Friday, 23 November 2012

Webs and Blogs

I have been talking to people a lot recently about websites and blogs.  It is interesting to hear that for many people who set up a blog as a hobby, they have found themselves increasingly welcomed into the realm of quasi-journalism.  We are all bloggers now - even if it is only putting up a comment on Facebook or a review on TripAdvisor.  With online profiles and avatars (like the aggressive chicken I know well), we are all building our own online persona without much effort.

Of particular interest are the ones who set up a site as a hobby/ to show they can do it and find themselves with advertising, subscribers and free offers of things to trial and review.  My theory on this is that if you can find the online thing that no one else is doing, you might manage to earn quite a lot of money for not really doing anything!  I set this blog up purely so I could see how one creates a blog and then how easy/difficult it was to think of things to write about and find the time to do it.  So it was a personal education rather than the desire to build an online persona or a passion for writing about things.  This could be why my posts are so sporadic!

However, following this and following the conversations I am having with people who set up sites themselves, I am building the plan for an idea in my head.  I won't earn money from it, I am sure, but I will continue to enjoy talking about my job and building my understanding of online techniques.

The other thing I am learning about is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but that is definitely another post on another day!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


How much do we all love champagne?  Somehow, mention of the drink just brings out the best in everyone. This August I have been working with the Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar at the Signet Library.  This pop-up delight is running throughout the Edinburgh Festivals and is set within a normally quiet and empty library in a gorgeous historic building.  It is a lovely retreat from the Festival.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Canada Day

We are in Vancouver.  In a few days we are going to the west coast of Vancouver Island for a beach holiday, but for now we are enjoying the city.  And our timing is superb - yesterday we were in the city centre on Canada Day.  I can only compare the mass celebrations with something like the Queen's Jubilee.  Everyone was wearing red and white and flags, badges and tattoos were being handed out everywhere.  There was a huge concert, a full day of stalls, parties, celebrations, a parade and then a big firework display at the end.  It was a wonderful day to be in the city and to witness the patriotism.  It started rainy in the morning and then the sun shone, so it was a great day for everyone.  When we got back to our holiday apartment the owners were having a celebratory barbeque and had flags hung out on their house.  Good fun to witness it all.  Some of us have already cycled round Stanley Park, we have been to a city beach, eaten some gorgeous sushi, had some awesome cheescake at Tree Organics, but tonight (this is totally bizarre!) we are going to the cinema to watch 'Brave' - a film about Scotland .  That bit is not exactly a good example of immersing ourselves in the local culture....!!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


I think it is rugby that is played by men with funny shaped balls.  Cricket is a bisexual game played by both men and women.  I may not be that great at it myself, though I am getting more practice as time goes on.  My children play - 1 boy and 1 girl.  They both love the game but have had the most terrible season, with all the rain.  Scotland is maybe not the best place to play cricket!  Though it IS a good place because there are so many opportunities for them to play - we just need it to stay a bit drier ...  It has rained a lot this summer and both are starved of games.  Now we are off to Vancouver for a few weeks where I believe they have a cricket team.  We will have to look it out.  If I find it, I shall blog it.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A Bit More World Book Night

World Book Night is collating giver stories for a blog.  Definitely worth a read. Particularly the one about the 57 year old woman who cannot read and write.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

World Book Night

This week Monday was World Book Night.  A charitable event created by publishers and the book industry to encourage reading.  They aim to give away 1m books.  Some direct and some via "givers" who nominate themselves online and say which of 25 titles they would like to give away.  If successful the giver has 24 copies of the chosen book delivered to a library or bookshop, they pick them up and then give them away.  Last year I had The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark - a crucial book as it was reading it and being so amazed by its structure that I decided to study English at university.  This year I have Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.  While it has no claims as lofty as Jean Brodie in its impact on my life, it is a terrific book and one I have always loved, partly because of its reflections and links to Jane Eyre - my all time favourite book.  I hope Jane Eyre is on the list one day!

For more information about World Book Night go to

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A week in the Lake District

We had vowed never to return to the Lake District after counting 80 people on top of Haystacks one summer weekend, but the lure of a family get together with great walking thrown in was just too much.  We spent the week in a gorgeous house just near Shap, in spitting distance (though we didn't) of the Lakes.  For some of the party it was an introduction to hill walking - though maybe doing Striding Edge on Helvellyn in the snow was not the most sensible walk for a novice.  But they enjoyed it and we had a few days of great hills in the snow and with brilliant views in between some nice family time.
I didn't take my camera on this walk, which was a mistake.  We were up the High Street - a great ridge walk up and then superb views across the hills.  I had to take this on my iphone and really regretted not taking the camera.  It still looks fab though.

Next stop - a quick southerly Munro at the beginning of May when I will take my camera!

Friday, 9 March 2012

More Industrial Iconography

As the art project continues, we have had a visit to the new Riverside Museum in Glasgow.  As a design, this museum is gorgeous.  It has been created so beautifully and thoughtfully.  For example, the area that is devoted to Clyde shipbuilding has a superb gyrating machine that carries models of the notable ships built in the area.  It is mesmerising and as each ship passes a plasma screen, details come up about it.  But most amazing is that as you leave the area of the museum, there is a huge picture window that gives a view of the Clyde and all the old shipbuilding warehouses and cranes. So you immediately know you are at the point of living history.  A brilliant piece of design.  Secondly, there is a fabulous reflection of the Tall Ship - Glenlee - in the glass wall of the museum.

My daughter was photographing the Pilcher Bat - an example of design that changed the world, I am told.  The Pilcher designs are known for being the original aircraft that actually flew.  A pity that he died in the process!  The one in the Riverside is a copy and is a bit incongruous as part of the exhibition as the Riverside focus is on Clyde shipbuilding and wheeled transport - so, as the only aviation exhibit, this looks lovely, but is not relevant to the rest of the museum. The original Pilcher Hawk - the best known and the first, is at the Museum of Flight in East Lothian, but is not currently on display.  The curator told me when I called that it was likely to be moved to the new Museum (see other posts!) in central Edinburgh when they open some more galleries.  We hope so because despite their obvious (death-inducing) faults, they are wonderful designs.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


It has been a weekend of bridges this week.  My daughter is collating photographs for her Higher Art and wanted some pictures of industrial objects including bridges.  So we went out to South Queensferry - a lovely out of town trip for another day with more time in it - to take pictures of the Forth Bridge.  See below.  What a wonderful piece of Victorian engineering it is!  If I am honest, however, from a design and symmetry point of view, I prefer the Road Bridge which is more majestic.

We also went to the National Museum on Chambers Street.  I have written about this before as it has recently reopened after a major refurbishment and looks fantastic with some real thought about how the collections overlap and about the design of the collections, creating shapes and images.  However, we were mainly in the Museum of Scotland section which is relatively new, but not part of the refurbishment.  This is a picture of what I consider the most interesting thing in the whole museum (apart, maybe from the Lewis Chessmen).  It is a piece of the original Tay Bridge.  Badly built and beset by troubles, the bridge collapsed into the Tay in 1879 killing everyone on board the train crossing it at the time.  This piece of bridge was found in a house in Broughty Ferry!  It is the way the end of it is ripped, as thought it were made of plasticine, that amazes me. A really fascinating close up of how even what seems to be the strongest of things is actually pliable and breakable.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Happy Birthday Mr Dickens

"I have in my employ a literary man with a wooden leg" - my favourite Dickens character is Nicodemus Boffin.  While some Dickens can be hard to read , he would have benefited from a firm editor, there are some great characters and brilliant plotlines.

The picture is nothing to do with Dickens.  I just thought this page was rather bleak without anything more picturesque on it.  This is actually a very good drawing of Elie in Fife done by a good friend.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Poetry Time

As well as coffee shops, I really enjoy poetry.  I confess that it is my choice of "loo literature" and although totally unfashionable, I just love reading it.  I know very few other people who are up for a chat about it, but read and love it nonetheless.  I also love Scotland's islands - their character, remoteness and just their gorgeousness.  An old friend, therefore, gave me the most perfect present recently - A copy of a poetry anthology called These Islands we Sing.  These are poems about the islands.  Some are better than others, it must be said!  But they all bring out the character of the remoteness and individuality.

Rather than a picture, today I am sharing a poem with you.  I particularly like this one, written by a poet and fiction/non fiction author - Andrew Greig.   He is a great writer.  Some of his novels are really worth reading (In Another Light / The Return of John McNab) and his poetry is wonderful.  Here is the one about Orkney (not sure about copyright on doing this, but I feel sure, having heard him at the Book Festival, that he would like the appreciation!):

Orkney / This Life
For Catherine and Jamie

It is big sky and its changes,
the sea all round and the waters within.
It is the way sea and sky
work off each other constantly,
like people meeting in Alfred Street,
each face coming away with a hint
of the other's face pressed in it.
It is the way a week-long gale
ends and folk emerge to hear
a single bird cry way high up.

It is the way you lean to me
and the way I lean to you, as if
we are each other's prevailing;
how we connect along our shores,
the way we are tidal islands
joined for hours then inaccessible,
I'll go for that, and smile when I
pick sand off myself in the shower.
The way I am an inland loch to you
when a clatter of white whoops and rises...

It is the way Scotland looks to the South,
the way we enter friends' houses
to leave what we came with, or flick
the kettle's switch and wait.
This is where I want to live,
close to where the heart gives out,
ruined, perfected, an empty arch against the sky
where birds fly through instead of prayers
while in Hoy Sound the fern's engines thrum
this life this life this life.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year - here go the resolutions!

If your New Year resolution is to lose weight and get fit, this blog (see link below) will ensure you do not include Coke or Diet Coke within it!

Here is a picture to cheer up the New Year and my rather healthy-focused posting...