Saturday 13 July 2024

The Wedding: Jamie and Ran

I will start by explaining that, although there was an official photographer, I have not seen the official photos yet. In any case only a few might be of limited interest to you, my readers. My iPhone was being used to video the ceremony.

The setting was an established smallish Edinburgh hotel called The Bonham, in Drumsheugh Gardens within easy walking distance of Princes Street usually regarded as the centre of the city. It's a large old house in what was the area where the early, wealthy barons of commerce and industry lived. It is, I think redecorated in the style of the period and is more like a manor house than a hotel. Oddly it has two front doors. 

The Bonham Hotel, Edinburgh

The 'wedding' was actually a Celebration of the Marriage which had taken place in New Zealand where they live. This was a celebration for the close family and friends who live in this country. 

My hotel, one of the B+B chain,  was a few doors away and was, I think, mainly occupied by wealthy Americans. 

I only have a few photos of me and, unfortunately, I don't have any feet in any of them. There was a reason. It was later in the day and Catriona (now called Cat) had changed from her wedding shoes into trainers. At least she didn't appear 2" taller than me. It would have helped if I had at least straightened my sporan but, hey ho, wotthehellarchiewotthehell.

The first time I wore Highland Dress was at my son's wedding almost 10 years  ago to the month. I'll do separate posts on Highland Dress and on the importance of Catriona in my life soon.

Tuesday 9 July 2024

Back in the Blogger Saddle

To my Dear Readers

Thank you for your concerns and good wishes. They really do mean a lot to me.

It's been a wonderful but, at times challenging, few weeks. My New Zealand family arrived and my Island family went down with Covid and Carol and Brodie were quite unwell. Gaz was working on his own and soldiered on. Obviously with The New Zealand Family flying back to New Zealand tomorrow we all tried to stay well away and avoid anyone with Covid. Wendy's (New Zealand Family) Mum and partner in Edinburgh also succumbed so no last minute goodbyes there either. 

As alway The Family had a great time here catching up with people from their past. I had a great time just being with them again. Obviously I was in hospital part of the time and I confess that it's taken me longer than usual to regain my strength 100% again. 

Today is the first really beautiful day here for weeks (The Family knew what was possible weatherwise and just got on with things). This photo was at 0450 this morning.

The Wedding in Edinburgh was, for me, one of the most emotional affairs I can recall attending. I'll hopefully blog about that soon. A rare occasion for me to wear my full Highland Dress.

Wednesday 26 June 2024

A Journey

For someone who used to 'commute' for 6 months of the year to my other life in New Zealand I find it strange to have to accept that I now find the idea of flying to Edinburgh and staying in a hotel for a couple of nights to go to a wedding quite stressful. Have I got everything I need in my kilt bag? I know I've got my kilt but..... It's not the flying and I'd be okay if it was Glasgow Airport. Edinburgh Airport was always a nightmare even in the long ago days when I attended many meetings at The Scottish Office in Edinburgh. Even my son who is used to international travel on a scale I never even dreamt of can't stand Edinburgh Airport. Ho hum. Time will tell. I'll be on my way to Stornoway Airport in 40 minutes.

My hotel is in the centre of Edinburgh very near the wedding hotel. I'll be going in on the high-speed tram from the airport to the centre of Edinburgh. 

A kilt is very heavy when you are carrying it.  Highland dress is hot and heavy when you're wearing it. Here's hoping for a cool day tomorrow....and a dry one.

I'm back on Friday and my New Zealand Family arrive on Saturday. 

It's going to be a busy and enjoyable few weeks ahead.

Hopefully at least I'll have something interesting to blog about.

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Awake with a Memory

I woke this morning at 5am. I lay awake for a few minutes and was just about to turn over and go back to the Land of Nod when ideas suddenly started flooding into my head. All sorts of ideas about all sorts of things. It was as if my Memory had suddenly been turned on. Now those of you who have known me for years know that I was born with a very poor ability to remember things. Facts and lists and information just don't stick with me which is why I loathe quizzes with a passion. I am totally hopeless. The children of my New Zealand Family loved them and were always trying to get me to take part (my other pet dread was Monopoly).

Having a good memory is regarded as one of the things that equates to intelligence. When I was reading for my first degree at University I was told by my course tutor that if I ever did any post grad study then do it by dissertation not exam. I was good at essays and research and always got A to A++ in my written work submitted (except for a notorious economics paper where I got a C and caused a laugh when I said that understanding economics was, for me, like going forward in reverse gear.).

My entire adult life has been a matter of lists and notes to remind me 'to do' 'to remember' etc. If I do not have my diary then I am lost - totally. If I didn't have my diaries going back to the year dot then I would have no memory - just memories. There is a subtle difference. The brain is a strange and wonderful place.

So I am sitting at my laptop at 5.20am feverishly trying to make notes and recall the ideas for blog posts that I was thinking about when I woke.

I love Blogland and blogging but life at the moment is so full of living that I've not actually been participating in commenting or writing blog posts. I have been reading where I can. I can do that on my phone when I'm waiting for someone or something but, as most people will know, trying to comment on a phone involves signing in every time one wants to comment which is a pain.

I can't promise to get up at 5am every day (or ever again for that matter) but at least at 6am I have had two coffees, fed the birds and the fishes and still have 6½ hours before I'm meeting my son for lunch. 

Tuesday 4 June 2024


Today is my 80th Birthday.

It's a Marmite Day. That is to say one either loves it or hates it.

A friend recently reached that age and refused to acknowledge it.

I want everyone to know and I shall be celebrating. Nothing extravagant: just coffee with friends in the morning at The Woodlands. In the evening Gaz and Carol are taking me and my sister-in-law (who is staying with me at the moment) out for dinner.

The reason I am celebrating is not just for myself but in thanks to our wonderful NHS without which I would not have lived much past my 16th birthday. At that age I had a disease that still kills people today. However by a stroke of good fortune I was referred to a specialist who (and there were long waiting lists for some operations even then) removed much of one of my diseased lungs.

Since then I've lived with cancer since my prostatectomy in 1997 because some cancer cells had already escaped elsewhere my body. However every time so far that the cancer has started to show signs of asserting itself the medics have found a way to stop it. The last, and currenet, treatment started about 7 or 8 years ago with a drugs trial which proved very successful for me.

I had a heart attack in 2000 and had 6 stents inserted.

I could go on but I think that's quite enough evidence to justify my grateful thanks for the wonderful people who work in our National Health Service.

Thank you one and all.

Thursday 9 May 2024

Dotage and Broadband

I might be considered to be in my dotage and I might still be deaf as a post. I'm hoping that the latter will be remedied next Monday (the former being incapable of a remedy) and that the 1½ litres of warm olive oil in my right ear and the Otex in my left ear will have done the trick and the nurse can syringe my orifices successfully. Until then I can't even hear the keys being struck on the laptop. 

However, I am really peed off today. I was up at 0630 with the intention of having a really productive day. After having abluted (which, rhymingly, is the ablative absolute) I started checking my emails. Then my broadband started dropping again. It's been doing this for ages and it's very annoying. I tested the speed when it came back and it was 4mbps download. I'm supposed to get about 30mbps but I've NEVER had more than 23 and I consider 15mbps pretty good as a rule. 

It was 7am. wotthehellarchiewotthehell why not waste some time seeing if I could get something done about it. I have had a Vodafone mobile phone since 1990 and have always been very satisfied with the service and value for money. When I started with Vodafone Broadband a few years ago it was great. Any problems (the line blew down one day for example) you picked up the phone and instantly spoke to someone. Forget it. You "speak" to chatbot or noone. (which given that I'm temporarily deaf is probably a Good Thing). However the algorithms don't contemplate the possibility that one may be having a sporadic fault so after ¾ hour of fruitless going around in circles it offered me the opportunity to speak to someone.......and then closed down. 

However when I tested my speeds again they were the best for months and, so far, my connection hasn't dropped out for over 30 minutes. 

As a post script I should add that I have discovered that if I put my earbuds in I can actually just hear someone on my phone so can at least communicate on the mobile phone if absolutely necessary. 

Sunday 5 May 2024

Disoriented by Deafness

On Wednesday I went deaf.  

It's not a permanent situation (I hope) but it is severe in that I am unable to hear anything at all unless it is held next to my ear and is very loud (my phone on full volume is just about audible but I can't hold a conversation easily). I cannot, for example, hear the living room television on full volume. I can't hear the kitchen television if I put it 1 metre away on full volume. I can't hear traffic coming near me if I'm on a pavement. I can't hear the warning beeps in the car. 

Worst of all I cannot hear anyone 3 feet away unless they are shouting. A quiet coffee at The Woodlands is not possible at the moment.

I have always said that one should never assume anything about a person until one has experienced what that person has experienced. That can be anything from depression to the pain of childbirth or in a man's case a kidney stone. 

At the moment I have become acutely aware just how much my life would alter if I were profoundly deaf. Because I will hopefully only be deaf for about 10 days I don't have the anxiety of what life would be like if I were permanently deaf. However, it's definitely a good insight into what deaf people have to endure. 

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Phonaholics Anonymous

When I leave the house I take my diary and my iPhone. I usually carry my wallet too but that's less important. These days I rarely use cash for anything other than gratuities and I keep £ coins in my coat pocket for that purpose. 

Yesterday morning was perfect gardening weather but I had to make a quick visit to town to the medical practice, to The Woodlands to collect something from one friend for another friend, and for a few groceries.

I did my shop and went to the till and put my few things through and into my bag. It was at this point that I realised that I forgot my phone and therefore my store and payment app. Fortunately I had my wallet in my pocket.

I had to resort to my credit cards in my wallet. However neither had been used for the supermarket before so needed the PIN number. I use them so infrequently I had no idea what they were. I needed my phone for that! Fortunately my debit card worked. 

I spent the rest of the day realising just how dependent I have become on my 'phone. What has really frightened me, though, is the fact that my brain couldn't see past the absence of the phone. I had sufficient actual cash in my wallet and pocket but it actually never occurred to me to check. (Since I wrote that I have realised that the self-service checkouts have no provision for cash).

I am off to join Phonaholics Anonymous. 

On the way home the cherry blossom calmed me down:

Sunday 21 April 2024


I have always written a lot of letters. I use a collection of fountain pens and different ink depending on my mood. It costs me a small fortune in postage stamps but it's worth it.

My last post was about oral non-face-to-face communication but when I was a youngster letters were still the way almost everyone communicated with their relatives and so on who didn't live nearby.  

Then came The Internet and home computers which allowed us to send emails. Email was cemented in the public consciousness with the notorious “you've got mail” sound of email arriving for AOL users, which formed the cornerstone of the 1998 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy, "You've Got Mail".

Then, for me, came Blogging in June 2007 as a way of communicating what I was doing in Scotland and New Zealand to my friends and family in the 'other' country.

In 2004 Facebook arrived but I was never part of it until 2010 when it was possible to 'post' your Blogger post on Facebook using Networked Blogs. That was discontinued by Facebook long ago but I stayed on Facebook though I rarely post.

As well as emails we could text each other on our mobile phones.

Twitter (Now called X and owned by Elon Musk) arrived 21 March 2006

WhatsApp (Meta) arrived in 2009

Facetime (Apple) June 24, 2010

Instagram (Meta)  started on 6 October 2010.

Messenger (Facebook) in 2011

Telegram (Pavel Durov and Nikolai Durov) on the 14 August 2013.

TikTok (ByteDance) in September 2016.

In 1944 (the year of my birth) a simple letter in the UK was 2½d which is the equivalent of 56p today. In fact a first class stamp today for the same letter is £1.35. However, except for  communicating by landline or mobile phone which are usually included in monthly rental these days all the other methods I've mentioned above are available "free". 

Of course many of the platforms and apps I've mentioned can be used for free voice calls as well as messaging 

What writing this post has done is make me realise that our old concept of communicating using post and landline phone is now verging on irrelevant despite the fact that we communicate much more than we ever did. 

I suppose the next thing would be a "Beam me up Scottie" scenario. 

Wednesday 17 April 2024

"The Phonebook"

My mother insisted on having a phone before she would move into their new house in 1944. With it came The Telephone Directory.

I've never lived in a house without a phone however I no longer use the housephone and few people phone me on it because they know it's easier to get me on my mobile phone.

I had my first mobile (cellphone) in 2000. It was originally a requirement of my work when I wanted to go and see my parents (in England) because I was involved in a case where I had to be in touch with my work. The unit was the size of an attache case and involved considerable embarrassment if one went somewhere for lunch and 'hid' it under one's chair. 

I have never been without a mobile phone since then. I still have the same number (with additions as the mobile networks expanded)  and I have been with Vodafone and its predecessor since the start.

Skype arrived in August 2003 and was groundbreaking. So far as I'm aware when it started it just allowed voice calls from PC to PC and little else. It went on to be an 'alternative' world phone service. I think Skype has now to all intents and purposes been discontinued.

I started writing this because British Telecom has just published the very last Phone Book. The first Telephone Directory published by BT which became an absolutely essential reference work in every house with a phone was in 1880. The irony is that now communications are worldwide and instant the PhoneBook has become an irrelevance. Why? Because more and more people are choosing not to be in the  directory and don't even have a 'telephone' relying solely on their mobile phone. In any case  landline phone numbers  available to search on one's computer or mobile phone.

Friday 5 April 2024

Thank You NHS

So far this year has been unlike any I can recall. It's the first year since I started blogging that I've been away from Blogland so frequently.

I lost my younger brother. I still keep wanting to send him wee messages about things and have to remind myself that he's no longer around to answer them. 

This week my son, Gaz, had his fiftieth birthday. What!! 

When one gets to one's eightieth year life should, in theory, be slowing down. In practice it seems to me that it's speeding up instead. The date of my birth seems further and further away on a daily basis.

All of a sudden things that I thought nothing about like climbing up ladders and wandering around roofs checking them have become things to either avoid or think very carefully about because my sense of balance isn't what it was. 

My electric foldable bike has suddenly become too heavy and cumbersome to fold and put in the back of my car. Indeed my balance riding it had become rather problematic too. 

I've suddenly realised that I'm no longer the spring chicken that I once was. 

Don't get me wrong I'm neither complaining nor being maudling. I'm intensely proud of the fact that this body I inhabit and which, but for the then newly formed NHS would never have got past its teens, has served me well and is continuing so to do.

Despite having cancer since my diagnosis and operation in 1997 I am still being treated successfully. Every 4 months now I get my uretic stent renewed. 

I have 5 or 6 stents in my heart since a heart attack in 2000. 

I had a new knee eight years ago and it is so good I usually forget that it's not the original. 

All this makes me realise that despite the underfunding and apparent attempts to privatise it and all the unfortunate hundreds of thousands of people waiting for appointments and treatment there are still millions of us who have benefitted hugely and who are still here to say 'Thank You' to the 1948 Labour Government which had the courage to establish it.

Sunday 17 March 2024

I'm Back (Again).

I left the Island 13 days ago. I returned on the later ferry last night, had some supper and went to bed just after midnight. I slept well and dreamt that I was growing a hitherto unknown lily. I was up at 6.30 this morning and have spent the day unpacking, washing and ironing and checking the garden and, indeed, spending about three hours working in the garden because it was a reasonably pleasant afternoon.

My cancer review and bone scan both went well and my spell in Ayr Hospital went equally successfully. 

Once again I have nothing but praise for the staff at every level who look after those of us who need their services.

The next few days are going to be busy whilst I catch up and the first of my Spring visitors arrives on Friday. 

However, in my usually optimistic way, I hope to get some time in Blogland and catch up. What remains of this afternoon will be spent answering letters and writing emails until the time will come for a glass of wine and dinner.

'Bye for now.

PS You might find this Facebook post for a local community-run shop and café on the other side of the Island quite amusing.

Sunday 25 February 2024

Absence and A Funeral

As some of you will be aware I have been away for the last couple of weeks. I went down to England to attend the funeral of my younger brother known in Blogland as Scriptor Senex. but to me and many as CJ.  Most of you will have read my post of 27 January about his death.

I was fortunate in that my son took his vehicle (which I'm not insured to drive) and drove the 1000 miles there and back. There was a day, not so many years ago, when I drove from Lewis to Tuscany via England, France, Germany, Switzerland and Northern Italy and enjoyed it. Now I will be very happy if I never have to drive in England again. It's full of people and cars! They all seem to me to be in a hurry and to have very little patience. With apologies to all my Englandshire readers who, of course, are not included in that generalisation.

As is the case with many of my generation, we and our friends from school and university etc are scattered not just through Britain but all over the world. So it was comforting to know that there were people watching the ceremony via a video link who might be anywhere in the world. 

You can’t get to your 80th year without hearing quite a few eulogies. I’ve heard quite a few and I’ve written and delivered some as well. Nothing had ever been as difficult and as complex as trying to distill the vast amount of material that CJ, has provided in his 74 years.  

From his writing (which included amongst many other things two novels and 'The Urban Countryman's Notebook), art in various media, collecting, voluntary work, Postcrossing, and his voracious appetite for reading CJ was a very extraordinary person.

A lot of CJ's life was very serious from his physical condition to his work and many of his interests. However, he did have a humorous side and a flippant side.

One example that comes to mind was the fact that Jo had told him that she would never marry a man who wore pink socks. At the wedding meal speech CJ concluded by removing the black socks he was wearing to reveal a pair of bright pink socks underneath. 

To celebrate the various facets of CJ, Jo had him dressed for his final journey in his suit to show his serious side, a jazzy tie and purple multi coloured socks to show how way-out and off-beat he could be, and his walking boots to show his love of nature and the outdoors. 

Goodbye, CJ. 

Friday 2 February 2024

An Insurance Diversion

In amongst all the things I've been doing since my brother passed away is the tiny matter of my car insurance. When checking the policy renewal I happened to notice that one of my included drivers had the incorrect date of birth. Many years ago I'd put down his wife's birthday instead of his. He is two years older than I am. I popped in today to correct it. His wife is two year younger than he is. However he hasn't driven my current car which I've had for 6 years. When I lived in New Zealand half the year he always took the car out to keep it in good order. 

No problem said the NFU Mutual agent. It will just be an extra £10. "Don't bother" I replied. Just remove his name. "OK" she said and then told me that removing his name would INCREASE the premium by over £100. Yes. Really.

So he is still on my insurance policy. I wonder if I add another octogenarian onto the policy will I get another £100 knocked off the premium. 

Any insurance buffs out there who can explain the situation?

Saturday 27 January 2024

Clive John Edwards

It is with great sadness that I am telling you that Blogland has lost one of its earliest members who was known to some of my longer-term readers of this blog.

CJ, otherwise known as Scriptor Senex, my younger brother died peacefully in hospital last night having had a massive stroke earlier in the week.

CJ started started blogging over 20 years ago on a subject dear to his heart: insects and wildlife mainly in his garden.  The original blog, which unfortunately I have been unable to locate, was on Angelfire. 

Then on the 15 August 2007 he changed to Blogger and started the blog Rambles from my Chair. He also had various other blogs over the years.

More recently a message on his blog made it clear that he was using Instagram and Facebook a lot more  and sometimes they were replacing posts on the blog. In reality his poor health meant that in recent years he spent most of his time reading. He was one of the most voracious readers I've known. He had the advantage of being able to concentrate absolutely and speed read but also remember what he had read.

I owe my blogging career to CJ who introduced me to Blogger in its infancy in 2007.

Thursday 25 January 2024

Being 'Single'.

"It's okay for you there's only one of you to look after." is a statement I hear quite frequently from married people.

WHAT!  For some reason when I heard it yesterday it really irritated me. 

I live in a 100 year old 'family' house. There's only me to clean it and do the maintenance. I have a large garden. There's only me to work in it and maintain it. I eat meals with the usual regularity of two people. There is only me to do the cooking. The difference is simply the quantity I cook. I do all the shopping. 

When I go somewhere there's only me to do the driving. There's no "I'll drive tonight so you can have a glass of wine". When I go away I have to pay for double accommodation or a substantial 'single supplement'. 

If I get 'flu or break a leg then there's just me to look after me. 

On the plus side there's only one of me to consider if I happen to want to watch the television or radio.  😂

Sunday 21 January 2024


Over the next next four or five months I will have to go to The Mainland on three occasions at least. For my annual CT scan combined with my 3-monthly cancer review at The Beatson (the West of Scotland's cancer centre of excellence in Glasgow). Then, possibly April, to have my uretic stent replaced.  In June there is a wedding in Edinburgh for one of my New Zealand Family. Immediately after which four members of The Family are coming to stay on Lewis. 

All of a sudden I am grabbed by a feeling of dread at the idea of leaving the Island. 


I don't mind driving (and I have a large comfortable reliable estate car in which to do it). I don't mind the ferry journey from Stornoway to Ullapool (It's only 2½ hours and I'm a good sailor and down the mainland sealoch the scenery is beautiful). If I fly, instead, I am very happy in airplanes despite a loathing of airports these days. And when I'm in Glasgow and other places I have friends with whom to stay and enjoy time.   

So what has happened to me?

After all It's not that many years since I 'commuted' between my home here on Lewis and my home in New Zealand. I did that journey for a decade until I returned to Scotland for good in 2017 when I was basically told that they couldn't really look after my cancer (which had shown signs of returning) if I insisted on being away for 6 months of the year. In any case life was altering in many ways. So Scotland had to become my full-time home once more.

Since then my summer trips to Europe became fewer and ceased when I was refused medical insurance.

Then, gradually, my visits to England became fewer and stopped with Covid and have not resumed.

I'm very happy driving on the Mainland of Scotland - after all it is a stunningly beautiful Country. I have to admit though, that having to meet ferry deadlines and wait a week for a booking in summer if one misses the ferry because of hospital or a road accident (both of which affected me last year) have taken the joy out of summer travel. Ferry cancellations because of weather, which I managed to avoid for 46 years, now loom large frequently.

And I love my home, My family,  my friends, my garden and and........

Am I alone? Is it an age 'thing'? 

Ah well. I suppose I'd better do the ironing.

Monday 8 January 2024

My Diary

Jabblog on the subject of her new diary recently said, amongst other things, "When I was a teenager, it took me ages to write a letter because I had to keep starting again after I’d made a mistake. Quite ridiculous!"

I read that at the time that I was filling in my 2024 pocket diary. Without it I am absolutely lost. Like Janice I start off trying to be very orderly and neat. It is helped in my case by the fact that I only use pencil for appointments. However birthdays and other dates are in fine red ink so as to stand out. I cannot understand how it is that half way through the year I will have a few entries that are a day out because I copy across from the old diary without concentrating. I find it irrationally annoying.

I have been using the same diary format which fits into a leather cover for many many years. I am used to it. It is a sort of comfort blanket. On the odd occasion that I have mislaid my diary over the years (I have always eventually found it) I nearly have a nervous breakdown. My diary, like my car keys, carry a reasonable reward for its return if lost.

Given that almost everything else I do I do on my iPhone and associated MacBookPro and iPad (which Apple users will understand because everything done on one is automatically available on the others and is instantly backed up in the Cloud) I cannot understand why I don't do the same for my diary. 

However my diaries go back continuously to 1974 well before I had any form of electronic recording device.

Returning to Janice's original point I write a lot of letters using a fountain pen. I have been known to start again because of an error. However a few years ago I decided that this was causing me to lose spontaneity and all of a sudden the occasional crossing out almost became the norm. It certainly doesn't worry me any more. 

Tuesday 2 January 2024


To those of my friends in the Blogworld and elsewhere I send you greetings for 2024.

I hope that you are all well. I apologise for yet another absence. On this occasion I may have some difficulty catching up with all the posts I've missed to the extent that I hope to read but may not comment.

For the last two Christmases and Januaries I have been ill with chest infections or viruses. This year I have so far been absolutely hale and hearty.

However prior to Christmas my son was unwell with what we now assume was influenza. My son and daughter-in-law host Christmas for the two families because they have a house and dining area which can take us all with ease.  The 22nd December was my grandson, Brodie's, 6th Birthday.  He had a get-together. Two days later on Christmas Eve he found himself for the second time in three weeks in hospital. The first time he had needed intra-venous antibiotics so was an in-patient. This time the tests showed that he had 'flu. As there was nothing to be done needing hospital treatment he was allowed home. 

However Christmas lunch was postponed. 

In any case his maternal aunt and grandfather had both succumbed. 

As it happens a friend of mine of half a century also had her Christmas cancelled so she came over to me for a couple of days bringing duck (instead of turkey) and excellent Champagne. So we settled ourselves down and had a couple of very quiet and very overindulgent days.

I hastily got out my Christmas Candles and cards and my Christmas Trees made by Catriona of my New Zealand Family when she was about the age of my Grandson which adorned my home in New Zealand. Instead of using one of the dining tables we used the 'dinner wagon' given to my parents on their marriage nearly ninety years ago. Together with the huge snowflakes crocheted by Marcheline.