If at first you don’t succeed………

Keep snapping. I only need one perfect picture. Sometimes I think “that’s the one” but then I look a little closer and it’s not quite right. Then for a fleeting moment it’s there and it’s gone. Did you get it? Can you recreate it if you didn’t get it? Maybe not. Fortunately I think I clicked at the perfect moment with the one in the middle! Do you agree? Loving my Nikon D800 for portraits.



Do you love your car? Does she love you……?

Do you love your car? Do you clean her and polish her and show her off to your friends and your neighbours?

Does she feel the same way about you? Does she thrill you as much as she used to? Is she showing her age? Is she still as economical as she once was? Are you doubting if she possesses the same attractive qualities she showed when you first met in that showroom? Careful now!

Those who know me know that I had a dreadful 2013 with my car. The engine blew up. They fitted a new engine but the problems didn’t stop there. Those who fitted the engine were clueless. It was subsequently repaired several times by others before it met the appropriate acceptable standards. All done by official Vauxhall dealers but not to official Vauxhall standards. Struth! Following four bad breakdowns in six months my son and I were eventually stranded in the middle of nowhere and my resolve and my love for my car were both severely tested. However they fixed it. Stranded hundreds of miles from my home but they fixed it – it only took them 5 weeks. After all of this hassle I didn’t think my relationship with my car could get any worse. If you followed my story on the UK Vauxhall forums it really couldn’t get any worse could it? Never, definitely not! Sorry……but it did!

I drive thirty thousand miles a year. I have driven for twenty five years without incident and then little Miss Vauxhall Insignia enters my life. Earlier this year I discovered she doesn’t like low oil pressure and she made me pay for that – big time. Little was I to know that the love affair was under a different kind of pressure from that moment on. Little Miss such and such decided to take on a mind of her own on Tuesday morning (22nd October 2013). She rounded a bend in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland shortly after an overnight rain storm. She wiggled her backside and decided (all on her ownsome) to leave the road – big time. Perhaps she doesn’t like surface water. Perhaps she turns her nose up at surface water and pokes her backside out instead – big time.  Whatever mind-set she had on Tuesday morning she got on her own accord. Luckily for me she missed any oncoming traffic with her big backside and instead smashed sideways across the carriageway, dived into a ditch, and looped the loop as she finished her final manoeuvre. Sorry to tell you but she did not survive. She is now dead. Dead and not coming back.

Of course I didn’t get the best deal from her highland jig but she didn’t really care – I was immobilised at the scene by paramedics before I was taken by ambulance to hospital. I am home now, battered and bruised with internal and external injuries and a tremendous loss of pride. I am regretting the day I ever set eyes on that deceptively beautiful Miss Insignia. She pretended she loved me but she shafted me at every opportunity. She’s now gone from my life and she has left me with nothing but bad memories and big financial penalties. Some people at Evans Halshaw and Vauxhall will have you believe she was a beautiful, loving, caring companion. She was not. She rejected my advances. She rejected my care and attention and she let me down badly. I will heal in due course and I will recover to drive another day and find a more suitable long term motoring companion but, for the moment, I am hurting badly.

At least that’s how I felt until I went to see her today. She has been laid out for inspection at Allied Vehicles in Glasgow awaiting her final “PM”. What a sorry state she was, mangled beyond recognition but I initially had no sympathy whatsoever. Then, as I creaked open the passenger door I was sure I could hear her whispering one last loving expression. Poor thing convinced me she was crying out for the last time before she left this earth for the breaker’s yard. Was it real or was I traumatised by the whole experience? – who knows but she triggered something inside of me.

I think she was telling me she was sorry. I think she was apologising and trying to show me how hard she tried to protect me. She knew she had let me down throughout this past year but there she was, smashed and broken, battered beyond recognition, and trying hard to show me how she tried everything possible to save me. In her last desperate attempts to win my affection she had thrown her arms around me to protect me, enveloping me in her safe air-bag bosom, ensuring nature’s cataclysmic forces were soaked up by her crumple zones, her seat belts and not by my body. By doing this she saved me, she really did save me. I live to tell the tale because she looked after me and for that, I must admit, I am eternally grateful. I left the yard with a tear in my eye as I realised how brutal the impact must have been for her. Did she pay the ultimate sacrifice for me? Other Insignia drivers need to know this – maybe she really does love you and she will protect you. She has her faults (big time!) but she will do what she can in your hour of need to keep you safe. Treat her well guys.

I will be fine of course. It may take a few weeks but the pain will subside, the bruises will disappear. And anyway, there’s this gorgeous wee German/Spanish red devil on four wheels who said hello to me today. I think I might ask her for her number…………

Car Crash!

Car Crash!

Hayley and Kenny – Strathaven Hotel

Hayley and Kenny got married! It was inevitable. As surely as the sun will rise tomorrow and set tomorrow evening these two were so obviously destined to spend their lives together.  They were joined by family and friends for a wonderful wedding at the Strathaven Hotel in Lanarkshire on a typically Scottish autumnal day. Typical because we needed the brollies to start with and Kenny had to endure a quick unexpected shower while I grabbed a few photos of him in the gardens beforehand. Sorry Kenny! My rain dancing must have paid off because it stopped raining just as Hayley arrived. Phew!

The Strathaven Hotel was once again kitted out in all its finery and it delivered big time. Sheila and Malcolm have a habit of making sure everything is perfect on the day and everything runs like clockwork. It’s a fantastic wedding venue and one I got to know well when I got married there just a few short years ago (Ahem!).

My day started with a trip to Hayley’s mum and dad’s home in Coltness in Wishaw, a home built on “Love and Dreams” it said on the wall. Surely not so tranquil on the morning of the wedding with the bride, three bridesmaids, mother of the bride, and two aunts all getting ready? They had a hairdresser and makeup artist on hand to make them look perfect and I fired away with my camera. It was remarkable how quiet, calm, and peaceful it was. Nothing but laughter and pleasantries – a place of love and dreams right enough.

From Wishaw it was back to the Strathaven Hotel and a beautiful and intimate ceremony in the west lounge. It was conducted by the very elegant Marbeth Boyle. She has a gift for words and her very personal approach was a highlight of the day. You made a wise choice Hayley and Kenny.

Afterwards we had the usual time set aside for the photos and my first task was to organise a big group shot with all of the guests out on the lawn. Now this can often be the most difficult photo to organise but we managed to round everyone up quickly and I took the picture from an upstairs room looking down on all the guests. With the shot in the bag, everyone dispersed just as I realised my camera had malfunctioned. I had to round everyone up again and retake the picture with another camera! Sure enough I got my just desserts from a couple of comedians at the back! It was all great banter and thanks to everyone for your patience!

The rest of the day was one almighty party. Great food, lots of laughter, and a perfect start to the evening entertainment with the bride and groom leading a charge to the dancefloor for “The Time Warp”! It was spectacular.

Katie and I would like to thank everyone involved for being such good sports. Special thanks to Leigh, Louise, Rhea, Steven, Chris, Craig, both sets of parents and to Hayley and Kenny for giving me the opportunity to be part of your special day. We had a great time and I wish you every happiness in your new life together. Here are a few of my favourite photos from your day……


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Isn’t She Still Lovely?

Jessica delights in telling everyone she is now three years old. She is the most polite little lady and she ends just about every sentence with a please or thank you. It makes her even more delightful. Next time I will ask her if she will please smile for my camera – and I will thank her when she does!