Friday 31 December 2021

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr

The last week hasn't been one of my best and I've read little and written even less.  Hopefully all that is behind me. Well obviously it's all behind me but what I mean is that I hope all the lethargy, coughing and general lack of wellness is now behind me and the New Year will see life returning to whatever is the new normal out there in the big wide world that is Lewis.

Various friends I've spoken to today have been reminiscing about the Hogmanays we used to have. Stornoway used to have a huge firework display down at the Harbour to see in the New Year. It was always mobbed and a great charity fund raiser. In the Seventies when we came here we always had a party of friends on the evening with a meal and party games and a great deal of fun. Indeed, one way and another that continued into the 2000s and then for a decade I was always in New Zealand for Hogmanay.

Since then it's been a time of quiet reflection and, whilst each year I might be awake for The Bells, there's greater odds that I'll be asleep.

I did think about looking at one of the videos I'd taken back in the day but, with loved ones featured having passed on, New Year doesn't really seem the right time. 

Apropos nothing at all to do with New Year I was watching Archbishop Tutu's coffin being carried into the Cathedral today. It reminded me of the time when I found myself helping out an undertaker for a funeral at a crematorium. Archbishop Tutu's coffin was the 'cheapest they could find' but had rope handles by which it could be carried. I looked at those with envy as the bearers held them and took the coffin into the cathedral. The coffin I was supposed to help carry (the first time I'd ever carried a coffin) had less substantial 'brass' handles. As I picked up my corner of the coffin by the handle the Undertaker said in a 'whisper' that seemed to reverberate around the crematorium "Not by the effin handle you effin idiot, they're effin plastic."

Hopefully, tomorrow, I will wake feeling a new man and ready to meet the challenges of 2022 of which, I'm sure, there will be many. 

Saturday 25 December 2021

Christmas Day 2021

It's Christmas Day afternoon.  I wish you a very Happy Christmas (or what's left of it). Of course I would expect you to be concentrating on Christmas Day wherever you are rather than reading blogs so it may well be that my benediction is too late. anyway.

Most of my friends and family at this moment will be either tucking into or still preparing, or just possibly have eaten, Christmas Dinner.  In the normal course of events I would be one of those people sharing one of those meals. As it is I'm sitting looking out at the fading light of a cloudless sky towards the Scottish Mainland. The wind is abating. It's been a beautiful, if cold and windy, day on this Island paradise.

I am drinking a cup of hot coffee and eating a Lebkuchen. I've spent much of my day drinking hot water with lemon and honey, coffee or Earl Grey tea and nibbling one thing or another. I have to admit that the very last thing I could have coped with today would have been a Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings. And, however much, those who'd invited me said they wanted to see me, believe me they wouldn't.

I've got a dreadful cold and cough: a real doozie. I had a PCR yesterday and got the call late afternoon - negative. Regardless of that I'll not be going anywhere for a while.

The Lebkuchen are a special treat from my family who were over at the Hamburg Christmas Fair. For many years in the 'Eighties our Berlin friends sent the same box for Christmas. I love them.

Friday 10 December 2021


I've been alive for the best part of 8 decades and people can still surprise or even shock me with very simple things.  

In Glasgow when you get off a bus you say "Thank you, Driver."  Everyone does. If you are in a shop and someone hands you something such as your change or your goods then you thank the person who served you. If you go to the hairdresser/barber then you thank the person who did your hair.  If someone serves you a meal or a drink then you thank the person who served it and may thank the person. I could go on.

Many of us show our gratitude for good service in general in the hospitality industry in particular by leaving a tip as well.

When I am in hospital on a ward. I usually send a note of thanks and some chocolates as a token of my gratitude. I have always done it. I didn't, and still don't, think that is unusual.

I recently wrote a letter of thanks to a medical professional to whom I had a great deal for which to be grateful. 

So I was gobsmacked when, having mentioned that to someone, in passing, their comment was "But why?They are paid to do that!"

Sunday 28 November 2021

Blogging and Fun

As my older readers know I started blogging here and in New Zealand as a diary for my friends and family largely to save me dozens of repetitive emails. Over the years it's gradually morphed into what it is today: a vehicle for keeping up with blogfriends and for reading interesting bits about people's lives and where they live. Over the years I have made some really valued friendships through blogging and some of those have remained when they have long since stopped blogging.

Most of the people I follow have quite different blogs falling into various different categories. Some, like YP or Cro, make no bones about their political leanings but leave everyone to get on with their own views whilst having an occasional spat and then getting on with life.  Some avoid politics altogether .  Some, like David,  concentrate largely on one topic (in this case birds). Some like Tasker can blog on anything and, heaven alone knows what Bob will blog on next. Monica and Meike and the New Zealand blogs that I follow all eschew controversy. Adrian is Adrian. He and I have agreed to disagree about many things for about 15 years and we're unlike to change now. As most of his blog is devoted to stuff which is stratospherically beyond my ken that's rarely an issue.

So, in a nutshell, my Blogland is a tolerant one. It is going to stay that way. I, too, am going to stay that way. I have learned my lesson in entering into a discussion with someone on that person's blog  in the full knowledge that there is only one point of view allowed on the blog - that bloggers. I'll stay in my usual Blogland. After all, for me, blogging is about enjoying comfortable companionship.

Oddly yesterday the above Peanuts appeared on my Facebook page. It must have been serendipity.

I've just looked out of the kitchen window to see a couple of hooded crows seeing off a sparrowhawk. There isn't much that will take on a corvidae: even eagles beat a retreat when sense tells them to.

Friday 19 November 2021

Frustrated and Wasted Hours

(Written yesterday) I woke early this morning all ready to make my next two Christmas Cakes. All went well and by lunchtime I had two new cakes sitting waiting to be fed and wrapped until marzipan time.

I had some printing to do so thought I'd get that out of the way. The first job was just two copies. The first copy went through and the second didn't.  Duh! Then I realised that the printer had dropped its connection to the internet. Ah well. Not a problem. Surely! 

Three hours later I decided to contact Hewlett Packard. I sent a request for assistance. About 2 minutes later a technician rang and suggested that we go through things from step one even though I had probably done it all already (which, of course, I had). 

After the first set of things had been done without success the technician suggested we move on to stage two. No problem. Been there and done that.

However what I was not prepared for was the fact that it worked and I was back on line. Interestingly because I use HP Instant Ink (by far the cheapest way to run my 2 printers) the technician had the whole history of my printers on line. He was even able to tell me that I changed my colour cartridge three days ago.

I had recently been considering a post on the frustrations of never being able to speak to someone these days when a problem arises. It's on hold for a little while!

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Have You Noticed....

 ...that men these days seem to have taken over the bare leg fashion trend? I think it was started by postmen (using the male term deliberately) who, one told me, found it so much easier to cope with in the rain that full wet weather gear; particularly in rural areas getting in and out of a van all the time.

Driving through the town recently on a cold, windy and wet day I noticed, however, that there were still a lot of young men with bare legs, shorts and short socks or just trainers. However, almost all the young women were wearing either lycra figure-hugging tights often with no 'skirt' or anything else to hide their nether regions. Few were showing any flesh.  When I was a lad the girl's mini skirts might have been little more than a wide belt but at least they left something to the imagination.

I blame global warming, the permissive society, lack of parental control and, of course, Brexit. 

Saturday 13 November 2021


No. Not boohoo. I have boobed. I have been making Christmas cakes ever since 2000 when I had a heart attack and was confined to barracks (in that I couldn't drive) for six weeks and suddenly decided to make a Christmas cake or two for Christmas presents. I have made 6 most years since then - even when I was living in New Zealand for half the Scottish winter. Basically it take me a day free of any major distractions to make two cakes. So I set aside today for the purpose and, after having written a couple of letter cards to get into this morning's post,  I started measuring everything out. At that point I had a lightbulb moment. I didn't put the dried fruit to soak in brandy last night. Ah well. I will get everything ready and first thing in the morning will use the by then well-soaked goodies to complete the task.

So I had a mince pie and cream and did a cross-word with my coffee and will spend the day as productively as I can doing other things.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Settling Back In

There's just me again Chez Moi. I was on the Mainland at a pal's and having hospital visits for nearly three weeks. I came back home over a week ago with my pal, Anna. She left on the 'plane earlier in the week. It's been a Good Time.

As is always the case, I've missed Blogland. I don't know how some people manage to blog profusely and still have a full 'real' life too. Perhaps I'm just a little slow of thought or perhaps I have too many other distractions.

Mind you when I was younger I managed on 5 hours sleep every night and now I need  considerably more. Old age doesn't come alone.

Modern technology doesn't necessarily help either. I have an electricity smart meter. When it was installed it was brilliant. I realised that by altering the settings on my bathroom underfloor heating I could save £1 a day without compromising my warmth when I wanted it. That alone was worth the meter. However, after a few months the smart meter ceased working and for the last 6 months I've been trying to persuade EDF to repair it. My contract ends next month. They have no way of reading my meter without sending someone out either to repair the connection or to send out a meter reader. I would have to go up a step ladder and being a frail old OAP I just am not going to do that (for them!). They have said they will repair it!

My garden has suffered from my absence too; not helped by the atrocious weather - gales and rain. 

On the plus side the medics have once again come up trumps and seem to have sorted my constant UTIs (and therefore my hosptiat visits with insipient sepsis). My cancer seems to be well under control. And (sorry Bob and the Grammar Brigade) thanks to the docs and physios my wayward and extrememly painful jaw and my shoulder (the latter of which has stopped me playing bowls even when Covid restrictions have allowed it) are both back functioning and almost pain-free. I played indoor bowls last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hopefully I'll manage to think of some blog subjects and get back to reading blogs later. If I'm alone in the local community charity shop and it's quiet this afternoon that may be the start. Indeed, I could tell you about the charity shop.

Wednesday 20 October 2021


All my computer and phone equipment is Apple. 

All my blogging is done on Google: Blogger, Google App, Gmail, and Chrome. 

I have multiple Google Mail accounts because I've always found it easier to have separate accounts for personal (family and friends) and personal (public), buying, travelling, blogging (for 3 separate blogs) and so on. This separation has worked exceedingly well until very recently.

Last week I noticed that Rhymes With Plague had a transparent grey layer across it. I could not access it for comments.

I opened it in Firefox and by signing in at the comment stage using  my Google Eagleton account. I was able to  comment. However ,  I had to go though verification hoops before I could do that and if I have to do that every time it will be tiresome. 

It would appear that Google now wants to synchronise every account on the same computer and 'owned' by the same person for the purpose of giving the user a better and more targeted service (including adverts when you use Google search).  In other words making sure that it knows as much about you as it possible can.

So far I haven't managed to sort out how I might ever use my iPhone and presumably my iPad to comment on blogs easily. 

The problem seem only just to have arisen. Is anyone else having any problems.

Sunday 17 October 2021

A Walk in the Rain

As is so often the case these days my blog posts are not exactly frequent: I'm not a YP, a Cro or a Rachel. I've actually had a strange month so far. When it started I had a single day in Glasgow booked at The Beatson and a few days  arranged down with Anna to enjoy some Glasgow life. I had three blog posts on what I consider interesting topics to be worked upon. Then everything altered. I've damaged my shoulder and that resulted in doc, physio and x-rays appointments.  Then there came calls arranging for me to have my uretic stent replaced in Ayr.  So I am now in Glasgow and, having had my pre-op, I am isolating until I go in for my op tomorrow. 

Today it has rained constantly: mostly very heavy drizzle that soaks you through without you noticing. Yesterday we walked 3 miles along the local canal. It was a very boring stretch in indifferent weather. Today we decided to walk round Hogganfield Loch. It's in a splendid 48 hectare park in the North-East of Glasgow. It was raining that fine drenching rain that soaks you before you've realised it. We were well prepared.

Mute and Whooper Swans

The rain eased off at the end

Tuesday 28 September 2021

A Week Enjoyed

Another week out of Blogland and another 'selfie' blog post (sorry Bob). 

We have known each other for just under half a century. We came to the Island in the '70s - her husband and I to work for the local authority. For both of us it was short term. However, neither of us left.  Both of us stayed until our retirement. All of us loved and have very strong Island connections.

John and Sue left the Island after his retirement because their children had left the Island and Glasgow suited their travelling lifestyle better than Lewis. 

Sue and John were two of my closest friends from day one. Sadly, John passed away two years ago. We have shared half a century of experiences, fun and heartache. So when Sue came to stay for a week there was no shortage of things to occupy our time. We met mutual friends and had friends in for dinner. Sue went into town and met many of her own friends.

In fact I could write several posts arising from the visit (and may well do so). I should also get into the garden. However the weather today is vile - viscously heavy squalls coming through in between moments when butter wouldn't melt in Zeus's mouth. 

I also have an appointment with the optometrist. Actually I confess that I was not sure what the difference was between an optometrist and an optician. Apparently opticians are technicians who fit eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other vision-correcting devices. Optometrists are eye doctors who examine, diagnose, and treat patients' eyes.

Bye for now.

Yesterday's tomato crop:

Thursday 16 September 2021

Sod's Law

Being brought up in Liverpool we called it Murphy’s Law. However I read recently that anything referring to anyone that might in any way be taken to be derogatory is no longer allowed. Sod doesn’t have anyone to defend him (or was Sod a ‘her’?) so that’ll have to do unless you can come up with something better.

Today the peninsula on which I live has no electricity. That means there is no cellphone signal at my home because I get my signal from a local repeater mast. I have no idea if the wifi is off because…. This is where Sod plays his part.

My house can be reasonably independent of the electricity supply on a short term basis because I have a generator. My mains supply board has a Big Switch which switches the house supply off from the mains supply and allows the generator supply to take over. 

Every now and then I check the generator and run it for a while. I did this a week or so ago as soon as I got the first (of 4) letters from the electricity infrastructure company warning me that there would be no supply from 0900 until 1700 today.

This morning I went out early for my walk in the Castle Grounds and some visits and didn’t return from town until lunchtime. I turned the key of the generator starter and it refused to start. It was still refusing to start some time later and has consistently refused over the hours.

If next time I try it, it starts first time (as it usually does) I shall be less than amused.

Fortunately it’s been a pleasant afternoon and I’ve been in the garden and cut the grass.

I’ve not played bowls since the start of the season for various reasons but I decided that if the weather stayed good this evening I’d go and have a game before the season ends. The sun’s gone in and it’s clouded over but as I write this I’m still optimistic that the electricity will return so that I can post this and go off and play bowls.

Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll read some blogs too.

PS I’ve had plenty of coffee and soup because I have a gas camping stove for emergencies.

Tuesday 14 September 2021

A Little More Eco Friendly?

When I came to live on Lewis the township (England/Lowland Scotland/Wales = village) I lived in had a main road running through it (on which the house in which I lived was situated) and many side roads which had grown up in accordance with the shape of crofts and the need for access.

There was very little street lighting outside of Stornoway and we lived 7 miles from the town so we had nothing except the occasional light at a crossroads perhaps. Given that the midwinter hours of daylight were only about 6 or 7 that meant a lot of time outside the house was spent in the dark.  

That had the benefit of fabulous starry nights (reminiscent, more recently, of living in semi-rural New Zealand) and a highly visible Aurora borealis (in the case of the Hebrides).  

Now most of my readers will well remember that a torch with a bright light was likely to be a fairly bulky object with big expensive batteries. We all carried torches when we went out at night and, indeed, they were a very important part of life in the '70s. Then people grew hungry for street lights and if a Councillor could not get at least some street lights for his constituents he risked being replaced at the next local election. 

Houses also started having outside lights as a matter of course. Very tiny very bright torches and head lights also became the norm.

In the last 10 to 15 years it became easier to fit battery operated LED lights in difficult places outside. At the same time all my indoor lights have been replaced by LED ones and the total wattage in the house is probably less that the wattage in my living room 15 years ago.

Last Spring I started replacing the outside battery operated lights with solar lights. So now my house is  well illuminated outside by movement operated solar panel lights.  

When I was 3 and my Dad taught me how to wire 1½v  bulbs and batteries and switches in parallel and series and later how to deal with 13amp electrics I could never have believed that the outside of my house would be illuminated by solar power lights installed for little more than the cost of a year's supply of dry batteries. 

Monday 6 September 2021

I'm Back

How's that for an inventive title?

Good afternoon, on this windy, dull, wet, 11ºC Sunday afternoon on the Isle of Lewis. Apart from to feed the birds I've not been out of the house today so the weather is irrelevant except to the extent that almost everyone feels more cheerful when the sun is shining.

It's three weeks since I opened a blog of mine or anyone else's to read, write or do anything in Blogland. I'm pretty sure that must be the longest period of 'non-attendance' since I started blogging in 2007.

During the three weeks I developed a kidney infection and then had yet another few days in hospital pre-sepsis whilst they sorted things out. Given the inevitably of that happening again and again the consultant has embarked on a regime of preventative antibiotics. Here's hoping.  

My visitors of two months have now departed and I'm back to being in the state of being single that I have become very used to over the last 20 years or so. 

You would think that with three weeks 'off' I'd have a hundred ideas about which to blog. If nothing else I could take a leaf out of YP's blog and show you more of the wonderful island on which I live.  Or I could write about National Simplicity Day. Or I could just use what little imagination I have.

Monday morning. 

As it was I didn't even manage to finish the introduction and post just to let you know that I'm back. Well I am. But I have to be in town to pick up a friend who's car is going in for repair, That's at 9am. So I'm saying 'Hello' and I'll be back later. However, with thanks to Rachel for waking me up again, I shall post some photos from the last three weeks.

The first is my son's new tent. It has no poles! It's just kept up by inflated tubes. I was amazed. He, Carol and Brodie spent a weekend in the sun at one of Lewis's many beaches.

I called in at Tesco on Saturday morning. That's how I like to see a supermarket - no people but full shelves.

Gaz and Brodie came round for an afternoon. Brodie is 3½ and has every toy on the face of the earth. At that age I think I had a wooden giraffe my Uncle had brought home from some exotic place he was stationed in The War and possibly a. Dinkey Toy. The whole afternoon Brodie played with a helter skelter I bought for him well before he was able even to crawl and he's played with it ever since. Sometimes simple is just more enjoyable.

Every night the birds come down in their dozens to bathe in the pond. The fishes seem not to care.

I hope you all have a great week. See you later.

Wednesday 11 August 2021


For very many years one of the things that my brother (CJ) and I have done when having breakfast or morning coffee in each other's company is the Times 2 Crossword.  Now that my Sister-in-Law (Jo) has arrived on Lewis she has joined us. 

Today, when Jo and I were doing the crossword, one of the clues produced the acronym WYSWYG from the clue "What you see is what you get." When I said that, Jo was unimpressed. She had never heard the term. Later CJ was similarly unimpressed and had not heard the term. 

It seems to me to have been around for years and was in common usage. Am I alone? 

It poured all morning. The view through the window rather reminded me of an Impressionist painting.

Today was a day of food preparation, cooking and baking. I have a rather too many courgettes(zucchini) from my polycarb so decided to make carrot and zucchini cake. It was rather overdone despite giving it less time in the oven than the recipe said.  CJ and Jo like salads so I made a bean, pulse and many other things salad to go with the evening meal. A bowl of humous followed and a tray of cornflake crunch. Then my fail-safe desert/pudding - an Amaretto syllabub - to finish off. 

Tuesday 3 August 2021

The Silent Sea

Usually the sea below my house is audible in my garden. It can be relatively gentle lapping or the thunder of heavy waves in a swell or driven by gale force winds.

On other, rare, occasions the sea feels as though there is a steely, unreal quietness in it. It's a rare occurrence and the results are shown in the pictures below:

When I see the sea like that I am always reminded of a paining by Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela that I saw and liked in the National Gallery in London. It is called Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland

What I do not know is what phenomenon or combination of circumstances causes it. 

Wednesday 28 July 2021


 Where have all the insects gone? 

There has been no real shortage of midges when the weather has been right for them ie warm, still and muggy. Fortunately for us humans those conditions have been few and far between so far this summer. However spare a thought for the poor midges. This is not the first recent Year of Few Midges.

What made me think about this was that I recently drove down to Glasgow and Penrith and home again and since then have been driving round the Island in hot, for us, weather (until yesterday!). 

During all that time I didn't have to clean my windscreen once of dead insects.

It doesn't seem long ago that I spent hours each summer cleaning dead insects off  windscreen, headlights, number plate and so on and I even had special spray-on fluid for the job. 

Has anyone else noticed the dearth of insects?

Saturday 24 July 2021

Dawn and Stornoway

My brother, CJ, is staying with me. His wife, Jo, arrives a few days into August. After a week of distinctly un-summery weather we've had a few beautiful days.  CJ was up for some reason or other at 4.58am on Friday. This was the view from my kitchen window:

We have had coffee a crossword in town most mornings. Today I actually stopped and took some photos in the town centre.

Saturday 10 July 2021

Not At Home

I'm away from home. I came down to Glasgow and The Beatson for a review of the drugs trial from which I am benefitting. It's also been a very good opportunity to catch up with some of my friends down in this neck of the woods. I've been staying with Anna (whom I first met in New Zealand in 2006). 

I passed my 'service' and the car has had its service too and new rear tyres.

Tomorrow I shall drive to Penrith and meet my brother and sister-in-law. My sister-in-law will then hand over her husband into my care and I will return with him to Anna's. 

Monday should be a good day for visiting a couple of Glasgow's museums and art galleries.

On Tuesday we will return to Lewis.

The most fascinating thing this week has been a trip to the opera. Scottish Opera were doing an 'outdoor' and socially distanced performance of Verdi's Falstaff. Why, in heaven's name they chose the one opera which Verdi wrote that he definitely should have left unwritten, no-one knew. My speculation is that it was guaranteed an audience simply because everyone was grateful for the opportunity to get out to see and hear a performance again.

Friday 2 July 2021


At some stage before this crazy week started someone mentioned names and how given names often differ from what one is called. 

My Mother was supposed to have been Christened Flora Irene. Unfortunately her Godmother Edith was so miffed at her not being named after her that she added it when asked "How do you name this child?" It, needless to say, caused a bit of a family tiff.

My father was Morris Thompson-Edwards. However my mother refused to marry a double-barrelled name so he appeared on the Marriage certificate as Morris Thompson Edwards sans hyphen.

I was named Graham Barry Edwards. My parents called me Barry but Barry Graham Edwards didn't scan. Since I was 16 I've been known by both fore-names. One of the reasons for my names was that they were not easily shortened. So my parents thought. At school I was usually Bas and in our road simply Ba. Today I'm also known as GB, Geeb and various other things some of which are completely unrelated to my given names and which I shall ignore (as I usually do).  

My brother was named Clive John Edwards and to our parents and some people from his youth, he was and is Clive. Everyone else including me and his wife and offspring only use John or CJ (so far as I know!).

The husband of one of my brother's daughters took her surname on marriage. 

My son Gaz was named Gareth Vernon Spencer Edwards and called Gareth or Gaz. Virtually no one knew his full name until he got married. In Scotland you have to recite your full given name when getting married. His contempt for his chosen names was shown when on signing the register he then signed a deed changing his name to Gareth Macrae Edwards. 

His wife was, and remains, Carol Macrae although uses the title Mrs. In Scotland the taking of the husband's surname only came into general use in the 19th Century. 

Their son is Brodie Edwards Macrae. 

I'm glad that I will never have to be researching the family history. 

However if they do then this public record, boring though it might have been to you, will be of considerable interest to the researchers.

Thursday 24 June 2021

A Week of 8 Nights

After the restrictions of the last 15 months my life is returning to normal in many ways: the old normal. Of course in many ways, such as travel abroad, it's a different story but then I have no desire to travel abroad now.

After my Goddaughter and her family left I had a wee period of 'Island life' and gardening.  A week ago Anna arrived. We've been coffeeing, walking, visiting friends and their gardens, having friends to dinner and going to friends for dinner. It's been a wonderful week of complete contrast to the lockdown. There are reminders every so often about mask wearing (I think I shall continue to wear one in shops for the foreseeable future regardless of the rules) and social distancing but little else.  On the Island almost everyone has been vaccinated and the cases are few are far between.

I ran Anna to the airport a couple of hours ago and within 39 minutes from take-off in Stornoway she was ready to disembark in Glasgow. It will take her longer to get the final stretch from the airport home. Well, I thought it would be she is already on the motorway on the Airport Bus. I shall speed up my typing and thought process.

I could not have enjoyed the week more. 

Now for some time gathering my thoughts, gardening, coffeeing, having new brakes put on the car and visiting Blogland before I go to Anna's for my drugs trial review at the Beatson in Glasgow and collect my brother, CJ, from Penrith (to where his wife will bring him) and we'll come back to Lewis (via a couple of nights at Anna's in Bishopbriggs).

Friday 18 June 2021

Discretion v Bravery

In New Zealand 

W (female)  "You are not coming out for coffee with me in pink shorts. You are a man."

Me "They are burgundy, not pink."

W "You can call pink any colour you want but you're not coming out with me in pink shorts."

I go and change into blue shorts. We go into town for coffee.

Walking down the main street we meet a 2m tall Maori built like a tank. He is wearing pink/burgundy shorts identical  to mine.

I turn to W (who has obviously not missed the Maori) and open my mouth. 

I realise that anything that came out of my mouth might well be the last thing that did.

I pretend that I've never seen the Maori.

Tuesday 15 June 2021


A First Class stamp in the UK costs 85p so 12 cost £10.20 

However, on Amazon they can be bought for the bargain price of:

Or if you really want to push the boat out:

Ironically both sold by the same seller, postage01Solutions.

One excuse they have given is that they post them to you. The Post Office will do that too faster and more cheaply.

Saturday 12 June 2021

On Being Bullied

I disliked school. However I loved English language and literature and mathematics and, oddly, geography but I loathed history. As, even then, I had a very poor memory I was useless at languages and anything that involved using the gifts I was sadly lacking.

What I did have as a schoolboy was a reasonable ability with the English language. I never fought physically. I tried to argue my way out of trouble. Schoolboys don't respect that. They respect fists.

Bob Brague, in his post of 21 May mentioned 'The one act of violence in my life'. I too had one such moment.

In the Fifth Form during a maths class the teacher left the room. One of the school bullies (of no greater stature than I) was sitting behind me. He decided to start flicking my ears. I lost the plot. Turned round fully to face him. Picked him up by his blazer lapels and flattened his nose all over his face. Leastways the amount of blood seemed to indicate that was what had happened. There had been no resistance because my action was obviously completely unexpected.

After class I waited for a retaliation but it never came. Word had got out. His credentials as a school bully had been wiped out with one single, but well aimed, punch. 

So far as I can recall that is the one and only such act of physical violence I have perpetrated. Well there was one more but that was entirely self defence and that's another story.

Tuesday 1 June 2021

A Quiet Two Hours

Apart from seeing a friend on Saturday morning and attending to the washing machine for 4 loads of washing on Sunday I spent from Thursday lunchtime until well into Sunday evening in the garden. The weather was fabulous.  By Monday morning my body knew it had had a good workout so it was just as well I was out for the whole day for coffee and then lunch over on The West Side with another friend of 47 years. My body appreciated the day relaxing in the sun. 

Today my Goddaughter, partner and young son arrive off the lunchtime ferry for a short stay. I'm hoping the sun will come out by the time they arrive.

So this morning I've done all Sunday's ironing and I've got a short while to catch up with life, the universe and everything.  However, I've just decided to write a few words instead.

Those were the words. Here's a few close-ups from the garden.

Oxalis adenophylla, Silver Shamrock


Centuria montana, Perennial cornflower


Saxifraga umbrosa, Wood Saxifrage (I've always known it as London Pride) Flower is 1 cm across

Rhodiola rosea, Roseroot.

Saturday 29 May 2021

Belonging: Football Trivia

The one thing that John Lennon and I have in common is that we both went to Quarry Bank Grammar School in Liverpool (a couple of years apart). Quarry and The Liverpool Institute (alma mater of Paul McCartney) were the two most sought after prizes of the Eleven Plus Examination and two persistent rivals for the Liverpool Grammar Schools Football Cup.

St Johnstone have just become the fourth football club in history to win both the Scottish major trophies in the same season. The unusual and outstanding thing about that is that all the members of the team were born in Scotland.

That made me think about my school football team and then the amateur teams I was involved with when I left school. 

The chant for my school team at the inter-school cup final (and any other matches for that matter) was:

Chuneranna chuneranna chun chin chee

We are Quarry, Quarry are we.

Chuneranna chuneranna chun chin chow

Quarry never lose, Quarry win now.

Followed by suitable roaring.

(I've put that totally irrelevant bit of information in simply because I remembered it.) 

What was important then was that you could only play for an amateur team if you were encompassed by the name of the team. So only Quarrymen played for Quarry Bank. Only members of NALGO played for the NALGO team. And so on. I wonder if it's still the same.

Interestingly I've just looked up that across Liverpool FC's entire history 823 players have represented the club and only 17 per cent of them have been from Merseyside (and, presumably even fewer from Liverpool). What I found even more interesting is that 43 nationalities have played for the club.

Thursday 27 May 2021

Thick As A Plank

When I was reading a post by Cro yesterday morning a comment was made:

"As someone with a vast store of general knowledge in my bonce, I rather like the mental exercise that some TV quiz shows provide - including "The Chase", "Mastermind" and "University Challenge".....but I dislike slow-moving and banal quiz shows in which they spend more time guffawing than posing proper quiz questions."

Cro responded that it's the latter type that now seem to be proliferating and that he recently watched part of a Mastermind 'Celebrities', which was simply appalling. One contestant managed to obtain 5 or 6 (he thought) points from his two lots of questions. 

The follow up comment was: "Normally 'Celebrity' means 'as thick as a plank' ".

One thing I do not like is people assuming that a lack of stored trivial (or any) knowledge is the same as being 'thick'. It smacks of arrogance.

When I was reading law I was told that I would never get good exam marks because I couldn't remember all the case names, regnal years and so on. It's true. I can't. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I have an appalling memory and always have had.

What I could do, and was complimented for my ability at, was to analyse the issues. Given the fact that in 20 years of advocating in planning inquiries I only lost one case I advised was winnable, I am satisfied that I'm not thick.

Doubtless there are many people in my life who have regarded my appalling memory and complete lack of interest in storing trivia as 'being thick'. Fortunately there are others who hold a different view. 

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Too Many Containers

I thought I'd try some short sharp posts dans le style de Cro Magnon. This is the first.

I recently went into Boots for some multi-vitamins. My wife of 27 years started me on them not all that long after we were married. I've been taking them ever since. We've been separated nearly 30 years.

Boot's usually have vitamins etc on 3 for 2 offers (cheapest one free). I only wanted one (multi-vitamins) and nothing else. However 3 for 2 is a good offer given their £9 price tag.  So I bought 3. When I got them home I realised that, given their size, I couldn't get them all in my medicine drawer. So I emptied the second and third into the first container. How ridiculous is that? Three bottles' contents easily fitted into one. The tin of soup gives you the size of the bottles. So I now have 540 days' supply of the tablets. 

What a waste of space and plastic.

Sunday 23 May 2021


This morning I received a Messenger message.  Right out of the blue.

It was someone from whom I've not heard for a long time. Last Christmas I didn't send a card.

Having said that, the person and her family were very important to me at one time having been part of my New Zealand life and having stayed with me here on Lewis. It seemed a shame to have lost contact. They have always remained in my thoughts. I have a natural tendency to keep in touch with people who have been important in my life even if it is only sporadically. I hate losing contact even with people on the other side of the world living in a world I inhabit in spirit but no longer inhabit in body.

By the time we'd caught up it was as if there had been no time lost. We were totally at ease notwithstanding  the hiatus. 

I've learned a lesson today. 

Do you naturally keep in touch with people in your past life?

Friday 7 May 2021


A few days ago I had BBC Breakfast on in the background waiting for the local news when I heard a statement that the most successful band in British History was on. It is called 'Little Mix'. I, for one, had never heard of the band. Okay so they obviously make the sort of music that I don't listen to now but if they were the most successful band ever I'd have expected to have heard some mention of them at some stage.

I was brought up in Liverpool in The Sixties so I was, of course, very aware of groups such as The Beatles,  The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Hollies,  Herman's Hermits, The Searchers, Credence Clearwater Revival, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Led Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkle, Pink Floyd, Manfred Mann, The Monkees, The Mamas and the Papas, The Moody Blues, Procol Harem, The Everly Brothers, The Shadows, Deep Purple and doubtless many more. 

I suppose we all tend to remember the groups of our youth more than those of later years (although perhaps I'm wrong in that supposition). However since the Sixties and Seventies I've only been aware of a relatively small number of groups that have made the Really Big Time.

Monday 3 May 2021

Thoughts on Release From Lockdown

I am amazed at how out of touch I feel when I have been away from Blogland for nearly a month. During lockdown Blogland was a place of normality for me. After all Blogland has seen me through a great deal in the last 15 years whilst I've been writing and reading blogs. Blog friends and acquaintances have come and gone (and stayed) but it's been there as a comfort blanket during my New Zealand life as well as life here on Lewis. It's seen me in France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Italy as well as Australia and touring New Zealand when I lived there. 

Blogland has been part of normality during lockdown too.

When we were in full lockdown for six months last year I rarely went out except for walks. I met people a lot on video chats and the good old telephone. Like everyone else social life and things like meeting to play bowls all stopped.

However, unlike most of my friends, despite me being a social animal I did not miss socialising. I enjoyed having no commitments. I enjoyed waking up and looking at the weather and deciding it was a perfect day for the garden or a walk or writing letters or working in the workshop/garage out of the rain. 

I could well understand the angst of people living in a multi-storey flat cooped up with other family members with no space and probably having to work from home or home-school. I would have hated that.

Now that things are returning to 'normal' and my diary is full and I have to be aware of the day and the time I am realising just how much I actually enjoyed lockdown. I didn't just endure it. I truly enjoyed it.

Now, though, I will get on with enjoying life again and now that I'm home from hospital and getting back into my Island routine I shall, hopefully, also catch up with all my Blogland pals and find out what you've been up to.

Tuesday 13 April 2021

It Takes So Much Longer Now

Somewhere about 40 years ago I went to the doc for something and he noticed a 'blemish' on my forehead which he regarded with suspicion. He gave my bonce a thorough going over and warned me that the type of skin I had would be very susceptible to UV damage and that I should ALWAYS wear a hat outside even if I was just bringing peat from the stack into the house.  He then sliced a little bit out of my upper forehead and sent it off for analysis. It came back clear. I have worn a hat ever since.

However living in New Zealand and spending much of my life in the sun on the croquet greens has taken its toll, despite me slathering myself with sunblock every day as soon as I had showered and topping it up at lunchtime too. 

A few years ago I got a Squamous carcinoma on my neck. I was referred to a dermatologist and our ENT surgeon removed it. Since then I've had several BCCs off my nose caught when she did my 6 monthly check-ups.

I was in seeing the doc about something last year over 6 months ago. He decided to have a thorough look at my head again. He spotted another BCC. He referred me to the dermatologist. We no longer have one on the Island so I saw a very thorough dermatology nurse who confirmed that it was, indeed, a BCC which needed removing. I was supposed to see the ENT Consultant next week but, Sod's Law, you get one appointment and another two come along the day either side of it. They happen to be in Ayr and are for the overdue-because-of-Covid replacement of my uretic stent so take precedence over a BCC any day.

There was something to be said for the days when the doc looked at you and just wheeked a nasty off/out.

Wednesday 7 April 2021

More Pot Pourri

Many of my daffodils had been in the garden for decades and were past their best and I wanted new ones in some areas too. I went to a large Lincolnshire  supplier and ordered a couple of small sacks of tulips and one of assorted daffodils and narcissi too. It hadn't occurred to me that there might me some 'fancy' ones included because I've never had anything but the 'ordinary' single trumpet daffodil. So the one on the right was a surprise. I have discovered that they have a very big disadvantage in our windy climate - they are top heavy, blow over and break. The fact that I'm not keen on their looks either isn't really important in the circumstances.

I've discovered that the polycarb can easily get into the high 30ºCs during the day and into single figures at night so I decided that to give some of my germinating seeds the best chance I'd try and keep them in a warm but not extreme environment until I've sussed things out. I've not grown much from seed for many years. So this germinator is living on my electrically underfloor heated bathroom for the time being. The rest are scattered around in experimental places. 

The results have been astounding and since I took that picture the seedlings have germinated.
My latest completion - 1000 piece jigsaw. One of the more enjoyable - not too hard and not too easy.

Whilst I was clearing the raised beds which I used to use for vegetables I found all these beauties. They had grown from an unsuccessful trial using a black sack which I had emptied onto the area last year. I obviously left some potatoes in it. They are beauties.