Early Morning or Late Night………the owls have it

It’s four o’clock. 

All is quiet in the house. 

Outside darkness cloaks the world.

A timed sequence lights here…..and there…..and further along the street.

No-one disturbs the silence of the morning except a very occasional passing car, most likely a taxi, returning its occupants from a festive frolic or prosecco party.

Days at the moment are short of light.

Nights are long, as darkness lingers………………………………………..holds onto the hours out of reach of the sun.

Time seems to stretch beyond itself, appearing to be more than it is, the tocking of it ticking s…….l…….o…….w…..l……y

Gin with a tonic to follow!

Immunoglobulin has been flowing into my veins at regular intervals for the last eighteen years now. It has helped me maintain a level of mobility that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. Having a chronic illness that can be treated is a Godsend. I am very very lucky. It doesn’t work for everyone, indeed some folk have reactions that prevent its use in their particular neurological condition. Fortunately, gifted scientists and doctors are developing new treatments that do work, and together this treatment regime is supporting huge numbers of patients who would otherwise be relatively immobile.
Our NHS funds the research, the provision of treatment and the care to maintain lifestyles for thousands of people in our country. We are the beneficiaries of dedication and commitment that is second to none.
Three Cheers for our NHS!!!!!

NHS delivers in style!

Much is being said about our National Health Service at present. I would like to share a recent story that shows every aspect of a journey through the service it provides. It’s the story of my Mum’s fall and subsequent hip operation to her position now in her own home through support that has been constant, positive and available.

My mum is 84 years young, an independent lady who lives in her own flat and does everything for herself by herself. At least she did, until a fall in December caused her to break a hip. From the first moment of contact through an emergency call, she has been the recipient of great care, from the two paramedics who escorted her to hospital, the young doctor who admitted her, the nursing staff of Inverclyde Royal Infirmary, and the care staff who supported her when she eventually left hospital and began her recovery towards the independent state she had fallen from. She is well on the road to a full recovery, has a zimmer which she whizzes about on and a stick awaiting use when the zimmer is cast aside. Her flat has been adapted with aids and regular visits from NHS staff ensure that the aim of returning her to the independent state prior to her fall will be achieved. And it will. Together the NHS team and my feisty wee mum will make sure of that!!!!

I have been with mum every step of this journey, and have to applaud Our National Health Service. Indeed, I have to give it a standing ovation for continuing to offer a service that does what it says on the label- ‘Meet the needs of everybody, be free at the point of delivery and based on clinical needs and not the ability to pay’. Since 1948, at its birth, Our NHS has delivered, continues to deliver, and will continue to deliver the health of our country. Health is wealth, without it we are poorer. The well-being of our nation is cherished by the most caring of hands, and I thank each and every one of them for being there for my mum! Cheers!!!!’

Halfway through

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Today marks the halfway point in our Southern Times Doghouse Sit. The dogs are already much loved by us both as is the house and the surrounding area, which we are exploring every other day.

We’ve been to Ely twice, almost made Cambridge, and decided not to return by car again EVER! Park and Ride it will be, as we accidentally found ourselves on their motorway system which is chaotic to say the least, and not conducive to holiday mode. We ventured to Wisbech and were not impressed, so it will be bypassed in the future.

Ely is delightful. We spent time exploring the cathedral, and had the company of Keith and Brenda to enjoy a lunch of the most delicious fish and chips. On our second visit, I ventured into the shopping area, perused the market, while Joan explored the area beside the river. We returned via small roads and found an excellent garden centre and fruit and veg outlet which we will be returning to this week, given the succulence of their plums!!!

Freddie and I have been following the same daily mile along the riverside, avoiding cats(which he’d like to chase for their lives) and other dogs who he would really like to play with, and I won’t let him, spoilsport that I am. He enjoys his walks, and treats them as sniffalong experiences, stopping and starting as another smell requires his undivided nose! He is a furry woose who would run a mile if another dog breenged towards him! Wee Buster doesn’t walk. He’s small and elderly and declines any offer to take him on his lead more than twenty yards. Enough is enough. But I know someone who LOVES his kind of walking!!

Together our furry friends are fun to be with. They entertain us with their daily MAD times and give us HUGE welcomes when we come back to them after our wee jaunts. We do tend to bring them a tiny morsel of anything edible we’ve had, salving our consciences for leaving them at all! We are HUGELY tempted to search for our own furry friends when we go home, but have decided to settle back into Bearsden life before taking the next step.

Our home for the past ten days is wonderful, spacious and very well equipped with gadgets and amenities. The garden is sun drenched all day, so with swing seat and hot tub we are truly spoiled.

I’ve managed to get out on my bike often and through Joan’s careful investigation of gumtree ads, have purchased a REAL LADIES BIKE which is second hand with potential. I’ve already cleaned it to a new shine, fitted a mirror and basket and will this week touch up some of the paintwork and replace a brake cable. I do love bikes, always have, so will thoroughly enjoy bringing this one up to scratch in the next wee while. Biking runs in the family. I notice my wee brother Ev has also purchased another one!!

Today we’re at home with the boys, cutting grass, washing, tidying inside and out,checking the hot tub and  then I’ll have my Mile with Freddie while Joan has her yards with Buster. We have a bit of shopping to do in preparation for Keith and Brenda’s visit tomorrow, but other than that, there’s not a lot to do!! I’m sure I’ll get away for a ride on my new wheels, and I’m equally sure Joan will do her daily round of current affairs via Twitter and Facebook. The boys will probably hope that we go out for a while and bring them something back!!

Gardening Times

Three days of working in the garden, and much has been accomplished. My nails may never recover! Even with hands covered in gloves, dirt clings, and nails crack and break. Maybe it’s time to give the old hands a bit more TLC and treat them to a wee cream or two!

It’s very satisfying when areas take shape, plants begin to spread into their own space and growth is beginning. Colour will come, if this lovely spell of weather continues, although it would be good to have an overnight shower to water the settling plants!!

Travels with my brother…..

The sun is always shining in Largs! So says my mum. And it was certainly offering a very springlike feel to those of us who were lucky to venture down the coast today.Ayrshire has always been a special place for our family, since mum’s Aitken ancestors all came from the area originating in Kilmarnock as far back as the mid 1600s.

Family trips to the beaches of Ayr, Troon, Prestwick, Saltcoats and Girvan were always part of summer. Evening runs down to Largs to Nardinis for a knickerbocker glory or a ginger beer iced drink followed by a fish supper or even high tea were treats to remember. So too were the special Christmas visits where we loved to view the wonderful exhibition of goodies in the Nardinis Shop area.

I remember one particular day when my cousins Anne and Moira were up staying with grandpa Aitken during the summer holidays. We all went down to Ayr to the beach with a picnic, deck chairs and towels. I don’t think we went into swim, but we certainly went in for a paddle wearing shorts which we had to hold up even higher even although there was no danger of us going in far enough to wet them! Pokey hats and sand in our sandwiches together with donkey rides along a stretch of the beach made this a day to remember, a family day. 

Summer was never the same unless you had been ‘doon the watter!’ Usually for most folk that was a trip on a steamer to Rothesay or Dunoon. I recall one occasion when both George and I went all the way from the Broomielaw to Tighnabruaich by steamer. The boat was a fantastic place to explore, especially into the noisy engine room where the hot smell of oil filled our senses and the movement of the engines fascinated our young minds. Up on deck we would stick our toes tentatively through the rails and lean over just far enough to watch the paddles churn the water into frothy outpourings. It looked so deep and greedy-blue and wonderous. The salty wind in our hair sticking it into a style that has some resemblance to he best coiffures of today, but once we got ashore, a comb soon flattened out our curls into a more traditional look. Indeed I do recall occasions when my wee brother had his hair brylcreemed into place, not so different from the gelling of today!



My first memory of my little brother must have been at his birth. I can’t bring that to mind, but within my psyche, there must be a tiny recollection of the day. How could I not remember his first cries? Being there in my cot just 18 months old, I must have wondered at this new awakening in my life as my wee brother emerged into our world. Apparently I was besotted with him, wanted to love him all the time and share my sweeties(dolly mixtures) with him. All very well if he had been a bit older, but giving him sweeties at two weeks old was not the thing to do, and fortunately, mum was near enough to remove the offerings from his mouth before any harm came to him. I wonder if that’s why he developed such a sweet tooth?? And speaking of sweet tooth, my first actual memory of George was him sitting in a high chair in Tighnabruaich being given a teaspoonful of jam as he watched his big sis tumble over her wilkies on a mattress that dad had laid on the floor. Then of course he was given his dummy with a wee touch of condensed milk to make it more appealing. In those days packaged sweets were not something available to many folks, so we made do with what we had. I do love condensed milk straight out of the tin on a spoon to this day.

Our childhood took us from Helensburgh where George was born to Ulva for a brief spell, Glasgow for an even briefer one then we were back in Tighnabruaich for a couple of years before we eventually moved into our tenement home in Renfrew where we both went to school and lived for five years. Memories of Renfrew were happy ones. We did so many things as a family and George and I spent a lot of time together.

I recall his first car, a red pedal car that had two seats, one for the driver,George of course, and one for his passenger-most times pusher behind-big sister Ray. We both loved that car and used to go together in it to the bus stop to meet mum coming home from work. We’d race down after she arrived and smile with anticipation as she opened her shopper to reveal something nice for us to have after our tea, a poke of chocolate buttons, dolly mixtures or maybe a small bar of cadbury’s chocolate. After tea we’d get to play out in the waste ground behind the houses, or go for a game of rounders or king ball with pals, then come back in to get our bath in a tin one in front of the fire, then head for bed after maybe a piece on jam and a glass of milk. Of course we did have to make a visit to the shared toilet outside or maybe just ‘go’ in the chantie under the bed if it was a bit too cold! Shared toilets were common then, and we were well used to the newspaper squares hanging on string and the delight of finding a warm seat if somebody else had just ‘been’.

School for us both was Blythswood Testimonial, a short walk up High Street, then through behind the Town Hall. We both loved school. I remember taking skipping ropes and a peever tin and George took his marbles. I recall a playground with long long ice slides where we had great fun during winter months. The ‘Jannie’ lived in a house in the playground and used to ring his big school bell as playtime began and ended. Sometimes we had school dinners which meant that we had to be escorted down to the secondary school in the town centre for a ‘sitting’ with our dinner tickets clutched safely in our hands- two different colours and prices, 1shilling for me as first child, 11d for George as second child. Most of the time we went home for lunch where dad and mum spent the short time with us making rolls with scrambled egg, cheese pudding or maybe roasted cheese. Mum and dad both worked but wanted to be there with us at lunchtime even although it might only be for 10 or 15minutes. Typical kids, we devoured our lunch and raced back to school to play in the playground for as long as we could before the bell went!

After school we rushed home, sometimes via the wee bakery where we could buy a bag of broken pastry for a penny, but usually to get home and changed then out to play, let in by our neighbour Mr Irvine who was always around to look after us. We both did love to get out to play. Then when mum and dad came home, we had tea and usually that was time for us to go out together for a walk, or when we had bikes we’d ride on ahead and we’d explore Renfrew, go up and visit mum’s parents in Linthouse or go for a half pint glass of orange at Renfrew Airport just like Prince Charles had done on a visit there. Sometimes Uncle Tom would come down on his bike and come with us. He spoiled us both and bought us the most wonderful presents. I remember once he gave us string puppets, proper wooden ones, and dinky and corgi cars. He encouraged George to develop those fiddly fingers with a meccano set and always bought me sketch pads and paints and pencils to encourage my love of drawing.

Saturday was the day we always visited gran and grandpa in Drive Road. We loved going there to play in the front room and have a look in the big cupboard where Uncle Tom used to sleep when he was a boy. They had a big sideboard in there with an open shelved area which we were small enough to fit inside. There was a table at the front window and chairs to sit and look out from our first floor window across to Elder Park and along Drive Road. We used to watch the rag and bone man and the coalman come along still with a horse and cart to deliver and sell. As it got nearly dark we’d look out for the ‘leerie’ who came along to light the gas lamps in the closes and we’d marvel at this strange orange glow that could be seen up and down the street. George loved cars and we’d sit for ages with pencil and paper writing down car number plates as they passed or parked on the street. We had tea,with cakes from Cameron’s the bakers, then maybe went across to the park for a walk, play on the swings and maybe go to the pond to watch people sailing their wee boats. Uncle Tom would come home and he’d take us each in turn for a ride on his bike, where we’d sit on the crossbar. When we asked for a ride he’d always say   “Next Pancake Tuesday!” But then we’d smile and he’d relent. After we’d been out we’d watch him bring the bike back upstairs, clean every inch of it then pull it up above the hall stand on a pulley so that it was out of the way. Some Saturdays we’d go on into Govan to the pictures and maybe see Bambi or Snow White or some other Disney film. We always got sweeties for during the film, and came out when it was dark to begin the walk home. Sometimes dad would give one of us a ‘coal carry’ or put us right up on his shoulders where we’d have to hold onto his hands or put our hands on his forehead. By the time we got home we were well and truly ready for bed!

To be continued……….