It’s not a ‘man-cold’…..

….but my nose is running like a tap!…..and I have an un-requested deep husky (sexy?) voice. It may have been an allergy, or sitting in a car for a few hours with re-cycled air-conditioning (a bit like flying?).

Problem is that I am supposed to be singing with Angelus on Sunday night! Has anyone got an instant medicinal recipe (or pills) which does not involve copious amounts of alcohol? My audience awaits, but I don’t think they would like to see me swaying, or hanging-on to something, whilst my tonsils warbled uncontrollably.

Beat that view!

My new header shows Inverness last weekend, taken from their version of the ‘shoogly bridge’. It was hot and sunny and we were able to walk everywhere.

It rivals Paris for the riverviews!….and they speak a lovely version of English!

Home from home?

This weekend was another holiday here, so there was the opportunity to head north with Young Lady of the House, and Daughter, to the Inverness area and beyond. Our first stop was at Spean Bridge, north of Tyndrum, where there is a beautiful viewpoint and a memorial to Commandos who had trained here service during the war. No matter how many times we see it, it still has the power to produce an emotion about events, just before our lifetime.

Spean Bridge Commano Memorial

We have long-established friends who have the  good fortune to live in the Inverness section of the Highlands……and we shared a couple of good meals with them. The City of Inverness straddles the River Ness (obviously) which is picturesque, although just now it is low with the lack of rain!



Sunday was so hot that we went to the head of Loch Ness (no sign of Nessie!), and watched the tourist boats going through the canal between the Loch and the river going to the sea.

But most of all we wanted to call again at Foulis Castle, our ancestral home, in Evanton near Dingwall. The photo here shows how well-preserved and beautiful it is. (You can ‘Google’ it and get a large amount of information about life in the time of the Scottish clan system) We have been here many times before, including one of the Clan gatherings a few years back. I had written the ‘calling poem’ for the last Gathering in 2007, and it was published in the Clan magazine. We had to cancel our attendance, unfortunately, at the last minute, and so it was time to get the ‘Clan-Family fix’.

It is still a lived-in home, and we met-up again with the mother of the Clan Chief. She is a very gracious Lady and has an in-depth knowledge of the Clan, and the Castle. We were particularly keen to see how her garden, in the large courtyard of the castle, was getting-on, as she has tirelessly worked on it over the decades since we were there first in 1969!

We weren’t disappointed in any way. At 83, her brain is still sharp, and knowledge of the clan is now even more detailed. She has reconstructed the old kitchen in the basement, and two wonderful self-contained apartments have been built, with a respect for the existing building and incorporating many of the old artifacts.  The garden in the courtyard has developed immensely, again  with the eye for detail.

The weather was beautiful, in contrast to south of the country, and so we returned tired, (special thanks to Daughter who did the long periods of driving in her new car), and very pleased with the visit to our ‘Home from Home’.

Singing in the Highlands..again

Sunday evening saw our little Choir, Angelus, singing again in the lovely Highland spa town of Pitlochry. We had been invited to return to Holy Trinity Church, (which is just beside the local distillery) this time to take part in a Sung Eucharist Service

Believe it or not, this change was because the Morning Service had to be postponed because of a cycling road race which would be running (or should I say, pedalling?) a matter of feet from the church! The resulting closed-off roads and sheer noise and activity would have precluded the possibility of them having any kind of normal service, and it was put back to the evening.

This meant different music to be prepared and learned, and with two of our members off, one having just had a successful heart operation, and his wife obviously with him, we were somewhat depleted, but with some of the local choir we did well. The church was packed with members from the local Church of Scotland and Basptist churches, and all sang lustily. Great to see such unanimity amongst the community. Of course the great reputation which Holy Trinity has for hospitality also helped! (only joking!).

It is always a pleasure to come to Pitlochry as it carries an air of ‘distinction’. One would not dare criticise it! There are a goodly number of fine shops and hotels, and the Theatre has a high reputation.

In summer it can be very busy, but the best time to see it is, well, any time. Go in the spring and see the ferns and heather on the hills; in the Summer, the gardens of the houses and hotels are at their best and the heather on the hills can be marvellous; in Autumn the bracken, and the colours of the trees can compete with ANYWHERE in the world; and of course when the snow is on the hills in winter, and you can get through the snow-gates, you must have your camera!  DO I SOUND LIKE A TOURIST GUIDE?

The marvellous grey stone which is extensively used here, gives it a very clean appearance and it always looks fresh. The Fish Ladder and the Theatre in its own gardens, are both worth diverting off the A9 to Inverness, to see. Most highland coach trips will do so and you will find many languages on the streets and in the shops.

Unfortunately, with our busy day, we did not have time for a wander round but we invite every-one, especially those from south of the Border to come and see it.

We will be back at Pitlochry if invited!…..some photos will follow….

The madness of football

As a resident of Scotland, within about 45 mins of Ibrox, the Rangers Stadium, I was sickened by the recent scenes in Manchester. There is nothing which can be said to explain or excuse the appalling behaviour of the minority of people who ravaged the centre of the city, and showed a distorted view of the normally-sane Scottish football lover. What an example to the young ones present (why were they not at school?)! And what are they saying to the rest of the world? The injuries caused to police officers, and the appalling video of the attack on one of them, is an insult to the ideals of law and order, to which, fortunately, most of us adhere.

The sooner, that the footballing authorities get some kind of grip on these people (who, incidentally help to pay the inflated wages of football management and players) the better. It cannot be left entirely on the shoulders of the police forces who are already well-stretched.

Perhaps they could start by remembering that at one time football was a sport, and not a reason to produce high emotions, change a genuine opportunity for rivalry, into a chance to hate people wearing a different shirt, and destroy property.

If not, then the next generation will pursue the same path.

Why is life so busy?

Keeping a diary provides the means of recording both day-to-day mundane, and important,  events on an on-going basis, and one has only to look at many blogs to see the ‘busyness’ which we all have. Yesterday was one of those days when the sun shines and a tremendous number of little jobs need to be, and are done….

  • prepare blogs and comments
  • send e-mails about choir
  • rehang spare room curtains
  • dismantle and clean double-glazed dormer window
  • touch up paintwork in one of spare rooms
  • weed the front garden
  • cut back lawn
  • re-pot lavatera plant
  • cleanup patio
  • trim wall rose
  • remove old lilac tree (or as much as was possible)
  • re-coat garden furniture with eco-friendly varnish
  • tidy-up some daffodil heads
  • re-adjust pots on patio to bring the more colourful ones closer
  • trim away some of Leylandii hedge
  • have well-deserved beer with Young Lady
  • out for meal in evening (had to return to restaurant to collect forgotten jacket!)

…………….and many others, too many to mention.

…………….and this does not include all the hundreds of little jobs which Young Lady of the House did!

We were sitting briefly out at the back watching little ants running hither and thither somewhat aimlesly, but perhaps with their own version of a busy day. Some were carrying small leaves, but most were not doing anything apparently notable. I wonder when they got back to their nests did they have a communal moan about the jobs they did and still have to do?

Our morning and afternoon were probably the warmest this year, and unfortunately the clouds built-up and thunder and lightening were followed by a brief torrent of rain. One of our neighbours had been hosing the garden in the morning but must have felt a bit silly when the downpour came!


Another day, another car….

Last Monday was a holiday, and the lure of a drive to another part of Scotland was strong. My old CRV has 105,000 miles on the clock so is a bit tired; young Lady’s Civic has to be preserved for when CRV gives up; and son’s BMW needs its own petrol tanker coming behind it. So Daughter, who has just acquired a new Ford Focus, volunteered to give the new car a run into the Scottish/English Border area.

Peebles is one of those areas which is what is a REAL Market Town…..with REAL shops. It is situated on the River Tweed, well known for the fishing. The approach is by quite narrow roads and a sudden twist into the Main Street. It is wonderfully wide, but don’t expect to get easy parking on a nice day. On both sides of the road, you will find every kind of specialist shop, including a great book shop (for Son and me), and shoe shops (for the ladies).

Picnicking was possible on the riverbank, and we watched children happily playing about. Then we walked along the river, and through the rugby grounds. If the borders is known for nothing else, the rugby features highly in the social life of this whole region.

A visit to our favourite group of art and craft shops was essential, and a slightly-roundabout journey back took us to the source of the River Tweed, and a Devil’s Beeftub, a very deep valley in the shape of a deep bowl near Moffat. Back to Daughter’s where she served-up her usual high-quality food ( a gift acquired from my Young Lady) and a snooze, before being driven back home by Son in his BMW.

……………nothing startling, but just a nice day!

So far and yet so near

Brother, who is married and lives in Australia, has just had his 60th birthday, and, as requested, has sent me a very nice family photo including his wife and children. I was almost tempted to ask him why the photo did not come upside down, but that is too corny even for me!

He went to the antipodes on UK Decimalisation Day (probably to escape the horrible word, PENCE), and thinks nothing of the long flights back for funerals. It is strange to note that even with being so close as children, who played well together, we have spent most of our lives as far apart as is presently possible, and have built-up relationships, and pursued careers unknown and un-connected to one another.

Yet when we do meet again, we seem to just settle-in again as if nothing had happened.

There is one other interesting point. When writing the obituary for our mother, I e-mailed him to see if there were any specific points or memories he wanted brought to mind, and he sent me over his version of our childhood. There were some important points on which the facts seemed to differ from my recollection and diary, but at this stage in our lives it makes no difference, but does show that we can observe happenings from different viewpoints, and carry that view all our lives.

We still hope that we might take the long journey over, and resolve who was right about the various parts of our childhood, if someone could knock me out for the 36 hours of travelling!