Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!

I'm getting ready to set off to spend Christmas with my granddaughter so fully expect to be up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning with one excited little girl.

Christmas is that time of year when it is delightful for children and just as wonderful for adults who get the chance to be a bit giddy (and not because of the morning buck fizz to start the celebrations I hasten to say).

Here are a couple of my photos taken on my travels which I use as Christmas cards and so wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Peace on Earth

Helping hands

Carols at Christmas

Monday, 12 December 2011

Waiting for the post to arrive

Why is it that when you have to wait in for a package the day becomes little snapshots of activity to fill the space of waiting - or is that just me?

  • Paper re-cycling
  • Paying bills online
  • Tempted to shop online but resisting
  • Checking to see if post van has arrived x3
  • Wrote some Christmas cards to people I'd forgotten to send to - shame on me!
  • Tidying up my inner sanctum (bedroom) and finding odd socks - after I already re-cycled the other lone socks.   Lesson keep bedroom tidy or perhaps start wearing odd socks like someone else I know!
  • Baking - see lemon drizzle cake below.   Visiting my brother tomorrow for lunch so will share.
  • Blogging - always good to pass the time.
....and YES the post has arrived.  

lemon drizzle cake

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Storm tossed Scotland

I'm at home and have sensibly cancelled my eyebrow waxing appointment and taken advice to stay put.  

As I look out my kitchen window at the River Clyde estuary I see the river in a way I've not seen before.   I was thinking how to describe it when the phrase 'boiling sea' came to mind.   Probably dragged from my memory of reading such epics as Moby Dick and the Cruel Sea.  
Opted not to venure on to balcony (I am four floors up) what I won't do to get that photograph!  

Conversations on a train

I've been using the train quite a lot lately not least because there is a very good offer by Scotrail for over 55's which means I can travel anywhere in Scotland for £19 rtn or if I push the boat out £26 first class.   I've used this to venture up to Inverness on my theatre jaunts which means a journey of around 3.5 hours.

On these journeys I met some lovely people and had conversations which passed the time nicely.    It made me think how easy it is sometimes to get into conversations where you find yourself sharing stories of being a grandma; work, living and travels.   You might not share names but the conversation flows as if you had been friends for ages and not strangers on a train.

Sometimes though there are sad experiences and I remember many years ago travelling to Edinburgh for one of the international rugby games - this was in the days before the stand was built at Murrayfield.   I found myself sitting next to a very well dressed older lady who was travelling with her husband who was sitting opposite.   I was with a friend who sat in the seat opposite me.    They were off to the rugby as well although joining friends in one of the corporate tents.   I got into conversation with this lady and it soon became apparent that there was a very limited range to her conversation skills; it was as if she was speaking in a loop which went round and round the same few points.    I now know that the woman had alzheimers but did not then.    My friend was deep in conversation with this womans husband who shared this with him.   Although it felt like a long hours journey I couldn't help but admire this woman's husband for carrying on and doing all the things they must have done before she became ill. 

That's the beauty of train travel you can choose to be open to conversations or if your not inclined you can get the book out; stick the headphones on or doze as is your want.   I would however make a plea for smiling at the stranger opposite you on your next train journey to see if a conversation opens up.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Yorkshire Sculpture Park - Jaume Plensa Exhibition

On my recent visit to Yorkshire my friend Sue suggested we go to the Jaume Plensa Exhibition   Having lived in Yorkshire I knew the reputation of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and knew it would be good and just how good.

I did not know the artist Jaume Plensa except that he is Spanish (Annie if you can manage it you must see his work)!

I took lots of pictures and I'll share them as I recall my sense of the exhibition itself.   
The artist used language and words to develop a curtain of poetry of language which visitors were encouraged to read and caress.   This reminded me of tibetan prayer wheels where if you turn the wheel the prayer is said.   This curtain allowed you to caress the words creating a tinkling sound of whispers.

 It was a glorious bright sunny day and the curtain was reflected on the opposite wall.  A range of world languages were use.

The exhibition was separated into internal and external exhibits.   One room housed a number of gongs which visitors were encouraged to hit with a mallet and listen to and feel the sound being made.   Each of the gongs made a different sound in the room and if you stood in front of one after giving it a hefty hit the sound reverbrated in your ribcage - very powerful.   The gongs had text written in the centre not readily seen on this picture.

Another of the internal exhibits was a room full of heads and again there were differences in terms of race but also of expression.   What were they thinking??????

Moving outside I was struck by two large see through head sculptures which were placed on top of the exhibition centre.  

There was something about being able to see through them and take in the landscape of the YSP that made it feel as if they belonged and in a surreal way made me think of Alan Bennett's - 'talking heads' series especially as they had rather a Churchillian look about them.

and I'll finish with a last piece a scuplture of a figure which you could walk inside of and made me feel that I was being hugged and wrapped in words.

This was the best exhibition I've been to in a while - if any of my readers get the chance to see Jaume Plensa's work grab it with both hands - you won't be disappointed.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Hot Toddy cure all

Apologies for my absence readers.   I've been off to Yorkshire catching up with friends and neighbours before the season of goodwill - now there's a thought does goodwill only happen at Christmastime?   I think not but it is nice to dedicate a season as a reminder for us.

Anyway the joys of catching up caught up with me in the form of 'dreaded lurgy' or cold/chest infection.

I am now surfacing from the duvet and looking out of my window onto a sunny interspersed with snow showers winter scene - brrrrr.  

I don't know about you but I hate being ill.   Thankfully I only catch a cold about 1/2 times a year which is just about the number I can cope with.

My tips for coping - a strong hot toddy before sleep.   Whilst I'm not recommending this as medication it somehow makes the feeling of being unwell bearable.

This set me thinking where does the 'hot toddy' idea come from.   Google searches turned up ideas such as:
  • it comes from India (toddy being a palm from which wine is made) and so like a lot of language did it come over to Scotland as part of our colonial past?
  • it comes from Tod's Well in Edinburgh - which used to supply water to the good people of that fair city
  • before the cocktail there was 'the toddy'
Does this matter - not a jot I say all I know is that when I'm feeling grumpy with a cold a 'hot toddy' eases my discomfort.   Here is my version:

A good slug of whisky (you might choose rum or brandy - your preference)
Add a dollop of honey and tsp. of fresh lemon juice (your preference might be sugar)
Add hot water to fill your mug
A sprinkle off nutmeg to finish and voila!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Quirks from a ....versatile blogger nominee!

Thank you Annie ( for this lovely nomination I can't remember the last time I was nominated for anything and the feeling is wonderful!

I sat back when I read your nomination and pondered (blogging is great for pondering I'm finding) on versatility which I associate with being adaptable and flexible.   Yes I thought I am those things when I'm in work and or indulging in the things I love such as travel; hiking and pointing the camera at something of interest.  

It's lovely to now link this description to my blogging which I would have described up to now as
' the randomness of a toy shop window".

Of course being nominated comes with responsibility as following the instructions from Annie I have to identify 5 other potential nominees as well as own up to 5 personal quirks.

On the nominations front I must be honest and say that I have not been very good at exploring the world of co-bloggers - this will be put to rights over the next month when I will explore with gusto in order to pass on 5 nominations so watch out if I visit your blog it is with a hidden purpose - oh I feel like a mystery shopper!

Turning now to the quirks - well my mind went blank and so I shared this task out to friends and asked them to come back to me with what they believe are my quirks so in no particular order:

My inability to go into a bookstore without buying a bookthis is so true I don't blink at spending £££ on books and do blink and splutter when it comes to clothes and other things.

My apre-walk ritual - of taking a warm long soak in the bath fortified by a large whisky and whatever book I'm reading at the time.

When the ironing basket gets full - I can only face it with the help of a good black & white movie to transport away from this most boring of tasks.

My face speaks before I do - I've never quite got the hang of 'masking' what I'm thinking much to the amusement of friends and colleagues alike who bring this to my attention - always after the event!   Ah well.

Never wearing skirts - and if the need arises floor length is my preference

So there you have it quirks and all!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Rambling a salve for big thoughts...........

Today I awoke to a beautiful bright if slightly misty November day.   What better way to celebrate its loveliness than to go for a ramble.   My chosen spot is not too far away from home just past the next village Inverkip and is a combination of the Overton Trail and the Greenock Cut.   This provides a 6/7 mile meander which looks down over the Firth of Clyde and on days like today the views take you over towards the Arrachar Alps.   I enjoy this walk and come up often to clear the head or just to use the space to work things out.
Looking over the Firth of Clyde towards the hills
My head today was puzzling over - poverty; what is the difference between then and now.   This and related thoughts have been running round my head after I enjoyed a theatre weekend in Inverness at the Eden Court Theatre to see Men Should Weep | National Theatre of Scotland.   
The play is set in Glasgow tenements in the 1930’s and paints a picture of the hardship and poverty of the time.   As I listened to the language and the portrayal of life my thoughts were reflecting ...... is poverty the same then and now?
On my ramble my thoughts started to make comparisons high unemployment – then and now; the cost of feeding families.   Then there was the ‘mission’ where families could make the case for hardship and be given food / clothing.   Today we have growing food banks which distribute donated food to struggling families / individuals.   The impact within the family of the daily grind of putting food on the table; the men trying to find work; the women working two cleaning jobs to bring money home; the stress of living causing arguments and escape through alcohol.
Social attitudes have changed between then and now especially in terms of the role of women and access to and the importance of education.   Although a quote from one of the songs sung during scene changes “ ye canna hae such refinements when ye’r struggling fir yer bread” makes me think are we going backwards will potential students choose work (any work) over the cost of education?
The songs were sung by Arthur Johnstone a well known Scottish folk singer who I first came across 30 years ago when he was part of a group called The Laggan.  Their songs uncompromising and reflecting life of the workers of the world from America; Australia; Spain and Scotland were delivered clearly, strongly and with passion.   Songs like ‘I am the Common Man’ and ‘Jamara/Bandiera Rosa’.
This is certainly a hard hitting play and one which has left an impression and while there is no doubt that we have moved on in this 21st century through technological and information access as well as social changes and improvements it strikes me that there are resonances between then and now.
Thank you Ena Lamont Stewart for bringing real life to the theatre then and for the impact the play continues to make. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A full on visit with Rebecca

Last week I had the joy of being visited by my granddaughter for a few days and what a credit she is to her Mum and Dad.   We filled our time with exploration of rock pools and collected a suitable number of shells which were taken home, washed and carefully set aside for the trip down south.
We also took a trip on the Rothesay Ferry which was the first time Rebecca had been on a boat.   There was too much going on for her not to be a good sailor.   Like her Granny she enjoys taking pictures and was armed with her camera to take pictures for her friends back at school.

We also baked up a storm with muffins, scones and pancakes adding to the larder and then just had a cuddle.   How enjoyable these cuddles are.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Work interrupting reverie.........and things breaking down!

I've been busy this past week working on a tender for a possible contract lots of effort and time goes into these things with rewards coming thin on the ground - still needs must when the devil drives and I'd be bored without some work coming in not say poorer.

The pressure of deadlines - and do printers 'know' when a deadline is lurking?   I'm sure that the printer gremlin was at work when my printer decided not to speak to my computer; to chew up paper and not spit it out; finally refusing to switch on at all.   Nothing for it but to check how cheaply I could get a new one.

Having said that I did manage to escape to the hills on Wednesday the only good weather day this past week.   Just an hour north of where I live there was snow on the tops!!!  

Picture taken on smartphone except I'm not smart enough to transfer it to PC yet as the smartphone software on my PC tells me it doesn't recognise my phone!   Stupid machine and why are they programmed to state the obvious or worse still try and second guess you when you create a document - no I am not writing a letter and yes I'm sure I want to delete this!!   Rant; rant.

In between thinking about the work deadline I'm getting ready for my granddaughter to visit next week - only one more sleep.   Don't know who is more excited!  

What happened yesterday - my sky box dies.   Thankfully engineer coming on Monday morning to fix as can't be without favourites like Peppa Pig and Dora the Explorer which are part of the night time ritual before book reading.  

In preparation - just to keep the Scottish / Irish roots alive for my Scottish/English granddaughter I'm going to introduce her to the 'Katie Morag' books by Mairi Hedderwick.   Katie lives on the Isle of Struay.

A fun packed week will be in store with promises having been made to explore rockpools; do some baking; visit a 'secret forest'; go on a ferry - lets hope I can keep up!

This morning I passed one of my neighbours as I was taking my broken printer to the garage for storing until I can get to recycle it.   Bemoaning my two broken pieces of electrical equipment Eddie advised me to 'break a match' which would then be the 3rd thing.   Why wait when you can take charge - so I did.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Feather Quills - the only way to learn to knit

When I was at primary school around 7 years old we were asked who in the class could knit.  There were only two of us who could and this is the story of how I learned.
My Aunt Catherine taught me to knit during one summer on holiday in Cruit Island, Donegal.   Catherine was my Dad’s sister and she lived on the farm looking after my Grandfather and doing all the usual tasks like feeding chickens etc.   During the summer the house was always busy because other uncles and aunts would come back and visit especially to help on the farm taking in the hay; tending to the cows, gathering crops or fixing up the house.   One year my uncle Dominick caught this huge salmon which was the first time I had ever seen and tasted salmon.   I remember it being divided up so that it could be shared with everyone and the feast enjoyed - with potatoes of course!
Anyway back to the knitting.   Catherine was a professional knitter; big boxes of wool would arrive which she would turn into jumpers, cardigans and shawls which were then posted off.   The type of knitting Catherine did was of course Aran knitting and some of the names of the stitches I remember her telling me about were blackberry stitch; the diamond pattern; cable and moss stitches.   
I must have pestered her about learning or more likely she tried to keep me still and in the one place.
At that time in the late 1950’s the knitting needles were made of steel or some other metal because I remember the clicking noise they made as Catherine knitted away.   I’m sure she didn’t trust me with the real thing and not surprising since I would have only been 5/6 years old.  
Catherine made knitting needles for me from stripping the long tail feathers from the Rooster – I’m sure he was not best pleased with losing a couple of his tail feathers.   The feathers were stripped back leaving the white quill.   These were to be my knitting needles.  
I have shared this story before with friends and always get a quizzical look and I'm sure that using quills was the way Catherine was taught and so this was the method she passed on to me.
I can’t remember the trial and error of learning to knit and I’m sure there must have been some – either it was something I just ‘took to’ or Catherine was a really good teacher.  
Catherine never used a knitting pattern and had a great knack of just looking at someone and knowing what size to make the jumper or cardigan.    In fact many years later when my own daughter was about 2 years old I sent up to date pictures over to her and she presented me with a beautiful cardigan which fitted perfectly.
So when it came to that day in school – imagine my disappointment when the first thing we knitted in class was a dishcloth out of some grey material which was not even wool.
Now – to answer your question do I still knit?  
Well I still have my knitting needles (you'll be pleased to read that I've graduated to using the real thing) and have knitted for friends and family when the mood takes me.   I did lots of knitting when my children were small and knitted for my nephews when they were growing up.   Yes I love Aran knitting however I follow patterns and for me it’s a winter pastime which means the time is now right for passing this skill on to my own grand-daughter.    With quills or not with quills - that is the question???

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Join me on one of my morning walks

This walk is from Lunderston Bay along the shore towards Inverkip.

Lunderston Bay is popular with dog owners who enjoy playing on the beach.   During the warm summer days (yes we get them occassionally) the Bay is used by everyone just enjoying the opportunity to paddle, explore under rocks or chill.

This is the path a bit wet underfoot so was wearing my wellies.   It had rained heavily the day before.   At this point the path is between fields and the shore.   A little further on the path is between trees and the shore.

The path meanders as do I.

Another Hut - (I've posted about these before).   This one looks like it is built behind a wall fortress making me thing of 'home and castle'.   No-one was at home though.

A little further on there are fields of wild rhubarb - (note to self to check this out next year to catch the new shoots).

Then I'm distracted by the seaplane.   This flies during the summer from Loch Lomond Shores.   I believe it is possible to charter them for a flight - maybe for something special?????

This is my favourite section with the trees on one side of the path and the water on the other.   I like walking in trees because it feels like being given a hug by nature.   This with the sound of water lapping - heaven.

I stroll on towards Inverkip and then return by the same route saying hello to other ramblers; dog walkers and passers by.

A good start to the day.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Rescue update

Sadly last night I saw a BBC news report that one of the rescued divers from Wemyss Bay had died as a result of the 'bends'.

Having watched the rescue services yesterday their speed, efficiency and effectiveness was outstanding.

To the divers family and friends - I am so sorry.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Air and Sea Rescue

This was a normal Sunday when all of a sudden I heard and saw a Royal Navy Rescue helicopter literally outside my living room window.

A small boat and its passengers appeared to be in trouble.   The helicopter was joined by an RNLI boat and the Wemyss Bay to Rothesay Ferry moved from its usual sailing lane to take up a position just south of the small boat.

Before the helicopter came it was clear that a diver that was in trouble and it was proving difficult to get the diver back on the boat. 

I was taking pictures I found myself holding my breath not knowing what was going to happen next as I watched the RN send a person down to the boat then airlift someone off.

 I do hope that all is well with the diver.  


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gourock - Cloch Road Huts

I decided to take a morning walk along Cloch Road towards Gourock yesterday morning.   This is a road I've driven many times and never realised that there were huts hidden by trees facing the shore.  

Curiosity got the better of me and I returned with camera to take photos.


This one has a lucky horseshoe above the door and has been given a name - Colonsay.   It is easy to get a sense of how close to the shore they are from this picture. 

They seem to be made out of different material: corrugated iron; wood; sheet metal and brick.


There are quite a few along this stretch of shore:

All of them seem to have a form of heating given the pipes coming out of the roofs.     They've been made into a sort of home from home.   Some have fencing round the front and you can see the upturned boat in the far ground.

At a guess - the huts are probably used for fishing or they could they be a seaside version of the garden shed?

No one was at home during my visit and I'm going to keep a lookout because I have more questions of curiosity:
  • when were they built
  • are they owned / bought
  • have they been kept in families
  • are they just an escape from the daily grind
So - if there is anyone reading this who knows - let me know or better still if you have one of these huts - invite me for tea/coffee.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Between checking on my family tree and writing about memories of ‘growing up’ my taste buds started watering for Irish Soda Bread.   Well it’s some time since I made this under the watchful eye of my Mum but like in life - if you don’t have a go – you’ll never know.
When I watched my Mum she never used weighing scales and I remember her just using her hands to bring the flour; baking soda; salt; sugar and buttermilk together.   Sometimes she would add fruit or treacle to the mix just to make a change.   I’m sure the purists wouldn’t have approved.   The beauty of Irish Soda Bread though is that it can be made within an hour.
In one of my earlier posts I gave you a tour of my Mum’s house on Cruit Island and talked about cooking in large pots over the fire.   My Aunt Lizzie was the only one of my Mum’s sisters who stayed on the island with my grandfather and from her I remember churning milk / cream to make butter.   This was done in the butter churn which was a wooden tub that had a wooden lid with a hole in the middle.   Before putting the lid into the top of the butter churn the plunger was fitted through the hole in the middle. 
 In order to make butter from the milk the plunger was pushed up and down to turn the milk into cream.   I do remember my arms getting sore and tired from pushing and pulling the plunger up and down and I probably didn’t do it very long.   At some point I can remember my Aunt Lizzie drawing off liquid – buttermilk to use in baking.   Once the butter was ready it was patted into squares using wooden paddles with ridges on them and wrapped in greased paper.
Well enough reminiscing – let’s get to it and make soda bread.
I decided that I wouldn’t just rely on memory and so searched for a recipe which was like my Mum’s and I found one by Rachel Allen:
450g (1lb) plain flour
1 level tsp caster sugar
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
350-425ml (12-15fl oz) buttermilk or sour milk

1. Preheat the oven to 230°C (425°F), Gas mark 8.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in most of the buttermilk (leaving about 60ml/2fl oz in the measuring jug). Using one hand with your fingers outstretched like a claw, bring the flour and liquid together, adding more buttermilk if necessary. Do not knead the mixture or it will become heavy. The dough should be fairly soft, but not too wet and sticky.
3. When it comes together, turn onto a floured work surface and bring together a little more. Pat the dough into a round about 4cm (1½in) deep and cut a deep cross in it.
4. Place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6 and cook for 30 minutes more. When cooked, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the base and be golden in colour. I often turn it upside down for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

I’m pleased to report that the result was a success which I enjoyed with butter and apricot preserve.

Lovely crunchy crust and ready to eat - one slice is never enough!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Thar she blows!!!

Well I was at home yesterday - good choice let me tell you as 'the tail end' of hurricane Katia struck.
I've lived here in Wemyss Bay for 2 years now and this was the stongest I've heard the wind and seen the sea rolling in.

If you've read my earlier post you will have read how I wax lyrical about the charms of Wemyss Bay and charming it is.   Yesterday however while the wind roars past my flat creating all sorts of internal whooshes; whistles; cracks and noise I was cautiously checking door and window frames for security against the storm.   There is something weird when double glazing appears to shimmer in a high wind.   All this while I'm distracted by the rolling waves from the river estuary below.

The Rothesay ferry which I can usually see from my windows was not running and neither were some of the trains further along the coast since the waves are now crashing over the lines and bringing down leaves and trees.

Power was on and off which suggests that there is no major line down but are some pictures:

Crashing waves

Spot the tree in the right side of the picture bending with the wind.

Rolling waves

....and today the wind and rain continue.    No-one can say the weather is boring!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The 'Sally Rod'

My Aunt Catherine had one of these ‘switches’ hanging over the fireplace.   Let’s be clear I’m not talking about an electricity switch – oh no.   This was a willow switch which was the threat in ever present sight against mis-behaviour.  
I was always disappearing and if not exploring then I’d be visiting the other houses round about.   No-one’s door was shut and indeed if you passed a door without going in to say hello and have a chat great offence was caused.    The visits were usually helped with a biscuit or slice of newly baked soda bread.   This usually meant that when Catherine sent me on an errand I would take absolutely ages as everybody’s door I passed had to be crossed.
One night my sister was also staying at Catherine’s so there was ‘double trouble’.
Catherine was one of 9 children and as was customary it was expected that one of the girls, usually the youngest, would stay at home to look after parents as they got older.   I know that Catherine had not always stayed at home I can remember my Mum saying that Catherine had left to go off to Aberdeen to work ‘on the fishing’ which meant working on gutting and preparing the fish for sale.   Six of the nine from my Dad’s family went off to work in Scotland / England (and one went off to Australia) as that was where the work was and money was needed to keep the home and farm together.
A story from my Mum which I think is sad and I like to think true, was that while Catherine was working in Aberdeen she met a young man.    One year when Catherine was back home visiting she was making arrangements for him to come over to meet the family so everyone was expecting an announcement.    Catherine was not the youngest daughter – the youngest was Sally.   The story goes that that same year Sally up sticks and left leaving no word as to where she was going.  
Catherine’s future changed that year and she became the daughter who stayed at home.
This digression from the ‘sally rod’ explains her lack of ‘knowing’ about lively children.
Anyway for some misdemeanour, lost in the mist of time, the rod came down off the shelf above the fireplace and my sister and I took flight as we thought she was really going to use it on us.   We ran out into what can only be described as the most ‘wuthering heights’ of wildest nights ever of thunder, lightening, rain and pitch darkness and I mean pitch the only sparkles of light were coming out of tiny windows in far off cottages.  
I was leading the way desperately trying to remember the pattern of fields between Catherine’s house and my Aunt Lizzie’s because that was where we were heading my sister was behind me holding on to my jumper at the back and both of us were trying to keep tears at bay while battling the wind.   I knew that one pattern involved taking a sharp right turn before heading straight again and that once we were on this straight bit we would come directly to Lizzie’s.   Outside Lizzie’s we could hear Rusty starting to bark which scared us even more as we didn’t think he would recognise us in the dark and we began shouting and crying.
Lizzie and my Mum came out to the sight of my sister and I absolutely soaking, terrified and telling the tale of Catherine with the ‘sally rod’ in between great gulping sobs.
Did I stay at Catherine’s again – yes all was forgotten.   Was the rod ever used – no I’m pleased to say and that wasn’t because I wasn’t trying!
This is a picture of my Aunt Catherine:

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The charms of Wemyss Bay

Firstly where is it?    It is a small village just north of Largs on the West Coast of Scotland and even has its own website:
I decided to move back to Scotland and in July 2009 this became a reality when I found a wonderful flat which I'm renting looking over the River Clyde.    I live on the top floor (great for keeping fit – especially on shopping day).   So what catches my eye from the window or balcony:
Rothesay Ferry which takes 30 minutes to transport you to Rothesay and the Isle of Bute.    The Ferry and Rail Station at Wemyss synchronise trains and sailings and I will share later some pictures of the Rail Station which hasn’t changed since the turn of the century.

Waverley Steamer which runs during the summer.   Fund-raising is currently taking place to keep the steamer going next year.   

The incongruity of Sub and Sail.   Submarine heading on its way out to sea and sail boat crossing watery paths.

and beautiful sunsets!

This year the Tall Ships Race came into Greenock and I was transported to a different time as sail boats from different eras gracefully sailed past.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Jellyfish and Bridget Jones

I relaxed last night by watching the 2nd Bridget Jones film – Edge of Reason.   One scene involved Bridget and her three friends trying to avoid an acquaintance who they called “the jellyfish”.
What followed in the film was a barbed exchange between ‘the jellyfish’ and Bridget.
The synchronicity of watching the film after starting this blog urged me to think about how to respond to such people.   Do you?:
A             smile and count to 10
B             bite back!
C             make a joke
D             just be happy that you’re more optimistic than they are
Answers as a comment please.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Welcome to my Mum’s house

Let me take you on a journey back in actual time between mid 1950’s – 1960’s it will in reality be like going back even further.   How much further – I’ll let you decide.
Imagine you are standing in front of a white painted farmhouse / cottage with 2 rooms (a living room and through on to a bedroom).   The living room area is thatched and the bedroom area is tiled.   There are 3 small windows across the front of the house.   I took my children to visit when they were wee and my son kept running in and out through the door which for him was the effect of passing through 2 FT thick walls into a much smaller world.   Certainly not ‘tardis-like’.
Straight ahead from the front door is an old fashioned dresser where the plates and other delftware lie on display.   Next to the dresser is a box bed covered with a thick red curtain which hangs down to the floor and the rings which hold the curtain up rattle when you open and close them.   This is my Grandfather’s bed and one which I remember being in as one summer holiday I was ill with mumps.   It was a treat though getting in the box bed which is side on to a huge fireplace.  
The fireplace is not just for keeping the house cosy it is also the cooker.   The back wall of the fire is painted silver (I now realise it reflected the heat outwards).     Hanging down the chimney is a huge chain onto which various shapes and sizes of black iron heavy pots and kettles are placed over a peat fire. The stewpot was straight out of the witches’ scene in Macbeth.   The pot used for bread making is much flatter and narrower.   I can remember my Aunt Lizzie baking bread and laying hot coals with long tongs on top of the lid at the end of the cooking time to crisp up the bread crust.   Along the outside window wall is a table and chairs and I’m sure some other bits and pieces.
Leading off from the living room through a door and down a couple of steps is the bedroom in which there is a couple of high old fashioned beds and a set of drawers.   Going back into the living room there is a door at the other end which leads into a space where things like scythes; rakes; tin bath and of course the butter churn are kept.
What have I left out – of course the sink where the washing is done?   What sink?   The water is hauled up from a local well every day and my memory fails me as to how far away it was but what I do remember is it being cold and sparkly.   Dishes are washed in a big enamel dish and clothes in the tin bath.   
There is one other amenity which you might be looking for as part of your visit – the toilet.   Ahhhh. Outside the house as you look to the left from the front door is the byre – and I don’t need to say anymore!
In this house my Mum grew up with her 5 sisters and 1 brother.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Why - Avoid the Jellyfish

I have my good friend Annie Taylor to thank for this.
She wrote a memory on her blog ( and this triggered lots of memories which I shared with her. In the list was "avoiding the jellyfish" which was a pastime indulged as a child on holiday in Ireland. My grandparents lived on the West Coast of Ireland in a wee place called Cruit Island. The Atlantic roars in and brings with it lots of jellyfish which would get pushed on to the strand / beach. As children my many cousins and I when we visited for the summer had to be wary and navigate our way around them to avoid being stung.

Annie's suggestion of 'blogging' memories stuck!
So once explored and started what do I call this blog? For no reason that I can explain the phrase 'avoiding the jellyfish' stuck in my head and so for readers out there this will be a blog of memories about running free every day; clambering over rocks; wandering over the hill, thunderstorms, family and neighbours and all this while being encouraged to feedchickens; learn how to milk cows; churn butter; bake soda bread and learn to knit.

This and other more current random musings will I hope amuse and entertain.