Friday, 29 November 2013

Shopping Around


    With not so many shopping days left until Christmas, it's time to hit the shops.  I do prefer to shop online and do regularly, when buying clothes, or luxury goods for myself.

    The thing is I'm much more decisive when purchasing something for myself than I am for others. I am apt to change my mind, which isn't so handy when you're shopping online for a large family. It can mean days on end, waiting on the delivery courier and endless trips to the Post Office with the returns.

    I try to avoid the weekends when visiting the bigger stores, but that isn't always possible. Therefore I'm just going to have to grin and bear the fact that I will have to endure the crowds at one point. Already I'm anticipating the jostling, noise and tired feet.

    However when the gift package is opened and a smile of appreciation is flashed my way on Christmas Day, the little hassles that have been endured will be forgotten.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Racing Hearts


    A recent study has found that the heart rate of children in the UK is on he rise. Since the 1980's the resting heart rate of  a group of 9-11 years old was found to have risen by up to 2 beats a minute. Meaning that the next generation of children are at greater risk of suffering from diabetes, and heart disease.

    The professionals say that spending too much time watching TV, using PCs, and smartphones, to text and tweet is at the root of the problem.

    Another study done in the US, also found that this technology which fills our homes and lives can  cause our kids stress, fuelled by lack of sleep and online bullying. Not ignoring, the obesity that sneaks in when we sit around for too many hours.

    Therefore it doesn't matter what side of the pond we live on, it's agreed that the technological gadgets that are the must haves for kids, should carry a health warning.

    For one set of parents in Nottinghamshire in England, they decided to do something about their two daughters sedentary lifestyle and banned them from watching TV for 12 months. The girls aged 8 and 10 years old, were given 100 outdoor challenges to replace screen time.

    The pursuits included, climbing, sailing, kayaking, skiing and according to newspaper reports they loved every minute. So much so, that even although some screen time has been reinstated into their lives, they've now set themselves another set of outdoor challenges for the next year to come.

    Tips from the experts for children keeping a healthy heart and body include, limiting screen time, keeping the family active and establish an exercise regime. This family definitely showed us all how to do that.



Thursday, 14 November 2013

Home Alone


    Many of us will have watched at least one of the 20th Century Fox movies,"Home Alone" and chuckled at the antics of the child who has accidentally been left behind when his parents go off on vacation at Christmas. The lone child has to defend his home from burglars in one movie and in another, he has to stop thieves from taking his radio car which if I recall correctly has an important micro-chip inside.

    In reality  there is no comedy element in a youngster coping if left alone for any period of time. We as adults know that it is a frightening experience for a child, because there are times when it is scary for an adult being alone.

    The recent typhoon in the Philippines is one such time that being frightened does not age discriminate. It has left both children and adults not only alone, but homeless, hungry and without anyone they can call family. On a news item I saw one man who had lost his wife, parents and children in the storm. Whilst other items told us about the children who have now been orphaned and have no family that they can be reunited with.

    Humanitarian relief, once it gets through, hopefully will help people rebuild their lives. However, for hundreds of thousands of people, life will never be the same because of the day Haiyan arrived.


 For the next couple of weeks my blog will only be updated on a Friday. Hope you stick around.  


Monday, 11 November 2013

The Eleventh Hour

    On the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month  every year, we observe a two minutes silence to commemorate past, present, British and Commonwealth service  personnel who have fought and died for us in wars and ongoing conflicts throughout the world. The date and time is significant in our history because this day in 1918 was the day that signalled the end of the 1st World War hostilities, the day that is known as Armistice Day. 

    Our shopping malls, homes, offices will grind to a temporary halt when the clock strikes eleven. Two minutes isn't a long time to pause our busy schedules and pay our respects to the individuals who have laid down their lives for us all to live in peace and freedom. It's also a time that silence can speak louder than words.

   The poppy symbolises remembrance for us at this time and yesterday cenotaphs and war memorials throughout the UK had wreaths of the blood red flower placed upon them. The flower inspired Lt. Colonel John McCrae to write "In Flanders Fields" in 1915, when he saw it  growing wildly on the graves of his fellow soldiers who lost their lives in the 1st World War. This symbol will always have deep meaning for us all who want to remember the fallen. May they R.I.P.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Image of Winter

A misty Linlithgow Loch
    I'm never too excited about the onset of winter. Short daylight hours, long dark nights and the biting cold winds instantly come to the forefront of my mind.  However, the sudden changes in the landscape in the northern hemisphere at this time of year, has in the past stimulated the minds of many writers.

Frosty trees

    Robert Burns writes about the leafless bower in his poem titled, A Winter Night. John Keats tells us of how his face feels the winter wind in his poem, The Winter Winds and Robert Louis Stevenson describes the frost on the trees, houses, hills and lakes being like the frosting on a wedding cake in his poem called, Winter-Time.

    When I was out walking the other day I couldn't ignore the beauty that the early stages of winter has already bestowed upon us. The look of the leaves as they turn a russet colour, the mist as it dropped over the loch, the frosted countryside and the sound of the winter geese flying over, quickly outweighed the negatives that were trying to take root. Without a doubt, winter will carry on inspiring writers to write about it, forever and a day.

    Are you inspired by the seasons in your part of the world? Please tell us your thoughts.


Monday, 4 November 2013

Life's Challenges


    We all face challenges in our lives, but for some of us life throws difficulties that are lifelong . This week in Scotland it's, Dyslexia Awareness Week and dyslexia is one such difficulty. Although geographically this campaign  which is taking place between November 4th and November the 11th may not be something that you can take part in, it is a problem I'm sure you will care about.

    This condition does not discriminate by creed, colour, or religion, but unfortunately humans do. Despite being of normal intelligence, sufferers can find themselves being judged, even bullied by others because their oral and reading skills appear to be impaired. They may indeed be discriminated against because their numeracy and organisational skills don't meet the expectations of their peers. Therefore low self esteem and depression can also be a problem.

    If diagnosed early in a child, the child can be assisted in gaining the important skills that help them communicate with others freely and confidently, Some may require continued support on reaching adulthood, as having continuing problems in literacy and numeracy skills may make it harder to gain employment. It is imperative that parents, carers and teachers recognise the symptoms early, if the obstacles that have been put in the child's way are to be tackled efficiently and effectively.

    There are organisations throughout the world such as Dyslexia Scotland and if you want to find out more about the condition and its symptoms their websites are the best place to start.

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Country I Call Home

Ganavan, near Oban. Looking towards the island of  Lismore

    Lonely Planet named Scotland as one of thee top places to visit in 2014. Grabbing third place in their Top 10, with Brazil taking the top spot and Antartica second.

    2014 is going to be an awesome year for Scotland as Glasgow is hosting the Commonwealth Games, with the opening ceremony kicking the event off on July 23rd. The batton arrived in Australia yesterday on the start of its long journey.

    I feel blessed to have been born here, in this beautiful part of the United Kingdom. To give you a little taste of what my country has to offer I've included more photographs than usual. Because today, pictures speak louder than any descriptive I could use to convey the natural beauty of the country I call home.

Lossiemouth, Moray sits on the mouth of the River Lossie

Fort George, Ardersier north east of Inverness.
The sight covers an area equivalent to 40 soccer pitches. 

Views over the Moray Firth from one of  Fort George's bastions


Wallace Monument, Stirling


Edinburgh Castle (Spookiest place in UK) and Princes Street Gardens


Ganavan Beach, near Oban 
Oban Bay on the banks of the Firth of Lorn 

McCaig's Tower ( a folly) overlooking Oban Harbour