Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Spelling Bee

Rainbow today over Bayble Bay, Isle of Lewis

I can spell 'rainbow'. In fact I can spell lots of words pretty well. I should be able to too. Words were my stock in trade. However, I have always had some bĂȘtes noir. Diphthong, diarrhoea and, oddly, muesli spring immediately to mind. I also went for much of my life convinced that 'across' was spelt 'accross'.

At primary school spelling bees were a common way of testing and improving our spelling ability. They were also supposed to be enjoyable and, to be frank, I did enjoy them. So did Joan Rigby. Joan was the brightest person in the school by far (teachers included I rather think). On one occasion she and I were captaining two spelling bee teams. The teams were level pegging until she and I had to face each other. I cannot recall what I was asked to spell but I spelt it correctly. Really at my wits end, and definitely in awe of Joan, I asked her to spell 'bee' as in 'spelling bee'. Much to everyone's astonishment she either couldn't or she miss-spelt it and my team won.

I don't expect YP to have any such problems but I'd love to know what bĂȘtes noir the rest of my readers have: if any.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Washing Machine Detergent

How sexy and grabbing is that for a blog post title?

So much has been said about plastics recently that I was drafting my tuppence-worth when I read the label on a bottle of washing machine detergent (it is called so many things these days). I actually wanted to see what the number was in the re-cycling triangle on the base. I was astonished. I've obviously never read one before and I was completely taken by surprise. 

How many of us have read the labels despite a message hidden amongst all that small print exhorting us to do so? How many of us knew that it is severely deleterious to eyes? All that and much more is in the small print on the back of the bottle. On the front in very large letters it is emphasised as being suitable for sensitive skin: so much friendlier.

By the way do you have any idea what the red diamond sign means? Well so far as I can gather it means corrosive substance to materials and flesh. That doesn't sound very good for sensitive skin (or any skin) so far as I can make out.

Friday, 2 February 2018


If there is a way of making someone homesick it is sending them lots of food and goodies that are unique to 'home'.  I recall my Uncle who had emigrated to Canada in the '50s saying the same. 

'Home', though, is a very strange concept in my mind. I was born in Liverpool and have a certain nostalgia for that great city which once rivalled New York for the size of its international trade and had docks larger than those of London. However the day I moved away was the last day I felt that it was 'home'. 

I came to Lewis for two years in the '70s and never left. Wherever I am now, Lewis is 'home'. I think that it always will be.

However I'm a Hebridean Kiwi at heart having lived a half-life there for a decade. Every time I flew into Lewis or flew into New Zealand or every time I left either, my heart would give a jump and my eyes would well up with tears of emotion.

So when The Family in New Zealand sent me a goody-box for Christmas I was overwhelmed. I'm still opening packets and eating memories.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Moon

Humans everywhere and through all time have been obsessed with The Moon and tonight's super-blue-moon has engendered lots of interest. It's not particularly easy to photograph the craters at a full moon because the direct light flattens it to the ordinary camera. My photo in the sidebar of this blog (taken with a far less powerful lens over 10 years ago) is not a full moon and some of the craters are more obvious because of the shadows. However despite the fact that everyone will have seen pictures of superb quality in every newspaper and on television I cannot resist showing my own effort. It was taken about 4 or 5 hours before the optimum time for this grid reference. 

When I think about it the words in the sidebar are even more poignant at a time like this when so many people everywhere in the world are looking at the moon. "We may be apart but when I look at the sky and remember that we are standing on the same earth, looking at the same moon, somehow you don't seem so far away after all." I love the notion imparted by those words.