Monthly Archives: September 2011

St.James gets it wrong


Not St.James in the Bible, the St.James Centre in Edinburgh. We all make mistakes, but if I was responsible for this one I’d be ashamed to show my face in public. It is a St.James Centre sign, not Costa. But didn’t Costa check or approve it before the Centre was allowed to use it? Did the copywriter get it wrong? All these new signs seem to be computer flat screens, so didn’t the person who set up the program notice? Or the person who set up the signs themselves? Or the St.James Centre manager? Whatever happened to Quality Control?

There is another possibility of course – that all these people noticed, and they thought it was right. Like the dentist.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Prepare for take-off


No shortage of bees and butterflies on Eupatorium Purpureum ‘Gateway’at Calley Gardens near Castle Douglas last week. I can’t say I have noticed this plant before and it was only because it was smothered in butterflies (well, 20 or 30) and bees (50 to 100) that it attracted me. Before you dash out and buy one be warned – this is not a window-box plant. What you don’t see in my photo is the eight-or-so feet of plant the red admiral is perched on. I was holding the camera high above my head.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Slime Mould in your grass

I remember reading somewhere that this stuff (or yellow variations of it), is harmless. It is not. According to Professor Roy Watling this ‘Dog’s Vomit Fungus’ fuligo septica has spores that can enter the pores in your skin and cause VERY NASTY THINGS to happen there. It appeared in my grass this time last year and it is there again now. If you get it, don’t simply mow it. Use a plastic bag over your hand and do that dog-poo thing with it. Tear up the grass to lift it up. Bag it and bin it. Best not to breathe while you are doing it. And wash your hands. Here endeth…. etc.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham


I never thought I would find myself sitting in the stalls at the Alhambra Theatre in Dumfermline listening to, and watching, box and fiddle men (their description) Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham. I should explain: a) I have long legs. After my experiences in the Playhouse in Edinburgh I am wary of seats in old theatres – but the Alhambra’s are excellent, they are soft and comfortable and you don’t have to tuck your knees up under your chin like I had to do in the Playhouse; b) though I have heard these two musicians on the BBC on New Year’s Eve and know they are good, whenever I see a Scots accordion player I am haunted by memories of having to listen to my father’s collection of Jimmy Shand LPs.

What I didn’t expect from Aly and Phil was the banter and the anecdotes. They were brilliant, I haven’t laughed so much for ages….

You can get an idea of what it was like here

(Just seen that they are to visit Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall on 1st October)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rock Band

This year’s uncharactiscally heavy rains have brought an unexpected problem. You have probably noticed that since postmen were told that the elastic bands used to bundle their letters are biodegradable they have taken to scattering them in the way Johnny Appleseed scattered seeds. Trouble is, rather like radioactive elements and their half-lives, they seem to take a million years to self-destruct. Even worse, spores from the little blighters get between the joints in my drive, and as you can see in the photo, they have begun to sprout. Any more weather like this and I shall be knee-deep in the things. I’m thinking of asking Whitmuir Organics if I can borrow their potato harvester.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Animals at Edinburgh’s Botanics


It is now two weeks since I went to Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens. Argueably August isn’t the most obvious time to visit because it is an in-between time, when the best of the flowers are fading and the colours of Autumn aren’t yet with us (though judging by our recent Autumnal mornings and evenings they will be with us soon). The reason I went to the Botanics was to look at the animals. No, not the zoo, the Botanic Gardens…, and to prove it I have attached a few examples. Unfortunately the menagerie closed on Sunday, but here is the Jungle City website (I don’t know how long that will be up either, but judging by some of the pages on the web it could be around for years).
Yes, these are steel washers (stainless, I hope), each one welded to the next. Labour of love, or what?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The freedom to play

Funny how things you haven’t thought of for years suddenly come to mind. What triggered my latest flashback was reading about children not having the freedom to do their own thing, to swim in rivers or play on the edge of them with a fishing net trawling for newts and taddies (the newts bit, here). In that regard I was lucky and I’m sure I know why. My parents had been through a war, and waking up alive each morning was probably all they could hope for. If your boy (I don’t want to sound sexist, but it seemed to be only boys) wanted to go off and do his own thing, that was fine. He told you he was going to a friend’s house. From there he went and stood on the banks of a river in spate, wondering if it was worth using his fishing net or if the newts and taddies had already been swept out to sea – like he would be if he got too close to the water… or simply jammed under a bridge and drowned, like a boy later that same day.

I had a friend who stared at me in disbelief when I admitted to him that I had never broken an arm. I was 13 at the time and he had already broken both of his – on separate occasions – and he didn’t play sport. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not advocating a return to all that. But we do need to do something. As a father and grandfather, I’m still not sure what that is. Send your answers on a postcard…

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized