Saturday, 27 May 2023


We are fortunate on Lewis in that in Stornoway - a town of about 12,000 people - we have 5 banks: Bank of Scotland,  Royal Bank of Scotland, TSB, Virgin Money and, of course, the Post Office Bank. 

When I came to Lewis nearly half a century ago the banks all had Managers and they were People of Importance in the community as, indeed, were the Deputy Managers and even the Cashiers were well known. 

As far as I know there are no Bank Managers in Stornoway now although I assume that all the banks are managed and, on the face of it, very well managed. 

I go into the bank quite a lot: partly because I like my bank (the Bank of Scotland), partly because I use my phone to pay for almost everything and therefore need £1 and 50p coins for tips and car parking (on the Island - mainland it's almost all via an app).

Recently I went in to change a large sum of old £20 notes into current currency which had to be done through my bank account. My Canadian visitor was with me (it was actually her money) and, as there was no queue after me (there was the commercial cash counter and another teller anyway) we had a good yarn. I've known the teller (I wonder if they are still called tellers - I bet they are not) since she was a new recruit to the bank as a teenager. Since then she had been in charge of the Tarbert Branch and was now back at her original branch.  She was telling me that she will be retiring this year. It made me very aware of my advancing years.

All except one of the 'original' staff from the '70s and '80s will then have retired and the final one will probably depart this year too. 

I wonder how much things will change. There will still be some familiar faces but it will be one way. I will know their faces but they won't know who I am. 

However, I am hoping that the sense of service will be maintained. When I had a problem with the B of S app on my iPhone recently I just popped in and one of the tellers who knows me found a 'youngster' who was very app aware and she knew exactly what to do. Now that is service.

Thursday, 18 May 2023

Visitors and Things In General

There was a time, many years ago, when I wrote interesting blog posts. Now my life is of great interest to no one but me and I struggle to come up with a hopefully readable post every so often. And I really do appreciate the occasional message which makes me feel that I'm missed. Thank you. 

The last three weeks has seen a change in my usual routines. I've had visitors. It's been a wonderful time.

The first visitor was a friend of half a century who lived here on Lewis until not too long ago. That was a social visit ie not a sightseeing one. She visited all her friends during the day and I happily acted as chauffeur and sometimes joined her with mutual friends and sometimes did my own thing. In the evening we ate, relaxed and played dominoes (amongst other things). 

My second visit was by the daughter (Heather) of a late friend (Mo) from my teenage years who emigrated to Canada in the Sixties. Heather is a Canadian and a recent widow whom I have known since she was born. 

The last time we spent a lot of time together was in a villa in Belforte, Italy, to celebrate a significant birthday of her Mother. who died several years ago. I blogged about it here. Since that was written Heather's husband has died too. 

Heather's visit was a time of remembering and a time of new experiences for us both. She has lost a Mum, Aunt and Husband in the space of a few years and I have lost one of my dearest friends. However, I have got to know Heather so much better and I would like to think that we both benefitted greatly from the visit. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Housekeeping and Spam: Mea Culpa

Dear Readers and Commenters

I apologise profusely. I thought that I was assiduous in checking my comments folder for comments awaiting moderation and for spam. It would appear that I am not. The principal reason I tend to check is that a lot of people's comments do not show up in my emails. I have never discovered why. With some (such as Rachel) they never appear. With others it is totally random - or so it appears.

Kylie has just made the point on my previous post that her comment had disappeared. It was waiting to be moderated! Why? Heaven (or Google) alone knows. Although I expect neither of them do. Fortunately Kylie persisted and her second comment (unlike a previous second comment by Neil) was published. 

A number of you have suffered similar fates.

I have now got rid of all the genuine spam and allowed all your previous comments that went to spam.

Please don't give up commenting. I will be more careful in future. 



Saturday, 22 April 2023

Old Books

Anyone who goes near a charity shop these days realises that books are two a penny. Indeed our biggest charity shop recently offered CDs, DVDs and books for 1p each simply to clear stock and make room for more. They have thousands (and that is not an exaggeration).

Over the years I have been clearing my loft of books and have given many hundreds to charity shops. Indeed on one occasion a few years ago I filled my very ample estate car (US station wagon) with boxes of books and vinyl records and took them to Glasgow where the Oxfam University Bookshop and the separate Oxfam Music Shop were delighted to take them. The books included a complete original Heron set of the Russian Classics which I'd had from my early twenties when I devoured them all with great relish. 

I recently came across a 150+ year old set of books on painters in my bookcase. I have a rule now - one out for every one in. I needed space for a couple of new books. I hadn't used these reference books for many years and would be unlikely ever to do so again. I'd just ask Google. I knew they would have no value in an ordinary charity shop so I looked on line to discover that the set had been reprinted many times and was still available as a 'new' book. The condition of my set wasn't good (good sets of that age were selling for a few pounds) so they went in the bin (refuse). I think it's the first time I've ever disposed of a book that way.

Although I use a Kindle, physical books still have a place. Apart from anything else digitised books go out of date very quickly. The format changes. Old formats are frequently not readable by newer programs. There's an interesting and straightforward article here. If I pop my clogs whilst living in my current home then there will still be books here for my son to dispose of. There will probably still be my CD collection of over a thousand (I've just done a rough count of the ones in the living room and there's many more in the loft). My very extensive DVD collection isn't going anywhere anytime soon either. I know I can stream what I don't have but I still like watching the occasional DVD. 

I've not mentioned digital newspapers. I only buy a paper when I'm going to have to go into hospital or spend a day on a plane or train. Apart from anything else the paper I buy has lots of puzzles which I can do without an internet connection.

It made me wonder how many of my Blogland friends and acquaintances have decided to go entirely or even mainly digital.

I've made a few guesses in my mind.