I haven't been feeling the Halloween spirit at all this year, but couldn't see it pass without a traditional Halloween cake. The only place I've been able to find these in recent years is at the Tunnock's bakery in Uddingston. Any excuse for a trip out there. Traditionally the cake is a grotesque face with cream-filled cheeks. The bell and ring used to be baked inside but that's not going to happen these days. Nice to see they're still on the top.


The window display was spectacular as always with an inspired homage to Jack Vettriano's Singing Butler in Tunnock's Tea Cakes and Caramel Wafers. I can't think of any other company (except maybe Lego) that has this much fun with their own products. Previous window displays in this Flickr set.

Anyway, happy Halloween to you all.

Cassette purses by Librarian Barbarian

More from Made in the Shade. First up, this fantastic purse made from an old cassette tape by the stellar Librarian Barbarian. The tapes are split down the middle and turned into a sturdy purse. In the spirit of recycling, the tape is turned into brooches that are also for sale, as were some bags made from records. Lovely stuff.


Next, the wonderful work of Clare Nicolson who makes a number of delightful things, like cards, cushions and lavender birdies. I was going to buy one of these but got it free in my lucky bag. Result! It looks great and smells superb.

Knitted R2-D2

I went to Made in the Shade on Saturday, which is a showcase for local crafty types at The Lighthouse. I was hoping to do a bit of Christmas shopping but ending up buying more for myself. First up, little R2-D2 here, made by Ding Dong Designs. They specialise in knitted finger puppets and have a great selection of Muppets, Beatles, and cartoon characters. The Star Wars ones were the most popular and had sold out in around half and hour.

Barney the Owl

I also got this little fella, now called Barney but can't remember the name of the people who made it. Anyone? I'll blog the rest later in the week when hopefully my computer is behaving itself better than it is tonight.

Edwyn Collins' birds

Edwyn Collins has an exhibition of drawings of British birds showing at The Smithfield Gallery in London until 15 November 2008.

He was an illustrator for Glasgow Parks Department before finding his calling as a top pop star. Since suffering a brain haemorrage in 2005 he has learned to draw again using his left hand. As part of his rehabilitation he drew a bird a day and the results are shown here. What a lovely man.

As promised, the video of Robert "Do you know how they make veal?" Buchanan being interviewed by Stuart "Belle and Sebastian" Murdoch at the GFT showing of That Sinking Feeling is now on YouTube (not embeddable, grrrr). If you imagine the opposite of Inside the Actor's Studio this is probably it. It looks like a very good-humoured evening. Did anyone go?

Also from the GFT, David "The Wire" Simon doing a Q&A in September 2008. Haven't watched it as I'm stuck at the start of series 2.

In and out

I did a bit of thinking on holiday. All about places. No more than usual really but I thought I'd write it down this time. I feel like I've said it before but not in so many words. However, it's behind so much of what's coming next that it bears repeating. And there's a lot of talk about noticing at the moment, like it's a new thing (see Bionic noticing on Irving Street and beyond). Maybe it is for some. Anyway this is what I was thinking as we arrived in Bournemouth.

Arriving in a new place, the streets are overlaid with all the destinations I've arrived at in the last few years. I feel like the Terminator - scanning road junctions, tree-lined streets, stations, proms and fast food outlets, breaking them down into outlines and shapes and comparing them against similar views in my extensive memory banks. Sometimes there's a match but usually, as soon as I've almost figured out where this place reminds me of we're round the corner with a whole new view to take in. Still, I like the thrill of the chase, the flood of so many memories and the puzzle of putting them into order.

Arriving somewhere new there's so much to take in - signs, architecture, people, nature. And going abroad is even worse/better because there's all that and unfamiliar sounds and smells too. There's a short story that sticks in my mind - Funes the Memorious by Jorge Luis Borges, about a man who notices everything and forgets nothing. Sometimes I feel like that, except I'm better at forgetting.

What I love is adding up these details to form a conclusion about a new place, putting it on a scale of interesting/non-interesting/repellent in a way that is difficult to quantify, like Malcolm Gladwell's notion of thin-slicing. Some places set my spider senses tingling for no apparent reason, others have all the right ingredients but the whole doesn't equal the sum of the parts.

I love the way that in these times where everything is planned and managed there are things you just can't control. Places have atmospheres all of their own - made from strange mixtures of architecture, climate, location, population and industry, changing through the present and the past to make a place what it is. What makes travel so exciting is the serendipity of how these factors come together. I've been in shabby towns that warmed the very cockles of my heart, and beautiful places that left me cold. What I love is matching the patterns between places, sometimes miles or even continents apart and finding strange similarities when you least expect them.

St Saviours Church, Westerhouses

Tin tabernacles is a lovely photo gallery of corrugated iron buildings. Mostly churches with some other odds and ends. In the late 1800s these structures were mass-produced and easily shipped to rapidly expanding settlements. Despite the hostile British climate quite a few survive, usually brightly-painted and lovingly cared for. If "wriggly tin" is your bag there's more at another Tin tabernacles site and the daddy of them all, the Corrugated Iron Club.

Blackpool Rock

British Cream Tea make typical British foods out of felt. Their vanilla slice is a thing of beauty but it's this stick of rock that really won my heart. What's ever better is they're all custom made so you can have anything you like written through the middle (within reason). That's going straight on my Christmas list.

A pea fritter

In the interest of research I had to try a pea fritter when the opportunity presented itself in Swanage. It was surprisingly spherical which made me worry the pea:batter ratio would be well off in the centre. But it works. Like its sweet relative the deep fried Mars Bar there's a magic moment on the first bite when the softness of the centre contrasts with the salt and crunch of the batter. The mushy peas were fantastically flavoursome and just the right texture - not too gooey and not too hard. This colourful write-up suggests they're predominantly northern (is that right?) so all the better to find one in the south.

For a Scarboro' rose, a Swanage plank

We had a smashing time in Dorset. I wasn't expecting much but it was as lovely as all the other holidays we've had, in many unexpected ways. First of the photos is from Swanage pier, as recommended by Alix. You have to pay to walk on it but as the sign says "Strolling 40p" it was a pleasure to pay up. The planks on the pier are covered in these lovely plaques. The one above was good, but the one below was better.

David Evans: a lovely man

Could there be a better epitaph?

That sinking feeling, Bill Forsyth's first feature film from 1980 is showing at the GFT this Sunday, as part of the Monorail Film Club. From the newsletter:

Bill Forsyth's iconic first feature film, set in a fictitious town called Glasgow, lays down a winning, slightly awkward style which paved the way, only one year later for the much better known Gregory's Girl. That Sinking Feeling, which has a very similar cast to Gregory's Girl, is perhaps slightly clunkier, but is still a brilliant document of a late 70s / early 80s Glasgow which already looks very different to the city we now know. But it's still raining and the character types are familiar enough - Ronnie (Robert Buchanan) and his pals are on the lookout for a brilliant scam to get rich quick, only to hit upon the idea of stealing 90 stainless steel sinks. It sounds slightly unplotted and gauche, and really it is, but somehow it totters forward with brilliant performances and excellent dialogue, into something completely life-affirming and magical.

That Sinking Feeling was selected by Dep Downie from Monorail Music and will be followed by a conversation between actor, Robert Buchanan and Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian.

And I'm going to miss it because I'm in Bournemouth. I could just cry. I saw it years ago and remember it exactly as described, unlikely to win any oscars but still wonderful. Robert Buchanan went on to play Andy in Gregory's Girl, (Gregory's daft mate who goes on about moving to Caracas). I'd love to hear what he's got to say and I'm sure Stuart Murdoch will bring something to the table to as B&S often seem to channel the spirit of Gregory's Girl. Would be great if someone could record it (the interview I mean, not the film). If you're going, enjoy.


Yesterday we went to Gourock to see the QE2 make her last trip on the Clyde. After this she's going to Dubai to become a hotel. It was brilliant, quite emotional really, as there was such a good turnout. The best thing about it was the flotilla of little ships that came to say goodbye. There was one CalMac ferry plus various tug boats, yachts, dinghies, rowing boats, canoes and jet-skis, like the entire naval kingdom had turned out.

The view from Dumbarton Rock

As we were on a run with the weather and the old enjoying ourselves we crossed over the Erskine Bridge and climbed up Dumbarton Rock. 577 steps up a big volcanic plug to get a glorious view each way down the Clyde. On days like this Scotland is hard to beat.

Sandy love

We're off to Bournemouth next week, squeezing in the last holiday of the season. I've been there once years ago and remember it was very clean and full of language students. Apart from that I don't know that bit of the coast at all. We'll be 44 miles away from West Bay which was where Reggie Perrin stripped off and ran into the sea. As that's my favourite TV programme of all time ever there's a chance for a personal pilgrimage. Other than that what's good to do?

6, by Ben Terrett

Now that October's here it means I have well and truly failed to mark I like's 6th birthday which was sometime in September. Every year I promise myself a bit of a sabbatical, changing tack for a while to talk more about why I do it, what I've learnt, where I think it's going. All a bit more meaty than the seaside and bubble cars. But then I think a lot of you are probably here for the seaside and bubble cars, not to hear my inner thoughts and there's the eternal conundrum. I worry so much about becoming this awful self-obsessed braying creature, the sort of hideous caricature than hangs over most self-respecting blogger, that I don't write any of it.

What I've done this year at least is rewrite the about page and hope it gives a bit more detail without making me sound like an arse. If you want to know all the details about how I like started they're there. And I've cleaned up the archives, so if you're coming here for the first time, or you come here often and have forgotten the best bits, here's a list of everything there's ever been.

And the main thing I want to do, like every birthday is say thank you. Thank you for being here and reading this. It's going to sound cheesy but I like has been a fantastic source of serendipity and pleasure over the past 6 years. When I started it I expected nothing so to have people, smart people at that, visiting, commenting and generally enjoying themselves rocks my world. A lot of people still think blogs are a bit risky, but in six years I've never had a cross word. What a way to keep your faith in human nature intact. So thank you all and here's to many more (and thanks to Ben for the photo).

I ended up doing a lot of reading about bubble cars and microcars for the piece on the Bubble Car Museum at Byard's Leap. They are an intriguing species, culminating in the Peel P50 from the Isle of Man, the smallest car ever to go into production. The video above shows two Peel collectors trundling about the countryside. I really did expect their feet to be sticking out of the bottom.

And if you want more, Jeremy Clarkson takes a P50 to work. I like this unwritten rule that you can get into a bubble car unless you're over 6 foot.

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