Tuesday, 21 January 2020


Cro recently posted about mittens. 

It reminded me that I have a pair of woollen mittens of a curious design that my maternal grandmother knitted for me when I was a very young man.

Believe it or not they have had some serious wear in their early days when, for example, mending my bike in the winter and when I've needed my fingers in snowy situations. They still live in my glove drawer but, I confess, haven't been worn in 'anger' for a good few years.

Friday, 17 January 2020

What Are You Doing These Days?

I was recently at the official opening of the Island's Grinneas nan Eilean art exhibition. Thirty years or more ago I used to enter work in it. Now I just go and enjoy the work of other people. 

Whilst I was chatting to the artists, the curious, worthies and fellow hangers-on someone asked me "What are you doing these days?" To which I responded "I'm retired." To which the response was that she knew that but what did I do with my time? She informed me that she would be retiring in a few weeks and would be continuing her work with this charity and that charity etc etc. By the time she had finished I was quite exhausted. She then, to rub salt into the wound I'm sure she didn't realise she had created, she pressed me to answer her question. 

Then someone came and rescued me.

Given that I'm usually up early and go to bed late and watch relatively little television or films and don't read anywhere near as much as I used to I have started to wonder what on earth I do do. The answer is a great deal of nothing. However I drive about 15,000 miles a year (meaning I'm not at home quite a lot), drink a lot of coffee with friends, have lots of visitors, cook, write a lot and my house is quite tidy and clean and I get out and walk in the woods as frequently as I can and I play bowls year round. I also have some pretty harmless hobbies and a family.

I suppose it says something about me that I don't do anything of any importance whatsoever any more. Please tell me I'm not alone.

PS It's winter and I forgot that my garden takes up a great deal of my time the rest of the year.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Timing is Everything

The secret to great comedy is timing. The same can be said for  travelling when living on an Island.

I had planned to stay with friends in Callander until today and I was booked on the evening ferry from Ullapool. It became fairly clear on Saturday, though, that if I didn't make a run for home on Sunday, I might not actually get home until Wednesday or even Thursday. Why? Storm Brendan was threatening most of the North-West of the UK and the Western Isles in particular were likely to get 90+mph winds. So I drove to Ullapool on Sunday for the evening ferry. It was a beautiful journey.

I'm now safely home.

The photos are mostly from my dashcam with the last three taken on my phone.

The last photo is Ralia the Highland Gateway Centre just South of Newtonmore. It's open throughout the year from 0800 to 1800 and is a very popular place to break the journey.

Friday, 10 January 2020

A Drugs Trial

The drugs companies come in for lots of flack particularly for charges and profits. Regardless of that one has to remember that it is drugs companies who finance and develop new drugs.

I'm in Glasgow at the moment having just had my three-day 16-weekly review for a drugs trial which I've been on since September 2017. 

Briefly, my cancer started getting bolshie again in 2017 after nearly 20 years of various treatments since the operation to remove the cancer in 1998.

The Advanced Nurse Practitioner who has 'looked after' my treatment since 2006 asked if I would like her to see if she could get me onto a drugs trial which she thought might benefit me. She was successful and I've been on the trial since then. It was a 30:70 double blind trial which basically means that only the drugs company knows who is on the 70% having the real drug and who is on the placebo. The benefits for me were spectacular when I took the first set of tablets (which suggested that I was on the real drug not the placebo) because there was a dramatic physical reduction in the cancer indicators. Last year the results of the trial were sufficient for the trial purposes and the placebo users were offered the opportunity to go on the real drug. It's now coming to an end. However the drugs company now has to get the drug licensed in every country worldwide.

I was one of 48 UK participants out of 1509 volunteers worldwide in 36 countries.

This is one of thousands of worldwide drugs trials. Some will prove to be effective and some will not. Some will end up as drugs for patients and some will not. All cost a great deal of money.

When I was first diagnosed with my cancer the only treatments were surgery and radio therapy and hormone therapy. Over the years I've had all three. Now there are many treatments including various chemo-therapies and many more drugs. 

So whatever the reality of the profits and morals of the drugs companies I, for one, am very grateful that they take all the risks and develop pioneering drugs and treatments.