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Non-Deco Bathgate

Two more photos taken in Bathgate, West Lothian.

The first is of the Bennie Museum – museum of Bathgate’s history and life hoiused in a traditinal cottage:-

Bennie Museum, Bathgate

The second is a blue plaque to James ‘Paraffin’ Young, creator of West Lothian’s oil shale industry. (I’ve always found the rust-brown bings left behind by the shale mining in that county to be a strangely attractive feature of the landscape):-

Plaque to Paraffin Young, Bathgate

Wigan Pier

Apparently George Orwell said in his famous book that nobody knew where Wigan Pier actually is/was (but they seem to have found it since.)

We thought we’d missed it but on the way out of Wigan we saw a sign for Wigan Pier and stopped for a look.

It’s a pretty nondescript ex-industrial canal area.

Someone had opened a bar/restaurant by the pier and called it the Orwell. We would have had lunch there but the premises have closed down.

The Orwell (as was) – by Wigan Pier:-

Wigan, The Orwell

The Orwell and Wigan Pier:-

The Orwell and Wigan Pier

The reverse angle from the other end of the building shows the “pier” to be merely a canalside jetty:-

Wigan Pier

There’s still some life on the canal. We saw these two boats and people pottering about on them:-

Canal Boats at Wigan

The Falkirk Wheel

The same day we went to The Kelpies (see the two posts immediately previous to this) we also visited the Falkirk Wheel which is a rotating boat lift linking the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal, built using Millenium Fund money. (See Wikipedia’s article here.)

Boat coming down:-

Falkirk Wheel 1

Falkirk Wheel  2

Falkirk Wheel 3

Boat leaving lift:-

Falkirk Wheel  4

Other boat ascending:-

Falkirk Wheel 5

At the quayside were these maquettes of The Kelpies:-

Mini Kelpies at Falkirk Wheel

Two (very short) videos of the Wheel in motion:-

Birds at the Helix, Falkirk

On the path to the Kelpies (see previous post) we saw a family of swans on the other side of the canal. A dog was being walked and had to be wary of the adults.

Closer to the Kelpies a more exotic bird was being exercised. It turned out a man took his parrot there every day. It could fly about a bit on the end of a line. I caught it below when it was on the ground.

Parrot on a stick. Well, on a lead:-

Kelpies  parrot

On the walk back to the car the swans had moved over to the near side of the canal and settled down by the side of the path. A wide berth was given and warnings shouted to kids on bikes not to get close:-

Swans + Cygnets 1

Swans + Cygnets 2

The Kelpies

I had seen the Kelpies before, from the M9, and also in the distance from the Falkirk Stadium but hadn’t actually visited them till we took the good lady’s US blog friend Peggy there in May.

They were designed by sculptor Andy Scott and stand in an area called The Helix, by the Forth and Clyde Canal and the River Carron.

The Kelpies have become quite a tourist attraction. When we went there the visitor centre hadn’t yet opened but they were still well worth a look.

This is the view from the path leading to them from the overflow car park:-

The Kelpies

Close up they are stunning:-

The Kelpies Close


Kelpies 3

The Kelpies and Shadows

Kelpies Rear

The Kelpies: Head

When Did You Say Again?

Seen on a shop in St Andrews, Fife.

When Did You Say?

Apparently St Andrews will still be there in 198,000 years.
Or else the shop has travelled back in time.

Punctuation Marks

I’m obviously not the only one who gets nerdy about this sort of thing.

There was a review by Sam Leitch in Saturday’s Guardian of the book Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation by David Crystal. A review which I enjoyed immensely.

I particularly liked the two sentences, “The big four – comma, semicolon, colon and full stop – were for a long time, and insanely, regarded as precise measurements of a pause: a full stop was worth four commas. The book’s full of this sort of curio: interesting on first encounter; illuminating on investigation,” in which Leitch has deployed those marks with great care. The paragraph on Wordsworth and Humphry Davy and the possible punctuation of the parenthesis it coontained was also a delight.

And then there was the bit on defunct and obscure marks:- the asterism, (⁂); the dinkus (***) and the fleuron (stylised forms of flowers or leaves); the austere pilcrow (¶) and the honourable diple (>); the breve (or háček, in which it pleasingly appears) (˘) and the manicule (a pointing hand); or the caret (^).

I’ll not go so far as to read the book itself though. I’ve too much else on.

Space Artist

The Guardian yesterday featured this painting of the first space walk:-

Space Walk

What makes it unusual is the artist. None other than Alexei Leonov, the subject of the painting.

That CCCP on his helmet makes it seem even more of its time.

Leonov also drew the first work of art actually to be created in space, a view of the sunrise as seen from his Voskhod 2 spacecraft. Here it is with the pencils used to draw it:-

First drawing in space

He almost never made it back into the capsule. His suit had expanded and he had to bleed off air to get it to fit. He could have succumbed to “the bends” but thankfully didn’t.


This photo (credited to Dominick Reuter/Reuters) – which doesn’t seem to be on the website – appeared in Thursday’s print edition of the Guardian:-


Surely Mr Trump is using the wrong finger to go along with that facial expression.

Val Doonican

Yet another voice from my young past has been extinguished.

Val Doonican was always determinedly old-fashioned and was probably more famous for Irish novelty songs, wearing woolly jumpers and singing while reclining in a chair than for ruffling the charts but he had a good crooner’s voice and five top ten hits between 1964 and 1967.

Doonican’s biggest was What Would I Be – a no 2 – and his cover of Bob Lind’s Elusive Butterfly reached No 5 in the UK charts – as, curiously, did Lind’s own version.

Val Doonican: Elusive Butterfly

Michael Valentine “Val” Doonican: 3/2/1927 – 1/7/2015. So it goes.

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