1 EAGLETON NOTES: 2018

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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Paying Taxes

I usually avoid any sort of confrontational post and this is not meant to be either confrontational nor controversial. However  I have always had an aversion to injustice. So when the Archbishop of Canterbury criticised the big companies (singling out Amazon) for not paying tax and called for the abolition of zero hours contracts for workers, I agreed with him and thought nothing further of it.

Then a lot of criticism arose because the church invests some of its £8 billion of investments in Amazon. According to The Financial Times, the Church of England fund has become the top world performer  with a return on assets of 17.1% boosted by investment in global equities and private equity. The Church also uses zero hours contracts.

Then whist considering the criticisms and trying to justify to a friend what the Archbishop had said it suddenly occurred to me that the Church doesn't pay tax either. It is exempt. 

Amazon acts within the law (whether one likes the law or not) as does the Church (whether one likes the law or not). 

Perhaps when the Government finds a way of making companies like Amazon pay tax it should also remove the exemption for the Church.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Just Saying...

I went into town today. The Christmas cards are out. I'm told that the mainland Garden Centres have all their Christmas stock out. 

I've made two of my Christmas cakes. Only four to go. 

Looking on the bright side there's only 96 days and it will be the shortest day and the days will start getting longer again. I realise that that doesn't work for my readers in the Southern Hemisphere. Sorry about that. 

All this is strange in that my 'summer holidays' won't happen for another three weeks when I 'go South' to see my brother and sister-in-law.

 


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

You Should see The Other Bloke

A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with a carcinoma on my nose and a melanoma or two on my forehead.  This morning the consultant surgeon who removed the squamous carcinoma on my neck four years ago removed the nose lump and grafted skin from my neck to repair the hole.  The amount of damage on my forehead was such that she removed various bits so that they could be sent to the pathologist for analysis. 

I have to say that the whole operation was quite amazing. I had read some while ago that the anaesthetising of the nose was a deeply unpleasant experience so, whilst I wasn't concerned about the operations themselves, I was dreading the anaesthetic. As it was there was less discomfort from that than from the average taking of blood from one's arm and, as you will know, that is a pretty okay event.  So all in all there was no pain or discomfort and I haven't even had to take a paracetamol since the anaesthetic wore off. 

The nursing care was a mixture of efficient professionalism, comforting reassurance and light-hearted banter helped by the fact that one of the nurses had looked after me when I had my first bout of sepsis. 

My plans to go South and stay with my brother and sister-in-law have been thrown into the dustbin because my stitches will not come out for two weeks by which time it will almost be time for my Cancer Trial Review in Glasgow.  So I have re-scheduled the visit to October when, hopefully, there will be no obstacles to a relaxing time away.

Anyway the Good News is that I've been told not to undertake any strenuous work for the next week or two. Seems a bit unnecessary to me but I'm not going to argue. Hopefully I will be spending more time sorting my photos and catching up in Blogland.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Twelve Months On

I cannot believe that it was twelve months ago today that I received the phone call from a surgeon at  Ayr Hospital telling me that I had a kidney stone blocking the exit to my right kidney and that he wanted me to return to hospital immediately (fortunately I was in Glasgow an hour's drive away) and have the stone removed.

Since then I've had 10 hospital admissions related to problems caused by the kidney stone (including four admissions related to sepsis). Of course it's not as simple as that because most of the problems have arisen because of damage caused by radiotherapy in 2009.

Add to that all the hospital visits relating to the cancer treatment and the Drugs Trial I'm on and I must have spent a decent part of the last year at medical appointments of one sort or another.

Anyway my hospital visits, per se, is not really the point of this post because, despite all the hospital etc visits, I feel as fit and healthy as any person my age and am able to live a very full and active life. For this I never cease to be thankful.

At a time of criticism of the NHS I just want, for the umpteenth time, to sing its praises and, of course, praise the wonderful people who work in it.

My pal Anna was up from Bishopbriggs for a few days and we had (as always) a very enjoyable time. As it happens the weather on two out of the three days were also glorious so we went for a walk in the Castle Grounds. It was Saturday morning and all the mountain bikers, walkers and even some less usual modes of transport were out and about. We had a gentle 3 mile walk and it was glorious.






At home the garden is well past its summer best but there is still quite a bit of colour in the Crocosmia, Mombretia (the original or naturalised Crocosmia) Japanese Anenomes, Livingstone Daisies and the Lavatera.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Peaty Odds And Ends

Arising from the Peat Posts, Monica asked whether I had any pictures of the peats being burned. The answer lies in this photo of a fire in an original Black House at Arnol.


Another point that I was reminded about was the fact that before the peats were brought home by tractor and lorry the women often brought them home on their backs in creels. So that the time wasn't wasted (and as an early example of women multi-tasking) they also knitted whilst they were walking.



Coll Pottery (about which I have many times promised to blog) also produced models of the Peat Ladies as they were called. This is a photo I took many moons ago.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Saturday Something

Walking along the main road in Callander recently, one of the group suddenly asked if we could spot what was wrong with this sign. I have to admit that I didn't get it instantly.


Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Peats - Part 3

Of course the work didn't end there. The pile of peats had to be stacked. This was an art in itself but art with a purpose. The peats on the outside were placed in such a way that the rain was directed away from the centre of the stack.  These stacks are at the Arnol Blackhouse which is looked after by Historic Scotland.

Peat stacks at the Arnol Blackhouse on Lewis

Overall, working at the peats could be a wonderful or hellish experience depending on the day and the circumstances. I can recall being out on the moor on a perfect late spring or early summer midge-free evening listening to the merlin, curlews and other birds and the gentle wind with not another sound to be heard. I can remember picnics and comradeship and fun which lessened the hard work. On the other hand, in the days before midge nets, I remember bringing the peats home when every peat that was lifted brought with it a cloud of wretched little creatures which filled the ears, nose and eyes. 

And then there was the lost wellington boot. Some of 'the family of incomers' were out cutting at Marcel's peat banks out on the Pentland Road (where the Stornoway grazings were).  Suddenly Marcel started to sink into the peat. By the time the rest of us had stopped laughing Marcel was up to his thighs in the muddy peat and we realised that this was a situation that needed some attention and thought. Eventually an extremely annoyed Marcel was extricated from the mire minus a wellington boot. That was the end of the evening's work. I always imagine that at some time in the distant future the single boot will be discovered amid bemused speculation.

Today there are few banks being cut: few people have the time or the inclination and the ease and warmth of other forms of heating is very attractive. I notice that there are a few banks being cut but it seems to be on a very small scale and so far I've only see one or, at most two, people involved on any bank. Culturally I suppose it is a sadness as that part of society's life has gone. Environmentalists, though, will be happy: peat is hardly a green fuel environmentally.

The End.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

The Peats - Part 2

Harvesting the peats comprises a number of processes: turfing; cutting and throwing; turning; lifting and stacking into stooks or cruachan
(at least twice); and, finally, getting the peats off the bank and into a lorry/trailer and taking them home.

Turfing is a solitary, backbreaking job which requires strength and a very sharp spade to cut through the heather and turf to lift the top off the peat to expose it for cutting. The turf removed is placed into the (usually sodden) area left from the last cut. This provides a footing for the thrower in the next stage.

Cutting and throwing requires two people and a peat iron (to a Leòdhasach, a tairsgeir (pronounced tarashker) or to a Hearadh a iarann mònach);  a cutter; and a thrower (surprisingly). The cutter slices through the peat to a depth of about a foot and a width of about a hand. The peat will then drop into the hands of the thrower who throws it onto the turf either below or above the bank. A single set of cuts will usually be about 5 peats wide by the number of peats deep which for us varied from two to four. So room had to be found on the ground adjacent to the peat bank for a minimum of 10 peats at every cut. Throwing the peats onto the bank so as to minimise the space between each peat and minimise the effort (it was a very physical job because a wet peat is heavy) requires considerable skill, stamina and practice.

  
Our peat banks out on the Coll Common Grazings (with thanks to Adrian for improving the image quality)

Turning. When the peats have been cut for long enough to dry on the top (which, of course, depends on the weather) they are turned over to allow them to dry on the other side.

Add caption
Lifting and stacking into cruachan. This was, even in the '70s, considered 'women's work'. I recall being looked at askance (even by the females present) when I said in the office one morning that I'd been lifting the peats the previous evening. It was as if my very manhood was being challenged. The photo shows my tairsgeir which I keep for purely sentimental reasons. In the photo of our peat bank above, Carol is lifting and stacking the peats into cruachan. When in a cruachan the peats hopefully dry thoroughly ready for taking home.

Getting the peats off the banks was a 'family' effort. There was one drawback making it one of the hardest parts of the process for us: the bank was traversed by two drainage ditches. The peats had to be barrowed down to each ditch, dumped and thrown over to the next section until they ended up at the end of the bank which was elevated above the river. With hindsight I would have thought we would have put planks over the ditches but, presumably, there was a reason why we didn't. The 10 ton lorry reversed up to the bank and the peats were thrown into it. Once home the peats were unceremoniously dumped and we all retired for a beer or two.

To be continued....

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

The Peats - Part 1

When I came to the Outer Hebrides in the '70s two of the common forms of heating were an open fire and a Rayburn Stove (definitely not an Aga). Ours was like the one shown and the same (hideous) colour. But then colour is a matter of taste and whilst I love blue I don't like that blue.

We had replaced the open fire in the living room with a solid fuel burning stove. The Aga and the stove were both fed on a diet of peat with some coal when more heat was necessary or the peat ran out.

Peat was an integral and essential part of Island life in those days. Every household had it's own peat banks out on the moor in the Township's Common Grazings. 

There was a ritual to cutting 'the peats' (as individual peats were called) which involved the whole family and, to an extent, the community. Being incomers we didn't have any family on the Island. However we came at a time when the local Council (with which I had come to work) was new and so there were a lot of incomers came to work at the same time as I did. We all formed our own 'family' for friendship, babysitting and peat-cutting etc. Many of the friends I made all those decades ago are still close friends today.

We were fortunate to have excellent banks with a mixture of dark (higher carbon) and light (more fibrous) brown peat. The banks were in a straight line probably 75 or more metres long which would easily provide enough peats for the house for a year.

Our peat banks out on the Coll Common Grazings
 To be continued.......

Friday, 17 August 2018

Er, Pardon?

I'm not sure how many posts I've started over the last however many days since the last post. I never managed to finish any of them. However I'm now back home from my 'three days away'. And therein lies the tale and (with apologies to John Steinbeck) the fact that the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley.

I've learned one thing, though: never travel light. I always take the kitchen sink: two if available. Twelve days ago on the Monday when I left on the ferry I knew that I would be back after my pre-op check on the Tuesday and a service for the Volvo. Apart from anything else my accommodation was only available for a few nights. So I travelled very light (by my standards).

At the pre-op the nurse practitioner said that the consultant surgeon wanted to see me.  He did and we had a chat. He then casually said "Right. I'll see you on Monday." Er, pardon? 

Apparently when the pre-op had been moved because of my visitors the operation had not but the letter hadn't arrived before I left home. 

The ferry was fully booked and I couldn't get back to Glasgow if I returned home. So I had to find alternative accommodation and get additional 'supplies'. Fortunately I do keep some necessities and clothes at my friend, Anna's.

So on Sunday night I found myself, once more, in Ayr Hospital and on Monday I had my kidney stent renewed and some radio therapy damage tidied up again. I was out on Tuesday and home on Wednesday night. Yesterday I was shattered despite a good night's sleep but by this morning after 8½ hours without moving a muscle I was alive again.

I've no plans to be away from the Island again until September so, hopefully, I'll be back in Blogland and catching up with what has been happening in my absence.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Reliance

I have been frustrated this week by a fault on my phone line causing an absence of the telephone. This is not a problem for me because I can use my cellphone but it does mean that anyone trying to contact me cannot do so if they don't have my cellphone number. It also means, of course, that my internet connection is affected. Most of the time for the last 4 or 5 days I've had little or no internet. So I haven't been reading many blogs.

It has made me realise that I am very reliant indeed on my internet connection. I use it for my laptop and phone and iPad which is fairly obvious. Without those I can't communicate with my son (in Italy) or my friends in New Zealand or anywhere else for that matter. However my radio, television and music also rely in one way or another and to a greater or lesser extent on the internet as does my printer and Alexa and Siri (whom I use for reminders and timers amongst other things).

There is no 3G or 4G here either so I can't use my phone for the internet.

BT have been brilliant and have kept me informed and could actually have had an engineer here on Friday (and the fault mended yesterday) but I was out all day on Friday so he came yesterday (Saturday) afternoon. He identified exactly where the problem is (293 metres from my house) but didn't carry the necessary equipment to enable him to dig up the cable. Today is Sunday and tomorrow is Bank Holiday but they are hoping it will be mended tomorrow.

I'll be away on the early morning ferry though.

It's been an interesting week and I'll post about it soon.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

A Short Walk

A couple of weeks ago I went for a walk to Pat and Dave's across the valley. I decided to go via the beach below the house and back via the road.

           There                                                                                                          and back again
The track from my house to the beach.

Looking across to Upper Bayble
One of a myriad of wild flowers - a particularly beautiful marsh orchid (I think)
The 'small' hidden beach below my house. The sand has largely temporarily disappeared. It always comes back.
Bayble Pier
The road to (and from) the pier.
An example of a modern humble croft house.
On the way home. A steep climb up from the junction with the road to the beach and pier.
Looking back from the top of the hill towards Upper Bayble.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Gone

I have just watched The Family's international flight land in Auckland. It's quite strange to me who, as a youngster, had schoolfriends who had fathers at sea. They could be away for many months at a time and any letters with their whereabouts or intended destinations or return home might take months to arrive. 

Now it is possible to follow their every move and even speak to them or hold a video call almost anywhere in the world. 

Interestingly the flight went over the Cocos or Keeling Islands of which I had never heard. 

As I write this it is 54 hours since they left. To me it seems like they left yesterday and then I realise just how much I've done since they left including having two nights of sleep.

They have spent an overnight in Edinburgh and caught up with family and spent the rest of the time in airports and on planes travelling to just about as far away from here as a commercial airline can take them.

So much happened when they were here and yet the week went so quickly. The Heb Celt Festival was on and they went every night. It is many years since I had been and it has come a long way from being a local event to being almost international. There were certainly visitors from all over the place who had come principally for the Festival. It was a sell-out with a capacity of 5,000. It still manages to feel homely though and I enjoyed the events I attended which included Blazing Fiddles.


Whilst they also went visiting (Wendy and Martin lived here years ago) they also showed Catriona some of the history. It was 2010 when Wendy, Fraser and Catriona last came and, now that she is older, Catriona has a much keener interest in the history of the places she's been.

On Sunday we all went to Garry Sands and, despite less than perfect weather, we had a lovely time just chilling out and walking where we had walked so many times before. As usual we were waiting for Martin who was having a last long look at the beach.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Mo

One of the wonderful things that comes with age can be the longevity of friendships.

During a life one has friendships that can last a lifetime or be brief but deep during the brevity. Sometimes siblings can be friends as well as relations.  Friendships come in all shapes and sizes.

My longest friendship dates from when we were four years old. My second longest would be with my brother who was born when I was 5 but, obviously, the friendship would have come later than that. My third longest started when I was 16 and Mo was 17. This is about that friendship.

How do you condense nearly 60 years of friendship into a few paragraphs?

Our extensive correspondence goes back only half a century to Mo’s first letter of January 8th, 1968 but our friendship goes back to 1961 when we joined Liverpool Corporation’s Town Clerk’s Department as Junior Clerks.

We formed an immediate alliance and became inseparable work-friends.

We went to University together to read Public Administration. We had day release from the Corporation. Whilst other students went off carousing and doing what students do we went back to work. I had acquired ‘The Hypogryph’ (a Vespa scooter) and we went up to Uni on it and travelled between lectures on it. I think it was the first time I’d ever had a girl put her hands around me and hug me so tightly (even if it was simply to stop her falling off!).

Mo would have become the first senior female officer in the Department - of that there is no doubt.

However The Fates decided otherwise and she gave up a very promising career for love and Canada (and left the promotion door wide open for me).

We were never boyfriend/girlfriend (as relationships were referred to then) but even so it came as a jolt when she married in 1965.

However our friendship survived and, in a strange way, when I married 5 years later, our friendship grew stronger despite the fact that we were living on different continents.

Mo had two passions: her daughters and travel.

Over the last 30 years years Mo and I have shared some of Mo’s passion for travel. Mo was the perfect travelling companion. She showed me a lot of Ontario including Tobermory (we never did get to Scotland’s Tobermory) with skirmishes into the US. We toured in Europe and the UK.

For a decade until recently I lived half the year in New Zealand and Mo and her elder daughter, Fiona, who lives in Australia visited me on several occasions and I visited them in Australia.

However, I think that the two most outstanding recent family occasions in my memory were her 60th and 70th birthdays. The former was at the Little Inn in Bayfield in Ontario and Mo had no idea that Fiona and I would be there. 

Mo’s 70th celebration was a small and absolutely wonderful occasion. Mo rented a villa in Tuscany. Mo, Diane and I set off in The Nighthawk from Diane’s in England and drove through France, Switzerland and Northern Italy until we arrived in what was to be a couple of weeks in heaven with Fiona, Heather and Jefferey (Mo's younger daughter and her husband).  I blogged about the trip starting in August 2012 here.

Mo’s last visit to me was last December. The last trip we made together was to Harris. I think that we had arrived at a time in our lives and relationship when two people are completely comfortable with each other.

Just over 5 weeks ago Mo had a massive stroke leaving her with her cognitive functions but little ability to move any part of her body. Thanks to modern technology and her daughters I was able to talk to her several times by video link before she died peacefully. One of my greatest sadnesses is that, for medical reasons, I couldn't be there in person.

The celebration of her life was held today. I added my thanks for her life.

Mo, you have provided me with a lifetime of friendship and memories.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Wherever you are, be happy.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Oh Happy Day!

No. This is not a post about a hymn. 

Yesterday my New Zealand Family arrived for a visit. Okay not all of them Eldest and Girlfriend came a couple of weeks ago. Now its Wendy and Martin and Catriona (with whom those of you who followed A Hebridean in New Zealand will be well acquainted). So that just leaves the two intermediate children yet to visit but that won't be anytime soon.

The weather is not looking particularly promising but Wendy and Martin lived here so they know what to expect. You don't come to Lewis for hot, sunny weather. You do, however, get peace and quiet (unless the wind is above Force 10).

Their plane was last yesterday evening so by the time we'd finished dinner and a sat and consumed a reasonable amount of cheese (I'm not even mentioning the gin and tonic, Rioja and cognac) it was well after 1am. It was as if the intervening months since we last met face to face just hadn't existed. 

On Thursday Gaz, Carol and Grandson, Brodie return. They have been sorely missed. Is it really only three weeks they have been away. Don't Grandchildren grow up quickly?

So I am here and manageing to read blogs. I even wrote a whole post on the subject of The Peats and then Blogger threw a fit and the post, which had been saved and worked on for several weeks just disappeared from my Dashboard. Well, to be exact, the content of the post. The actual heading and one photo remained. Sometimes I do wonder what happens behind the blogscenes.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Duvet Decisions

When I was a child we had sheets and blankets on our beds. The top cover was either a rug or an eiderdown which was easily discarded in hot weather. What is an eiderdown? It's a quilt originally filled with down from of the eider duck and used on top of the blankets.

In 1964, just 6 years before I married, Conran introduced duvets (otherwise known as 'downies' or 'continental quilts' in the UK , 'comforters' in the US and 'doonas' in Australia). We bought our first duvet in Edinburgh before we married. I have never slept under anything other than a duvet since.

The only slight disadvantage to duvets over blankets is that one has to keep a variety of different warmths (ie tog ratings) for different weather. I'm fortunate to live in a well-insulated and generally warm house but I like a cool bedroom.  I use a 13.5 tog duvet in the winter and a 4.5 in the warmest weather (ie at the moment). 

Okay, so this is looking like a really boring post. Indeed it is a really boring post. The excitement comes when guests are arriving. Which duvet should I put on their bed? I can choose from togs 4.5, 7.5, 10 or 13.5.  Now there's a First World decision for me.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Calm Sea


The Minch at its calmest.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Crossed Legs

I was brought up in a family where good manners and consideration for others were paramount. I never, well hardly ever, put my elbows on the table, I never started eating before everyone was served at table, and so on. I always raised my school cap, and later my hat, to ladies (I usually still do to some extent). On a pavement/sidewalk I walked on the outside of a lady. I certainly never ate my peas off the front of the fork (ie with the tines upwards like a spoon) - not even when no one was looking.

I was encouraged not to cross my legs because it was bad for blood flow.

It was my duty to help infirm people across the road or run errands for elderly neighbours and offer one's seat on the tram or bus to a lady or an elderly person.

In other words I had a 'good upbringing' from that point of view. And, just for the record, in most other ways too I'm fortunate to be able to say.

Early in my working life I did a lot of protocol work so had to be aware of a lot of diplomatic and royal protocol. In those days it seemed really to matter.

At my maternal grandfather's dinner table as a child I never spoke until I was spoken to. In my Mum and Dad's house, however, we were encouraged at mealtimes to say what we had to say. Protocol/ manners were changing and I think that at the tender age of about six I realised that that things were changing and that things would always be changing.

It was when I first went to France that I realised how quaint people thought the way Brits ate their peas was. Now, except where I'm on my best behaviour I eat my peas using the American way and turn my fork over. Sorry. Standards are slipping.

What prompted this post was seeing a headline a few days ago which said that The Duchess of  Sussex had 'disrespected the Queen' by crossing her legs in the Queen's company I realised just how much these things no longer matter to me and, I suspect, to most of the rest of the world. And just how bad some news reporting is. I think my Mum and Dad would agree with me.

By the way there was no disrespect at all by the Duchess. The reason legs are not crossed by Royalty is simply so that photographers don't get photos of their underwear.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Why?

I had often wondered why odd trees are left standing when a forest is harvested. It's only recently that I discovered the answer.



Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Almost Foiled

I've been in Glasgow for two days of scans and, today, my Drugs Trial review. All that was very successful and routine. I'm on the Trial for another 16 weeks until the next review.

However after my MRI scan at Ross Hall Hospital on Monday I decided to have a bite to eat. All that was left was some excellent soup and a sandwich. I can't even remember what the sandwich was because all my time and mental effort was taken up trying to get into the sandwich wrapper.

Am I the only person who finds some of these things absolutely frustrating?




Thursday, 14 June 2018

Midges and Storms

After many weeks of no rain and pretty good weather the inevitable June scourge arrived: the Dreaded Midge.  Today, however, there will be no midges. Storm force winds blew last night and midges definitely don't like that.

It reminded me that many years ago I blogged about the Scottish midge and I decided that it was about time I did it again.

The midge bible is Midges in Scotland by George Hendry.  A must read for anyone coming to or living in the Highlands if only for the humour of which this cartoon is a taster (used on the basis that the copyright holder won't mind given that I'm giving this plug and using it as a 'quotation' for the purpose of honest comment).  The work is otherwise an exceptionally readable treatise on how and why the midge plays such a dominant role in the ecology and human life of the Highlands.

When I first came to live on Lewis in the mid '70s I was told that more people left the Islands because of the midge than because of unemployment, that every midge represented a sin of mankind, and that for every midge killed a hundred came to seek vengeance. I didn't believe such superstitious nonsense.  But do you know what?  There are days when I could believe that it wasn't superstitious nonsense after all.

These days however when the midges get bad even the hardy road workers wear midge protection clothing such as the Midge Head Net or Midge Jacket which were probably inspired by this Punch cartoon from 160 years ago.

Writing this post reminded me that some of my readers have been with me for a long time and I'm sure at least two will remember the first post.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

On Being Called Edwards and Wearing Tartan

Heron recently made the following statement in his comment on one of his posts: " what clan tartan is it that is aligned with the surname of Edwards because I have always thought that name was Welsh".

As a youngster I always thought that too and aligned myself with all things Welsh from an early age.

We then had a discussion on his blog on the subject of the tartan which I wore for my kilt. 

This raised various matters which I though might be of interest to those who read my blog.

Firstly the name 'Edwards'. This surname, with variant forms Edwardes and Edwardson, is a patronymic form of the early medieval English male given name Edward, itself coming from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Eadward", composed of the elements "ead", prosperity or fortune, plus "w(e)ard", guard; hence, "prosperity guard".  However apparently it is supposed to have arisen separately in Wales.
  
Edwards is the 14th most common surname in Wales and 21st most common in England. 

Examples of Edwards Tartan
So why the tartan question? Well the Welsh as well as the Scots wear kilts and have tartans. The Edwards tartan is a dour and uninteresting cloth (in my opinion) and the idea of having a kilt in the Edwards tartan did not appeal to me at all. However for my son's wedding I could not go kiltless so had to take a decision.

Having lived the majority of my life in the Western Isles of Scotland the obvious choice was the Western Isles Modern tartan and that was what I wore. For the record my son wore the Macrae Dress tartan in the old Scottish tradition of marrying into the bride's family (Macrae).

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Grandson

Introducing Brodie aged five months:


Wednesday, 30 May 2018

I'm Sorry About The Storms

However just to cheer those of you languishing in inclement conditions it's 2100 hrs on Lewis and this is my view:


It's a shame about the haar out in The Minch but that will doubtless burn off in the morning.


Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Blogger's At It Again

Unfortunately the latest Blogger update (they have, amongst other things, removed Open ID and third part app support)  has left many people, including me, with blogs that no longer provide notifications by email.  So without going to my blog and checking each post or the comments in the dashboard I have no idea who is commenting or when a comment has been made.

What is even worse is that I can't see comments on some of your posts without having to visit old posts all the time to find out what comments have been made. For some people that doesn't matter because they don't read other people's comments but for me that is an important part of the blogging experience. At the moment the only blogs I am sure that I am getting comments from are YP's, Cro's Monica's and Amy's.

There are lots of comments on the Blogger forum about the problem which seems unsolvable by users (or is the correct word insoluble?) and Blogger has so far made no comment.  Hopefully normal service will be resumed eventually but until then if I miss your comments please forgive me.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Glasgow's Wall Art

Glasgow has a lot of wonderful wall art. This is the wall of my favourite concert venue: the City Halls. It is one of several a wonderful concert venues in Glasgow and Glasgow's oldest purpose built performance space which has been entertaining visitors since 1841. The traditional shoebox style auditorium is renowned throughout the world for having some of the finest acoustics and the elegant and spectacular Hall is also home to the Scottish Music Centre. This exciting music complex houses top class rehearsal, recording, broadcasting and webcasting facilities.






Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Brief Encounter


It seems like a month since I spent a weekend in Glasgow 7 days ago. Since then my son has been home from Jakarta, been to Italy, got a new job and I took him to the plane this morning for his trip back to Italy where he will be working on a new-build super-yacht for the next year.

I have visitors whom I met through blogging and whom I feel I've known for ever we are all so comfortable together.

On their first night staying with me I was carted away to hospital at 2am by a couple of paramedics in an emergency ambulance. It must be very strange getting up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet to be met by a paramedic in the hall. However they took it in their stride and coped for the next day and night until I was deemed fit to be returned to life on the outside of a hospital. The irony is that I actually felt very well despite the fact that a kidney had closed down and my blood pressure had gone through the metaphorical roof. 

Anyway I was released on Sunday morning in time to prepare dinner for five that evening.

So that's why I've been absent from Blogland for a few days.

Talking of my trip to Glasgow, Anna came part of the way home with me (the first 70 miles) to Dunkeld where we had breakfast and then she got the train back to Glasgow to go to a luncheon.

She caught the 1033 train from Dunkeld station.




Hopefully normal service is resumed again.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

A Wee Jaunt

I've just been away for the weekend in Glasgow. It was lovely to be able to drive down for the weekend without worrying about hospital visits. I stayed with my pal, Anna. We had planned quite a few things including the Glasgow Contemporary Arts Fair where friends were exhibiting. Sunday was an afternoon Rachmaninov Concert at City Halls which is a delightful concert venue. On Monday I drove home via Ullapool and Anna came as far as Dunkeld before getting the train back for a lunch in Glasgow.

I'm finding that the 500 mile rounds trip plus the ferry seems to get shorter every time I do it.

We had an early evening meal out at a favourite Italian restaurant near the City Halls. When we arrived home we decided to go for a walk along the Forth and Clyde canal near Anna's home.



Through the Highlands there were quite a few hold-ups for road repairs after the severe winter. As I was sitting in the car on the moors perhaps 20 miles before Ullapool on the way home I couldn't help thinking that if I had to sit in a traffic hold-up this was as good a place as any to do it.