Thursday, 24 July 2014

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony

I've just finished watch the Opening Ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and found it very touching. There is always some anxiety in wondering how your city will present itself to the world but this was a really lovely ceremony. I was not completely taken with the initial stages which seemed very 'bitty' but, as the athletes filed in, the ceremony seemed to develop its stride and purpose by capturing the welcoming spirit. Even the speeches were succinct, dignified and underlined the message of welcome. It will be interesting to see how much the event raises for UNICEF as this will be another strand of the commitment to creating a legacy of common good.

It was fabulous to see each and every team being cheered into the stadium and watching the excitement on the faces of the athletes. It was particularly heartening to hear the roared cheers for our nearest neighbours, England, particularly after all the nonsense which suggested they would be treated in any less than an hospitable manner. I cannot abide malicious mischief-making. As for Team Scotland the delight on the faces of the athletes rendered the strange kit meaningless as they all shone with pride as the stadium erupted. Well done too to the wee Scottie dogs leading the teams out.

As with all events there is always a little hiccup and Prince Imran and Sir Chris Hoy wrestling to liberate the Queen's message from the baton got funnier as it went along. It looked like the Prince was just not getting it even after Chris Hoy loosened it and showed him what to do. I did wonder if they were going to have to resort to upending it and giving it a wallop on the rail to get the message out. However, the best bit was Chris Hoy's spontaneous 'good grief' eye roll at the caper. It was just so natural and seemed to say "Help ma boab...!".

I have taken some local pictures over the last few of weeks that I'll aim to get written into posts. I am not a fan of spectator sports so I can only offer some local flavour. Sadly, I have absolutely no competitive tendencies so will probably only snatch glances of the action on the news. I'm also not sure how this insanely hot weather will affect the local athletes as we are much more used to being kept cool and damp so they might have to pop them in the fridge for half and hour before their events.

I do hope that all the teams get a chance to enjoy the sights and culture of the city and may the best athletes win and enjoy their moments of glory.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A Message from The Sponsor...

Now this is more like it. This is much more like the Glasgow humour that I know and love. On the way to the supermarket I saw this sign right beside the Squinty Bridge over the Clyde and nearly wet myself laughing. I have absolutely no idea if this advert refers to the deeply unfortunate Scottish Commonwealth Games Parade Outfits, or to some earlier campaign, but either way it could not be more apt.
 What made it even funnier was when I got to the supermarket at the entrance I saw this display proudly asserting Irn-Bru's sponsorship of the Games....
 Irn-Bru are known for their wickedly funny adverts and, whether this was intentional or not, it might just be one of their best!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Emperor's New Commonwealth Games Outfits

Do you remember the 70's with naff patterned fabric and men's foray into colour? Well lucky you as it's obviously back to have another go at trying to be fashionable. Bonus points too if you remember the dancers from STV's Thingummyjig.

I'm not into the Games themselves but as it is showcasing my city and country then it is reasonable to have an opinion on how we present ourselves to the world. These outfits are dreadful and the tailoring and fit is woeful. There is nothing innovative, stylish or inspirational about them that shows pride in Scottish athletes at the pinnacle of their prowess.
Rethink and change the official Scottish uniform for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

The Men's 'blouses' are in a hideous turquoise pattern and don't even fit the models properly. The mustard socks are pretty vile but on the positive side Scots don't generally tan well so this is probably the nearest thing to a tan we'll see on legs!

The poor ladies are the recipients of a tie front gown in a pattern and style which is more commonly seen in the waiting rooms of the mammogram or ECG clinic. In true hospital style the 'goonie' is accessorised with a blanket in case they get cold while waiting. I wonder if the handbag contains a parade invitation or an appointment card?

I love seeing men in a kilt as it usually denotes a special occasion and I actually rather like stylish modern twists. This tartan is not great but I can appreciate it is hard to create a totally new colourway with all the variants already available. However, navy, purple and white would have been a much better starting point rather than colours made to appeal to your nana for her new riser-recliner chair.

Initially the online Evening Times reported that the designer was proudly asserting that she didn't expect everyone would like it. Yesterday she claimed she was now a victim of 'bullying'

On the news tonight the Sports Minister praised the outfits for being very visual and easy to see on camera (yer not joking there, Missus!) and urged people to set aside their views and get behind Team Scotland. What she didn't make clear was how far exactly one would have to be for the nightmarish vision to recede.....?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Rollercoaster report of the week

I have lots of nascent blogposts I would like to write but simply don't have enough time to write them, or more accurately wait for blogger to load the pictures. So instead of not posting I am just going to do a sweep of the week then do the others with pictures when I've got more time. Sorry if this is only vaguely coherent and swings from plus to minus but it matches my week!

My chest infection and sinusitis is not yet gone and probably needs a trip to the GP tomorrow and another week's blast of antibiotics. I am miles better than I was which is a huge relief. I'm still not able to sleep flat but I think in another few days that will sort itself out. I am fairly certain, in retrospect, that the infections got hold partly due to medication that I am on but mainly due to the calamitous amount of stress and concern that has been around me for these past few weeks.

My Mother has been attacking her carers and the other vulnerable residents over the past few weeks in explosive outbursts of purest venom. Interestingly she never attacks anyone who might reciprocate so I struggle to believe it is 'just' her condition as she is surprisingly selective. It has been worrying as I don't know why she is doing this, sickening to see the bruising, gouges and scratches on those she has attacked and shameful that this is my mother. I have also had to go up and down to support the staff as, although they are brilliant and only call if she has gone off totally, I can still handle my Mother better. My chest infection has put paid to this since Monday as taking a rip roaring respiratory infection into a care home is dangerous and stupid. Instead of giving me a rest this has made me berate myself as being restricted to telephone calls meant I couldn't give her a present on my birthday as my thank you to her for giving birth to me which I've done since I was nine years old. She'd no idea it was my birthday but this didn't help me stop feeling guilty.

Magic, my sweet cat, went back to the vet hospital to be checked and the good news is things are improving clinically but she is still not eating which is worrying and baffling. Her vet is most supportive and has called every day to ensure any changes can be made or problems picked up promptly. This meant there were additional trips to the vet school too for additional medications to be added to see if they would improve things. A variety of cat illness supplies had to be sourced and although I am so grateful for the internet it all still adds up and the money just seems to be flowing through my fingers. I've been so grateful for practical support from a friend in helping me with the feed and care set up for Magic which has been invaluable. I'm also trying to decide which pet insurance policy would be right for the younger cat. If he became seriously ill that could tip us over the edge and I could not face making a choice over who to treat. Magic is uninsurable due to her condition and age but the little one can be covered. Advice and support from fellow cat bloggers has been a great help too.

A close friend has been the victim of a nasty financial crime by someone she trusted and there was a worrying period this week where things had to be checked to ensure that I had not been a collateral victim too. This would have been quite the worst timing but luckily, for me at least, it looks like I have not been affected. However, I am still worried for my friend who has had to disclose what happened, the impact on her and the destruction of her trust by the perpetrator.

In all the chaos, I'd even forgot my physio appointment. When I called to apologise and rebook I got one for the following day. I should probably have said no but I felt bad for missing the last one. However, I was very limited in what could be achieved especially as I was more breathless than I was prepared to admit to. I was able to walk slowly or talk briefly not both so he settled for advice instead of testing my exercise tolerance.

I am increasing my working hours now as I have used up all of last year's holidays and my phased return. I am delighted to be back at work as I enjoy my job and like my colleagues. I am also grateful to have been so well supported but I am concerned that I'll be up the mark and manage the full week.

I am also another year older-woo hoo! This year I got a long service extra day off which I used for my birthday. I am normally on holiday now but as my gammy knee wont take me anywhere it seemed kind of futile and my petted lip is threatening to suffocate me. I'm insisting this is only a postponement till I am fitter as I just cant see the point in driving all the way to the Peak District to stare at it through the car windscreen then drive home again.

A wonderful friend offered me a Grand Day Out as part of my birthday treat and another friend made me an amazing meal the evening before. At first I was going to decline both as I was breathless, exhausted, concerned about leaving the cat any longer than necessary and felt as though the week was just a series of demands and must do's and worries. However, both were able to accommodate the essential timing for cat feeds and must do's etc. So I made the decision to dial down the worry for one whole day and evening and stop pretending I was what was holding the universe together with the result that I had the most marvellous occasions. There were special perfect gifts, beautiful cards and lots of heart-warming kindness which made me feel most special. I also managed to get to a book launch and have the latest James Oswald autographed. I love having a new birthday novel and use it as a sort of diary as I note where I am and what I am doing each time I start to read it. This means if I reread it, I also get a little reminder what I was doing the first time I read it.

Every summer I usually have a big personal reflective point at the summer solstice and stay up to see the dawn. This year unintentionally I watched the dawn rise as I sat in the garden worrying and praying for news of my little cat on the night I'd had to take her to the vet hospital. By the time the Solstice rolled round my mother had turned into Arnold Schwarzenegger, one cat was still in vet ICU, the other was distraught and needing lots of support, my financial cushion was vaporising and my own health was taking a beating. I could not even bear to take a reflective glance at my life as it just seemed like everything was falling apart so I made the brave decision to stick my head under the pillows; if nothing else I needed the sleep!

One phrase seems to keep repeating in my head...'Just because you can, doesn't mean you should'. I'm not actually hearing voices, as that really would be the last straw, but this recurring thought is something I probably need to find a way of incorporating into my life. I am becoming so bogged down with doing what is right for others that I am neglecting myself. It is quite apparent this is the case but the fixing it and doing things differently is what seems insurmountable at a point where I don't have the energy to fix it and tackle my own life.

Ironically, before even more began unravelling, I'd decided I was going to make my life better and become more Zen. So I ordered the fashionable mindfulness book-de-jour by Jon Kabat-Zinn called Full Catastrophe Living. Well, I have not had time to read the book, or live in the moment, as I've been too busy firefighting imminent catastrophe. The book seems to have been a bloomin' Jonah and has brought disaster instead of contentment. So I'm still trying to decide whether to find the time to read it or call a priest to have it exorcised and cremated.....?

In the meantime, as the house looks like a bomb has landed, I am going to go out to bring the emptied bin back and smell the roses while I am there. I will even snip a couple to bring indoors to inspire me. Then I am going to try and make a dent in the housework otherwise I'll end up on one of those crazy home makeover/decluttering/forensic cleaner programmes!

I hope your week has been good and hopefully next time I'll share some better news and events. Please God...!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Road Rage or Road Angel?

I was driving along behind a slightly tatty looking older style 4x4 this morning on my way to work when someone threw something out the back window which landed right in front of my car. I stopped suddenly and thought about retrieving the item with which to confront the driver but realised they were getting away.

So, I made a split second decision to chase after the 4x4 empty handed. Before I could catch up a refuse lorry got in the way then turned off losing me more time. However, I had the littering vehicle still in my sights and like a woman possessed I purposefully gained on it, intent on speaking to the driver about the matter.

As I got nearer, I started flashing my lights, hooting my horn and putting the left indicator on until the driver stopped. It turned out to be a woman and as I pulled parallel she lowered her window and I lowered mine on the passenger side. Then I informed her she was minus a black and white spotted toy dog which one of the kids had lost out of the back window.

I couldn't bear the thought of a wee one going to bed minus their beloved doggie tonight or the poor sleepless parents wracking their brains trying to work out what had happened to it. I wished I'd been able to pick it up and catch up with her but if I'd got out to retrieve it I'd have had no way of catching up and returning the toy.

I'd love to bask in the glow of a deed well done but as they say no good deed goes unpunished. I'd thought I had a cold brewing over the last week which is unsurprising given how stressful things were with my sick cat and other family issues. Today, I got progressively more exhausted and congested had to get an emergency appointment at my GP who diagnosed me before I was even able to sit down. He's not psychic, the walk from the waiting room to his room meant I didn't have the breath to tell him why I'd come! He did do the proper assessment but his doorway hypothesis was correct as I have a chest infection and sinusitis.

Coincidentally, when I got home, I received an unsolicited second opinion over the phone with more strict instructions about resting till the antibiotics kick in from my Mother's GP. Poor chap had actually only called to update me about her test results but was distracted by my frog chorus voice and breathlessness. Still, instead of whingeing about being under-par, I should probably count my blessings that we both now have really decent and caring GP's. All I need now is the antibiotics to work over night......what do you reckon?

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Best Chat-up Line

I am still laughing at this one nearly two hours on.

I had to go to the Pharmacy to have a pile of prescriptions made up (honestly nothing ages you quite like taking in a fistful of prescriptions!). Outside a young 'gentleman' was standing dressed in the classic brand spanking new track suit which looked like the only athletics it would ever see would be attempting to out run someone in the employ of Police Scotland. He'd been having a heated phone conversation outside with someone which sounded domestic in nature but when he came in he spied a pretty looking young woman waiting for her prescription and decided to chance his arm by sidling up to chat to her.

She was pleasant to him and answered whatever he had said and went straight back to texting or whatever she was doing on her phone. However, her reply only encouraged him to lay on the charm and he came out with an amazing chat up line that nearly had me fall off my seat.

"Right now I'm tryin' tae get a handle on how wimmin really see what do you think...?" said with absolute hope that the young woman would come up with something suitably flattering. With commendable tact and diplomacy she very sweetly turned it back on him, and he was so lacking in insight that he didn't even notice.

Once he'd been called through to the screened dispensing area the young woman and I caught each other's eye and fell about laughing at the poor dazed Lothario thinking he'd stood any chance whatsoever. Sadly she shared her real thoughts on the would be suitor as she shook her head and said "I don't know why I always attract the nutter's!!!"

As chat up lines go its a brilliant example of the Rabbie Burns quote:

" “Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion.” "

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Basket Weave Stitch in Crochet

This is one of my crafting catch ups of the things I've been up to but not blogged about. I'd no idea you could do basket weave stitch with crochet but God bless youtube's wee cotton socks. It had a fabulous tutorial and I had some Wendy Serenity super chunky wool and a 10mm hook so it was not long before a very nice relaxed basket weave was created. This stitch had crocheted up very loosely and I am not sure whether it is due to the actual stitch or the manipulation of how I was working it so it could perhaps have taken a 9mm hook.
This was intended as a dining room chair seat but the inner is so pluffy* it was headed for the sofa. However, as all three sofas are groaning under the volume of cushions, and cushions-to-be, and are becoming all but unusable as they now only have room to accommodate the skinny pussy cat having a doss! I crocheted the back in treble but if I did it again I'd use a closer stich like double or a smaller hook. Luckily my Mother really liked this one and she is now the proud owner of it.
It has been great learning and trying out new crafts and techniques over this last ten months or so but if my knee doesn't start improving properly there is a chance there is not going to be any house room left for the inhabitants.
*Pluffy - one of our house words merging 'plump' and 'fluffy' and relates to something huggably soft. It is also used to try to alliteratively define the bizarre noise my Mother used to make when she fell asleep in her chair while watching tv and her breath burst out from her closed lips in a 'pluff' noise alerting us to the fact she'd dozed off. TMI maybe but you kind of get what you get with me!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Meander to Gourock

I was prepping this post and accidentally pressed publish instead of save!

I was delighted you enjoyed accompanying me to Milngavie and hope you might enjoy another little trip this time to Gourock. I must admit I am enjoying considering how I might present familiar places that I take for granted to you and it is making me think. I went there the Saturday before last and am just getting round to uploading the pics. Not a very interesting one but I could safely take the pic. If you ignore the ambulance you are on the A82 at Great Western Road often called the Boulevard and are looking towards the Kilpatrick Hills.
This time we are going south of the River Clyde. Port Glasgow and Greenock are more urban, industrialised areas with long associations with the heavy industries predominantly shipbuilding. Gourock is more residential and very pretty but all have amazing views up, down and across the Clyde. I was at Cardwell Bay Garden Centre which has a fabulous craft shop which I'd visited the week before and came back for their jewellery making didn't think it was just for the scenery did you....?
The class was great fun and the group were most welcoming so I had a fun hour making my jewellery brooch. I'd really have liked it as a window dangle, but two cats and window dangles don't make a happy human or intact glazing. It needs a little tweaking but is 90% there.

I'd fancied toast before I set off from home but had no bread or desire to start cooking something. There was tons of fruit but I'd been gorging on new season strawberries and blueberries and didn't think it safe to push my luck and find the tipping point that was one piece of fruit more than could be contained! 'Breakfast' was lentil soup after the class in their lovely cafĂ© and obviously a popular option as they were selling it by the gallon. Soup and bread is nectar to me and would be my forever meal. I'm so fond of it that I often recall places by the soup they served and this one was perfect and even better it was hot but not molten lava like some.
The one view I can't share with you was from the Erskine Bridge as I was driving. It is a view that speaks to my soul as when you cross it you are high above the water and the vista is stunning in both directions. It is now free to cross but I used to occasionally pay my 60p just to drink in the amazing view instead of using the nearer Clyde Tunnel. It has been a place of sadness as some have chosen to end their lives from it but it is also the scene of life affirming drama too. Glasgow hospitals are the main centres for the Islands and every year many remote and rural patients arrive by all forms of transport including helicopters which go over and occasionally under if a new little scrap of life needs a flight to come in slow and low to given them the best chance of survival.

Cardwell Bay Garden Centre is massive and I didn't even manage to see everything. I thought it was lovely how the interior and exterior just seemed to blend.
The duck pond
They had a pet area with rescue animals and I was very taken with this lovely little budgie.
 There were guinea pigs
and chickens

 This sign made me laugh as it didn't make it clear who the cockerels had been rescued from and I wondered if it might have been the owner's neighbours who were after their noisy necks!
I've been lusting after a buddleia and when I realised I could get a white peony I just had to have one too. I also picked up a camellia but I'm not sure I'll manage to keep it alive until it is time for it to flower.
I'm still a novice gardener and hadn't quite thought through how I might actually get them home.
 I'm hoping the fact a leaf fell off as soon as I touched it is not a sign of the rest following.
 First time I've had plants as passengers! And yes, I did talk to them as I asked them not to curl up and die on me!
I'm not obsessed by houses but when I go somewhere I always wonder what it might be like to live there. So if a house by Tannoch Loch in Milngavie didn't 'float your boat' how would you fancy one on the Esplanade at Greenock? The house.....
 The view from the house...
This place is a haven for strolling, dog walking and is the site of a ferry terminal where cruise ships come in as it is a deep water site and visiting ships 'born' on the Clyde will often return to visit.
 love the seagull to the left
The weather was very changeable but then what's new here....!

This a sculpture that I only found out about a few weeks ago when I was reading Shortbread and Ginger who is a Greenock based blogger with a cracking line in finding fab charity shop treasures. Her pictures are much better than mine as the Girl with the Suitcase is hidden under a canopy of trees. I took these photos the week before and hoped to get you some brighter ones on my next trip but the light was actually worse.

 Just a pic to show that sometimes the sun shines.
I hope you've enjoyed this meander and I will think of somewhere nice to take you next time.

A Year in Books: How Did this All Happen by John Bishop

I rarely, if ever read biographies or autobiographies. I am not sure why but I think it has something to do with the lack of transparency or truth. If it is an autobiography the author has a vested interest in presenting a particular image,and may under or over emphasise events or aspects of themselves. A work of fiction has no such pretentions of representing the truth yet some autobiographies may be ghost written or have a poor relationship to reality. Biographies are the same in many ways as they are the writer's interpretation of the reality of another complex human being masquerading as factual.

So, after having eloquently explained that I don't like the genre why did I decide to purchase John Bishop's autobiography on audiobook? Truthfully, I've no idea! However, I am so glad I did.

John, I've just followed his life to date so I think we are on first name terms at least, reads his own autobiography. He has quite a distinctive voice and, although it sounds slightly flat in the way it does when you read something you've written, it does bring something special and personal when the reader is the author instead of having an actor added to the mix. I felt the same when Stuart MacBride read his own fiction novel as he brought an emphasis to certain aspects.

I thoroughly enjoyed John's self deprecating and open style and the fact that we are a similar age meant I could identify with many of his childhood references. He has also done a great deal for charity involving working as a teenager in a hospice and doing significant fundraising but he explains these in a very matter of fact way or rationalises them away as something he did for the personal experience and the fundraising was just an aside. He is clearly a pretty smart and gifted chap with a strong moral sense so I got the impression he was rather modest over the significant good he had achieved. He came across as an honest, reflective guy that you'd have no trouble sitting trading stories with as a friend.

That's what made him such a compelling listening experience for me as it made me recall breaks spent in the company of more senior colleagues where I used to work who had a very strong oral history tradition. I worked there for 15yrs and it was a very intense workplace which engendered a strong 'familial' sense of belonging. It was there I picked up two of the nicknames I knew about; 'Ducky' and 'Ms DeKey's' the latter which was bestowed after a deeply unfortunate series of key related events. Our failings, faults and peculiarities were all recounted, often embellished to the exquisite embarrassment of the individual and embedded as part of the history of the place. Though I left 12yrs ago there are new staff there who know of me by my reputation and exploits in the same way I'd known about colleagues who had left long before I took up post. Listening to John Bishop unexpectedly transported me back to those times sitting listening, laughing, recounting and absorbing all the old stories or emergent happenings that would themselves become history gold. I was totally torn between devouring the audiobook and rationing it to eke out my warm memory of times past.

This book has changed my opinion of autobiographies and I think the audio nature of it and the quality of the author as the reader enhanced the experience. Autobiographies are now a genre I will consider instead of dismissing.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Not so Happy Valley

Has anyone been watching Happy Valley on BBC1 and not found themselves quite traumatised by it?

I found the opening ten minutes of the third episode genuinely shocking with the demise of the young female police officer. Not in a narrow mouthed viewer just waiting for a reason to complain way but in an involuntary hand to mouth in horror way. Episodes four and five were of a similar calibre, shocking and compelling. I cannot recall watching a programme which came with a 'sensitive viewer' warning that I took any notice of, but these episodes have depicted the purest badness that exists in some people.

Crime drama's are generally either a tame 60-90mins where you know the baddie will get found out or over the top blood and gorefests trying to score yuk points. Sally Wainwright's writing is often uncompromising small town, character centred drama but the acts of violence in this seem conversely more shocking by their understated nature. Even though you know the situations are going badly I've found quite viscerally horrible and the emotions around the characters painful to watch. It's hard to believe she also wrote Last Tango in Halifax and I feel for any poor soul who has tuned in looking for a gentle drama as they are probably needing counselling now.

It will be a hard series to end powerfully so I am torn between being on tenterhooks waiting for tonight's final episode and wondering if I'm too old to watch it from behind the sofa!

Happy viewing!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

James Oswald Series Giveaway Winner

We have a winner of the fabulous James Oswald books signed by the author. Thank you to everyone who commented. There were 12 people in the draw after a duplicate entry, one who kindly commented but didn't want drawn and the author himself who also graciously declined to be drawn! I was most surprised and thought it was wonderful of James to comment, as I'd told him what I was up to when getting the books signed. I did think it might be amusing to add him into the draw and have him reread his own work if he won, but then realised interrupting his writing schedule would be totally counterproductive for his readers!

I decided I'd go with the Power of the Paw instead of a random generator to choose the winner but 8am is clearly not business hours in the feline world here and I couldn't get a compliant cat.
Magic would not rise from soaking up the leftover heat in the bed and Red was too dozy after being scooped from his chair to be pressed into service, even after I went to the bother of wrapping them round a whiskas pocket!
Nice shot, sadly no interest! 
So as a decent cat servant yours truly had to do the honours after much stirring.
I've emailed Angel Jem for her details and must say I am a little jealous of her having the series to date to indulge in. Hope she enjoys reading the books as much as I did.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Signed James Oswald Giveaway

Now that my blog hiatus is consigned to the past I thought I'd like to do my very first giveaway but wasn't sure what I would giveaway. On Wednesday an unexpected opportunity popped up and my decision was made.
The author James Oswald is one of my current favourites with his Inspector McLean novels which are an Edinburgh based police procedural series with a supernatural twist which adds interest to the story. He was appearing at an author event in Dalmuir Library as part of West Dunbartonshire's Booked! Festival and I thought a signed set of his books would make a great giveaway gift especially as I know his books have been popping up with bloggers joining in with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees Year in Books and elsewhere.
It was a bit of a scramble to buy all three books as each shop seemed to have only one or other, which was annoying, as I hadn't realised there was a bookseller attending the event with piles of his books! Dalmuir Library was bright and welcoming and the audience was small and cosy enough to feel relaxed and engaged. They even laid on tea and biccies!
James, who I hope doesn't mind me calling him by his first name, was a fabulous speaker. He was well prepared and spoke with great clarity, humility and humour as he shared his 20yr journey to becoming what the press insist is an 'overnight success'. He's had an interesting career pathway including being a wine merchant and sheep poop collector as part of research and came to farming unexpectedly rapidly due to a family tragedy. I was impressed that he farms Romney sheep and my absolute favourite the Highland 'Big Ginger Coo' specifically because these breeds are hardy and as low maintenance as possible to allow him time to write. The best news for the audience was that he is writing away furiously, and in addition to Dead Men's Bones which is number four in the series, he is contracted for a further two books. Afterwards James was most kind in signing everyone's books, chatting and even kindly posed for the photos here for me.
I'm keeping it simple as this is a celebratory 'thank you' giveaway to the lovely bloggers I read who share their lives and to anyone who reads my blog. Just leave me a comment to let me know you would like to be involved. Anyone can enter from anywhere as I read international blogs so everyone should be able to enjoy the fun. Make sure you leave me a way of contacting you if you are a winner. As this is a Bank Holiday weekend and half term in places I'll keep this open till 8am on Saturday morning 31st of May 2014. Good luck everyone.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Meander round Milngavie

Something that has sustained me during my months of enforced downtime has been following the wonderful bloggers who have so kindly taken us as readers on their daily journeys and special days away. I adore Jacquie, Lucy, Gillian, Louise and so many others who act as tour guide and good friend in sharing their walk or visit. For the time it takes to read their blogpost I am actually there; entranced by their words and views illustrating the panorama and the minuitiae of their journey and not contemplating my familiar but limited view from home.

I am still very frustrated by my limitations and the pain but trying hard to regain my life. To give me a focus, and a distraction, I thought that perhaps the lovely readers who come here might like to accompany me. Its a chance to try Gillian and Jacquie's photo improvement tips. All were taken within sneezing distance of my car but I hope this wont distract.

My friend and I were in Milngavie, which is pronounced 'MillGuy' and not Mill-en-Gavie. Its a pretty and rather affluent town about seven or so miles north of Glasgow and is the start of the famous West Highland Way. I remember it feeling brighter than the pictures suggest but it was raining a little on and off.
The middle of the town centre is the start of the famous West Highland Way and is between a Greggs the Bakers and Costa Coffee if you are looking for it! 
and there are even some great benches for the all important photo op before people set off. 
I didn't notice this lady popping up when I was taking this pic 
This is the view of the mill stream that can be seen across from the benches above
 It is a lovely compact little town with plenty of nearby parking and has a great range of shops for a small place
It has a beautiful clock
 and a statue that I don't ever think I've really looked at before so can't comment on its history or significance
Just a couple of minutes from Milngavie town centre is Tannoch Loch. It is a private loch where I would just love to own a home but suspect a lottery win might need to be involved somewhere.
Imagine going down your garden, into your dinghy and onto the Loch. This is what a pond in your garden looks like in this area!
This little duck made me laugh as he crossed the loch, went over and woke up his sleeping wifey then paddled off which was most ungallant!
 Up above Tannoch Loch are the reservoirs and Mugdock Country Park both of which are very popular walking spots. The reservoir is in the mid-ground behind the trees.
On the other side of Milngavie are wonderful views and this is where my cats come to their holiday cattery. It is also where Rangers Football Club have their training grounds but I didn't think to photograph this - sorry! This is Bardowie Loch

Its is lovely that 10mins form my home there are such gorgeous country views and pretty areas. Glasgow often has a grim industrial type connotation in many peoples minds but no matter which way you go rural settings are available within a very short drive.
 This little swallow made me smile. We once had one fly into our office one hot summer when the velux windows were all open and as fast as he shot into the secretaries office they shot out squawking in horror. Yours truly was yanked from her seat and shoved in to deal with the 'unexpected item in typing area' which consisted of me opening the window and letting him leave.....!
The jolly colours of these tulips just made me smile at the road junction
I love the old fashioned road sign tho' the it looked like a bit of rust maintenance might not go amiss
I really hope you have enjoyed our little trip around Milngavie and that you might join me again the next time I manage out.