1 EAGLETON NOTES: April 2018



Wednesday, 18 April 2018

A Walk In The Woods

Well it's a start. Since my hospitalisation last September I've been unable for much of the time to go for 'proper' walks i.e. ones that get the muscles going and the heart pumping.  I've not even been to the gym very much. Since my visit to Ayr Hospital last week things have improved immeasurably and today I decided that I would don my trusty walking shoes and go for a short but purposeful walk in the Stornoway Castle Grounds. 

It was just  a mile and a half with a few short gradients to tackle. Along the shore road the wind was very strong and that always makes catching one's breath difficult. In the woods, however, it was very pleasant indeed.

Since the 1987 hurricane which brought down a great many of the very elderly trees the woods have undergone a huge transformation with hundreds of trees felled and hundreds planted. The main difference for those of us acquainted with the woods for over 4 decades is the removal of almost all the rhododendrons which had grown wild and covered every available free bit of ground. This has allowed much more light into the woods allowing new trees to flourish.

Wild daffodils on the shore roadside
Great paths for prams

Now that's the sort of helpful notice I like
Cuddy Point and Stornoway Harbour
There's still a few wildish bits

Sunday, 15 April 2018

It's Spring Again

I was in Glasgow, Ayr and Callander this week. I didn't see the sun at all. However the Isle of Lewis basked in the sun whilst I was away.  I arrived back late last night and spent a good bit of today settling back in. I also spent some time in the garden. I had made sure that the lawnmower was emptied of petrol and cleaned when it retired for the winter so today I decided to see if it would come back to life. It did, so I cut the grass. I also adjusted the water in the pond and cleaned out lots of pondweed which had suddenly been activated by the sunny weather. It must, therefore, be Spring. 

Just a few of the hundreds of daffodils in the garden
The first batch of tadpoles have left their spawn embryos and are now a writhing mass.

What really struck me today, though, was the fact that it was still light at 9pm. In two months on a night like tonight (ie cloudless) there will be no night-time.  How fast the seasons come and go.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Travels and a Mathmatical Limerick

On Monday I left the sun and sand of the Isle of Lewis for the rather less sunny and sandy streets of Bishopbriggs via a night with friends in the Highlands. First thing this morning I drove the 60 miles to Ayr Hospital for what I hope was the last hospital visit until I have the stent in my kidney renewed in three months. I arrived back late this afternoon feeling pretty darn good. The staff in the Bruce Day Surgery at Ayr Hospital are absolutely first rate at making their patients feel good as well as looking after their physical ailments. I shall be catching up with friends over the next few days and hopefully managing some photos and perhaps a blog post or two of some places which don't usually figure in my posts.

Recently, whilst renewing my acquaintance with Zeller's Formula (which I tried learning many years ago with the object of trying to impress people with the trick of telling people what day any date fell on), I was reminded of mathematical limericks.

In particular this one:

12 + 144 + 20 + (3 x √4)  + 5 x 11 = 92 + 0

Sunday, 8 April 2018

A Sunday Smile

Well, actually, I suppose it's a smile for any day that you happen to read this. Well I hope they make you smile. They certainly happified me. 'They' being these envelopes (and their contents) from my brother, CJ. I would love to have had some of his artistic talent.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Spoons, Vegetables and a Question

I was recently interviewed for the Scottish Health Survey. It's an interview that lasts for an estimated hour. It took two hours in my case - and you may understand why when you've read this post.

Image result for tablespoonFor one of the questions I was shown a true to size picture of a tablespoon. Some of my readers will not be familiar with a tablespoon. For all practical purposes a tablespoon looks like this but, of course, this gives you no idea of the size. Measuring mine the bowl of the spoon is 8cm x 5cm. In strict measuring terms it is equal to 15ml.

Armed with that information I know that you can all now envisage exactly what a tablespoon of, say, flour or rice looks like. Or perhaps not!

One of the questions in the Survey was "Measured in tablespoons how many spoons of vegetables do you ear per day?"

Eh? I responded that a lot of my vegetables were eaten in the form of home-made vegetable soup.  Soup, however, is classed as a  drink and does not count. I mentioned that the people who set the question had obviously never seen my soup. As for the rest of the vegetables I eat daily I could not even make a guess at how many tablespoons are involved. What, for example, does a tablespoon of cauliflower or asparagus (of which I eat a lot) look like?

A rather conservative (and, in my view, totally meaningless) guess was made.

That is the one question that has stuck in my mind but there were quite a few other which elicited much discussion.

How many spoons of vegetables do you eat each day?

Monday, 2 April 2018

Easter Sunday, Materialism and Transience

I'm going out to friends for dinner. I'm being collected and brought home so that I can have a glass of wine. I've drunk almost no wine since the first of my current series of hospitalisations in September last year. It's been the longest period for many many years that I've gone for 7 months and been so abstemious. I used to do my best to keep to the 21 units a  week which was the recommended guideline for men. Since I was told at my last well-man MOT that the limit for men over 65 is now 14, I have hardly reached 14 units in a month never mind a week. The fact that it was just before my first hospitalisation in September is, I'm sure, a coincidence.

Anyway by 5pm I decided that all the chores that I am doing today were finished. I sat down in the lounge with the sun shining in and a book on my knee. When did I last do that? I can't remember.

The new, wonderfully fresh, recording of Brahms' Symphonies with Robin Ticciati conducting the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (which I go to see in Glasgow as often as possible) is playing on my Italian 'Opera' speakers and has stopped me concentrating on the book.

I have been looking around the room. In this room and through the open doors of two other rooms. I can see the paintings hanging on the walls and the various other works of art sitting on shelves. I can see an entire wall taken up with books (many of which are available on my Kindle if I wished to save space). There is a 'bookcase' filled with over a thousand CDs (now largely obsolete because of streamed music).

They are simply material possessions. Transient. But in a way they define a part of who I am.

All of a sudden I burst into tears.*  All this might not have been. All this will not always be. 

If I were YP I'd write a poem. Unfortunately I think the last poem I wrote was over 40 years ago.

So prose will have to suffice.

* That's one of the potential side effects of prostate cancer treatments.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Ullapool: The Starting Point

The first time I saw this sight was 1975. MV Suilven had been commissioned and the new route between Ullapool and Stornoway had been opened. In some ways Ullapool has altered little since then but on the other hand the new ferry terminal and pedestrian access to the ferry completely block the view of the town's central junction and much of  Quay Street and the Shore Street seafront from the aft passenger deck. I shall try and find some of my original photos of the seafront before the new piers and terminal were built.

West Shore Street
The recent passenger gangway.
Loaded and ready for sea
A view of the passenger facilities on the quay
The new harbour and pier development.
Looking back from the ferry along West Shore Street