Friday, 31 March 2017

No Mean Feat

    For many people reading is difficult all through their school years and adult life. They face a continual, uphill battle. I know how inconvenient it is to go shopping, or reading food preparation instructions, when I don't have my reading glasses at hand. But, the hindrance I'm encountering is temporary, and easily solved by slipping my glasses onto the end of my nose. Therefore, I can't imagine what it is really like to be unable to read.

    On morning television recently there was an eighty-seven year old woman who read a passage from her favourite book; while there isn't anything too surprising about that, it was an admirable feat for this lady. Because, until now she had been unable to read a book.

    Like many people; throughout her life she has managed to hide her handicap from others, feeling ashamed and embarrassed at the daily obstacle she faced. Distinguishing one letter from another had been her greatest challenge and becoming muddled had deterred her. She has now been identified as having learning difficulties, and given the help that she needed to overcome her impediment.

    Being able to read is just her first step and learning to write is now on her agenda, appearing on TV in the hope to encourage others to follow in her foot-steps.

    I applaud, Ursula Shepherd, in her achievement. For those who need encouragement to follow her in learning a new skill, remember the words of, Albert Einstein, "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Don't Let the Grass Grow Under One's Feet

   Taking a short-cut and not following a designated foot-path; settling down on a piece of public grass with a picnic and a good book, are some of the things we've all done at one time, or another.

    What happens if we add that to, friends gathering in anticipation of going to hear their favourite author, or celebrity, speaking about their new book? As well as excited children, running around, enjoying their freedom in the middle of a city.

        That's what has happened over the last thirty years, in Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh, when the Edinburgh Book Festival arrives in the city.

    Whether, it's high-heels, pumps, wellington boots, or even bare-feet, this ornamental garden is struggling to withstand approximately quarter of a million people trampling all over it for eighteen days.

    Therefore, this year measures are being proposed to protect this historic area. Including curtailing events within the gardens. Yes, the location is special, but Edinburgh itself is a beautiful city and I don't think it will make much difference, if other venues are included.

    After, all it's all about books and their authors.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Stories from Beyond the Grave

Atlantic Ocean

    On Wednesday I went for a walk through the churchyard of, St Michael's Parish Church, in Linlithgow, Scotland. The church sits adjacent to, Linlithgow Palace and Loch, therfore, as it was a nice day it was the ideal place to get some excercise.

View from Wyville Thomson's grave

    I know that going for a stroll through an old churchyard isn't everyone's cup of tea, however it is mine. Solely, because I think its full of interesting people; dead yes, but, interesting. Each body buried there has a story to tell.

View of Palace and Loch from grave

   Walking amongst the headstones I found that many were illegible, but  I did find one overlooking the Loch, with the name, Charles Wyville Thomson etched on it. It caught my attention because the word, Knight, was engraved beside his name. This gentleman had a story to tell.

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow, A stain glass window here is dedicated to Wyville Thomson

    He died on 10th of March 1882 at the age of fifty-two years of age, and had is knighthood bestowed upon him by, Queen Victoria in 1876 for his service to science. On the gravestone it stated that he was a Naturalist, and that he most certainly was.

    Persuading the navy to lend him two ships, removing the ships guns, replacing them with dredging, trawling and oceanography equipment, Wyville as he wanted to be called, embarked on a three-and-a-half year adventure. Taking up the post of, chief scientist on the mother ship, HMS Challenger, he covered 70,000 miles, and recorded in excess of 4,000 new species of ocean life. 

    The work he did on, The Challenger Expedition, transformed the future of oceanography. The Wyville Thomson Ridge, in the North Atlantic Ocean, between the Faroe Islands and Scotland being named after him and NASA's space shuttle, Challenger, named so in recognition of the expedition.

    His findings are documented in, Depths of the Sea, published in 1873 and The Voyage of the Challenger in the Atlantic, published two volumes in 1877.

Monday, 6 March 2017

An Old Fashioned Girl

'Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn't worth ruling.'
                    'An Old Fashioned Girl'
                      by Louisa May Alcott
 November 29 1832-March 6 1888

    As a kid I loved nothing better than curling up on a chair and reading a book. During school holidays it was my favourite pastime. One book that I dusted down and read several times a year was, Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.

    Whether you prefer Katharine Hepburn, June Allyson, or Winona Ryder playing, Jo March in the movie versions, it doesn't really matter. Because, in my eyes any film based on, this coming of age story, could never fail anyway.

    Louisa M Alcott wrote over thirty books, poems and today is the 129th anniversary of her death. A memorable writer, suffrage and abolition of slavery advocate, a woman who fought for change.

    She is a great role model, even by today's standards and a woman, I feel worth mentioning in the celebration of, International Women's Day, on the 8th of March. Because she most certainly, supported parity, this years theme.

#BeBoldForChange #InternationalWomensDay

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Friday, 3 March 2017

The Stony Path

I am in but a foreign land
I take the stony path
Twisting and turning
Never knowing what's round the next corner
No knowledge of where it might lead
There is no need for apprehension
This path is no stranger
 I follow it each day
The path of life