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


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


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.