Saturday, March 31, 2007


Looks like dad had a good day on Thursday ;-)


Just got an email from the judge in the Miller competition saying I made the final too! So it looks like the fight is on to the death with dad. Anyway we have both been invited to a party at a secret location on 19 April where judges will reveal the winner, and apparently we will be interviewed next week by the press! Cool! Watch this space for news.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I was listening to radio 2 a couple of weeks ago, nothing new there. The travel report came on in the middle of Jeremyś show. Nothing new there either. Generally the travel report is of little interest to me as it tells me about broken down lorries on the M6 or M25, however this was a snowy and windy day so Sally-Traffic had news about everywhere. It was then that it hit me once again how London-centric the BBC news still is. It was lovely to hear her warn me of hazards I may encounter - because they had gone as far as getting Scottish news, however, being so full of their own self importance it hadn´t occurred to them to look up how to pronounce anything up here, they just take it for granted that they know, or they work it out from their own weird pronunciations - such as Greenwich. So I was warned of snow in Greenock, Arrochar and Forfar. The only problem was that her pronunciations were so off that while I understood but scoffed at her GRENock, and FOURfar I actually didn´t have a clue where aROACKa was until I drove through it last Saturday and suddenly realized that she must have meant Arrochar. Give me strength!


I read this article about sleep deprivation on the bbc this morning. I hadn´t actually realized the extent of it - 2 months a year. Given I was the only one to get up during the night when my babies cried, even when I was working full-time, and given that neither Marcel nor Charlotte slept through the night until they were 15 months and Léon didn´t until he was about 14 months, then I guess I must be owed somewhere between 6 and 9 months extra sleep by now. That would explain why I am definitely wrinklier than I was 10 years ago! (Not that it wasn´t worth it - they are such precious little people)

It does make you worry about how awake half the drivers on the road at rush hour are, though, doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


So of course I entered the Glasgow competition. They chose 55 of the 70 or so photos I uploaded to be in their final selection (stick 'phyllis' in the search box to see which ones.) I then mentioned it to my dad and asked if he had any Glasgow photos. Not overly interested, I, myself went through his photo albums, signed him up and sent in a couple of his, not particularly interesting, as I thought, photos (stick 'dougie' in the search box to see these). As I had signed him up I used my mobile number, password etc for his application. I later got an email to say I had been shortlisted for the prize. Dad then got an email saying the same. The final 20, out of 2500 would be notified by phone. That was a problem - in the rush to sign up last week I skipped the phone number box on the form! Dad, of course, has now had a text on my mobile telling him he's in the final. I, on the other hand don't know how my photo was rated as they don't realize they need to phone what they think is my dad's mobile to tell me how I got on. I have a feeling I should definitely stop interfering in my parents' business this week!

Monday, March 26, 2007


A couple of weeks ago mum asked me to order 2 books from the office to complete a series she had been reading - I think there are 5 or 6 in the series and she was missing 2. I had bought all the others in the discount bookshop we have in the office. I went in but was told we no longer published the books in question. That´s a bit of a bummer, I thought, poor mum will have read her way half way through the series and will now never find out what happened next. I went onto Amazon at lunchtime figuring they´d more than likely be available on Amazon used and sure enough the 2 books popped up at 1p each - a real bargain, so I ordered her them and figured delivery to their house, given they are retired and at home all day was more sensible than me having to get them at home. A day or 2 passed, and then I remembered mum would be wondering about the books so I emailed her that we no longer stocked them but I had found and ordered them on Amazon instead...or so I thought! It turns out that what I actually emailed her was that they had them cheap on Amazon. She of course then went on to Amazon and ordered them at £5 each - brand new up-to-date copies. You can guess what happened next, of course? My old edition, used copy turned up the very next day at mum´s house - she was thrilled at their prompt service and delivery but not best pleased when she opened the package and found a used version. She got onto the seller she had ordered them from and explained that although she was very impressed by his delivery time she was not best pleased that the supposedly new copy looked rather worn and not worth the £5. He thought she was barking mad of course and a whole series of emails ensued, until yesterday afternoon, she emailed me to ask if I knew anything about mystery books arriving in her letterbox. Oops! That´ll teach me to try to be helpful.


Isn´t this sweet? Wee Léon was so happy to walk way ahead of us in the forest the other day - he just reminded me of little red riding hood in his little red coat- I half expected a wolf to jump out from behind a tree at any minute!


Is it just me or have we finally turned the corner out of that dreadful, deep, dark part of the year I so loathe? The past few days have been glorious, the smells are different, the warmth from the sun is finally penetrating our clothes and there are buds on all the trees and flowers everywhere - what a breath of fresh air. And I so glad we´re finally back on summer time - I love the light evenings and crisper mornings - it truly makes me feel happy to be alive.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I was listening to good old Jeremy Vine as always today on my way to pick up Léon from nursery. The topic up for discussion was the paedophile hysteria that some parents seem to have when it comes to people photographing their kids. Now I don't mean child pornography - just simple parents in a group of other parents taking a photo of their kids playing football together for their school or whatever. More and more schools and the likes have banned parents from photographing their own child because, if they happen to catch another child, God forbid say their kid's best friend in the shot, then that child is somehow in danger. I am a parent and a photographer so I feel qualified to comment. If Marcel's pal's mum wants a photo of them playing football together not only would I not try to have her arrested, I would positively encourage her because that is the stuff childhood memories are made of. Anyone banning this isn´t protecting their child from abuse from a stranger, on the contrary, they are the ones harming their child - they are depriving that child of pleasant evenings 30 years from now mulling over an old pile of school photos with his own kids saying - I remember that day when we won at football, I remember that kid - he was a great mate etc. That is tantamount to child abuse in my book. Most cases of paedophilia sadly happen in the home, they are kids being attacked by family members, not strangers, and whether or not someone´s parent takes or doesn´t take a photo of you dressed in a football strip and covered in mud isn´t going to make any difference at all to your safety. So get a grip and stop ruining our kids' lives with this nonsense.
As a footnote, I have to tell you about the last call from Jeremy´s show - it was astounding. After many calls from irate parents who had had their cameras confiscated for photographing their kid playing football or performing in a school play, the last bloke to ring in had the best story. Peter someone, I think from down south. He had a 5 year old granddaughter who had just started ballet classes. She asked her old Gramps to come along to her dancing display. The kid´s mum and old Gramps turned up and were about to take their seats when the dancing teacher came in. She politely asked the mum who the old man was. She replied: my father in law - you know little Rachel's grandad. The teacher replied - we don´t have permission from the other parents to let someone who is not a parent watch the other little girls in their tutus, so I´m afraid you´ll have to stand behind a screen and simply listen to but not watch the little girls dance. How do you listen to a ballet display?? Now this man didn´t even have a camera - he wasn´t even allowed to watch little Rachel's classmates - so what was achieved there? Yes of course - sobbing, heartbroken little Rachel because Grandad was sent out, hurt and victimized Grandad behind a screen, and a class of parents and little girls who would more than likely not have given a damn whether or not little Rachel´s Grandad could see their tutus. This is an outrage. If this had been 30 years ago - my grandfather could have watched and photographed me and maybe today (on what would have been his 86th birthday) I would have looked back fondly on that photo and remembered childhood, ballet (not that I was much of a ballet dancer myself) and my old Gramps. What a sad, sad place we are making this world - and completely UNNECESSARILY.
Oh and finally I hope you like the photo above of Marcel playing football with his schoolfriends: Robert, Gordon, Duncan and Cameron, while being watched by his other friends Eleanor and Sarah!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


While looking through flickr groups today I found a link to a Glasgow photo project and competition. Needless to say, I'll be on there as soon as the kids go to bed tonight to upload all my old favourites and I might even take some new ones, who knows since it runs for another week or more!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

QN ST STN 0.2m

Thomas and I were discussing sign posts the other day. He happened to point out how they can be obtuse to say the least. I noticed they often abbreviate road signs, but in a way that a native to the area can easily understand but that kind of defeats the purpose, because of course a native to the area already knows where things are. We spotted the sign I quote above for example in West Graham street. To me, a native Glaswegian, this sign is very obviously 'Queen Street station 0.2 miles', however to someone whose native language isn't English and who doesn't know the names of all the stations in Glasgow and who thinks internationally that m means metres, they must be stuck scratching their head!

Another of my favourites is the use of the word 'alight'. How many times do we use the verb 'to alight' when speaking? I mean you can hear it now, can't you? 'Where are you alighting today?' 'Oh I think I'll alight at Hillhead and go for a coffee in Tinderbox' - no one has ever said the word alight out loud, have they? And for that reason no one under 15 knows it, and no foreigners either, so why do we persist in using it on sign posts? 'Cowcaddens station - alight here for the Tenement House museum' what is wrong with 'Get off' every one would understand it then and actually end up in the correct place, rather than seeing this obscure word, puzzling over it, and finally (hopefully) getting off after guessing its potential meaning.
Am I the only person who hates silly signs? I speak some foreign languages. I like signs in those languages to be understandable - no bizarre abbreviations, no Shakespearean era vocabulary. Can't we do the same here?


Wee Pudgeman likes to D.I.Y. too - here he is trying to lay an oak floor! He seems to know just what to do with the hammer though he hasn't quite got the strength to do it. I think he's going to be like Charlotte when he's older. She's a great one for assembling IKEA furniture and the likes.


It is hard to type when your fingers don't bend anymore and your right hand has a big blister between the thumb and the forefinger from nibbling the edges off tiles! But I have definitely achieved something today. I have finally found the time to finish (grouting one wall aside) a tiling job I have been working on since February 3rd. And very straight it is too - I'm quite surprised at my own brilliance - though it wouldn't look half as nice if mum hadn't spent nearly as many hours as me cleaning the tiles up after I cut them and stuck them on.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Ever since our little tyre problem a couple of weeks ago, we have been driving past the exact spot where the tyre blew up on the motorway, looking at an upside-down 'embellisher' (that's a hubcap to a normal person) on the grass verge, wondering if it is the one our car lost - the problem being of course that we can't see what make it is. Tonight we went on a little expedition to retrieve it but there is infuriatingly absolutely nowhere nearby to stop, so even if it is ours, failing a 3am trip down the motorway, it looks like we'll have to just resign ourselves to buying a new one.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Charlotte has never been the easiest kid to fathom. From she was fairly small she has been quite afraid of dogs, and more than indifferent to most other pets - she would not have a cat, hamster or gerbil if you paid her. I don't know where exactly this dislike of animals comes from since, although as a family we aren't great dog-lovers, we have had various cats over the years. So when we visit a pet-owning family, Marcel plays with the animal while Charlotte tends to stare at the pet with something between indifference and loathing. So when Marcel asked to hold a snake at Glasgow's Amazonia zoo the other day I was slightly taken aback, when Charlotte too queued up, arms outstretched for a python. I knew for sure if the guy was holding a kitten or a fluffy yellow chick she'd have been out of there quicker than a tornado. However the tarantula was even more surprising. While Marcel hesitated and asked initially just to touch one of its legs, looking vaguely apprehensive, Charlotte stepped up even before Marcel and asked to have it sit fully in the palm of her hand. I guess she is always going to be a kid who astounds me.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Having spent large parts of my life in France, where people close the beautiful shutters on their windows when it is too sunny, or when they go to bed at night, I find this peculiarly British version of house shutters to be the utmost in stupidity. They don't cover the windows so can be ornamental at the very best. Here are 3 crazy houses in a row - why don't the owners rush out and pull these ridiculous things off the walls? Part of me wants to take on extra jobs in the hope of buying one of these houses, just so I can remove them, before even unpacking the removal boxes!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I tend to listen to Jeremy Vine on my way home from work with Pudge these days, having finally accepted I am indeed old enough to listen to radio 2. His show usually discusses something topical - today for example it was the German incest case. Yesterday, amongst other things, he had on a very brave man, facing something I guess we all might face some day - Alzheimer's disease. He had written a letter to his family before he was no longer capable of doing so and had asked to read it to them on air. Having watched a dear relative slowly die from this ten years ago, I have to say it was truly moving. For those who missed it - both the transcript and the audio version are on Jeremy's website.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Here's a photo from Saturday's lunar eclipse, taken by Chris.


I have noticed over the past few months that several of Glasgow's most offensive 60s and 70s disasters of architecture are being pulled down. First
the building opposite Habitat in Bothwell Street made its exit. Then, pictured here in this shot which is more reminiscent of a day in the middle East than Glasgow city centre, over the past few weeks we have witnessed the demolition of the old Strathclyde Regional Council Eyesore, sorry Headquarters. I wonder what they are planning to build instead. It will be interesting to watch, given they seem to have decided to incorporate Glasgow's hallmark sandstone into most of their very recent additions to the skyline.


Don't you just find volcanoes fascinating? I was looking at these photos today of Stromboli. I guess since I heard the story of Pompeii in primary 3 (ie age 7) I have always found all things volcanic interesting, probably culminating in my week's stay on Santorini back in 1995. Truly beautiful, in a sinister sort of way.


Now, I drive 1000s of kilometres a month. I have been driving since I was 17, so I thought there was nothing I hadn't seen, until I saw this newspaper clip the other day! How in God's name did anyone manage to crash like that? If anyone saw it, I would be more than fascinated to hear!

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Last night we got to see a full lunar eclipse over Glasgow. At 8pm, we were a bit dubious given cloud cover but we were in fact lucky enough to see most of it from 9pm through till beyond 11pm. I was going to upload the photos we took out the living room window but the camera battery is dead and I can´t find the charger. If you want to see a more impressive view, you should probably look at msn or bbc's shots, anyway.