It’s the time of year for a bit of exploring and it’s a great excuse to put oneself in the direction of pleasant temperatures and every likelihood of a breeze. Scotland has been benefitting from having a summer, so far, this year. So, what better than to  waft away from the sticky towns and cities and head to the countryside.

At a local agricultural show, I got chatting to Irene from Canberra, who like me, was admiring this super youngster.  “E’s not fully growed…it take ’em aboot five year to be growed”, we were told, by an equally admiring farmer.

A Prize Youngster

A brazen surprise was in store in the sheep pens.

Oops, we’ve got the same jumpers on!

These two Suffolk sheep got first prizes.

….and what about this one

A big fluff ball

Certainly not your usual style of sheep. She got a  second prize. I wonder which local hairdresser she went to, the back-combing is a little passée.  Fluff Ball has potential for a first prize, if her hairdresser develops her styling technique.




…Surprising what you find:

Pretty Frilly Blue


Grounded in nature


Placed by nature -irresistible

If you peer in you may see the blue frilly butterfly on the right.


Crafted from  nature.

Nature blooming



Carved out woodland life


Dumbledore, or, could it be Gandulf…

The woods are different every visit, be it nature’s own changes with the seasons, or, things we have not yet found, all waiting for the next time we go exploring the woods.


This post, I uploaded for the first time, pictures taken with my phone camera. I don’t think I have mastered the art of uploading phone photos. All tips gratefully received.  🙂


The weather forecast was almost, but, not quite as dire as some we have heard before a journey. Nevertheless, if we were going to make the journey we had to travel in daylight.  The forecaster warned. that with the temperatures being low, driving conditions could be icy and in addition, there was snow expected on high ground, which would move onto lower ground later on.  It was mid February, daylight hours had increased by four minutes a day since the Winter Solstice, so, that meant we now had a decent chunk of additional daylight time in our favour.

P1000006 A9-North-2-Wb

You Can See The Icy Road Ahead.

Being a Tuesday, we expected to encounter a fair amount of commercial traffic.  Most of the commercial vehicles and some streams of cars were all heading in the opposite direction.  In front here, there was a truck and a tanker.

The road, Scotland’s notorious A9, is currently governed by average speed cameras. Vehicles of 7.5 tons or more, are restricted to 50 miles per hour.  Overtaking opportunities were limited, unless you thrived on serious risk-taking.  There being no other road north, It meant that domestic and smaller vehicles were forced to slower speeds for a much of the time.  You see road signs that tell you ‘frustration kills’.

Here we are into the steady upward climb of  ‘higher ground’ as can be seen by the snow-capped hill on the left and the broken white slopes appearing on the right.  Just in case you are wondering, we are on one  of  the sections of dual carriageway on this road.   There are not many.


Still, onward and upwards…..

Climbing Higher

Climbing Higher still



Mucky Windscreen, then clarity…….

The snowy  marshmallow pillows were lovely


This is my way of climbing peaks, using four wheels,

Mucky Windscreen

The dual carriageway at this point is on two levels.  Here in the right corner, you can just see a bit of the upper level.

We caught a heavy bout of ‘lower ground weather’ as forecast, just after a quick, a very quick lunch stop:   me darting in to the cafe to buy two coffees to take away.  The rest of the journey, the last hundred miles or so, was punctuated by heavy wind-driven snow and sleet. But, it was still daylight when we reached journey’s end.  We’d done it!






It’s tea time and it is late October, I am looking through the pitted glass; it’s pitted with the salt spray that has gusted around on stormy wet winds, winds gusting at about 70 miles per hour today.  Memories of a fine pleasant Edinburgh in August this year, seem unreal on this rip roaring weather day;  it feels like it was a really long time ago.  The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The International Festival, (main stream theatre) and  the Edinburgh International Book Festival, all ‘colluded’ to start simultaneously this year. I thought it was fantastic. Virtually the whole of the city centre and many nearby suburbs buzzed with Festival. 

My shoulder and neck ached from carrying my camera,  so, there were some days as a festival-goer I gave ‘me’ a rest.  A couple of times I saw the most fascinating person, or, action, and I had nothing with which to physically record the moment. You never know what wonders there will be at Festival.  It sometimes works in your favour focussing your eyes 100% and chatting with people, like, when I climbed on a bus one afternoon and sitting facing me was the most stunningly made-up young man, who was on his way to perform in a cabaret act. Exquisite feathers of shiny and many coloured hues, for eyelashes, fluttered at me.  He had fine very pale pink lips and a white face.  All of this theatrical beauty was crowned with dressed fiery curly auburn hair. “You look wonderful“,  I found myself blurting out.  I know he was surprised, it showed. He was also pleased and he thanked me. I sat next to a woman in the seat in front of him and  there began a  friendly three-way conversation. The man rifled around in his capacious handbag, also part of the theatrical wardrobe, to find me a card for his fringe venue. Well, you can’t remember every little thing can you. No card I’m afraid, but, I did learn that the eyes transformation took about an hour and a more careful application (!!!) required about two and a half hours.

I wonder what this glorious ‘lady-in-waiting ‘ is loitering for.  Maracas perhaps?


 The Royal Mile, is about a mile to walk; the top end has the iconic Edinburgh Castle and at the lower end you arrive at Holyrood Palace, where the Queen stays when in Edinburgh.   The top end was closed off to through-traffic during Festival.  With the good weather most days, snapshot fringe performances took place.


There was all this activity  at the top end, near the castle.  Manipulating a puppet while playing a violin – what a brilliant act!

The cyclist in the picture above is a mime artist and is not moving.

Here below, onlookers filming and taking photos of the puppeteer and her fiddler



A puppet act with a difference




A quarter of the way down…. this group had a regular longer performance at an indoor venue. Here on The Mile they were providing a taster of their act.  They worked their audience well and a good crowd gathered.



And more….  the boards, like the one in this picture to the left of the stage, gives the  schedules of free Fringe acts throughout the day at the various similar stage venues here.  This is just a wee snapshot of one day at The Festival when I was wandering around exploring what was happening on The Royal Mile. There was a lot more to find in many different places.



I did my research, it looked straightforward enough, so I ordered memory modules to upgrade my computer.  It’s not any old computer it’s an Apple and what they do and how they do what they do is different to Microsoft.  With Microsoft boxes of tricks, I could decide on what worked and slot the memory into whichever slot was free.  That was that. Not so Apple.

We had the right type of screwdriver to open the memory modules ‘door’ below the logo; that was the really easy part, I could have played with it for hours.  I well and truly earthed myself then struggled to push out the safely wedged memory from the package. Each module was very tightly housed into their plastic forms.  I gave up being gentle and succeeded in forcing one out.

Carefully following the step-by-step instructions, I pulled out plastic tabs that were supposed to loosen the existing computer memory from their slots. Not for me they didn’t. As I wanted the existing memory, I was not bothered about moving it anyway. I concentrated on installing the new green  memory modules.  ***!!!** They would not seat properly.

My persistence began to wane. The lady on the helpline – from Egypt – made suggestions that mirrored what I had been doing already…..Uh, Could I go to a computer shop.….No, not possible where I live…..have you watched installation videos on our site? ….I had a quick look.  No videos, just repeats of step-by-step instructions and not even as good as the ones I used.  We agreed to to replace my modules. as they didn’t seem to fit.  She started off the order process. The replacements would be sent when I returned the modules I had.

Next, phoned my brother hundreds of miles away. I wasn’t being forceful enough, he said………

                     A Bit Of Caerphilly

Really tug at the plastic tabs like they were a piece of  attached string,” he said, it would loosen the pre-installed memory modules, not that I needed to; I did it anyway.  A blue rectangular module catapulted out of the slot making a direct hit on my chest.  I was all of a tizzy… I checked the module for size against the new one I was struggling to fit. They measured the same. With a bit of a shove the original memory module seated in.  Right, then, let’s try the new modules one  more time.  I gave the first one a real heave ho and it did as it was told…wow! The second one got the same treatment.  I was ready to plug in to the mains.

My system analyser recognised the computer has lots more memory……


At a local interest group I try to get to, the task in hand was for each of us to present a short exposition of something we might liked to have done, or something we had done, followed by questions from the group.  As I had missed a couple of meetings I felt I ought to show my face for this one. What to do for it was the issue. I thought of a couple of clever ideas, ideas that were just a bit too clever. I urged myself to keep it simple and drew a blank.

On the morning of the meeting I thought to talk about walking the wall around the old city of Jerusalem, illustrating the talk with pictures uploaded onto my tablet computer. First task was to find a set of useful photos. As I rooted around my computer files, I found a really diverse set of photos of a visit to Masada, which, at that moment generated great memories. As Masada serendipitously presented itself, Masada was what I would talk about.

The Winding Path To + From Masada

After filtering the photos to a sensible number, I then got on with the task of researching a bit of  information for a personal commentary and also some written background within the length of a succinct blog post.

Masada Cable Car-Winding Path+ A Roman Encampment (far left)

In the middle of the preparation for my talk, I was having a conversation with someone at the electricity company. Those calls are never simple, and this one was no different. Some long time later, I was back to the presentation.  Time!  I had twenty minutes to get myself ready and to get copies of the document off the computer.  Whatever mistakes there were would just have to be….no time to proof-read, edit, etc, nor to have lunch. eeek!! I grabbed a ripe pear and dashed out of the house.


I arrived ten minutes after everyone else, though, as I was not expected I was greeted as a long lost friend. Having offered my efforts, my contribution was second. The talk went well, everyone was pleased to receive the typed presentation blurb, even with a few typing errors. My pictures of Masada and The Dead Sea were poured over, slowly, many questions were raised and I was asked what camera I used!  Anyway,  by the time my topic ended it was time for tea.

Gazing At The Dead Sea At Sunset (not me)



P1030066 South Bank Greek Cultural Event

It’s  August 2006 in London UK.  On a warm sunny weekend day the South Bank is busy with cultural festivals, meandering tourists, visitors to the Tate Modern, and The Globe. The River Thames, often referred to as the life blood of the Capital City, is alive with tour boats, boat buses and there are kayaks, which, at first, are moving fast in  a two lines formation, oars -in-out, tidily in together. They shift their positions  on the water and  move on, keeping up their speed. Kayaks On The Thames

 The Gherkin + River Thames From Tate Modern











It looks like the biggest draw for those of us on foot is The Millennium Bridge, It has connected up the old  City of London to the rest of the throbbing cultural metropolis, it has breathed life into a part of the square mile that is the Old City Of London, where it used to be sleeping once the business of the day had ended. As you cross The Thames towards the majestic sight of St Paul’s Cathedral, you can also take in the views up and down the waterway. Returning, you will see The Tate Modern Gallery,(from where this picture was taken) you could  also catch sight of The Globe Theatre. There is always so much to see whichever direction you are moving in.

Here on The South Bank you meet buskers, Greek musicians of quality,  who are here because of the celebration of their culture. I stop to listen and record a few phrases of their music. They tell me they are staying in North London (where there are large Greek and Cypriot communities). They earn their living playing music at night in some of the Greek restaurants in London.

P1030092 Busking On Sth Bank

I take pictures as I wander over the Millennium Bridge; the tide is out.  The Gherkin appeals to me, I love its clever  elegant shape, the colour of the glass and it’s design. It breaks into the utilitarian lumps of angular concrete of the buildings clustered around it, buildings which I think are not sympathetic to the Neo-Classical structures nearby them.  I never tire of the Gherkin. Eight years on, the skyline has altered with the development of more new fantastic architecture, slotted in and very visible from the vantage points from which I took these pictures in 2006.  London never stays still.

 Tide's Out P1030075 Skyline From South Bank London

It’s been a really good day, it’s time to go.

P1030064 Central Line Underground Train


What have I done so far since the last weeks of 2013 wafted away and 2014 blasted in.

I have felt weary, tired, but definitely not fed up; I am not affected by the long dark days at this time of year. What I am affected by, I believe, is the relentlessness of the festive expectations that are manipulated by commercial interests.

For heaven’s sake, Christmas trees hanging from store ceilings in September, all dressed up with their tinsel and faux parcels!


This in-store tree in Edinburgh was a  real one, which, unlike others,  was a great feature with twinkling lights, at about the expected [right]  festive time. It would have been wilted and horrible had it been in place in the very warm environment of the store, for around three months.  Perish the thought!

I was pleased our town’s street lights were not switched on until the 7th November 2013. That’s weeks behind the lighting up in major cities. The lights are pretty, a gentle tradition to brighten up the darkness.



Getting back to the frenzied reality, there’s the need to get packages and well-wishing correspondence sent by mid October if you want it to definitely arrive in time for mid December in the Antipodes and the Americas, we’re told, notwithstanding the blatant profiteering of the mail system; the costs of posting anything have soared. There are leaflets telling you what can and cannot be sent and where whatever it is, can and cannot be sent. Added to that, there’s a memory test, you are interrogated by the teller as to what is in the parcels and packages. It is almost like airport security. My gift package of two mini Xmas puddings was checked against an explosives list!!!!

We travelled on Christmas Day, 25th December. It’s rare to share the road with many cars on this day. This year was an exception. People had taken note of the severe weather warnings and delayed their journeys. One of the few businesses open, a Brewers Fare restaurant, was quiet when we arrived before the lunch rush. We were looking for restrooms and a hot drink. The staff were so accommodating, finding a space for us to sit and have cups of coffee, then giving us takeaway drinks for the journey.

On lower ground it poured with rain. Up high, there was some snow; the snow ploughs and gritters were busy at work, we passed four.

At The Portrait Gallery Edinburgh

When we returned home, it felt so good slipping back into my own bed for the first time in 2014 and drifting off to a relatively restful sleep.

This week, we have waved cheerio to our liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tank, a garden feature for far too many years. I got to connect the lifting chains.


The hydraulic lifting mechanism was a fine bit of engineering. It took quite some time to complete the manoeuvrings both sides of the fence. Once on the lorry in the right position, our tank had to be strapped securely into place. Regulations prohibited the vehicle to be driven off till the remaining LPG was drained out of the tank into the fixed white one on the trailer.



A morning and two mugs of tea later, (for the driver) a signature on a receipt for the tank’s removal, the job was completed and the driver was off to pick up the next tank.