Monday 30 June 2014

The Journey Home

The journey home from Glasgow was a much more leisurely affair last week.  I drove up the West Coast of Scotland to Balmacara Square just before the bridge to Skye and met David and Molly who had driven up from the Borders.  Actually Molly didn't do any of the driving: she left it all to David.

 Coming up to Rannoch Moor I was astonished to see that there was still snow on the North faces.

Close up

 Looking across Rannoch Moor: as bleak and remote and beautiful as anywhere in Scotland

 and again

Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge

The Bridge approach road from the car's onboard camera

Nestled in the bosom of the hills 

The grandeur of the mountains of Skye 

 The Cuillins from Sligachan

Uig on Skye: the Harris ferry approaching the jetty

Arriving at Tarbert on Harris

Friday 27 June 2014

Soon Be Home, DV NP.

You may not have noticed (though some of you have - thank you for your enquiries) I've been away.   I went down to Ayrshire (south and west of Glasgow for the non-Scots amongst my readers) for a cancer consultation and, whilst I was at it, I spent a few days visiting friends.  Everything was very positive.  Now I'm on my way home again sitting in bed on a beautiful sunny morning before breakfast which is served at 8am where I am staying.  Hopefully I'll be returning to Blogland tonight or tomorrow.  However David (of David and Molly the Dog) is returning to stay as well and there are more projects planned.  David likes projects.  Actually David just likes work and being busy so long as it's outdoors.  It could be a very busy ten days. 

The reason I have time to type this is that I have just had a long and solid sleep and woke at several hours later than I usually do.  Or so I thought.  In fact instead of my usual summer getting up time of around 6.30 or earlier I thought I had woken at 7.50.  I was up and showered and dressed in a flash (we Edwardses could never stand the stigma of being late even for breakfast) and as I put my watch on I realised that it was 7am on the dot and not 8am.  So I had a whole hour 'free'.  

After breakfast there will be a leisurely morning through Skye until we have to be at the ferry at 1300.

Monday 16 June 2014

Yesterday: Change

Last Wednesday I suddenly decided to replace the wooden internal window ledge in my kitchen with a while plastic one.  I'd started the job about ten years ago but abandoned it temporarily when I realised I couldn't fit the new one on top of the old one because there wasn't quite enough clearance for the vertical blinds.  So what I though was a nice quick job that would be finished in time for morning coffee turned out to be a day's work finishing just before 5pm.

However by this time I was in change mode.  So ordered the new bed that I'd been thinking about for several years.  Then I decided that although the bedroom had been recently decorated (in 2002 - I'm not a great one for change for change's sake) it could possibly do with a new coat of paint before the new bed came.  So I emptied it and prepared everything for the painting to start yesterday.  I was just intending to do the ceiling.  I ended up doing the ceiling and the walls.  Job finished.  (It's all the preparation and masking that takes the real time).   By 5pm my back and paint-brush-holding hand were aching so preparing dinner for Pat and Dave was a welcome relief. 

We had a cracking evening and eventually stopped eating and talking around 11.30pm. All my tiredness and aches had gone with the food (possibly the wine helped too).  It was a beautiful evening and I had no lights on in the house so we hadn't realised how late it had got.  

So this is yesterday and this morning in pictures taken from the front of my house (unfortunately those at 3.40 am were taken through my windows because the midges were just too bad for me to be bothered going outside with so much flesh exposed).

Yesterday morning - 0750 - flat calm sea
Yesterday evening - 2327 - almost the longest day
This morning - 0344 - a beautiful morning in prospect
This morning - 0709 - the mist and rain's set in.  This is Scotland after all.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

It's The Way That You Ask

Jenny, author of the blog An English Travel Writer posted Signs of The Times yesterday.  As always it was an interesting post and, as always it had some unusual and interesting photos in addition to information: Jenny is, after all, a travel writer (amongst other things).  She also has a very keen eye for good photos.  However today what realy struck me was the wonderful psychology evident in this notice:

© Jenny Woolf whose permission I have cheekily assumed she would give if I asked.
Thank you Jenny.  I know you are busy
Evidence on the day seemed to suggest that it works!

It reminded me of an equally interesting notice that Pauline and I saw in Northland on our last visit:

Even Pauline turned back and that has to be a first!

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Somewhere Over There

is Adrian.  In the sun and beyond the showers coursing up the Minch.

Monday 9 June 2014


I've just posted several letters, two post cards and a three notecards to friends and family in New Zealand and several other countries including England.

It made me think, once again, about the way we communicate now and the comparison with when I was born 70 years ago.  Then the only generally used methods of communication were face to face, the postal service a telegram or a telephone call.

In England the Royal Mail was established in 1516 effectively providing a publicly available second form of communication after word of mouth.

Telegrams provided by the railway companies provided a third means of communication and were taken over by the Post Office in 1870 but were finally abandoned in 1982. However  I've just discovered that http://www.britishtelegram.com will deliver an urgent telegram within two hours for a fee of about £60.

My parents had a telephone which provided the fourth means of communication before I was born but it wasn't the norm in those days.  Liverpool had, however, played quite an important part in the development of the telephone service in the UK when, in 1911, ATM based about 2 miles from where I was born became the first manufacturer of automatic telephone equipment in the UK.  In 1912 there were just over half a million phones in the UK and it was bought by the Post Office.  In my childhood it was still necessary to book calls abroad and until fairly recently phoning abroad was expensive.

Mobile or Cell Phones became available in the mid 1980s but it wasn't until the early 1990s with GSM in 1991 and then 2G that they came into general use in Britain.  I've had mine with the same number (with add-ons to the front as more numbers became necessary) since 1991.

More changes came in the mid 1990s when the Internet became generally available and with it came the World Wide Web. 

Since then the changes have been phenomenal.  I have been thinking over he last few days of the different ways I communicate daily with people all over the world and what form that communication takes.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive but these are the means of communication I use:
Via the postal service: letters, post cards, note cards and greetings cards
Via the 'landline' telephone service: telephone calls and text messages
Via the cellphone network: telephone calls and text messages
Via the Internet (which may be via the landline or cellphone networks): Skype (phone calls, video calls and text chats); Telegram App (instant messages and chats which may incorporate files, pictures and other data as one 'chats'); Facebook's Messanger App and Facebook's chat and WhatsApp (which are similar to the Telegram app);  post cards taken on my cellphone using ByPost or NZ Post's Send a Card; Instagram to share photos and doubtless other's I haven't remembered.
Finally (although it uses the Internet and WWW) there is blogging.

The world is truly a very small place indeed and most of the smallness came in the last twenty years.

With all that, though, what truly matters is not that we are able to communicate but what we say when we do.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Thankful Thursday

I have now been on this earth in this life for 70 years.  I was born two days before D-Day (the Normandy Landings on the 6 June 1944) and nearly a year before VE Day (the Allied victory in Europe on the 8 May 1945).

I don't remember much about that first year.  I do remember, though, growing up in a city which had been ravaged by war.  Being a major port (particularly for the West African and Trans-Atlanic trades) Liverpool suffered greatly.  Large tracts of the city were wasteland where once the great buildings of commerce had stood.  I should, however, be thankful.  I could have been born in Dresden.

I think I am correct in saying that those of us who were born around that time have lived in the only period of 70 years when we might not have been conscripted to fight for our country or for one part of these islands against another part since the Hundred Years War (which ended around 1453) or the Wars of The Roses (1455 to 1487 between the houses of Lancaster and York).  Actually some might argue that that war still goes on 450 years later. 

Jaz, who started me on Thankful Thursday and my journey of prosletising my belief in being thankful and playing the Glad Game once commented on this blog  "Feeling young is fabulous but growing old is a blessing!!!"  Well I'm still feeling young and I'm looking forward to being old.  In the meantime I shall be very very thankful that I have reached this far and am living a life that I could only at one time have dreamed of.

I wish you all happy hearts.


Not very long ago a doctor asked me what the scar on my back was from. The answer was a the removal of half of my right lung when I was 16. I had suffered for several years from bronchiectasis. It's a very debilitating disease allowed to get a hold, in my case, by cross country running and playing football all winter when I had bronchitis. I went to a school where a note from your parents did not excuse you from any school physical activities.

The doctor seemed quite perplexed and made a rather odd remark but I didn't think anything more about it.  Until, that is, a few months ago when I was watching Seven Sharp a TVNZ programme akin to the UK's One Show when it showed this footage of Esther-Jordan Muriwai: a name which, until that moment, had meant nothing to me.

Today I was about to write my Thankful Thursday post and mention my bronchiectasis.  I decided to see how Esther-Jordan was.  I was taken aback to discover that she died yesterday - my birthday.  The  anniversary of our son, Andy's death and of the father of one of my closest friends.   

The TVNZ news article reads:

Inspiring young woman Esther Jordan Muriwai - Source: Te Karere

Young Māori woman’s legacy lives on

For 14 years Esther Jordan Muriwai was in and out of hospital battling a respiratory disease called bronchiectasis. Last night her battle came to a heart-rending end, she was 24. Having founded the Bronchiectasis Foundation and the Northland Bronchiectasis Support Group, Esther dreamed to help the few in NZ who are suffering from the same illness that took her life.

Until that programme made me look more closely at the disease I had lived for over 50 years in blissful ignorance of how near I had come to being in a similar situation.  I had worked in the hospital but until I saw that programme I had only come across one other person with the disease and he was operated on on the same day as I was.  He died a few days later.

I, on the other hand, have never had the slightest sign of any respiratory problems since I was discharged from hospital with a clean bill of health all those years ago.

Since the original programme I have become aware, however, of the extent of the disease in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands' communities.  I have also developed an admiration for the positive attitude and hard work that Esther-Jordan has put into bronchiectasis awareness and support to sufferers and their families.

I shall continue with my Thankful Thursday post separately but I shall also be thankful for the life and work and positive attitude that Esther-Jordan has brought to this world.

Tuesday 3 June 2014


A few days ago I happened to write about the rescue services which serve us here in the Hebrides.  On Saturday I was suddenly shaken by a helicopter flying low directly over the house.  Any helicopter makes considerable air pressure waves and they are even more obvious if you are directly underneath.  So I grabbed the camera and went outside.  The chopper was flying across the valley and I  saw that it was flying towards a group of people which included ambulance personnel. 

The unfortunate casualty had been in an accident involving one of her horses (I assume that she'd been riding it).   The incident took 10 minutes from beginning to end (first to last photo).

Monday 2 June 2014

Goodbye Old Friend

Or the alternative title is "We've been together now for fifty years".

I'm having a clear out: a serious clear out.

In 1965 the UK had a Commonwealth Arts Festival hosted by the City of Liverpool.  I was seconded to assist in the running of it.  My principal job, as I recall it, was to deal with protocol arrangements for dignitaries and others attending the many events from civic functions to theatre and other shows.

I have many fond memories including several opportunities to see full length professionally performed ballets (the first time I'd had such an opportunity and the start of my love of that art form).  I was privileged to meet  Ravi Shankar and hear him play.  

I learned that the High Commissioners of the time for India and Pakistan were good personal friends despite their countries being at war and that the more important a person was in public life the less likely he or she was to care about pomp and ceremony and the importance of their own position.  In other words I learned that in matters of protocol the people at the top didn't care and the people at the bottom (me for example) didn't matter but that the people in the middle cared enormously for their 'rightful' position in the order of things.

During the whole of this wonderful experience the evening suit that I had had to acquire for the functions was my constant companion.  

The late sixties in the city were magical times in many ways.  The age of elegance was still with us and at the many dinner dances and formal occasions that seemed constantly to occur the ladies wore long dresses and the men wore evening suits.  The sixties were also contrasting times of great social diversity and experimentation in the city.  Through all this my evening suit and I were faithful friends and companions.  

Just to prove that the jacket still
buttons up!
When I moved to Scotland the less formal approach to life in the Western Isles meant that we rarely had the opportunity to be seen out together although we have fond memories of the 'posh frock dos' that friends used to organise during the winter.  Despite the fact that for a few years now I have had a new evening suit my original DJ and I remained companions.  Until today.

Today has seen a huge change in my life.  The reality is that we will never be seen out together again.  We are both showing our age and at any formal function now I am more likely to wear my kilt than I am to wear my new DJ.

So it was with great sadness that I decided to try DJ on for one last time before depositing him in a clothing bank along with many other items of my wardrobe.

The sadness was alleviated to some extent by the fact that I could still fit into the suit.  Surprised? Impressed?  I was - both.  The shirt was a bit too tight around the neck I have to admit.  And, just for the record, I would never normally have worn a pre-tied bow tie!  In fact I have no idea where this one came from.