Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Book at Bedtime

So, what took me to Dock Park in Dumfries yesterday? I went to look at the monument in the centre of the pic. Although I had visited the park before, I had completely missed the significance of this granite obelisk. Let me explain...

I love reading. Books have always been part of my life, and especially so this past year. Santa was good to me at Christmas. You can see that I'm working my way through George RR Martin's epic, and that my interests span both fiction and non-fiction, and I'm happy to read both new and second hand. If I go into a charity shop, or visit a car boot sale, I usually come away with a book or two! And I dare not go into a second hand bookshop.

Some books I enjoy more than others. These days if I'm not enjoying a book after the first few pages, it just doesn't get finished. Life's too short! But I do enjoy a 'good read'. Occasionally I find a book which is impossible to put down once I've got into it. No work gets done until the book gets finished.

That was the case with this book which was in my Christmas stocking! It's Christopher Ward's account of what happened to one particular family in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster. Enthralling! Ward is the grandson of Jock Hume, the violinist in the orchestra which played on deck as the ship was sinking. Hume was twenty-one years old, and had just learned he was going to be a father. As the jacket blurb says, "One hundred years on, Christopher Ward tells the dramatic story of love, loss and betrayal, and the catastrophic impact of Jock's death on two very different Scottish families."

It is an incredible story. I'll not spoil it by giving any more details. Do read it yourself.

(As an aside, my curling friends will be interested in the role that the old Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax played following the disaster.)

Jock Hume and a steward, Thomas Mullin, were both from the Dumfries area, and I learned from the book that a sixteen foot granite obelisk had been erected in Dock Park in the town in their memory.

And here is a photo of the base of the obelisk, with the inscription and the bronze relief of the Titanic, and a bronze scroll of the music of the hymn 'Nearer My God to Thee', which may (or may not, see here) have been the last tune the orchestra played. The monument was unveiled in a ceremony on May 31, 1913.

Christopher Ward describes the controversial awarding of the contract for the construction of the monument to a Manchester firm, Messrs Kirkpatrick Bros of Trafford Park, rather than a local company. The obelisk itself used 'the very best quality of Aberdeen granite'. The cost was £100.

The memorial is a hundred years old and has survived well, particularly the bronze reliefs.

Originally the monument was protected by iron railings but these have been removed.

1497 passengers and crew died in the North Atlantic on the night of April 14-15, 1912. Only 328 bodies were recovered. Hume and Mullin were among these and both are buried in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Read more about And the Band Played On, and about the author, at this website.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Friday, December 28, 2012

A New Look for the New Year

I'm planning a new look for Skip Cottage, so it may be 'work in progress' for the next few days.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Pad Thai

I slipped into Carlisle today, Christmas Eve, by train to do a little last minute shopping. It was a wet day but the city was buzzing. I was in the Market Hall wondering about lunch... and then the problem was solved when I stumbled upon the Coconut Tree cafe!

Having lived in Thailand for nearly five years, I do enjoy Thai food. It is more than ten years since I came home, but at Skip I still cook Thai food a lot. Or I try to! To be honest, it's never the same as the 'real' thing. Today I had Pad Thai (a staple 'street food') for my lunch, and splendidly delicious (aroy mak mak) it was in this Carlisle cafe. I suspect I may become a regular customer! Khun Saeng is the proprietor and chef.

I was chatting with one of the other customers and the question was asked, "Do they celebrate Christmas in Thailand?" Well Thais do like a good party. ANY excuse! But I suspected that a better answer to the question might lie somewhere amongst the photo albums I have kept of my five years as an ex-pat. Here it is:

Top photo is Santa, courtesy of a Carlisle garden centre. Above is Santa, courtesy of a Bangkok department store, some ten years ago!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winter 2012

Yesterday in Annandale was clear and cold, and I was somewhat surprised to wake up this morning to this wintry scene!

Garden visitors. Blackbird tracks perhaps?

The ice on the pond is pretty solid. Which of course raises the question if we are going to get some curling outside this winter. Note to self - get the stones out from under the bed and into the car boot to cool down!

Keeping the birds well fed makes a considerable dent in the pension, but they do bring a lot of pleasure. Blue tits and coal tits are the most common visitors, the latter being especially common this year.

Photos © Skip Cottage