a very enjoyable evening.  I took the opportunity to pick a few people’s brains about my camera problem and it was suggested I look at the side of the memory cards, and jiggle the little toggle, for want of a better word.  When I got home I did that, and it worked – well as far as the compact camera went, but it still doesn’t work in the SLR.   Hmmm!  Doesn’t bode well !

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

University for fun

I have probably mentioned U3A before to do with garden visits and lunch club. 

home_page_image2 It stands for the University of the Third Age -which, according to the website - is a self-help organisation for people no longer in full time employment, providing educational, creative and leisure opportunities in a friendly environment …….  Local U3As are learning cooperatives which draw upon the knowledge, experience and skills of their own members to organise and provide interest groups in accordance with the wishes of the membership……..  The U3A approach to learning is – learning for pleasure.  There is no accreditation or validation and there are no assessments or qualifications to be gained.

I have been a member of our branch of the U3A for about 3 years and this year was asked to join the committee.  From that came the first of two new interests  for me, as I was then asked if I would be interested in becoming the new newsletter editor – which I agreed to.  Then a few folk mentioned they wanted to learn some Italian – so who opened their big mouth and said they’d teach them?  You got it!    It seems there are six or seven people interested – as long as it’s really right-from-the-beginning, never-studied-any-Italian-before sort of stuff!   Exactly that, I agreed!   I’m not an Italian teacher as such but I can teach what I know - and I’ll revive my skills as well!

The current newsletter was due to be printed this week, so on Monday I went over to Jim’s house to learn how to do that!  I get the printer to take  home in due course!   I’d done some editing of a whole article, and proof read the entire newsletter the week before, so we were ready to go.   Jim taught me what settings to use and how to print odd pages first .  peebles jim barton Once they were done, the sheets were turned,  put back into the paper feed drawer to print the even sides – in reverse order – and lo and behold, it all  came out right!  One of the members had provided a lovely snowy view of Peebles for the front cover.  (Thanks to Jim Barton)

Next we counted out the sheets for each newsletter, three sheets for each, folded them into a booklet, and stapled them together on the fold.  Job done!  Lots of little booklets with interesting little articles from group facilitators, information on coming events, etc. were piled up on Jim’s dining room table, ready to be put into a bag for me to take charge of.    Next day, Tuesday, was the monthly branch meeting, with a speaker on a local woodland regeneration scheme – very interesting – and the newsletters were collected by the members.  Next time it will be my job to put the whole thing together from collecting articles, to printing it, and finally taking it to the meeting!  It’s generally a bi-annual affair so no great hassles just yet.

What is it they say about a new broom sweeping clean?  I was thinking of asking the members in the next edition if any of them would be happy to read their newsletter online, so we could save some paper and ink  - do our little bit for the environment – though anyone who still wanted a printed copy could have one!  I’ve found some interesting looking software that would enhance the online reading experience, so  I’m actually quite looking forward to finding out what folk say, and no doubt you’ll hear all about it in due course!

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Tweeddale Photography Group’s First Exhibition

The photography group was only started about last Spring, and has just held its first exhibition in the Eastgate Theatre Studio, Peebles.  There was quite a variety of styles and subjects, birds, animals, travel, local….. I just thought this post could show off some of my favourites.  I have to include my own of course! a_blue_view_margaret_jamie_0031







Above are a  blue view by Margaret, and In the shadow of Courvoisier, Jarnac, by me.colchicum_dawyck_jennifer_redfern_001-11  bruggeyellowflowerbike-1_stephen_mathieson1





Colchicum by Jenny (above);  Brugge yellow flower bike, by Stephen MSONY DSC >

<Glencoe lochan, by Chris.

loch coruisk_ruth_maclellan




Loch Coruisk, Skye, by Ruth (right)  Do you remember on my visit to Skye last year I went on the boat trip and was so disappointed when we weren’t allowed to land?  Well, Loch Coruisk (above) was what I had expected to see that day!   That view, maybe taken from a bit to the right, including that rock, was on the wall at home all my life, and it was my ambition to see it for real.  I have been there, but didn’t know where the rock was in relation to the path!  I do now, so I’ll make certain I get there next time!verteuil_evelyn_inglis

<a corner of Verteuil, France(mine) iain mackay

a snowy view, by Iain >






red-in-green by mikuni


Below are Robin, by Barbara, and Mecanopsis, by Ronnie.robin_barbara_furphy   


There were lots more but these were my favourites.  Barbara’s robin was one of three photos she had of him, all framed up together. I love robins!   I have tried to grow mecanopses (mecanopsises?) in my garden, but have never had any success with them.  I suspect this may have been taken at Dawyck Gardens where they have swathes of them.  They are so beautiful!

You should be able to see more of the groups photos on flickr here. and on wordpress here  Quite a talented bunch!

Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Just around the corner!

What is?  Spring is!  Well perhaps we’ll have a bit of a straight stretch first but then it will be Spring!  I’m just hoping that the straight stretch won’t be filled with snow.

january cowslips However in our gardens there are signs!  I can’t believe these cowslips are out just now, jan snowdrops in bloom


but the snowdrops are popping their heads out – just!  Linda says hers, in Edinburgh, are fully out, but then we are a bit higher than Edinburgh so it puts us a bit behind!   My late friend Vina used to say we were three weeks behind Edinburgh. january daffs  I don’t think it’s that much.   A couple of years ago I planted dozens of crocus corms in the garden.  Some came up last year but there’s not a sign at all of crocuses this year!  I think the mice must have gone for them!  Crumbs, I even have daffodils showing – well only the tips of the leaves are showing – so springtime cannot be that far away.  I just wonder what the elements are going to throw at us before then!  Dare I hope for some nice weather! 

A day or three later and I’m continuing where I left off! 

Well, what did the weather do?  It rained… and it rained… and it blew… and it blew!  Luckily there was no damage done around here, but dustbins were tipped over and thrown along the street and anything not tied down out in the street below my windows was blown to who knows where!  The river came up and went down and came up again and flooded its banks - no more really than it did before, thankfully - so now that the rain has stopped there’s more debris along the banks.  Oh and a big tree got stuck on the cauld, while one or two others floated down past my windows!  Thank goodness it’s calm again now, and the sun is threatening to come out!

Yes, Spring is coming!

Talk again soon.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

250 year old stitches

The other day I helped a friend with a little computer problem she was having – nothing technical, just a how-do-you….? -  and while I was there she showed me some beautiful embroideries that had come down through her family.  It was a varied collection which included some beautifully fine cross stitch samplers, a silk satin-stitch embroidery, and a couple of canvaswork samplers from possibly the 1920s.

embroideries 008She very graciously allowed me to photograph them, so I could show them off.   You really will have to click each one to get the benefit of them.

This one is the only one framed and hanging on the wall.  It is a sampler of alphabets, using cross stitches, eyelet stitches and cross stitch embellished with back stitches.  The initials in the bottom right are from family names,  


the black initials probably of someone who has died.

The date is 1755 with the initials GR, which I take to be George Rex, King George.  GR Between the two initials are crossed swords with a crown in each angle.  Not being much good at remembering which king or queen reigned when, I had hoped the crowns might give an indication as to which of the Georges it might be, but when I looked it up, I found that in 1755 it was the second one.  So the crowns are just regal decoration!  I tried to lighten up the sample but with the thread colour being so pale it was harder to see. eyelet stitch

The letters made up of tiny little eyelets must have taken quite a time to sew, each little eyelet being made up of about 12 tiny stitches and given just the right tension to pull the threads to make the centre “eye”.  eyelet detail I have to tell you that each of those eyelets measures only about 2 millimetres across – obviously worked by someone with good eyesight and a lot of time to spare – a well to do young woman, no doubt!

embroideries 006a

This  photo shows the reverse side of one of the samplers, something I didn’t even notice when I took the photo – but then you wouldn’t, would you!  I’m glad I did take it this way though, as it shows how neat the work is.  The reverse is as beautiful as the correct side!  Here’s a bit of detail. reverse side detail



I think it is so amazing! 

My friend, R, who has asked not to be named, is thinking of selling one of the samplers, this one, below,eleanor magrath


so I have asked her to give me a price, and I’ll see if I could afford it.  It won’t be cheap!  I mean, consider the work that has gone into it!


It was worked by someone called Eleanor Magrath in 1785.  I was keen to find out who she might have been, but there are a lot of Eleanor Magraths in the genealogy records I use, so it may not be possible to pin her down!  I suspect that the spelling of her surname could make her Irish, perhaps English, or possibly Scots, though the Scots spelling is generally McGrath.  Not impossible though!  See the tiny chain stitches that make up that rose?  They can only be a millimetre long.  I’m sure Eleanor didn’t work this by candlelight!eleanor detail

For its age this sampler is still very bright, probably hasn’t been on display, but folded up in a drawer.  Any embroiderers these days should know not to fold their work, but wrap it in acid free paper and roll it up!    I just love the sampler anyway and would love to be able to display it on my wall!  We’ll see!

canvaswork The next two photos are of more modern samplers, canvaswork of possibly the 1920s, just little snippets of patterns and designs to try them out prior to using them in an actual piece of work.canvasworkdetail 







They are worked with wool instead of silks.

silk embroidered  The last picture is of my friend’s favourite – another silk one but worked in satin stitch, chain stitch again, and one or two other stitches I can’t really identify.   Its top is actually the bow in the top left of my photo.  I should have been more careful.  I wonder if it was worked for a bag – maybe slightly too large for that -  or maybe a pouch for handkerchiefs.    satin stitch detail

Again, some detail:  






patchwork Now, as well as the embroideries there was also a small sample of patchwork!  I put a pound coin, about 1.5 cm diameter into the picture to give it some scale.  The patches aren’t quite as small as the ones I told you about  in Marjorie’s dolls house recently, but still quite small.  I’ve no idea what was planned for this work.  It was an odd shape.

What a beautiful collection to have, and to know just who worked some of the pieces too.  R. is going to do a bit of researching her family history now, and I am looking forward to hearing more about the embroiderers!

Talk again soon.