Monday, 28 November 2022

Walking Anti-Clockwise

For 47 years or thereabouts I have walked in the Stornoway Castle Grounds. For some reason which I cannot explain, 99% of the time (perhaps more) my walk has been in a clockwise direction. 

Today, after having had breakfast in The Woodlands Café, I decided to walk in an anti-clockwise direction. It felt quite strange.

However that was not all that was unusual. I noticed something that I cannot recall being so aware of before. The huge number of Blackbirds flying around. There are a lot of birds in the Grounds from Cranes and Ravens down in size to Wrens. Most of the time the most noticeable bird is the Robin. However this year there seems to have been a dearth of birds on many of my walks. Today was different. I doubt that there was a single step when there was not a Blackbird or several Blackbirds in view. 

Anyway I thought that, as it's a while since I showed any pictures of my walks, I'd show you a few today. 

The first thing I did was check the rain app to make sure I wasn't going to get soaked because I wasn't dressed for an 'any-weather' walk. I had enough time for the 'Short Walk' which is about 1.3 miles

Tuesday, 22 November 2022


I've just been to an acquaintance's funeral in Canada. The deceased was the sister of one of my oldest and dearest friends. It was a rather impersonal funeral for me because only a minister and a granddaughter spoke. God was the principal subject of the service and I appreciate for many that is the whole purpose of a funeral.

When our older son died he had already specified that the Humanist service was to be a joyful celebration of his life. He organised it all before he died (of cancer) and it was a wonderful celebration of his life. No black was worn. In all honesty I remember very little of the day except that I was fine until the first song (by the Smashing Pumpkins).

Most of the funerals on the Island are impersonal traditional funerals but the last one I attended was another celebration of life (and a Salvation Army service) with the joy of the deceased's life being celebrated. It was an occasion of happy memories.

My maternal grandmother died over 50 years ago (aged 94) and she told me that under no circumstances was I to wear a black tie. I didn't and raised the ire of some of her relatives who suddenly appeared from nowhere to say their last goodbyes.

Funerals are a way of ensuring that those who remain can overcome or live with their loss and grief. They are irrelevant to the deceased personally in that that person has departed this mortal coil. 

I hope that when I go there will still be a few around who will reminisce and say reasonably pleasant things about me (I won't kid myself that they will all be nice things) and have a good catch-up with all the others who know me and who might turn up. 

Sunday, 6 November 2022

A Day From My Window

Yesterday I woke to a splendid, if not that unusual, sunrise looking from my house to the Scottish Mainland West Coast.

Within a couple of hours the sky had clouded over and the Mainland had disappeared in a sky of heavy rain.

By lunchtime the Mainland was still under cloud but we were bathed in sun. I managed a few hours in the garden in the afternoon.

By the early evening it was still and the Moon was reflected in a calm sea and Jupiter was visible to its right (as we look at it).

Friday, 28 October 2022

Winners and Losers

Something cropped up recently and a derisory remark was made about someone's poor performance in something completely trivial.  It was an unnecessary and cruel remark.

It reminded me of a situation in my life more than 60 years ago in a history class at school.

I was always near the top of the class in English Language, English Literature and did pretty well in Mathematics and Geography and was middling in most of the rest of the subjects. However, in the fifth year I came bottom in the school in the year end history exam. One spiteful little toerag decided to ask the Master who was bottom. I will always remember the History Master's response. "If you have a system where someone is top then there will inevitably be someone at the bottom."  That same toerag came to my house before the GCE asking me to help him with his maths. 

The subject of top or bottom was never mentioned again.

I'm told that nowadays no one is allowed to be 'top' or 'bottom' in school because it might mean some children having mental problems or low self worth.

The reality of life is that that in itself won't stop kids making fun of those they perceive to be less able in a particular way. If we want to do something about the problem then we have to have a positive system  and encourage people to do what they are good at and not necessarily persist with things for which they have no aptitude. 

After all when I was in New Zealand an electrician or plumber commanded a much higher hourly wage than a dentist. [The caveat there is that the fee for dental care included a vast amount of overheads compared with an electrician].