1 EAGLETON NOTES: January 2016



Sunday, 31 January 2016

The First Leg

After a day of waiting around at Stornoway Airport and after nearly 9 hours returning home for a night's sleep Pat took me to the airport in the late morning for the extra flight FlyBe had put on at 1235. With a Sunday service following and Storm Henry waiting to pounce, one of the best sights all of us in the departure lounge had seen for a long time was the Saab 340 as it arrived outside the departure lounge window.

By 1500 hrs 90 minutes later than intended we were on the ground in Glasgow after a remarkably good flight. The first flight on my way to New Zealand was complete. 

Today has been a quiet day out to lunch - another post follows on that.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Storm Gertrude

I'm sitting in Stornoway Airport. I'm not alone. Storm Gertrude has so far managed to prevent the flights from southern Scotland from taking off for Stornoway and two have been cancelled. So there are now three sets of passengers waiting for the 1530 flight to Glasgow. Not that they will all get on. The question for me is "Will I?".  The more important question as I write this after 1500 hrs is whether this flight will also be cancelled. It was supposed to have arrived at 1500 but hasn't yet taken off from Glasgow. Fortunately being a reasonably sensible sort of chap I made sure that I had a few days in Glasgow with a friend which days also act, conveniently, as a buffer for incidents just such as this.

We're doing well (or badly depending on the point of view) so far this season: this is the seventh named storm since the middle of November.

A – Abigail (hit the UK on November 12-13)
B – Barney (November 17-18)
C – Clodagh (November 29)
D – Desmond (December 5-6)
E – Eva (December 24)
F – Frank (December 29-30)
G – Gertrude (January 29-?)

Just in case you are wondering which name comes next the answer is as follows: Henry, Imogen, Jake, Katie, Lawrence, Mary, Nigel, Orla, Phil, Rhonda, Steve, Tegan, Vernon, Wendy. If you are wondering why there is no name associated with Q, U, X, Y and Z The Met Office and Met Eireann have decided to follow the US National Hurricane Center, which names - you guessed it - hurricanes, and does not use names beginning with those letters. As storm systems often develop over the North Atlantic, they want to be consistent with their American colleagues.

However it's unlikely that we'll arrive at Wendy this season as the worst season recently (2013/4) only had 14 named storms. 

Well we've just heard that the flight has been cancelled.

I'm now booked on the 1920 flight. Most others have gone for the Inverness flight oprion with a bus to Glasgow. With snow forecast for Drumochter I don't fancy that. Oh well what will be will be. I was going to say que sera sera but I'll probably get told off by YP for being pretentious.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Art - Another Four

One of the most difficult of my pictures to photograph (apart from the problems of photographing pictures behind glass) is this one by Peter Luti: one of his relatively few 'black phase' paintings. It was a present for my 60yh birhday and is one of the most treasured of my pictures.

These two original batiques were favourites of our late son Andrew and hung in his flat. They are so beautifully vibrant and positive that they really lift the room they are in.

I was having a coffee in a coffee bar/gallery in Napier some years ago when I saw this painting which was very representative of both the Art Deco heritage of Napier and the New Zealand Flax which is endemic in the country and also the wind which so often blew and made the heat so pleasant. It now graces my living room.

I was introduced to the art of  Wes Martin by Kate a couple of years ago and when I went to his site this canvas entitled Autumn Winds and Winter Ghosts was on his easel. I fell for it instantly and it now sits next to the door netween my living room and the hall so I can see it and be happy every time I walk through the door. The frame was my choice.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I Do It All The Time

In fact I've done it for 40 years. The journey between Stornoway and Glasgow used to be quite a pleasant affair. Air travel was back 'in those days'. Now it's a trial beset by security checks and long periods hanging around because of the time needed to ensure that one is at the departure gate in good time having negotiated all the obstacles to ensure secure travel.

When I first came to Stornoway in the '70s it was a case of turning up at the airport with your ticket some time before the plane's door had been closed (and for some people after it had been closed), having a chat to the British Airways staff and enjoying the trip with it's appropriate refreshments on the hour-long journey. On one occasion I was even driven out onto the taxiway in a police car as the plane (a Loganair Twin Otter) delayed its take-off.

Stornoway airport was little more than a few portacabins in those heady days. I've tried to find some photographs on the internet of the airport in the '70s but so far without success. I wonder if I ever took any. Since I wrote that I have found this on the internet but I cannot find the copyright holder so if I'm infringing a copyright please let me know and I'll either acknowledge it or remove the photo. The picture is older than the '70s but the building is the same as it was when I came to the Island. The buildings behind the terminal building were Meteorological Office buildings. Stornoway Airport was also home to an RAF station.

The planes used were Vickers Viscounts and they were really good to fly in. 

On one occasion the Captain (I can even remember his name) decided that it was such a beautiful summer day he would show us Fingal's Cave and took the plane right down to give us all a good look. He did issue the safety warning though for "those on the starboard side - that is the right hand side - not to all rush over to the port side to have a look or we'd tip the plane over." I suspect that was 'unacceptable' behaviour 35 years ago but I hate to think what the consequences would be these days. Anyway we all enjoyed it.

I can recall when 'security' was first introduced and bags were searched for the first time. Usually for those who were regular travellers well known to the staff the security went something like "Good morning Mr Edwards. Off to Glasgow again? On you go." The idea of peering into one's briefcase just didn't enter into it. We knew many of the pilots and the cabin staff too.

Ah those were the days my friend. We thought they'd never end. But they did. Oh how they did. 

Now Stornoway has a superb airport with security greater than I've encountered anywhere else in the world (including LA!) and the flying experience is just something to be endured.

I found this on the internet too but I'm assuming my brother will allow me to use it!

Monday, 25 January 2016


In four sleeps I leave Eagleton for Glasgow and then on Monday 1 February I leave for New Zealand. Hopefully I'll manage to blog more frequently than I have been blogging of late. If nothing else I should have more photos to show you. I was wondering whether to reawaken my New Zealand blog (which is what I originally intended) or simply continue here because this is, after all going to be a holiday rather than the other half of my life. My New Zealand blog has a lot more followers than this one does (and I noticed I lost another two today) so some of my old followers may miss my posts if I don't post there. On the other hand some of my current followers on this blog probably have never seen my other life. Well that's settled. I'll just copy the posts to both blogs. Apologies for those of you who will get two reminders. At least you'll only have to read the posts once though.

Friday, 22 January 2016


Cro has posted a few references to art recently that have made me think (quite an achievement at the best of times).  One related to Joyce Pensato and Rose Wylie: two artists of whom I had never heard. During the comments (Cro's posts usually provoke good discussions) Cro said "I think we 'trained' painters see things quite differently to others. We spend so much time studying composition, colour, positives and negatives, size, shape, form, you name it we studied it. Looking at paintings then becomes a whole new world where the final thing we usually notice is the subject matter. Of the 2 above I much prefer Rose Wylie's work; it takes me away on crazy journeys."

Now to be honest whilst I would stand and contemplate their work in a gallery their art is not something for my walls.  That made me recall that on several occasions over the years I have said, in answer to comments on my blogs, that I would post some pictures of the art I do have. On the whole it's reasonably conventional. I thought I would start with a few paintings (some of my art is pottery).

The first is entitled "An Unmade Bed' and is by David Woodford. There is a story behind it.

About 10 years ago I was being shown round an acquaintance's house in New Zealand. In the master bedroom was a painting. As I was standing in front of it tears came to my eyes and I just stood there weeping. I have no idea why. I cannot ever recall a painting having such a deep effect on me before or since. I have problems keeping images in my head but the subject of that picture remained with me. The acquaintances became friends. The subject of the painting was never mentioned again. A few years ago in New Zealand I was at a family occasion and so were they. Completely out of the blue I was handed the painting with the words. "This painting was obviously meant to be with you. It is yours now." 

I have never really felt that I actually own any work of art. They will outlast me. I am only a custodian but, in this case, a custodian of an object with great emotional meaning.

The second is a relatively recent acquisition and is by Philip Raskin from a friend's gallery

This water-colour was bought in Tuscany one summer in the '90s when there was some flooding in the valley where we bought this which was really quite strange given the fabulous weather we'd had.

This "The Leaving of Lewis" is by Deborah Cameron and is one of the most atmospheric of works.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Frances is Not Alone

in parting company with her horses. Frances just does it rather more frequently and with more spectacular consequences than I have ever achieved.

Somewhere around half a century ago I took myself off to Grasmere in the English Lake District one beautiful weekend. I was staying at The Swan Inn which was an old coaching inn  built in the 1600s. The principal purpose of my visit was to get some 'pony tracking' in. Having had a bit of riding experience I was given a splendid chestnut called Churchill. I was warned that he had a habit of galloping whenever he got the chance and that prior to taking off he always thrust his head forward.

After several outings when Churchill and I got along very well we went from Grasmere over the side of Helvellyn and down into Grisedale. All went well until the return journey when I was riding down the side of Helvellyn along a ridge. Now you have to be an infinitely more competent horseman that I was ever likely to be to gallop downhill. I was nice and relaxed when Churchill decided that he was going to put my skills to the test. I still had a very firm hold on the reins so when Churchill stuck his neck forward I was yanked right out of the saddle onto his neck. Churchill lost his balance and I fell off. Unfortunately there was nothing for me to land on and I went straight over the side of the ridge. 

I hadn't gone very far when bracken broke my fall and I came to a halt. Gathering myself together I climbed back up the hill to the path where Churchill had returned to wait for me. It was then, when trying to re-mount that I realised that I din't have the use of my right arm: the collar bone was broken.

We walked down to the stables and I had to go in and tell them that I couldn't attend to the saddle and the horse and, by the way, where was the doctor's surgery? "You'll find the Doc in the lounge bar of the Grasmere Hotel. He'll be the one drinking Tio Pepe." So there I went and introduced myself and my useless arm.  When he asked me what I'd like to drink I had the foresight to ask for Tio Pepe thus ensuring his full attention.

So there in the lounge bar full of people he proceeded to strip off my shirt, examine me for any other injuries and put my arm in a sling. After the drinks were finished he drove me back to the Swan where the full enormity of my plight struck me: it is impossible to get leather riding boots off with one arm.  So having had assistance with that from the Head Waiter when it came to dinner he also cut up my food!

Then, thankful that it was a weekend, I had to ask my Dad to get a bus up to Grasmere and drive the car and I home.

Although I did ride again just to ensure that I hadn't lost my nerve that was, in effect, the end of my riding ambitions.

Friday, 15 January 2016

What We Did on Our Holiday

I'm in Bishopbriggs. Waiting for me when I arrived was a jiffy bag from Marcel containing a film (movie) entitled What We Did on Our Holiday. This evening Anna and I watched it. I haven't laughed at a film so much for many a long year. The cast and writers are all well known and the film is brilliant. Despite that it seems to have sunk without trace in that it is available on Amazon at a rock bottom price and for even less in Sainsbury's. I think that the last time I reviewed a film was in 2008 when I had just part-watched a film that I really didn't take to. Since that post when I mentioned that I  didn't watch many films, my life in New Zealand has meant that, in fact, I have now watched quite a few. So if you want a real escapism laugh out loud couple of hours I recommend that you watch this one.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Things I Learned Whilst Thinking

I've been back at work in the last few months helping my son at the house he's building on the Island. It's been a lovely experience for many reasons not least of which is feeling useful and spending time with Gaz. 

I have spent time painting walls and ceilings and it gave me time to think.

Gaz has BBC Radio 6 Music playing all the time. Until I started working with Gaz I'd never listened to the station. I have always considered myself to have very catholic tastes in music: opera, operetta, religious music, classical (romantic classical being my principal source of listening), jazz (blues slightly less so), country and western, folk, pop/rock and other genre. However I have learned that there is a huge amount of what may possibly be described a non-mainstream pop and rock out there. More than that though I have heard music which very much reminded me of Simeon ten Holt and Steve Reich and it made me ponder on the blurry divide between some pop and rock and classical.

The second thing it made me think about was good old apprenticeships. I've been painting and paperhanging since my early 20s and although I won't paperhang any more I do paint. I discovered, though, that after nearly 50 years I still really didn't know much about it nor did I have the skills I thought I had. This last few weeks I've done a lot of painting and have been watching a master painter and decorator at work. My painting, though far from perfect, is now much better than it was a few months ago. Most of us won't notice the difference between our amateur painting and that of a master craftsman but I do now. It made me ponder on a subject that I used to think about a lot: apprenticeships. Craftsmen used to learn at the side of the master. The master could have pride in the craftsmen he'd trained and the apprentice acquired the skill and learned the 'tricks of the trade'. 

Monday, 4 January 2016

It's a New Year

Four days have now elapsed since last year. Did you make New Year resolutions? I don't think I have made them since I was a child. It seemed very much more 'done' in those days. Or perhaps it just seems like that to me. Certainly I'm not aware of any of my friends who make them. Or perhaps they just don't share them.

To be honest I'm not sure that I quite understand the concept of a 'New Year'. What alters? Our attitudes towards our fellow men or our work or our play? Do we feel invigorated? Did we feel better when we woke on the 1 January? I suspect a lot of people felt decidedly less well than usual.

For me every time I wake up in the morning I am grateful. I am very conscious of how precious life is and how fortunate I am to be alive. 

The one thing it does enable us to do is to say to our friends that we hope they will have a very happy and healthy time in the year ahead. Perhaps we should have a Happy New Month or a Happy New Week or even a Happy New Day and think about people more frequently.

By the way if you did make any resolutions have they lasted this far?