Friday, 2 November 2018

Murphy Moments

How quickly time passes when the family come to stay ... Their first day in Largs brought the sun out and the family got to have an explore ... walking along the shore, playing in the park, visiting the ice cream shop and ...

getting to ride on Thomas.
Thomas became a theme ... as Murphy read about his favourite train, watched his favourite train on the TV, played with his favourite train and even saw many "real " trains coming and going from Largs.    

Sometimes he just had to have some chillin' time from the excitement of it all ...

and included in the excitement was a visit to Edinburgh zoo where the March of the Penguins was the highlight.

Mostly, Murphy loved to visit soft play areas to play in the ball pit and climb high and slide down the chute or have a splish splash in the swimming pools. His favourite pool had slides, where he could made a big splish splash when entering the water.

His auntie Natalie had presented him with his own Paw Patrol (another favourite) ball pit. This, he used as a tent/castle, a chute, as well as the original use of a ball pit, whatever that may be.

Who knew what versatility was available with an inflatable car! You just need the imagination to change what you see into what you want it to be ... lessons to be learned there, eh!

More Thomas moments ...
Elephants on parade
There were lots of precious family times with everyone entering Murphy's world.

Whether it was trumpeting like elephants, or watching the film Minions on the TV, singing all the music from the film Moana, roaring like a dinosaur or cheering hip, hip hoorah at every conceivable moment ... life was a ball. At least it was for his doting grandparents.

Then it was time for the Canadians to return to Canada ... but first a visit to the relatives in Stratford , Ontario where Murphy once again found Thomas ... in a very precious book that had been in the family for many years.

There were magic moments visiting the ducks and many new places to explore ... and many new family members to entrance.

Their stop over coincided with Hallowe'en and family pumpkin party time, so it was Trick or Treat anyone?

We certainly were treated to three weeks of family fun and laughter, can't wait 'til we schedule in our next Murphy moments.

They are, I can assure you, momentous ...

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

This month is all about ...

... Murphy.

We are enjoying his chat, his smile, his chuckles. So there is not a lot of time for writing.
What a smile

Will get back to writing all about our best bits next month ...
See ya' then.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Plain Sailing

Porto Santo Stefano, Monte Argentario

I mentioned in August's blog that our balcony windows/doors were going to be installed ... at long last. A theme is developing in my life methinks.

The windows had been part of the plan since we moved, however we needed to wait for planning permission ... got that. Then there was a delay in the arrival of the building warrant due to other alterations needing to be considered i.e. a sprinkler system, as we intend to convert the loft. Further delay as we shopped around and once we decided, then came a hiatus while the company found a date in their diary!

So all things considered it was nearly 2 years from the first thought of new windows to their actual installation.

It makes you think, doesn't it!

How many of us still expect the instant manifestation of our dreams or plain sailing in the sea of life? It would appear I still do ... even when I discover that the waiting game was for the best as in my knee saga.  Or that life's storms brought their own blessings ... too many of them to mention.

So here is the window saga in picture form. And yes they are well worth the wait.

How they were

First stage
In the midst

We have an even brighter ... and warmer living area and  although it took nearly two years of thought and planning,  it was completed in just one day of installation. 

The doors swing to one side, opening our room out ready for next year's summer sunshine. Now that is what I call being well prepared...
We are now getting prepared for the imminent arrival of Murphy and his parents from Canada. You can be sure that next month's blog will be featuring Murphy's adventures in Scotland. Here is a record of what he gets up to in Canada ...
Meeting new friends

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Many Happy Returns

The beginning
It was so good to be back in Italy. For many years Andy and I have celebrated my birthday by exploring different areas of Italy. Last year the birthday trip to Italy was not a priority as a visit to Canada/Murphy in August was much more important!

This year however, with the Canadians coming to us in October, an impromptu week in Tuscany could be booked to our favourite area; Castagneta Carducci. This time we were going to experience the delights of Agriturismo. This translates as living on a vineyard, not I hasten to add, as a couple of extra hands bringing in the harvest! Although I did offer Andy's services...

Our arrival was late at night and it took us a few wrong turns to find it. Imagine our delight the next day when we saw the avenue leading to our temporary home ...

Not only was the situation perfect but we discovered that we had enjoyed an impromptu wine tasting at this very vineyard, two years previously. This no plan/impromptu living is working out really well.

The venue was called Agriturismo tra gli Ulivi, owned by the Chiappini family. To be recommended to everyone who wants a taste of an idyllic lifestyle. We were only there a week but it was a wonderful interlude.

Now we are thinking how to spend a month there next year!

Yes, it was that good...

View of Tuscan hills from room
Our room was comfortable with touches of luxury, but it was the view outside that was inspiring. We could look one way to the rolling Tuscan hills or turn our gaze to the right and see the inviting saltwater swimming pool.

I say inviting, as the weather was sunny and very hot. Temperatures in the high 20 degrees so it was refreshing to take a late afternoon swim after walking over 5 miles every day.

Yes, I kept up with the walking ... and walking. Although we had hired a car, every town we visited required much walking and nothing was on the flat. They don't describe the area as having rolling hills for nothing, you know.

Every day took us to different areas. Some days, it was the nearby towns of Bolgheri, Donoratico, Marina di Castagneta, Bibbona, Casale Marittimo and of course our favourite, Castagneta Carducci.

Further north were the coastal towns of Cecina, Vada and Castiglioncello to explore.
We even went south for a day to Orbetello and onwards over the causeway to Porto Santo Stefano on the rocky isle of Monte Argentario. Returning north, via a sunset dinner at Castiglione della Pescaia, another favourite destination.

I have a story to tell about one of my previous visits to Castiglione della Pescaia, but only over a cup of coffee or even a glass of wine!

Prosecco at Marina di Castagneta
Now for the birthday celebrations ... prosecco, a must ... followed by some superb fish dishes and a very contented Eileen chillin'
Birthday girl

An Ending
Watching the sunset on my birthday celebrations was one of the "best bits" of the holiday. "Best Bits" is a reflection on what has occurred to help you remember the whole ... be it a day, a week, a year or even a sunset. The gratitude attitude is a helpful habit and "sets" (pardon the pun) many a picture into the memory store of the mind ... and yes taking a photograph helps too but I can remember this day without searching my mobile phone!

The Finished Article!
Some last words, to sum up my "Many Happy Returns"... and I don't just mean my birthday. Seven years ago, while hosting a yoga week at Campiglia Marittima ...  to celebrate my 60th birthday, no less ... I drove up a steep Tuscan hillside and discovered the world of Castagneta Carducci and its environs. It has been calling to me ever since and I am very happy to keep on returning ... 

I am also happy to say that this is something Andy and I agree on. Above is photographic evidence of Andy enjoying a glass of wine from the very vineyard we stayed at.
 A birthday is a celebratory occasion marking the passage of time and as such I am looking forward to "Many Happy Returns".

ciao amici

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Diminishing returns...


Possibly, there is not a lot to see as far as difference in size but believe me I have travelled a huge distance in how I feel and in what I can do...

The grass returned/healed after the dry spell and I continue to extend my mileage, walking further, more often and over difficult terrain.

I hardly recognise myself in the mirror as I watch the pounds coming off and discover more and more of me as my weight becomes less and less.

"The plan to have no plan" was discovered on a T-shirt in Canada last September. What a year it has been as I embraced whole heartedly an empty diary/calendar to be filled with "whatever" and whoever turned up! And if you have been keeping up to date with the blog, a whole lot of magic was the result.

As I celebrate my 67th birthday this month, the phrase "Many Happy Returns" has a whole new meaning for me...


Monday, 20 August 2018


Swam this month for the first time in a year...

Doesn't seem like an earth shattering declaration but to me it was the best 10 lengths ever. It would appear that I am in a restructuring phase. Restructuring my use of time, restructuring my use of knees and restructing my body mass!

This last is courtesy of Michael Mosley's 8 week blood sugar diet!

8 weeks ago, a friend who I hadn't seen for a long time, came to lunch. She was looking great, had lost weight and was radiant with her new look. She and her husband had been on the Michael Mosley 8 week blood sugar diet which is particularly good for utilising stored abdominal fat...

Inspired by her "makeover" I ordered the book and Michael's wife's recipe book, checked out my resting blood sugar and no I don't have diabetes but do have quite a bit of a tummy.

Two month's later, including a week on a cruise, I am one stone lighter than I was. However that was the stone I put on while sitting around waiting for a knee operation...

I had tried the 2 and 5 diet that the very same Michael had recommended, but the low calorie count on the 2 days had never agreed with me. However the restructuring of my daily eating habits has been perfect.

Feeling lighter and brighter in body and mind... and the restructuring of the flat is happening too. New bi-fold/ slide and swing doors/windows are going to make our home lighter and brighter too... 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Architecture ...

Well ... I did it. Really challenged my knee.
I went Viking cruising on the Rhine. Yep, sounds like a restful holiday but I can assure you it involved a lot of walking.

Two months ago, I wasn't sure I would be able to cope with walking the airport concourse never mind the daily scenic walks that were on offer. And as Andy and I were sailing with our pals Billy and Catherine, I didn't want to curtail their perambulations.

We started with a 6.05am flight from Glasgow to Amsterdam, then another flight onto Basel where we were to pick up our ship, The Eir. A Viking river boat is called a ship... who knew. We were very grateful that there was enough water in the Rhine for us to sail on, as during our holiday we came across other Viking travellers whose Danube voyage had been cancelled as the water level was too low. They had been transferred to some sister ships and were sailing the Rhine instead.

Eir and sister ship moored together

The Rhine, as we found out, was a very busy river with many different river "boats", long, long barges and individual cruisers. We also travelled through quite a few locks as we flowed with the river down to the sea.

Our itinerary visited many various towns and cities, viewing a broad range of architecture, reflecting the three countries we cruised through. Although we started in Basel, Switzerland, next day we moored at Breisach, Germany. Second day Strasbourg, France ... just in time for the Football World Cup! Then back to Germany, to explore Heidelberg, Koblenz, Cologne... ending up in Holland, visiting Kinderdijk and finishing at the port of Amsterdam.

Seeing the various and inspiring buildings (like how did they build that... there?) I became very aware that there is purpose in architecture. I know, I am a bit slow in the uptake...

Cuckoo Clock House, Black Forest
For instance the high sloping roofs of the Black Forest chalets allow the snow to slide off easily.

Cologne Cathedral in the distance
 Or the splendour of the churches and cathedrals that are awe-inspiring in their design and completion.


Or the castles guarding the river, their towering presence threatening any foreign invader or alternatively a perfect fit for a Disney Cartoon.

Fairy Tale Design

So that takes me to my knee, a complicated structure if ever there was one. Built for both movement and stability. No wonder it gets confused. And I hadn't helped it to function by not moving much and falling a lot. Well that is now in the past...

I only managed one walk on grass while away although I did plug into my groundology support daily. But ... and here's the key to my recovery ... I kept walking  ...
Pircturesque Strasbourg
We walked round Strasbourg, checked out Heidelberg Castle, trod the streets of Koblenz and went sight seeing in Cologne. Even took in a windmill or two in Kinderdijk...

Catherine and Eileen and beer cellar

I walked up hills and down dales and realised that each day I was getting stronger. I even took to the dance floor one evening and joy of joys didn't feel any ill effects from the unaccustomed exercise. Although not sure what the other dancers thought of my twinkle toes... as I was barefoot dancing!

Some people may comment that alcohol was an important part of my pain relief and how can I deny it when there is proof of Catherine and myself posing outside a Cologne beer house... not a bar. We are standing under a model of a friar supporting a young lad on his back. A reference to the number of clergy that managed to support their children. The people of Cologne enjoy their little jokes...

On returning home, I phoned the hospital and cancelled my operation. Well as I said the day after the dance floor experiment: "I have a damn cheek to think I need a new knee as this one is working so well for me now".

I am very grateful that whatever I am doing is working. And as the surgeon, Mr. Bennet recommended me to keep doing it ... I will!
One of the many things I am doing is affirming while walking
"I, Eileen Auld, see, hear, feel and know that the purpose of my life is to shine brightly, move freely and share abundantly"
This was a tool I learned while attending a Tony Robbins Leadership course, many years ago ... had kind of forgot about the moving freely bit!
The Auld yins
Architecture is the result of inspired thought and creative genius. It is all around us... and within us. What are you building today? I am restructuring ... more of that in next month's blog.