1 EAGLETON NOTES: September 2014



Tuesday 30 September 2014

I'm Not Convinced

As a general rule most of the bon mots one sees on Facebook and in shop windows, indeed just about everywhere these days, are truisms or thoughts we all have or things we all know expressed in one way or another.  In fact there are so many appearing everywhere now that I suspect we take very little notice of them.  So when we were in Byers Road and passed the Oxfam Bookshop I hardly gave the writing on the blackboard in the window a second glance.  When I did, however, I suddenly thought that if that was a universal truth then it certainly didn't apply to me.

Frankly the more I get into life the less sense it makes: on just about any level.

Monday 29 September 2014


is a busy little place.  It's the town on the Scottish mainland from where the ferry for Lewis departs.  It's an important tourist town but, in addition to the ferry, there is an inshore fishing fleet and lots of leisure boats. I was in the town for an evening recently when I got the midnight ferry (which left at 2am) and managed a few photos.  The last photo is looking back up Loch Broom into the Highlands towards the capital of the Highlands: Inverness 60 miles away.

Friday 26 September 2014

Fat = Flavour!

At lunchtime I had a cheese salad.  Salad at lunchtime is not unusual for me.  Cheese at any time is quite the norm.  I love cheese of all sorts.  My salad cheese though is usually a seriously strong cheddar.  Now I know that many of my friends are very sniffy about British cheese and Cheddar in particular.  Well I'm not - so long as it is really tasty and some of the bog standard supermarket Cheddars are just that: including Pilgrims' choice Seriously Strong which I occasionally buy.  So today when I tasted my cheese I was very surprised to find that it had virtually no flavour that my palate could discern.  Then I looked at the packet and remembered that I'd bought it because its description was 'Wonderfully Strong and Punchy Extra Mature' but with 30% less fat.  And therein lies the problem.  As any chef will tell you, two of the most important flavour enhancers are fat and salt.  So 30% less fat meant 100% less taste as far as I was concerned.  I won't be buying that again.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Thankful Thursday: Dreams....Again

I've blogged quite a few times on the subject of dreams.  I've 'suffered' from the problem for as many years as I can remember although sometimes I seem to go for periods without any.  I  know that I posted in 2008 that I had got to the stage of classifying my night escapades as dreams (ok, perhaps even pleasant but I'd rather just sleep), night ponies (I'd rather have had a dream and, in any case I don't usually remember them), night mares (not very pleasant at all but usually forgotten within a day or so) and, worst of all, night stallions (which cause me to wake in a fearful sweat, which often remain with me for weeks and which come back again and again both when I'm asleep and awake).

Anyway I've been having a lot of dreams and mild night ponies recently and I woke up this morning to one bordering on being a night mare and the first thing I said to myself was just how thankful I was that it wasn't a full-blown nightmare.  Then I realised that it was Thursday and my Thankful Thursday post was already written for me.

I'm very thankful for a relatively 'quiet' period in my dreaming life.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Only 93 Days Until Christmas

So I decided I'd better get a move on and make Christmas cakes.  So on Saturday I bought the ingredients and yesterday I soaked the fruit in brandy and this afternoon I set too and made the first two.

They came out of the oven at 11.30pm and can cool overnight. Tomorrow they will be fed and wrapped up in silicone paper and then silver foil and all that I have to do is feed them every so often until it's time for them to be iced (or given away for the recipient to ice them: it's not my forté).

Monday 22 September 2014

The Kelpies

A couple of weeks ago Anna and I decided to take a trip one afternoon from Bishopbriggs over to Falkirk to see something neither of us had yet seen: The Kelpies.  I'd been reminded of them recently in Blogland by Violet Sky who has been inside them and who has done several posts.   Anna and I decided just to stay on the outside (I couldn't have climbed up or, rather, having climbed up I'd be unlikely to get down easily).

The links to the Kelpies website above will shows some exceptional photos far better than I could ever have the opportunity to take but here's a few tasters of the 30 metre high sculptures:

I've shown the last photo because it shows the red barriers close up.  The sculptures have a water ditch around their bases.  It's an interesting feature.  I don't know what happened to require the unsightly barriers but presumably either someone decided to fall into the (very shallow water)  or the Health and Safety Police deemed it a hazard.  Whatever the answer it's an eyesore and I hope it's sorted out soon. 

Whatever one thinks of the photos seeing the sculptures in the flesh (to use a rather inapposite phrase) is so much better.  If you can I'm sure all who've seen them would suggest you do too.

Friday 19 September 2014

Historic Vote Says Yes

by a massive 85% to 15% to admitting women members in the 260 year old Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.  

Of course that's only a part of the serious issue of single sex golf clubs.  Many are female only.  Hopefully for those who see this as an anachronism or, as one commentator said recently: "A club that doesn’t allow men is just as contemptible as a club that doesn’t allow women. You can’t be offended by one and not the other and still expect to be a credible voice on the matter."

Oh and by the way as everyone now knows the UK is intact.  55% voted in favour of retaining the Union and 45% in favour of an Independent Scotland.  The turnout was astonishing with a record-breaking  84.6% of registered voters casting a vote.

I hope that everyone will accept the result without recriminations and without gloating.  

I have always said that after the vote, whatever the result, nothing will ever be the same again in the UK.  I maintain that stance.  The question of 'the English question' is, at this very moment being debated on the television.  The Prime Minister has put it firmly on the agenda. 

Thursday 18 September 2014

Thankful Thursday

This morning I woke to blanket fog.  It's still foggy and  it looks as if it could be foggy a lot in Scotland this evening. 

For 20 years I was either a Depute or Returning Officer for the Western Isles of Scotland. A Returning Officer is the person with responsibility for the organisation and conduct of elections in the area.  For the Referendum the Returning Officer is called The Counting Officer (just to confuse).

What is one of the worst nightmares for the Counting Officer (apart from the mathematical possibility of a dead heat)?  Fog!  In many parts of Scotland and particularly in the Western Isles, helicopters are used to get the votes in from outlying areas to the count.  In the pre-helicopter days it could take over a day to get all the ballot boxes in using a naval vessel.  Communications have improved since those days but even so a count by 7am tomorrow would be unlikely.

So today I am very thankful that is one worry I don't have.  

Having said that today is The Day.  The Day that Scotland's voters will decide the way they hope their country will go.  It is also the day when voters will decide, to some extent, the future of the United Kingdom.  The only thing anyone can guarantee is that nothing will ever be the same again for those who live in Scotland and, perhaps, for those who live in the rest of the United Kingdom.

I, and a great many others, will be thankful that at least the decision making process will be over: no more constant bombardment by television, radio and newspapers seeking to influence voters.  Instead we will be bombarded for a while at least by analyses of where everything went wrong (perhaps even some analyses of who did what correctly).

What happens after that will depend on the result.  Another 21 hours if the fog lifts!

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Sorry If I'm Boring You.

This morning I woke so it was, as I always say, a Good Morning.  

I made a resolution as I was getting up to do nothing at all until I had finished at least two emails from my ever-lengthening list.  It is now over three hours later and I still haven't even added a word to one I started yesterday.  Shame on me.

However - and I really will try and make this the last post this winter on the subject - as I walked into the kitchen I was met with this 

and, yes, the sea really was ablaze like that.  Before I knew it my resolve had evaporated and I'd reached for my camera.  By the time I'd downloaded the images I had switched on the morning news to see what everyone was saying on this the last pre-Referendum morning and then, as always, managed to get side-tracked by a few emails and so on as well as the scene developing over the next hour or so across The Minch to the West Coast of the Scottish Highlands.

I have so many more blog topics waiting in the wings so I'll try and get some more variety in over the next few days.

Saturday 13 September 2014


I arrived home last night after a slightly extended journey at the very last minute when the ferry, 10 mins out of Ullapool, had to return to its berth to pick up a passenger who had gone to the toilet in the terminal and obviously been there for a very long time given that passengers embark before all the cars at the moment while the new terminal is being built for the new ferry due next month.  In 40 years travel on the ferry I've never known it return before.

I woke this morning to another glorious sight: the sun through the mist heralding yet another glorious day.  Obviously I had to take a couple of photos.  

The garden has gone mad and the grass is 6" high again and the sun has encouraged more algae in the pond than I've had all summer.  Ah well plenty to keep me busy outdoors (and delay all my communications and Blogland catching up).

However this glorious, still, warm morning means something else too:  The Return of The Midges.  Arghhhhhh.

Thursday 11 September 2014


Yesterday I spent much of the day having scans at Ayr hospital.  In the evening we settled down to a wee treat ending with a little bit of heaven:

Rioja and a rather ripe Epoisses and a few other cheeses.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

An Unexpected Afternoon

We walked back to the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow from lunch in a Rioja a tapas bar that had been recommended to us and which lived up to the recommendation.  As we were passing the bowling greens which had been used for the Commonwealth Games and which used to be the home of the Glasgow Croquet Club I saw one of the members whom I know playing but with no opponent.  I went over for a chat and discovered that there was a likelihood that the Club would return to these lawns.  I ended up playing for a few hours.  I discovered that I can still play!  The backdrop for the lawns is the spectacular Kelvingrove building. 

With Friends

I spent Friday night with friends in Callander.  It's a lovely little town which holds some very happy memories for me.  In fact, outside of Lewis, it's a place I could settle and feel at home.

There are several 'traditions' associated with my visits.  One is an evening visit to The Waverley on the main street for a wee libation with friends and acquaintances.  The other is the tradition that the same friends have of meeting for breakfast each day.  On Saturday it is usually at Dun Whinny's: which is where it was on Saturday.

The beautiful little Dun Whinny's CafĂ©  
It's very welcoming but hard to photograph because there is usually a car parked in front.

Monday 8 September 2014

On Paradigms and Things

I arrived at Anna's late Saturday after a long lunch in Glasgow with David (of David and Molly Dog).

She recounted the story of asking her 13 year old that afternoon what she was reading.  The answer was "It's a book about subverting the paradigm."  Now I don't know about you but I certainly don't recall subverting any paradigms when I was 13. 

I do like this door at the end of Ancaster Square in Callander though:

Saturday 6 September 2014

A Journey Through The Highlands

Yesterday I drove south from Strathcarron to Callander which is a beautiful, indeed spectacular at times, journey.  Apart from the 15 or so miles out of Strathcarron from the main Skye to Fort William road, it's a journey I do fairly frequently.  Of course as the driver one misses out on a great deal of the scenery whilst concentrating on the road but yesterday I stopped quite a lot and savoured the experience despite the rather inclement weather.

Pleasure cruiser on Loch Linnhe near Fort William
Fishing vessel sailing up the loch
Just 'cos I liked the picture 
The glowering mountains overlooking Rannoch Moor and the entrance to Glen Coe (off pic to the right)
The mists and clouds over the mountains to Ben Nevis
A slight detour to Killin and a look at the Falls of Dochart
And all of a sudden I was taken back to Northland with Pauline looking at old churches made of  wrinkly tin (corrugated iron)

Thursday 4 September 2014

Thankful Thursday: A Wedding

Today I went to another wedding: that of, Joanna, the elder daughter of Friend Who Knows Too Much.  It was held in Lochcarron deep in the heart of the Scottish Highlands where Joanna has found her little bit of heaven on this earth.  I felt very privileged indeed that Peter and Joanna invited me.  Joanna and her sister Caroline have been two special people in my life.  So today I am very thankful to have seen Jodi (for that is what Joanna is usually called) so happy.

FWKTM with her Mum and Dad (young and daft as always)
and reverting to the elder statesman that he is.
Caroline and her partner Micheal
Yes.   This really was the bride's choice of transport from the church to the reception.
The groom is a shepherd and gamekeeper and dogs are important (even, in this case, retired ones). 
Unfortunately I didn't take an appropriate photo that demonstrated just how lovely the bride was (is) so I thought  I'd show you Jodi in full call.
No set of wedding photos would be complete without a photo of discarded shoes

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Reflections of New Zealand: White Water Rafting

In a comment on my last post Frances Garrood mentioned that she fancied white water rafting.  Given that her last post was entitled My Brush With Death and simply referred to a quiet afternoon with a young grandson I thought that I would show a few of the photos from my white water rafting in New Zealand back in 2006.

A 'quiet' fall
Approaching the biggie
You have to get it absolutely right 

We did
The highest commercially run drop in the Southern Hemisphere
Through successfully
I would add that the boat after us didn't and everyone was thrown into the water at the bottom.  The guides, who had all been having good fun until that moment, suddenly turned exceptionally professional and their training and calmness together with the first class briefings we had had meant that no one was hurt.  It was a very 'bonding' experience though because the two boats that were already down (we were the second) had to pick up all those from the upturned boat.