1. A Busman's Holiday

    A Busman's Holiday

    A Busman’s Holiday

    Well you know how it goes, the prospect of a significant birthday and the weather at home isn’t all that, so a birthday abroad is just what the doctor, if not what the bank manager ordered. And being well, in the business of fine glassware why not take a peek at the making of glass across the narrow sea. The first stop on the holiday though was to Rome. There were plenty of glass artefacts on view as it’s well known that only two things pass the test of real time and they are glass and pottery. Roman glass wasn’t quite of the sophistication that we know now, but some of it is very pretty and delicate, with beautiful colours and it probably was made in a day. The highlight for me though was a trip to the Colosseum that ancient entertainment space where as many as half a million went to die for the amusement of the Roman throng. It had sixty lifts and it seems that Emperors didn’t really want gladiators to die, because then they had to compensate the owners, because g

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  2. A Celebration of the Life

    A Celebration of the Life

    “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

    In the words of the great Joni Mitchell, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,” and this must apply to our late monarch Queen Elizabeth II. The lasting memory should not be that with Paddington Bear for the Platinum Jubilee, but the steady hand she held on the tiller of monarchy for seventy years. Although the animated bear episode did show that she was always a ‘sport,’ just as when she ‘sky dived’ out of a helicopter to open the 2012 Olympic Games. She ruled in an era of tremendous change and despite her youth when she was made queen, she was just twenty five years old on holiday in Kenya at the Treetops Hotel, she was always a uniting figure.

     It was so long ago that Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and many years older than the new monarch.  She had been the quiet favourite of the public since she had put on uniform to serve in the ATS in the Second World War and then married Philip of Greece in Westmin

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  3. A Favourite Little Train, Snow and Sales

    A Favourite Little Train, Snow and Sales

    Taking the Piste

    Now I’m not a skier, I was brought up in the suburbs of the city where only the posh people went skiing and I didn’t know any posh people. I get the attraction of the sport, the clear skies and air, the rapid descents and the après ski, but it’s always been a little bit iffy taking up the sport in Scotland. I’ve just now been looking at the snow forecast for the Cairngorms and it looks positive. The freeze and thaw cycles are creating a good base on most runs above 700 metres they say, but below 700 metres you won’t find much snow. There have been recent snow showers which haven’t helped a lot, but there has been some drifting above 800 metres. They warn skiers “Hard snow conditions off the pistes – take care!” All very interesting, but I’m a train man, not a flinger o myself down mountains.

    And the lovely little train that is the Cairngorms mountain railway is running again for the for the first time in four years. It won’t be providing a service just yet, as

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  4. A Present for the Future

    A Present for the Future

    It’s a funny thing how you meet someone these days, but whether you’ve been together for 50 years or 5 weeks it’s important not to ignore Valentine’s Day. People always ask how I met the missus ten years ago now, but I always say it was how I asked her to marry me that was the important bit.

    You have to show a bit of savvy. It was second time round for both of us and so I wanted to demonstrate I was a least a bit on her wavelength so I sat up into the wee small hours one night and composed a crossword. It was a terrible crossword, but she’s always done them, learned about them from her mother and I figured the way to her heart was 6 down and 14 across.  You see inside the clues some of the answers were asking her to marry me. And of course it was 22 down and “I do.” And that's her holding the heart!

    And because we get a bit wound up in our own world and lots of us are still working from home, so we see the object of our love a bit too often you have to fight against

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  5. A Touch of Glass - Royal Scot Crystal Stars in Regency Drama

    A Touch of Glass - Royal Scot Crystal Stars in Regency Drama

    A Touch of Glass - Royal Scot Crystal Stars in Regency Drama

    Dearest Reader, you will be astonished to know that the makers of a hit television series have come to us for their finest on screen crystal. Yes, it’s true. The glasses featured heavily on the Netflix romp and which have been seen by millions upon millions around the world are from Royal Scot Crystal. I jest not! So as Lady Whistledown would say in the hit TV series Bridgerton, ‘it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife or at least a bit of Regency  action in the shrubbery.’ Before she added: ‘It is also true that the Producers of the hit series in need of some prime crystal would look to the makers of Royal Scot Crystal for some wonderful glasses to be used in the period drama.’

    The Marriage Merry-go-Round

    The series is the creation of the amazing Shonda Rhimes who also invented the long running Grey’s Anatomy

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  6. Away with the Troubles!

    Away with the Troubles!

    Are you finding the travails of modern life a bit much? Has the trek to work palled, or the working from home become a chore? I’ve included a lovely picture of the sea at sunset, that always makes me calmer and it is the view from our house. But many people need to get further away than just a sunset. For those of a sturdy independent cast of mind there is an opportunity to become that solitary creature a lighthouse keeper, master or mistress of the rocks. My favourite fictional lighthouse keeper was the wonderful Fulton Mackay in Fraggle Rock the Muppet inspired kids’ show way back in the day. A retained keeper is being sought for two lighthouses on the north-west coast of Scotland. The lighthouses are at Cape Wrath, that cheerily named tip of the country at the most northerly tip of the mainland, and Stoer Head which is not far away from Wrath. You kind of get the impression don’t you that this part of Scotland is a bit bleak and windy, well you wouldn’t be entirely wrong there.<

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  7. Barra's Nature Problem

    Barra's Nature Problem

    Is that a Hurchin on Barra Clara?


    The picture is of Gilly the Guillemot who my friend Jon and I found on our beach and tried to rescue. I didn’t have any pictures of ground nesting birds, so thought you’d like one of Gilly. She was being harassed by gulls and crows when we found her, so we whisked her off to the vet to see if she could be saved, but although she survived the night she’d lost too much weight. Poor Gilly!

    But if you are of a certain vintage you’ll  recall Stanley Baxter’s Parliamo Glasgow with the deathless line, “Is that a marra on the barra Clara?”The funster was mocking the dreadful BBC language series which taught unsuspecting denizens of these isles dodgy and mostly useless Italian. But now it’s hurchins on Barra that are a problem. A hurchin or hurcheon is as most know is an ‘urchin’ or a hedgehog and it’s the possible it will become the scourge of Barra. These sweet, mostly inoffensive beasties if you don’t mind the

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  8. Beating the Rush and Posting On Time

    Beating the Rush and Posting On Time

    Latest Posting Dates 

    It’s time to get cracking with posting those cards and presents to friends, family and loved ones abroad. 31st October is the last day for the USA and Canada, so happy Halloween! Beat the rush and see the festive season in with less fuss.

    Posting to HM Armed Forces

    Monday 28 November

    Operational HM Forces

    Monday 5 December

    Static Base HM Forces


    Posting International Economy

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  9. Black Friday Blues: Are You Hungry for a Bargain?

    Black Friday Blues: Are You Hungry for a Bargain?

    Black Friday Queues: Are You Hungry for a Bargain?

    Are you good at queuing? Do you think Black Friday is more important than ever as we go into a tough winter in a cost of living crisis? Then expect bargains to be the target of competitive shoppers and perhaps even some unruly behaviour. We all remember times when Black Friday events got out of hand. In one incident a few years ago Greater Manchester police said three people were arrested, one woman suffered a broken wrist while a wheelchair-user had a TV dropped on her. And don’t mention the security guard who was punched after disturbances were reported at seven separate Tesco stores in the northwest. But despite that Black Friday just grows and grows as shoppers are hungrier than ever for a bargain, as I am sure are the lovely customers of James Pirie.  

    Christmas is Coming: Look at the TV Ads

    And Christmas is coming earlier this year as retailers expect consumers to be more strapped f

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  10. Black FriYAY

    Black FriYAY

    Black FriYAY

    It’s almost upon us. The turkey has been bought and brave souls are trying to figure out how to cook the enormous bird without it drying up. My best suggestion is to take off the legs and cook them separately in the same oven for a much shorter time. Though a friend from Texas tell me that she cooks the turkey in a brown paper bag and covers the skin in loads of butter then cooks it in a moderate oven.

    Unseasonal Postal Strikes

    But, but, but the Christmas post strikes have just been announced and they are Friday 9 December, Sunday 11 December, Wednesday 14 December, Thursday 15 December, Friday 23 December and Saturday 24 December.  Now here at James Pirie we have more than one way to skin a cat, so you mustn’t worry about parcels coming from us, but it is a reminder to avoid late shopping when things can and will go wrong.

    A Dazzler!

    And if you are shopping with us this season have a g

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