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Entries from January 1, 2009 - January 31, 2009


Frog Spawn

I'd been aware that I hadn't filled up the bird feeders for a while and as we were heading into another cold snap I made the effort this morning to fill them before going to work.

As I passed out small pond I noticed a few splashes and ripples and immediately though that it was our four fish and that they had survived the winter. Then I realised that there had been about 10 or 12 almost simultaneous splashes and soon realised that it had been mating frogs and that I had disturbed them.

I had a quick look and noticed several clumps of frog spawn already in the pond.

Photo: Frog spawn in pond


Moffat to Isle of Man


Woke up feeling a bit rough and had to pay a few visits to the toilet. I blamed it on the raw meat in the carpaccio I had last night, but my wife suggested it may be several pints of local Best bitter I consumed last night, along with a few whiskeys in our hotel room. Whatever the cause, I manfully struggled through another full Scottish breakfast before we finished packing and checked out of the hotel.

As we had plenty of time in hand to get to Heysham for the Steam Packet ferry I mainly kept to the speed limit on the way back, particularly as the outside air temperature was frequently below zero. We had the usual obligatory stop at the Asda in Lancaster, mainly because it's the most interesting thing to do in Lancaster or Heysham once you've been there a few times before.

The sailing back to the Isle of Man was very calm and I took the time to catch up on a few podcasts and even had a nap. I was almost sorry to back home and having to go to work tomorrow.

Drunken ramblings

At Gretna Green I must have heard some pipe music which I guessed went something like "will ye go lassie". For some reason it put me in mind of "Love Minus Zero" by the Walker Brothers.

Back in the the hotel bar that evening I'd connected to the net on my Apple Macbook Pro laptop and was surprised to see that my Mac Pro at home was showing up as a network computer and that I could connect to. Apple magic! I copied "Love Minus Zero" by the Walker Brothers over to my laptop and plugged in my earphones to listen to it. I searched for "will ye go lassie" on the net and iTunes to try to identify it and eventually found it on iTunes. It seems to have been recorded by quite a few artists and some versions are called "Wild Mountain Tyme"

I decided to buy the Max Boyce version because I was in Scotland and it was Burns Night.

Yeah, OK - I didn't realise Max Boyce was Welsh.

I also did a software update and was surprised to get 10.5.6 as I'd never been able to trigger it at home and was resigned to doing a combo update for it so I could install iWork 09.

How good is a lyric "She doesn't have to say she's faithful, yet she's true, like ice, like fire". Good on yer, Bob Dylan!

Photo: The Moffat House Hotel


Burns Night

We had breakfast in the hotel; I had the "The Full Scottish" and my wife had porridge. We drove down to Whithorn and the nearby Isle of Whithorn. I'd heard some horror stories about the A75 from a couple of friends but on that Sunday morning we hardly saw any traffic and maintained a decent speed in the Boxster.

After Whithorn we drove Kirkcudbright and then on to Gretna Green. We had a late lunch at Gretna Green, I had haggis taties and neeps as it was Burns Night. We also bought two bottles of whiskey at a combined cost of £92 both.

Back at Moffat I refuelled the car and gave it another jet wash to get rid of the accumulated road salt. I had another couple of pints of Best bitter in the hotel while surfing on the laptop, sorting photos and trying to find some music I had in my head. We had our evening meal in the hotel and a few more drinks before retiring to our room.

Photo: Sculpture at Gretna Green


The Falkirk Wheel

We left the overnight hotel in Lancaster and drove to Falkirk to see the Falkirk Wheel. We stopped at the Gretna Services on the way for fuel and a quick break. It was a pleasure to be driving the Boxster on the motorway instead of either of our usual diesel engined cars.

We had a look around the Falkirk Wheel, but didn't bother with the short canal cruise using the wheel, perhaps in the summer we may revisit it.

We retraced our steps back to Moffat, where we had booked a hotel for the next two nights. I stopped and a fuel station on the outskirts of Moffat to refuel and also to jet wash the car as it was covered in road salt and filth.

The Moffat House Hotel was a small family hotel and made a nice change from the large chain hotels we often stayed at. We had room 7, a large room on the top floor at the back and it had a four poster bed quite good.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Moffat town centre. I was glad to see that it wasn't yet another clone town and still had plenty of independent small traders and hadn't been destroyed by the usual out own town supermarkets.

There were also several pubs on the main street and we decided to book our evening meal in one, The Buccleuch Arms Hotel.

We then returned to our room for a rest and a few drinks. In the evening we walked back to the Buccleuch Arms where we enjoyed a very good meal, washed down with a few points of the local Best bitter.

Photo: The Falkirk Wheel