The Circle of Life

So much to discuss, not all of it good I’m afraid.

First, it seems that my poor old dad is on his way out. We knew that and, indeed, I said goodbye to him 10 days ago. But it’s confirmed today that he has pneumonia and IV antibiotics and oxygen are not doing much so they’re going to stop the medicine soon and make him comfortable. He will not be going home. As a result we are cutting short our trip and, having popped in to see an old pal of C’s tomorrow, should be home by the weekend. Mum is fine … indeed, it’s fair to say that she’s much stronger with dad in hospital. Him and his dementia at home had taken its toll. In the end it will be a blessing.

I could say a lot about my dad, and will leave that for when he eventually goes. What is clear is that he had a helluva life, apart from the last couple of years where he has become more and more frustrated. The circle of life, I guess.


It’s raining here. A lot. But it’s the first day it’s been like it. We had a super day yesterday on our bikes riding down Loch Duich in some decent sunshine … even though it was cold. At the end of the road by a slip way we had uninterrupted views across to Eilean Donan, the iconic castle on a island in the middle of the water. Actually it’s not as impressive as seeing it surrounded by water, but it was still lovely to get out. I’m penning this waiting to walk down the valley and will crack on when the water stops falling in stair rods.


Eilean Donan

And what else? My heart is still enjoying its independence, but nowhere near as bad as it was. It flips and flops every so often and then gets reminded of what it’s real purpose is (keeping me alive), and all is well. It will be interesting to see what the 24 hour ECG throws up.

Books? Still selling. Twenty copies last month – now below one-a-day, but still chugging along. And I thought you might like to read this, the draft blurb for book 5 (definitely On The Back Foot To Hell):

On The Back Foot To Hell – Blurb

A new, undefined terror is spreading across the globe. Indiscriminate, low-level acts of violence have hit all five continents – and it’s getting worse. The world’s security services are at a loss. Who is behind the upsurge in violence? Where will the next attack take place? Will it ever stop?

Sam Green, now a supermarket till girl in a small town in England, is oblivious to world events. She has her own inner demons to fight and they’re consuming every spare moment. All too soon though, these demons will take on human form. And then she will be faced with two choices: run or fight.

In Naples, Italy, a young Welsh student is innocently researching a link between The Mafia and the history of art. And two thousand miles away in Moscow, Russian intelligence services are struggling to contain a new terror cell that threatens nuclear catastrophe.

Are all these things connected? If so, can someone force order from chaos? Sam has managed before. But now there are too many obstacles, the biggest of which are those plaguing her own mind.

This time the world might just have to rely on someone else.



A chance meeting (2)

A numbers of photos today, but hopefully some elaborating words as well.

one of yesterday’s many views

It’s a small world. Our plan was to lose ourselves among the peaks and troughs of the western highlands before we met up with Jen and clan today on Skye. The sun was out and it was walking weather. But first we stopped to have breakfast (bacon and eggs….mmmmm) at a view point above Glen Garry and were promptly joined by ten Swedish bikers and a coach load of Germans; and a recurring team of zealous tourist of various nationalities keen to soak up the view. Scotland the Brave had become, unusually for us who normally come here at Easter, Scotland the Busy. Blooming tourists.

bridge at Gelnshiels, start of our abortive walk

bridge at Gelnshiels, start of our abortive walk

With the emerging realisation that if we didn’t walk during the day on a whim we’d have to walk towards the end of the day because we had to, we stopped by the memorial of the Battle of Glenshiels and tried a hike up to a waterfall. We made a flask of tea, packed some biscuits and headed off purposefully. But the route was v wet, steep, slippy and against C’s better judgement just eight months on from a broken leg under similar circumstances. Giving up we made our way back to Doris and drove on towards Skye. However, we decided to turn left just before Loch Duich for Bernara and the old, but still operating, ferry to Skye – we would have to double back on ourselves and cross the Skye Bridge today. But the little white route, the bay at the end and potential views over to Skye looked too good to miss.

imageOn the way up a saddle the panorama back towards the central mainland and the loch in late summer sunshine was fabulous; but we pressed on. We reached the coast and immediately stopped in the coastal village of Glenage and parked up with the aim to walk on the coastal road up to the ferry. Which is what we did.

Well just imagine my surprise when, as we turned off a tarmac road to cross the estuary a man emerging from a Volvo said “you’re from Wells, aren’t you?”. To cut a long story short it was Angus Clark’s (Wells, Year 10) dad. He owned a lovely, modern summer house in the village with views over the estuary and his family spent the summer there. We met Mum and said hello to Angus, who seemed v pleased to see us both. Ten seconds either side of this chance meeting and none of us would have been any the wiser. An amazing coincidence…

Rather phased by this chance meeting we walked along the coastal road until we made it to the ferry. It was a lovely afternoon with a hot sun, admonished by a cool wind, making for perfect walking weather. Here Skye is a golf shot away from the mainland, but the gap is big enough, the hills steep enough and the

the ferry terminal

the ferry terminal

loch dark enough to make any potential visitor careful about choosing how he might make the journey. The new(ish) bridge just up the coast is used by most. We have taken the Mallaig to Armadail ferry before (much further south); it reduces the journey north from Glasgow by seventy miles or so. The summer ferry between Bernara to Kylerhea is anachronism and is used by folk who want to, well, use the ferry. The green, red and yellow ‘Clena Chulish’ turntable ferry is almost fifty years old, community owned and operates between two fairly pointless slipways (both tricky to get to) but thrives because of the history behind the ferry itself and the wonder of the local destinations.

Walking among different shades of purple heather and entertained by the sun’s reflection on the deep blue water, the slipway, next to a dinky lighthouse, was idyllic and with the ferry on its way in we sat down on a bench to drink our flask of tea. Once ashore the ferryman, a late middle aged man speaking perfect Oxford English, brusquely asked C to move along our short wooden bench, sat down (making a comfortable two, a squashed three) and gave us over thirty minutes of the history of the ferry. All the while some impatient Germans waited in their Volkswagens on the other side. ‘Every twenty minutes’ was the advertised mantra….. Obviously not when the driver wants a chat and a cuppa.

the ferry

the ferry

We walked back, making the decision to park for the night on the beach next to some other campers eking out habitation by utilising the ‘free campsite’ laid on by the locals. The sun shone long enough for us to move and settle in. Then the weather snuck in, stealing the sunshine and rudely replacing it with Scottish mist and a rocking wind. We were fine though. I shaved my beard and, with a plastic spacer, my head using the wing mirrors as a rough guide; if my RSM could see me now! C made supper of tuna salad and potatoes followed by fruit salad. She also did her womble bit, gathering a black bag of rubbish that was strewn round the van; we always leave a wild-camping site smarter than when we arrived. For me this was getting close to as I imagined Stage 3 to be, but it still wasn’t clear in my mind. The school staff go back today and I hope as the day goes on I really begin to understand how lucky I am.

Doris at rest

Doris at rest

I’m finishing this off early doors looking out of our dining room window. The sea, just metres away, is a grey flat affair and sky full of grey blue clouds every so often tinged with reddy orange. The only noise I can hear is the gentle tap of the small IKEA clock we have, C’s sleepy murmurings and, just now, the phutt phutt of a Diesel engine as a v smart fishing boat emerges from the Kyle Rhea. Pretty perfect.