Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Common Froghopper

So much for my intention to post every day this week.  Tomorrow my niece and her husband from Exeter arrive for a long weekend.  They haven't been up to Lewis before so I'm really looking forward to their company and to showing them around.  I'm hoping that we may see some eagles and perhaps a peregrine if we are really lucky.  There will be plenty of insects life for Helen to admire though.  At the moment there is an abundance of tiny Common Froghoppers.  They are only 5 or 6 mm long.  The cuckoo spit that is often seen on plants contains the larval stage of this little insect.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Silly or Annoying Questions

On attempting to buy a perfectly mundane item recently the website asked for some information including my date of birth.

My date of birth?

None of your business. Clicked to confirm purchase without completing said question.

"You can't proceed with the transaction without completing all the boxes marked with an asterisk."

But you don't need my age to sell me a thingumabob: it's not like I am trying to buy pornography.

"You can't proceed with the transaction without completing all the boxes marked with an asterisk."


Solution: fill in fictitious date of birth making the day my 104th birthday.

Generally speaking I answer questions with a true answer when I'm asked market research information. I wonder what that did for their market research.

It's the multiple choice question/answer scenario that elicits the really silly results though.

"Does that taste of vanilla, persimmon or cardamon ?" " It tastes of nutmeg. Very definitely nutmeg." OK I'll put you down as a 'don't know'. But I DO know. Wotthehellarchiewotthehell.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A Beautiful Spell

No this is not a novel about a witch or wizard or other spell-caster with tendencies to perfection.  It's simply a celebration of the beautiful week or longer that we have just enjoyed.  The warm, sunny weather has been made even more delightful by the almost complete absence of midges which has been marred only by the appearance of a lot of clegs (horse-flies).

Over the the period I have taken a lot of photos but some show the changing views we have here and our big skies. 

The mist, ah the mist
Even the sea was still
Last evening everything began to blend into one quiet, windless scene.....until.....
...looking the other way the sun was setting in a blaze of glory (probably not to be seen again for weeks).

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Lost Art of Timekeeping - Part 1

I was pondering the other day on the marvel of the modern bus stop. The bus shelter had a display telling me where the next bus was going and when it would arrive at this stop (ie how long I was going to have to wait - as if I had an option). The possibilities of what information could be imparted and what we could do with it seemed, and indeed are, limitless.

Later on I was thinking how good that would have been in the days when I used buses regularly ie back in the sixties in the city that spawned the Beatles and Lots of Other Good Things

Then I checked myself. When I first started work I used to walk a few hundred yards down the road (nowadays the number would be slightly smaller because metres are longer than yards) to the bus stop. At 0802 (which we used to call 8.02 am or two minutes past eight) the 6d (the bus that went down Dale Street - where I worked - as compared with the 6c which went down Church Street - the beauty of simplicity) would draw up and I would get on. Occasionally it would be full and so everyone could get on and the conductor (some of you may be too young to remember what they were) would say "Don't worry we knew it was going to be busy today because of - insert reason - so there's an extra just behind.".  The point was, though, that the bus timetable said that the bus would be at that stop at 0802 and at that stop at 0802 it was.

It occurred to me that if the money spent on the wonderful systems to tell me when the next bus would be at the stop was spent on ensuring that buses could be at the stop they were supposed to be at when they were supposed to be there then life would be much simpler

Okay I know that a) I'm living in the past and b) life really isn't that simple (and never was) but, hey, it's good to have an inconsequential rant occasionally.   After all at my age I mightn't get too many of them in: I'm getting more and more reasonable the older I get.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Thankful Thursday: Enjoy Your Bath

The hot weather and the plethora of young birds in the garden has meant that the gentle and constant flow of water down the waterfall into the pond and the dry earth next to it have both attracted the birds for a dry dustbath and then a wet one.

I just can't reach that itch 
Would someone like to feed me whilst I'm having my dust bath? 
Don't forget to wash under the wings
Communal bathing
So today it's not me that is being thankful on my own behalf, it's the birds being thankful for the readily available bathing just near their bird table food supply.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A Call For The Diviner

Do you believe in divining or dowsing?  You know finding things like water and pipes and so on under ground using twigs or two bent pieces of number 8 wire?  I'm not sure that I do and there certainly seems to be no scientific explanation for nor proof of it whatsoever.

Anyway I was just on my way out to town this morning when my cellphone went and I answered it on my hands-free but stopped as I'd only just driven out of the drive.  It was Gaz.  He was at the house site in Grimshader.  Could I give him a hand with……divining.

Now why on earth would I be asked to undertake some divining you might ask.

Well a few years ago when I was putting a small en-suite toilet and washbasin in my bedroom I needed to connect the outfall to the house main outfall pipe.  It was pretty obvious where it should have been but despite digging a 4-metre long and 400mm or more trench at 90deg to the line of the pipe just outside my fence line on the way to the main village outfall I could not locate it.  As a last resort a friend whom I have seen use it rather convincingly suggested that I try divining.   

So I made a couple of divining rods out of number 8 wire, turned on a tap to set the water flowing and set about trying to find the outfall on a wider area.  Lo and behold at one point the wires crossed quite strongly.  I thought it could be the breeze so I set off again.  I did it a number of times in a number of different approach lines always with the same result on the same spot.

Unfortunately it was over an area at the end of the house which had been concreted when the house had been extended.  Was I going to break open the concrete?  I did.  I dug a hole over half a metre deep to no avail.  I was just about to give up when I decided that as I'd started I'd carry on.  Another couple of inches or so and I came across what turned out to be a very large paving slab.  So I had to enlarge the hole until I could lift it out.  What was underneath?  A complete manhole from the original outfall which had been covered when the site had been built up (the site slopes) when the house had been extended many years ago.
Gaz had decided this morning when he arrived at his croft where he is about to build a new house, that the task of finding the water pipe leading to the site by digging a 30 or 40 metre trench trench across the croft through 80cm high grass was going to be a mammoth task.  So I set off for Grimshader with a couple of pieces of bent number 8 wire and, despite the 22℃ temperature, suitably protected with heavy clothing against the clegs he had warned me about.

What happened?  Well at first absolutely nothing apart from one isolated 'reading' which only occurred in one place (although consistently) at the distance from the house site he wanted to put the new stopcock.  So I went to the road end of the croft 100 metres away and started there.  I got a 'reading'.  So I moved down the croft and nearer the house site in 10 metre intervals and repeated the process until a line was established.  Then when I was near the house site we extrapolated the line near enough for the new main tap to be situated and we dug a hole.  There right in the middle of the hole was the pipe.  No one was more surprised than I was.

So whether one believes in divining or doesn't believe in it if you are looking for a pipe and don't have the sophisticated sonar equipment the water board presumably have then it's worth giving it a try.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Lews Castle Grounds

Yesterday morning on my way into town I could see smoke rising over Stornoway. It emanated from smouldering areas in the Lews Castle Grounds.   No one seemed to be taking much notice.  Parts of it were still smoking this morning.  Oh well.  I'm sure that someone's keeping an eye on it.

Last weekend was the Hebridean Celtic Festival with it's colourful array of marquees:

Just below which is the jetty from which youngsters were getting sailing tuition:

All in all Stornoway is really buzzing at the moment.

Monday, 22 July 2013

How Much Credence

do you give to reviews of products on Amazon and other on-line purchasing sites?  Do you usually read the 1 star reviews first or the 5 star reviews?

I do read reviews of some things and often find very useful information.  For example when I looked at the reviews of a piece of electronic equipment recently a lot of the 1 star reviews were very damming.  However when I read the 5 star reviews a contributor pointed out why the problems outlined by the 1 star comments were occurring: people had patently not read the instructions.  I learned a lot from that review and have nothing but praise for the piece of equipment which I acquired.

I ask the question, though, because today I came across a singularly silly 1 star review where the reviewer had lambasted the manufacturer of a standard (non-rechargable) alkaline battery which had reacted badly to an attempt to re-charge it.  As some commenters pointed out she was very lucky not to have been injured or set her house on fire.  However she had also reduced the star rating of the battery quite unjustifiably.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Costa del Bayble

Today has been as warm and as beautiful as one is likely to experience in Scotland's Outer Hebrides: even paradise cannot rival it.

Down at the pier - and bearing in mind it's a Lewis Sabbath - it was as crowded as I've ever seen it:

It's not all that long ago that a local fishing boat out on the Sabbath would have been unthinkable too.

Even on Lewis the words Bob Dylan's words herald the inevitable:
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Who Defines You?

I had a very unusual and interesting morning today.  Just as I was drawing close to Delights (a speciality foods shop with a couple of tables for customers to have coffee and cakes) in Stornoway's North Beach Street a car parked in front of the shop signalled to pull out.  I stopped to let the driver do so and then reversed into the space.  I then went in and, much to my surprise and pleasure there was a table free.  I could have a coffee - their coffee is superb.  I sat down and as I was drinking my coffee and writing a billet doux to a friend I realised that the person at the counter ordering a coffee was someone I had known for nigh on 40 years but not seen in the flesh for many years.  Hugs all round and thus started a coffee binge and a couple of hours catching up.  Interestingly though, because she is so well known as a Gaelic media presenter amongst other things, a number of people who came in for coffee take-aways also ended up spending time at the table.  Therein lies the point of the title to this post.

To go back a step.  When I came to the Island in the mid 70s I was puzzled by the first question everyone (who was local) asked anyone they met.  That question was "How old are you?"  The reason for the question was to establish you in the appropriate year at school so that you could be identified by reference to the questioner's siblings or cousins or some other relative.  In that way could you be defined. The fact that I could not be defined in that way because I had not been brought up on the Island didn't stop the question being asked.

Because of the position I held when I came to the Island and, when I retired from public life, the business I had, I knew a lot of people: many or perhaps most were my age or older.  Some were incomers who have long since left the Island.  Some were locals who have passed on or, like me, retired from the public glare.  They were however the people whose contemporaries I was: they were the people who defined me in public life.  They are no more ergo I am no more.

Thus it was today that when my friend introduced me to each person in turn we had to find a point of reference.  Interestingly as each relationship was explored and discussed it turned out that I knew their fathers.  Scotland is a small place and Lewis is an very small place.  The good Scots saying was used a lot: I kent his faither.

This contrasts with the opposite end of the spectrum to which I have recently been accustomed: being known by the moniker of Gaz's father.  It has happened on a significant number of occasions recently.  Gaz, of course, was brought up from the age of one on the Island: he is an Islander through and through.

Thus are we all in one way or another defined by reference to someone or something else.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Thankful Thursday: The Glad Game

The mist lifted and for a good bit of the day the sun came out and the temperature reached 20℃ which, for Lewis, is very warm indeed.  Of course it's never as simple as that and we had a force 3 to 4 wind to keep us on our toes.  Nevertheless I spent much of the afternoon in the garden in shorts - much to the delight of the clegs (horse-flies) which seem to be around this year in much greater numbers than usual.  

Jaz is back in Blogland with her blog re-named Treacy Family and her Thankful Thursday post.  Jaz, you may recall, was the person who originally wrote Thankful Thursday posts and inspired me to do the same.

I've always had a natural tendency to play the Glad Game but I'm not sure sometimes what the difference is between that and simply being naturally thankful for things.

I remembered this evening that I had, at one time, writing a piece on the Glad Game and Pollyanna but I couldn't find the post.  I had, however, and it appeared in A Hebridean in New Zealand in a Thankful Thursday post on 2 December 2010.  Really?  I was writing Thankful Thursday posts that long ago?    

Pollyanna is a best-selling novel by written in 1913 by Eleanor H. Porter.  Pollyanna's philosophy of life centers on what she calls "The Glad Game", an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "we don't need 'em!" [Wikipedia]

So my 'Thankful' today is a repetition and is of my thankfulness that I learned about the Glad Game.  That and 'Don't Sweat The Small Stuff' which Marcel aka David introduced me to about 9 years ago have, for many years now, helped me through lots of taxing situations.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Age Is a State of Mind

I have been having my leg pulled a because of an article in that rag the UK's Daily Mail.  Frankly if one reads that then one has no right to cast aspersions of any sort on anyone about age or any other thing.   However I do feel obliged to respond.

Apparently researchers have come to the conclusion that there are 50 signs that indicate that we are ageing.  I was rather gobsmacked to read the list.  I've divided it up into sections and omitted a few.  The grammar of the list is that of the journalist, not of me.

Allowance has to be made in my categorisation and comments for the fact that my Mum said I was born with my pension book in my hand.  In actual fact it took me until I was in my sixties before I became really young.

These are things which never, well hardly ever, apply to me; my comments are in parentheses: 

  • Saying "In my day."
  • Saying "It wasn't like that when I was young."
  • Falling asleep in front of the TV.
  • Needing an afternoon nap.
  • Struggling to use technology. [I've always been a gadget geek.]
  • You start complaining about more things. [I complain far less than I used to.  Life is far more precious now and I find relatively little in everyday life to complain about and I've stopped campaigning on the Big Issues - that's for the young.]
  • Complaining about the rubbish on TV these days. [It's better now than it ever was - although I'm not sure that's a huge compliment.]
  • Misplacing your glasses/bag/keys etc. [One of the hardly evers.]
  • Preferring a night in with a board game than a night out on the town. [I never could stand board games and I never could stand nights out on the town either,]
  • You talk to colleagues who are so young they don't know what an Opal Fruit is. [If you have colleagues you can't be that old.  I never was very fond of Opal Fruits.]
  • You start taking slippers to a friends house. 
  • Taking a keen interest in the Antiques Road Show.
  • Falling asleep after one glass of wine. [I used to do that at one point in my life even  when in the middle of a meal, until the doctor casually mentioned that one of the heart pills I was taking could have that effect.  He changed it and the problem disappeared.]
  • Never going out without your coat. [What's a coat?  Oh yes.  The thing I wear for funerals: a Crombie I bought before I came to Lewis 40 years ago.  It's still going strong - for funerals.]
  • Taking a flask of tea or coffee on a day out.  [I avoid drinking tea or coffee when out because of the inevitable consequences.]
  • Always driving in the slow lane or below 70 in the middle lane of a motorway. [Don't get me started on that one!]
  • Consider going on a 'no children' cruise for a holiday. {Never have, never will.]
  • Gasping for a cup of tea.  [Never have and don't anticipate that I ever will.]
I have had the following feelings or traits for as long as I can recall:

  • Thinking that policemen, doctors and teachers look young.
  • Putting everyday items in the wrong place
  • Hating noisy pubs.
  • Choosing clothes for comfort rather than for style. [Preferably comfort and style.]
  • Forgetting people's names. [Ever since an incident in 1965.]
  • Not knowing any songs in the Top Ten. [Actually as a teenager at school I was pretty clued up but I didn't know the Top Ten was still going.  Is the New Musical Express still published?]
  • Joining the National Trust. [I joined in my early 20s!]
  • Drinking sherry. [I stopped doing that many years ago.  With the exception of Tio Pepe - long story.]
  • Finding you have no idea what young people are talking about. [I had that problem when I was a child/teenager/adult.]
These are fairly recent acquisitions:

  • Really enjoying crosswords or puzzles.
  • Feeling stiff.
  • Obsessive gardening or bird feeding. [Well almost obsessive this summer.]
I'm not sure where this one falls:

  • Feeling you have the right to tell people exactly what you think even if it isn't polite. [I often have the feeling but I rarely act upon it.]

What do you think of the researcher's list?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Some People Have an Ivy

I have goldfish: hungry goldfish.  Today some of the pellets fell onto the leaves of the waterlilies.  What followed really surprised me.  The fish spent an hour or so trying to get them.

Okay I accept that they are not as cuddly as Ivy, nor as mischievous but I do enjoy them.

Monday, 15 July 2013


I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits....

This is not the first time I've used that quote which I had always attributed in my mind to Winnie The Pooh.  For some reason I decided today to check where it came from.  Interestingly it seems that Winnie The Pooh never uttered those words.  They are attributed by some to A A Milne though.  The quote also appears in Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of the Island published in 1915 about 10 years before Winnie The Pooh.  However it's origin may have been in Punch on 24 October 1906: 
Vicar's wife: Now that you can't get about and are not able to read, how do you manage to occupy the time?
Rustic man: Well, mum, sometimes I sits and thinks and then again I just sits.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Thankful Thursday

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Today once I'd put some washing out and used the cross-trainer and exercise bike and had a shower I spent the morning doing bits of this and that and very little else.  It's been a beautiful day: a day for pottering; for drinking coffee and reading in the sun; for going and getting a few more plants; and for planting them.  I have just done enough to assuage any feeling of guilt I may have had because for most of the time it's been a day for taking a leaf out of WHD's book.

Today I am thankful for being able to stand and stare with all that that brings.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Where is the Green Glass Bowl?

I've been writing a few wordy posts recently and there are more to come so I thought I'd just post a few photos today.
Midsummer in Ullapool
Molly being, well, Molly!
The view across the bay from my house.  I never, ever get tired of looking at that view.
 I could do without the sea mist this evening, of course.
As for the green glass bowl.  I said that Gaz and Carol could borrow it for a BBQ salad on Saturday.  It's not that long ago since I used it.  So where on earth is it?   It can't be that difficult to find 'cos it's large.  Anyone would think I lived in a mansion. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

I Like 'Organised'.

I was looking at my bookcases this morning and wondering what to do with all the books sitting on the coffee table waiting for a home.  The books on the coffee table are some of those which I have acquired (either bought or been given) over the last few months.  That doesn't include Kindle acquisitions of course. The problem is that the bookcase in the living room is full so if any of the recent acquisitions are to be housed there some of the old ones have to go into the bookshelves in the loft.  That's all very well but they, too, are full.  I'm an Edwards.  We only dispose of books if we really have to do so.

One of the things that happens when books disappear into the loft is that they also disappear from the front of my mind.  This means that when I go into a charity shop and see a book I want I may already have it.  That's happened a number of times.  

Some years ago I started a list of all my books on a spreadsheet.  Somewhere along the way it got neglected.  Earlier in the year I acquired the software Delicious Library 2.  I heard about the programme when visiting a friend who mentioned it in a post here.  Having all my books catalogued and organised really appeals to me.

I sometime wonder if I don't spend too much time organising my books and too little time reading them.

Monday, 8 July 2013

3D Printing

The first time I ever heard about 3D printing was in a post entitled Working in the Wild West on Mark's blog The Caffeinated Engine Driver.  I have to admit that despite quite a few further posts on the subject of printing railway goods wagons and various other things I have had trouble coming to terms with the concept.  Now I have seen the light.

I had, as one might expect, read the Wikipedia article.  Frankly at the time I gave up.  Not so much because I'm unintelligent but because I got overwhelmed with detail.  I've since re-read it and almost persevered. 

A few days ago I happened to see an advert in one of my emails from Maplin for a domestic 3D printer.  Then I picked up my Auto Express and there was an article explaining the whole thing.  Why in the Auto Express?  Because it could revolutionise car designing and spare parts supply.  The real thing about the article, though, was that it was written in journalese and therefore relatively simple.  I like simple.

The conventional manufacture of many items is achieved by taking a block of a material and removing parts (e.g. wood and metal turning on a lathe).  Other items may be made in a mould.  Both have limitations.

3D printing is a manufacturing process that builds layers to create a three-dimensional solid object from a digital model.  At its most simple it uses an additive process in which a spool of plastic the diameter of uncooked spaghetti is melted in a print head similar to a glue gun.  The plastic is set down one wafer-thin layer at a time.  As each layer is laid the printer bed is lowered one human hairs breadth and another layer is laid down.  Multiple heads can use multiple materials in the same process.

Many different materials and many different uses (e.g. 3D printing can be used from producing prototype cars to a titanium replacement human jaw) are possible.

Who could ever have imagined a situation where you go into a garage and he prints the spare part while you wait?   The thing is that that is no longer science fiction.  It is a practical proposition.

Thanks Mark.  A whole new knowledge sphere has just opened up for me.

For those wanting to see the products produced by one of the leading 3D Printers then a visit to the Shapeways website is interesting.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Every Day is Sunday

I cannot recall a time when I have spent so many consecutive days in the house:  I have hardly even set foot in the garden for more than the time it takes to feed the fish and the birds, clean the pond filters, plant the occasional plant or do a bit of clearing.   The weather has been a very significant factor but so has the tennis, British Grand Prix, MotoGP, Tour de France and a mountain of 'paperwork' which I can do with the television on - albeit I do neither with full concentration.  

I've made the occasional foray into town but they have been occasional.  Gaz and Carol came back from a week away on Thursday so I met Gaz for a coffee and a bacon roll next morning at The Woodlands after I'd been to have yet more blood tests (don't ask, it's nothing to do with me, I feel fine), fuelled the car and done some odds and ends and all the shopping I hope I'm likely to need for a while.

The overall effect of all this is that every day seems to feel like a Lewis Sunday.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Curse of the Wheelie Bins

I have 4 wheelie bins.  The plot on which my house stands is nearly 1/3 acre.   The footprint of 4 wheelie bins is under 2 square metres.  Ergo I don't have too much of a problem accommodating the bins.  What happens, though, if you live in a top floor flat with no garden which was never designed to have a bin never mind four of them?  Or consider the situation if you have no access to the back of your house and have to keep 4 wheelie bins in the front garden?  And what happens if you don't have a front garden because your house fronts directly onto the street and you have no rear access to the road either?

France has a very simple situation.  You take all your recycling to the déchèterie (called in the UK a civic amenity site).  The penalties for not doing so are severe and enforced.  More than that, however, is the mentality which, so far as I can see, accepts that one's recycling and waste that isn't part of the household collection goes to the déchèterie and that is that.  In the UK, even with community skips and civic amenity sites and wheelie bins, fly tipping and litter dropping is a scourge and a disgrace.  It's all a question of mentality and unfortunately many in the UK are not considerate either of others nor of the environment when it comes to this subject.

I know that this is a very superficial attempt at saying anything about this subject but when we were on the Fife Coast recently lots of places just weren't worth photographing because a the myriad of bins sitting in front of houses.  I could have moved the ones in this picture but at least here I had another option.

Friday, 5 July 2013

To Youth in the Bird World

Many of you will know at least the start of Shelley's To a Skylark and Keats' Ode to a Nightingale the commencements of which are, respectively,
Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Keats is a poet whose work I generally enjoy greatly and that particular poem is one I used to know almost by heart.

Anyway today I was searching my Penguin Book of Bird Poetry for a suitable poem based upon young birds as an introduction to the photos I wanted to show you.  I could find none.  In fact I spent a good hour half watching the superb Djokovich v Del Potro Semi-Final and half reading bird poetry.  At this point I can see Adrian thinking up a suitably acerbic comment with which to adorn this post.

In fact although there are at least some poems on most common birds, on the whole bird poetry seems to be dominated by just a few birds: doves, larks, nightingales, robins and thrushes.  Somehow the fulmar and the wheatear seem to have been given a complete miss.

Young fulmars on the cliffs at West Wemyss
Parents doing the 'food run' for a young greenfinch.
I was asked if the birds ever used the nesting box on the garage wall.  I replied in the negative.
However a few days later all the young sparrows decided to use it as a resting place.
This young robin actually landed at my feet at the Maybury Garden Centre.
Even its parents seemed unconcerned by its association with me.
"Do you like this pose?"
This young wheatear has been flitting around the garden for a week or so gradually metamorphosing from a fledgling to a young adult
Okay a fairly fluffy young adult

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Thankful Thursday

I've been very remiss recently in not reminding myself on Thursdays that I have a life for which I should be very thankful.

It can be no secret to my readers that I dislike the cold.  I've been listening to the weather forecast and the presenter said that the nights would be very warm and muggy in much of England.

Here on Lewis the nights are quite chilly even on the warmest days and I can sleep easily and snugly under my duvet.

Would I trade a cool bedroom for hot days?  Here in the UK that's a difficult one.  In New Zealand if it gets intolerably warm at bedtime I just give The Cottage a cool blast with the air conditioning.  Here the idea of having air conditioning is not something that has ever entered my head.

So today I'm thankful for the weather I have (regardless what I might say next time on a midsummer day I have to put two extra layers of clothes on).

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Battle

I looked out of the window an hour or two ago and saw a large Herring Gull and a Hooded Crow battling it out over something down the croft in front of the house.  

Eyeing up the opponent
David attacks Goliath 
Defeat or Victory - depending upon the point of view
Interestingly when I went down the croft I could find nothing at all so assumed that it had either been consumed or removed by the Gull.   However the Gull was back later and this time two Crows were attacking it.    They then moved out of my field of vision so I may never know what the battle was about.

Post script.  As I was writing this there was a heavy banging on, I thought, the front door.  When I got up (I was at the breakfast bar in the kitchen) I realised the banging was from the conservatory.  Going through to see who was so impatient I discovered a Hooded Crow banging away at the triple skinned polycarbonate roof with his beak.  

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Anstruther - Why Would You?

A few days ago I posted about a trip that David and I made to some of the little towns on the Fife Coast.  I purposely omitted to mention the last and most northerly of the towns: Anstruther.  Several people have commented, however, how much they loved Anstruther.  Unfortunately neither David (who lives on that stretch of the coast) nor I found anything in Anstruther to take us back (apart from the possibility for me of a visit to the Fishing Museum).  

Why?  Firstly the town frontage is just one long eatery and drinkery.  So if that's what you want then the choice is large - boasting at least three of the 'best chippie in the world' type signs.  However there is an air of neglect:

The ice cream may have been mad but the shop window was an estate agent.
A missing sign and a tatty frontage was typical
Go behind the front and we both felt that the air of neglect was even greater.

The harbour is now mostly a leisure craft harbour:

The northerly end of the harbour and town frontage.
So I'm very sorry Anstruther but I think that in the attractiveness race you are living on past glory.  However you have lots of car and coach visitors during the summer at least which takes the pressure off the more attractive towns.

Monday, 1 July 2013

A Present of a Microscope

Cj, Jo and Richard gave me an electronic microscope for my birthday.  It is a Veho Discovery VMS-004 USB microscope to be precise.  I loaded the software and checked that it worked (all absolutely simple and straightforward) just after my birthday but what with being away and so on it's only tonight that I've at long last decided that I would have a proper play with it.

To say that I'm delighted with it would be a gross understatement.

Here are the first images that I took just to see what it is capable of achieving.

The screen cover on my iPhone
The 'white' screen on my iPhone
The surface of the microchip on my bank card
A corner of one of the numbers on my bank carte
The tip of the nib of a fountain pen
A floret (or whatever it is called) from the flower of an Alchemilla (Ladies Mantle)
The carpel or stamen
The other bit!
I can see a whole new world opening up for me. Thanks CJ, Jo and Richard!