Monday, 28 June 2010

Obituary in the Scotsman

On Saturday an Obituary, written by Neil Baxter- a long time friend of my Mum and Dad's who is the Secretary and Treasurer of the RIAS (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland)- was published in the Scotsman newspaper. It was half a page of the newspaper which was a lovely honour. 

It is well written and summarises many of my Dad's architectural accomplishments whilst still describing the man my Dad was.

Click here to view the edited version online on the Scotsman pages or read below for Neil's original copy:

Obituary - Jim Landels FRIAS 10.05.54 - 14.06.10

The Edinburgh architect Jim Landels, who has died aged 56, was a modest, thoroughly decent, highly talented and much loved man. His urbanity was renowned and his pawky, sometimes acerbic, but never cruel humour endeared him to all he met. His sense of humour was such that he was frequently accused of being Glaswegian. While many citizens of Edinburgh might have been appalled, Jim took this as a great compliment and never refuted the suggestion. There are many, to this day, who believe firmly that Jim Landels hailed from Glasgow and many from Glasgow who wish he had. It is a mark of the admiration and respect of his fellow architects that on the 16th June 2010 his professional body, the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, awarded him their Fellowship. This is only the second occasion when this award has been given posthumously.

A native of Edinburgh, James Paxton (Jim) Landels was the son of James Paxton and Ellen Landels (nee Bannon). His father, always know as Jimmy, had a butchers shop in Joppa. Jim was a bright child and after being made Dux of his local primary school in Portobello, won a Scholarship to Edinburgh Royal High School. He subsequently studied architecture at Edinburgh College of Art. After year out work at the Scottish Special Housing Association and the Scottish Development Department, his first job was with Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall & Partners before he joined Kneale and Russell Architects in 1978. In fact, news of this job came through on his wedding day.

Jim became a partner in Kneale and Russell in 1982. His first project for the practice was Deanery Close, a sheltered housing scheme of around a dozen houses - for Viewpoint Housing Association at Restalrig. The site was difficult, almost land-locked, with occupied buildings on three sides. The only access was through a pend under one of the buildings. The complexities of that project prepared Jim for the much more demanding task of tenement refurbishment for the Gorgie/Dalry Housing Association at Caledonian Crescent. The tenements were in multiple ownership. Jim proved to be forthright and tough in dealing with contractors, owners and tenants and yet his humour and sense of purpose helped achieve a successful completion. Other housing work included new-builds for Edinvar, Viewpoint, Canmore and Link Housing Associations. Among the largest such developments was a mixed private and social housing development at Morrison Street, Edinburgh, for a combination of private developers along with Canmore Housing Association and Napier University.

In the early 1980s the commission for major works at the historic Fort George, near Inverness, demonstrated Jim’s skills and sensitivity as a conservation architect. In 1984/5 the Property Services Agency awarded Kneale and Russell the contract to design junior ratings accommodation for the Navy at HMS Cochrane at Rosyth. Sadly finance was withdrawn and Jim’s very thoughtful design was never built. One, particularly traumatic, event was the death, in June 1985, of Stuart Russell in a diving accident. Jim’s other partners at the time, Tony Kneale and Clifford Martin relied on his immense emotional strength to help maintain the equilibrium of the practice during the traumatic aftermath of Stuart’s death

Jim’s experience ranged across an impressive breadth of different building types. In the education sector he worked on a number of projects for the University of Edinburgh, including laboratories, teaching facilities and more recently, the Small Animal Hospital at the Bush Estate. One notable success in this sector was the new Leith Academy (1990), which was the subject of much critical praise and press coverage at the time and received several awards. In the commercial sector Jim worked on bank facilities, predominantly for the Bank of Scotland, where he delivered new buildings in Portobello and Peebles and oversaw refurbishment and fit-out projects in Southampton, Bristol and Edinburgh. The practice also delivered major call centres for British Telecom in Dumbarton and Glasgow.

Healthcare was another specialisation with medical and dental facilities for the Ministry of Defence at Edzell and small clinics in Glasgow, Dundee and Falkirk. Leisure developments included holiday homes at the Atholl Hotel, Pitlochry, a substantial re-fit at the Scotsman Hotel and the Edinburgh Airport Hotel for the British Airports Authority.

In 1991 the practice became involved in the major design competition for the Haymarket goodsyard site in association with international practice, the Percy Thomas Partnership. The competition was won by the combined practices, but sadly, the project was later largely abandoned. Jim subsequently helped deliver the successful merger of Kneale and Russell with Percy Thomas Partnership. In 2004 the practice was renamed Marland Consulting Group.

Jim Landels’ work in education has informed generations of students on the courses at Napier, Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Universities. His skills as an external examiner and Part III (architect’s professional practice) examiner are legend. His work as a mentor for less able students was less visible, but through his nurturing and willingness to employ those he saw as having unrealised potential, a number of students on failure lists have gone on to become successful and even award-winning Scottish architects.

Jim Landels’ work over recent years for the Architects’ Professional Examination Authority in Scotland, as a Part III examiner, is frequently quoted as exemplary practice. He invariably dealt with often nervous candidates with calm and supportive good humour, helping many “over the line “ but trusting to his very sound judgment when tough decisions had to be made. The “Landels Method” is known to many Scottish Part III examiners as a thoroughly reliable way of making difficult decisions in the fraught Part III interview process. Again, it is much quoted as best practice. However, rather like members of the Magic Circle, Part III examiners tend to keep the details of the Landels Method to themselves.

Jim Landels was a passionate architect and a great believer in the ability of well designed buildings to improve people’s lives. His dedication to architectural practice and teaching is apparent in a number of published articles and papers, including guidance for the Royal Incorporation of Architects on the impact of fee tendering and how to market your way out of a recession. A lifelong interest in photography was demonstrated in his design for the famous Stills Gallery on Edinburgh’s High Street for his dear friend, the late Murray Johnston. He also put in a huge effort towards creating a museum of photography in the Old Royal High School - a goal which, sadly, eluded him.

In addition to his passionate study of Scottish photographic history, Jim was a voracious reader. However his main interests, outwith architecture, were all sporting. He was an avid camper and outdoorsman, enjoying skiing, fishing and sailing, in all of which he excelled. His daughters recall that he liked nothing more than “going like the clappers” down a ski slope. A minor human frailty was demonstrated in Jim’s giving up competitive skiing when his, then 17 year-old, daughter started to beat him on a regular basis. Although Jim didn’t sail competitively, he was a keen yachtsman and owned a GP14 sailing dinghy.  Appropriately, given his attitude to life, he named it “Swift Current”.

Jim’s fight with cancer started in 2002. At the outset he was given a relatively short prognosis. On two occasions he came, quite literally, to death’s door, only to rally remarkably and bring himself back to fitness. His campaign for the cancer drug Sutent to be made available on the Scottish NHS gained major publicity and even saw Jim appearing on TV news bulletins. His intelligent, persuasive charm helped win the day, to the benefit of many fellow cancer sufferers.

Jim’s fight back against cancer won him nearly a decade in which he continued to enjoy the company of his very many good friends and to work in the field of architecture which he loved. Most importantly he gained precious time to enjoy the company of his father, who died last year, his mother, his wife and their two adored daughters. Jim Landels is survived by his mother Ellen, wife Lorraine and their daughters Jennifer and Rebecca.

Friday, 25 June 2010

My Dad

Sadly on the 14th of June my Dad passed away. For the full notice in the Scotsman please read here.

Thank you to all our friends and family for all your love and support over the last 2 weeks. It sounds like a cliche but you have really helped us. The cards, flowers, texts, phone calls and well wishes really do help.

Me and my Dad when he was 26 years old, 30 years ago.
My family dressed for a  friend's wedding. At this wedding my sister stole a big wedge of icing , from the yet to be cut, expensive wedding cake. She looks like butter wouldn't melt. My Mum made our outfits and my doll even had a matching dress. I love that I have memories that go way back to my early childhood.
Me, my Dad and my Sister in 1990.
In Cape Cod in 2008. My Mum, Dad, Sister and I.
My Dad in Cape Cod in 2008. 
It still hasn't fully sunk in. I miss him so much and life feels surreal.

The funeral, last Friday was beautiful and a real comfort. We also held a wake style reception after the funeral that my Dad would have enjoyed. My cheeks hurt by the end of the afternoon from laughing so much at great memories with his friends. We even had to drink black velvet- Guiness and Champagne with one of his friends in memory of Dad. It felt like a fitting celebration of his life.

At the funeral we all wore bright colours and it was a very sunny summers day. His friend Andy sung 'The Parting Glass', 2 pupils from the music school at Broughton High School, which was the last building my Dad designed, played the violin and piano. My Sister, her boyfriend Dougie, Nathan and I did a reading and Dad's Norwegian good friend  from University, Willen read the Eulogy. She was kind enough to send her words to us which I have copied out below. 


"The world is full of people, ordinary people. But there are some that are extra-ordinary. Some that give you openness, warmth, laughs, support and a friendship that gives colour to your life.

And Jim was just such a person.

I knew that he at times could be very stubborn sometimes strict, and occasionally quite critical.  But in all the years I knew him, he never once showed those sides to me.

He had a remarkable skill as a raconteur, even dull stories became interesting when told by Jim. His stories were seldom just stories, they were about real people and real events, and in real time, and always told with a twinkle in the eye.

But he did tell one story that wasn´t about real people. You may have heard about the Mexican fisherman, who stayed true to his job and his way of life.- And this story has stayed in my mind, not only because it gives a valuable lesson, but primarily because it reflects Jim as a person, and his values.  – Although Jim was very successful, he never lost his way, in all his achievements.

Jim's memory for dates and events was uncanny. If ever I wanted to know, in retrospect, when something happened in my life, all I had to do was to ask Jim

Jim was a “gourmand” and a “gourmee´” for life: good food, good drinks, good cigars and good company were joys of life to bed savored.

As students, long back from our study trip to Italy, Jim and I managed to get hold of a bottle of Sambucca and a packet of Tuscanelli cigars. With these secured, and Lorraine and Peter packed off to the cinema, to leave us in peace for our Tuscan memory trip, we solemnly poured the drinks, with the prescribed burning coffee beans and lit our cigars.- Alas, total disappointment : what tastes good as young students in Italy, does not taste so good in Edinburgh. 

But Jim knew how to repair the disappointment: the very best bottle of Scotch was opened and other bigger and better cigars were lit. – So when Lorraine and Peter arrives back from the cinema, they found two very contented, happy and slightly drunk people.

At heart I think Jim sometimes felt like a bit of a “Nog”, and that was probably why he fitted so well into the Norwegian landscape, when he came visiting. At the winter cottage , in the woods, he was really good at pretending to be an elk, much to the childrens´ surprise, fear and amusement. And down by the coast, at the summer house, he thrived at the maritime way of life, with swimming, snorkeling, boats, sailing and fishing, and inventing a new type of golf: hitting pine cones at the open beaks of the seagulls.

For Jim there was no such thing as long distance calls. When he called, I always looked for a comfortable chair, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (preferably both) and then sat down to enjoy his call, his recount of life, his stories and his sense of humor.

Jim was for me a “rainesance man”: many faceted: he was creative, but practical, clever, but never conceited, humorous but serious, ethically critical, but tolerant, easy to get along with, never dull, but also definitely not one to be ignored, he was noticeable.

Jim, there is only one of your kind.

I will miss you."

We will all miss him so much. 

Friday, 11 June 2010

St Margaret's School for Girls

Sad news today that my former school has gone into administration. Read the article here in the Scotsman.

ESTABLISHED in 1890 by James Buchanan, the school was initially named the Queen Margaret College for Young Ladies.The running of the school was taken over by Mr Buchanan's wife Mrs Annie Custance Buchanan following his death, aged only 48, in 1897. Under her direction, the school broke new ground, becoming the first independent school in Edinburgh to offer "Leaving Certificate".

The Second World War meant that most of St. Margaret's, like many other schools, had to to be evacuated and all the boarders and many of the day girls decamped to Perthshire. In 1960, the school was transferred from private ownership to a Company Limited by Guarantee, to be administered by a Board of Governors, rendering it truly independent. In 1983, St. Margaret's merged with St. Hilary's, an offshoot of the original institution formed in 1926, reuniting two schools.

Having celebrated its centenary in 1990, the school continued to develop, adding new buildings to its campus. I was 10 years old and in Primary 6 when we celebrated our centenary year. I have fond memories of preforming in the school centenary play acting the role of a school girl being evacuated during the war with my friend Vanessa playing my sister and classmate Louise playing our mother.... great memories. 

I finished school in 1997 having been House Captain for Lauder, Chairperson of the Student Council, Social Convener and also Deputy Head Girl in my sixth and final year. I loved school and enjoyed being an integral part of St Margaret's. From Mrs Deane's dance club to Mrs Shaw's art class... I will always remember my time at St Margaret's fondly. I truly believe the environment St Margaret's offered gave me the confidence I have today. 

I feel so sorry for the girls who are current pupils and now need to find a new school and for the staff who are now without jobs. I wish them all the luck in the world.

I always adored the older buildings that the school was housed in. Particularly the music and art building.
I don't miss the bottle green uniform- at least these days the girls didn't have to wear green tights too!
I have so many great memories of sitting with friends on the school campus.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

World Cup

Well the World Cup starts on Friday and we have just drawn our Sweep Stake in the office and I unfortunately got England!! There are 32 teams in the World Cup so I have a chance... maybe!?

As a Scot it is going to be difficult to cheer for the English but I will try. Nathan's Dad will be happy as he is from Sheffield. So I certainly won't be wearing the t-shirt that some of my fellow countrymen will be sporting!

I do enjoy the fun of the World Cup even though Scotland is never part of the competition. 4 years ago I won my old office Sweep Stake as I had Italy so we will see how it goes this year. ENGERLAND! hhhmmm... I just can bring myself to do it!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Tord Boontje

Working on the cusp of design and craft, TORD BOONTJE, the Dutch-born, London-based product designer combines advanced technologies with artisanal techniques to create exquisite glassware, lighting and furniture. I love all his work which is laser cut and I adore this curtain.... who needs lace curtains when you can indulge and have a Tord Boontje piece of exquisite artwork.I think what I love most is that all his pieces are functional.
I adore Dutch design and have coveted for quite sometime the until dawn curtain. See a great Dutch product website here.
I would love to have a pair of French doors out to a garden which would be kept open in the summer heat.
I really love the natural way that the curtain falls and all the flowers and leaves are intertwined.
I wouldn't mind Tord Boontje's Ivy Wall hanging either! See here.
My Mum has this light garland in gold but it hangs down from a shelving unit rather than round a light bulb... I think this would make a beautiful garland to place down the centre of a table. You can buy them from Habitat for £20. They come in Cooper, Bronze and Silver.

You can also buy some of his lovely products including this cute charm bracelet at the Moma Shop in NYC click here to see the online shop. I bought my Mum the tea lights when we were across there in November.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Summery Weekend

After a crazy week at work where even though I only was working for 4 days I still managed to do a 45 hour week! I needed a chill out weekend. As Nathan had been in Barcelona the weekend before I had only seen him for one evening in over a week. 'Passing ships' as he returned and I went down to Manchester for the week. My work went really well and we have had a great start to the summer campaign but I was exhausted.
On Saturday morning I went to get my hair done, thanks to this lovely man. When I returned home from Manchester there was a little envelope on my side of the bed with vouchers for me to get my hair done at my regular, quite expensive hairdressers. (It won him some big brownie points!) Sadly my hairdresser was sick so for the first time in 5+ years I had to get someone else to do my hair- so I played it safe and didn't go for anything to crazy- just tidied up but I loved being able to get my hair done. I have gone from going every 6 weeks to now only every 12 weeks! It is taking some getting used too and is why I have gone back to near to natural with my colour.

Then we went round to Wendy and Ed's new house and sat in their beautiful garden. I can't believe I didn't manage to capture any of their wonderful colourful plants... just grass and patio! (pictured above) Dan and Emily were there too and so was Murphy who was struggling in the heat. The rest of us were loving it! Long may the sun continue.

On Saturday night after visiting with my Dad we went to Catriona and Benji's to celebrate Catriona's 30th Birthday. Her theme was Cath Kidston and I loved it and wished I'd paid more attention to the invite... I was in black and grey outfit and I could have been wearing a summer dress!
Catriona and her sister Phillipa who did a lovely speech and has just gotten engaged.
Catriona blowing out her cake, which Benji's Mum had made from scratch to a Cath Kidston theme. The homemade tablet was lovely too... such nice treats.
Hillary, who went to school with Catriona and her lovely man Connor.
Nathan and I near the end of the night. Nathan was very sensible (and still recovering from Barcelona) and didn't drink! I however did partake in a few Pimms summer drinks. 

Benji and Catriona always host great parties with good drinks and food. I always love that they try new recipes for their nibbles. This time it was Bloody Mary Tomatoes from Delia.

 9 oz (250 g) baby plum tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), stalks removed
 7 fl oz (200 ml) vodka
 1 tablespoon sherry
 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
 a few drops Tabasco sauce
 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
To serve:
 1 teaspoon celery salt
 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
 2 tablespoons sea salt


All you do is score a little cross on the base of each tomato, then place them in the plastic box cross-side up. Then whisk together the vodka, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and celery salt, and spoon it over them.

Put the lid on the box and leave it in the fridge to allow the tomatoes to marinate for two days. Before serving, drain the tomatoes and let them come back to room temperature. (You can keep any leftover marinade to use as a base for future batches.) Mix the two types of salt and cayenne pepper together. Arrange the tomatoes on a plate with a bowl containing the salt mixture and invite your guests to dip in a tomato before eating.

Weekend 29th, 30th and 31st May

Well my long 5 day weekend didn't really work out as I had to come back into work on Friday and didn't leave till after 11pm!! Don't you just love a 14 hour day! But on Saturday I relaxed and enjoyed what was left of my weekend and at least I still managed to take the Monday holiday off. 
My sister was dog sitting for our friends Stu and Vic so she brought their adorable puppy Samson down to my Dad's on Saturday. He kept on pinching my Dad's slippers and running off down the garden with them.... too cute!
On Sunday I was up early and went to the flower wholesaler with Nathan's Mum and Aunt Alanna. Alanna is trained as a florist and will be doing our flowers for the wedding. The plan was to go to the wholesalers a year before the wedding to see what was in season and what was available at this time of year. I loved looking around and would have taken pictures but we got told off.... they said brides should not be there as it is for suppliers only. It was great to see though and boy do florists mark up their costs! ..probably why they don't want brides to see! But then you also pay for their talent and creative skills. 

Alanna is lovely and it was so fun to meet her and her husband Will. She really understood Nathan and I's vision and made some great suggestions. I can't wait to see her finished work! So exciting!
On Sunday afternoon I went to Loopy Lorna's with my friend Julie from school. I love it here... the cakes are amazing as is the rest of the food. I had a tasty minestrone soup and sandwich and a cupcake- yum!
I love their tea cosies too... they are always changing.
On Monday Hillary and I went to the Botanics to do some drawings of the Caledonian Hall and where Nathan and I will get married. We had two friendly ducks come and say hello. It was so sunny and lovely to lay in the grass and take time to draw.... and I got some great ideas for our invites.