Running to Gold at Culzean

A hearty well done to my eldest son who won first place and gold in a decathlon held last week at Culzean Country Park. The event was organised by Competitive School Sports South Ayrshire and many schools in the area took part. Running and Cycling several miles each he came home tired but elated.

Running was never on the cards for me as a teen.  Too big, too heavy.  Rather it was Rugby and Chess for me..plus wargaming of course.  I am proud of my lad hence this little post.  Effort brings rewards in this family and a reward is incoming soon for him.

GBS

Welcome to 2017!

New beginnings, fresh starts, reaffirmations of love and promises for a brighter future all come to mind for a New Year.  We resolve to get in shape, lose weight, improve career paths, and the like. Then, there are the heartfelt promises we make to others, whether aloud or in our minds. We want to care more, express love more, reverse bad feelings in old relationships or seek out new loving relationships. We try our very best to put these desires into words. Though New Years can be a time of celebration and cheer, there are many people who are facing difficult circumstances. They may be entering this time of year with apprehension or anxiety. I send out a hope of encouragement and for prosperity to you at this time of new yearly birth.

My own plans for this new year are as they were for the last one.  To do much, to enjoy and to bring happiness to as many people as I can manage in person and by proxy online with words and with miniatures from my work.

If you like the look of the picture above that is great.  It is the free miniature for January 2017 at my little Ion Age which you can see online.

GBS

Festival of Light 2016 Girvan

festivaloflight_2016_6_750pix

I had the pleasure last night of attending the 2016 Festival of Light Life Cycles with my family along with close friends.  This annual event takes places in the small Ayrshire sea side town of Girvan where I live and in a procession involving more than a hundred people a trail of light is taken to the sea front.  Children and adults who have spent many weeks making lanterns of various sizes all come together lanterns lit while the excellent Samba Ya bamba band plays at their head.  They walk through the town while the crowd applauds and dances a bit moving alongside the procession.  As you can see from the images it was very bright and fortune was on our side as not only was it dry but it was mild and not even a breeze which anyone who comes to Girvan will tell you wind is a constant here.

festivaloflight_2016_1_750pix

festivaloflight_2016_2_750pix

festivaloflight_2016_4_750pix

The procession featured a hundred, to my estimation, lanterns in various shapes as well as larger battery powered and back pack carried creations such as a glow worm and a white rabbit.  I joined the procession near its end as it moved to the promenade.  This year an excellent development at the sea front with the inclusion of a portable generator and lighting rig making it possible to navigate and proceed easily.  The band marched onto the sand and continued to play while the crowd gathered to watch the straw structures on the sand be lit and burned as a climax to the procession.

festivaloflight_2016_3_750pix

Two large ears of corn with a titanic corn lady with halo in the centre.  About twenty feet in height she was lit last as fireworks were let off and the band played.  Many of the photos I took were blurred and no good but these are the best of them and I have enhanced them for low light.  It was a very effective display and my children enjoyed it.  I have put pennies and small change into the collection bottles dotted around the town across the year and was glad it was well spent.

festivaloflight_2016_5_750pix

festivaloflight_2016_6_750pix

Soon is the Girvan Fireworks event…I am looking forward to that, oh and the Christmas Street Party too.  Excellent.

Thanks for your time.

GBS

The New Bank of England 5 Pound Note…plastic!

An Idle Muse for a Sunday afternoon,

Money, Money, Money…great isn’t it…but what is it?  It got me thinking, musing, on this subject during this week when in my change at a shop I was handed a very odd bank note.  A new plastic polymer ‘fiver’ a five pound note issued by the Bank of England.  Though Scotland has had a plastic note similar for a while now it is rather rare and I have only encountered a few.  Let me tell you that after a life time of paper notes this object is weird in the extreme and does not even feel like ‘money’.  So my musing, what is the note and what is money?

new_fiver_front

new_fiver_rear

The new five pound note is very small, smaller than its paper predecessor.  It no longer folds and it has a transparent pane.  The front has the Queen as expected and the rear that most prominent of British statesmen Winston Churchill.  I can see the securing features, the holograms and the other measures making it harder to counterfeit.  It has an odd feel and quite unsettling actually but I suppose I will get used it to as those who swapped coin for note initially did.  I folded it, rolled it, crushed it up and it does not return to shape with any ease unlike paper.  Have a look at this five pound note from about 1932-37.

5-series-c-front

I say what is money since the first non tactile notion I gained from this new note was its change from paper to plastic.  It puts in physical reality the twin factors of inflation and the illusion of currency as opposed to money. Humour me here.  Currency is used as a physical representation of value that changes over time (bank notes) where as money is actual value (silver or gold coins with inherent value themselves) and this new fiver shows it.  It is a mere token, an abstract, another step down the line away from ‘money’ on the gold standard.  We are moving into plastic ‘chit’ reality devoid of value as all the nations have borrowed in extremis which can never be repaid.  Inflation is subtle but there and over time it mounts up and up.  Have a think.  In rough terms a pack of twenty cigarettes is now about ten pounds, less than a decade ago it was five pounds and when I was a child in the early 1980’s a fiver would have got you hundreds of cigarettes (I use this as I could find the data but it is applied to the pricing of all items).  Inflation makes currency worth less and less.  I will not go into more detail here as it is a musing.

Remember the 1930’s fiver above..when new it could have bought you 113.5 litres of Petrol….now it buys you about three or four!  As for housing…a nice house in London would have set you back thirty of these notes (you earned about one per year on a typical wage)…now…well no point in even trying to work it out.

Anyhow.  Lets not get depressed!

You can watch a wee video and learn more officially at the notes very own website The New Fiver.  Oh and keep them away from heat..for they melt with ease…I am now without mine… 🙁

GBS

Edinburgh September 2016 – National Museum of Scotland

1

In a fairly rare break from my normal life of work and family I took a few days off to treat my good lady to a birthday treat trip to Edinburgh at the weekend just past.  We had a really nice time and the weather held up for us too.  I want to share a few things we did (not all of them as I do not want to bore you or make you faint!) while there.  The main thrust of this posting is the National Museum of Scotland which we spent a very enjoyable full morning inside (it would have been longer if there had been seats in the tea room for a lunch date too!  But alas too busy) and here are some photos I took of objects and such that most interested me.

2

Above is the view to the right of the main group floor of the museum and it was a delightful surprise to see the natural light entering from the glass ceiling of the nineteen century iron structure and around its floors.  To the left you can see the main light taken from a late Victorian light house.  Below is a photo I just had to take of a small part of a mid twentieth century ‘Atom Smasher’ used by several different universities in the 1950’s..sadly not in use.

3

The museum is divided into several sectors which are represented upon each of the floors as you ascend.  With each telling a rolling story they are excellently done and while the nature element does not especially interest me the Great White Shark hanging from the ceiling upon invisible wires was actually rather scary and you can see it below.  I was more interested in the civilisation (read as Mankind but sadly that is not a word allowed anymore) and the science hall.

4

A superb presumably solid gold Japanese planetsphere which dates from the seventeenth century which shows the night sky not as pictures but as a series of straight lines.  The photo does not do this object justice at all and the level of detail is amazing and its finish is undimmed by time.

5

The next two photographs appealed to the Flintloque writer in me.  The uniform of Thomas Cochrane worn upon the ship Liberator which is well worth looking into and an oil painting by Arthur William Devis.  The fall of Seringapatam and the death of the Tipu Sultan (not actually killed by Richard Sharpe!) in 1797 which was an event one of my favourite British officers was part of; Major General David Baird.

6

7

The reality of biological sciences was brought to life for me in the next room in the form of the actual (I checked!) Dolly, the world’s first cloned animal in 1996.  For more on Dolly follow the link here as it is a fascinating and important area of research.  After this was Wylam Dilly locomotive which while not being anywhere near as famous as the ‘Rocket’ is one of the oldest surviving machines there is from the early age of steam and rail along with Puffing Billy.

8

9

The resourcefulness of human nature and in war caught my eye with a suit of armour plus weapons from Kiribati entirely made of coconut fibre.  While utterly useless against any firearm and most bows as well it does stand up to crushing and impacts from wooden weapons rather well.

10

One of the real highlights of the whole museum was the change to read up upon and actually see (yes, I touched it, naughty me) a part of the acceleration cavity assembly from CERN which as you will know is the place of the Large Electron Positron Collider.  Twenty seven kilometres of underground tunnels to smash electrons and positrons together.  I find this actually more impressive than four thousand year old tombs and such as it is the future and an incredible feat of engineering and physics.  Peter Higgs nobel prize was ensured when the ring proved the existence of the ‘god particle’.

11

After all this I took the time to get a snap of the view down to the entrance foyer from where we had started our experience in the museum.  An excellent idea for a half day visit and for children lots to do as well.

12

Edinburgh was mobbed with tourists…I mean really busy…so I gave up trying to get into any other events or places and instead just went for a sunny stroll in the park getting a good shot of the castle upon the rock from an angle not normally used by TV reporters or postcards and such.

13

Lastly a shout out to a great traditional Scottish pub that does excellent food and service too along with some superb ales.  It is small but try to get a table and a late lunch at the World’s End pub at the foot of the Royal Mile. Friendly and with a great atmosphere I took a few photos to show you firstly what I had to drink (Saltire is not easy to get in Ayrshire) and then the outside wall of the pub with its origin tale.

14

15

Thanks for taking the time to read this and if you get the chance I do recommend heading to the historical capital city of Scotland for a weekend.  I had the choice between this trip and possibly Madrid.  I did not get the heat but I got a bloody good time!

GBS

Remembrance 2014 – 100th Anniversary of WW1

“At the going down of the light and in the morning we shall remember them….”

It is one hundred years since the beginning of World War One and today that is most salient with me as it is Remembrance Sunday.  Silence to remember those who fell in all the conflicts from that day to this in wars all over the world.  I have done my part with fund raising and donating for the correct Poppies that came my way in the street from hands both young and old.  Remember them, we owe them that much.

This day holds significance for me as I make my living from ‘war’.  Not real war.  But the kind of pretend conflict where when the sun sets everyone stands up and returns home.  This life of mine is only possible in part due to the sacrifices made by soldiers of days now long gone and more recent. They ensured our freedom.  You can disagree with the motives of war of the goals of war but for the men who leave and never return there should only ever be respect.  So let this life of pretend war of mine bring excitement and joy to thousands across the world but for today let it be tempered with the horrid reality of battle.

GBS

Ten Years a Resident of Girvan

ailsa_craig_island

I have now lived in the town of Girvan, South Ayrshire, Scotland for ten years exactly.  This anniversary kind of crept up on me really since I had kind of forgotten how long I had been here but since I was reminded of it by my lovely wife I decided a short blog post was in order to celebrate.  So ten years.  What does that mean to me?

I came to Girvan knowing nothing of it.  Not even a name on a map.  A total unknown.  I came with no expectations of the place more than the purchase of a place to live.  In the time that has passed since then the town has changed and I have changed and do you know what we have both had problems and triumphs and I feel that we fit together well.   The town is friendly and the people hardy and industrious too.  Crime has not touched me and the summers have warmed me and the skies and seas nourished my children.  To know the names of many people you pass in the street is wonderful and to have the chance to assist the community is great too.

Girvan 009

My work keeps to tied to a computer screen almost all the time and I have done well and achieved much in the environment that this little town has given me.  I am happy here.  I have brought people here from the rest of the UK and Europe as well as North America and further afield as guests and they have all enjoyed their time in Girvan.  Admittedly those who came in the summer enjoyed it more!

I will not get into politics or problems as this post is about my ten years a resident and I am sure some people reading this will disagree with them and point out issues.  Issues like the Swimming Pool and empty shop units for example but those are by the side for me.  All places have issues and I much prefer being here rather than in any city.  Eyes bright and cheeks rosy.

So ten years in Girvan…here is to ten more years from this man who was once a son of ‘Maither Glasgow’.

Thanks for your time.

GBS

School Daze a report from October 2014

poetandwarrior_091014_500pix

Parent’s Evening.  Its an event that most parents don’t look forward to.  A couple of times a year you attend the local school at a given time and then the teacher tells you all about what your little darlings have been up to in class.  What they have really been up to, not what they have told you after school each day.  This was the event for me last night in Girvan.  Now that only two of my three are at primary school for the first time it meant only two appointments rather than three which meant less running about making to a room on time.  So how did the Poet and the Warrior do….

How they did was a ringing endorsement of the parenting that myself and mainly my good lady made an effort to keep to.  Rewarding effort and initiative and punishing bad behaviour while giving the children as much responsibility as their ages can allow and not treating them as anything less than capable within their own limits.  It works.  It really does.  Both were given top marks with remarks made about their healthy attitude to life and high scores in tests and group work.  I may have to rename the Poet since his tendency towards mathematics and numbers is becoming ever greater and the Warrior is so sociable that his name may also change.

In short happy days.  Well done my sons!

GBS

Happy Birthday Darling!

240914_500pix

Happy Birthday my darling wife.  Though I sometimes do not pay enough attention to you know that I love you now more than I ever have.  Know that I and our three wonderful children could not do without you and that you are the loving bond that holds us together.  We have been together for a long time now but that has made us stronger and while those around us suffer their problems know that with me your future will always be golden and that you will always come first.

One of the many pictures from today.  Special thanks to Edward Jackson who sent my fine lady another of his excellent Dodo cards.  This one will join its fellows on the dresser in pride of place.  A new convert to the ways of the Dodo.

Enjoy your presents my love.

GBS

NO and perhaps its change or its trouble…

I don’t get involved in politics, I don’t get involved in religion,  I don’t get involved in social movements if I can help it.  Sometimes it cannot be helped.  I have to still see and listen to it and act.  The Scottish Referendum was one of these occasions and on 18.09.14 Scotland voted and decided to stay part of the United Kingdom; what had once been Great Britain the nation that built and ruled the modern world.  The vote was NO to the choice of independence by a margin of 55% to 45% and I think it was the result most people kind of knew was going to happen.  While I had prepared myself for either event I had noted down my own result and I was pretty close to what occurred.  I avoided putting this up publicly as I wished to stay neutral since I have friends on both sides.

So what now?  Well firstly politics will sink from this blog until and unless something big happens and it will be back to fun and games and family which is what I like (I still have eighty odd prog rock albums to source and listen to for the top 100 count I blogged about last month).  Secondly aside from some thugs causing problems in Glasgow city centre this weekend which frankly, take it from me, had little to do with the vote and more to do with being scum that take any chance to cause problems most people have accepted the result.  Some are trying to create a ’45 rebellion through social media which is amusing since from what I have seen they on the whole seem unaware of their own history and the coincidence of the actual ’45 Rebellion and Bonnie Prince Charlie.  Thirdly and most vitally I would like to follow up on the passionate speech former Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave yesterday as it links to my own feelings on what will come next.  Let me tell you what I think is going to happen for Scotland and the UK over the next couple of years.

Well Scotland said NO as I predicted.  The SNP were voted into power in Scotland to govern not as a signal for a thirst for separation but as a protest to the Labour Party who had been in power really forever in Scotland and had produced such failures and third raters for leaders such as Jack (now LORD!) McConnell.  The same thing happened a year plus later in England as Labour was put out and a Conservative and Liberal coalition took power.  Since then the financial crash and recession that followed it has shown the total lack of spine of the political classes in London, in the ‘Westminster Bubble‘.  Despite putting the UK nearly to the wall not a single banker or politician (don’t forget the expenses scandal too) was jailed or even seriously penalised.  The people of the UK have lost their remaining faith in the political class, of career politicians who have never worked in the real world and frankly stand for nothing as they are all ‘consensus’ and ‘middle of the road’.  The end result was a scare for Westminster as this all added fire to the YES campaign but also to the rise of UKIP as a party in England on the issue of Europe and the loss of power there which again no politician will even admit never mind speak about or do anything about.  So where from here.  Well promises were made to Scotland for further devolved powers being granted to Hollyrood in the event of a NO vote.  The BBC and the political classes have it seems already put the issue of Scotland Independence behind them saying ‘that’s it for a generation’.  Trust me its not.  Here we go.

If Westminster forgets or reneges on enough of these promises from September 2014 then I think the election next year in Scotland will see the SNP remain in power (they may well do since I also think the Labour Party is finished in UK politics as it stands) on a new mandate and will push again for another referendum.  If that is the case then the next time the YES vote will win as the momentum combined with swinging the NO voters who believed in union who will have seen the lack of action after the last time will move to YES.  It would only take a 5% swing.  Meanwhile in England the voice for a devolved English parliament will continue as will the one for a Welsh and Irish one too.  David Cameron will not be prime minister after 2015 regardless as to which party wins (the men in grey suits will ‘retire him’ from leadership).  The Labour Party will shrink and other parties take its place.  Then there is the promised vote on membership of the Euro Zone….

Pessimistic yes but based on this week I think Gordon Brown was pretty much right.  This is not over, not by a long shot.  The Scottish debate is a small part of something happening the UK over and actually all across the Western World too.

I am not interested in Politics beyond the local but as I said I thought I might put something out about it since its happening here and now.

GBS