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 ...

Friday 30 August 2019

on yer bike!

Well I did it ... eventually ... I got on that bike of mine.

What can I tell you...
Firstly, it wasn't easy. Well that was a given.
Secondly, I need to keep at it, most definitely!  After all I have the helmet but not the knee pads ... at least not yet.

And lastly, it is one more box I want to tick on the fitness regime. Walking - tick; swimming - tick. Will keep you posted on the saga that is bound to unfold.

Friday 19 July 2019


Goodness ... gracious ... gorgeous!

Starting the blog with a couple of favourite family pics, our two gorgeous grandchildren Rosie and Murphy.

Here is Rosie in all her gorgeousness.
She is wearing a girlish smile for the camera even though she is only a couple of months old.
How do they do it?
How do they know how to smile to make our hearts melt?
  ... and how lucky are we that they do!

There is a sense of communication beyond words that connects us at a level of love that is unconditional ...

 And here is Murphy. We thought he couldn't get any cuter, but we were wrong!

Now we have his "Tiger" face to wow his ever increasing fan club. Another celluloid moment of deep connection that instinctively knows how it is that we are all supposed to be. Full of goodness, being gracious and every bit as gorgeous as we can be ... even as a Tiger.

I realise that some of us think we need more help than others in the goodness, gracious, gorgeous department but I know for a fact that being unconditionally loved is our natural state of being!

Recently, I have experienced some personal moments of communication that went beyond words. Such as when connecting in our Power of Eight group in the 10 minute silence we share, focusing on others and their needs. Opening our hearts and minds in a specific manner as recommended by Lynne McTaggart in her Power of Eight (PO8) book.

I have written about this PO8 format in a previous post ... or two ...

Last year I embarked on regular PO8 gatherings, meeting up with fellow like-minded travelers to focus on specific intentions. As a result of our magical meet ups, we are experiencing many, many marvellous miracles and unexpected connections. The following story being just one of them.

6 weeks ago a lady contacted me to enquire if anything in my Forever product range would help her dog Juno.  This lady and myself had known each other over a period of 20 years and she knew that I was convinced of the nutritional power of Aloe since first being introduced to it 20 years ago.

Juno was suffering from some very distressing skin allergies and as it happens there was a topical application in the Forever range that I thought could alleviate her symptoms.

Juno's owner, Margaret and I met and discussed what would work for her beloved pet and yes I recommended that Juno should begin drinking the aloe vera. Well, you wouldn't have expected anything else now would you?

However we also got chatting about how Margaret had come to phone me. There had been two or three convoluted connections/recommendations that had eventually led her to my door. I mentioned the Power of Eight, how all our lives are interwoven, how our thought patterns affect our lives and of those around us and how we can use that knowledge practically. 

As a result Juno started drinking aloe vera, Margaret joined our group and last month our group intention focused on Juno   ...
As you can see here Juno, in all her gorgeousness is able to communicate her feelings ... as just like Rosie and Murphy, without any words she reaches in and touches our hearts.

So was it the focused thought?
Was it the aloe vera?
We can't say...
What we can say is thank goodness something led Margaret to my number 8 door.

Saturday 22 June 2019

Pride and Passion

Just a quickie this month reflecting on the Scottish Women's football team and their experiences at the World Cup in France ...

What I saw when watching their matches was pride in abundance for their achievement in reaching this event. Their passion for the game of football obvious in every run, tackle, header and impressive kick.

Andy and I  were lucky to  have attended the match against Japan in Rennes as our niece, footballer extra-ordinaire, Fiona Brown was part of the squad.

Fiona is Andy's sister Alison's daughter ... seen here with her very own travelling Fan Group.

We, as in a large family group, had the privilege of watching Fiona playing for Scotland in the Women's Football World Cup in Rennes. Fiona's debut in this tournament was for the last 10 mins against Japan and boy did we cheer passionately when she ran onto the pitch. We were all so proud.

Proud to see Fiona get her chance to play and proud of Scotland's women's football team in this historic time of women's football.

Scotland had played England in Nice and had lost 2:1 but were optimistic about their chances against Japan. However it was not to be ... another marginal defeat with 2:1 score ... and as for the match against Argentina - enough has been said about this already.

For me, the Scotland's team's passion for playing football is the main memory (usually named best bit)  I will keep from watching those three games!

Pride and Passion - what we Scots are famous for! I am looking forward to continuing to be part of Fiona's touring fan club at many future events.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Border, boundary or barrier ...

I can't believe that nearly a whole month has passed since we were in Canada. It feels like only yesterday that we were enjoying family times with Gordon, Lianne, Murphy and Rosie.

Recently, I have been travelling across to the east coast of Scotland, catching up with chums who prefer the bracing east coast wind to the wet westerlies! Each to their own.

While walking in Edinburgh ... yep still keeping up the walking, I found inspiration in the most unlikely of places!

I was staying with a friend in her fab new pad and as I walked out towards the Firth of Forth I came across some Viking tenders, taking passengers to and from an ocean liner basking in the sunshine out in the estuary.

As I have been on a few cruises and enjoyed visiting various places of interest in several other countries, I appreciated all the palaver of getting on and off the ship. However I had never considered that other nationalities would come and visit Scotland. Tsk, tsk I thought to myself "How insular"! especially when I was told of all the delights that had been organised for the day. A visit to the castle ... a walk up and round Arthur's seat ...  a shopping trip on Princes Street ... and a viewing of the Royal Yacht Britannia! Although, maybe not all on the same day ...

So, as I walked in the glorious sunshine, I reminded myself of the many blessings that Scotland has to offer. The list is a very long one! Sunshine on Leith was definitely thrilling me and I don't necessarily mean the film.

I took a short cut back to the apartment and came across some building works and a sign that made me smile. A little whimsy on what I was contemplating on my walk. The sign reads "Danger keep out" and the poppies and weeds have done just that. They have kept their distance. I do realise that they can't read!  but perhaps they felt the barrier, the exclusion zone that made them unwelcome.

There are signs everywhere,   if we care to look,  that separate us from others.
A border that dictates who we are as a nation.
A boundary that keeps us at arms length from other people's worlds.
And barriers that we erect all by ourselves in order to prevent "contamination"!

Yep, I was in a very whimsical world that day, considering how best to share what we have and how to break down barriers, both the hidden agendas and the obvious "separatisms" that are all around us
... and just when I thought I couldn't get more inspired by the day's offering I passed some flats where one resident had decided to make a difference to their patio ... and what a difference it was!

Did they get fed up with people looking in?  Or maybe they just like rocks! As you can see, an open frontage is on the left and a barricaded one is on the right. I can see that the area is very exposed to passing pedestrians however it seems to me that there is a particular message that shouts "Keep well away. Intruders not welcome". A barrier of sorts, albeit attractively designed.

I am still pondering what I hold as a border, as in what is mine and what is yours. Or what boundaries I have that I expect you to respect! What barriers I have erected to keep myself separate from my neighbour and most importantly what barricades I hide behind to prevent anyone from seeing the real me...

Such is the power of whimsy that it may last into next month while I try to figure it out ...

Tuesday 30 April 2019

New arrival

Andy and I have just returned from Canada where we were part of the welcoming committee for Rosie Evelyn Auld, born on the 10th April weighing in at 7lbs 2 ozs and every inch a joy...

Lianne and Rosie

Sleeping Beauty

We were privileged to be around to see Murphy delight over his baby sister and to share in many of Murphy's activities such as gymnastics, swimming, climbing ... boy does Murphy love climbing.
 I guess it won't be long before he is sharing these activities with Rosie and then the fun will be doubled ...

Getting introduced

Brotherly Love

What a happy family.

Forgive me the mega photo indulgence. There are so many happy snaps to choose from and the blog is my way of remembering from month to month what amazing moments we have experienced ... as if I will ever forget!

One surreal memory is from our Whistler apartment. We enjoyed viewing people layered up for ski-ing/snowboarding down the mountain while others sunbathed in bikinis by the pool!
View from our lounge

Now back to some photos of our truly unforgettable moments, spending time with the grandchildren:

Grandpa duties involve reading with Murphy ...

 and gazing in awe at Rosie...

Nonna's duties involved hands on:
They are mine! I am keeping them...
and gazing in awe at Rosie:
Looking forward to all the family adventures ahead ... I bet they will be awesome!

Monday 18 March 2019


It is such a privilege to have choice in our lives ... as many people do not.

For instance, choosing from a restaurant menu is a privilege, often forgetting for a moment that many people don't even have access to basic nutrition.

It is also a privilege to make use of our opportunities when others are confined by borders and influences beyond their control.

Children are particularly vulnerable and are deserving of everything we can offer. The recent Comic Relief event (still time to donate) reminded me of the difficulties some children have to face.

Murphy has the open spaces of Canada and the loving support of his parents to guide him through life and we as grandparents are grateful every day, for his presence in our lives ... but that doesn't take away our responsibility towards any other children "on our watch".

Naila was one such child who overcame difficult circumstances and turned her life around to help others. Check out her website and pay particular attention to the origin of the HISS story. It moved me when she told me about it. So much so, that I feel it is a story that has to be shared.

Sometimes we get so caught up over what is beyond our control that we forget the areas where we can exert the gift of choice.

Such as the simple pleasure of spending time with a friend. Dolina and I go swimming together weekly. We could choose not to. We swim 20 lengths. Again we could choose not to. Then we go for a coffee and scone. Yep you got it. We could choose not to. However it is all part of enjoying each other's company ...

I recently enjoyed meeting up with "school" friends over a lunch. Mhairi, Veronica and myself had attended Oban High School many, many years ago and had reconnected over a lunch or two ...

This recent lunch was at Loch Fyne Oyster Restaurant where I could eat everything on the menu, but chose my usual, scallops. However Veronica's choice was curtailed by her allergy to shellfish and Mhairi's choice was expanded by her wanting to try something different.

Eileen's choice


As I said at the beginning, it is a privilege to have a restaurant menu to choose from. Just as life's menu can also be a privilege. Sometimes we go down the habitual route, or find we are curtailed by circumstances beyond our control or we decide to be adventurous and see what can happen when we take the road less travelled.

And on the subject of roads less travelled. Continuing to walk when the driving hail comes on is a choice. If I am alone, I ask myself "Do I return home or plod on?"

If walking with another, we decide together and it is usually "just a little bit farther" ... and then "enough is enough!" Enough is enough is often a deciding factor when making a choice.

Whatever we choose, mundane choices can make every day an extraordinary one. They can create a life where we will not ignore the circumstances of others but can enjoy what is on offer in one's own life ...  and share abundantly, whatever that may mean.

Could be your time, support, resources ...

Could be a smile, laughter, stories ...

Or spreading the infectious feeling of being loved, wanted, respected ...

Experiencing joy is another infectious feeling and is often open to choice. Below is a Murphy photo to experience second hand what his choice is...
Up in the air

Wednesday 27 February 2019


This last month has been one of travelling. Travelling by car, by plane, by train, by bus and of course walking miles. The only transport I didn't use was a boat. I will leave that for another time.

No, I wasn't travelling incognito, although it does look like that from the photo below. I was in Canada for an impromptu visit, finding out about Murphy's weekly schedule before Andy and I visit Whistler for the month of April. The temperature was -17 that day, so thermals and total cover were required.
There was much to enjoy with the activities of swimming and gymnastics and the quieter options of reading books and completing jigsaws, not forgetting playing with Thomas, the tank engine and his friends, to keep Murphy and his Nonna amused.

We also took advantage of the snowy conditions. Sledging was a high priority and of course after sledging getting a treat ... like a hot chocolate to warm us up. 

Blatant advertising
Watching Murphy at play reminded me that children on the whole love to learn new things and are excited when a new skill is accomplished. They don't give up at a first attempt. They even enjoy what we would consider failure. They laugh when they fall in the snow or delight when they roll over on the trampoline  
     and as for swinging on a rope... no word of complaint that their arms ache!
 Murphy particularly enjoyed the activity below ... again and again.
Cheeky monkey

The driving conditions in British Columbia could be challenging. It could be snow and blizzards one day and then the next day - blue skies. A daily reminder of the passing clouds of life, as no-one knows what each day will bring. No matter how much we think we know the road ahead, it is still uncharted territory.

And like the Canadians, I am all for winter tyres to keep me safe on the road. Metaphorically speaking, those would be the guidelines and adages of people who have travelled the road before... 

However it is also worth remembering to get out and about to enjoy life's conditions when the sun comes out ... whatever your preference turns out to be.

Blue skies
I was told that the weather was just perfect for snow-boarding. Murphy, Lianne and myself preferred sledging. Although I am sure that the ski slopes will be welcoming Murphy soon.

On my return from Canada, I had a Caroline Myss workshop on "Spell Casting" in London to attend. This was after a 17 hour 4 mins sleep in my own bed - my fit bit told me so!

No, I  am not a witch, contrary to some people's opinion, but I am "enthralled" by the many spells that I am/was under. 

These spells are the unwritten rules that I live ... sorry lived by, believe me, they make the driving conditions in Canada a delight compared to navigating life with the blinkers on. 

Thank you Caroline for an insightful day. It was a pivotal moment for my travelling onwards ... and upwards as I didn't know what rules I was enforcing for myself ... and on others!  Spell casting 101!

Phew ... just like the children, I am enjoying learning new things. Good job I invested in some more insight/winter tyres!

I met many a delightful travelling companion on my various flights. A physio from Vancouver, a grandmother from Manchester, a bar manager from Whistler, a student from Quebec, a family from Toronto and a lovely lady from Calgary who was returning home after a four month tour of Africa!  I was honoured to travel with them and learn about their adventures.

One travelling companion who I was honoured to share the Spell Casting journey with, was Naila, an inspirational woman whose commitment to helping others is truly awesome. This lady's story was as pivotal a moment as Caroline's teachings were. Thank you Naila, I look forward to keeping in touch and hearing all about your projects.

Now isn't that what travelling is all about ... the people you meet, the lessons you learn and the inspiration that moves you forward in a direction that you hadn't previously considered.
Buon viaggio i miei amici...

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Crash, bang, wallop!

Helloooo again...

I have had some more enforced leisure, but not of the physical kind. In fact I have now joined a gym and have committed to swimming twice a week. So all good on the exercise front and yes still walking my daily miles and plugging into my trusty groundology.

This time it was the lack of a functioning computer that interrupted my normal schedule. My laptop just decided to stop working and we still don't know why. It has now been overhauled but still in need of TLC. Something we all need.

The laptop and I parted company for a month and for the first 2 weeks I was busy with the Christmas festivities, New Year celebrations and even some general January spring cleaning. I really didn't miss the constant/daily need to go online and connect through the ether. I phoned and whatsapped friends and caught up in real time over a coffee or two and filled my days with the joy of physical movement.

Now ... I need to return to my daily writing as over the past week or so there has been a constant niggle. I have had a mind full of stories just waiting to be told.

So  the update is: Yesterday the laptop returned home. Woohoo!
                             Today I am writing. 'tis heaven...
                             Tomorrow. who knows?
And I have no doubt, that next week/month/year will surprise us all.

Have a superb 2019 everyone. Leaving you with an image of Murphy on his Christmas pressies! He takes everything in his stride ... including skis!

What do you mean  "snows a problem"?