1 EAGLETON NOTES: August 2010



Monday 30 August 2010

The New Boy/Girl on The Block

After all the problems with computers over the last few months I decided a couple of weeks ago to go Apple and get myself a MacBook. So when I drove down last Monday to Glasgow I went straight to the Apple Shop and had a chat and bought an Apple MacBook Pro. I can see why Apple have managed to turn customers into devoted followers. The whole experience of buying and owning an Apple is designed to make you feel special and feel that all is going to be well from now on. No little detail seems to have been overlooked from the backlit keyboard keys and the superbly easy to use trackpad to the seamless integration of the various programs. Even the packaging is superbly functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. As I've been using Windows since PCs hit the market place so getting used to this will doubtless not be something that happens overnight and I'll bet that this won't be the last post on the subject either.
The box is slim and a work of art in itself and to help you carry it the carrier bag is actually also a back pack - cute. Helpful too because I also had another box to carry.
Opening the box shows you the silver slim MacBook
And removing the MacBook gives access to the typically well-designed charger

Sunday 29 August 2010

The Proof

David took the view that in order actually to believe my last posting those who know me would need proof that I really had been on a bus. So here are a couple of photos that David took. The first one's on the local bus on the first part of our journey and the second is waiting for the bust from the Airport to the station in Bordeaux.

A Journey To France

This is the first time I have ever been to France using public transport as much as possible ie from David's house in West Wemyss  in Fife to the train station in Sainte Foy La Grande from where John would pick us up by car and take us the last few miles to Villeneuve de Duras ( a commune in the Lot-et-Garonne department in south-western France) where I planned to stay for a few days and, more particularly, play in the FĂȘte de Petanque.  In fact I am not particularly known for my using public transport at the best of times.  I was once challenged to name when I last used public transport and said that I travelled by public transport very frequently - on the basis that air travel and ferries are all methods of public transport.  This didn't seem to satisfy my questioner!  Anyway as usual I digress.  David and I made the journey which started with us getting the bus at 0900 on Wednesday.

The bus stop at West Wemyss

What do you do when your cat follows you to the bus stop?

Nifty wee things these local busses - they go everywhere and anywhere

We didn't even have too long to wait for the train which happened to be the Aberdeen to London train which just happened to be the longest train I'd ever seen and as busy as they come.

Taking photographs in airports is not one of the easiest things and is, in any case, even more dull than photographing railway platforms so that bit - an uneventful flight with the dreaded Ryanair - has been glossed over and this is the next part of the public transport: the airport bus from Bordeaux Airport to The Bordeaux Rail Station.

Bordeaux's Gare de St Jean

Apart from the Paris Metro I'd never been on a French train before.  Wow.  This is a local train! It is fast, quiet, comfortable and caters for everything.  I had not realised how far behind we lag in the UK.  No wonder we have problems attracting people to public transport.

In France you have to remember to 'composte' your ticket before you get on the train.  I remembered that from my schooldays.  Thank you Mr (Iron Mad) Wilkinson, at least that much sank in.

At Sainte Foy La Grande we left the train.

Sainte Foy La Grande Station

Our first sight of a French Café as we came out of the station.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Molly Goes Walkies

Last evening we took Molly for a walk along the front at West Wemyss on Scotland's East coast.  It had been a sunny afternoon on this side of the country despite the fact that in Glasgow in the morning it had been very indifferent with some rain and during the drive over I'd encountered torential rain.  However by the time we were into our walk  (we were out for about and hour and a half) the sun had disappeared behind the hill and I felt as though I was taking photos in the dark - hence no fast moving pictures of Molly were usable.

Off To France

I had all sorts of plans for postings for the last few days but whilst things have gone well I've hardly managed  to live any of my life in Blogland.  I'm actually writing this before 0700 whilst David (aka Marcel) is taking Molly for her compulsory hour's morning walk.  It's only a short sleep since we took her for a 90 minute walk along the coast last night.   It's a beautiful morning here on the Fife coast.  I'm told that the temperature where we are going in France was 39 deg yesterday and just dipped below 30 during the night.  I am so looking forward to sun and warmth.  It'll be a bit ironic if my next post is saying that it's too hot!  No I'd never do that.  Would I?

Saturday 21 August 2010

August Gales: At Force 8

Late yesterday afternoon the gale struck with full force and the sun shone and it was warm! How bizarre was that?  The Stornoway to Ullapool ferry made two crossings and then returned to Ullapool where it weathered out the storm leaving.  That meant that a lot of people were stranded on the ‘wrong’ side of the Minch.  In the middle of winter we are used to that (well those of us who winter on the Island!) but in August it’s rather dire.  In any case fewer people travel in the winter.  I was over the other side of the valley at Pat and Dave’s for dinner during the storm.  This is the view from in front of their house at the height of the storm.  I actually had considerable difficulty standing whilst taking these photos.

DSC03329 DSC03341 DSC03344

August Gales: Before The Storm

It has to be said that even in the Outer Hebrides full-blown gales in August are unseasonal.  Yesterday was unseasonal!  Yesterday we had a full-blown gale.  And some.  The previous evening we were warned that the weather front was moving North from England and Southern Scotland and that when it reached Northern Scotland it would be a low pressure with whirling gales as it tracked North.

DSC03318We were warned – gales were coming

DSC03198-200The weather changed from the sun of Thursday as the front came North.  At this point the front is yet to come from the South (to the left of the picture)

DSC03307The sky lightens and then darkens


DSC03301And then the front came through

DSC03268     And the sky darkened

DSC03324 And then the rain came up the Minch

Thursday 19 August 2010

Common Hawker

It’s been a very warm, sunny day today and late this afternoon and early evening I had the doors to the conservatory open.  After I’d shut them and when I was on the phone I discovered that I’d trapped a dragonfly inside.  It seemed very distressed and this made taking a photo difficult.  Added to that was my desire to try and get it out and back to freedom.  I cannot recall seeing a dragonfly at the house before but with my memory that may not mean that I haven’t actually seen one.  My niece Helen has told me that this is a female Common Hawker which, despite its name and being widespread in the UK, is not actually all that common.  It’s certainly a spectacular creature and at almost 3” long it’s also a very large creature to have flying around the conservatory.

DSC03228DSC03234 DSC03237 DSC03238

Why Am I Telling You This?

imageActually I know the answer.  The subject of Eccles cakes came up when Dave and I were having coffee in the Woodlands the other day.  Despite not being a great fan of raisins, and Eccles cakes are full of raisins, I love Eccles cakes. (I’ll actually eat almost anything except tripe even if it’s not something I’d actually choose to eat).  The family loved them too.  When I was a small child there was near us at The Rocket (about which Scriptor has blogged if I can find it)  a bakery called, locally even if it wasn’t its proper name, Up The Steps.  I went in there one day to get some things for Mum and asked, not for Eccles cakes as they were properly called but for fly cemeteries which was what they were called by the family.  I was promptly asked to leave.  I presume I was allowed back at a later date.  I don’t really remember.

The only other time that I can ever recall being thrown out of anywhere was being thrown out of Snows, a quite smart down the steps bar in London’s Piccadilly.  That was in the sixties and I was just in my 20s.  Given that I was much older then than I am now (mentally anyway) I was mortified.  I was, I hasten to add, stone cold sober at the time of this incident.  I was in London on a training course for something or other and we had finished for the day and gone to Snows.  Someone learned that I could Cossack dance and probably dared me to do one on a table - I was quite adept at winning bets that I wouldn’t do something.  So I took my shoes off and did a Cossack dance on a table – a very substantial table I should add.  I was asked to leave.   I was mortified.  I can’t understand why but everyone else thought it was very funny!

Wednesday 18 August 2010

This and That

When commenting on a friend of mine who renews his BMW car and motorbike every few years, his new lady-friend said “Yes, he does come with a few nice add-ons.”   Mind you, so does she!  Ah well I’m afraid with me it’s a question of love me, love my Nighthawk and my Handbag.  That’s about the best I can do….. Unless you play croquet.

Am I being unreasonable?  When I fly to and from New Zealand I often have to go via Los Angeles.  I much prefer going via Hong Kong because when you arrive you are welcomed straight into the airport with no queues and you can have a change of clothes and shower.  There is no hassle and the airport is comfortable and the break of journey is a pleasure.  Going via LA the plane just stops for two hours to re-fuel and change crew.  For the passengers it’s two hours of something approaching travellers’ hell.  Firstly you decant from the plane into a corridor.  If you sit at the back of the plane (I only made that mistake once!) it can take you most of that 2 hours standing in a queue to get through immigration control into the transit lounge (whilst you watch passengers getting back onto the plane) where, in law, you are still on New Zealand soil (I travel with Air New Zealand and from the start of my journey until I arrive in NZ under International Law whilst I am in a transit lounge I am on NZ soil wherever the plane stops to refuel).  Does the US recognise this?  No.  What has just prompted my irritation at this moment is that I have just had to pay £25 ($40 US) for the privilege of being allowed to stand in that queue so that the CBP (Border Security) can consider whether he is going to allow me into the Transit Lounge.  Humph.

This morning I was up before 0600 and fed the birds.  It was cool and crisp and the midges hadn’t woken up.  Withing the hour they were swarming outside the Study window.  Capturing midges in flight on camera is not easy:

DSC03183 DSC03194

Nevertheless I tried and those that are in focus have shown up.  There were thousand’s more which didn’t show!

A friend (I think he ought to be nameless because I wouldn’t want anyone to know this if it were me) loves sandwiches with a filling of salad cream and honey.  How gross is that?  Oh.  Go one.  Don’t tell me there’s someone else out there who could eat that.

We were also talking about rice pudding.  My Mum made wonderful rice pud.  As the most senior member of the family in our house at the time Dad was entitled to the skin of the rice pudding which Mum always made quite crispy.  Thank heaven.  I’ll eat almost anything but the idea of eating the skin off the custard (sorry Dave) or rice pudding just revolts me.

On that subject and with Scriptor’s family sayings in mind, Dad always used to say of someone who merited it that they couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away

Boy did it rain last night.  So this morning I incanted the old nursery rhyme:

Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Rain rain go to Baden
Little GB wants to garden.
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!


And the sun came out!

And I gardened (and washed the car).

And started three sentences with a conjunction.  Sorry Adrian.  Feeling guilty is just not enough of a deterrent!


Beehives at Catterline

When I was staying in Glasgow, Anna and I went to The Lillie Art Gallery in Milngavie one morning.  It’s a small gallery and it had an exhibition which included works by Joan Eardley.  Anna loves her work though most of the works actually in the exhibition were not really to my taste.  That was a shame because I very much like some of her works which were not on display.  However I absolutely fell in love with one and have since acquired a print (from Eardley Editions).  It’s entitled Beehives at  Catterline:


(Reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the Eardley Estate)

Monday 16 August 2010

Low Tide

DSC03099 DSC03100

Sunday 15 August 2010

An Early Evening Ramble

I’ve spent the day sorting my computer files.  How exciting is that?  It’s been a fairly dry day and we were promised rain by late afternoon.  As I write this first sentence it’s 1730 (5.30 pm – I say that because I know that there are very considerable differences between countries as to how we talk about time)  the sun has just come out but if I look out of the house to the West and North the clouds don’t give me confidence that the sun will last.  Below the house near the shore a couple are just walking.  They are tourists.  How can I tell?  He has an umbrella in his hand.  No local would carry an umbrella.  Rain rarely comes without enough wind to render one useless.

I feel particularly sad this evening because I had a call from a former lecturer from Uni who became a friend and with whom I am still in touch.  He is having chemo for cancer.  A neighbour in Blogland has been told that she has an an intra-cranial mass.  Someone closer has been given similarly bad news.  A friend in New Zealand has just had an operation and finished radio-therapy.  I could go on.  I would usually be inclined to repeat the Gaelic saying that old age doesn’t come alone but even my former Uni lecturer isn’t much older than I am.  I could never understand survivors of a disaster who said they felt guilty for surviving.  This week I’ve had a similar feeling knowing that the cancer I carried for 12 years seems to have been seen off.

On a more mundane level some hens from about 100 yards away raided the garden this morning.  Cute they may look but the devastation that hens can wreak on a garden is not funny.  When I went outside I was not impressed by the fact that the cockerel ran away followed by the hen leaving the chicks to fend for themselves – they ran off in the opposite direction!



A neighbour’s cat decided to try and get a pigeon.  He wasn’t successful.


The new mis-fueling device is a lovely shade of pink.  Even without having to apply the correct nozzle before the cap can be removed one is unlikely to forget given its colour!


A particularly bright Greenfinch visited the feeders this afternoon.


And there were plenty of people down in the Bay including a wind-surfer.  I can’t recall seeing that particular sport in the Bay before.


And now to decide what to have for dinner.

An Enjoyable Morning

I went into Town yesterday morning and as I was just finishing my shopping a text came from Pat asking if I was in Town and, if so, would I like coffee.  I’ve never been known to pass up the opportunity for coffee at The Woodlands in good company.
Whilst we were chatting I photographed (through thick double glazed windows) the following rather plump and well-fed chap/chappess:
DSC03103 DSC03108 
Afterwards I went for a short walk in the Castle Grounds and seemed to meet lots of people I knew with the result that I spent an extra hour chatting to people.  There is something very heart-warming about living somewhere one constantly meets people one knows.  I also met a Wicker Lady.  What the significance is and who built her I have no idea. 
DSC03118  DSC03119 
Then I came across a large red octopus.  Yes.  Really.  Made from an old tree!
DSC03121 DSC03128