Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Pitiful Cat ............

Hullo ma wee blog,

I'm lying on the bed. It's late afternoon and The Lovely G and one of her friends are downstairs in the lounge watching a movie on DVD. Lorraine is here staying over and will help us celebrate the 1st August, Switzerland's national day, tomorrow when some of the family come for a special Swiss meal. Lorraine and The Lovely G went to Switzerland together for a short holiday late last year and since then she's been enthusing about all things Swiss to all and sundry, so we have naturally included her in the invite to this years family bash. I've left them to it as I still feel choked with this damned cold and am feeling, if not somewhat antisocial, that I don't want to be around people in case I pass on the dreaded lurgy. My flu has left me with a chesty wheeze which brings coughing fits when I lie down for any length of time.

I too have a DVD on up here and have been engrossed in the film 'Babel' starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchet when I become aware that Jess, who has been in the room with me for a companionable couple of hours, is lying watching my chest rise and fall and appears to be listening to the cacophony of wheezing, whistling and low groaning that is coming from me with every breath. My awareness of her has changed the rhythm of my breathing and she now looks back at me. She has what I think is a sympathetic look on her face, although I might be wrong. She is lying on my right a few feet away down the bed, head towards me and her tail contemplatively twitching across the last few inches of  its white and ginger tipped length. She slumps over onto her side and stretches both front paws out towards me, arching her back and stretching her spine as she reaches away with her back paws. In front of me her nearest paws spread themselves momentarily and show claws of gleaming sharpness as she yawns in an eye closing movement before twisting her head upside down to gain another perspective of me perhaps. She remains, one front paw stretched towards me, the other crooked back on her chest, tail curled questioningly in mid air, in an almost pantomime catty posture as she watches, watches, watches.

I smile and make a soft noise at her which causes her stretched paw to come even closer as she turns more into an inverted curl, lying on her back. The paw now moves down until it comes in contact with my thigh and, contact made, she pushes gently against the material of my trousers. She begins to purr softly as if to say "You're doing it all wrong! This is how it should sound!  It's easy - I can even do it upside down!"

I'm sure she's smiling at me.

blooming cat!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Déjà Flu

The tree at the top of the hill

Hullo ma wee blog,

For the last few days, in fact since Saturday evening when the Lovely G and I got home from the meal with Gordon and Charlotte after the air show, I have been suffering from flu. I've been here before, of course. In fact I feel like I have been here much more often since I became unemployed than I ever did when I was working. I genuinely can't recall actually being so ill as to be off work - except for recuperation from a knee op {when in reality I worked from home} - anytime in the last three years.

I almost feel like a fraud. It's like my body has given permission to shut down because it doesn't have a job to maintain or anything more worthwhile to do. While I have been telling myself that looking for work is really important and that I am focused on just that my body has said 'Oh yeah? Well have some of this sunshine.'  In the normal course of events - well in my working past that is - I very rarely was ill and if I was, well I just worked through it didn't I. After all I had places to go, people to see and stuff that just had to get done. That was the kind of attitude that also meant that anytime I was on holiday I would invariably end up with a cold or something two or three days into the holiday, as if my body had suddenly cottoned on to the fact that I was on free time and exacted a penalty for ignoring it up till then. Actually, now I think about it I do remember working from home a couple of times when long car journeys didn't seem feasible for whatever reason, but regardless I always ended up still working. Yet for the last few - 5 days now actually - I have been literally floored by this bug and have simply ceased to function on anything other than the most basic level. I feel as weak as a kitten and even Jess - the runt of the litter - could no doubt take me with one paw tied behind her back.

Today though, for the first time in days, I have opened up the laptop and felt able to even think about posting something. I have looked at a few postings from blogs I follow but have been so thoroughly unenthusiastic that I haven't been able to respond to some interesting stuff that's been posted except in a mere one or two almost ignorantly short instances. Even today this damned wee bug has still firmly got me in its grip, perhaps not quite so tightly as two days ago but it sneakily reminds me just how close it still is by sending me on coughing spasms which seem designed solely to remind me just how much pain my rib and stomach muscles can generate, or by sending small barbs of pain into my skull when I simply run my hand down from my forehead and my fingers brush my eyeballs. Whatever this bug has been, it's a doozy! I still cant be more than a few feet away from a box of tissues even if I am using them much less than before and found myself standing in the shower this morning with the shower head adjusted to a concentrated spray and the jet directed straight into my face in an unconscious attempt to massage my aching sinuses. I have taken pills and potions, decongestants and lemony drinks till I'm sure I'm now part lemon myself and even spent the best part of an hour yesterday self inflicting my dreaded childhood treatment of holding my towel covered head over a bowl of steaming water - granted with some olbas oil in rather than the old way of dropping some Vicks vapour rub into the water - all to very little effect.

Even now when I cough or have one of those blooming sneezing fits- ignoring the pain from the ribs - I get tremendous sensations of ringing in my ears and that weird out-of-body/off balance/seeing stars sensation you get where you know that the pressure created has just blown yet another few precious brain cells to smithereens because the normal escape channels are just not doing their job. After the last five days I'm surprised there are still enough of the little blighters still working. Thankfully, for the last two nights I have actually managed to get some sleep - and last night I actually slept better than I do 'normally' surprisingly enough - after three days and nights of sleeping only in short fitful and unhelpful bursts. Also, unusually for me, my appetite has completely crashed and I have survived on a small plate of bran flakes and couple of apples a day {PLEASE let me have lost some weight after all this!!!} At least my digestive tract will be in order hopefully. Actually, just between you and I, there is a definite down side to the last few days diet which has come to the fore, but let's leave it at that shall we?

Now, the sun is shining. I'm going to put on my shades and go and sit quietly on the patio for a moment or two. I'll no doubt be apologising to the local wildlife for my lack of attention over the last few days while I look forlornly at how the grass has grown, knowing that I'm in no fit state to cut it and yet we have visitors coming this weekend and the forecast is for rain over the next two days as well. Will I pick myself up and just get it done?

I honestly have no idea.

see you later.

Listening to absolutely nothing............

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Air Show

Yak-50 Aerostars do their stuff

Hullo ma wee blog,

Friday night my older brother and his wife came to stay over. As can often happen we ended up staying in the kitchen chatting across the whole evening, long after we had finished our meal of hot chicken and pear salad followed by strawberries and blackberries with cream. The two bottles of wine we had opened ran out and we moved comfortably on to coffee until Gordon realised that it was after midnight and he was struggling to stay awake after a hard week at work. So, we cleared away and headed off to bed.

That was close!

In the morning we had a late breakfast as planned and we got our gear together and set off to go to the Scottish Air Museum Airshow at East Fortune, about 20 minutes away from the house. It looked like the weather was going to deteriorate across the day, at least that was the forecast, the best of the weather being in the morning, which was a bit of a worry as the flying demonstrations were to take place across the afternoon. As you can see from the photo's the sky was quite dull but thankfully rain held off for the whole show and only started as we headed off for a bar meal before Gordon and Charlotte set out for home on the other side of the country once again.

Three question marks???

Unfortunately, yet again, I was suffering from the early effects of a head cold which got increasingly worse as the day went on, to such an extent that I was secretly relieved that we were not going to be entertaining again that night. Once we got home I headed off for a hot bath and bed. Sometimes only solitude will do

Douglas Skyraider

Catalina Flying Boat

Local talent

two ladies who believe that size does matter!

Hawker Hunter

And the Supermarine Spitfire.......

See you later.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Some holiday snaps

The Cat Fountain, Stein Am Rhein.
Hullo ma wee blog,

Phew! I'm a bit out of breath........

Stein Am Rhein and Schloss Hohenklingen

Well that's us back from a few days away visiting the Swiss relatives. What a fantastic few days it was too. The weather was scorching, the food was good and the company was excellent. You can't ask for more of a short break really, can you?

Side entrance to the house, Beringen. 

I'll blog a bit more about it later no doubt, but in the meantime here are a few snaps to be going on with.

Shop display, Stein Am Rhein.

Alinghi - the dancing dog

Old Town Rooftops, Schaffhausen.
See you later.........

Listening to Supertramp, 'Even in the quietest moments'

Friday, 16 July 2010

Al and G go Gallivanting..............

Klosterli -  Little Cloister.

The house of G's aunt and uncle.

Hullo ma wee blog,

No entries for a few days as the Lovely G and I are off to a family gathering in Switzerland in celebration of an important family birthday, the return of a family member from a years student exchange in Washington DC and the visit of another far flung family member and her brood from New Zealand.

Blogging will resume shortly........

See you later.

Listening to the Lovely G search for her mislaid sunglasses.......

Aw Jings!

Arrested? Development?........

Hullo ma wee blog,

This {rather unusual for the blog} topic comes from my involvement in child welfare through Scotland's Children's Hearings - lay tribunals - which are able to issue legally binding measures for the treatment, care ,control, guidance or protection of children up to the age of 16 or in certain circumstances 18. These may be children who are offending or being offended against or who are simply in need of some help in facing life's problems in some way that can't be addressed on a voluntary basis, perhaps due to non-engagement by the parents. One of the most common reasons nowadays for a child being brought before a hearing though is because they are deemed to be suffering from a legally defined 'Lack of Parental Care'. These cases are often the most stressful and complicated a hearing has to deal with and can have the furthest reaching consequences.

Every community has them and we've probably all come up against them at one time or other. They're the local family or families that are disruptive, anti-social, engaged in nuisance and criminal activities. Usually they are focused on the female of the household. Often these women  are drug or alcohol dependant individuals who have had a long history of failed relationships with transient and violent men, often themselves also drug or alcohol dependant. The family is usually unemployed and dependant on benefits for money. The house and immediate environment are neglected and in poor condition. There can be a relatively high number of children in the household - usually very close in ages and universally troubled in their relationships, chaotic behaviour and attitudes, struggling or failing within the education system, known to the police and social services for offending, for violence against each other and outsiders or lack of parental care. They are not subject to routine or boundaries, they are disrespectful of everyone and can see no further than their own personal needs or gratification. They have adversarial relationships with neighbours and community, with police and social services. Early nuisance and offending behaviours in the children graduate over years to alcohol and drug abuse, violence and gang or weapon - in Scotland this most often means knife - related crime and high incidences of prison time. The family trust no one and feel aggrieved and put upon, distrusting and resistant to any and all attempts at support or intervention. Relationships with wider family - even those parts of the family acknowledged as a valued part of the community are often acrimonious and marked by dispute, chaos or violence at each and every meeting. The families are shunned and isolated by many in the local area.

They are a problem for most communities. They tie up enormous amounts of time, resource and energy from social and emergency services. The impact onto the community and the public purse can be enormous and life-long. They repel and attract elements of society in almost equal measure.  Each generation seems to spawn  even more disaffected seed to take root and spread the chaos and despair even further afield, increasing criminality and anti-social behaviour in a ripple effect among those easily influenced in the local area. Problems increase with each generation.

But is it nature or is it nurture?

The Impact of Early Environment on Brain Development.

At birth the brain is 25% of adult weight. By age 2 years it's 75% and by ages 3-4 years it is 90% of adult weight. The high level of brain growth and development in these early years is a fundamental reason why babies are totally dependant on the adults around them to meet all their needs for such a long time. The basic architecture of the brain is formed during pregnancy, but at birth the connections between the different parts of the brain aren't yet formed. These connections are predominately relationship/environment dependant for their healthy development which explains the surge of growth after birth. It also highlights the need for an appropriate environment and loving parenting to create a suitable safe and stable platform during the time needed for these brain connections and development to take place.

A child's brain develops sequentially:

Brain stem - this development takes place from pre birth to about 8 months and amongst others controls breathing and organ function.
Mid-brain - which controls the motor function develops between birth and one year.
Limbic Brain - which controls the emotional functioning - develops between six months and two years.
Cortex - which controls reasoning/cognitive functions develops between one year and four years old.

The region for basic vision is completed by age 6 months.
The critical period for developing emotions occurs from ten to eighteen months.
By age two, motor circuits are hard wired.
{The more words a child hears during their second year significantly affects their vocabulary for the rest of their life.}
The acquisition of other functions, such as academic learning takes place over a lifetime but is inherently dependant on the brain development established in these critical early years.

So while this period of brain growth and programming is taking place, what a child experiences and how it experiences is critical for its future. During this period, if a child is frequently exposed to stimulus which generate high levels of stress, or conversely is exposed to a frequent lack of stimulus, the child's brain and emotional development is fundamentally and permanently affected. One effect which is key to this situation is that the brain doesn't learn how to properly control production and reaction to the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced alongside adrenaline, linked to excitement from potentially harmful situations. The body automatically produces these hormones in preparation for 'fight or flight' as a means of self preservation. Cortisol could be described in layman's terms as the fear hormone of the two leaving adrenaline perhaps as the excitement hormone. Because the function of these hormones is to preserve life they are produced instantaneously and they swamp and inhibit  almost all other functions while a threat is in place or perceived.

To develop normally the brain has to learn to produce and regulate correct levels of this - and other- hormones. Failure to do so results in significant impact onto the child's life-long abilities.

Where a child is subjected to regular stimulus such as anger or - whether witnessing or directly experiencing - violence, cortisol production is extremely exaggerated and the body is flooded with high levels of the hormone. Where a child is subject to low levels of stimulus through lack of nurturing contact and experiences such as mental and physical stimulus through play cortisol production is absent or minimal. Both these examples have a direct result on how that child will be able to function through its lifetime. It's important also to note that studies have shown that very young children who experience fearful situations respond in exactly the same way  every time - producing instantaneous and extremely high levels of cortisol - and do not become normalised to the situation.

Dependent on the history of stimulus the child can therefore develop with extremely high levels of cortisol production in the case of a child in a chaotic environment, abnormally low with extremely high spikes in a neglectful and sometimes chaotic environment and abnormally low levels from a consistent lack of nurture. Children who have these abnormal developmental experiences may have a brain size 20-30% smaller than that of a child who has been reared in a nurturing environment. Impact from this on behaviour can mean that they are shy and anxious and withdrawn, be less sociable and more aggressive than normal children. These children are also more likely to have weakened immune systems and will fall ill more frequently, be more easily fatigued and have disrupted sleep patterns.

Abnormal production of cortisol puts a brake on other body functions, taking priority as its function is linked with survival in dangerous circumstances. It directly reduces relaxation, the immune system and the learning function because the body believes it is in crisis.

When the body is perpetually in a state of crisis it cant easily reabsorb the high levels of cortisol and other systems are permanently weakened, the body, existing in a state of permanent anxiety, has less ability to cope and develops a very quick trigger point to stimulus.


Feeling safe is all about attachment, establishing a bond of trust and understanding. When this is done correctly it allows the child to learn how to regulate its emotions effectively in a healthy way. Children who can't do this react to actual  or perceived stress by producing more cortisol than is healthy and that the body can cope with.

So in answer to the question I posed at the top of this post, It's both nature and nurture.

As you can see, the behaviour of many of these dysfunctional children - who will go on to become dysfunctional adults - is not necessarily a matter of choice but to all intents and purposes has been hard wired into their being by poor parenting with the consequences stated earlier of life-long offending or anti-social behaviour, breeding more generations of similarly affected, poorly parented children.

The big question though is how do we break this damaging cycle and protect future generations of children from damage?

For me it has to be ' save the mother and you will save the generations to come'. We have to solve this problem.


We are seeing more and more young girls come into the system. They are the mothers of tomorrow who will provide the next brain damaged, violence predilicted generation of offenders .
Perhaps these figures will partly explain more directly;

First though have a look at these two newspaper comments;

"It is depressing nowadays to take up ones newspaper and read the daily catalogue of assaults and murders with knives, razors and other lethal weapons. Indeed slashings and stabbings are becoming so common that they appear to be an accepted part of our modern youths recreation."

{Glasgow Evening Times 1930}

"Across the whole of Scotland it is still knives that account for more than 50% of murders......"

{Daily Record 2008}

So - little has changed in almost 80 years. It's not the modern phenomenon we all think it is!

And is this acceptable?

{ranked by country - 2004 figs.}

1. Norway - 1.0
2. Spain/Greece - 1.3
16. Northern Ireland - 3.5
22. England/Wales - 4.2
29. Romania - 5.3
37. Albania 6.2
40. SCOTLAND 7.3
42. U.S.A. 7.9
44. Israel 8.3

Isn't it time we got a grip????

see you later.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Last night, just about half past ten, it didn't start raining men. Instead a series of pop ups began to appear on my screen and a shield icon which said 'Security Tool' appeared on my desktop and a further two on my task bar. I had been infected by a spyware virus which kept flashing messages which said my laptop had been infected by dozens of horrible and quite frightening viruses, trojans, data stealing applications and the like. A moment later and all the icons on my desktop disappeared and my screensaver - a great photo of the Lovely G - turned completely black.

As I have Norton anti-virus I wasn't best pleased and quickly ran a scan which identified the threat and quarantined it, notifying me that everything was now 'ticketty-boo' as we sometimes say in this neck of the woods. { well, ok - as I sometimes say - happy now?} I reapplied the background and was looking around to find out where all the pesky desktop icons had gone when my screen again flashed up a message 'STAND BY - INSTALLING SECURITY TOOL', and true to its word the same damned icons reappeared smugly on my desktop and toolbar and once again began flashing me dialogue boxes saying that my laptop was suffering from everything except bubonic plague and that all I had to do was hit this little button to make them all go away. I again ran the security scan and it once more dutifully removed the offending items and told me that all was once again well in the world only for the virus to reinstall or reboot itself.

This was a first for me. I have never had any problems like this. Like most of us I have a security system and have had the security updates that tell me that the routine scan has found and fixed threats but to be honest, I've never felt very threatened by it and largely ignored them. After all you buy and install one of the best systems so you are covered for any eventuality, right?  I felt panicky and a bit sick at the impact of this attack. There is lots of stuff on my laptop that I haven't backed up and lots of stuff that I would be devastated to lose. I also worried that as I was working on the blog at the time the whole thing kicked off that I might find problems here too - I have heard tales of deleted blogs and system errors which effectively close blogs off along with other scary tales.

Good and Evil...

Despite evidence to the contrary I kept trying the system scan and fix route again and again to no avail. Every time it was deleted it simply reinstalled itself again, each time seemingly just a bit smugger and a bit more threatening. When I tried to contact Norton help the program became non responsive and after a few times like this I was really beginning to lose my cool. When I did get a Norton screen successfully connected the spyware pop ups came right across the top and I couldn't get them moved into the background so I could use the screens I wanted.

"BUGGER!  BUGGER!  BUGGER!"  I wailed like a demented Hugh Grant until I eventually managed to get a screen and connected to Norton's chat help facility. Once there I had to part with hard - or at least virtual and secure -cash to access their virus removal service and ended up chatting with a very helpful chap in India who really knew his stuff. Despite this it took nearly two hours to get to the stage where he could assure me that everything was fixed and that I should have a look around my most used programmes to check if everything was there and in full working order, by which time it was 3.30am. {for once being an insomniac has a plus side!}

Sometimes you need someone to lean on

I'm relieved and grateful that Norton managed to help me in my {wee small} hour of need. A bit peeved that whatever it was got by them in the first place too but 'hey-ho' at least it's gone away.

The kind Norton gent left me with some hints and tip which I thought I would share below. Most of it is basic common sense. There are also some 'best practice' tips on care of your pc.

I'm really glad that I'm able to say I'll see you later blogger pals.

Some things are worth celebrating


1. Do not give your email credentials to anyone that you don’t trust. When you decide to give your email address to a website, first read the privacy or guest email usage to ensure that your email is safe.

2. Don’t reply to spam message. When you reply to a spam message, you are confirming your email address to spammer legitimacy.

3. While using your email id for any online transactions, check if there is an additional/alternate service.

4. Do not post your email in a website, or in any place that can be known by public like in newsgroup, contact list, Chat room etc. By doing so, you are inviting a spammer to send spam to your email.

5. Do not open any spam email. It will alert the spam server that your email is being used.

6. When you are asked to type your email ID in an online form, like comment form etc, use fake email address, if you are not comfortable to give your email address.

7. Understanding the nature of the attachment is the first step towards email safety. Any executable type attachment has the potential to be infected. This covers a wide range of extensions. By default, Windows suppresses file extensions. Hence it is very important to ensure that the file extension viewing is enabled.

8. If you do not need the attachment, don't open it. Delete the email instead.

9. Visit the Windows update site monthly to ensure all necessary patches are installed.

10. Please visit these web pages for tips that can help you avoid further infections on your computer:

Please visit these web pages for tips that can help you avoid further infections on your computer:


• Add more system RAM

• Take a break if you have been at the computer for an hour or more. Give your eyes a rest.

• Add an external Hard Drive or an additional internal Hard Drive to store files. The main hard drive can crash without notice and the chance of losing personal files is high.

• Beware of pop up windows on the internet. Many pop ups are false advertising and a gateway to Spyware, viruses and adware.

• If you are not using your computer it is a good idea to turn it off to help preserve the life expectancy.

• Never spray or squirt any type of liquid onto any computer component. If a spray is needed, spray the liquid onto a cloth and then use that cloth to rub down the component.

• Only turn the computer off by the power switch as a *last resort*. Turning the computer off by the power button while a window is writing to the hard drive COULD damage the drive.

• When you have many windows open and want to view the desktop press the 'WINDOWS KEY' and 'D'

• Never download an email attachment that comes from someone you do not know.

• Keep Internet Explorer/Firefox search toolbars (EX: Yahoo, Google, MSN LIVE). The toolbar provided by the web browser is more then enough.

• Free software does not always mean its good software. Beware what you download and install. Free software has a higher rate of Spyware and adware being attached to it. Not all free software is bad software; just know what you are downloading.

• Do not block the fans or vents on the computer. Air needs to get inside to keep things cool.

• To help reduce wires and cords add items like a wireless mouse or keyboard.

• Never use a vacuum to clean the inside of the computer. Use a can of compressed air if you want to clean the dust out.

• Keep food and drinks away from the computer.

• Add numbers and symbols (Example - @#$*) to passwords. A strong password is a safe password.

• Use surge protector to help prevent damage from power fluctuations

Monday, 12 July 2010

A Castle for Her Birthday........

Tantallon Castle and the Bass Rock

Hullo ma wee blog,

The lovely G and I had three full days together as it was her birthday this weekend. Each day we went out somewhere she chose for the day and just enjoyed spending time together.

Today she wanted to go back to Tantallon Castle, a local attraction and one of our favourites, just a half hour drive along the coast. After an enjoyable but very windy visit we left Tantallon and the Bass to the birds and the wild wind and headed into North Berwick for a walk down the High Street and a spot of late lunch before driving home to get settled for the final of the World Cup this evening, which we watched with some nibbles and an appropriately good red wine.

Bass Rock Lighthouse is built on foundations of the old castle prison.

Birds wheel round the cliffs and turn the rock white with their numbers at this time of year.

Tha castle is on a promontory surrounded by sheer cliffs.

see you later.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

E-clecticism.......please help

Hullo ma we blog,

My friend Jono over at e-clecticism has had a major problem and has lost his domain name and is being held to ransom if he wants to get it back. As a result he has moved his blog.

His blog had a significant number of readers and he is trying to reach as many as he can:

This from yesterday:

Further to yesterday's post where I told you about the fact that e-clecticism's domain has been lost, I have decided to try and put it down to experience and move on. But I need your help. You see I fear that as a result of this fiasco I will have lost a number of readers and so if you are still able to read this, can I please ask you to spread the word that we have moved to

You could re-blog this post, re-tweet it, email it to your friends, like it on Facebook, or use any other of your favourite social networking sites (there is a handy button below this post) to let as many people know as possible. All I ask is for five minutes of your time. Normal service will resume tomorrow I promise.


It must be devastating to build up a base over a long period of time just to lose it like this. If you can help by passing this on please do. I recently described his blog as a house of many pleasures - so why not drop by and check his blog out.

Thanks all - and good luck Jono.

see you later.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Song of The Sea Wind

Hullo ma wee blog,

I step out of the sliding door and down to walk barefoot across the paved patio towards the grass and the apple trees. I'm carrying a large tub of bird seed and the start of my morning routine elicits excited chirps from unseen throats all around; on the house, from our neighbours roof and our garden shed, but most of all from the dense wall of uncut hedging at the far side of the back garden where I know there are several nests.

 As I stop at the low wooden bench that displays some potted plants to put down the tub and remove its stiff lid I'm buffeted by a warm and gossipy wind. It's brisk and breezy and full of energy as it moulds itself around me like the warm hug of an affectionate friend. It sings the song of the sea wind in my ear and it holds me for just a moment before rushing on with its tales of dancing white horses and the salt tang of seaweed and driftwood still fresh on its lips. It makes me pause and strain to hear the slap of distant waves at the cliff foot and the gentle rush of sea over sand and shell. It makes me inhale its perfume and consume its fragrance. I'm lost in its cadence for a moment before it leaves me breathless but smiling, like being held too tightly saying goodbye to a friend who has places to go and people to meet. Like any good friend it raises my spirits and I want more.

I return to my task and fill the plastic pot I keep inside the tub with seed, gold and flecked with the oily black of sunflower. I turn and step off the patio onto the grass and immediately I feel cool damp underfoot. There has been a silent shower during the warm night and I am given a delicious foot massage as I walk slowly, barefoot and smiling broadly, savouring every step, to the trees and the feeders, scattering the nights tears as I go. Self indulgently, I am in no rush and the excitement around me builds in a crescendo of eager voices and rustling wings as unseen watchers jostle for advantage in the greenery a few steps away. By the time I move to fill the second feeder the first is already greedily occupied, and a disorderly mob is forming on the nearby branches, the second similarly by the time I reach the third. I turn to walk away to replenish my pot for the last feeder which is in the oldest pear tree at the front of the house, scattering the last remnants of seed from my pot around me for those that prefer to ground feed. As I walk away the female blackbird swoops appreciatively past my legs in the rush to be first to the pick of the crop.

Pot filled, I walk around the side of the house keeping carefully to the massaging grassy carpet, wondering how great it would feel to take off my shirt and stretch out on cool grass to be stroked by the warm wind which has returned momentarily to this side of the house. I'm deep in thought when my neighbour calls me from the other side of the fence to ask if I would like some of the overproduction from his new hens. After only four weeks the output of his four hens is far outstripping demand and he explains that he and his wife will be happy to share some fresh eggs around the neighbours. As he rushes off to get me some eggs I fill the last feeder and return to the garden fence that separates us from the cottage. When he returns we spend some time chatting about this and that and he says that it looks like his fruit bushes are going to provide a bumper harvest of soft fruit. I too can see that we are going to have a substantial crop of apples, pears and plums as even our old pear tree is proudly hanging with young fruit and so without further ado we agree a communal aid plan which should meet most of our needs for soft fruit across the summer. To seal the bargain I carry away a dozen fresh eggs carefully held in the folded material of the front of my T-Shirt. What a wonderful morning.

 I put my stash of eggs into the cupboard and look forward to boiled eggs on toast for breakfast but decide that first I really have to pour myself a big glass of fresh orange juice and take it out into the garden where I will enjoy it as I slowly walk barefoot round and round the garden on that wonderful soft and gentle carpet of grass.

As I do so I can barely drink for smiling to myself in absolute pleasure. Walking barefoot on grass like this is one of my favourite things, yet I realise I do it so rarely, just like walking barefoot along the shoreline on soft sand with waves just lapping at my toes. I plan the day ahead as I walk and as I do I think of the song of the sea wind and decide that today will be the perfect day to walk the beach with my shoes in my hand. My feet begin to itch in anticipation of warm sand and ice cool water.

I reach for a towel to take with me. Breakfast can wait.

See you later

Listening to Leonard Cohen 'Dance me to the end of Love'

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...