Tuesday, 20 February 2018


A break from activities: a weekend in Dalvalich, on the shore of Loch Awe, Argyllshire
Bathing beauties in the hot tub  (JA)

In the hot tub

Temple Wood stone circle at Slockavullin near Kilmartin, Argyll (JA)

 Nether Largie Neolithic burial chamber, south entrance

 Nether Largie Neolithic burial chamber, top of the mound

Thursday, 15 February 2018


Iseabail died peacefully this morning after suffering a stroke 3 weeks ago.

Travelling through from Glasgow the family and friends have been visiting.  Friends, of which she has many in the Edinburgh area, visited regularly.

Her loss will be felt by those whose lives she touched. As we move on now and undertake the preparation for her funeral we are, at this precise moment in time, very aware of the care she has been given over the last 3 weeks.

Again, I say, "Let's hear it for our National Health Service!"  Yes, we pay for it in our taxes but, I wish to state here and now that "The 'system' worked".  Ambulance crew attended when neighbours requested. She was taken immediately to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and has been cared for in the Stroke Unit these past 3 weeks. We have nothing but the highest praise for all staff: medical, nursing, clerical.


The Book* Is Now Closed 

* Two of Iseabail's many....

Saturday, 10 February 2018


John and Mairi are heading to Edinburgh today and will be paying a visit to Iseabail in Edinburgh Royal Stroke Unit.

In the meantime we are thinking about the long and fulfilling life she has had, and indeed, of her friends and colleagues of which (we are becoming aware) she has many!

"People in many places are, or will be, thinking about her, grateful for what she did for/meant to them. And lots who  did not know her will be using the works she edited, wrote etc."  M MacKay

 * * * * * * *

The tide is going out...

(Photo taken at Kildonnan Beach, south tip of Arran(Firth of Clyde) looking toward Pladda and Ailsa Craig in the distance.)

Thursday, 8 February 2018


Friends and family have been very kind in joining us as we think of Iseabail who is the Edinburgh Royal stroke unit.  Having suffered a stroke 2 weeks ago her condition is deteriorating.

Old age brings loss and none are felt more deeply than one's family and friends.  Friends of Ish's generation have been phoning daily enquiring about news. Sadly some of them have dementia and make repeated phone calls as is the way of these things.

Having received one of these today (which Iain normally takes but is not in today) I was updating the caller and hearing all about their friendship.

After a few minutes' conversation I hit upon the idea of giving her something to do; people feel so helpless and far away in these situations.

Without really giving any forethought I said "Why don't you light a candle?  (I suppose it comes from seeing so many of the public leaving candles at sites of death and tragedy.)  

I am not really a 'candle' person but having a rather nice glass Swedish candle tea-light holder given to me by Christina Bell I simply followed suit...

It is a time of vigil.  

Having been sailing for so many years and having learned that there are times (like when the tide goes out and you are going aground) where you simply can do nothing but sit and wait.  I soon learned not to jump about scrabbling with ropes and anchors... but just got up and put the kettle on.  As the tide went out everything on the boat slid to one side... clunk .. clunk ... clunk, clunk... and after the hours elapsed and tide started to turn the boat started to float again (and everything clunked back in the other direction until we were upright once more).

So it is 'kettleon' time.  You have heard of a 'marathon'?  We have a family word 'kettlelon'.  It comes from when Mairi was learning to speak.  "I want 'kettleon'!" she kept saying.  Finally the penny dropped "Ah... Polly Put The Kettleon"!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018



I remember the bologna of my Childhood,
And the bread that we cut with a knife,
When the Children helped with the housework,
And the men went to work not the wife.
The cheese never needed a fridge,
And the bread was so crusty and hot,
The Children were seldom unhappy,

1947 Don in sledge with me pulling, outside the back door.

And the Wife was content with her lot.

I remember the milk from the bottle,
With the yummy cream on the top,
Our dinner came hot from the oven,

And not from a freezer; or shop.
The kids were a lot more contented,
They didn't need money for kicks,
Just a game with their friends in the road,
And sometimes the Saturday flicks.

Auntie Joan (Sansum - married name became Richards) my mother's sister, pulling me in the wagon with Don on the grass.  1948.  Many hours of play with that wagon. Wagons of that big, robust wooden type are not something I have seen in the UK.)
I remember the shop on the corner,
Where cookies for pennies were sold
Do you think I'm a bit too nostalgic?
Or is it....I'm just getting Old?
Bathing was done in a wash tub,
With plenty of rich foamy suds

But the ironing seemed never ending
As Mama pressed everyone's 'duds'.

1948.  This was the age when house rules applied.  For example: when there was a cake being made with a bowl of icing to follow, or sometimes it would be whipped cream, the rule was always (for my bother and I) "One gets the bowl and one gets the spoon". 
I remember the slap on my backside,
And the taste of soap if I swore
Anorexia and diets weren't heard of
And we hadn't much choice what we wore.

Do you think that bruised our ego?
Or our initiative was destroyed?
We ate what was put on the table...

And I think life was better enjoyed.

[Author, Unknow]

I can relate to this poem especially the one where “you ate what was put on the table”!  To this day, I annoy my family by struggling through food put out before me (e.g. a restaurant) which is more than I can eat.  They say “Oh for heaven’s sake!  Just put it to the side!”  Do you  know what? I can’t!  I really, really cannot. I carry this baggage in my head and have all my life: eat what’s on your plate!  Therefore when I go to a restaurant I am very careful to say “Please make it Ladies portions…. or… could you bring another plate please?"  And I simply help myself to what I know I can eat and send the rest back (or share it with someone else at the table).

Monday, 5 February 2018


Iseabail is still in hospital in Edinburgh. She has had a stroke and her condition is causing concern. 

She is in the stroke unit in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and it looks like she is going to be there for awhile. Friends and relations continue to visit. Lovely cards are arriving by post.

We travel through by train and then take the 20 minute bus journey to the south-west outskirts of the city.  We tend to visit in the afternoon and start to head back to the city centre about 4 pm.  Above is the afternoon sun catching the steeple of this church as seen out the bus window.


While Mairi and John were through visiting Iseabail we held on to the 2 Munchkins.  Harriet is now 4 and a half and Ellie is 3 years old.  

On my list of 'What To Do' for a long afternoon, I hit on the idea of setting the table for dinner.  (I can really spin this out!)

I taught them how to fold a tablecloth, i.e. how to fold something when there are 2 of you.  (I have on quite a few occasions found myself about to do this say with a piano cover, a church or community hall tablecloth ... when without saying a word, a woman - and it always a woman! - simply walks up to me, bends down and takes an end, fold and fold again.  Now you know that is either a nurse or someone who made a lot of beds!)

Fold in half and then in half again....

Fold in half and then in half again....

Little helpers lending a hand.  Harriet then went on to set out the knives and forks, plates, napkins and she doesn't have to be told twice!

Meanwhile Ellie helped me make Scalloped Potatoes. She is going to be left-handed ... which reminds me I must buy some left-handed scissors for her.

* * *   ALASTAIR IS 10 YEARS OLD  * * *

* * * * * * * *  WEE ISH AND IAIN   * * * * * * *

Mosshead Primary held a Burns Night Supper last week.  Ish, 11 years old, in her last year now, was there with Iain who helped her to tuck into the haggis and neeps!

* * * * * * * *  BIG ALASTAIR AND INDY   * * * * * * *

Indy, 6 and a half years old and Alastair having a Sunday outing on the indoor climbing wall

Indy's school picture at December 2017.  Six years old.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018


Iseabail is unwell. She is in hospital after what appears to have been a stroke.

We were through to Edinburgh to visit her and try to assess the situation.  Mairi and John and the children were through at the weekend so between us we are attending to the various bits and pieces necessary in such a situation.
(2009 photo)
I would say she's not at death's door but incapacity has yet to be fully established as the days (?weeks?) go by.
 * * * * * AND THE YOUNGER GENERATION * * * * * * 

Ellie (left) had her 3rd birthday last week.  She's Little Miss Personality Plus!  Words like 'fiesty' come to mind ... as you can see in this photo taken at Ednie Farm 3 weeks ago. Big Brother Alastair calls her 'sassy'! 
When we were together last week she offered me a pretzel from the Tupperware bowl on the kitchen counter.  After taking one she turns to me and says ... with a stern finger wag ... "Now Grandma, that's your Last One!"    
Harriet in pink is 4 and a half and is Little Miss Organiser.  She is very 'together' and likes to help tidy things away. And just look at that beautiful smile!  

I mentioned in a previous posting how Harriet made me laugh when, after giving her some bitter chocolate to taste when making a ganache for cupcakes (which she spat out with a "Eughghgh") she turned to me and said "Grandma, you really must be more careful when giving children chocolate!"