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Balfarg Henge

One of the strange delights of our new home is that Son of the Rock Acres is within walking distance (a couple of hundred metres or so) of an ancient stone henge. Two stones survive from the original outer circle of Balfarg Henge. The posts show where other stones once stood.

There is a central stone also remaining but that is flat. The modern posts follow the original circle. You can also see the ditch which formed the outer perimeter in the photo below and the fact that the henge is now surrounded by houses.

Book Illustrations

You may have noticed from my side-bar that I’m reading Kemlo and the Satellite Builders by E C Eliott. That was one of the pseudonyms of Reginald Alec Martin.

I’ll post about the book later but one of its main attractions was the illustrations it contained – in all their 1960 finery.

The copy I bought was without its dust jacket but the hard cover itself is illustrated, as is the spine, and there is an internal coloured illustration as a frontispiece.

There were a further six internal black and white pictures, four of which are below. All illustrations are by George Craig.

Nothing dates so quickly as the future. Witness the lever switches, metal grilles over loudspeakers and flashing lights of the original Star Trek.


From a pub window in Markinch, Fife.

Has someone been overindulging in their wares?

Mind you, I don’t suppose a spell-checker would pick this up.

Satellite 4

So. That was Eastercon.

The Convention hotel (the Crowne Plaza, formerly the Moat House) was hard by the River Clyde. It’s the tall building. The footbridge is called the Bell’s Bridge.

The bridge is in its swung open position here.

I met quite a lot of old acquaintances and made some new ones. Plus I bought two books.

The two panels I was on went well and I didn’t make a fool of myself (I think.) The one on steampunk had an unexpected extra panellist.

Yes, a steam driven dalek!

Well, a dalek made to look steam driven by fellow panellist Peter Harrow, a fount of information on all things steampunk. It was actually radio-controlled. The chocolate rabbit was a nice touch.


Yesterday, after twenty-six years of occupancy, the good lady and I signed the missives for the sale of Son of the Rock Towers. It was put on the market at the end of June and we accepted an offer in early January.

It’s just as well I photographed the sign when I did as the estate agents (I assume) whipped it away sometime on Friday evening when it was dark.

What this news means, of course, is we’ll have to find another house to live in.

So far the search for a new home has proved almost as frustrating as the process of trying to sell this one was.

Serendipitous Answer

One of the exasperating – or (occasionally) amusing – aspects of being a member of the teaching profession is the unexpected answer.

Some of these become less unexpected as time goes by. I lost count early on in my career of the number of times I read of a “bouncin” burner in a pupil’s responses. This is of course due to how Fife kids pronounce “bouncing” – and to the way Scots say Bunsen with an “oo” sound as in the original German rather than the “uh” English folk use.

Often a written answer can be baffling (where on Earth did they get that from?) but on extremely rare occasions one of these slightly wayward attempts is startling or even utterly brilliant in a surreal kind of way. I had one of these last year as an answer to the test question, “What name is given to someone who is dependent on alcohol or drugs?”

I can write about this now as the relevant course and question is no longer part of the Scottish curriculum.

The response of this particular pupil was misspelled compared to the marking scheme’s wording (but that was obviously what she intended and so I had to give her the mark – not that what she actually wrote could be said to be wrong in itself, as it is in many ways a totally accurate description.)

So what was this unintentionally magnificent reply to the question, “What name is given to someone who is dependent on alcohol or drugs?”

“a dick.”


On Saturday (9/11/13) I was once again at an antiques fair at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh.

One of the items for sale was this impressive object:-

Life Size model of Stonewall Jackson

A life size model of American Civil War Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Yours for £600!

Also for sale was this extremely ancient piece of technology:-

Antique Computer?

What? Computers are antiques now?

Also some Soviet iconography:-

Soviet Memorabilia

Two models of the USSR memorial to space exploration, a huge badge in the shape of a Soviet tank plus a tower of some sort.

Art Gallery in Kelso

I just remembered today that I hadn’t posted this photo of a weird looking art gallery in the shape of a ship, with statue of a dolphin outside, that I took in Kelso during the summer.

Art Gallery, Kelso

Grounds for Complaint

I was in St Andrews last week and spotted this notice in a cafe’s window.

Coffee Grounds to Sit in

Sit in coffee?

I’d rather not.

The Weirdest Languages

English is an idiosyncratic language, especially when written down. Think, for instance, of the different ways the letter combination “ough” can be pronounced (eg in cough, enough, through, thorough, bough and brought.)

It is apparently, however, only the 33rd weirdest language in the world, though.

The weirdest, Chalcatongo Mixtec, is spoken by about 6,000 people in Oaxaca, Mexico, but strangely (you might naively think) German, Dutch, Norwegian, Spanish and Mandarin are pretty weird.

One of the weirdnesses of Chalcatongo Mixtec is that it doesn’t do anything at all to signal a question; no inversion of word order, no change in inflection, no pre/suffixing.

The least weird language is Hindi, but surprisingly both Hungarian and Basque, which are generally considered to bear little relation to other languages, are in the bottom ten for weirdness, as is Cantonese.

See the link above for the top and bottom tens and the arguments for the ratings.

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