Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Sunday Post

Small Lochs

He's obsessed with clocks, she with politics,
He with motor cars, she with Amber and jet.
There's something to be obsessed with for all of us.
Mine is lochs, the smaller the better.
I look at the big ones – Loch Ness, Loch Lomond,
Loch Shin, Loch Tay – and I bow respectfully,
but they are too grand to be invited home.
How can I treat them in the way they'd expect?

But the Dog Loch runs in eights when I go walking.
The cat Loch purrs on the windowsill. I wade
along Princes Street through Loch na Barrack.
In smoky bars I tell them like beads.

And don't think it's just the big ones that are lordily named
I met one once and when I asked what she was called
the little thing said (without blushing, mind you)
The Loch Of The Corrie Of The Green Waterfalls.

I know they are just H2O in a hollow.
Yet not much time passes without me thinking of them.
Dandling lilies and talking sleepily
And standing huge mountains on their watery heads.

Norman MacCaig
December 1974.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Hello my wee blog,

I was thinking about doing a blog post about maps and history the other day. I never studied history at school but became interested in it  across the years after I'd left. Over time I became interested in maps too. To be honest, I've always been interested in maps. Even as a small child I remember creating fantasy maps of islands where X marked the spot for pirate treasure, naming the mountains, bays and inlets with terrifying and bloody names. Too much childhood time perhaps spent with Robert Louis Stevenson and his tales of 'Treasure Island', 'Robinson Crusoe' and even 'Kidnapped'. Even now I'll often spend time standing in front of one of the several old maps of Scotland I have on the walls of the 'library', lost in thought about this or that. I became interested in languages too and soon began connecting maps and language. It was this connection that set me off on the train of thought about what a post would look like I suppose.

I was thinking about how people throughout time have used their language and understanding, folklore and history, to help establish and understand their place on the landscape by naming what they saw around them, whether that was based on a desription of the shape of a mountain, naming the place after the prominent trees that grew along a particular part of a glen or river, or the name of a person or incident associated with a place. The first people would have used those terms to describe and communicate ways to navigate across and around the land from time immemorial and now, with our modern maps and all the information they contain, those names are printed on mountain, hill and moor, giving us a fix on place and many clues - albeit often obscure ones - about our history, culture and linguistic heritage. {And that's not even touching on religious, military or political influence through time!}

These thoughts have also spawned several ideas about postings on language and pre-history too as this area is full to the brim with opportunity on that score. But, I've been thinking about modern language and its story too, the difference between the Scots language of the lowlands and standard English. I just don't know if I could do any of it justice without making an epic out of it and that would be hard to read, which isn't the aim of blogging is it?

So I suppose I'm trying to prepare you for what's to come in a way.  For those of you who have been looking out for tales of Jess and early morning musings, I'm sure those will come too but may need to wait until I get the thoughts above either organised or out of my head altogether. I just hope it happens soon.

See you later.

Listening to.

Women - Know your Limits......

A step too far......

Let's just say.

No Darling, your not wrong.

{You're just not as right as I am.}

I'm going to get in so much trouble for this!!!!


Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Sunday Post

This week's Sunday post is another one from the pen of Norman MacCaig. This poem is dedicated to his friend Hugh McDiarmid, a very well-known figure in Scottish literature. McDiarmid was a poet, author and political activist, famous as a founder member of the Scottish National party. He was later expelled from the SNP for Communist activities and expelled from the Communist Party for nationalist activities. His works use words and phrases from colloquial Scots dialects mixed with English and the occasional Gaelic word. His most famous work is 'A Drunk Man Looks At The Thistle'

After His Death.

It turned out
that the bombs he had thrown
raised buildings:

That the acid he had sprayed
had painfully opened
the eyes of the blind.

Fishermen hauled
prize-winning fish
from the water he had polluted.

We sat with astonishment
enjoying the shade
of the vicious words he had planted.

The government decreed that
on the anniversary of his birth
the people should observe
two minutes pandemonium.

Norman MacCaig
April 1971.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

On the tip of my tongue.

Hello ma wee blog,

I'm standing in line to buy something at the bookshop, idling the waiting time away in people watching as per usual. The girl behind the counter is obviously a student, possibly working on a summer job . It's obvious that she's not having a good day. She's slim, blonde and trying her very best, but somehow it's just not working for her. Her face is flushed and she looks exasperated. Everything she seems to try is turning into a bit of a disaster. Clearly technology is not her forte and the till is not being a friend. Customers and customer service is perhaps something of a training need, but maybe I'm being unkind, perhaps it's just that being so flustered she can't seem to do anything right. She looks on the point of tears.

As the lane slowly moves forward and I get closer, things aren't getting any better for the young girl. By the time I'm at the head of the queue it's clear that the next person she's going to be serving will be me. As I step forward she puts her hands on the countertop and blows upwards across her flushed face, making her fringe flick outwards for a second. Yep - definitely not a good day!

I look at her and without smiling and say, "I'm looking for a book that helps me cope with rejection without resorting to violence. Do you have it? "

No, I don't say that. But it's on the tip of my tongue.

I'm cruel, but I'm not that cruel.

(Not today anyway)

See you later.

Listening to.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Back from holiday.

Plant-Pot Ornament.
Hullo ma wee blog,

That's us back home from holiday in Switzerland. It's been great to see family again and as usual I took loads of photographs so we'll have lots of memories of our time there with the family. One of the reasons for the visit was because the lovely G's uncle had been very ill. It was great to see that he had made some huge improvement since the lovely G had seen him last in February of this year, even though he was still very frail. It's hard to see someone who was very powerful laid low by encroaching old age. The improvement helped the lovely G settle down and enjoy the holiday and gave me the chance to do some minor tasks around the place as a way of helping out G's Aunt and simply saying thanks for all the times we have stayed with them. So, I did some gardening and took over responsibility for making sure that the vegetable plot was kept well watered in the heat.

Path im Wald.


Over the last week, the temperature rose every day until it was almost too much for me to bear. I struggle in the heat and become quite grumpy, especially as tiredness begins to affect me. So, despite the fact that it's always amazing to see family and that we love the place so much, it was nice to step onto the plane in 33° heat and get off two hours later in a much more accommodating 18°. No matter how much I love a place or a holiday, I also can't help looking forward to my own bed either, so it was also great that night to slip between the sheets here at home once more. Since then there's been lots of lovely rain to keep the temperature down and welcome me home. Some people are never satisfied are they???

Here are some more photos from holiday.

On a Woodland walk.

Cut branches.

Kids day out.

Dog training

What Makes You Think This Is Your Chair?.

Best Side Please?

See you later.

Listening to

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Sunday Post

This weeks Poem:

The King’s English

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.

Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
That looks like beard but sounds like bird.
And dead: It’s said like bed, not bead --
For goodness’ sake, don’t call it deed!

Watch out for meat and great and threat…
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.
A moth is not the moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, nor broth in brother.

And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s dose and rose and lose --
Just look them up -- and goose and choose.

And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword.
And do and go, then thwart and cart,
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Why, sakes alive!
I’d learned to speak it when I was five.
And yet, to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn’t learned it at fifty-five.


Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Sunday Post

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

There Will Come Soft Rains
by Sara Teasdale

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A River Runs Through It.......

A Traditional Rhine-boat

Hullo ma wee blog,

That could be the theme for week one of the holiday in all probability. Staying close to the Rhine {pronounced 'Rhee' in this area}, Schaffhausen built on the bank and on trade from the river and Rhee-fall, biggest waterfall in Europe and still impressive even with only half the normal flow due to the dry weather this year. Today we continued the theme with a trip to Stein-Am-Rhee, one of those places that we really like and visit every time we come here. Stein-Am-Rhine is a small town of painted medieval houses a gentle couple of hours on a cruiser upstream from Schaffhausen through woods, vinyards and lovely little villages. On another boiler of a day, it's a great way to stay cool as the water takes the heat down and the breeze blowing gently down the river valley keeps you refreshed.

Two hours of scenery and people watching brought us to the town in time for a small lunch and a cool drink under huge parasols to keep the sun off. Stepping off the boat was like stepping into an oven for the first few moments until you began to acclimatise a little. Time though for us pale skinned Scots who are unused to sun like this to be careful and keep the sun-lotion topped up and stay out of sun where we can at this hottest time of the day.

Some people from the boat trip.


Chatting with a young boy

Enough already

A hard day

A quiet hour or two for a lunch - Rosti for the Lovely G and Saurli {pork}-schnitzel for me - and a bit of sightseeing and shopping before we caught a train back downstream to Schaffhausen then a bus {after only a minutes wait please note Scottish bus companies!} back to the village where we stopped at a cafe for a drink and something cool { I had lemon and plum sorbets while G went for banana and mango ice creams}

Stein Am Rhein

Windows St -Am - Rh.

The butchers shop

And some more water to finish off with...

See you later.

Listening to:

Monday, 4 July 2011

Randenturm, Rhinefall and a really nice BBQ

          A Flower-head in the house trough.
              {Also great for weary feet!}

Hullo ma wee blog,

Yesterday was hot.

We didn't want to go far as a result, but also because we had been invited by one of the Lovely G's cousins to their family house in a nearby village for a BBQ in the late afternoon. We've been to a few of Ruedi's BBQ's before and he is a bit of a 'Grillmeister', so not only was I looking forward to it but I definitely didn't want to be having a big lunch beforehand.

Looking down on the village from The Randenturm.
G's Aunt and Uncle's house is the shiny roof

In the end we decided we would go to the Rhinefall, which is only about 3km away. We took the bus to Neuhausen just beside the Rhinefall as we were both suffering from the effects of a walk to the Beringen Randenturm {Watchtower} which is in the forest above the village. Again, as it had been boiling hot, we'd slightly overdone it and were both suffering from 'quibbly legs' by the time we'd returned the day before.

Here's a few shots from the last two days;

The Rhinefalls.

How many tourists can you fit on a set of stairs.

The best - and coolest - place

No matter how much water there is around
it's nice to find some more!

Can I go for a swim?

Evening garden.

see you later.

Listening to.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Sunday Post

If we lived in a world where bells
truly say 'ding-dong' and where 'moo'
is a rather neat thing
said by a cow,
I could believe you could believe
that these sounds I make in the air
and these shapes with which I blacken white paper
have some reference
to the thoughts in my mind
and the the feelings in the thoughts.

As things are
if I were to gaze in your eyes and say
'bow-wow' or 'quack' you must take that to be
a dispairing anthology of praises'
a concentration of the opposites
of reticence, a capsule
of my meaning of meaning
that I can no more write down
than I could spell the sound of the sigh
I would then utter, before
dingdonging and mooing my way
through all the lexicons and languages
of imprecision.

By Norman MacCaig, October 1964.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Relaxing with a Camera

Access to the den is from the rear of the house barn

Hullo ma wee blog,

Behind the house there's a small shed with a vine covered arbour attached. It's a cosy hideaway to get out of hot sun to sit in the shade or just to spend a bit of time in of an evening while there's still warmth in the air. We use it on holiday as a favourite reading or chatting spot and spend a fair bit of time there.

      Which gets you to here.........

Yesterday we spent the day here at the house just chilling, doing some watering of the garden as it's been so dry here this summer. After the vegetable plots had been given a good hosing and all the flower baskets and borders had been thoroughly saturated I spent an hour or two with a beer and a book in the shade of the den. I had my camera with me too as I find it hard to be without it hereabouts. There's always so much to see, so much thats worthy of an attempt at a photograph that I always want to kick myself if the camera's not somewhere near to hand.

These are some of the photos from the den yesterday:

See you later.

Friday, 1 July 2011


Klosterli - G's Aunt and Uncle's house.

Hullo ma wee blog,

Well, how's about this for a caper. International blogging that is. International because currently I'm sitting in the lounge of my Lovely G's Aunt and Uncle in Switzerland tapping out a little post to say that I may be absent for a few days or even I may not. depending on how the mood takes me.

We've come over for a couple of weeks, to see family and recharge batteries, take in a few sights and spend some time in the sun. We're staying in a small village near Schaffhausen and the Rhinefall in the very north of the country. It's nice to walk through the village and have people passing say 'Gruetzi' {Hello} to you. Almost everyone, young and old, will say this as they pass. It's a very nice and quaint custom which is still strong here. Much nicer than just passing you by. {I can't help remembering the scene in 'Crocodile Dundee' where he says 'G'day' to everyone he's passing in New York though}

Rhinefalls - picture Wikipedia

See you later.

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...