Saturday 30 May 2009

What Do These Tell You?

A short while ago I said that one can learn a lot from a person's fridge magnets. A friend wondered recently whether fridge magnets were a Kiwi thing and it was quite apposite because I had photographed the fridge magnets on my fridge with a view to a future posting. Anyway here is that posting. I actually have very few magnets now because I had a clearout some time ago: partly because the front of the fridge gets the sun and they had faded beyond readability and partly just because... I brought the magnetic figures from New Zealand. They are a game but I didn't realise it at the time. I just thought they were suitably silly.

Westward Ho

CJ and I went into Stornoway this morning as is our habit and, after coffee and lemon meringue pie (I MUST stop eating so much - CJ is a very bad - and thin - influence) and crossword at the Library coffee bar we went exploring the harbour where there were some sailing ships. I was very taken with the Tall Ship "Westward Ho".


Wonderful tiller - no wheel

The Faroese vessel Westward Ho was built in Grimsby 1884, and sold to the Faroes in 1895. With a crew of 20, she fished from the waters of the North Atlantic all the way to Greenland until she was laid up in 1964. During the Second World War, she transported fish to Britain from the Faroes and Iceland. After changes in ownership, she was restored in 1968 and again in 2005, and today the she has regained her original appearance above deck. She competed for the first time, in the Tall Ships Race in 2008.

Friday 29 May 2009

Scary or What?

In the bar lounge of the Dunkeld Hotel were a number of gargoyles. The sketchings on the wall suggested that they had been done in the early 1990s and represented various occupations and sports. Odd.

Steps to Nowhere

I suppose that at some time they had seved a purpose.

Thursday 28 May 2009


If you want the rainbow please don't complain about the rain.

A Cradle or a Tiny Boat?

Last week when I was in Exteter, CJ, Helen and I visited the museum at Bicton Park. It's a treasure trove of old farm equipment and such like but one of the most beautifully crafted items was a miniature wooden clinker built rowing boat for use as a child's crib or cot.

Velcro By Another Name

When we were in Bicton Park near Exeter there were a lot of Burdock plants (Arctium of the family Thistle) with burrs on them. It was interesting that the burrs would stick to me but if you threw them at my trousers, for example, they wouldn't adhere. Apparently theses burrs were the inspiration for Velcro. Are these, I wonder, the fuzzies that Heather referred to recently?

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Sometimes It's In The Detail

When I was in Exeter with CJ we went, as we usually do, into the city centre for a wander and, more specifically on this occasion, I wanted to find and photograph Ye Olde Tea Shoppe which a friend had visited 17 years ago. Whilst doing that I took quite a few other photos. One was of an old building (sorry I have no more information than that) which was attractive but about which I would not have blogged had it not been for the detail to the left of the first floor window as one looks at it.

The building

The detail

As to what exactly the significance of the galleon is I am not certain. However behind the present building is the Ship Inn about which CJ blogged last year and which suggests the significance.

Monday 25 May 2009

Why Blog?

I've had quite a few comments recently about my blogging habit: usually along the lines of 'I couldn't be bothered' or 'How do you find the time?' or simply 'Why do you do it?'

Now this posting is really one of those odd things that one does for the simple reason that one can. It will be read by people who read or write blogs and understand anyway. But wotthehellarchiewotthehell. It may also be read by people who can recall my blogs Ideas, Busses, Buses and Missing Blogs and Sucked Into Blogland. I'd almost forgotten that I'd written those postings.

I started my Hebridean In New Zealand blog as a way of letting people in the UK who were always asking what I was up to know exactly that. It was also a diary which I could look back at and, hopefully, re-live and enjoy some of the best times of my life. Like many people I briefly kept a diary as a young man but I never persevered. I wish that I had. There is something beautiful and satisfying about nostalgia. As someone with an appalling memory and no conceptual ability whatsoever a blog is just about as perfect way as I can think of for satisfying the nostalgic diarist and photographer within me.

And I've made wonderful friends. For what more could one ask of life?

Hotels and Things

On our way north from Exeter CJ and I made our first stop Ambleside in the English Lake District. It was a place that we both stayed with Mum and Dad and a family friend many years ago when we were teenagers. In fact we spent a lot of time in the Lakes just as our parents (and particularly Mum when she was a very young lady) had done before us. We arrived having failed when we set out to realise that it was the Thursday preceding a Bank Holiday weekend. We were lucky and managed to get accommodation in The Queens Hotel. We were quite surprised at how many things were the same as we remembered them although, of course, much had changed too. No, it has to be said the weather: it was still raining!

The Queens Hotel, Ambleside: excellent service and very good, reasonably priced, food with a marvellous breakfast well cooked from good ingredients. And we had wifi access!

In Dunblane there is an unprepossessing café at the South end of the main street just as you come in off the A9. It is called The Beech Tree. I stop there when I am passing and fancy a coffee because they make it as I like it. Memory is a funny thing. CJ remembers his soup as being less hot than he would have liked it. I like my soup hot and would certainly have sent it back if it wasn't hot enough for me. And I remember it as being ok. How odd.

The Royal Dunkeld Hotel at, not surprisingly, Dunkeld. It had wifi ('though not in the bedroom). However the most charitable thing I can say about the service and food is that it was ok. If I was being truthful I'd probably say that it was mediocre. It was more expensive than The Queens and far poorer value for money. I would usually have stayed at The Atholl Arms but it was full and I'd forgotten than I had it's number in my cellphone.

First Defeat

When we have our morning or afternoon coffee CJ and I do a crossword: usually the Times 2 straightforward general knowledge crossword. It is exceptionally rare for us to be defeated ie for us not to finish the crossword by the time we have drunk our coffee. Although occasionally we do have to drink fairly slowly! However a day or so ago we suffered our first defeat of the season. The silly thing was that, although we had forgotten that a circular painting in relief was called a tondo, it was quite unforgivable not to have remembered Hobbes. Oh dear. Age cometh not alone!

Sunday 24 May 2009

Bits and Bobs

Jackdaw at Dunblane Cathedral

One for Pat to drive

Just don't expect Dave to use it for you Pat

One for Fiona

In Dunblane Cathedral: so very sad.


CJ and I arrived back at Eagleton last night somewhere before 10pm - when the sun is just setting at that time of night in May I know that I'm on Lewis again. CJ's probably blogging about the journey and I've got one or two thing to post upon in due course. Today for me, however, has been one of those days that turned out to be exactly not what had been planned. Of course the first thing that we did was unpack and then I re-united Samantha with Palin and Henry. Now before anyone says that having three computers is excessive let me say that a) I agree and b) I have very good reasons for having them.

Henry is my PC, my desktop. He is large and and cumbersome and although he's not very old he's not as fast as he could be. But he's useful in a plodding sort of way (apologies to Don Marquis's spider) and does all my scanning of photos and so on and because his screen is large I use him for much of my photographic work when I'm in Eagleton.

Palin is my Laptop. Palin accompanies me to New Zealand and copes with my music (iTunes) and emails and lots of other things including my photos when I'm in New Zealand. Palin is indispensable but lacks stamina and has to have a rest after about 90 minutes to re-charge his batteries.

Samantha is my Notebook. She is light and portable and goes everywhere with me when I'm in the UK (and will probably go to New Zealand later this year as a special treat). She can go for about 7 hours with re-fuelling! She is my link to the outside world. She would probably have been my one and only companion had it not been for the fact that she is one of a new breed who have only come into their own quite recently. She is a Palin with no optical drive and less than half the weight and size (which means, of course, a much smaller screen). But then that's the thing about females - they can do almost everything that we males can do (and in some situations much more!) and do it with less fuss.

Anyway today I have been having some frustration in getting them all to talk to each other and transfer files and .... well you just really don't want to know. Needless to say that in between ironing 10 days of clothes whilst watching the Monaco Grand Prix I've been trying to sort out networks and things. Today I'm not a great liker of computers.

Friday 22 May 2009

The Dunblane Commemoration

The inscription reads: He called a little child to him, set it down in their midst and said, "Hear the truth. Unless your hearts are changed and you become little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all"

On our travels North CJ and I visited Dunblane between Stirling and Perth in the Scotland . In the Cathedral is a commemoration of the Dunblane Massacre. The Dunblane Massacre was a multiple murder-suicide which occurred at Dunblane Primary School in the Scottish town of Dunblane on 13 March 1996. Sixteen children and one adult were killed by the attacker, Thomas Watt Hamilton, before he committed suicide. It remains the deadliest single targeted mass murder of children in the history of the United Kingdom.

It consists of a Clashach sandstone stone two metres high on a Caithness flagstone inscribed "The Tragedy of Dunblane 1996". It was dedicated on 12 March 2000.

It was indescribably moving and made the events seem like only yesterday .

Standing Stones

Near to the house of Niece Who Loves Nature and Partner Who Loves Otters in Exeter is a Sainsbury supermarket. At the entrance are three sculptures by Ray Smith commissioned by Sainsbury and entitled Standing Stones and comprising metal figures in granite blocks. Their relevance to the area is that they are on the route of the Great West Run.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Travels Continue

This morning CJ and I say au revoir to Helen (Niece Who Loves Nature and Daughter Who Takes Photos) and wend our way Northwards for 730 miles or thereabouts until we get to Ullapool (or Skye depending on how the mood takes us) and the sea journey across to the Outer Hebrides and my Scottish home. This is a journey which will actually take me longer than it takes me to get from my New Zealand home to my Scottish home. Of course it could be done more quickly if I really wanted to but I don't drive more than 350 miles a day in the UK these days unless I have to. I'd rather take my time and stop along the way. Safer and more enjoyable.

So until Saturday night (or even Sunday morning) I'll say au revoir. If we meet along the way because we find a wifi connection then that'll be a bonus. I hope that there will be lots of blog to read and some emails as well.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

A Prickly Pear

Assuming my memory is working correctly the only time that I have ever seen a Prickly Pear was when I was in California. Today I saw one at Bicton Park Botanical Gardens. Cactii are not really my thing but I have to admit that this was a magnificent plant standing much taller than me.

A Church at Bicton

Adjacent to Bicton Park Botanical Gardens that CJ, Helen and I went around today is St Mary's Church whichfor about 150 years has servved the area of Bicton (there has been no village of Bicton since it was wiped out by the Black Death in the 14th Century) and the adjacent village of Yettington (don't you just love the names of some English villages). This is the remains of the Early English church which stands adjacent to the more recent church.

I have mentioned it simply because I was taken with this plaque which is on the wall of the churchyard representing one family's 260 years of service to the Church:

A Dead Mouse And Other Stories

Sitting as I am at the table in Helen's house with CJ and Helen both working away at their various tasks and with conversation on all sorts of things flowing at the same time I thought that I would show you some of the things that have amuse me over the last few days.

CJ's mouse died. RIP.

CJ's phones died. Long live the (new) phone

CJ is not interested in gadgets except insofar as they are necessary to life. Many years ago he got excited over a telephone in the office because it had six re-dial buttons! This is the first time since then that he has got excited over a phone: because it has large touch screen alphanumerics. Strange.

Big brother is watching you. Er, the terrestial one!

And a couple for Dave - in Exeter City Centre