Saturday, 21 March 2020

Social distancing - a world apart

What strange times we are living through.

It has become my routine to write a monthly blog ... mainly to keep a memory of what my living circumstances are, as a rolling calendar or diary of events. There is no doubt in my mind that what has occurred over the past month in the UK and in previous months to other countries will not be easily forgotten!

But what does social distancing really mean and what will be the long term results of self-isolation? Not sure there is a definite answer but what I do know is that we need to keep connected in any which way we can.

Who knew that Facebook would be hero in times like these? Just avoid fake news!!
Facebook's close relative, "whatsapp",  is keeping us as a family in contact. Both here in Scotland and far away in Canada. Although isolation is a common issue with us all, whatsapp groups are bringing many of us together as humourous messages are flying back and forth across the airwaves.

Enforced leisure is challenging to us and "filling" our time can create stress as our choices become more and more limited.

 I am choosing to keep writing in any way I can. Texts and whatsapps, emails, blogs and newsletters and as recommended by my publisher to all her hopeful writers "just get on with finishing your book!"

Let's keep some virtual contact going all around the world. Social distancing doesn't have to mean a world apart.  It could be the catalyst/final straw we need to bring the world together ...

Monday, 24 February 2020

Down memory lane ...

Clearing out an attic brings up lots of memories.

Whether it is the photos that remind you of happy times, wonderful holidays or the photos that remind you of who you once were, decade by decade.

There are the books read just once ... or the others that are read over and over again until you are word perfect but you still have to hold on to, just in case you want to visit them again.

The dressing up box that needs to go! but what if someone needs that feather boa, devil ears, angel wings? Although perhaps not all at once ...
Then, there are the paintings that are just gathering dust,  the clothes - no longer the right size, the right colour or even yours! and the ornaments that you no longer wish to put on display not to mention the mega mountain of towels that may come in handy someday.
Or is that just my attic?

Clearing out can be cathartic.
It can be healing as you let go of unnecessary "stuff".
It can be beneficial as you recycle your treasures.
For me it has been all of the above.
Clearing out the attic has been a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Now, it's time to enjoy the present moment, knowing that it will eventually join all those other memories ...

The following is one of the treasures I found in the attic that I would like to share with you.

Om shanti,

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Whatever the weather - dress for the occasion.

Here I am all dressed up for two very different occasions.

First one is - the return
Just back from walking in the rain ... 
and the wind ... and the hail. 
However I am, as you will notice, still smiling! Just ...

I was dripping, but all the better for my walk. Honest...
As Billy Connelly has been oft quoted "There is no such thing as bad weather - just the wrong clothes!" My raincoat was an all weather coat, perfect for the ever changing Scottish weather conditions.

In the background is our new courtyard. Only a year after we started the process. Must remember that fact when thinking about any proposed 2020 plans.

... and of course I am still working with the plan  - to have no plan. That is probably why I kept putting off submitting two chapters of my book to a publishing contact.

Emailed them off today ...
and rewarded myself with a walk,
and then the gods rained on me ...

The second occasion is - the departure

Is it the same wummin? I hear you ask. Oh yes it is!
This time I am all dressed up, ready to set off for a family adventure to the Panto. Oh yes I am! 

and it was a perfect evening of Scottish humour wrapped up in the glow of Snow White's fairy tale.

Worth remembering that whatever the occasion and whether you are coming or going, it is good to dress the part. Whatever you consider your part to be.

So in keeping with the pantomime theme, 2019 is behind you...
and 2020 could well be the year of your very own fairy tale.
Which role have you been rehearsing for:
Sleeping Beauty? Fairy godmother or the "Godfather"? Or being part of an ideal couple like Fiona and Shrek?

Whatever part you have to play in 2020, I wish you happiness in your starring role with the best supporting cast you could ask for...

Wednesday, 18 December 2019


As you know, I love the Italian language ...

"Una festa" means a party in Italian and "festeggiare" is the verb meaning to party or to celebrate.

And so we get the English word "festivities" which we have changed into the Festive Season when describing Christmas activities or New Year gatherings.

For an Italian, festive seasons are with us all the time.
In Italy they celebrate when the vines ripen ...

 and then they get to party together as they gather the grapes and the olives in autumn  ...

 and continue to enjoy the fruits of their labour long after the harvest is done.

 However, in Italy, una festa isn't just any excuse for a party. It usually signifies a blessing and blessings are to be shared.

Gatherings, are around families, within towns, include neighbours and friends and have a focus on a particular event coming to a satisfactory conclusion.

I like that thought, don't you.

It flips 2020's New Year's resolutions into what blessings 2019 brought us - gratitude.
It alters Christmas festivities into events that bring people together, giving the gift of time - presence.
It changes our perspective, as we move from getting into giving - abundance.

Wishing you all the blessings of this special time.
Especially lots of hugs.
Leaving you with a hug from the Canadian blessings, known as Murphy and Rosie.

Buon Natale a tutti ...

Monday, 4 November 2019

Heavenly connections.

I am into my skies just now ... what can I say ... they are heavenly.

 ... whether is it the pink sunset peeking from behind the tree outside our home or the whole sky on fire, a mass of orange glow as the sun fades over Rothesay!

The photo on the right was taken from one of our new attic windows. Installing velux windows in the loft has certainly added to my connection to the sky above.

... and here on the west coast we can enjoy some superb sunsets. Even the westerly squalls can inspire, especially when taking shelter from a down pour.

Then there are the rainbows that have arched over head, on many of my drives around the country. Rain lashing, wind screen wipers flashing and then the magical appearance of the coloured bow. The wonder that science now explains with its knowledge of refracted light through water.

Can you image what the people thought, before science had an explanation of the curved light show? Even today knowing what causes it, doesn't make it any less spectacular ...

Next time you see a rainbow, a sunset or a sunrise imagine what it meant to people thousands of years ago ... as they looked up into the heavens.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Harvests ...

Back a week already and I can't believe I have exchanged a sunny Italian autumn for the usual seasonal Scottish wind and rain. Just over a week ago we were esconced in a Tuscan agriturismo and enjoying the fruits of the vineyard, otherwise known as a glass or two of wine! Today it is a big bowl of lentil soup with some garlic bread. The garlic bread is to remind me of the tastes of Italy, as if I will ever forget ...

Seasonal weather aside, autumn is the time for considering all that was planted in the spring and cared for over the summer ...
or like my Italian adventures, over many summers ...

Here we are, caught on camera, enjoying a "gelato" on the island of Elba!

This was a flying visit (ok, we took the ferry) to reconnect with the people I met some years ago when attending the ABC Elba Italian school. It was wonderful to meet up briefly with Cristina and Manuela and introduce our son Kenneth and his partner Natalie to what I consider to be the perfect way to learn Italian ... outdoors, under a tree, a stone's throw from the pool and a short walk from the town of Porto Azzurro and a favourite icecream!

Now getting ready to book in for next year ... well, I did promise.

Reaping the rewards of learning Italian, is our annual holiday in Italy. Although I still think of it as researching for my book!  Travelling to a now familiar country, learning about its traditions and its people and growing friendships with those welcoming people is as akin to any harvest I have known.

It is interesting to consider that at this time of year we still think of harvests, although very few of us grow produce, plough fields or help gather in the corn ...

However we all do still plant, nurture, weed and harvest. Our time is invested in what we consider to be important/worth growing. For some of us it is wealth, others it is property while others it is friends and family or perhaps it is all of the above ... whatever it is, it all takes time, accummulated time is needed for any harvest to show.
cin cin
The above photo is our last evening in Castagneta Carducci. Here we are enjoying a "rose" evening together, having invested many visits to this particular Enoteca over a period of three weeks.

This year we were fortunate to be able to revisit the vineyard we stayed on last September, especially as this year we had nearly three weeks staying in and around the region and had the company of Kenneth and Natalie for one of the weeks. We also managed to extend our knowledge of the region by visiting unfamiliar places as well as our tried and trusted venues. Each one a delight especially when experiencing the wine tasting.

The best of the best

A wonderful example of this was a wine tasting at the agriturismo chiappini, where we were staying.

Unfortunately we weren't allowed to help with the harvest, but we certainly enjoyed what previous years crops had produced. It is good to remember that it isn't just one year or even 6 months that is needed but sometimes it is many years before you can reap the benefits ... and of course that isn't just with wine.

The bottle in the picture is an award winning wine from the Chiappini cellar. A wonderful taste of the exquisite wines from the Bolgheri region. Definitely one to savour.

We were recommended to have a glass with either an "aged" cheese or a good steak. Or curled up in front of a warm fire.

Could be perfect for today then as I curl up in front of the fire remembering that it takes planting, nuturing, weeding before the harvesting of whatever it is we are growing.

Growing a family is one of the most precious harvests we can have ...  here are the cream of my crop.
Two of the best of the best ...

p.s. I found out what October means to me ... soups!

Monday, 30 September 2019

Ships that pass ...


It is now the end of September, my favourite month of the year. Not just because it is my birthday month, although that does shape my viewpoint, more that I have come to think of September as the beginning of things ... I was born in this month 68 years ago, started college 50 years ago this month, enrolled in Italian classes and embarked on many other adventures around this time of the year.

Adventures that have given cherished moments of sharing time with family, friends and colleagues. Even some unexpected connections with strangers, taking pleasure in those curious coincidences, when random events lead to the choice of developing a relationship or to pass by as ships in the night.

I have even cruised on some real ships in September, visiting places on far horizons where I experienced the physical meaning of ships passing in the night. The quiet movement of two entities, sharing a vast area of sea but not stopping in time to connect in anyway except to acknowledge their safe passage past each other.

As this September has been focused on sharing "quality" time with family on a fabulous vineyard in Italy (more of that story next month) I had many moments available for pondering on the many ships that are important to us. Those moments were by the pool, on the beach, watching a sunset, savouring a particularly wonderful red wine or following a road to its destination and being surprised and delighted by the journey itself.

Those ships start with "Ownership": what we call ours or think of as belonging to us. Or importantly, the other meaning ... of admitting to being responsible for our actions.

Which leads me to "Stewardship": the recognition that we have a responsibility to look after what we think of as ours and even to care and care for, what is beyond our ownership, to cherish and honour the consequence of our thinking.

Then there is the call for "Leadership": what many consider to be someone telling others what to do, but is more a reflection of someone of integrity, acting with courage, leading the way with what they do ... not what they say.

And in amongst them all is "Friendship": the ability to be close to others, giving and taking support when necessary. It is a privilege to be a friend and one that is not taken lightly or thought of as only transient. Then it would be more like an ally or an allegiance, to be in agreement when pursuing a like-minded goal.

Lastly there is "Fellowship": an unfashionable word with its association of religious activities, however it is the word that brings all the "ships" together. I think of fellowship as working together towards a common goal. One that will not only enhance the present but will create an abundant future for successive generations. Something like a vineyard in fact!

"Quality Relationships" folks ... that is the name of the game ... and many of mine began in September!

Phew ... that expensive red wine was certainly worth it, as it got my synapses working! Or was it the sun setting over the sea that widened my horizons. Widening horizons seems to be what my Septembers are all about.
I wonder what the month of October means to me. Well, I'll no doubt find out about that tomorrow ...

until next month folks,
ciao, ciao ...