Monday, 24 March 2014

Learning to be Us


    I enrolled in the Girl Guides when I was around eleven years of age and then as an adult I became a leader for a number of years with a local Brownie pack. When I volunteered to be a leader, I did so because I wanted to continue to be part of the big happy family that the organisation offers boys and girls worldwide.

    Although I eventually gave up my leader role,  I'm still a huge fan of organisations like the Guiding Association for all kids. Those who are inclined to be a little on the shy side will definitely benefit from the interaction with their peers. I know from personal experience because I was that shy and timid kid.

    I understand it won't appeal to all children, because initially it didn't to me. But I was encouraged to give it a go and after a few weeks I stopped dragging my heels and began to look forward to each Monday night's meeting. Apart from encouraging each and every one of us there, to treat each other as equals, it taught me and others basic life skills that we may not have been equipped with otherwise.

    I scrambled my first egg to be awarded with my cookery badge and I can still scramble a mean egg. Joking aside, the important thing about the badges are that it is an acknowledgement of an achievement and also a great ego booster.

    That's why I was glad to read this week that the Guiding Association has teamed up with Dove in a project to promote self-esteem. Most adults should be aware that there is image trickery involved in many of the advertisements and magazine shoots, that are presented to us in the media. However it's not so obvious to a child and can lead to all sorts of problems, one being that they are left feeling more than a little insecure about their appearance.

    This project will teach children about things such as airbrushing and other tricks used in the beauty/celebrity world. At the end of the project the participants will receive a badge, but I think  more importantly it will help kids realise that not only the swans are beautiful, ducklings are too.





Friday, 21 March 2014

The Equinox

South Church Street, Sundial, Callander, Scotland

    Mother nature yawns and opens her eyes,
she can at last silence her yearning sighs.

    It's time to sow her seed.
She's sent out her invitations,
 to join her in March madness to breed.

    Winter should now cease venting its wroth,
as the sun has started its journey moving north.

   Today the hours of light,
equal that of the hours of night.
The sun has crossed the equinoctial line,
and we now move into springtime.
 Hopefully saying "goodbye" to the chilly winds,
that cut like a knife.
The warmth that the sun bestows,
helping to nurture the gift that is known as life.


Monday, 17 March 2014

In the Scheme of Things

  •     Vanishing civil aircraft.
  •     World unrest.
  •     Sport star accused of murder.
  •     Cyber attacks.
  •     Corrupt politicians.
  •     Teenage pop stars rebelling.
  •     Princes marrying commoners.
  •     Heroes and heroines emerging from tragedy.       
  •     Estranged families being united.
  •     Extreme weather conditions.

    All of the above are not plots for a book, they're some of the real life scenarios that featured in the press, in the last month or so. However, I wonder how many of them will be used in the scheme of a novel?  I'm no fortune teller, but I can foresee that at least one will find it's way onto the printed page.
    With all the things that happen in this crazy world, we never have to look too far, for the basis of our fictional works.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Going All Goose Bumps

Ben Ledi
     Where the highlands of Scotland meet the lowlands, lies a small town called Callander. It's a town which for me holds fond memories, as my grandmother used to take me here during school holidays.

Riverside Teith
    It's a place I love to visit when the air has a crisp, coldness about it and the sky is azure blue. So, this week when I made the short trip there, I certainly wasn't disappointed. Sitting on the edge of the River Teith,  the Callander Crags (woodland) and Ben Ledi dominate the town's sky line.

Ben Ledi peeking through the woodland
    The thousands of tourists who stop here each year on their way to the Loch Lomond and Trossach's National Park, I'm sure will be captivated by the wonderful scenery.

Callander High Street
    The TV series Doctor Findlay's Casebook, an adaptation of of A. J. Cronin's novella, Country Doctor, was filmed here and was the perfect stand in for the author's fictional town of Tannochbrae. Its quaint tea shops, sweet shops, churches, country stores and book shop have made time stand still.
River Teith, Crags and Ben Ledi
    History and legend are the town's middle names and it's easy to imagine Rob Roy MacGregor, the famous Scottish hero of the 18th century roaming this area, as folklore tells us he did.

    Hopefully some of the photographs I've included in today's blog will make you want to call here some day and then you too can experience the goose bumps I do, every time I visit.

    Grey Heron on the banks of the Teith, watching, waiting 





Monday, 10 March 2014

Only One Chance

    How we are perceived by others in our everyday life is heavily influenced by the words that we speak. Whether it be a chat up line in our quest to capture the interest of a potential love, or a sales pitch in our job as a salesperson, the targeted recipient will either continue to interact with us, or walk away.

    In politics open debate is also encouraged; for example in Scotland at present this is high on the agenda because of the vote for independence that is being put to the people later in the year. The political parties are trying to put over their points of view, in a way that hopefully will sway the voter to their way of thinking.

    As in the case of an individual, political groups can realise their words haven't gone down well and may be able to recover the situation, by rephrasing what they have to say. But when an author puts his or her work out into the public domain in print, we only get one chance to hook the reader. Once it's out there, there is no going back. No chance to rephrase, if our words initially don't grab the attention of the reader. Happy writing and editing folks.






Thursday, 6 March 2014

Doing it for the Girls


    Because it is International Women's Day tomorrow, Saturday March 8th, women will celebrated and debated throughout the world. Over a hundred years ago, women knew that uniting with their sisters would help their voices be heard.

    Whether campaigning for peace, celebrating women's successes, equality for women, education or a call to end sexual violence towards females; it's a day to recognise and appreciate the contribution women make to our global society.

    Showing solidarity with our fellow females is now easier than ever with the birth of social media, but nevertheless women still face struggles and this year the theme is "Equality for Women and progress for all."

    Let's hope that in another one hundred years, the struggles our gender face will have been eradicated and March 8th will solely be a day to honor women. But, for now we're just going to have to stand strong and keep doing it for the girls.





Monday, 3 March 2014

Rise Above


    Being nipped while standing in line, waiting to get into the classroom. Falling down onto your knees, when you're suddenly pushed forcefully from behind. Hearing nasty comments directed at you, that result in you wanting to hide in a darkened room, never to see the light of day again. A group of your peers, following you home from school in silence, scaring you near witless and finally receiving the anticipated slap when you least expect it.

    Bullying, is something that I encountered during many of my school years. Of course it's not an action that is solely experienced by children or teenagers, because we all know it happens in the adult world too. But if we educate our kids from an early age that it is not acceptable behaviour in our society, hopefully we can make life a bit easier for many. After all life throws enough problems at us, for sure.

    The reason I wanted to write about bullying today, is because I witnessed a situation last week in the airport on my way home from my vacation, that filled me with horror. Two young boys, one aged around five years, the other I would estimate eight years old were accompanied by four adults; a sight that at first I found neither unusual or disturbing.

    The two youngsters who were engaged in what seemed a game of rough and tumble, were most definitely brothers as they were two peas in a pod, except for one obviously being a little older. Two of the adults I assumed were the boy's parents, the other couple their grandparents and from the noise that the small party were making, they were in a boisterous mood.

    So, what made this group stand out from the crowd? Because, on nearing them I realised that the older of the two boys was kicking and punching his sibling violently. They were not playing any kind of game and there was no attempt by any of the adults in the group of four, to come to the aid of the exhausted, crying young victim. Only laughs, jeers and calls for the small boy to retaliate with violence.

    Now I got through my troubled school years with the help and support of my family totally unscarred. But, if this conduct is condoned and encouraged within this family unit, I cannot help but think this young boy may not be so lucky.