Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy Hogmanay!

Long time, no blog! Greetings to anyone who may be reading this post - which I suspect will be very few - if any (that is apart from my number one fan 'J' who is constantly on at me to update my blog! And perhaps Alison from Helensburgh - hello!) 

Hope you had a great Christmas!   Perhaps you are now making preparations for the coming New Year celebrations - or maybe not.  

So what will you be doing this Hogmanay?  How will you celebrate and welcome in the New Year?  Partying in the streets - or at home with friends and family?  Will you "see in the bells" and retreat quietly to bed or will you already be fast asleep before the bells and oblivious to the whole thing?  Does this time of year make you happy or morose?

Back in the day we had our own New Year rituals.   Before the bells the young - who were old enough to be allowed to "bring in the bells" - would be kept occupied by writing their New Year resolutions.   It was traditional that the house was cleaned from top to bottom - including windows.  All trace of household rubbish had to be removed from the house.  All debts to be repaid.  Family would arrive and around 10.00 pm all who had gathered would be served with a hearty meal - which traditionally included butcher's best steak pie.  Afterwards, the tables had to be cleared and every dish washed and out of sight.   Windows were opened wide - one to let out the old year and one to let in the new. The New Year calendar would face the wall waiting to be turned over as soon as the New Year arrived.  Whisky and other drinks, freshly baked sultana cake and shortbread at the ready - and we were set!    Counting down the minutes - all would be ushered into the living room and be given their preferred tipple.  Five minutes before midnight we'd gather in a circle  - wth the BBC Hogmanay Show going on in the background.   Then the countdown would begin. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six ..........!  On the stroke of midnight the church bells would ring - in the distance you could even hear the horns of the ships docked on the River Clyde (sadly long gone).   We would charge our glasses, toast the New Year, perhaps shed a tear or two as we rememebered and took time with our own thoughts - and then we'd await the "first foot".   (The "first foot" could be a family member or neighbour but for good luck the preference was that they'd be tall, dark and handome - a tall order on occasions it has to be said!  (and heaven forfend that the first foot be female or have red hair!  They would surely bring bad luck - apparently!!)  The first foot would normally carry a bottle in one hand and in the other a lump of coal - to symbolise warmth for the home in the coming year and/or sultana cake or shortbread as a symbol that the house would not go hungry. And then the partying would begin!

Ah! Those were the days......!

Whatever you decide to do I hope it makes you happy. 

All the best for a happy and healthy 2012!

Bella B! xx

Friday, 2 September 2011

When a small part of Glasgow became a small part of Philidelphia for part of Brad Pitt's "World War Z" movie

Apologies for delay in posting World War Z film location pics but unfortunately I have been laid low with a(n?) horrendous episode of Sciatica - some of the worst pain I have EVER experienced in my life - and so plans for anything much have gone a bit awry (including my 2-day craft event that I have been working very hard for in Merchant Square today - I am very, very disappointed!!.)   I won't go into too many details but suffice it to say that I have been ingesting so many injections/tablets - prescribed by both emergency and local doctors - that I feel like I could have been cast as one of the zombies for this World War Z movie!!   I believe Brad Pitt and his entourage have now packed up and left town so no pics of the final stages of filming in Glasgow but you might like to see some of those that I took whilst events were ongoing and before my bout of illness.
Here goes: 

The transporters begin to arrive carrying  the yellow cabs and other vehicles seldom seen on our streets.   This is Cochrane Street and normally a very quiet part of town.  What views the owners of the apartments behind must have had during filming!

When our traffic lights were changed 

and our streets renamed or renumbered.  Here, Miller Street became 16th Street

South Federick Street (Old Post Office bldg) became 15th Street

Then Cochrane Street became J F K Boulevard, whilst George Street became Broad Street

 The old Ernst and Young building became the US Court House

Many people wishing to have their photographs taken with the SWAT van

Amongst others, the ex Leader of our Liberal Democratic Party (Charles Kennedy) taking a healthy interest in all the goings on. He too agrees that this was a great thing to be happening in Glasgow.

What a beast of a vehicle!  Until next time!  More drugs then bed for me......!  

Doesn't George Square look great?!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

When Holywood and Brad Pitt's "World War Z" came to Glasgow and took over George Square and other parts

George Square looking west

Since I started my blog a couple of years ago it has always been my intention to write a post about my home city of Glasgow but for some reason, until now, I have never done so.  I usually carry a small camera with me wherever I go and over time I have taken loads of photographs of Glasgow, and its wonderful architecture, but have yet to post about any of them here.

Glasgow City Chambers

Anyway, I am prompted to write about Glasgow today because there's been a bit of a buzz in the city centre for the past week and a half.  It all began last Monday (15 August), when a small but very nice part of my home city was taken over by the makers of an upcoming Holywood Movie, World War Z starring Brad Pitt..   George Square and a number of streets close by have been transformed to look like downtown Philadelphia, USA.  I know nothing about the film, or the book, and even less about film making, but I do think it is fantastic that Glasgow has been chosen to play host to big budget Holywood movie makers and it is a feather in the cap for all who made it happen. It seems that Glasgow's architecture and our grid system contributed to the success of hosting the movie - plus the fact it would appear to be less less expensive to recreate Philadelphia in Glasgow than to actually film in the city of Philadelphia!   I believe UK tax breaks for the film industry also played their part in the decision to film here.  Part of the deal, correct me if I am wrong, is that some local people must be recruited to work on the movie and as far as I know around 1,200 have been employed in various roles throughout filming so far.  The local economy is expected to benefit by up to £2 million over the period and hopefully Glasgow will be shown in a good light and will benefit even more after the release of the movie.

George Square on West George Street, Tron Church ahead

Having hired an entire train to transport Mr Pitt's cavalcade/circus from England (where he had also been filming) to Scotland - he apparently arrived at Glasgow Central Station two days after the film set began to go up in the city centre. By all accounts the station platform his train arrived at was cordoned off, blackout screens were erected, vehicles were allowed on to the platform concourse to whisk this one guy and his entourage away from public gaze. He'd apparently arrived in Glasgow, with body double in tow(!) plus more security than would accompany a head of state!  And all of this so that the 70! or so fans that his impending arrival managed to muster - who had waited some hours to catch a glimpse of this well-kent face - couldn't!  

Nice touch Brad.   You're an actor - you're here to work!  (I'm never quite sure if it is the fault of  "celebs" and their self-inflated egos when such a fuss is made over them - or if it is their puffed up "people" who make something out of nothing very much. Makes you wonder how other high profile folks get around without causing a stir.......?

Anyway, weekend before the big movie is about to get going I lose my camera so during the first week of filming I could only manage photographs from the camera on my mobile phone.   Hopefully I have managed to take enough pics to give a flavour of some of the goings on.

Views of the general area where filming is taking place - before the cameras arrived:

George Square from George Street

George Square at night

Photographs from the scene to follow.......

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Too busy to blog

Since my last blog life has been just a bit hectic! Sooo many things going on in the one month that I just had to take each one at a time and do my best not to lose the plot.

There was still the sudden and yet to be finished request for wedding invitations, plus, plus..... (from a family member, so a rant about lack of organisation in one of my previous posts was allowed!) to attend to.

Preparation, making for, and attendance at, two large craft events in Glasgow (Merchant City Festival - which was fab - plus World Pipe Championships, which was less fab but still good).

Making time to catch some of the berry picking season, then jam making - lots of lovely raspberry jam making - from my hand picked berries (with the hope of returning at the end of August for blackcurrants, strawberries, goosberries and red berries, plus, plus, plus but unfortunately time got the better of me).

Fulfilling, with pleasure, a long-time special request for one dozen specially made cards from two lovely fellow bloggers - who always make me smile.

Catching up with old friends visiting Scotland from the USA and meeting new ones who came along with them made for a fantastic few days exploring castles , cathedrals and abbey ruins; Holyrood Palace (again!) and Arthurs Seat - in and around Edinburgh and St Andrews.

Time spent exploring and talking, eating and walking, shopping and taking in some of the most breathtaking views over Edinburgh on a clear, fresh, sunny day and exploring Mary King's close in the evening.

Staying at the Fairmont Hotel with wonderful views over St Andrews town and beach and having the best time ever in the best summer weather conditions we had had at up to that point!

Attending a special family birthday dinner;

Attending a fantastic farewell to US friends dinner at Lochgreen House Hotel in Troon before friends headed back across the Atlantic.

Day before wedding mentioned above spent frantically searching for something to wear at said wedding; got something in the end (phew!) and the following day attended the wedding - which turned out to be a great do!

And all of this was captured in pictures - only some of which I would have loaded here had I not, the night before Holywood was due to arrive in Glasgow, discovered that I have lost/misplaced (I know not) my trusty wee camera. I have searched, and searched, but cannot find my little friend who has travelled with me every day over the last 3 years - this is the longest time we have been apart and I am having withdrawal symptoms.

There's nothing else for it - I will have to buy another, though I live in hope that we will be reunited one day - if only for recovery of the memory card and its contents. In the meantime I have used my mobile phone to capture images of how a tiny, but very nice, part of my home city of Glasgow is this week being transformed into a part of the city of Philadelphia for an upcoming movie called World War Z starring Brad Pitt - will blog about that later.

Exhausted, but happy, I will recharge and enjoy the lull over the coming weeks.

If I don't find my camera I will post some pics from previous visits to St Andrews and Edinburgh another time.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Switzerland 2011 - Heading for the hills

I had arranged to meet my friend at the main train station in Zurich at 10.00 am on the day after I arrived in Switzerland. We were taking the train to the Graubunden region for a few days holiday - to inhale the clear mountain air and generally benefit from being away from it all. After one hour of waiting - and wondering - my friend turned up exactly one hour late, at 11.00 am(!), all smiles and pleased to see me! She had absolutely no idea that somehow, somewhere, she had lost one hour of her life that day; she was convinced she was on time and for the rest of the holiday she tried to figure out where those 60 minutes had gone! This set the pattern for what was to become days of poor timekeeping on our part and missed opportunities. Somehow we had lost the ability to read timetables properly and to set our alarm clocks correctly. We seemed to have flicked our timekeeping switches to snooze mode! But we were on holiday - isn't that what we're supposed to do? Not according to Swiss transport timetables if you want to go anywhere I'm afraid!

Switzerland has 26 cantons and 4 languages, Swiss German, Swiss French, Swiss Italian and Romansch. We were heading for the canton of Graubunden where a small number of people still speak Romansch - which I believe it is still taught in school - though only at primary level. We took the train from Zurich to Chur, the capital of Graubunden. We changed trains at Chur to the waiting train which wound its way to Ilanz; as we journeyed we were entertained by the beautiful countryside, lakes and mountain views.   From Ilanz, the waiting PostBus took us the remainder of the way to the mountain village of Obersaxen, winding its way upwards, to around 1300 metres - each train and bus synchronised to meet with the other - such luxury!

Having travelled this way before I didn't feel inclined to grab photographs of every detail - we friends hadn't seen each other in a year so lots to blether about! But the blethering had to stop when travelling through  my favourite part of the journey - the spectacular Rhine Gorge.  This area is known as the Swiss Grand Canyon and the landscape is breathtaking.

Very much an area for taking to the outdoors - on the water

on foot

The beautiful aqua colour of the glacial waters.

Stopped at Trin to pick up some thrillseekers.

At Ilanz - carriages await.  Take your pick!

Winding our way up into the mountains.

When we finally reached our destination we opened up the house, our home for the next 5 days, folded back the shutters on each of the windows and doors took a deep breath and and these are the vistas that we would delight in each and every minute - fantastic!

From my bedroom

From the balcony

From the living room

Or so we thought! 

As it turned out, it seems I had picked the worst week weather-wise to visit Switzerland.  The previous two months had been wall-to-wall sunshine apparently - and then I arrived!  

The following day - all day - looked like this


Reminded me of home and the 'summer' we had been having....!