A vet once said, (not so long ago either) that the real problem was not the dogs he sees but what is at the other end of the lead.

A black Retriever bounded onto the bus with a woman seemingly in firm control. She sat at an available window seat usually taken up by a parent with a buggy. Three stops on, she did get up to make room for a mum with a buggy, and she slid into the  vacant seat directly opposite .

The Retriever was quickly and excitedly all over the man already seated in the window seat. The man did not try very hard to keep the dog away.  The woman gave up trying to calm the dog. It soon became evident they all knew one another very well.

I saw the black snout facing and close to the man’s face, the dog had its tongue out.  It seemed odd though, it was an extra long tongue.  This was one of those occasions when my eyes did not register what they saw and I was slow making the connection. Man and dog were tongue to tongue.



Frustration is so damn tiring; I don’t recommend it. It all started when on a  really long journey I discovered my satnav had “no maps to display”.   Fortunately for us, there was daylight, which helped us see our way as we limped to our first off- the -beaten track destination with the help of a small silent screen of a phone.


Soon, we saw it was impossible to do everything we planned without the satnav and its lost maps. There was nothing for it but to grudgingly buy another one, but, it had to be the  most suitable and cheapest. At least we were somewhere where we had choices, a bit of a silver lining, I suppose.

Back home again, I discovered that the company would have allowed a branch of the retailer from whom we bought the satnav, to take it back, given the circumstances, BUT, (there’s always a but) within fourteen days. This was lunchtime on day thirteen and I was not about to dash 240 miles round trip to take advantage of the offer.


After a bit more conversation  with the company operative and ‘checking with my supervisor‘ the operative gave me a one-time offer of complete lifetime updates on this satnav model. Wasn’t that nice. He also helped me restore maps to my original  satnav.

Another BUT. To take advantage of lifetime updates, which I already had with the older device, I had to use a different email address. Two into one url just does not work.

I have spent so much time trying to sort out why logins did not work; why registration of the new machine did not succeed. Email instructions just did not cut the mustard. I phoned the customer line.

How was I supposed to know that you did not login via either of the addresses, in the way I always did, when I only had one satnav.


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)


The airline cancelled the flight. We and all the other passengers formed a never-ending queue to speak to one of the three ground staff ladies at the desk. Advice and guidance was not particularly well handled by airline staff. As for the rest of the palaver, that’s another story. Now, bear in mind, we’re not spring chickens.

Our turn came. The ground staff lady dubiously looked at hubby and me, and wearily asked…..

“Will you be sharing a room?”

Momentarily assessing the question and questioner, my left (ring) hand casually resting on the desk I gave my answer ….

“Yes, we’re allowed to”.

Good result, lady burst out laughing, gave us nice accommodation for the night.

Getting there was another and different story.


Snow and ice have arrived. We’re not isolated yet by the weather conditions. We are though, being cut off by bridge works on the only main tributary road. It was arbitrarily closed by the contractors, (they had over-run on their contract time), this closure being during the rush to work, and people trying to make hospital appointments. the closure caused delays of about 2.5 hours. Anyone travelling after 11.30am probably got to their destination without too much disruption.



Selected perspectives of Granada in midwinter:

You can click on the photos to enlarge them

A roof line at The Alhambra Palace with a stunningly forceful sky as a backdrop.

P1000188 Alhambra rooftops

The fine detail of design work on a pillar. Wherever you looked there was beautiful pattern work. On walls, in particular, these finishes seem to have been the equivalent of our decorative wallpaper. It is possible to see how the patterned surfaces could be removed and replaced/refreshed with other designs. Undoubtedly, the artisans had a real pride in what they produced.

P1000174 Nasris Palace

How timeless this Moorish floor tile pattern in the Alhambra Palace is.


The contrasts of Granada in Winter. The nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains, which are smoothly carpeted in deep snow and bathed in sunshine, provide a winter sports playground. In the town people live and work, visitors explore while enjoying the sun and the midday warmth.

P1000224 Snowy Sierra Nevada

In a courtyard that was a contemplative part of a religious house, there are artisans showing and selling their work.


Inside the house there is a Bélen, one of many finely made nativity scenes that are well supported with visitors, and families with excited children. Perhaps because it is a Mediterranean depiction, the characterisations are more realistic to the Middle East than the religious artistic representations you see in galleries and churches in other parts of Western Europe.


The pomegranate tree in the courtyard is pregnant with ripe and over-ripe fruit. some are dramatically splitting. The fruit tree adds to the delight of this little corner of Granada.

P1000272 Granada Pomegranates split


We had visited the Trevi Fountains in Rome then wandered around the little streets nearby, momentarily stopping off for good Italian ice-creams,(yum) and to buy some black and white post-cards that were on display, for sprog’s Audrey Hepburn collection. These pictures of course, were La Hepburn pillion on a Vespa, or, perhaps a Lambretta, or looking elegant in some other setting.

Time, we thought, to go somewhere else. We walked aimlessly, arriving at some classic styled white steps that obviously arrived at a higher level than we were. We climbed them and at the top, found ourselves in a piazza, where, to the left of us was a decorative period mansion.

One or two policemen were casually walking around near the steps and in the piazza. I stopped one to ask in my best Italian, “Where are we please?”….quick as a flash the reply came…..”You are in Italy!



About 2 hours North of Edinburgh we drove into a natural, hazardous, Christmas Winter Wonderland. It is the one time when you can barely see the sheep in fields, since the fields are no longer defined by the variety of greens in their grasses. They are cloaked in snow. Each time a plump of snow was about to fall, the sky grew an ominous grey. Though not nightfall, natural light was dimmed. Visibility reduced. The world around us looked, at that stage, very uninviting.

We drove many miles behind a gritter/snow-plough, a large vehicle with powerful lights. Though a slow and majestic mover, the usual frustrations associated with sedate driving did not figure in the weather conditions that prevailed. A crawler lane for overtaking slow vehicles, literally was a crawl forward. Without the remains of a one car accident on the other carriageway, with emergency services still in attendance, it might have been possible to demurely overtake the snow-plough. As it was not possible, we stayed in file, behind it. I found it quite comforting.


At nightfall we were negotiating steep roads and hairpin bends, (shiny with a covering of ice) behind a vehicle with a heavily laden trailer; it was a peculiarly shaped load, possibly a kind of huge transformer together with some other heavy duty machinery. The vehicle almost came to a stop at the most sharp and steep part of the journey. We took deep breaths, kept our distance and trusted to hope. By staggered degrees of movement, the vehicle made its way onward and upward.

Magically, we gently moved through a vortex of falling snow. I imagined stars speeding by us in outer space. On the other side of the vortex was deep dark stillness either side of us. A large rectangle of red light, with twinkling red lights at its four corners was elegantly moving ahead of us. The lights of another car beamed behind. In this quiet manner we processed home.


Storm force 12 winds on Friday through to Saturday abated; some people lost electricity phone lines etc. I thought there would be a worse devastation scenario. Saturday was calmer only to lead into severe gales by Sunday. Monday morning, I heard that people had been without electricity supplies for several hours. The emergency re-connections could not be undertaken till the ferocity of the wind dropped.

Sprog’s train home on Sunday, hit a felled tree on the line, felled by the winds. It could not be seen in the pitch black dark night. Passengers were instructed to move into another carriage (probably the rear one of two). The train extricated itself from the tree and limped backwards some miles to the previous station.

The passengers were offered free beverages. They waited an hour and a half for bus transport to arrive to take them on to their various destination points. Twelve hours after starting out, sprog, weary but safe, arrived home


Travelling from North to South this morning two notable events occurred, apart from blasted idiots on the road taking unacceptable risks with other peoples’ health and well-being.

1) The sun in the East was low, very blindingly low, exacerbated by glare from rain and wet roads. Yet together with the sun, from 9am through to 9.45am I clearly saw a half moon sitting in the light blue sky above.

2) After an initial groan at the BBC yet again deifying their erstwhile broadcasters, I was surprised and delighted to hear the inimitable tones of Alastair Cook, both speaking and singing, (that was a first… singing!). His absolute mastery of description was delicious, you could be there, where ever he was, or had been, and so clearly, in his very own footprint.

I, for one,am totally broadcaster deification averse, especially after so many have had memorial programmes and repeats, almost immediately they have departed this earthly plane. For some reason this irreverent exercise, I am pleased to say, has not happened with Alastair Cook.