On the off chance someone near to Glasgow reads this and fancies going and seeing it: read no further than the photie below. Just go along to the Botanic Gardens tomorrow night between 1600 and 2000 (go along from 1530 to book a slot) for the last night of Heliotrope. Places are really limited, but it’s free and if you don’t get in, Byres Road is full of places of consolation, or indeed celebration as we ended up in two places, one for a chip supper and one for ice cream.
Ah, summer evenings out.

They’ve been very careful not to spill the beans about what Heliotrope actually is which Joycee knew about from one of her art pals. All I knew was it was lights, sound and I’d gone over the Erskine Bridge heading for the Winter Gardens at the Peoples Palace instead of the Botanics. Ah, the scenic route is just as good.
We signed up for the first showing and headed into the park to kill 40 minutes. The sun was coming down in spectacular style, so I was fine with the camera while the girls played on the swings.

Arriving back we were taken into a side gallery in the Kibble Palace, the domed Victorian greenhouse which is the centrepiece of the Botanics, where there was a tipi. Shoes off they said and eight of us went in and lay down with our heads at the centre pole and feet to the outside like spokes on a wheel. There were little pillows and white blankets to snuggle under and Holly wriggled inbetween me and Joycee with just a little nerves showing.
The sound of a zip being closed from outside and we were on our journey. The sun rose on the other side of the canvas and cycled through days, weeks, months and the seasons of the year as bells chimed the start and end of every change of mood and colour.

Holly lasted well, a few squeezes of hands, a few whispers and she made it to the end despite the volume which at times was getting up there and, the movement. I wasn’t sure at first, maybe ten years living on a boat makes me immune, but the floor had been moving. It was slow, but the floor revolves which places the fixed point of sunlight in an arc as you lie there. Clever.
Many will scoff at this, many will scratch their heads, some will earnestly discuss the depths of its meaning and some like me might smile at the parallels to real camping. I lay there and saw the sun and the moon of the different seasons, I felt the movement, the peace,  those little touches of nerves at times and the bell sounds were the sounds of camping when you’re on the edge of sleep, slow, distorted, distant but somehow close enough to be inside your head.
Art’s what you make it, you’ve got to give it a chance. I’m usually glad when I do. We were all whispering when we came out of the tent, no one asked us too, we’d all been affected in some way whether we’d like to admit it or not.

There’s an explanation leaflet on your way out. It’s nice, folded cleverly and I didn’t read it. It was telling me what Heliotrope was all about, light in the dark of winter, comfort and Seasonally Affected Disorder, but I didn’t want my mind changed. I’d been camping in the city. Again (London report in a day or two).
A bonus is access to the Kibble Palace after dark which is fantastic. The statues come alive in sombre reflection, the plants are still and the air is silent. Even Holly’s giggles were snatched up by the darkness. We ran out into the brightness and noise of Byres Road for dinner and Christmas window shopping.

It’s only Monday too.

Never Stop Exploring? Off to London with The North Face

I’ve been out and about a wee bit of late, just haven’t had it on the blog, a day on a snow dusted Aonach Mor being a highlight. However, the next trip I’ll be writing up in full and I’ll be tweeting (here) as I go, by text as I have a phone that thinks apps is where the choir sits. Mind you, I’ve just superglued the arse back on my phone, so even that format might not happen.
Anyway, I’m on a Virgin Train right now heading south for a night on a roof. I’ll be in accomplished company and I’m looking forward to some banter over a cuppa and the sound of traffic. I wonder what health a safety will make of us firing up stoves on the roof?
Bringing adventure to the city they say, we’ll see, I’m prepared with a camera, a notebook & pen, a wallet containing Scottish bank notes, a six pack of Irn Bru and a selection of single malt miniatures.

Tim Burton

The girls made fairy cakes. The mixing was the usual messy fun including the pink princess chef hat on Holly’s napper which always brings a smile. The mix went in the cake cases and then they all went into the oven.
We went and did other stuff and when it was time to take the cakes out, much to our surprise they’d all turned into Tim Burton style fairy tail mountains. The wee yin stuck some icing and sprinkles on and we had the mountains from a Nightmare Before Christmas.
Out of a dozen cakes over half did the same trick. Bet we can’t do it again. What the hell, they tasted great.

Going Camping

Just been confirming my next trip on the phone. I said recently I was going south, and so I am. I’ll be on a train in a couple of days and rather than stopping at the more regular venues of the Lakes or maybe the Peak I’ll be going to the end of the line and pitching on the roof of a building in London.
It’ll be fine I’m sure, I’m expecting some rather different night shots and I’m expecting some unusual company for the night as well.

What the hell do I pack for a night on a roof? Much more of this next week.

Cheery Graveyard

Just because I’m a godless barbarian doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate this kind of stuff. I work in churches a lot and I like the people, the buildings and the peace and quite to get on with the job. Long may these places continue to serve the community in whatever way they can.

I was glad of the camera today, the trees are in their last flourish here and the light was clear and bright, it was even warm on the skin. What a day to be tantalisingly close to the hills.

Graveyards aren’t spooky or depressing, they’re actually full of love. Every stone was erected and etched with love for the departed below. Aye there’s some guilt and crossed fingers in the mix as well, but we’ll gloss over that for the sake of keeping the mood light.

Came home to an interesting request. Looks like I’ll be making a rare trip south to spend a night in a tent. Must remember to stock up on Clydesdale Bank banknotes.

Oh My Goodness

The fastest five years of my life, but one full of joy and memories made of glitter, pritt stick and felt tipped pens with lost lids. Holly was 5 today and my little girl is growing up.

There’s been fun and games all day and she weathered it all very well, only coming close to meltdown at bedtime. Presents were many, but Dad saved his special surprise for last. Below is the theatre lobby roll-out banner for out favourite movie, Holly now has to find somewhere to hang the one I managed to get for her. It’s bloody huge.
The cake was a home-made DunBroch Castle in banana and chocolate sponge with all the Brave cast present in miniature and the wee party at Granny’s was strung together with Tinkerbell and various mermaids too.
She’s growing up fast aye, but it’s just so much fun on the way.

Blue Monday. With pink, orange, purple, yellow, green and many more, available now on K-Tel

It was a frosty morning and the sky was so blue I could hear it over my sick diesel engine so I pulled over on the way to the workshop to have a quick look at the harbour. The rising sun was steaming the frost off the wreck in the corner and the splintering jetty was relefeted in a glassy River Clyde. It’s as well I didn’t have my stove with me or I’d have spent the day sitting there watching the sun passing by.

Later on I found myself under pink clouds in a remote North Lanarkshire farm where we picked up Hearse 2. The Hearse took a sudden downwards turn in operational capacity, and frankly if I didn’t die when it stalled, locked the steering up and put me into a head-on collision on some remote Highland road I was going to have a heart attack from the stress of constantly expecting it.
I now have a marginally newer black estate of doom for the same money as it would cost to fix the Ford. Henry can kiss my arse.

Holly hates fireworks, Joycee loves fireworks and hasn’t seen them properly since Holly was born. Granny watched The Girl while me and the misses nipped down to Dumbarton Castle to watch the show in Levengrove Park across the River Leven. It was a fantastic display, in times where pennies are scarce they found the money from somewhere ( the care for the eldery budget probably) and spent it well. We loved it as did every one else who filled every corner of the town with a view of the park. Outstanding!
We had a wander around the castle after the show, atmospheric it was with The Plough lining up perfectly with the twin summitted skyline. Local stuff kicks ass.

You having fun Alfonso?

Lots of cafes look out onto pedestrian precincts with torn faced people striding by or over to traffic slowly grinding by, our local cafe has floor length windows with this view. The fact you can see Holly’s jacket floating like a giant ghost across the loch  is the giveaway that we’re behind glass, so there’s no point in lying, here’s another shot taken from a few paces back.

Now, while I’m looking out here I noticed something a little odd, Ford’s new Aqua Transit? No no, this guy’s reversed a boat trailer into the water and its nearly dragged the truck into the bay.
As you can see there’s some arm waving and shouting going on, this was followed by the small white pickup leaving and not returning. The arm waver spend a good while on the phone and after maybe an hour (we were there a while) a big blue 4×4 apperad and dragged the whole thing out. The trailer was at least the same size as the Transit, it could have dragged it right under, lucky boy.
By the time our friends arrrived it was all under control and we could leave to visit the sharks and turtle downstairs (It’s the cafe at Loch Lomond SeaLife) without missing anything. I like lunchtime cabaret.

Christmas is all over the shelves, including this most definite Fail tree decoration below.

More cheerful is the wee fella below, a tribute to the main character from Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun. Which, when pointed out, got an “Ooooooooo…..” and a grimace from Joycee.
I bought it of course.

I don’t think you’ve got time to work out if you’re right or left handed if you don’t already know when the building’s ablaze and you’re wanting to get out. Mind you, Jimmy says that as a leftie his school days in the 40’s was hell as you got a ruler across your knuckles if you tried to write with your left hand. He reckons the left handed emergency exit is actually locked to make a trap for fleeing lefties, I tried to tell him that times have changed, southpaws are fully integrated, but he still has his suspicions.

Holly didn’t care for such things, she was blowing kisses to a very inanimate pike. The pike remained unmoved by the encounter.

Here’s something unusual, Dumgoyne looks down at the final stretch of the West Highland Way, final for me anyway as I go north to south. It’s unusual in that it’s daylight, I’ve only ever been on that bit of track in the dark. Happy memories.

Alfonso is somewhere in the Highlands and I hope he’s doing well. I wanted to give him a conditions update but ran out of time before he flew in. I’ve been out and about and I think he’s in for a treat.
Good grief, I need to work on my comms skills.


Alice Cooper at The Usher Hall in Edinburgh Last Night, just after 9

I love Alice Cooper, From the Inside was the first album I ever bought and is still a favourite today. The only Scottish show he’s done that I’ve missed in 30 years is the one he played on the night Holly was born in ’07, so I can kinda see where he’s going as well as where he’s been.
In recent years the theatrics have been toned down, far fewer extras on stage to interact with and cause mayhem, favourites being the West Side Story-esque gang fights and a giant spiders web with girls in spider costumes playing on it. But Alice has always had the songs to make up for it, stick him and a decent backing band in a club and you’ve still got a winner.
Last night was different though, a basic-ish show  but with a strong start playing great tunes with a voice that sounded much stronger than on recent tours. It was all going well, although I get annoyed when he shortens songs and does medleys, until the drum solo slowed things down and he did four covers in a row.
Yes, it’s Halloween and he paying tribute to dead rock stars with big gravestones and singing their songs (The Doors, Hendrix, Lennon, The Who), but I don’t give a shit about that stuff, I want to hear Alice tunes. Those four covers could have been four more classics or even just the epic Halo of Flies on its own (from Killer, original calender sleeve below, I’m such a collector geek).
Is he bored playing his own songs? He does seem very relaxed on stage, there’s no danger in him now, he’s still playing the role of the stage Alice, but its like he’s in on his own joke these days.
When they band went back to the Alice back catalogue they did catch up again and it was a great finish with Schools Out complete with bubble blowing machines and giant balloons thrown into the crowd. There were moments of genius, musically as well as theatrically, playing the originally keyboard heavy The Man Behind The Mask – Friday the 13th soundtrack tune, with his three guitarists was pure magic and the giant Alicestein Monster lurching around the stage was pure pantomime.
The backing band are all excellent, there were laughs and smiles all night, it looks like they enjoy playing together and seem to mostly get along, something that’s hard to fake. Having three lead guitarists suits Alice’s multilayered songs and the old stuff sounded great. Great to see that blonde lassie still there, great player but the worst sound of the three guitarists, very thin and trebly.
Anyway, it was a good night, I might just have to come to terms with the fact that Alice is in his 60’s and he’s never going to be as edgy as he was and he can’t really be arsed with all the theatrics. The stage invading photographer was merely dragged away by a machete wielding Jason Voorhees, where once Alice stuck a micstand through his chest and left him hanging from it bleeding in the middle of the stage.
What the hell, I still love Alice Cooper.