Tuesday 31 July 2012

A Trip To Harris

Today dawned sunny and with the promise of a certain stability that has been lacking recently so we decided to take a trip to Harris.  There is a lovely new(ish) gallery we were aiming for for morning coffee but before that we needed a comfort stop and look round the shops in Tarbert.  

We spent the time on the West side of the Island 

We had lunch at the Macgillivray Centre in Northton - which was as far as we went down the West side.

And of course CJ spent a lot of time doing what CJ does:

Saturday 28 July 2012

Olympic Free Zone?

When it comes to the Olympics I've always been a bah humbug sort of a bloke.  CJ on the other hand has not missed watching an opening ceremony since Soeul in 1988.  This evening I managed to get the ironing done during the first hour whilst it was on the television in the kitchen and CJ watched on the big screen in the living room whilst getting on with some intricate embroidery.  By the time 2230 hrs arrived I decided to bring my laptop into the living room and watch the parade of the athletes.  I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the parade: the colour, the diversity, the talent and the rather noticeable fact that athletes seem almost to the person to be beautiful people.  I enjoyed the volunteers with their wonderful dedication and obvious sense of enjoyment and occasion.  I enjoyed the flags.  I enjoyed the fact that armed services who protect us played such an important part in the ceremonial as well as the protection.  I enjoyed the inclusiveness of the whole ceremony.  In fact I enjoyed the whole thing.

I found the final opening and the number of the young athletes involved in the final lighting of the symbol of unity in the final flame to be absolutely breathtaking in its concept and beauty and emotion.

London done good.

Perhaps I'm not quite as bah humbug as I thought I was.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Thankful Thursday: Christchurch

I was looking for a photo this evening and I happened to come across some of the photos I took when I was in South Island, New Zealand in January 2007.  It seems such a long time ago.  These were taken in the centre of Christchurch.  Those of you who follow my life in New Zealand will know how traumatic the earthquake which wreaked such devastation in Christchurch was.  

I have absolutely no idea why I should be posting about such memories on a Thankful Thursday post except that I believe that I should be able to quell the tears that welled up and find something positive to say.  After all none of my visits to that beautiful city coincided with the earthquake and I've not been back there since.  I must remedy that this coming year.

However I feel that anything I say will be inadequate.  So I shall simply leave you all with the reminder and leave you to think of the effect such an event would have on your life and how you would feel and perhaps count your blessings.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Never Tempt the Moirai

On 19 January this year CJ aka Scriptor Senex posted on the god DataTransfer .  This proved to be his undoing as his computing world fell apart two days later and he posted Cannot (never mind 'Do Not') Resuscitate.  The moral, he concluded, was that it was unwise to tempt the gods.

Well I've been much more circumspect.  Most of my friends who believe in a god only believe in one whether they believe it to be one emanating from a Christian or Jewish or whatever belief.  However  I understand that Hindus believe in about 330 million gods or a similar number of aspects of a god or gods and the Greeks and Romans worshipped many hundreds of gods. (I've always been rather wary of the Chthonic deities if for no other reason than they are represented collectively by a word which is impossible to spell).  It's all rather confusing. 

Anyway I never mentioned a god in my post yesterday on the subject of midges.  But I didn't have to.  The Moirai or the Parcae or the Three Witches were obviously listening.

Tonight the midges are back.

Adelstrop and Esso Blue

Any sane person would wonder why I am suddenly departing from my usually mundane types of post to embrace a poem and an ancient advert for a product which I don't even think exists today: Esso Blue Paraffin Oil. 

The answer lies in the fact that I cannot get either out of my head and CJ and I are having to endure me wandering around quoting bits of poem and us both singing the Esso Blue song. It's driving me bananas.

I seem to forget my posts within no time at all. So if I post these it follows as a logical syllogism that I shall forget them in no time at all.


Edward Thomas

Yes, I remember Adlestrop –
The name because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

What Happened to Our Midges?

We've just made the national news.  No midges!  Since my post in June entitled B****y Midges apparently the very dry weather and the cold Northerly winds that we've been having here (in contrast to most of the rest of Britain) has led to the decimation of the midge population.  In fact it's something that I have been commenting upon for most of the time since that post in what we laughingly call summer.  It's wonderful.

I think, by the way, that I may have posted on midges more than any other topic in the five or so years I've been blogging.

I Need a Rest

I'm rather behind with my life in Blogland.  However yesterday I did read Frances Garrood's post about an email she had received.  I'd actually seen this joke some years ago but it didn't stop me and CJ laughing out loud and me deciding to share it with you (apologies if you also follow Frances and have already had your laugh).  

Note: This has been circulated so much I doubt there is any copyright.  If there is I apologise.

Monday 23 July 2012

A La Ronde

One of the first things that CJ and I together with Helen did in Exeter was visit A La Ronde, an 18th century 16-sided house located near Lympstone, Exmouth, Devon in the ownership of the National Trust. The house was built for two wonderfully interesting and eccentric spinster cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter.  The diamond windows were the inspiration for the diamond windows in the last Harry Potter movie.  If you ever get the opportunity this is a place to visit.  CJ and I will be returning!

Add caption

The Shell Gallery at the top of the house 

Sunday 22 July 2012

A Visit to Eoropie

On Friday CJ and I went up to Ness and spent some time doing a few things CJ hadn't done before and I hadn't done for a long time: visiting Eoropie Beach, St Moluag's Church (which will merit a separate post) and the Eoropie Tearoom.  Actually CJ and Jo tried to eat there twice before but it was full each time although there's more room inside than you might think from the exterior.

Keeping out of the wind

Saturday 21 July 2012

The Farming of Fences - Revisited

In October 2009 I posted on crofting being called 'the farming of fences'.  CJ and I went over to the West Side (of Lewis) yesterday.  In Ness I suddenly saw another photogenic reminder of the phenomena:

Thursday 19 July 2012

Thankful Thursday

It's now several years since I started doing my Thankful Thursday posts.  They are a constant reminder to me of the need to remember just what a lucky and privileged existence I have.  Many of you whose Blogland I have been part of for a while will know where the inspiration came from.  Some of you will not know.

It came from an inspirational lady from New Zealand - Jaz, of Treacy Travels.  Jaz has a brain tumour and life has not been without its ups and downs for her, her husband Mark and their three lovely girls and all their friends and relations too.  Jaz is a teacher.  At the moment she's not actually teaching at a school but, as she said in her Thankful Thursday post today "You might be able to take the teacher out of the classroom but never vice versa."

I couldn't help but 'borrow' one of her photos from that post.  If you pop over to her post the picture will enlarge and the words will be easier to read.

So today I'm thankful that Jaz is still blogging and I'm thankful for such inspiration.

Thank you Jaz.

Brick Collecting

Would you be surprised if I told you that people collect bricks?  Well they do.  How do I know?  I'll tell you a story - a mercifully short one.

A few days ago I received a text or email from a friend who had been out walking his dog.  I won't mention his name but his dog's Mollie.  Whilst out walking Mollie had met another dog and they'd got to talking about bricks the way dogs do.  The Other Dog "I believe you've been to Lewis recently."  Molly  "Yes, great place.  You should go there for romps on the beaches."  TOD "Don't they have an old castle that's being renovated?" M "They do indeed."  TOD "So they'll be knocking bits off it I expect."  M "I expect so."  TOD "I believe that bricks from the Lewis Brickworks were used in the building of the castle.  Any chance of that chap you stayed with up there getting me one?"  M "You want a brick???"  TOD "Surely do."

So CJ and I ended up there yesterday.  Whilst I was chatting to the rather bemused site manager and a chap from the city of my birth down in the North of England and obtaining a promise to keep me one if they found any and to pop back in a few weeks, CJ was ferreting around in the mud outside the site.  He found a couple of bricks:

I duly sent photos in case these were of any interest to the collector of bricks and this evening received the information that the bricks were produced at no 1 Knightswood Brickworks, Netherton, Glasgow grid reference ns540696 and no 2 Garscube Brick and Tile Works, Netherton, Glasgow grid ref ns546696 and that the brickworks were working from mid 1890s to circa 1914? .

I'm sure that collecting bricks can provide a wonderful social history interest.  As can collecting beer mats and other esoteric objects.


There are obviously plenty of collectors and there is an international brick collectors society and plenty of websites and blogs dedicated to the sport.  By the way does anyone know what a brick collector is called?

And now to bed.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

I've Just Found Another Sin

I've just learned that for the last five or six years I've been labouring under a misapprehension.  Ever since at the age of 5 at Prep School I've been able to recite, amongst other things, the Seven Deadly Sins: pride, covetousness, lust, envy, anger, gluttony and sloth (the language wasn't archaic when I was 5!).

I happened to be looking for some information on mortal and venial sins (don't even ask) a few days ago when I came across the information that in March, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI added the 8th Deadly Sin of ‘Excessive Wealth’ to the list of Deadly Sins.

What is excessive wealth?  It must be a relative concept.  So who determines it?  I have excessive wealth in that I have far more than I require for my basic needs.  So, in all probability, do many who are reading this post.  Especially compared with the 900 million or so of the world's population who woke up hungry today.

I did wonder, too, whether, if excessive wealth was a Deadly Sin for individuals, then what about for organisations?  Most of big business may be said to be enjoying excessive wealth and most religious organisations are very wealthy and indeed some of the larger religions are amongst the wealthiest organisations in the world.


Monday 16 July 2012

16 Down: Humiliating disaster (6)

Coffee at The Woodlands this morning as is our habit.  Crossword as is our habit.  Feeling that we were on a real high because we finished the first crossword before we even started our coffees we decided on seeing if we could finish two crosswords before we finished our coffee instead of the habitual target of one.  We got this far with no problem and then disaster struck.  We were stuck.


Sunday 15 July 2012

Ambleside and A Memory for Mo

On our way home we stopped the night in Ambleside and in the morning we had a wander down to the lake side (Ambleside is at the northern end of Lake Windermere).  There was a time when the town would have been of secondary interest and we'd have been up walking in the fells.  Now our enjoyment is confined to photography and the lower levels.  I'd like to think that when I get a new knee I'd be able to climb a Munro again but something tells me that by then I'll be too unfit.  Qui sait ?

The wooden rowing boats (which are actually sculled not rowed) and the two old wooden lake steamers
My wife and I (I think I did help) sculled one round the north end  of the lake on our honeymoon.
The terrace on which Mo and I had an ice cream back in the day (ie I've forgotten the date).
Queen of the Lake (Built 1949) and Princess of the Lake (Built 1950)
See details at: Queen of the Lake and Princess of the Lake 

The Pier Buildings
I don't recall an ice cream cabin being there when I was a lad

Friday 13 July 2012

Black-Throated Diver

I'm not quite sure why I have never blogged about sightings of the Black-Throated Diver before.  We certainly saw plenty last year on The Braighe on Lewis.  I've just looked at my photos though and the best ones were of Great Northern Divers and I posted photos about them.  This week I managed rather better photos of the Black-Throated Divers on the Braighe.  The problem with them is that as soon as you pop your head over the sea wall they start paddling in the opposite direction.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Thankful Thursday

Well, as CJ has pointed out, it's Thursday again and that in itself is something for which to be thankful. He has a point in that any of us who are reading this have managed to survive since last Thursday.  In fact as at today I've managed to survive for 24,876 days so far.  That's quite a lot of days really.  I though that I might start working out things like the amount of time I've been asleep or on the loo or whatever but I decided that that would be altogether too much work considering that no one - not even I - would be interested in it.  I'm still a little short of the biblical three score years and ten which would take me to 25,606 days.  In fact I've still got 730 allotted days to go.  Not many in the greater scheme of things. The Bank was trying to get me to place some of my savings in long-term investments yesterday. I don't think so!

Last night we were invited to a BBQ with friends of many years' standing who often stay in the house here.  They're over in their camper van at the moment though and parked just by the shore below the house.  It was a very cold evening and quite breezy.  Not perfect BBQ weather.  However it kept the midges away and it didn't rain and the sun was out too.  We had the cheese and biscuits in the warmth after the beautiful steaks and eventually got home somewhere before midnight - hence the lateness of this post.

Pat is going to slay me for posting a photo with her in it but I'm feeling brave this morning.

So today I'm thankful for time with friends.

From my kitchen window

Sue and Pat posing - I love having a long focus lens on the camera!
Not a bad view for a BBQ!

Wednesday 11 July 2012

One For Adrian

Adrian's back!  So good to be able to say that.  I suspect there are few, if any in my Blogland who have been missed more than he has.  The coincidence is that I had prepared a post for Adrian for scheduling tomorrow.  So here is that post of one of Adrian's icons which CJ and I visited last Saturday.

The irony is that the building next door to George Fisher has to be the most out of place and ugly building in Keswick and possibly in the Lake District.  Adrian would not approve.

Kestrel on Lewis

I do not think that in the nearly 40 years I have lived on Lewis I have ever positively identified a Kestrel here before today.  Today I not only saw one in the valley at the side go the house but I was also able to photograph it:

Market Forces

Friday night we stayed in the four star guest house Lakes Lodge in Ambleside. The service was very friendly and helpful. The room was superb with very high quality bedding and towels (and loo paper!). The self-service breakfast was as good as I’ve been presented with in a hotel (and I’ve stayed in hundreds). The wi-fi was free and quite fast. The ice machine supplied CJ with constant and copious quantities.  The decor in the reception and breakfasting area was rather garish for my taste and out of keeping with the rest of the hotel but if you get there don’t let that put you off. In Ambleside there is so much accommodation the problem is choosing, although at the weekend in the height of the season I should imagine much of it is pretty full.

And an opportunity to mention Marmite cannot be missed.  It was available at breakfast in little heart-shaped containers along with the excellent selection of preserves.

Saturday we arrived in Cluanie. Cluanie has an Inn.  It's called, rather predictably, Cluanie Inn.  There is no other building for about 12 miles Westwards - perhaps more in the other direction. After having driven about 415 miles in indifferent and sometimes poor conditions food and a bed were very welcome.

I last stayed there about 25 years ago. They had at least two single rooms (unusual these days in many UK hotels in my experience) and a family room available.

The dinner was perfectly acceptable but not as good as the food we had in a restaurant in Ambleside for less money (and wine was 50% more expensive than a comparable glass of wine in Ambleside).  The service was good: a Czech waitress was particularly pleasant and someone doing maintenance in the morning insisted in carrying all the cases out to the car because I was struggling to get past his ladder. Breakfast lacked attention to detail and the bacon was covered in the unappetising stuff cheap bacon is covered in and neither CJ nor I ate it.  Much to my surprise there is wifi but because of the remote location it's satellite and not free (and nor would I expect it to have been) but the effort has been made and it is available in the public areas (but not the bedrooms).

The Cluanie Inn was 22% more expensive than the Lake Lodge.

Which probably goes to show you that if you are the only building with food and a bed for perhaps 25 miles (probably more) then market forces allow you to charge accordingly.