One of my favourite sites is Astronomy Picture of the Day, isn’t this one a beauty? It’s a Meteor and Moonbow over Wallaman Falls, Australia.
But I love this astronomy picture quilt too, by quilter and astronomy enthusiast Judy W. Ross. It’s definitely different and there’s such a lot of work involved in it, it really makes me want to get stuck into quilting.
Well he has done it – at last. Unfortunately it was at the US Open so I didn’t actually see the match, not having whichever network was showing it from Flushing Meadows. Maybe that’s just as well as in the past I’ve had to leave the room, the stress just being too much to bear.
I love this post match interview with Andy though. It’s about 2 minutes into it before he smiles. You could be forgiven for thinking that he had lost the match, his words just don’t match his face. It looks like he wants to cut his throat, he’s the ‘dour Scot’ personified! It’s a scream.
I can’t make up my mind, is it for real or is he just playing that role for the cameras?
If you’re interested in Scotland you’ll want to visit Evee’s blog. At the moment Evee is being a friend in deed (indeed) as she’s looking after a friend who is just out of hospital.
Her recent posts have been from Yorkshire and now they have moved on to the Braemar area of the Scottish Highlands. Evee has taken loads of great photos of the area, including Balmoral, the Queen’s Highland home. It looks like a fairytale castle.
It was when I was watching the TV dramatisation of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories a couple of weeks ago that I realised that I had never been to visit South Queensferry, it featured in one of the episodes. We’re always in a hurry to get to or from Edinburgh when we drive in that direction so I thought it was about time we had a look at the place properly instead of just from the bridge or the other side of the Firth of Forth. I took the above photo from a wee gap in between a couple of buildings which are in the High Street, you’re never far from a view of the bridge. If you look closely you’ll see a train just about to go on to the bridge on the right. It gives you an idea of how huge the bridge is.
I had to take a photo of this original Victorian pillar box, it’s years since I’ve seen one, they’re quite rare now. They always make me think of Anthony Trollope.
This is the priory church of St Mary at Queenferry, I don’t think the photo does it justice. It’s such a lovely wee church and has a beautiful garden too. I don’t know what it’s like inside but I think it must have been very popular with brides in the past. It’s Episcopalian now although it was originally Roman Catholic.
There’s quite a big garden all around the church but it isn’t possible to photograph it all because the trees are so big. This wee garden to the side of it is very pretty and somebody obviously takes good care of it. The church was built in 1330 but has been refurbished several times, most recently in 2000 and it’s still used for worship.
South Queensferry has lots of restaurants and gift shops and there were plenty of day trippers when we were there. There are boats which take you out to the island of Inchcolm, and next time we plan to be on one of them. For once we managed to say NO to the ice-cream!
This is just the third book by Spark which I’ve read and I liked it better than the last one which was Memento Mori but I don’t think it was as good as The Girls of Slender Means. The Finishing School was first published in 2004 and it was her last published book, she died in 2004.
Nina Parker and Rowland Mahler are a young married couple who set up a finishing school for both sexes and any nationality. College Sunrise, as it’s called, was originally started in Brussels but in an effort to make it more successfull and pay more they’ve started moving the school to a different country each year. It’s put forward as being an exciting experiment and it seems to go down well with the parents.
The main reason for running the school is to give Rowland time to concentrate on his own writing and he hopes to become a novelist. The only work which he does is teaching the creative writing class and everything else is done by poor Nina.
One of the students is a 17 year old boy called Chris Wiley and he is writing a novel too and when Rowland reads the beginning of it he is shocked at how good it is and is consumed with jealousy. Rowland isn’t able to write anything at all and he is obsessed by Chris and his novel.
Chris’s novel is about the murders of Mary Queen of Scots musician, Rizzio, and her husband Darnley. Jealousy was supposedly the reason for Rizzio’s murder but Chris has a new theory about Darnley’s murder and the small community in the school sort of mirrors his idea of the atmosphere of the court of Mary Stuart, with jealousy, lust and obsession playing their part.
Meanwhile Nina carries on with the teaching and it’s this part of the book which gives the humour as Nina imparts supposedly important pieces of information to her students like: If you get a job with the UN and you are chased by a large python, run away in a zig-zag movement, as a python can’t coordinate its head with its tail. and even dafter advice.
Anyway, it was a fairly enjoyable and quick read at just 155 pages.
Have you ever read anything by Nigel Tranter? When I added this book to Library Thing I noticed that only nine people have done so, I think that’s the lowest ever for me.
Anyway, Nigel Tranter was a Scottish author of historical fiction, amongst other things. He wrote more than 90 books and when he died in 2000 there must have been a queue of books waiting to be published because his books were still being published in 2007. This one was published in 2003. If you’re into Scottish history his books are a painless way of learning about it because they are historically correct and he wove his stories around the facts.
Right Royal Friend is mainly about David Murray, the second son of Sir Andrew Murray, and how a chance meeting with the then 14 year old King James VI of Scotland on a Scottish hillside led to him becoming a close friend of the monarch.
Queen Elizabeth I of England has James’ mother, Mary Queen of Scots in captivity but James is only concerned with being named as Elizabeth I successor.
This is the first book by Tranter which I’ve read and I must say that I enjoyed it, but I have to say that there is necessarily quite a lot of info dumping which most Scottish people would probably already know about. I enjoy reading descriptions of landscapes and for me that was a bit lacking in this book, which is strange because I think of that as being a feature of Celtic writers.
The settings happen to be very close to where I live in Scotland and I’ve been in all of the castles and palaces which are mentioned so it was easy for me to imagine myself there but for other readers I think it would have added atmosphere if the buildings and villages had been better described too. I suppose that would have made the book a good bit longer though.
Anyway, I’ll certainly read more by Nigel Tranter and I’d recommend his books, especially to anyone who would like to know what was going on in Scotland’s history at a time when it tends to be England which is concentrated on. I think his books would be interesting for anyone visiting Scotland and intending to visit historic places.
Just after I put off the computer last night I realised that Pining for the West is 2 today.
I started blogging because everybody else in my immediate family is a blogger and I thought I would give it a go too. They are the only people who know that I have a blog, apart from the readers of course. I knew that things were going to be changing around here with our sons moving into their own homes, I’m not spending lots of time ‘mothering’ now, and blogging and following other bloggers has given me a new interest. For me it’s a bit of fun, an interesting hobby and a great way of ‘meeting’ people and sharing and gaining information.
Originally I had thought that I would be having much more in the way of crafts on Pining but books have been far more prominent this year although I have quite a few ongoing craft projects (as ever) which I hope to feature soon. Even if it’s just a way of shaming myself into getting something finished before starting something else!
I haven’t been doing so much in the way of baking, it’s not that I don’t enjoy it but not having two ravenous sons around the house to eat it all means that we have to, and it’s not good for our waistlines!
Anyway the stats have gone up every month so far and I’m really chuffed that it’s going so well so a big thank you to everyone who takes the time to visit Pining for the West and especially those who make comments. It’s a great way for someone with reclusive tendencies (Is that all readers?) to keep in touch with people and get a wee look into their way of life.
The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley – as good old Robert Burns said, and so after really looking forward to the autumn holidays we ended up not being able to go away, just as well we hadn’t actually booked anything. When a good builder knocks on your door and says he can fit you in earlier than planned you just have to grab him rather than wait until the spring. So the west, Oban and the Isle of Mull will have to wait. We only managed one day in Glasgow instead and chose to go to the Kelvingrove, my home from home.
They are very relaxed about people taking photographs unlike some places and I thought you might like to see some Charles Rennie Mackintosh designs and other Scottish art nouveau designers.
This is from the original Miss Cranston’s Tearoom. I love the designs but I’m sure that Miss Cranston must have asked him to design chairs which were uncomfortable to sit in for any length of time, fair enough I suppose, she obviously wanted people to move on so she could make more money.
These gesso panels by Mackintosh’s wife, Margaret Macdonald, are lovely – ethereal women are a recurring theme.
I think the stained glass is my favourite, it’s such a pity that the chair is positioned so badly here.
This type of stained glass is typical of what you commonly find in a ‘middle class’ Edwardian tenement building in Glasgow. This one is small and quite plain compared with some. The front doors and vestibule doors usually have stained glass or painted glass panels in them. I think this one came from the bottom of a window. The panel would have been fitted over the bottom of the glass from the inside. You can still buy panels like these quite cheaply from reclamation yards. I’ve got a few painted glass ones which I intend to make into light boxes – some day!
As we get our internet connection from BT I’ve been unable to get on line due to some sort of drastic problem. Anyway, we survived it but I must admit that I did really miss being in contact with people.