1 EAGLETON NOTES: January 2020



Wednesday 29 January 2020

On Getting Wet

Pluviophile (should that be pluvia (L.) meaning rain?): A lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. Antonym: Ombrophobe.

So long as I am prepared for it I don't mind walking in the rain. When I was a youngster we spent our holidays in North Wales or in The Lake District. Our annual holiday were always in August (school holidays and Dad's holidays) which was the busiest month for those areas. However, August was also the wettest summer month in North Wales and The Lake District.

The family's big love was walking up hills and mountains. Bearing in mind that we had waterproofs which were well behind the modern day standards of breathable, overnight drying materials, we often started out with waterproofs not much drier than we had arrived home the previous evening. 

We decided that it was such an inevitability that there was no use moaning about it so we simply got on with it and decided whether we were going to be Lesser Wetted Hikers or Greater Wetted Hikers that day.

Even today I am very happy to go out for my walk however wet it is. But then I have superb waterproof gear and by the time I arrive at The Woodlands for my morning coffee after my morning walk and have hung up my waterproofs I'm as happy as Larry. A far cry from my Lake District days.

I'm not, however a pluviophile. Today started out dry. The afternoon was dry. I went to a funeral at midday. On Lewis the coffin is carried by the mourners in turn for as long as it takes for every mourner to have a 'lift'. (A good Lewis tradition worthy of a post perhaps). I was wearing a Crombie (heavy wool overcoat). I was wearing black leather town shoes. During the half hour that it took to carry the coffin the heavens opened. We got wet. There is nothing heavier nor more uncomfortable than a soaking Crombie and wet town shoes.

Saturday 25 January 2020

One Hundred Things? You're Kidding.

I think I was in hospital when I came across an article in a paper (in hospital and on ferry journeys are just about the only times I tend to read newspapers these days) which said that decluttering guru Mary Lambert says we only need 100 items and once we cull we will be happier, calmer and more successful. The journalist writing the article said that she had spent a strange weekend counting her possessions and had over 100,000 in her one-bedroom flat. Apparently the 'average' US home has over 300,000 possessions. 

There are, of course, 'rules' to this. Clothes count as possessions (well that my 100 used up easily) but all similar essential clothes like socks, handkerchiefs, underwear etc just count as one item for each type. Crockery doesn’t count, nor does food and drink (so my collection of wines and spirits is allowed, phew) or cleaning materials, tools or bed linen. 

Lambert cheerily quips that the lighter life is addictive and you might find yourself wanting to downsize in these areas too. Lambert acknowledges that whittling everything down to 100 items is no mean feat and suggests tackling it over a period of seven months. Seven months! Seven years perhaps. After all it's taken me 7 decades to acquire this much.

I have no intention of counting my possessions but having done a quick tally of things viewable just in my living room I can say that having 1200 CDs and coming up to 1000 books doesn't augur well for my total being under 100,000 in the whole house. I have several hundred thousand photographs. Do they count?

I'm sure that decluttering is a worthy objective and I suspect most of us have been or are aiming somewhere along those lines. 

In reality I wonder how many things we can live with. At my age one could try moving into one-bedroom sheltered accommodation to find out. 

Without that sort of incentive, though the real question is how many things we are willing to get rid of.

Tuesday 21 January 2020


Cro recently posted about mittens. 

It reminded me that I have a pair of woollen mittens of a curious design that my maternal grandmother knitted for me when I was a very young man.

Believe it or not they have had some serious wear in their early days when, for example, mending my bike in the winter and when I've needed my fingers in snowy situations. They still live in my glove drawer but, I confess, haven't been worn in 'anger' for a good few years.

Friday 17 January 2020

What Are You Doing These Days?

I was recently at the official opening of the Island's Grinneas nan Eilean art exhibition. Thirty years or more ago I used to enter work in it. Now I just go and enjoy the work of other people. 

Whilst I was chatting to the artists, the curious, worthies and fellow hangers-on someone asked me "What are you doing these days?" To which I responded "I'm retired." To which the response was that she knew that but what did I do with my time? She informed me that she would be retiring in a few weeks and would be continuing her work with this charity and that charity etc etc. By the time she had finished I was quite exhausted. She then, to rub salt into the wound I'm sure she didn't realise she had created, she pressed me to answer her question. 

Then someone came and rescued me.

Given that I'm usually up early and go to bed late and watch relatively little television or films and don't read anywhere near as much as I used to I have started to wonder what on earth I do do. The answer is a great deal of nothing. However I drive about 15,000 miles a year (meaning I'm not at home quite a lot), drink a lot of coffee with friends, have lots of visitors, cook, write a lot and my house is quite tidy and clean and I get out and walk in the woods as frequently as I can and I play bowls year round. I also have some pretty harmless hobbies and a family.

I suppose it says something about me that I don't do anything of any importance whatsoever any more. Please tell me I'm not alone.

PS It's winter and I forgot that my garden takes up a great deal of my time the rest of the year.

Monday 13 January 2020

Timing is Everything

The secret to great comedy is timing. The same can be said for  travelling when living on an Island.

I had planned to stay with friends in Callander until today and I was booked on the evening ferry from Ullapool. It became fairly clear on Saturday, though, that if I didn't make a run for home on Sunday, I might not actually get home until Wednesday or even Thursday. Why? Storm Brendan was threatening most of the North-West of the UK and the Western Isles in particular were likely to get 90+mph winds. So I drove to Ullapool on Sunday for the evening ferry. It was a beautiful journey.

I'm now safely home.

The photos are mostly from my dashcam with the last three taken on my phone.

The last photo is Ralia the Highland Gateway Centre just South of Newtonmore. It's open throughout the year from 0800 to 1800 and is a very popular place to break the journey.

Friday 10 January 2020

A Drugs Trial

The drugs companies come in for lots of flack particularly for charges and profits. Regardless of that one has to remember that it is drugs companies who finance and develop new drugs.

I'm in Glasgow at the moment having just had my three-day 16-weekly review for a drugs trial which I've been on since September 2017. 

Briefly, my cancer started getting bolshie again in 2017 after nearly 20 years of various treatments since the operation to remove the cancer in 1998.

The Advanced Nurse Practitioner who has 'looked after' my treatment since 2006 asked if I would like her to see if she could get me onto a drugs trial which she thought might benefit me. She was successful and I've been on the trial since then. It was a 30:70 double blind trial which basically means that only the drugs company knows who is on the 70% having the real drug and who is on the placebo. The benefits for me were spectacular when I took the first set of tablets (which suggested that I was on the real drug not the placebo) because there was a dramatic physical reduction in the cancer indicators. Last year the results of the trial were sufficient for the trial purposes and the placebo users were offered the opportunity to go on the real drug. It's now coming to an end. However the drugs company now has to get the drug licensed in every country worldwide.

I was one of 48 UK participants out of 1509 volunteers worldwide in 36 countries.

This is one of thousands of worldwide drugs trials. Some will prove to be effective and some will not. Some will end up as drugs for patients and some will not. All cost a great deal of money.

When I was first diagnosed with my cancer the only treatments were surgery and radio therapy and hormone therapy. Over the years I've had all three. Now there are many treatments including various chemo-therapies and many more drugs. 

So whatever the reality of the profits and morals of the drugs companies I, for one, am very grateful that they take all the risks and develop pioneering drugs and treatments.  

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Forms of Address

I was sure that I'd mentioned this before but it would appear not. 

There was a time when, in the UK anyway, there were fairly strict rules of address for letters. I still write a lot of letters and receive quite a few too. However I've never kept a note of all the forms of address until I went through the envelopes of my Christmas cards.

The results were interesting in that I was addressed in ten different ways:

Mr G B Edwards        26%
Graham Edwards        26%
Mr G Edwards            19%

With the final 29% being shared between

G B Edwards Esq       
Mr Graham Edwards 
Mr B Edwards             
Barry Edwards             
Graham B Edwards     
G Barry Edwards Esq  
Mr G Barry Edwards    

Any one using the 'Barry' is likely to have known me for more than 45 years. Although some on the Island do know me as Barry (which is what my wife called me) anyone who knew me directly calls me Graham, GB or Geeb (amongst various other things I shall gloss over).

As my Dad used to say "I don't care what you call me so long as it's not late for my dinner".

Sunday 5 January 2020

It'll Soon Be Easter

Are we wishing our lives away? What happened to living for the moment?

Easter Day is the 12 April 2020: 97 days away.

I went into the Coop in Stornoway on the 2 January and was met with.....you guessed it, Easter eggs. Okay not a full blown display but enough to set the stage for things to come. Despite having a grandson I don't think I've bought an Easter egg for at least 4 decades. If ever there was a really silly way of buying chocolate it's in an Easter egg.

As a recovering chocoholic of 20 years who rarely eats more than two pieces of chocolate a day (one with each of two cups of coffee) I'm fairly immune to the constant availability of really good chocolates. However I have to admit that it has taken some willpower not to eat quickly chocolate gingers from Hotel Chocolat that I was given.

I used to be accused of being 'ya boo' in relation to Christmas but, with so many people on that bandwagon, I think I'll turn my efforts onto Easter. Except that, in reality, apart from the huge number of people making money out of it, few people will actually care.

Note: for those who care I used to get annoyed by the commercialisation of Christmas because it was supposed to be a Christian festival. Ditto Easter. Now I leave that to other people.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

2020: The First Day

For those who haven't already seen my seasonal wishes I direct you to Meike's wish: Welcome to 2020. May your skies be blue and your seas be calm. I hope you will manage to keep what good and happy things you have in your life, and get rid of what bothers you. Happy New Year! 

It's been a strange day and not quite the way I had intended to spend the first day of the year but then wotthehellarchiewotthehell I've enjoyed it so far. I just haven't really achieved anything much of the things I set out to do. Will it alter anything in this world? No. And I have managed to keep up in Blogland.

This is a photo taken this morning New Zealand time (ie 2 January) in Havelock North by Martin from my New Zealand Family. That is the sun. It is almost blanked out by smoke from the fires in Eastern Australia. Sydney is 2365k /1437 miles away from Havelock. I'm sure that all my readers will be aware of the enormity of the fires which have been burning since September and now engulf huge swathes of Australia. To give a European perspective that is the distance between Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis off the West Coast of Scotland and Belgrade, Sarajevo and Rome.

The global effects of the fires in so many ways are demonstrated rather well by this photo. 

Oddly I have just had a notification from New Zealand One News with a bulletin about the fact that this is the second day that New Zealanders have woken up to a 'blood orange sun'. In some places the sun is a dark red. 

Let us all hope for better things in the coming weeks, months and years.