1 EAGLETON NOTES: June 2009

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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Being Adventurous

I know. How sad am I that I think that altering my blog is being adventurous? Well I've decided that it's about time I made the format of the blog a little more interesting and flexible. I have certain parameters and constraints. The most important of which is that my blog is read by people for whom Broadband is not an option. Indeed when I am in New Zealand although I have Broadband it is over the mobile Vodafone network and therefore both slow and expensive. However I shall experiment. I have to leave the computer now so what you will see today is just a trial and, hopefully, when I get myself organised it will improve.

If you have any difficulties with the new layout or any layout in the future please, please do let me know.

Soaring Through The World In Pictures

As I have said before (repeating myself is one thing I'm good at!) I'm new to blog following having essentially used my blogs as a diary and way of letting friends in either New Zealand or the UK know what I was doing. I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the new-found blog following habit that I have formed (thanks to CJ aka Scriptor Senex) even though I only follow a very small number. Even with that small number I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time on the computer.

Apart from family blogs the blogs I follow every day are, as one might expect, the ones in my sidebar and the other blogs of those blog-family members.

I have followed Heather of Simply Heather for longer than any other blogger and never was there a less aptly named blog. There's nothing Simply (and very definitely nothing simple) about Heather. A complex and talented lady is she. I am full of admiration. All the more so now that she has created a forum for those of us who love photography in Soaring Through The World In Pictures. Thank you Heather. I hope that we all live up to your expectation and make it a great success.

The Clisham

L'Archiduchesse made a comment on the last posting about sliding down the hill. The 'hill' is the Clisham (Scottish Gaelic: An Cliseam) which is a mountain on the Isle of Harris (which, with Lewis where Eagleton is, forms the northernmost of the Outer Hebrides). At 799 metres (2,621 ft) it is the highest mountain in the Outer Hebrides and the archipelago's only Corbett.

Gaz at the bottom before the climb - or, in his case having climbed Mont Blanc a few weeks previously, the gentle wander.

Views from the top. It was one of the hottest days that year and the heat haze was not good for photography

And just to prove that I was there too.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Followers

I've not commented upon followers up until now and perhaps that was very remiss of me. I suppose because when I started blogging the idea that anyone but a few friends reading what was essentially a diary didn't occur to me. Yesterday, however, two new followers arrived: Deedee and Synflame. They followed Adrian who joined a few weeks ago. I knew Deedee through Scriptor's blog and because I'd visited her blog, 'though never commented on it. Because I rarely venture outside the safety of a small number of bloggers whom I have come to know it didn't surprise me that I was only acquainted with Adrian through seeing his comments on Scriptor's blog and that I didn't know Synflame at all. But there was something rather familiar about the name Synflame and when I looked closely there was something even more familiar about the person in the tiny thumbnail. And so there should have been. I suddenly realised that I recognised the name in another context and that the photo - taken on top of the Alps - was of my own son, Gaz. I was really pleased and somehow following and being followed has become even more meaningful.

Synflame, by the way, is defined as an intellectual but dark being with sub edged knife like intent. Hmmm. I'm not sure I know what that means. But, hey, it sounds good anyway.

The photo above is of Gaz when he and I walked up the Clisham on the Isle of Harris a few years ago. Sadly whilst I might be able to get up such a hill these days I'd be very hard pressed to get down again. Sadly my fencing days (with a foil not a sledgehammer I would just add) have taken their toll on my right knee.

Trout

When CJ and I were over at Gisla recently the river down from the hills contained some splendid trout:

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Jellyfish!

I'm sorry. But you wouldn't catch me doing this:

The Beach

Just below the house but unseen from the house is a little beach which escapes the attention of all but the most knowledgeable or exploratory of people visiting Bayble Beach. CJ and I spent an hour down there today in the warm sunshine combing the beach for things of interest to CJ or, in my case, things to photograph whilst walking in the sea.

Just one example of the detritus thrown up by the sea.

What sort of creature is this?

A stone one.

The sea looked like mercury from this point

Such a lonely little rock

One of Those Days

Today started for me when I woke just after 0600 to sun and warmth. And it is still warm and sunny 15 hours later at 2100. CJ and I had no plans for the day so just took it as it came. Pat popped in around 0900 and had a coffee and a few hours later Carol and Iain dropped in on their way back from a walk round the cliffs. Just after midday CJ and I went for a walk down the croft to the shore. I went in my walking jandles with the intention of walking through the water of the high tide. I just love walking in the sea. As always the cameras were at the ready and were well used.

CJ in his usual pose. This time photographing a jellyfish

I dislike jellyfish but the blue vein inside this little creature was fascinating

The croftland is alive with a myriad of flowers and, at this point, many marsh orchids.

The uphill plod back home up the track

A neighbour has many New Zealand holly bushes. They bring my two homes together.

After a salad lunch I decided to back up Palin because, although he's not yet a year old, he is going into hospital tomorrow for a new fan to be fitted. Unfortunately he and Samantha both threw wobblies throughout the afternoon and I spent four hours getting them back on their feet. Four hours I could have spent much more profitably. I could even have spent time in the sun. Ah well. So today hasn't been the most relaxing nor productive of days. But then playing the Glad Game, it could have been five hours spent getting the computers back or, worse still, they could still be out of commission.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Your Rainbow

I don't usually get caught up in things that try and analyse one's personality or whatever even if, secretly, I'd rather like to try. Anyway I was curious when I noticed My Rainbow at the bottom of Cynthia's Blog. So I went to spacefem.com and tried it with the following result. I'm not sure about the last sentence but the first two are how I would describe myself.

Scary or What?

When I was looking at the photo in the last posting I suddenly realised that the church tower was a face with pointy ears. How scary is that? Or is it just me that sees it?

A Cheeky Card

A few years ago - I'm not sure how many to be honest - a very young lady (probably aged about 14 or 15), sent me a Birthday Card. She was, and still is, the daughter of Friend Who Knows Too Much and the card was sent with, I learned at the weekend, her Mother's blessing.



I loved the card so much that it's been on my bookcase ever since. Caroline visited at the weekend when I was home on Lewis and it prompted me to put the memory on my blog and share it with you.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Night Sky Over Glasgow

This evening I realised that the bit of the sky that I could see from Gaz's flat was quite red. I thought I'd share it with you. After all some people can't even see that much sky.

Add Image

Why do Girls do That?

This lunchtime in Glasgow turned out to be warm and sunny again despite the forecast of showers. As I walked between buses this lunchtime I saw a couple embracing on the concourse of the Buchanan Galleries. Now there's nothing unusual in that on a sunny day (or any day come to think of it) but I noticed that she was standing on one leg - the way girls do. One of the things I used to wonder about was why they do that. That wonder was re-awakened today when I remembered that the statue in the Buchanan Street Bus Station exhibited the same trait. So why do girls do that?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Wot I am Missing?

As views from a flat in urban Glasgow go the views from Gaz's flat are pretty good and he is not overlooked by other flats or buildings (unless they have binoculars). Indeed on one side there are just trees visible. But it's just not like the view from my kitchen window in Eagleton (nor my view from The Cottage in New Zealand for that matter). So I am always cheered by the thought that at the weekend I will get to see the following garden part of that view again:

A gift from a friend Big Puss watches over my efforts in the kitchen just as my ginger cat (called, by an odd coincidence, Big Puss!) used to watch over me.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

You're Not Allowed To See These

Glasgow has a bus station. It is a fairly new, very clean, light and airy bus station. I think it is impressive. I decided today to share that thought and the wonderful sculpture in it with you. Unfortunately it is, apparently, prohibited to take photos in the bus station. So far as I could see there are no notices. After I'd taken a few photos I was approached by a member of (presumably security) staff telling me it was prohibited. I asked why but he didn't know. It's just prohibited. It wasn't an arrestable offence. Well, I'm sorry, if anyone wants to breach security they can do it a million ways. I took photos openly. I think you'll agree it's a good facility.

The Captain's a Woman!

Many changes have taken place in flying up and down from Stornoway to Glasgow since I started 35 years ago. Obviously the most intrusive and far-reaching change is security. Perhaps the least trumpeted but, to me, one of the most noticeable and welcome is the increase in female flight crew. I flew recently on a plane with both a female Captain and First Officer. Now that's progress.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

What's Your Number?

When commenting on Scriptor's Rambles From My Chair posting entitled Odd (and I mean odd!) Facts Adrian said "Street numbers reminds me of a road up your way where, I believe, they number the houses as they build them so 100 could be next door to 15. Is this so or was I in the wrong bar again?"

It got me to thinking. Adrian's quite correct about the randomness of the numbers of houses but the explanation is not quite so simple.

There are at least three types of numbers by which property (known in Scotland as 'subjects') in the Western Isles - Outer Hebrides - can be known: a street number (mainly in Stornoway), a croft or allotment number (almost anywhere outside Stornoway or parts of Benbecula) or a feu number. Crofts have been defined colloquially as the farming of fences because they are often long narrow strips of land. This map of two townships (villages) near Eagleton shows the layout of the crofts.

Each croft is numbered and the croft house will also bear that number. The number may be quite unusual if, for example, a croft is divided the house may be known as One Half Of Five or "1/2 of 5 Such and Such a Place" Try entering that address on an official form! There may be more than one house on the croft with the same number. There was (and perhaps still is) a case in Lewis where there were five houses all with the same Township Croft number and two of them had people (father and son) with the same Christian and surname. Postie eat your heart out.

Allotments (upon which a house may often be built) are numbered in various ways by various Grazings Committees who allocate them. So far as I know they are generally numbered sequentially as they are granted.

Feus are often numbered in the same way as allotments if they are granted outwith a croft but if they are feud off a croft (ie part of a croft taken out of crofting tenure and turned into a feu) they will usually bear the original croft number with the addition of the suffix 'a'.

So my first house on Lewis bore the address 22a Coll because it was a feu off croft 22. The house next door had been an allotment and was then feud. It bore the number 73.

Years ago a road in Stornoway had been developed in various ways at various times and had five different sets of numbers many of which were, of course, the same. So there were five houses numbered 1. The Council decided, after a request from the Post Office, to exercise it's powers and impose a 'proper' single numbering system from one end to the other. No one would think twice about such a rationalisation now but 30 years ago it caused a major stir.

Just Like Old Times

Recently I've been travelling between Stornoway and Glasgow by air. This is something I used to do almost weekly for a while and, for many years I travelled on and off the Island and up and down the Islands by plane and helicopter. I could not even begin to guess the number of sectors I have flown over the years. What is the relevance of this? When I stopped travelling so much one of the things I missed was meeting people at the airports and catching up with news. It was also an excellent opportunity to do what in modern parlance is called networking.

Over the last 6 weeks or so I have been meeting people in airports again and I have to say that it has felt really good. I have caught up with people whom I'd not seen for ages. I've caught up with news. I've become a temporary member of The Airport Club again. It's great. And it has surprised me. I've never been one for Clubs. But I hadn't realised just how much I have missed not being a member!

All that apart the journey home on Friday evening was quite emotional. Every time I fly above the clouds in the sunshine on my way to Stornoway or Napier I feel the freedom and experience the longing for home. There is something about flying in a turboprop aeroplane that one doesn't experience in a jet.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Time Off For Good Behaviour

I'm at home in Eagleton. Back where I can see the Big Skies. It's been a very strange week. In fact there is a surrealness about it even now (which is mid evening on Saturday.)

Each day I have spent time at the hospital where two things strike one immediately: the wonderful staff and the camaraderie amongst the patients of each treatment area. I am TRC (Treatment Room C) and already I have met people and formed a bond. We all start at different dates and our time together will, at most, be for six weeks for a maximum of an hour each weekday. We know that the common bond of cancer that brings us together will probably only do so for a very short while. So, after the tentative and unsure meeting at one's first treatment, we greet each other as if we'd been friends for years.

On the evening of Tuesday (my first day in Glasgow this time) I went to play croquet at the Glasgow Croquet Club which is based about 20 minutes walk from Gaz's flat. There were only a few members present but my new mallet and I acquited ourselves well and managed to uphold the good name of New Zealand Croquet. But it had been a long and tiring day.

Late on Thursdy evening Gaz came home for a long weekend - the only time he'll be home until mid July when he'll be off to work again. We had a great catch-up and then spent time on Friday together until he took me for the evening plane home.

I shall blog about my travel separately.

I arrived home to be greeted by CJ and a very emotional re-union with Friend Who Knows Too Much (and, later, after dinner, with one of her daughters too). What a fabulously wonderful evening.

Today has been people, people, people.

And that's just a tiny part of what has happened this week.

But tonight at 10pm on a bright, calm evening all I can do is look out at the view from the study and the big skies and be thankful: that I am alive; that I am here; that I can write this and, more than anything, that you are amongst my friends and are reading it. Because without friends life is nothing.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

I Can't See The Sky


It's Wednesday. Where has the week so far gone? I woke this morning and couldn't see the sky. OK so I have joined the Great Majority but I don't like not being able to see the sky. After all I usually wake to Big Skies (see Not Rambling Far on Scriptor's Rambles From My Chair). 'No sky' has so far set the pattern for my day. Got up about 0630 and decided that I really had to try and acclimatise to my new home for the next six weeks: my son Gaz's flat in Glasgow (he's away at the moment). It's a beautiful flat with every mod con and his artworks all round his wonderful handiwork (who else - other than a joiner - dovetails all his bookcases) and when I stay it's not a problem. But living in a different space means that you have to know where the toilet paper's kept.

Now I've never been the sort to complain about things but I'm sorry I'm going to have a moan about this morning before I have my shower and get out to the city centre when I'm meeting a friend at 11am. It's already 9am and I seem to have achieved nothing. Having sorted out my room and got clothes etc into their new homes I decided to answer my emails. There were none!!! Wot! Stuck in Glasgow and no emails! Well I suppose that I had so many phone calls and texts yesterday that no one sees any need to amail me (and Pat's broadband's still down). OK so I told myself not to sweat the small stuff and that's definitely small stuff. No peanut butter and no Marmite so I decided on porridge. I make porridge a lot and I generally use the microwave. I've never had it spill over in decades. Today it spilled over. The bread was the 'wrong' bread for toast. After cremating two lots I managed to get some out of the toaster which were at least light brown rusks. Had them with cheese. Now I LOVE cheese. But not for breakfast. And to cap it all a couple of hours after getting up I felt sick. Fortunately that's passed. I started the morning with Arensky's Piano Trio but since then I've gone through the Asrael Symphony, Bach, Mozart and I don't know who else. I just can't find anything to suit my mood (probably because I don't know what mood I'm in) so I'm listening to Laura Brannigan. But as I'm in a flat (appartment) albeit a solid and well soundproofed one the sound has to be moderate. Laura Brannigan should be played LOUD.

OK that's my moan for the year. I promise. Now to get on with the day. Hopefully I'll be back in my temporary home this evening and will catch up with some proper blogging. And I won't moan.

Oh. And by the way did I mention that I can't see the sky.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Good Things

Some of you may have noticed that CJ and I often use capitals when we are are talking about Good Things and, in my case in particular, Bad Things. I thought that I would explain. What I had not noticed until I just mentioned it to CJ was that he started a blog entitled 103 Good Things on 1 June.

My first reading of 1066 And All That from whence the use comes is lost in the mists of time. The book was written 80 years ago: well before even my time on earth started!

It is a wonderful book which starts "The first date in English History is 55 B.C., in which year Julius Caesar (the memorable Roman Emperor) landed, like all other successful invaders of these islands, at Thanet. This was the Olden Days, when the Romans were top nation on account of their classical education, etc." How could anyone not enjoy such a book?

The first use of the phrase "Good Thing" is rather outdated by present standards of hygiene: "They occupied their time for two or three hundred years in building Roman roads and having Roman baths; this was called the Roman Occupation, and gave rise to the memorable Roman law, 'He who baths first baths fast,' which was a Good Thing, and still is." But that is only the first of very many wonderful references in the book.

And thus did a lifelong habit start.

Midges

This morning there is no wind. That is a Good Thing. This morning at just over 11 deg (yes, I know, it's summer here!) it's a bit warmer than of late. That is a Good Thing. This morning the midges are horrendous! That is a Bad Thing.

In my experience midges do not usually come indoors although they do sometimes make an exception to that rule - usually when they follow a potential meal inside. This morning has been that exception when CJ went for a garden stroll and came back covered in the little blighters.

When I arrived on the Island I cut peats and I planted potatoes. Both of these are communal and outdoor activities. The midges must be mourning the severe diminution of these activities and the fact that even the hard men of the road squads even wear midge protection clothing these days.

Of midges it was said that there was one for every sin of mankind. I can believe that. It was also said that more people left the Island because of the midges than because of the lack of employment opportunities. Perhaps that's stretching things a bit far.

Almost a year ago CJ posted a fairly comprehensive article on The Highland Midge on his, now defunct, The Editorial.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Wonder of Spiders

Spiders are not one of my favourite creatures. But I have a Brother and a Niece with an almost proselytising enthusiasm for nature and insects and in particular (and to me arachnids, although not insects, are of the same ilk). Blogging has also made me much more aware of the way I regard the things around me. So I was quite enthusiastic when CJ told me that I had a nest of spiders hanging outside (thank heaven) one of my windows. I subsequently found a second one in the garage. CJ showed me what happened when a nest of spiders is disturbed. It disperses with remarkable rapidity. Then, when it realises that the web hasn't been broken and that there is no danger, it regroups into its tight nest structure. Fascinating.

The nest

Mummy protecting or Daddy wanting a meal?

Dispersing

Dispersed

Morven Gallery

Yesterday we toddled across the moors to the West side of the Island to see the sights on the way up to Ness and the Butt of Lewis. The day was sunny but cold and, with plenty of clouds of all hues it was good photographic weather as well. CJ probably took his usual several hundred photos but, as I was driving, I tended to keep my eyes on the road and reserved my photography for a few locations. Over the last 35 years I have taken so many photos of the Butt that unless there is something special I hardly ever use my trigger finger there. Mind you most of my photos are 'proper' ones and not digital so, until I finish my scanning, they languish in the many boxes waiting to see the light of day once more.

We stopped for coffee at The Morven Gallery. There can be few serious galleries in a more beautiful and remote setting. The almost clinical atmosphere contrasting extremely with the wildness in which it sits. A lot of the gallery was taken up with one exhibition - of quilted works. I could not help but admire the workmanship but it was not to my taste. CJ might have something very different to say. I feel sure that he'll blog on this one.

Morven Gallery

Coffee

The main picture gallery with its permanent but changing focus on local artists

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Hello God

Many years ago when I was about 16 years of age I was attending Sunday morning Church service. Which was rather unusual as it happens because my wont was to attend Evensong. Anyway, as I was saying, I was attending morning service or, more accurately, I was waiting for it to begin. Being an Edwards I was, of course, early. You know what Church was like when I was 16. Quiet. Hushed.

A Mum and Dad and small child entered. A voice rang out "Hello God!" Embarrassed parents. Doubtless a few outraged stalwarts of the old school. Mostly bemused members of the congregation. Child duly hushed.

The Vicar came to his sermon. I am paraphrasing "Dearly beloved, I was going to deliver a sermon on the [appropriate Epistle or Collect or Lesson for the day]. Whilst you were waiting for the Service to begin you will all have heard little [Johnny] come into the Church and welcome the Lord with the words "Hello God!" And many of you were horrified that the silence had been broken. But it occurred to me that that is exactly what we should all be doing when we come into Church. We should be saying, as loudly as we can, "Hello God!" So today I am abandoning the sermon that I had prepared and, instead, I shall talk about. Yes, You've guessed it: "Hello God!"."

By The Pond

I was contemplating the pond yesterday morning when a Large Red Damselfly landed at my feet. Magically it didn't move when I went into the Study for my camera. So far as I can recall it's the first one I've seen in the garden (although CJ saw one last year).

Monday, 8 June 2009

Remember This?

When I was at The Beatson last week the waiting area for the unit I was attending had a coffee table. On that coffee table was a solitary toy. A Fisher Price children's toy for assisting with whatever skills ae developed by fitting shaped objects into shaped holes; doubtless replaced in many homes today by sophisticated yet simple computer games. Anyway what struck me was the fact that 30+ years ago our children had exactly the same toy. Plus ├ža change, plus c'est la meme chose.

A Pirate Parrot

Some people give sensible presents. Some don't. Some people receive sensible presnts. Some don't. I received a parrot (amongst, it has to be said, other things) for my Birthday. What does that tell you about me? What does it tell you about him?

He (well he's a he when I talk to him) repeats (twice) everything that you say to him. He opens the door twice again when it is opened. He mimics the wind in the porch (twice). Fortunately he has an off switch. Now if people were like that.....