Monday, September 29, 2014

Central Station

Train stations can be real gems in a city 
and the Glasgow Central Station is no exception
the main entrance above
 the glass enclosed bridge carrying the platforms across Argyle Street 
inside (taken with different cameras on different days with different light)

some architectural details for Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Scottish Icons

Some stamps I found in one of the art galleries. They are not the usual Royal Mail stamps, but are "the UK's premier producer of bespoke and tourism related postage stamps" from Universal Mail. They can only be used for postcards sent outside the UK, though they can be mailed through the Royal Mail.
The first clear reference to the use of the Scottish Highland bagpipes is from a French history, which mentions their use at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547 where it was claimed they had replaced the trumpet on the battlefield. This period saw the creation of the ceòl mór (great music) of the bagpipe, which reflected its martial origins, with battle-tunes, marches, gatherings, salutes and laments.

First inhabited around the 6th century, at least four different versions of the Eilean Donan Castle have been built and re-built. Partially destroyed in a Jacobite uprising in 1719, it lay in ruins for around 200 years until Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 and proceeded to restore the castle to its former glory finally opening to the public in 1932.

Legend has it that a sleeping party of Scots warriors were saved from ambush by an invading Norse army when one of the attackers trod on a thistle with his bare feet. His cries raised the alarm, the roused Scots duly defeated the invaders, and the thistle was adopted as the symbol of Scotland. Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence for this, but Scots, like other nations, love a good story.

haggis is a Scottish dish made from the organs of a sheep that are chopped up, mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings and boiled in the sheep's stomach. 
Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach. neeps and tatties are turnip and potatoes

the Westie was originally bred for controlling the population of 
rats, fox, badger, otter and other vermin.

a description from about this breed: he's so full of self-esteem that he knows he's the best thing around. Always on the lookout for a good time, he'll make you laugh while he entertains himself. He's friendly and happy, with a lively nature that endears him to everyone (except small rodents), especially when he cocks his head to the side and looks at you quizzically.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Postcrosser Annis from Shanghai only said that 'this painting is usually called The Portrait of a Lady', and I haven't been able to find any other information on it.
She looks tired. Perhaps she has just sat down after a long day and can barely keep her eyes open to read.  She is still managing to sit elegantly with a straight back and her head resting lightly in her right hand. Her clothing is unpatterned save for the little bit of black and white peeking through on her sash and under apron. I've been trying to figure out the loose ribbon, but am coming up blank.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Big G

There were still banners up all over Glasgow, though I missed the excitement of the Commonwealth Games which ended three weeks before I arrived. 

And now it is time for the Ryder Cup, being held this year at Gleneagles
but what was most upsetting and disappointing, was that the Big G that sat in George Square since the end of May was being dismantled on the day I arrived!! 

There is a rumour that it may be placed permanently on display at another location, which would be a wonderful idea as it was a huge hit with locals and tourists. It had a similar appeal as the I amsterdam sign in Museumplein and looked like this
photo taken from this website, which is an interesting read in itself about the city during the games.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Most of my photos that I took while away definitely were blog post based. I was asked what I would do with all these pictures by one of my travelling companions (who happens to be a professional photographer) and I tried explaining about my blog and the stories I could tell, but it didn't seem to be something he was very interested in. I, on the other hand, love the idea of sharing my interests through photographs, even if they aren't particularly magazine worthy.
One of my interests, you may have guessed, is architecture. There is a meme called Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors which I hoped was still active so I could share the many doorways and windows I found in Amsterdam. 
The infill buildings were fascinating to me. The precision required to build something new that fitted exactly into the space between the two neighbouring buildings would have been challenging, indeed!
These houses were found in the centre of Amsterdam near the train station and where there is massive construction ongoing for the new metro. I've had to look at this scene for a long time to decide if I like the newest addition. The mixture of styles is a bit jarring. Okay, quite jarring. And yet, in some way I don't mind it. I would have preferred clear glass, but it is better than building something new to imitate the old. There are enough authentically old buildings that any replication might look more of a mockery. And besides, each building (especially the canal houses) has its own style that is distinct from its neighbour.

This infill building seems to tower over its neighbours.

and the flat rooflines of these buildings below make them seem more chunky than if they had some kind of peak.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

black and white

The Giant Panda has been a symbol of the World Wildlife since its inception in 1961, partly because its colouring made a good impact on black and white printing, but also because it was an endangered species with uniquely recognizable features. The inspiration may have come from Chi Chi, the only panda living in the western world outside China at the time and a very popular attraction at the London Zoo. 
Pandas still draw a crowd of admirers at every zoo where they are on loan.

for SundayStamps where the theme this week is mammals.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Some vintage postcards from Scotland. 
The first one is probably from  the 1930's 
and the bottom one was mailed in 1910, but the message is illegible.

perhaps these tartan clad highlanders are doing a happy dance?!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I am

There are three of these signs in different locations in Amsterdam 
(I wanted to get a t-shirt with this printed on it, but in the end, I waited too long and couldn't find my preferred colour in my size.)
this smaller sign was outside the Hermitage Museum. I believe it gets moved to 'playfully' appear at various places around the city.
and this one, behind all the happy sunflowers, greets you at the airport.

 I had to get up awfully early to get a photo of the big one outside the Rijksmuseum 
and even at 6:45 am there were tourists wandering about!!
usually, there are  people sitting and/or climbing on all the letters

something for signs,signs

Monday, September 15, 2014

a room with a view

I spent a week in Amsterdam.
this was my hotel. the arched window on the top was my room
this is a better shot of the whole hotel that I ripped off the internet because the trees obscured my photo. it was way more charming than anything a big Marriott could offer.

I was quite pleased with my room. It was a large single with a small wet room as a shower/toilet. Apart from the nuisance of 80% of the floor getting wet whenever I had a shower, I rather liked the simplicity of the design and not having to get into a bathtub or claustrophobic cubicle.
It also had those cool windows that opened fully, unencumbered by screens. The headboard of the (lovely and generous 3/4 size and not a standard twin) bed, however, got in the way of my flinging them open in a dramatic fashion. Probably just as well, really - I'd likely have cracked my skull open on it as they were never shut (it was far too warm in that room!)
The best part of the room though, was the view.
Here was my first photo taken within minutes of arriving. 
Love the rainbow!
and over to the left..... the Rijksmuseum!
and, because you know I love to take the same view in varying lights... 
here it is again. (yes, I leaned out that window every day and took a shot of the rooftops)
I miss having someone making up my bed every day for me.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

road trip

These Road Trip Australia stamps were issued in 2012.         I would love to get the whole series, but as I've gotten few postcards from Australia, my hopes are fading.    The stamps were designed by Gavin Ryan and "take a lighthearted approach to travelling through remarkable landmark attractions: Port Arthur, the Great Barrier Reef, Margaret River, Alice Springs, and Phillip Island. "    
I also still harbour a desire to own one of these VW buses from the 1960's. Perhaps not so much with all the flower power decals on it, though.

Friday, September 12, 2014


A highlight of of my trip to Scotland last month was seeing the HUGE Kelpies, a steel installation located at The Helix between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Kelpies are mythical creatures that live in the water, the most famous of which is Nessie.
They are individually known as Duke and Baron after the two Clydesdales that were the life models for the sculptures. 
A second postcard shows the unfinished Kelpies. You can go inside the one with his head down (Duke). They each weigh 300 tonnes and are 30 metres high. Each one of their 990 steel panels is unique.
One regret was that it started raining during the tour - really raining, hard - so I didn't get enough photos. The other was that we didn't stay late enough to see them lit up at night. But, I wasn't the driver and an hour past dusk would have been far too long a wait.

The following link shows a time lapse video of the construction process
The Kelpies