Double Delight

B2014 DvdphilomenaI’ve had a double delight of films this past week. Philomena starring Judi Dench is a marvellous film which unfolds in unexpected ways. Basically it is the story of an Irish Mother who searches for her long-lost son. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because that would spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it. Let’s just say that if I had known the ins and outs, I probably wouldn’t have watched it and mine would have been the loss. It is one to watch over again.

It gets a nine and a half out of ten – fully five stars out of five. I wonder if you can guess why I am being a bit picky and not giving a full score?

B2014 DcdsavingmrbanksSaving Mr Banks is an intensely moving, if slightly quirky film. It is the story of the making of Mary Poppins, but also gives background of the author’s early life. PL Travers reminds me of many a buttoned-up woman of the fifties and sixties. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but in reality it just works.

Emma Thompson is exquisite as usual, and her attention to details and background research means that she delivers a compelling and true-to-life performance.  Tom Hanks is totally believable as Walt Disney – his supporting players at Disney Studios are excellent.

It is also a 9/10 – but then I nearly always enjoy Disney films.

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Care Homes

One of the first things I did as a trainee Minister was to visit older people who were living in residential accommodation. I quickly found out that it could be depressing or uplifting in varying degrees, and often it seemed to have a lot to do with the attitudes of the staff. There is nothing worse than going into a large room with a circle of high-backed chairs the occupants of which are slumped over sleeping whilst a tv blares in the corner.

Sadly, we can probably all relate to that. Then of course there are the better Care Facilities where maybe the carpet isn’t quite so pristine, but at least there is life about the place, possibly with a cat or dog in residence. Changing the ethos of a residential home is a hard job and switching from observance of safe systems to an emphasis on the quality of life and reasons for living is not accepted everywhere.

I have just read about one such “experiment” in the US – Dr Bill Thomas of Changing Ageing writes movingly about how life has dramatically improved for one group of residents. It is a resumé of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, writen by Atul Gwande.

41MlO-goWjL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_You need to be warned that I cried reading the review from Bill Thomas – goodness knows what will happen with the book itself. However, it needs to go on my Christmas list.

In the meantime, can we spare a thought for all those who live in residential facilities where things have yet to change.

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Christmas Pudding

Well it was her mum who called the littlest Grandie a Christmas Pudding. Anyway, I couldn’t resist this photo.


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When it works all is well. Right now I am rushing to make an entry into my blog while the internet is up and running smoothly. Over the last few months we haven’t been able to rely on having a connection which loads pages and photos when asked. It seems that we have an intermittent fault, and despite having spent ages on the line to India no-one seems able to explain what is happening.

It feels like you are in the middle of a traffic jam where the lights change and a few vehicles get through. Then, like this morning, all of a sudden it is all-singing and all-dancing. We have gone through all the usual routine of turning off computers and routers, switching cables, changing filters and going away to calm down. Yet, unexpectedly, back comes the problem. It is so frustrating.

Now the question is this. Am I going to spend another chunk of time trying to get a permanent solution, or do I cross my fingers and toes and hope all will be well this time? HBTW is convinced that a) because we live in a village; and b) the weather has been very wet – we are getting a slow-up similar to an overload or the system being overly busy. I am assured by the techies that isn’t something they recognise.

See you later – always providing I can get online of course.


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That was the week

This week has flown past with things happening every day. I used to laugh at the Oldies who claimed to be too busy to do things. Now I understand. The secret is to make the most of each day and enjoy visits and outings to the full. Hence the undernoted photos of the two littlest grandchildren. Great times.

B2014 HannahOct

And big brother who was a star – amusing the dog and the baby!

B2014 JamesOct


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Harvest Moon

B2014 HarvestmoonIt is so beautiful to see the moon clearly in Dalamory – mainly because it is quite rare.

It was the monthly visit of A with the Library Van today. I get a lorry load of books to the door and get to order up books I’ve read about from reviews and recommendations. I was musing with A that presumably with all the cuts in spending, the mobile library would be discontinued. Not so it seems, as the Local Authority have ordered up a new van. Good news indeed.

Ever since we have lived in Argyll – that’s since 1997 – I have had the privilege of using the library-on-wheels. The driver-librarians are not only good at driving a massive vehicle and knowledgeable about books and reading; they also are gifted at chatting with people. It pains me to say it, but I am now of the elderly generation, though there are those even older than me who are housebound, and they are able to have books brought actually into their homes. The librarian chooses what each person is likely to enjoy. All of this shows a caring attitude that makes me feel better about local government.

A good day then, overall. Hope yours was too.

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Back to Blogging

It seems that I am drifting back towards blogging again – and a good thing too, especially as we are on our way through October getting towards the dreaded time of the clocks going back. It’s all very well getting an extra hour of sleep, but accompanying it is the ever-darkening of the days.

There is a good article on the use of social media in blogging over at Kelvin’s Blog. I confess to being lazy about twitter, and as to facebook, I am a lurker – it’s useful to be able to see what my contacts and friends are up to. But I should stop being lazy and jump into the water.

Over the summer I have been much more involved in the political scene and in reading relevant documents and newspapers. I enjoy keeping up to date through my daily ipad version of a Scottish newspaper. The only time I get a real paper – along with the dirty hands that are the result – is on a Sunday, when I succumb to a paper with many supplements. What has struck me is that newspapers are using bloggers as commentators. I am not sure if there are fees involved, but it would help to know the credentials of who is writing.  Bloggers pop up on TV documentaries and news programmes as well. I suppose it is an example of the changing face of the media . . . . . . . . though I am not sure whether it is a good thing or has a dumbing down effect on the quality of opinions.

Anyway, I am enjoying getting back into the habit of blogging and reading the doings of my small corner of the blogging community. I had forgotten how quickly the time flies past when one is happily ensconced at the keyboard. And just a quick note here to a likely reader – I will get back to the charity blankets as well. It all makes for a healthier mind.By the way, have you started to look forward to winter hobbies? I have a whole list of things I still want to get busy with. More of those another day.

B2014 Freda


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Friday nights

I was looking for a photo from Dance Class to add to this post. (I am about to get ready to dash off for our Friday night dose of laughter, learning and fun.) What I found was a photo from a year and a half ago and by the look of it I was at least a stone and a bit heavier than now – so that is good news and bad news at the same time. Good news because it means the 2:5 way of eating is gradually making its mark; Bad news because it means there is no photo to add.

So here is Herself. . . . . . . . .  my excuse is that she doesn’t approve of Fridays. We leave in our dancing attire and she sits and howls mournfully. Yes – Really. Real howls. We walk down to the Community Centre and can still hear her all the way. Thankfully, she has stopped by the time we are on our way back two hours later.  Harrumph! That’s all I can say.

B2013 Mistypheasantwatch


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Three in a row

B2014 BookdrivingoverlemonsEvery so often I get an offer from amazon that I find hard to resist. Their publicist or perhaps their computer churns out a book I like the look of for 79 pence. This time there were three in the series.

The original book was published in 2001 the sequel, – A parrot in the pepper tree was 2002 and the third – The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society, came out in 2006.  I loaded them onto my trusty kindle all and once and thoroughly enjoyed all three.

The author seems to have had one of those lives that make you wonder what you have done with your own. From being the original drummer with Genesis, albeit for only seven months, to sheep shearing in Sweden, his reminiscences roam far and wide whilst being anchored all the while in the mountainous part of Andalucia in Spain. In other words the books are escapism – big time, and all the better for it.

Chris Stewart has an infectious sense of humour, which together with his eye for detail make the reader warm to the people of the mountains as well as the agriculture and animals. His tales of the parrot had me laughing out loud. So I thoroughly recommend them for anyone who enjoys the vagaries of country life, the infinite wealth of human nature and the story of subsistence farming in Spanish style playing out over twenty years.

And by the way, amazon did well out of me because the third book was normal price, but long before then I was hooked.


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Where have all the ordinary sizes gone?

Don’t worry – this is not about super-sized human beings, it is about the quest for a medium sized bottle of shampoo. Why not an economy one? Because it is to fit into my toiletry bag when travelling. This is an on-going hunt, where the treasure is seemingly unavailable. On our travels I visited a Boots Extra store – two aisles of hair products and all either ginormous or minuscule. It seems that customer choice has been limited.

It has to be said that my antics produced some puzzled and even alarmed reactions. Note that I had already three small make-up items in a rather large shopping basket. I had confessed to a Sales Assistant that my rate of using up cosmetics was rather slow as I only used make-up once a week. (For Dance Class.) She seemed surprised, but stopped trying to sell me more. Maybe she thought I was too past it for dancing. However, I digress . . . . Back to the two tiers of hair accoutrements.

The first problem was that a) shampoos and conditioners for each manufacturer were side by side; also, liberally sprinkled in among them were oil treatments, anti-frizz controls, dry shampoos and various other concoctions.  b) the print was so small that it was easy to muddle up the product. Secondly, I was distracted by the sheer range of treatments on offer. In the end it was a case of staggering to the checkout and admitting defeat.

And no, I never found the ideal bottle of shampoo.

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