Monday, 30 June 2008


I have two waterlilies in the pond. When CJ came up in May it looked very much as though they were not going to flower this year. Before he left there were six buds and some have broken the surface and are waiting for some sun.


In CJ's blog entry The New Vocabulary he made the point that the word 'illegal' is now used in relation to, amongst others no doubt, actions performed on a computer to which the software takes offence.

It reminded me that I was once asked by Wendy to explain to someone the difference between unlawful and illegal. After my thoughts had been expounded Wendy informed me that unlawful may well have been as I said but illegal was a sick bird. That was me deflated.

Anyway, be that as it may, as usual, I digressed. What CJ's posting really reminded me of was that I'd just noticed that the 2 year warranty for my new Mesh laptop specifies that the laws governing the contract of warranty are the laws of Taiwan, Republic of China. Now it seems unlikely to me that the majority of the customers of Mesh Computers which is, ostensibly at least, from it's website a UK company, trading in the UK:


Founded in 1987, our organisation has become one of the fastest growing IT hardware suppliers in the UK. We have achieved this by anticipating client needs and providing enterprise-wide networking solutions to organisations undergoing expansion and change.

are likely to be challenging Mesh in the Courts in Taiwan. Hmmmm.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Never Forget

When I returned from taking CJ home and the hospital etc I found a present which CJ had left for me: a beautiful Burns Crystal whisky glass. I'm not one of the Country's connoisseurs of the hard stuff. However I am a lover of crystal and it can hold gin (of which, with tonic, I do occasionally partake) just as easily as it can hold whisky. The significance of the gift was not, however, in the item itself but in that which was inscribed thereon. My name and the words 'Ne Oublie" - Never Forget. Now there are so many ways of looking at those words in the context in which they appear in my hands. Never forget the visit: I certainly will not do that because we had a lovely time. Never forget my name: ah well I couldn't guarantee that so the glass will be there to remind me. Never forget our friendship: how could I? Or just plain never forget. And therein lies the problem...........

The glass on a lovely book - also a gift from CJ

Graham: Never Forget

Why is the name Graham linked with the words Ne Oublie? The words are the motto of the Scottish Clan Graham of which John Stewart wrote:
It is remarkable that the early Grahams were one and all exceedingly capable men. In an age when the reputation of many great public figures, alas, that of most of the Scottish nobility, were sullied by deeds of violence, and often deeds of blackest treachery, it is refreshing to find that the Grahams stand out as loyal and true to the causes they espoused. Their story is not one of rapid rise to power through royal favor, or even at the expense of their peers, but rather a gradual steady rise based on their undoubted ability and worthiness which seems to have endured from one generation to another.
I can claim no descendancy from the Clan Graham but it appears to be a Scottish Clan to which I would have been proud to have been part.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Labour Saving?

This week I've been trying, in between doing 'proper' things, to get some semblance of order into the Study and the Utility Room (actually it's more like a Utility Cupboard with a door at each end and a passage through the middle). Both of which contain far too much despite my efforts last year to de-clutter. One of the things that struck me as I tried to find lids for and stack all the plastic food boxes awaiting food was that that particular part of the cupboard had a bag in it. A bag that had been there for many years. As I poised before I threw it out I realised that it was a bag of bags: bags for holding water in such a way as to make ice cubes - well, ice balls actually. "What a good idea" I thought so I decided to use them. Hmm. Perhaps filling a bag with water and then trying to tie a knot in the top isn't quite as easy as just filling the ice-cube tray. Ah well, only another nineteen bags to go.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The Deed is Done

Now that I have been told that I will not be having radiotherapy nor participating in clinical trials and will simply be going back onto the hormone implants with the intention of slowing the development of the cancerous cells I am free to plan my summer and my next winter/summer in New Zealand. So the latter is exactly what I have done. I leave for New Zealand on 28 October. I return here 0n 27 April next year.

I've been back in Eagleton for two months and it seems like no time at all.

Sleep is such a nuisance when there is so much life to be lived.

Birds at Woodlands Centre

When CJ and I were at The Woodlands Centre (our favourite coffee and crossword retreat) in the Lews Castle Grounds one morning, we struck lucky with the bird sightings and, as luck was obviously on our side that day, we also managed to get our favourite table near the bird table.

On the way in we saw this Jackdaw carrying a log
(CJ say's it's a twig but then he's bigger than the Jackdaw)

Arrival and anticipation

Can't quite get at this one

There's always more than one way...

This Blackbird made us wonder if he'd had a Ring Ousel parent

I've not seen many Siskins and I think this may be the first one I've photographed



And this young Lapwing on the way home (us not him)

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Living Alone

I have known for many years that I am quite content living alone: so long as I am not alone - if you see what I mean. I am fortunate that I am not.

However for the last 6 weeks CJ and I have shared the house and I've been amazed at how well we appear to have managed it without any problems. Well that's not quite true. CJ had to get used to my habit of leaving cupboards and drawers open until I have finished with them. This can be an irritating habit. One that doesn't matter if you live on your own.

I mention this simply because of Marmite. You see I sometimes (and in the past almost always) have Marmite and peanut butter (or something similar) on toast for breakfast. By that I mean that I have a piece of toast and onto it I spread Marmite and then peanut butter. OK so many think that that is a fairly disgusting thing to do but I've been doing it for about 50 years (who says I'm a creature of habit?) and I ain't about to change it now. If you don't live alone it's this sort of thing that can lead to problems. Jenni loved peanut butter but hated Marmite. I put my Marmite on my toast before I spread on the peanut butter. I use the same knife. And in such ways are wars started.........

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Ralia Café

On the A9 just before the southern turn-off to Newtonmore (travelling North) is the all-year-round Ralia Café. For many years it was a summer Tourist Information Centre and all year round toilet stop. It is situated roughly half way between Edinburgh/Glasgow and Ullapool. The coffee is very much to my taste (and Earl Grey tea is, of course, available) and the service is fast and friendly. I usually make it my coffee stop travelling both North and South.

Monday, 23 June 2008

A Calm Night

After the gales and torrential rain yesterday it is hard to believe that it is just before midnight and I am sitting in the Study without a light on able to see well enough to type this. It's a beautiful, calm evening with barely a cloud in sight. If I were energetic I would go for a walk down to the shore. But I'm not!


When I am in Heswall with CJ part of our routine is to go to Linghams Bookshop in the morning for coffee and to do the crossword. Thurdsay, before I set off for Glasgow, was no exception.


'Our' table - I don't recall us ever sitting at another.

A latté and a Danish Pastry: what else?

The Times 2 Crossword

The 'goody' counter

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Red Sky, Rain and Empty Chairs

Last night (Saturday) the sky was a most unusual pattern and shade of red. Red skies at night delight shepherds and sailors so I was looking forward to waking to a good morning. Wrong! It blew a gale and poured with rain all day although it's let up now (it is, after all, nearly tomorrow as I write this).

Red sky

The pier and the rain

The empty chair - no CJ. Sad.

Saturday, 21 June 2008


When I first went to New Zealand I met Crocs. Who, I wondered, would wear plastic shoes? Answer: everyone. Even I have a pair for when it's muddy round The Cottage. Martin in his capacity as a dentist wears white ones and in his capacity as a man-in-the-garden wears brown ones. In short they are popular and much copied. The true Crocs are the most comfortable, lightest footwear around. I have to say that I really didn't think that they would take off in the UK. How wrong can one be? When we were in Keswick CJ and I came across the following display outside a (rather smart) shoe-shop. Both thought it was bloggable. So here it is:

Friday, 20 June 2008

A l'eau! C'est l'heure!

I can't say that I have much time for Hugo Rifkind, Times columnnist and son of Sir Malcolm Rifkind, particularly since he is reported to have commented recently that orchestral conductors were simply monkies beating time. I suspect that Herbert von Karajan (amongst many many others) might be cited as evidence to the contrary.

However his use of (and presumably it was an original thought) the above as a heading to an 'article' on the victory of Gordon Brown (who I'm told is the British Prime Minister) in getting the Sarkozy Plan for an EU Navy ratified, did appeal to my sence of the - well I thought it was amusing.

Daddy and Baby

A touching scene in Carrbridge where CJ and I stopped for coffee on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


As CJ and I drove from Penrith to Keswick today we followed a Mazda MX5 with its hood down for 17 or so miles. Sitting as I was in a quiet, comfortable, air-conditioned (not that we had it on) tourer I felt a strong pang of desire to be back in my MX5 driving between Taupo and Napier on a warm summer's afternoon with no traffic as I did just after New Year this year. Just another 4 months and 1 week!

Where's He Gone Now?

CJ and I came to the Wirral via Keswick today. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane because CJ and I spent many holidays with Mum and Dad in the Lake District. Keswick is very different of course, although we were quite surprised at how many things were the same as they were 40 years ago. It will be interesting to compare some of today's photos with those of that era. Needless to say the hounds were not there then.

Those of you who read my posting when I reversed the car into the VW Polo might be interested to know that, as far as I can recall, the previous time that I reversed a car into something was when Mum and Dad, CJ and Phil and I were on holiday in the Lake District. I hit a post holding a parking sign in Keswick and the car was a Ford Zephyr. In my defence on that occasion it was raining heavily. The post was where the bollards are just outside the shop that is now Julian Graves.

We had lunch at a perfectly ordinary tea shop with good food and excellent service. What stood out, though, was the tables, the tops of which were made of a glass sandwich with dried wheats, flowers and the like.

I'm Not Here

This is scheduled to be posted onto the Blog at 00:30 on Wednesday London time. By then I shall, hopefully, be in bed in Glasgow ready for the journey to the Wirral on Wednesday to take CJ home. I return to Glasgow on Thursday so that I can go to Ayr on Friday. I expect to be back on Lewis on Saturday night.

How many posts and emails I'll get done during that time depends on my access to the internet and time and .... well, you know how it is.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Spider(s) and The Fly

i heard a spider
and a fly arguing
wait said the fly
do not eat me
i serve a great purpose
in the world
you will have to
show me said the spider
i scurry around
gutters and sewers
and garbage cans
said the fly and gather
up the germs of
typhoid influenza
and pneumonia on my feet
and wings
then i carry these germs
into the households of men
and give them diseases
all the people who
have lived the rights
sort of life recover
from the diseases
and the old soaks who
have weakened their systems
with liquor and iniquity
succumb it is my mission
to help rid the world
of these wicked persons
i am a vessel of righteousness
scattering seeds of justice
and serving the noblest uses
it is true said the spider
that you are more
useful in a plodding
material sort of way
than i am but i do not
serve the utilitarian deities
i serve the gods of beauty
look at the gossamer webs
i weave they float in the sun
like filaments of song
if you get what i mean
i do not work at anything
i play all the time
i am busy with the stuff
of enchantment and the materials
of fairyland my works
transcend utility
i am the artist
a creator and a demi god
it is ridiculous to suppose
that i should be denied
the food i need in order
to continue to create
beauty i tell you
plainly mister fly it is all
damned nonsense for that food
to rear up on its hind legs
and say it should not be eaten
you have convinced me
said the fly say no more
and shutting all his eyes
he prepared himself for dinner
and yet he said i could
have made out a case
for myself too if i had
had a better line of talk
of course you could said the spider
clutching a sirloin from him
but the end would have been
just the same if neither of
us had spoken at all

boss i am afraid that what
the spider said is true
and it gives me to think
furiously upon the futility
of literature


For those who have read my blog entitled A Hebridean in New Zealand the expression "wotthehellarchiewotthehell" will be familiar. Archie was a cockroach. Yes. Well. Perhaps this is not the time. Anyway Don Marquis's Archie wrote the blank verse that you may just have read to get this far down the posting. Perhaps I'll explain some other time. Anyway I was reminded of that verse - one of my favourites - when I photographed the tussle between the male and female spider and the demise of the fly. The female spider won - of course.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Starlings v Sparrows

A few days ago I blogged on the subject of Starlings. I received a comment from thingsoftheday qv. The gist of the comment was that starlings and pigeons were welcome visitors in their garden. It gave me to ponder on the issue perhaps a little more rationally. Then I realised how futile that was. The truth is that there's nothing rational about it. I just don't like starlings en masse (individual ones can be amusing because they are intelligent birds and great mimics) whereas I am happy with sparrows en masse and that has happened in the garden on an occasion a few years ago when I counted 78 sparrows waiting for breakfast:

Glasgow's Miles Better

I think that one of the best slogans ever was Glasgow's Miles Better (Glasgow Smiles Better) used by Glasgow in its Mr Happy Campaign. I recall many years ago Jenni Murray or Sue MacGregor on Radio 4's Today programme commenting (in a perfect Edinburgh accent) on it when Edinburgh was trying to find one. She came up with "Edinburgh's Quite Nice". Sums it up rather well really. Anyway, as I was saying, Glasgow's miles better. I could go on about all the improvements over the 40 years I have been visiting the City but they are too numerous. Suffice to say the whole ambience of the City has changed. It is now a wonderful and vibrant place. I wish that Liverpool could have achieved a fraction of what Glasgow has achieved. One of the many things they do really well is eateries. Now sitting out with your coffee on the pavement in Glasgow is not, on the whole, going to happen in the way it does in Napier or any other place in New Zealand for that matter. However Glasgow does have its own version of al fresco eating and sitting:

Buchanan Galleries

Princes Square


Sometimes I just sits

Tealight Holder

Pat and Dave gave me a tealight holder. I've been pondering. Is it primarily a thing of beauty given a use or is it a thing of use made out of something beautiful. Is it both? Does it matter? Anyway I like it and it's useful and it's beautiful. So..........

It's made from limestone (not sure which at the moment), is 15cm or 6" in diameter and the fossils are very evident.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


I commented to CJ the other day that the starlings had deserted the garden this year. I regarded that as a Good Thing. I've never quite worked out why, on the whole, we like sparrows and greenfinches but dislike starlings and pigeons. I suppose pigeons tend to eat all in their path and lots of it which is expensive when they empty a bird-feeder is a few hours. CJ pointed out that, on the whole, they just peck around the base of the feeder clearing up the seeds which would otherwise sprout amongst the chippings. Starlings, on the other hand, just eat and squabble and defecate all over the place. Anyway the point was that the starlings heard me and within the hour had descend en masse. Spooky. They have, however, not been back. Just making a point I suppose.