1 EAGLETON NOTES: October 2014



Thursday, 30 October 2014

Thankful Thursday

I'm hoping that in order to send this I have an internet connection sometime today.  If I do, then that alone would be enough for me to feel very thankful this Thursday because I've had no really usable internet since Monday morning.  A great deal of my communication relies on an internet connection not just because of the computer but also because the mobile/cellphone signal here is such that we cannot get data and therefore cannot use many of the apps on the phone without wi-fi.

So I may or may not be visiting blogs depending on my access but I'm doing my best.

The other thing for which I am thankful is our wonderful health service.  I know that many of you in the US are not in favour of the public national health service we take for granted here in the UK (and some other countries in Europe too) but I owe my life to it and yesterday I benefitted, yet again, from the services of a first class surgeon and the team who provided her backup and support.

I had a cancerous growth removed from my neck.  It wasn't there six months ago and when it was removed yesterday it was affecting an area of about 20 x 15 mm - perhaps more.  Certainly the area of tissue removed was larger. 

It's removal will allow the treatment for my prostate cancer to carry on without any complications.

So this morning when I woke from a remarkably good sleep in the circumstances I was very thankful indeed for our health service and the people who staff it.

Now all I have to do is wait for an opportunity to get this post into the ether.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

It's That Cat Again

It's a horrible day.  We have been besieged by storms and serious blog posts (well a few anyway) so I thought I'd show some pictures of Wesley (or whatever his/her name is).  S/he will get a surprise tomorrow: Molly arrives this evening.

Friday, 24 October 2014

It's All In The News

One of the things that struck me when I first went to New Zealand in 2005 was that there was to some extent no such thing as local television news in the way that news is local in the UK.  There are no regional TV News programmes.  On the other hand there is another way of looking at it: that all news in New Zealand is local - regardless of where it happens.  So having been back in Scotland for half a year this email from TVNZ struck me as peculiar.

Am I the only one to feel this?

In case, by the way, you are wondering to what I am referring it is the item about a woman refusing to pay her rates.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Honesty, Insurance and Double Standards

I was part of a group of people discussing insurance recently.  Insurance companies are not, it seems, particularly popular with many people.  What struck me, though, was the rather illogical approach people sometimes have.

Of these otherwise upstanding members of the community one was proud of how he had saved on his premiums by making false statements to the insurance company.  Another was gloating at how he had managed to get more out of the company on a claim than he was entitled to.

How come, I wonder, was I being made to feel the odd one out in the conversation: either a fool or a prude.

The first person was aware that if he was found out (and in the event of a claim he was bound to be) his insurance policy would be null and void.  He needn't have bothered with insurance in the first place. Oh no, sorry, one has to have car insurance - he'd never have thought of breaking the law.  The second would probably never have been found out so will have got away with it.  But had he been......

However, and herein lies the rub, both those people were defrauding me and the millions like me who are honest with their insurance companies and are actually subsidising and paying for the dishonesty of the others.  

Fraud costs each of us with car insurance about £50 annually. It's the same principle as honest shoppers in supermarkets paying for the shoplifters.  The irony is that not one of those who defrauded the insurance companies would ever have dreamt of shoplifting: that would, after all, be stealing and they are all honest upright citizens.

Monday, 20 October 2014

An Unhealthy Interest

The young couple who are my neighbours have now acquired two puppies and two cats.  They all seem delightful.  Well, as delightful as cats can be when they are interested in one's goldfish.

The solution that I had found to keep the seagulls off seemed unlikely to deter this curious chap.

So another deterrent had to be found

and this is it: floating plastic interconnecting grids which prevent  the cat from getting into the pond or scooping the fish out and at the same time preventing the gulls swooping down.  What's more for most of the time they can hardly be seen 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Thankful Thursday: Every Cloud

has a silver lining.

It's over five months since I wrote the last post on A Hebridean in New Zealand and today is the first time since I wrote it that I have re-read it in full.  I don't think that I appreciated at the time just how much I would miss New Zealand and my life there.  In fact from the moment I arrived back in Scotland the idea of not going back was banished from my mind.  I think that I must have been having a severe dose of reality when I wrote the post and that my optimistic me was on hold for a short while.  In fact I think that until last week I was actually sub-consciously more concerned about my cancer than I've been since 2010 and, perhaps, since I was diagnosed in 1998.

Today's reality is that I shall not be returning at the end of this month as I usually do and, indeed, it may well be that I shall not return this summer (New Zealand's summer that is). But then again I may. For many reasons it seems unlikely that I shall be able to resume my Godwit existence but I'm more optimistic now about a return to my other spiritual home.

My cancer treatment has been under close review since I returned  and a couple of weeks ago I had a complete set of scans which confirmed that no prostatic cancer tumours have developed in my abdomen or chest.  So the situation is that my blood count is increasing rapidly but is still low enough for hormone treatment to be delayed for a while in order to achieve maximum benefit.  Apparently that is because I am quite fit and the treatment has not had an adverse effect on me in the past.  So it looks like taking any decisions about returning to NZ for the time being are still on hold.

However who knows what will happen in a few months and I am now back in an optimistic enough frame of mind to believe that I shall be seeing The Family again in their own setting and that I shall again play croquet on the hallowed Marewa lawns: perhaps not this summer but certainly the following one.

Friday, 10 October 2014

MV Loch Seaforth

The new ferry for the service between Ullapool (on the Scottish Mainland) and Stornoway (on the Isle of Lewis) is called MV Loch Seaforth.  The ferry has capacity to take 700 passengers, 143 cars or 20 commercial vehicles. The vessel was named after the Loch Seaforth, a mail boat that sailed between Lewis and Mallaig on the Scottish mainland  between 1947 and 1972.

MV Loch Seaforth (picture from the BBC website)
She was due to take up her duties in September. However there have been a number of problems at the German yard where she is being built and now it is reported that the yard (Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft) is on the verge of bankruptcy.  It is understood that an offer has been made by a Norwegian yard but if that falls through then it could be a matter for the German courts to decide and the handover of the ferry to it's new owners could be delayed and that doesn't bode well for the coming winter services.

Ah well.  We'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Citizen Firefighter

When I passed Glasgow's Central Station recently I decided to take another picture of 'Citizen Firefighter'.

The bronze statue named Citizen Firefighter was sculpted by Kenny Hunter.  It recognises the work of firefighters past and present and is in remembrance of those who have risked their lives and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to save people from burning buildings.

Less than three months after it was unveiled on June 17 2001, Citizen Firefighter became a focal point for the people of Glasgow after the events of September 11 in New York and became a place for many to leave flowers and tributes to the many firefighters who died in those events.

Citizen Firefighter also stands as a reminder of all of the Glasgow firefighters who have died while on duty.  Perhaps the first of those was Fireman James Bruce who, on January 15, 1832, fell to his death from a ladder while tackling a fire in the former Queen's Court building on the east side of Queen Street.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

A Journey Home

I was in Glasgow last week.  I had intended to return on Friday but the storms forecast for Friday and Sunday and the likely resulting ferry disruptions meant that I made a dash for home yesterday (on Saturday).  It turned out to be a good move.  I left Glasgow at 9am and arrived home via Skye and the Uig to Tarbert ferry at 9pm.  On the whole the weather was good and the driving conditions excellent and, as always through the Highlands, hugely enjoyable.  When I got to Rannoch Moor I took some photos but also tried a Photosphere (the view one can take with a smartphone which is essentially the same as a Google Streetview).  I'm not sure how to generate a URL for the public picture but if you want to have a look at it I think you will be able to see it here.  If you can't please let me know and I'll investigate further.

In the meantime here are some photos taken approaching and on Rannoch Moor and into Glencoe.

I love the Scottish Highlands