Sunday, September 30, 2007


Hi all. I've been away in Tuscany. I didn't really want to advertise the fact before I left for obvious reasons.

We had a wonderful time, the weather was glorious apart from one almighty thunderstorm, and even that was exhilarating.

We stayed in a valley up one of the many "white roads", which are unmetalled limestone tracks, and the scenery was beautiful, especially as the vines were all starting to be tinged with autumn. I got up with the first rays of the sun and went out with the camera and I've got lots of shots to edit. But most of all I enjoyed watching the deer and other wildlife at that hour of the day.

The photograph is of some old ladders made from olive wood below an olive tree.

We also visited Sienna and a lot of the smaller hill towns round about - Piezna was our nearest town. I'll write more about the trip later, just got too much to catch up on around here! (I also hope to go to Wigtown Book Festival this week to hear Judi Benson read.)

I got back last night and today's excitement was my son turning up unannounced to say that he'd just got off the bus from town en route to his part time job and he'd had managed to leave his wallet on the bus seat. So we jumped in the car and I drove him to the Dunbar in the hope of catching up with the bus.

99.9% of the time we'd have missed catching up with it, or someone would have taken the damned wallet - but this time we were lucky, we caught up with it at the terminus in Dunbar, just as it was about to leave and his wallet was still on the seat where he'd left it - with everything inside!

So the Gods are with us today lol :)

Other good news is that Historic Scotland so liked my shot for the SCAPE competition that they've given me a year's membership and are going to do a wee piece on it/me in their house magazine.

I also had some haiku accepted by Haiku Scotland following on from our Coldingham renga being published by them this month and I got short listed in the Tyne and Esk writers' competition. Jo Gibson won the East Lothian section, which was well deserved as I've just read the collection she's put together under Colin's imprint and it's good stuff. I'm just pleased to have improved on last year. A few of us are getting together once a month on a Tuesday to try and work together to improve our poetry writing and I'm really looking forward to that. I've got three or four draft poems from Tuscany and I hope take the best one to the group.

Will look in on you all soon, so don't give up on me - meanwhile a chicken needs roasted, tatties need peeled, washing needs unloaded and I need a G&T.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beware the company you keep

Excellent letter in today's Glasgow Herald re Brown taking tea with Thatcher. The letter is short and sweet, it points out that the last time the writer saw Thatcher taking tea it was with Pinochet and reminds Gordon about being judged on the company he keeps.

This will now make a great pub quiz question, eg

Q. What do Gordon Brown and General Pinochet have in common?

A. They've both quaffed Earl Grey with Margaret Thatcher.

Meanwhile the Northern Rock thing rumbles on. I wish I was a cartoonist, I'd draw Alistair Darling rowing out in stormy seas to relieve a battered Northern Rock light, while his Mam, Gordon, looks on anxiously from the shore.

I wonder when mortgage holders will be told how they stand? If it is sold off will they incur new rates from the purchaser(s)? The people should be told, as the papers like to say.

There's a lot at stake here, not least Labour's credibility about being good with money.

And the banks are quick to charge their customers, so it's about time they all came clean and at least told each other and the Treasury just how exposed they are to this mess.

Where's the Gordon bounce now? Foot and mouth is back, including WA's appointment north of the border and one in five British mortgage holders don't know what's going on with their single biggest investment, upon which is predicated their old age pension and probably their kids tertiary education, given we have to be self-sufficient in all things these days.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I submitted some stock pix yesterday. I liked this. It is pine needles fallen on a puddle, and I thought it would make a great texture layer for graphic artists, but it got rejected. Hey ho, but I still like it.

It's wet here today, so I'll leave the garden and concentrate on holiday clothes and my piano practise. I feel like I'm getting a little better at the piano. I'll never be a natural, but I'm glad I didn't give up earlier on because I'm starting to enjoy it.

This also moved me this week. She is a remarkable young woman:

"University honour for lawyer
A US-BASED lawyer who specialises in fighting miscarriages of justice has been named Edinburgh University alumnus of the year.

Emily Maw, who is director of The Innocence Project New Orleans, received the award yesterday in recognition for her work with prisoners in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi.

In the past six years, the project has overturned 12 wrongful convictions for men sentenced to life without parole. Ms Maw, 31, was responsible for securing eight of these overturned convictions.

She was given a project grant by the Alumni Fund to take up an internship at the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Centre while a law student in Edinburgh, and returned for four years after graduation.

Her caseloads have included prisoners sentenced to death for first-degree murder and rape, and she has helped save ten people from execution.

Professor Alexander McCall Smith, Edinburgh Alumnus of the Year 2006, and a former tutor to Ms Maw, said:

"Ms Maw's determination and spirit are quite remarkable. She has probably saved lives; she has certainly prevented innocent men from spending their lives in degrading and unwarranted penal servitude."

She had a fantastic speech, which I can't find on-line, which was delivered to the freshers students. It included a plea from one of her clients, who has already served 25 years on death row, that simply said,"Do well for all those who won't ever get the chance."

See more about the project here .

This is their mission statement:

Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) represents innocent prisoners serving life sentences in Louisiana and Mississippi, and assists them with their transition into the free world upon their release. IPNO works in the states with the country's highest incarceration rates, and the highest rate of wrongful conviction in the country. By identifying and remedying cases and causes of wrongful conviction, IPNO engages in high impact, frontline advocacy in the courts of law and public opinion, and leads a community-based response to the mistakes made by our criminal justice system.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


At the Poetry School the other night Alan Gay, a very good poet indeed, read a funny Tanka he'd written about a retired general advertising in a lonely hearts column.

Tanka is a Japanese five lined poem that has seven syllables in lines 2,4 and 5 and five in lines 1 and 3.

I liked the idea so much I've tried one, though I won't swear to my syllable count as my crazy brain cells find that hard to do, so feel free to correct me if I've miscounted.

And feel free to join in, I'd love to read yours.

Here's mine:

Milkman, own
teeth, seeks dairy lover
for early morning
fun. Be my gold top, but
please, no semi-skimmed.

Paul Brady

He performed this song on a recent BBC Scotland programme that brought together Scots, Irish and American folk singers. I was in New Orleans at this time 4 years ago, and it reminds me of that visit, and it's just a lovely song.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Women's Soccer World Cup

Today I cut some topiary things in the garden, initially with some heavy electric hedge trimmers, which left me feeling all shook up, so I thought I deserved a rest on the sofa this pm.

I ended up watching Germany V England in the women's football World Cup.
England did well, though they were rubbish in the last third, they didn't have many shots on target and they wasted the few they got.

But listening to the commentary it struck me that some of the expressions should not be automatically translated across to the women's game, e.g.

"She commands her box very well!"

That had me spit laughing into my tea.

BTW did I mention we hammered France 1-0 in Paris on Wednesday :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Be the Proclaimers

See here

I'm working on an idea to send in.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007



Dad and I are enjoying cauliflower cheese,
chicken legs and thighs. Disputes over the TV doo-dah
have all but ceased, he watches the game,
I retreat upstairs to read. Loo roll lasts
twice as long, my car is never out drive
- even the washing machine is staying put,
content finally with half a load.
I can hear myself think, and some of it is sensible.

The dog misses you, he checks your room
each morning - just in case you got in late.
I’ll bring the desk-lamp up next week,
text if you need more pants or socks.
Take care son. Much love Mum


Sometimes a quick snapshot says it all. I took this shot of my husband's cousin boosting up his wee boy to retrieve a balloon at Saturday's party. I think it is my favourite shot of the day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Life's a little calmer

Well I didn't really miss my boy until today. I caught the dog looking for him in his room first thing, and that choked me up a little. It's so quiet and peaceful around here though, but he'll be back on Saturday, as he's working here on Sunday until he can get a part time job in town, no doubt with his dirty washing in tow.

He was up till 4.30am on his the first night in halls talking to all his new flatmates. I haven't felt so old as when I was putting the stuff in his room and I was surrounded by all these fresh faced young men - who I might add were all quite willing to let their Mums lug everything up the stairs!

It doesn't seem five minutes ago that I was visiting his Dad on his campus - we dated from the age of seventeen!

The 100th birthday party was fun. The old man has lived and worked in the UK since the 1940s but still has citizenship of the Irish Republic, so he got a telegram from the Queen and 2,500 Euros from the Dublin Government. I know which I'd prefer!

These are pictures from our walk on Sunday. The light was very poor, flat and gray, but the heather is late this year due to the wet summer, so the moor was still a pleasing purple. And the piece of sculpture is from the garden at Little Sparta, see entry below for link on this. The owner named it Little Sparta after he became embroiled in a tax row with Edinburgh Council over the garden's status in relation to local taxes.Edinburgh is known the Athens of the North, so he dubbed the garden Little Sparta.

I cooked N dinner last night and heard all about her Cape Town trip. Her friend there took her to meet Desmond Tutu, who is a family friend, and N said he is a wonderful man, full of all the warmth and humour that comes across on the TV. She looks well and the radio therapy seems to have reduced the bone pain, although she had an MRI yesterday on her spine and pelvis and is waiting for the results. Her spirit and sense of adventure still amazes me.

We're going off to Tuscany soon. I can't wait. I just hope there will be some early autumn sunshine to top me up for the winter.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Chasing my tail

Things are crazy around here. I'm trying to get my son organised to move into university halls today. It's not easy to get him out of first gear and things are in boxes all over the place.

Then pm we have a family 100th birthday party to go to. We bought the old guy a good bottle of single malt as he has a tot each day. My men have visions of it being like Father Ted, with the old boy saying "feck" in the corner every once in a while, but I'm sure it will be more genteel than that

Tomorrow I'm going walking with a friend, we ramble for about an hour then visit a famous garden called Little Sparta. Hope to take some photographs too., which means lugging the camera on the hike.

N. is home from Africa, but I won't see her till next week as we're both busy.

My FIL is sweet, he caught the BBC programme and called to say he was proud to have me as a daughter in law. My parents never did that sort of thing so it was really touching.

Anyway must fly, lots to do. I'll catch up with everyone next week.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

SCAPE/Glasgow Herald exhibition

This is the competition I got shortlisted for. It was featured on BBC Scotland last night. My shot wasn't specifically mentioned, but it is behind the interviewer's shoulder at the end of the piece. See here

It's about halfway through the programme.

See also here for all the runners up, just scroll through until you get to my shot. It's a B&W one.

Ciao Big Man!

Pavorotti - the only son of a baker who also happened to sing. Some critics are saying today that he didn't live up to his full potential and that he was too populist in his approach. Well only time will tell, but he's with the immortals now.
Most touching clip they played this morning was the one of him singing with his father in his home town.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Germ of a poem

Germ of a poem

backlight marran grass
a yellow stranded snail
rain on a cool tin roof
words collect, pool,run
inside my head
but there’s nothing
left to say that’s
not been better said.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Jane Tomlinson:"The date of diagnosis is not the date of death"

What an incredible life she lived. Dead at 43 having done more than most people dream of doing.

Nothing was ever going to change the outcome, but she fought it it every foot slogging step of the way.

She said, "Live your life, enjoy it, enjoy your family."

Here's to the time when this disease is beaten and women like Jane get to see their children grow up.

My sympathies go out to to her family and friends.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Picture post

Flower Show went well. It was really busy today and people seemed to like the photographs. Exhibits were down a wee bit due to the poor summer, but it was still lovely to see all the flowers, and fruit and veg.

Here are a couple of pictures of the hall and my shots, and one of the Queen's visit to the Pleasance back in July, which I help look after. I'm lurking behind the guys on the left. I'd already been introduced and she was working the line. I hate getting my picture taken so I'm pleased to be in the background.