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Thanks to Colin Hay for the picture of the band taken last night,  when After 8 Mince played a Christmas gig for our local chums.  Special thanks to everyone for turning up on a freezing cold night, and to the ladies for serving the refreshments.








Also cheers to my old school chum Campbell for this, the 13 Yule Lads of Iceland.  

Yule lads









Ex Africa semper aliquid novi.

Button it

Well, having looked up buttons on Wiki I found myself, within five seconds, analysing my hands for a possible  deformity known as boutonnière’s.  Beware the internet my son, to paraphrase Lewis Carroll.   Did you know that the word chortle comes from his poem?  I didn’t.  So, on to the matter in hand, a creative project has unfurled before me, that has not happened in a long time.  I still have mum’s button box, and have decided to liberate some of the contents.  Finished articles may or may not be revealed soon.


We have finally made the leap from a diesel powered car to an electric one.   Friends are already learning not to ask us how we travelled when we meet up…..  suffice to say it requires a whole new attitude to travelling.  We’ve been to a few places not usually on our our map, especially football stadiums, and have encountered some interesting attitudes.   Some people take it as a personal affront and a (literally) silent  criticism of those driving petrol and diesel vehicles. it isn’t, it’s simply our choice, and yes we do know that the electricity used to charge the battery is still 80% derived from fossil fuel sources.   It’s also very difficult not to make awful puns all the time, and I have  already made up a playlist on Spotify.  This may or may not show up below.  Anyway, adventures beckon!


Elsewhere, we took a very busy train into Edinburgh last night for a free mini gig, Karine Polwart was launching her new album at Coda Music on Bank Street, we were entertained to five (six?) tracks and some chat from the lady herself, on the first evening that we have been in to see the festive lights, it was all quite magical.  The album is A Pocket of Wind Resistance and it showcases most of the material from her recent stage show.  We were fortunate enough to see this  in 2016 and since she is one of my all time favourite singer songwriters, I was so delighted that tears may have been shed.  But, oh yes, there’s a but, I would have been foolish and naïve to expect that everyone there would understand the concept of queuing, on a cold, dark night in November, in Scotland, for a free gig with no seats.  So for the folk who moaned their faces off in said queue, I hope that you were uplifted by the end.

We had intended to treat ourselves to a snifter in our favourite pub, but it and all those around were hoachin’, so we trotted off home instead.

Note re Spotify list – I have not listened to the Raffles the Dog track and its inclusion is somewhat of a mystery to me*.  It may therefore be a Parental Advisory number.   Some of the other songs are very rude too.

RIP Malcolm Young.

*The car is a Nissan Leaf.  I toyed with the idea of naming after an infamous thief (tea-leaf) but Raffles just doesn’t fit.


Corporation Road II


On my red swing I swept

high as its iron

chains allowed, the sky


I rushed toward disdained

to gather me; I birded up,

dizzied by its blue, its ungovernable clouds –


come back, said the Earth

I have your shadow.


Kathleen Jamie,  The Bonniest Companie, Picador 2015

Memories of Shieldhill swing park, flaking paint and iron scented hands, climbing the chute steps and staunchly certain that I was closer to heaven.

Travellin’ folk

Well, the dearth of posts lately will surely suffice to indicate that once again it has been a very busy time here.    Since our holiday we have also had a memorable trip to Glasgow to spend time with the Whites and Burgesses,  the main driver of which was to have a meal together at the Chip.   Happily all those invited were able to attend and 75% of us bagged a hotel room overlooking the Clyde.   Not content with that, we also took a power boat ride up past the Museum of Transport, and some of us tried on a posh frock, just to see….

After 8 Mince played three gigs in one week, each one unique and with very different audiences.  Good experience all round.   We saw this play which was excellent,  and gradually came round to the idea that autumn is here.  Dark evenings and glorious leaf litter abound.

The end of an era in Beadnell was announced as Mick and Allyson move on from the Beadnell Towers Hotel,  I understand that a makeover is planned but I do hope they keep the objets d’art in the rooms, and the gold fish.  We wish them all well.

Beside the Clyde
Finnieston Crane
Rainbow Armadillo




















Peter Pan, Beadnell
Mermaid, Beadnell



After 8 Mince played to raise money for West Fife Guide Dogs on Friday, which was fun, as many of the canine superstars were in attendance, and some even joined in the singing.  Here we all are with Innes the puppy, many thanks to Karen Yates for the picture.

A8M with Innes









Yes, I did have to be helped up from that pose, but in my defence I had just stood for an hour in a fairly cramped space, wondering what was going to happen when I started playing the penny whistle in a room full of dogs.*


*Nothing.  They are very well trained, you know.

Argentum vacation

As is my wont, I looked up silver on Wikipedia and within three clicks happened upon the delightful phrase “metals of antiquity“, which I think quite aptly describes a milestone wedding anniversary.  The poking about further elicited the notion that metals are malleable, fusible and ductile; going over those terms in detail, l was struck by the last – within the metallurgy concept it means able to be pulled into a wire but it also comes from the Latin ducere, meaning to lead.  Dad often told us that the word education meant to lead out.  Now that’s off my chest, we may proceed.

Wanders north took us to Invergarry, Ratagan, Glenelg, Plockton, Portree, Broadford, the Trotternish peninsula, Ardtornish, Glenfinnan, Lochaline and Tobermory.  We had one boat trip (Sula Mhor, Plockton) and five ferry rides.  Planned but eventually off the travel menu were journeys to St Kilda and Loch Coruisk.   This was not unexpected and only serves as a reason to return.  The weather was in general, bad, occasionally awful and sometimes gorgeous.  The wildlife kept itself hidden, as did the stars, although we did see a juvenile golden eagle from the living room window of our cottage on Skye. We saw changes, having not been to these parts from some five years, maybe more, but we also heard voices from long ago and in every way had a most enjoyable time.  I have waaay too many photos to choose from so, as ever, an eclectic selection below.  Bear in mind that in order to take the shot of the train we had to share a wee hump of a hill with 300 others –  all shouting about a boy wizard going to school ….

Red sandstone by Loch Duich
Glenelg broch
Glenelg broch
Ferry at Kylerhea narrows
Loch Duich from Ratagan hostel
Salty Sam with Ratagan Bear
Eilean Donan castle
Eilean Donan castle
Beautiful Plockton in the rain
Wet birds (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Salty on the Sula Mhor
Old Man of Storr
View from Achacroik
Garden of Castle Cottage, Ardtornish
Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel
Jacobite train crossing Glenfinnan viaduct
Ardtornish Castle, Kinlochaline



Set fair

It’s over a year since we were invited to Hayley and Scott’s wedding, and we have just returned from the event,  which we thoroughly enjoyed.   Neither of us managed to keep it together sufficiently not to blub,  and if wee Vivi didn’t get the email about being perfectly behaved, then so what, in the end it added to the charm of the day.

In all probability we wouldn’t have been successful in the ballot to walk across the Queensferry Crossing, so it was enough to see and feel the excitement from family and friends who were.  We were very busy sharing in another equally unique and emotional occasion. Photos of the event elsewhere,  below some shots from about 06:35 on the morning of the big day.

The Angel Inn at Hetton was lovely, our room had a private garden, unfortunately vespula vulgaris didn’t read the Keep Out signs so we beat a hasty retreat, but that aside it was delightful.   We did watch a wren hopping over the bushes, and a flock of around fifty or so swallows cried and dipped and swooped continually overhead.

BTW, I know the picture of the weather vane is the wrong way round, but if I flipped it then it would not be the picture that I originally took.  There’s enough misrepresentation in the media just now as it is.

View from the room
Garden of the Inn
Garden of the Inn 2
Dawn sky with telegraph wire
Honesty box
Rush hour hell in Hetton



After a jolly nice scone with coffee at an Edinburgh garden centre, and a good blether with Rosemary and Susan,  I was reminded of this lovely poem by D H Lawrence.

Bavarian Gentians

Not every man has gentians in his house
in Soft September, at slow, Sad Michaelmas.

Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark
darkening the daytime torch-like with the smoking blueness
of Pluto’s gloom,
ribbed and torch-like, with their blaze of darkness spread
down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of
white day
torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto’s dark-
blue daze,
black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue,
giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter’s pale lamps
give off light,
lead me then, lead me the way.

Reach me a gentian, give me a torch!
let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of a flower
down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on
even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted
to the sightless realm where darkness is awake upon the dark
and Persephone herself is but a voice
or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark
of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense
among the splendour of torches of darkness, shedding
darkness on the lost bride and her groom.

Mum grew alpines, including gentians, with a wee bit success; Sherry loved the gentians because they reminded her of so many trips to the Matterhorn and Rosemary liked the one Mum called a periwinkle.  Indeed, she recently gave me a plant too.  I have called it periwinkle for so long that I have to cudgel my brain to come up with the correct name which I think is Lithodora?  Anyway, it means “stone gift” which would seem appropriate!

Another work in stone below, a few weeks ago I was on a mission to obtain various articles via the legendary charity shops in Stockbridge when I passed by this edifice I have not noticed before.

Stockbridge St Stephen Place









Three bridges I







Above a shot of the bridges taken from the high up layby between Aberdour and Burntisland.  At least one member of the family will be able to  walk over the new Queensferry Crossing on the open weekend, before QEII arrives to sanction the moniker, and we look forward to seeing his pictures of that event.  I hope that we manage to drive across on the first day.

Lastly I thought of stone and blue together and arrived at diamond, from an old story in which a bloke went mining for those stones in Africa, hit a layer of impenetrable blue rock and gave up, but not before chopping out a slab to carry around with him to remind himself of his hubris.  The sun weakened the stone slab over the years, and of course it cracked open to reveal a giant stone of many carats.   The word diamond comes from  Ancient Greek ἀδάμας – adámas “unbreakable” hence adamant.