Getting Ready for School…less affordable now?


The summer holidays are over and the rain continues to fall in Scotland (well it was actually a good seven weeks all in for weather this year) and my three are going back to the land of education.  Aside from this being the first time for the youngest, The Warrior, it also means the need to buy yet more school uniforms and supplies.  So off I went and bought what was needed.  I looked for bargains, for special offers, for value and then bought it three times over.  I got all that was needed and it took most of a day to do it.

Well what can I say.  Despite looking for the best offers and making a killer saving on the older two boy’s shoes the cost was more than last year.  I know there is a third child now but its more than that.  The cost of everything was up.  I ain’t moaning, I am just saying as the song goes.  I am glad I don’t have to do this more than once a year (but items do need replaced regularly!).  Above you can see most of the pile, not all of it but it gives you an idea spread out more than six feet across.

Is the new gear for school starting less affordable now.  My opinion is that despite the claims of major retailers it really is.  I won’t say how much I spent but it has left a sizeable hole in my pocket.  What do you do if you have four, five or more children…share shoes or hope the government aids you is all I can say.

Moan over…back to the positive once more! 


Commonwealth Games – Glasgow 2014 – Irn Bru


Brand New but Vintage Bru!

I have not been posting much here or on other forums and for that and the hundreds of you who read these items every day I am sorry.  But fear not the reason for this will be revealed in all of its awesomeness on Monday 19th August.  Just you wait…fans of 15mm especially.

Moving on from that good luck to Scotland in this evening’s football match against England at Wembley.  Victory will go to the Tartan Army I am sure (errr….maybe not) but its the first time that Scotland have played ‘The Auld Enemy’ since 1999 and I remember that match well.  I also now realise I am since that match a father of three, married, a home owner, a successful author and car driver among other things…it sure does creep up on you eh.  I will post a comment after the match and let you all know what happened.

Lastly the above image is of a brand new design of Irn-Bru can of fizzy drink which has been produced in celebration of Glasgow’s hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  We may not have been big enough to get the Olympics but this is just as good as it is actually near enough to visit.  The can has a vintage design on it and it looks and tastes very nice too.

All in all its a great week…and the kids go back to school on Monday too. 🙂


Parliamo Glasgow – Stanley Baxter

While live is mighty fine by the sea in sunny Girvan, Ayrshire I do sometimes miss the city of my birth; Glasgow.  Following a recent conversation with a friend who has never been to the city and in trying to explain to them that when I was a ‘wean’ the dialect spoken there was often impenetrable not only to non-english native speakers but also the majority of the other residents of Britain!   While I speak reasonable ‘Glasgow’ I am long out of practise (except for creating Joccian dialect in Flintloque!) so I directed myself and friend to YouTube and Stanley Baxter.

Long, long ago the great Scottish comedian Stanley Baxter did a series of sketches, quite hard to get these days it seems, where he acted out typical scenes of the city and then after delivering the lines in ‘Glasgow’ he would then switch to a proper RP English accent to give a translation in the style of a travel programme.  Have a look and enjoy…even if you have to run it back a couple of times!

Oh and yes all Scottish people can speak proper English when they want, but what would be the fun in that.   Differences and diversity make Britain the great nation it is today.


RNLI Girvan Harbour Gala 2013

On Sunday it was the annual Harbour Gala Day in Girvan and I have to say that apart from nicer weather this year over last the day also seemed busier and the mood better than in 2012.  I did not spend long at the Gala having other things to attend to in the morning but I did see a very inspiring team up between the Life Boat and the HMS Gannet helicopter for a mock rescue at sea scenario.  The usual assortment of rides and stalls along with a bring and buy all against the edge of the harbour.

Below you can see some of the pictures I took including the ‘bubble balls’ and the sea rescue.  It was a brilliantly bright and warm afternoon.


Girvan Habour Gala 2013 – The view from the sea front


Girvan Habour Gala 2013 – The Bubble Balls!


Girvan Habour Gala 2013 – The Thinker looks at the Life Boat


Girvan Habour Gala 2013 – The Sea Rescue

Good fun for all the family.  Perhaps next year I will get more time at the Gala.  Who knows?


Totally Choosing a Baby Name…badly.

Recently in a conversation with a friend the subject of baby names came up.  Now I know that is not something you would expect a fellow like me to think about but I have done it three times in the past for myself and also chipped in a couple of suggestions for others.  So why this posting?

Aside from a fun little read I decided to do a quick browse for ‘choosing baby names’ and came across this video.  To me this is an example of a poor way of choosing names for your children.  Have a watch.  The first mother chooses something that will cause endless confusion for her daughter (but not to worry it makes her sound edgy and trendy..well for at least a year as nothing changes like trends!), the second something traditional (after suffering a bit of brain death beforehand) and the third…well she is the best of all.  The third will not tell you the name of the child for ‘internet security reasons’ thereby making her whole appearance on the video pointless (incidentally I found her and the name in less than two minutes online so bang up security job there self promoter!).

My idle muse on this is actually quite simple.  When you have the joy and honour to choose a name for a child do it with kindness and care.  It is the biggest choice you will ever make for that baby, toddler, child, teen, adult, parent before you.  Ignore trends, ignore your friends, choose wisely and choose fittingly too.  That name will benefit or hinder them for their entire life.

I followed my own grandmother’s rules, you might find them amusing or useful:

1. Choose something you are not afraid to shout out loud in the street.

2. Never choose anything beginning with the same letter as your surname (alliteration is not cool!).  Simon Syme anyone?

3. Avoid the names of children of your friends or the friends themselves.  Also give each child a different starting letter in their names, avoids you accidentally calling the child their siblings name!

4. Find out the most common regional names where you live and do not use them (in South Ayrshire it is James and Claire for my generation).

5. Trends change and celebrities are vapid.  Have integrity and give the chosen name time to solidify in your mind before committing to it.


Well done Andy!

Andy Murray wins Winbledon 2013

Andy Murray wins Wimbledon 2013

Well done to Andy Murray who has just won the Wimbledon 2013 mens final!

It has been seventy seven years since a British win at that most English of tennis events and in tense match the better man won.  I am sure that endless inches will be written about this but I just wanted to post up my own congratulations on the day.  But how will be BBC report this great victory…we shall see.


Edinburgh Zoo 2013 – Panda Time!



Yesterday was a field trip day for a wee group from Girvan.  Myself and my good lady along with the little warrior and some others went to Edinburgh Zoo.  Its a long trek crossing the whole central belt of Scotland but its basically a straight line on the motorway for most of it so while not the most amusing of drives I got us there with no problems.  So why the Zoo?  Well for a couple of reasons.  Firstly the Warrior has never seen wild animals and secondly the ruddy Panda’s!

In case you lived on the moon you might not know that Edinburgh Zoo took delivery of two Panda bears from China a while back and this sent the Zoo into the stratosphere in terms of its popularity.  People love Panda’s, I mean they really love them.  In the kind of way that I just don’t understand (I am sometimes considered odd by certain kinds of people).  Above you can see me with my lovely wife and the Warrior posing for a photo (I actually want this one blown up and on the wall at home) with the bear behind.  From what I picked up from the lecture being given to the tour group (demand is such that only twenty or so people at a time are let into the building to see the Panda’s in their two separate rooms, there are only sixteen hundred or so of these animals left in the wild and it is falling all the time.  I am not surprised.  The Panda it seems is a problem child of nature.  It is extremely anti-social with its own kind (hence keeping them on their own) they are only in season for one 36 hour period a year and they suffer an appalling rate of fake and aborted pregnancies.   They sleep sixteen or more hours a day.  They cannot cope with ANY change in their surroundings.  They only eat bamboo along with the occasional apple or carrot.  Yes, I actually listened to the lecture as well as cooing and taking pictures.   Lovely creature don’t get me wrong but I have low expectations of anything but extinction for it.


Lucky he can’t see that cheeky face!

The Zoo was a great day out and it was fantastic value for money too.  After the Panda’s we walked the circuit and saw the rest of the animals (too many to list) but a special mention firstly to the Sumatran Tiger.  I adore Tigers (don’t want one for a pet though) ever since seeing a Bengal Tiger as a wee lad.  Seeing it was the personal highlight of the day even though it was asleep at the time.  After this the Rhino.  The Warrior was fascinated by this slow moving mountain of muscle and natural armour.  Above you can see him pulling a cheeky face while its back was turned!


Among the rest of the Monkeys!

I found it very interesting that the most information about any of the animals at the Zoo was to be found in the primate areas especially those of the Chimpanzee’s.  I have a good grasp of evolution and the reality of how we as a species came to be on this wonderful and diverse planet; but I did learn a few new things.  For instance latest research shows that we Humans did NOT evolve from Chimps but from an as yet not found common ancestor some six million years ago branching out to Chimps, Gorillas and the excellent Orangutan’s too.   I have, at many zoos, come face to face with almost all the captive species of ape and each time their similarity to us strikes me more and more.  From the largest to the smallest their eyes, hands, fingers and faces and behaviour.  Watching Spider Monkeys just put me in mind of the last pre-school party I went to!

So all in all an excellent day out.  I hear rumours that Tiger Cubs are now to be seen in Inverness-shire…its not that far a drive surely.  Maybe next time.


p.s.  A quick note to the rest of the group I went with.  To Ethan and Terri, two teenagers who were as bright, keen and well spoken passengers that I have ever had in my car.  Shine on you two!

Girvan Civic Week 2013 – My little experience of it…


The parade begins with classic cars!

All week it has been the annual ‘Civic Week’ here in Girvan and normally I make an effort to go along to events and take my three little ones with me.  Support the community and all that, rattle the tin and spend some money.  But this year due to a combination of work and weather I actually missed all but two of the events that went on.  You can learn more about the whole week online but the two main events for me are the Parade and Gig on the Green.


Grim but sounding good!

I am currently fiddling with a new USEME series title so that took up my attention as did the incessant rain that has doused South Ayrshire for the past while (yes I despair, I live in the wettest place there is!) but I got a snap of the start of the Parade which you can see above.  Attendance was down but then it was a rainy, windy and dark day more suited to February than June but people soldiered on.  I then went along to Stair Park where a live performance stage was set up among a few fairground rides and stalls.  I felt sorry for all concerned as the wind pulled at them and distorted the live music being played.   I stood a while and listened and even went back later but it was a sad occasion compared to previous years where sunshine and picnics for hours were the normal faire.

Better luck next summer Girvan!


Iain (M) Banks dies aged 59

A Great picture of Banks…nicked from Neil Gaiman’s blog!

I only learned of this sad news this morning after a rather dramatic Sunday which saw me having to rush my darling wife to Ayr Hospital’s emergency room after she fell and hit her head.  A mild concussion was the result and she is fine now but it did give me rather a bad fright.  Headlining newspapers here in Scotland today the news that renowned science fiction and other genre author Iain (M) Banks has died at only 59 from cancer of the gall bladder.

This is sad news indeed as it was partially this author and his book Use of Weapons which encouraged a teenage me to aspire to writing fiction in the first place.  Also fifty nine is just too young in this day and age to die I lament all of the lost stories his great mind will now never produce.  I also took great pride in my shared Scottish identity with this author as there are not many writers of Iain Bank’s standing in Scotland these days and I had and do hope to emulate him through my own titles.  I do not have his flair for gothic humour but I we share other traits.

If you have not heard of this author’s work then I do suggest you have a look around (the given link will show you all his work) and try him out.  His novels about ‘the Culture’ especially.

Rest in Peace Iain.


18.09.14 Nigel Farage harassed in Edinburgh

I heard on the news today that UKIP leader Nigel Farage was rather brutally heckled in a pub in Edinburgh.  As I said when I began the new ‘18.09.14‘ thread on my blog I would be posting up the occasional thing to do with Scotland and the referendum for independence as and when something came up.  Well its been quiet but this little nugget got my interest today.

A short while ago UKIP seemingly astounded English voters as they took a significant share of the total vote in the local elections across England.  While they did not get a great deal of seats they did establish themselves as a party to be interviewed, asked, taken seriously and so on.   It was really only a matter of time before Mr Farage came to Scotland and ‘something’ happened to him.  Reading into the news story on the BBC it seems that another protest group were on the scene at the same time.  I will not comment on the actual events as I was not there and accurate information is not forthcoming on the BBC for the fine details but it is worth noting.

It is true that there is a tiny minority of people in Scotland who ‘hate’ the English, it is true that there are a tiny minority who also believe the world is flat, who will beat you to a bloody pulp for not supporting their favourite team of over paid ball dribblers and so on.  My point is that I hope no one watching the BBC thinks all Scots are like this.  You can find a small group of lunatics to support any cause you like if you turn over enough stones.  Mr Farage appealing to the First Minister Alex Salmond to ‘root out hatred, watch out for those who will burn the Union Jack’ and so on.  I looked up the interview from this morning on Good Morning Scotland where Mr Farage hung up mid interview..he did seem a little distressed.  Comedy if not so serious.

Not much to do with the Referendum but if you have ten minutes have a read on the link supplied and watch the clips too.