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Bits and pieces to keep us interested

18th October

My son gave us a trio of booklets published by Falkirk Council listing interesting walks in the area. On Friday we walked around the Skinflats area where there are large areas of wetland created by the subsidence of the ground above historical mineworkings. Lots of wildfowl there and this supposed hide from which to watch them.

We chatted to a local dog walker here and she was incredulous about the amount of money that would have been spent on it. She says that the birdwatchers sit their cameras on the fencepost at the side to take photographs. Some "Hide"

Yesterday we were a wee bit more ambitious and parked the car at the new Dorrator Bridge in Stirling road Camelon. We walked a circular route over the bridge, along the lade, coming out on the Carron road just south of Carron Works.

This magnificent piece of Cast Iron has been beautifully maintained having been salvaged from the main entrance to what was Grahamston Iron Company. It's a pity that it no longer functions as a Gateway but it has at least been saved. We then crossed the bridge and then out past Andrew and Gillian's place (I think we got lost because we weren't supposed to be there) around the Rugby ground and eventually to Dorrator Road, Nailer Road and then back down Stirling road. All in all it was 7k and reminiscent of 65-70 years ago when the McGills used to walk that area as a family.

The green bit is the bit where we went awry!

On this day: -

  • 1776 - Ever wonder about the origin of the word "Cocktail" well on this day in a bar decorated with bird tail in Elmsford, New York, a customer requests a glassful of “those cock tails” from bartender Betsy Flanagan
  • 1851 - Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" is first published as "The Whale"!
  • 1865 - Queen Victoria simply could not stand her Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, who died on this day. But other women felt quite differently. He had a string of affairs, was known widely as a “ladies’ man” and was dubbed “Lord Cupid” by The Times newspaper – a name that stuck.
  • 1922 - British Broadcasting Company (BBC) founded, later called British Broadcasting Corporation.

17th October#2

Yesterday was "Restart a Heart" day and I missed it!

In light of that, the Resuscitation Council UK are asking for you to get hands on digitally. It is ever so important that we save a life, but we still need to keep ourselves safe. You can find more information and online resources on their website by following the link below:

17th October

Linda Noble has been busy since the beginning of the month; she says: -

These are some of the items taken to the food bank. The request was for fruit juice, toothpaste, toothbrushes, eggs, tinned vegetables (not sweet corn) sanitary products and various bits and pieces. The total to date from my deliveries is 200 kg . I have spent to date £411 and a few pennies . Bookers have limited their tinned vegetables to one tray which is only 12 cans.
On the happy clappy side of things, I have become the somewhat of a bargain hunter 4 toothbrushes for £1 at B&M and Lidl have toothpaste for 59p ! (smiley face emoji ) ha ha



Well done Linda!

On this day: -

  • 1814 - Eight people die in the London Beer Flood!
  • The London Beer Flood was an accident at Meux & Co's Horse Shoe Brewery, London, on 17 October 1814. It took place when one of the 22-foot-tall (6.7 m) wooden vats of fermenting porter burst. The pressure of the escaping liquid dislodged the valve of another vessel and destroyed several large barrels: between 128,000 and 323,000 imperial gallons of beer were released in total.

    The resulting wave of porter destroyed the back wall of the brewery and swept into an area of slum-dwellings known as the St Giles rookery. Eight people were killed, five of them mourners at the wake being held by an Irish family for a two-year-old boy. The coroner's inquest returned a verdict that the eight had lost their lives "casually, accidentally and by misfortune"
  • 1849 - Chopin dies! In the short time allotted to him, the genius Frederic Chopin came to be regarded as one of history’s finest composers and pianists. But behind the accolades came a life of struggle riddled with health problems. Fellow composer Hector Berlioz put it in a nutshell: “He was dying all his life.” Chopin learned to play the piano at the age of six. He gave his first public performance at eight. When he was 11 the Director of the Polish National Opera took him under his wing. His first published work, the Rondo in C Minor, was completed while still at school.
  • 1860 - 1st British Open Men's Golf, Prestwick GC: Willie Park Sr. wins inaugural event by 2 strokes from fellow Scot Tom Morris Sr.
  • 2008 - Iran's attempt to create the world's largest sandwich (1,500 metres) fails when crowds eat it before it can be measured

15th October

I remember a long time ago I was invited to a fellow architect's house. I can't remember why but it was one of these occasions when there was quite a few people there picking at nibbles and drinking wine. There was no sit down meal. When I think about it now I cannot for the life of me think why I agreed to go at all.

Anyway I have a distinct memory of sitting in an armchair beside a small table upon which was a bowl of nuts. Not salted peanuts or the like, nuts in shells, like Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, walnuts and the like. I grabbed a handful of hazelnuts and proceeded to crack them (You can do that easily by taking two at a time in your hand and squeezing them together). All of a sudden there was a loud excalmation from the Host's wife! "These are not for eating! They are an architectural feature"! I replaced those that I had not cracked and watched as they were expertly repositioned by the same wife, drawing looks sideways at me as she did so. Needless to say that was the first and last time that I was ever in his house.

The occasion was brought to mind by my son, Peter, who had been on a walk with my grandchildren collecting the autumnal fruits and sent me this photograph: -

 It's a beautiful collection of Chestnuts acorns and the like in a tastefully chosen bowl on his dining table. It came with the tag line "Am I getting old?"

On this day: -

  • 1581 - Commissioned by Catherine De Medici, the 1st ballet "Ballet Comique de la Reine" is staged in Paris.
  • 1860 - 11-year-old Grace Bedell writes to Abraham Lincoln telling him to grow a beard
  • 1917 - Dutch exotic dancer Mata Hari is executed by firing squad for spying for Germany during WWI at Vincennes near Paris
  • 1987 - BBC weather forecaster Michael Fish became on this day the man who made the most spectacular mis-forecast in television history – even though he still refuses to admit that he was wrong.

13th October #2

This from Anne Watson this morning: -

Jim and I always enjoyed hearing about your garden and surrounding area and I thought I might share this with you
When I look out of my bedroom window each morning I see a large holly tree which is covered with berries, most mornings it is also covered by birds eating the berries everything from blue tits to pigeons. I am reminded of the last face to face conversation (suitably distanced) I had with Gordon who had brought me some crab apples to make jelly. I mentioned the old wives' tale of lots of berries meaning a hard winter ahead.
Gordon being the pragmatist he is said it was more likely that the weather in the spring was responsible. Collapse of one old wife's tale. Probably no berries by Christmas!

Personally I'm on Anne's side! The holly trees up our way are covered in berries as well.

We'll see who is correct in the coming months. Just in case, get your thermals out!

13th October

It's amazing how things have changed. I was going through a drawer to clear it out and came across all sorts of things that made me think "am I ever going to need this again?". Among them was a set of place cards that I would normally use at things like the Charter Dinner and Christmas Lunch. (More recently just the Christmas Lunch) The thought occurred to me quite spontaneously and it took me by surprise. I wonder just how much we have come to be comfortable with a way of living that just isn't going to be the same again.

Since Diane's sister died we have spent many happy hours in the company of her husband and his golfing partners. These hours were spent at Barbecues, Holiday weekends and dinners. We were to be spending 2 or 3 days in Liverpool in June but not only did we have to cancel that the Hotel went bust. We have the Inn on the Tay booked for early December for a Christmas break but it is looking increasingly like that's just not going to happen.

Also in the drawer was this clipping from the Falkirk Herald: -

This must have been about 2008! Being secretary is not all bad!

On this day: -

  • 1884 - Greenwich in London established as the universal time meridian of longitude.
  • 1905 - Sir Henry Irving was the superstar of the stage in Victorian Britain. Florence Irving did not approve of her husband’s acting profession. As they made their way to the opening night of a play on the 13th October she asked him: “Are you going on making a fool of yourself like this all your life?” For Henry Irving, there was only one answer to that. According to the historical anecdote, he stopped their carriage, walked off into the night and chose never to see her again. And he did not.
  • 1925 - Maggie Thatcher's birthday
  • 1987 - 1st military use of trained dolphins (US Navy in Persian Gulf). Had to be US didnt it?

12th October

I have a request from Gordon to let you all know that he has cooking apples to spare and if you drop by his house with a suitable receptacle he will let you have some. He says telephone first (01324 555242) just to make sure that there is someone at home.

There are lots of things that you can do with cooking apples!

  • Cook them up and freeze them in icecube moulds to go with pork chops or roast pork. Alternatively you can use apple sauce instead of butter/marg in cakes.
  • Peel, core and chop them - put in saucepan with some sugar and a small amount of water, and heat them up till they go mushy.
  • Or you could cook them whole in the oven with the core centre pulled out and stuffed with raisins and brown sugar and a knob of butter. 
  • Peel and cut them up. Put them into a bowl and microwave for about 5 minutes. No need to add water. Add sugar at the end and they taste delicious. Very quick to do and serve with ice cream or freeze.
  • To freeze cooking apples: peel, core and cut into rings or slices 6mm thick, Keep in water and lemon juice until all are prepared, then blanch in boiling water for 1 minute. drain, cool under cold running water, then drain pat dry and pack in rigid containers or freezer bags. Seal, label and freeze.
    Storage time 8 to 12 months.
On this day: -
  • 1609 -"Three Blind Mice" is published
  • 1823 - Charles McIntosh (Not the Rennie one) sells his first raincoat!
  • 1915 - Ford Motor Company under Henry Ford manufactures its 1 millionth automobile at the River Rouge plant in Detroit.
  • 1915 - Edith Cavell is executed. Cavell was a nurse working in occupied Belgium during the First World War and was executed by a German firing squad on this day for gradually helping about 200 British and French soldiers to escape the country. She was aged 49.
  • 1999 - The Day of Six Billion: the proclaimed 6 billionth living human in the world is born.

10th October

All this week I kept saying to myself "Musn't forget Raymond's birthday on Friday"!!!!! Sorry Raymond! It was Raymond's birthday yesterday! Happy belated birthday!

Talking about birthdays it's amazing just how innovative people can be. This beautiful bunch of flowers was actually posted through our letterbox for Diane's birthday on Tuesday. Who would believe that to be possible?

On this day: -

  • 1780 - Great Hurricane of 1780 kills 20,000 to 30,000 in the Caribbean, hitting Barbados first. Atlantic's deadliest recorded hurricane.
  • 1799 - This one is for Raymond because it happened on the 9th! The economy in the German city of Hamburg was on the brink of collapse. To prevent it – and a possible stock market crash – City of London merchants produced a vast quantity of silver and gold bullion which was loaded aboard the British Navy frigate HMS Lutine. It was despatched to Hamburg in the hope that the funds raised would help avert a financial crisis.
    But the Lutine didn’t make it. A North Sea storm blew up on the 9th October as the frigate passed the Dutch coast and the Lutine foundered off the West Frisian Islands. There was only one survivor, 239 crew and passengers losing their lives.
    The cargo of silver and gold bullion – reportedly then worth about one million pounds, or one hundred million pounds in today’s terms – was also lost. Although most of the Lutine’s cargo stubbornly remained beneath the waves, some items and artefacts were eventually recovered. They included the ship’s bell, which was taken to London and installed in the vast underwriting room at Lloyd’s, where it remains to this day.
  • 1886 - 1st dinner jacket (tuxedo) worn to autumn ball at Tuxedo Park, NY
  • 1985 - Both Orson Wells and Yul Brynner died on this day.

8th October #2

During our meeting today: -

We spoke about lots of things and had a great laugh. Among the many things that we spoke about was fashion and dress. The dress code was discussed at length and I revealed that as a 19/20 year old I wore a bow tie to my work and while there would also don a smock! I promised to post a photograph. This shows me on the left, with Bob Fiddes behind me Neil Griffiths in front and to the far right Laurie Alexander known to the office as uncle Fester!

8th October

I am going to rant again! I have in the past rattled on about the misuse of words like contemporary, and media and data. The latest one to irk me a wee bit is the use of the word "pavement". How can that bother him I hear you say! Well here is the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word: -

Pavement Latin - pavimentum - beaten or rammed floor

A piece of paved work; a paved surface; the superficial covering of a floor, yard, street etc..

It acknowledges later that the term has become in common usage to refer to the paved part of a public thoroughfare; now only the paved footway by the side of the street as distinct from the roadway.

Curiously the general public who tend to know nothing about these things are the only people who use the word "pavement" in that fashion.

What started me thinking about this was a TV programme about parking on the "pavement"

In any professional reference the original definition is always used.

For instance you will I have no doubt driven into Glasgow on the M80 on the far side of Cumbernauld or driven the M90 through Fife and become aware of a regular clunk clunk as you drove over joints in the road spaced at regular intervals These are called movement or construction joints because the roads at these points are called "rigid pavements". That is, a rigid construction normally concrete covered in tarmac. Any other roads you may travel have no construction joints and these are called "Flexible pavements". That is, there is no concrete but the construction is created by the age old metheod of laying down firstly larger and, in layers graduated smaller sizes of aggregate eventually covered by Tarmac.

That is the proper use of the word "pavement"

In these same publications the pavement is divided into two distinct uses viz. Footways and Carriageways. Now does that not make it a wee bit more sensible?

At the end of the first month the St John Scotland (Central) Patient Transport Service has proven to be extremely effective. During that month volunteers including Andrew Niven coordinated by Narek and myself have transported 6 patients (soon to be 9) through 144 journeys to and from the FVRH Renal Unit for Dialysis.

On this day: -

  • 1582 - Because of the implementation of the Gregorian Calendar this day does not exist in 1582 in Italy, Portugal, Poland and Spain.
  • 1769 - Captain Cook lands in New Zealand.
  • 1818 - Two English boxers are first to use padded gloves
  • 1875 - Forest fire destroys Peshtigo, Wisconsin, killing between 1,200 and 2,500 people, making it the deadliest wildfire in recorded history.
  • 2004 - Kenyan Wangari Maathai is the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

6th October

It's Diane's birthday today! Happy birthday Diane!

Pat Reid, on Facebook highlighted the existence of a poet from Slamannan that I had never heard of. His name was Joe Corrie. He spent his life in the coal mines of Cardenden and wrote prolifically about his life there. I looked up some of his stuff and I like this one: -

When first I saw wee Maggie's face
Richt heid ower heels in love I tumbled,
And thoucht the while she smiled on me
The Angels oot o' heaven were humbled.

When next we met 'twas early morn,
Her teeth were oot, her hair was shaggy;
She tried to smile, but oh! - Said I,
'Is't you, or is't your mither, Maggie?'

3rd October

I had an interesting conversation the other day with two of my grandchildren who are 10 and 12 years old. They were studiously engaged in the manipulation of their reversible digits on their tablets! (That is to say their thumbs on the electronic gadgets upon which they were playing at the time.) It occurred to me that we have become so used to this particular scenario that no longer ago than 10 or 20 years one might have found the scene at the very least unusual. The very notion of my grandchildren playing with tablets when we are strenuously advised  by the medical fraternity to keep them well out of the reach of children would have sent shivers up my father's spine.

Anyhow, I managed to pull their attention away from the tablets for a wee bit and asked them how they might go about finding out about something that they wished to know more about. The eponymous answer came as expected - "Google!" they chimed together. It was then that I thought that I was going to put in the question that would leave them "Googling" for the answer. I said "And what would you do if you didn't have Google? What do you think your Grandad did before Google was invented?" Again instantly the answer came as they both turned their heads towards my bookshelves upon which are stacked a complete set of - "Encyclopaedia Brittannica!"

 I gave up at that and allowed them to return to "Playing with tablets!"

BUT there is a catch to this tale. I have a number of reference books on my shelves among which is a dictionary. It has been through the wars! the covers have been replaced by an amatuer bookbinder and there is no title or date available. I think that it is some sort of Engineering Dictionary. Here is a page from its contents in which it asserts that Electrical Motive force cannot be achieved economically! It is (the author and editor of the book says) 20 times dearer than steam engines to operate and therefore not worth the effort!

So the moral of the story is "Don't believe everything that you read!" (Except this of course!)

On this day: -

  • 1283 - Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Prince of Gwynedd, Wales, becomes the first person executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered (Now there's something to brag about when you are legless in the pub)
  • 1922 - 1st facsimile photo (Fax to you and me) sent over city telephone lines, Washington, D.C.
  • 1941 - Chubby Checker is 79 today!
  • 1941 - Adolf Hitler says Russia is "already broken and will never rise again" in a broadcast to the German people (Sounds awfully like the sort of thing that another world leader might say today)
  • 1945 - In his first known public musical performancs, Elvis Presley appeared in a talent show on this day. He was ten years old and he came 5th!

2nd October

I refuse to be the only one who is subjected to the following, sent to me by a Club member who shall remain witless!: -


Tired of constantly being broke and stuck in an unhappy marriage, a young husband decided to solve both problems by taking out a large insurance policy on his wife with himself as the beneficiary and then arranging to have her killed.

A 'friend of a friend' put him in touch with a nefarious dark-side underworld figure who went by the name of 'Artie.'

Artie explained to the husband that his going price for snuffing out a spouse was £10,000.

The Husband said he was willing to pay that amount but that he wouldn't have any cash on hand until he could collect his wife's insurance money.

Artie insisted on being paid at least something up front, so the man opened his wallet, displaying the single pound coin that rested inside. Artie sighed, rolled his eyes and reluctantly agreed to accept the pound as down payment for the dirty deed.

A few days later, Artie followed the man's wife to the local Tesco supermarket. There, he surprised her in the produce department and proceeded to strangle her with his gloved hands.

As the poor unsuspecting woman drew her last breath and slumped to the floor, the manager of the produce department stumbled unexpectedly onto the murder scene.. Unwilling to leave any living witnesses behind, Artie had no choice but to strangle the produce manager as well.

However, unknown to Artie, the entire proceedings were captured by the hidden security cameras and observed by the shop's security guard, who immediately called the police. Artie was caught and arrested before he could even leave the premises.

Under intense questioning at the police station, Artie revealed the whole sordid plan, including his unusual financial arrangements with the hapless husband who was also quickly arrested.

The next day in the newspaper, the headline declared...

(You're going to hate me for this...)

'ARTIE CHOKES 2 for £1.00 @ Tesco

On this day: -

  • 1869 - Mohandas (Mahatma) Ghandi is born
  • 1902 - Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" is published by Frederick Warne & Co. in London.
  • 1925 - John Logie Baird perfoms the first test of a working television system.
  • 1971 - A homing pigeon averages a record 133kph in an 1100km race in Australia. (that's an AVERAGE of 82 miles per hour for 8 hours)

1st October

And would you believe it? Yet another month goes by with no end in sight! At least no end of Covid! It certainly was the end of this woodpigeon. The menacing look that I got from the sparrowhawk as it dined was as much "What are you looking at?" as anything else. It was busily feasting on the patio right outside our living room window!

On this day: -

  • 1688 - Prince Willem III of Orange accepts invitation of take up the British crown!
  • 1746 - Prince Charles Edward Stewart Flees to France.
  • 1867 - Karl Marx publishes Das Kapital.
  • 1888 - National Geographic magazine publishes for the first time
  • 1908 - Henry Ford introduces the Model T car (costs $825).
  • 1918 - World War I: Arab forces under T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") capture Damascus          

29th September

We said goodbye to Jim yesterday. Many of the Club members lined the drive towards the crematorium and some stayed to watch the service webcast in cars in the car park. You can still access the recording of the webcast on line at The webcast is available for viewing for seven days after the event. The ID is 49581 and the password is sqvqnugh.

28th September

Yesterday we had to return grandchildren to Stirling. While we were there we decided to do our daily walk in that vicinity. There's a footpath system part of which runs along the southern bank of the river Forth between Brig Hae (Bridge Haugh to you posh folk) at the old bridge westwards towards Kildean. It has been well looked after and is peppered with memorials of people and places in the form of concrete slabs in the footpath running along the back of the Raploch. I have to say that I had not realised what a really nice place Raploch was. It has had a reputation for years but the place we saw from that footpath was idillic. There were memorials to Billy Bremner and a Rugby player both of whom were from Raploch which, by the way, means "Place of the Archer" and has nothing to do with Lochs.

It was a beautiful day and we had a super view of the Wallace Monument.

Andrew sent me this yesterday. It was oddly entitled "Andrew on the paddle board". I was immediately reminded of a catch phrase from the Goon Show - "He's fallen in the water!"

Oddly enough there were photographs of the trip on Facebook too but this image was missing!!!

On this day: -

  • 935 - Saint Wenceslas is murdered by his brother, Boleslaus I of Bohemia!
  • 1066 - William the Conqueror invades England.
  • 1785 - Napoléon Bonaparte, aged 16, graduates from the elite École Militaire in Paris (42nd in a class of 51)
  • 1887 - Yellow River or Huáng Hé floods in China, killing between 900,000 and 2 million people, one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. (Surely they could have been a wee bit more accurate than to the nearest million in two!)
  • 1889 - The first General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) defines the length of a metre as the distance between two lines on a standard bar of an alloy of platinum with ten percent iridium, measured at the melting point of ice.
  • 1934 - Brigitte Bardot is born! Happy 86th birthday Brigitte!

27th September

Yesterday we walked from Bonnybridge to the Falkirk Wheel only we walked along the Antonine wall through Roughcastle. I cannot believe that I have lived in this area all of my life (so far) and never visited Roughcastle. There are miriads of footpaths meandering through the Roughcastle Community Wood complex. It brought us out at the Wheel Just beneath the start of the aqueduct from where we had this superb view: -

On this day: -

  • 1590 - Pope Urban VII dies 13 days after being chosen as the Pope, making his reign the shortest papacy in history.
  • 1825 - George Stephenson's "Locomotion No. 1" becomes the 1st steam locomotive to carry passengers on a public rail line, the Stockton and Darlington Railway in England
  • 1908 - Henry Ford's first Ford Model T automobile leaves the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan.
  • 2005 - After 162 episodes Tom and Jerry airs its final episode entitled "The Karate Guard".

26th September

It's Donald McNicol's birthday today! Happy birthday Donald!

We went for a walk yesterday down to Bonnybridge where we had intended lodging a couple of cheques at the Post Office and we came across this: -

The signature in the Corner says "Scottish Grafitti Murals. I thought that it was really quite smart and far too good to be hidden away behind the shops where it won't be seen by many folk.

I never used to be a facebook fan! That was until I was encouraged to operate the Club Facebook page. To do that I had to create my own page and I have espoused a group showing historical photographs of the area. This photograph was posted today and I just thought "How things have changed!" Nowadays we cover our playgrounds with shock absorbent material in case one of our wee darlings happens to trip over a discarded fag packet!

On this day: -

  • 1934 - RMS Queen Mary is launched.
  • 1938 - "Today, I heard the voice of Adolf Hitler," Edward Robb Ellis wrote in his diary on this day. He added: "His oratory is so menacing that he chills one's blood."
  • 1960 - Cuban leader Fidel Castro delivers a 4 hour and 29 minute long speech at the United Nations.
  • 1981 - Serena Williams is 39 today!
  • 2008 - Paul Newman dies.

25th September

We had a great Zoom meeting yesterday. There were 17 members present: -

We had a minute's silence to contemplate the passing of Jim Watson. We then discussed quite a few things before inviting Sophie Robertson, Owner and publisher of the magazine 17 degrees, to address the Club.

Sophie Robertson is a 25 year old entrepreneur originally from the Falkirk area. At the age of eight her family moved to the San Francisco Bay area for her Father’s job. She had aspirations of becoming a Media Broadcaster, like her Father’s first cousin Kaye Adams. She studied Media and Communications at University earning an Associates Degree. The sudden death of her Father in 2016 brought the family back to Scotland. Struggling with what her next step would be she took inspiration from the business- minded individuals in her family. Her Papa, Robert Hannigan is a member of Falkirk Rotary Club.

Her mother had her own business in America and was the Sales Director of a successful lifestyle publication so they decided to start a sister publication, 17 Degrees Magazine, in the Forth Valley area on the 17th of January, 2017. The magazine promotes local people and businesses and is available in many locations including Marks and Spencer and The Royal Bank of Scotland. Sophie has also since then started her own Social Media Management company, "Sophie Gets Social.”

Sophie spoke confidently and knowledgably about her journey towards her current situation. Leaving USA before completeing her bachelor's degree she had great difficulty in continuing her studies in this country. "Mum has taught me more than the last year of my bachelor's" she said.

A new venture creating a similar magazine in Edinburgh has had to be put on hold meantime. When asked if she would like to join the Club Sophie responded positively, immediately and enthusiastically. So I hope we'll be seeing much more of her in the future.

On this day: -

  • 1878 - British physician Dr. Charles Drysdale warns against the use of tobacco in a letter to The Times newspaper in one of the earliest public health announcements on the dangers of smoking
  • 1939 - Andorra and Germany sign a treaty ending WW I, as Versailles Peace Treaty forgot to include Andorra.
  • 1933 - The Turin Shroud, supposedly the burial cloth Jesus was wrapped in after his crucifixion, was put on display publicly on this day for the first time in 400 years. But the shroud has been controversial since it was first revealed to the public over 600 years ago.
    In 1390, French bishop Pierre d'Arcis wrote to Pope Clement VII saying that the shroud was "a clever sleight of hand" by someone "falsely declaring this was the actual shroud in which Jesus was enfolded in the tomb. [The purpose] is to attract the multitude so that money might cunningly be wrung from them."

24th September

Jim's passing has prompted me to have a look at the membership of the Club. Jim had been a member for 40 years and would have had his 85th birthday on Tuesday 22nd. When I looked at the list I realised that of the sixty odd members of the Rotary Club of Falkirk that were there when I joined in 1989 only 8 are left! Inglis, Ian, Harry, John, Gillies, Gordon, Sandy M and Robin. Maybe I shouldn't be being so morbid but it does emphasise the need to keep recruitment going if the Club is to prosper.

We walked from the Stadium to the Kelpies on Monday. That was a round trip of some 4.7K. But we went back on the canal on Tuesday and it was much quieter through the week.

Gordon tells me that he has been aware of Geese and long tailed tits showing up at times much earlier than he would have expected. Do you think they know something that we don't? I know that we normally see the long tailed tits at the end of the year.

On this day: -

  • 1657 - 1st autopsy and coroner's jury verdict is recorded in Maryland.
  • 1890 - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints officially renounces Polygamy.
  • 1916 - A local police constable rounded up and took into custody the crew of German Zeppelin LZ-76 on this night, forced down near the Roman town of Colchester after its First World War bombing mission on London.
    The airship crash-landed in a field after being shot down by British fighters led by 2nd Lt. Alfred Brandon, a New Zealand pilot serving with the Royal Flying Corps.
    After the crash, to protect the secrets of the design, German Captain Alois Böcker ordered his crew to set the Zeppelin ablaze. He then had his crew of 22 fall in and march down a country road hoping to find a boat to make their escape across the North Sea.
    According to the Time-Life book, "Epic of Flight; The Giant Airships,” they were soon confronted by a lone English policeman riding his bicycle. Böcker said to the policeman: "Can you tell me how far we are from Colchester?
    "Never mind about Colchester," he replied; "You come along with me." Falling in behind the policeman, they obediently followed and were taken into captivity.(or so the story goes!)
  • 1957 - Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe is opened in Barcelona.

23rd September

Well that's official then! It is apparently 6 months ago today that we were officially locked down! And! it would appear that we are staring another six months in the face. So because I missed the 21st and was unable to post yesterday (the web template was doing naughty things again) I will remind everyone that the 21st has come and gone and we all ought to have deposited our donations to the food bank in the Club Trust Account.

I have refrained from saying anything about our friend Jim because I believe that to be for another forum but I have been asked by DG Calum to let him have something in the way of a memorium for the District Newsletter. I have spoken with a few members and asked for their assistance which has been quite fruitful but if you can help with details of Jim's life I would be obliged if you were to let me know. I am particularly interested in his career in the RAF. Andrew tells me that he has service at Brize Norton and Northolt in common with JIm.

Diane and I continue with the diet having each lost about 3Kg in the last two to three weeks. We are continuing to walk too and feeling the better for it. We realised that the "Cyclist" thing was because it was at the weekend!

I became aware of the availability of St John Scotland baseball caps yesterday and immediately coveted one to add to my collection. I am told that it is on the way. Here are my favourite hats! This all happened by accident as I found myself seeking protection from the sun in various parts of the world. It would probably have been better for me to have packed one but Hey Ho!

On this day: -

  • 1811 - Is it possible to produce a wearable man's coat from wool shorn from a sheep the same day? They did this on this day in 1811 and again, in record time, 180 years later in 1991.
  • 1938 - A time capsule, to be opened in 6939 was buried at World's Fair in NYC (The capsule contained a woman's hat, a man's pipe & 1,100 feet of microfilm) (It doesn't say what was on the microfilm but I suppose by that time it won't make any difference they'll probably just use it to light the pipe!)

20th September

Six months down the line and it actually looks like we are heading back to the beginning again. Diane and I have been watching tele and realising the number of cooking and health shows that are pushing the Keto (Reduced Carbohydrates or Carb free even) way of losing weight. We have been trying it out for the last couple of weeks and it seems to be working.

Yesterday we got back on our pins and began walking again to aid the system. We walked the canal from Underwood Lockhouse (Lock 17) between Bonnybridge and Allandale to Wyndford Lockhouse (Lock 20) beyond Banknock. It is about 3K in each direction and an easy walk seeing as how it is along the canal towpath. We are however seeking alternatives because the towpath is awash with cyclists who seem to think that it is a cycle route (which it is) that has people there when they shouldn't be (which they are not).

At the point where the canal goes under the M80 there is a sign that asks politely "Cyclists please dismount". That was the point where we were rudely passed by a cyclist at speed without any audible warning, alarming Diane to the extent that she almost landed in the canal.

So! do any of you know of any decent walks of 5-6 K without cyclists? Gartmorn Dam is one that we have done often but there are bound to be others.

On this day: -

  • 1664 - Maryland passes 1st anti-amalgamation law to stop intermarriage of English women & black men
  • 1746 - Bonnie Prince Charlie flees to France from Scotland.
  • 1870 - Capture of Rome by Italian army, Pope Pius IX surrenders to King Victor Emmanuel which unifies Italy and ends 1,116 year reign of Papal States.
  • 1904 - Orville & Wilbur Wright fly a circle in their Flyer II.
  • 1909 - The British Parliament passes the South Africa Act; it calls for union of Cape Colony, Natal, Orange River Colony, and Transvaal; and both English and Dutch as official languages.
  • 1926 - Bugs Moran attempts to assassinate Al Capone in a drive-by shooting but fails.
  • 1946 - Churchill argues for a 'United States of Europe'.
  • 1951 - Swiss males votes against female suffrage! And we thought that we have lived in an age of enlightenment!
  • 1954 - 1st FORTRAN computer program run.

17th September

We had another Zoom meeting today: -

These meetings are turning out to be great fun. It has taken a while but those who are regular attenders are really enjoying the banter. For those of you who haven't yet attended it really is worth while especially considering that we are being advised not to be meeting in person for the foreseeable future.

Narek has been busy again at Macro and in addition to the half ton of soap powder obtained and delivered by Andrew, Jim Cairns delivered Nareks 210 Kg of purchases to the food bank today.

Here it is at Macro: -

Before beiong transported to the Foodbank where this picture was taken after half of the produce had been stacked. Well done guys.

Believe it or not that brings our donations to the Foodbank since March to 1.86 Tonnes! Narek has been a tower of strength with these purchases, but the man has a job to do, he is District Treasurer and is in the same team as me at St John Scotland Patient Transfer Service in addition to being President of our Club and hosting every meeting we have. Consequently I took it upon myself to suggest to him that while his efforts were not going unnoticed that he might benefit from a bit of delegation.

Consequently next month we will have a new procurement officer in the shape of Linda Noble who has stepped up to the mark in her usual inimitable style.

On this day: -

  • 1859 - Joshua Abraham Norton, English-born resident of San Francisco, proclaims himself his Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, Emperor of the United States of America
  • 1900 - Commonwealth of Australia proclaimed.
  • 1916 - The First World War brought fame to the likes of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, whose poetry was coloured by the mud and blood of the trenches. Captain Arthur Graeme West produced a few poems, too, but failed to achieve the level of acclaim accorded to his fellow soldier-poets. He is remembered mainly for his diary entries that were collected together and published in 1919 as The "Diary of a Dead Officer". The book, which includes a handful of poems, gives a caustic portrayal of army life.
    It is seen as one of the most vivid accounts of horrific times in the trenches, as in this entry written on this day, a Sunday. (In accordance with wartime practice names and locations were disguised):-
  • A tedious morning in the trenches prompts me to write down experiences and trivial little events which ordinarily I would not value enough to record, simply to pass the time.
    The trenches I am in are near G, were originally German, and have been recently captured by the British. I have not been really in the trenches for a long time, and find the renewal of the experience particularly trying.
    We got up here about 2.20am Sunday morning — a terribly long relief, for we started out for this line from G Ridge at 8.30pm Saturday night. The men were dog-tired when they got here, and though ordered to dig, complied very unwillingly, and were allowed to sit about or lean on their spades, or even to stand up and fall asleep against the side of the trench.
    It was a smelly trench. A dead German — a big man — lay on his stomach as if he were crawling over the parades down into the trench; he had lain there some days, and that corner of the trench reeked even when someone took him by the legs and pulled him away out of sight, though not out of smell, into a shell-hole.
  • 1953 - 1st successful separation of Siamese (conjoined) twins.

11th September

It's Andrew Niven's birthday today. Happy birthday Andrew. He is pictured on Facebook with Harrison who also has a birthday today only he is 3. Gillian says Andrew just acts like it.

Stewart was quite taken aback by the roads up my way and it got me to thinking. On normal roads (that is roads with two way traffic) we are encouraged to give cyclists a wide berth when passing them. On these roads however there simply isn't enough room to pass a cyclist safely on the move. Curious therefore that when I am confronted (as I often am) with a cyclist coming towards me at a closing speed of around 30-40mph the lycra clad club cyclist will think nothing about coming straight at me and passing as I am frantically braking and trying to avoid him.

On this day : -

  • 1297 - Battle at Stirling Bridge, Scottish rebel William Wallace defeats the English.
  • 2001 - Two passenger planes hijacked by Al Qaeda terrorists crash into New York's World Trade Towers causing the collapse of both and deaths of 2,606 people. Terrorists hijack a passenger plane and crash it into the Pentagon causing the deaths of 125 people. Attempt by passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 to retake control of their hijacked plane from terrorists causes plane to crash in Pennsylvania field killing all 64 people on board.

10th September

We had a great meeting today. Everyone seems to be becoming quite relaxed with the Zoom format now. Linda Noble was keen to extend her idea of everyone telling the assembly of something nice or good that has happened to them over the past week. She calls it a "Happy Clappy" time. It's great fun.

There were 14 of us present today: -

On this day: -

  • 1882 - 1st international conference to promote anti-semitism meets Dresden Germany (Congress for Safeguarding of Non-Jewish Interests)
  • 1894 - London taxi driver George Smith is the first to be fined for drunk driving.
  • 1945 - Mike the Headless Chicken is decapitated in Fruita, Colorado; he survives for another 18 months before choking to death. Exactly how does one decapitate a headless chicken?
  • 1977 - Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by Guillotine in France.
  • 2008 - The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in the history of mankind is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 1931 - Lord Cecil of British government says "War has never been so improbable!"

9th September

This from Gordon: -

Last Saturday Solway Yacht Club was allowed finally to start racing this year. Here are Gordon and daughter Jane in Fire Dance, the very first carbon fibre Flying 15. (Don't ask about the results, though. Dreadful.)

Photograph John Sproat

But the wood in the background has some  interesting inhabitants!

When Leif Ericson left Newfoundland to return to Greenland, the local Ojibway Chief asked him to take a local family with him - they were awful and did nothing but cause trouble. So off to Greenland they went, where they caused even more trouble. After many years of causing mayhem in Iceland and Ireland the family ended up being exiled to this wood beside the estuary of the River Urr. Their descendants still live there, and if you sail too close to the trees you may get shot at with arrows.

This was told to me and all other local children in the mid 1950s by a past Commodore of SYC, who was a retired Merchant Seaman and then bookmaker, and I have no reason to disbelieve the story

On this day: -

  • 1543 - Mary Stuart, at nine months old, is crowned "Queen of Scots" in Stirling.
  • 1754 - William Bligh, born on this day, was captain of the Royal Navy ship Bounty when the notorious mutiny occurred in 1789. In 1932 a novel entitled Mutiny On The Bounty, written by Charles Nordhoff and James Hall, became a bestseller. It was followed by a series of movies based on it, notably in 1935 when Charles Laughton played Bligh with Clark Gable as his first mate Fletcher Christian, and in 1962 when Trevor Howard took the role of Bligh with Marlon Brando as Christian.

    The book and the movies all portray Bligh as a harsh, sadistic tyrant, fond of inflicting the lash on members of his crew for any petty offence. But some historians say this is fiction and that he was a respected, courageous and highly competent officer who enjoyed a successful career culminating in the rank of vice-admiral.
  • 1776 - Congress officially renames the country as the United States of America (from the United Colonies)
  • 1947 - The first recorded case of a Computer "Bug" when a moth gets lodged in a Harvard Mkii computer at Harvard University.

8th September

The food bank asked if we could provide them with washing powder. The idea was that if we bought them a standard Supermarket type box of powder they would open it and split it up into poly bags for distribution. That was before Andrew Niven got his teeth into the internet and sourced a half ton pallet of branded powder in bags. I think that even the Jeep is groaning!

On this day: -

  • 1522 - Spanish navigator Juan de Elcano returns to Spain, completing 1st circumnavigation of the globe (expedition began under Ferdinand Magellan) now hands up! Who has ever heard of Juan de Elcano?
  • 1966 - "Star Trek" 1st premieres on NBC-TV starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
  • 2016 - NASA launches Osira-REx its first asteroid sample return mission! The probe will visit Bennu and is not expected back until 2023.
  • 1965 - A small ad in New York’s Daily Variety on this day attracted 437 young men interested in forming the world’s first "manufactured" boy band – "The Monkees". It happened after young movie and TV director Bob Rafelson, looking for his big break, dreamt up a show about a struggling rock band.
    He ran a production company called Raybert with his business partner Bert Schneider, whose father was the head of Columbia Pictures.
    The TV division of Columbia agreed in 1965 to go ahead with the project. All that was then needed was a band – or, at least, “four insane boys” who could literally play the part. Both the Dave Clark Five and Lovin’ Spoonful turned down the idea.
    Rafelson and Schneider went on to audition then unknown stars of the future such as Harry Nilsson, Stephen Stills and Van Dyke Parks, but finally settled on two former child actors – Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz – and two obscure folk singers – Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork.

7th September

It is Richard Johnston's birthday today. Happy birthday Richard.

I have been spending a lot of time organising drivers for St John Scotland (Central) Patient Transport Service. Our first patient was successfully transported this morning to and from the Haemodyalisis unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. It turned out to be quite amusing. I was waiting at the unit so that I could take a photograph of our first patient. I had my St John Scotland Hi Viz jacket on and my ID badge hanging round my neck. There were two empty parking spaces in the "Renal Unit Patient Parking" area where I was standing. At least 5 or six people began to reverse into the spaces until they clocked my high viz jacket and then beetled off again.

Made me smile. They were more worried about being caught than occupying the space of a dyalisis patient.

Which brings me to another traffic related topic. I was on my way home yesterday and driving up hill on a single track road. In front of me a car appeared over the brow of the hill coming towards me. Ordinarily in that situation the car on the brow would have reversed to a corner 50 or so yards back but he kept coming! We both stopped and he gestured for me to reverse to the bottom of the hill. I shook my head! He got out of the car and came round to speak to me. He threatened to drive towards me and push me to the bottom of the hill. I said "go on then!"

He was obviously well educated being as he was trilingual. He had a smattering of English, some very nice Scots and a firm grasp of Anglo Saxon. He was however not wholly correct when he suggested that I was 150 years old with unmarried parents and in the act of making love; and I  ought really to be in a home. He eventually reversed and as I passed him I wound down my window and thanked him for his understanding as he continued his discourse in a similar manner.

The moral of the story is "Love thy neighbour!" It really gets under their skin!

On this day: -

  • 1888 - Edith Eleanor McLean is 1st baby to be placed in an incubator at State Emigrant Hospital on Ward’s Island, New York.
  • 1902 - In Australia, the whole nation observes a 'day of humiliation' and prays for rain, as a terrible drought kills livestock and threatens crops; rain begins to appear on 10 September
  • 1909 - Eugene Lefebvre becomes first pilot to die in an airplane crash, while test piloting new French-built Wright biplane at Juvisy.
  • 1936 - Richard shares his birthday with Buddy Holly
  • 1992 - Gay Kelleway took part in a horse race in England on this day with a TV camera fixed to her helmet. She was the first jockey to carry such equipment and though it gave a terrific view of the other riders, it did not bring Gay any luck – she finished last. (Actually this was the 6th September but I missed it yesterday) Gay is still the first and only woman to have ridden a winner at Royal Ascot. She was the youngest-ever amateur champion at 18, the first woman to ride in the Royal Ascot Gold Cup and the first jockey of either gender to wear that camera in her helmet. 

4th September

We have just heard from President Narek that a committe has been formed, headed up by Andrew Niven, to oversee the establishment of a Santa's Sleigh in the name of "The Rotary Club of Falkirk" watch this space for more developments.

Narek, Andrew and I are anticipating the start of the St John Scotland Patient Transfer Service on Monday. We have all volunteered as driver, Narek and I are coordinating the drivers and Andrew is coordinating the CPR/ defibrillator programme.

There has been a huge amount of preparatory work done all hanging on a glitch concerning "Impact Assessment" now there's a new one for you! Hazard identification, risk assessment and now Impact assessment! what next?

Never mind "what next?" What is an impact assessment? I reckon it is a reasoned guess at how black your fingernail is after hitting it with a hammer!

On this day: -

  • 476 - End of the Western Roman Empire.

  • 1888 - George Eastman patents the first roll-film camera & registers "Kodak".

  • 1981 - Beyonce is 39 today.

  • 2012 - A carpet that can help prevent falls among the elderly by warning them of unusual footsteps is developed.

  • 2014 - Joan Rivers dies! Aww! Here is Joan and me in Los Angeles -

3rd September

I couldn't update yesterday! every time that I tried to save what I had done I got nothing but a whole page of digital gobbledigook. What I had wanted to post was this fantastic piece of news from Linda and Tommy: -

"Today is a happy clappy day for me , phone  appointment with the consultant from the Beatson. Tommy’s scan from February! all clear his examination in mid August all clear *** no more rectal cancer ***

Found all this very mind consuming, scince preliminary investigations in March 2019 , then diagnosis , treatment, and recovery . Eighteen months in all, results all very much slower results due to COVID . 

Thanks to everybody for their support.

A special thanks to Sandy and Diane *** who took Tommy  into the Beatson on several occasions giving me a much needed break from driving there every weekday for 6 weeks.
And of course my best  friend June for her continuous support throughout all of this ***
Onwards and upwards 

A wee nifty fifty donation in the pipeline
Linda n"

Now I know why I couldn't post yesterday! I copied and pasted LInda's message which included a number of emojis (Represented in the above script as ***) but this daft template doesn't do emojis!!! I just discovered that after losing it another twice.

But I got this from Gordon today: -

"Today, 3rd. September is Merchant Navy day. I am flying a very tattered Red Ensign from my flag pole. Most countries have a Mercantile Marine. In 1919 the King awarded the British Mercantile Marine the title of Merchant Navy in recognition of their contribution to the winning of the First World War.

3 years ago when Liz and I visited San Francisco we saw round the last surviving Liberty Ship. We watched a presentation about the Second World War which included the fact that one in twenty American merchant seamen were lost. The guy was astounded when I told him that one in three British merchant seamen were lost, all volunteers, all civilians and a bigger percentage of losses than any of the 3 armed forces. He said he would include this in his presentation from then on.


Also on this day: -

  • 301 - San Marino, one of the smallest nations in the world and the world's oldest republic still in existence, founded by Saint Marinus.
  • 1752 - Britain and the British Empire (including the American colonies) adopt the Gregorian Calendar, losing 11 days. People riot thinking the government stole 11 days of their lives
  • 1939 - World War II: Britain declares war on Germany after invasion of Poland. France follows 6 hours later quickly joined by Australia, New Zealand, South Africa & Canada.
  • 1980 - Actor Peter O’Toole, who rose to international stardom with his movie performance as Lawrence of Arabia in 1962, returned to the stage on this day for the first time in 17 years. He did so at the traditional home of Shakespearean drama, the Old Vic in London. And he chose the play that many actors swear is cursed – Macbeth. But the play and O'Toole's performance were attacked more savagely by the critics than any major classical production in memory and provoked bitter recriminations off stage.
    The Times described the production as “gruesome,” while the Daily Mail thought it was “heroically ludicrous.” The Guardian spoke of “a roaring-boy performance by Peter O'Toole that is about as subtle as a battering-ram.”
    The Observer observed that “the chances are he likes the play, but O'Toole's performance suggests that he is taking some kind of personal revenge on it.”
    Wrapping up the weighty parcel of criticism, the Sunday Times told its readers: “Don’t trust those reviews. The spectacle is far worse than has hitherto been made out; a milestone in the history of coarse acting.”

1st September

It's David Wheeler's birthday today! Happy birthday David.

I only have one response to my "Happiest day" so far, this from Gordon: -

"I think the happiest was the day that Liz took leave of her senses and married me, followed closely by the days that our three offspring were born, and I was at all four of them.
One of the worst was the day I took over my first command as Master. The handover took 15 minutes and as the guy that I took over from walked down the gangway and got into the taxi that had brought us to the ship, Liz says my face was the colour of yesterday's porridge. I was terrified."

Curiously after I had posted my "Happiest day" Diane read it and immediately asked "What about our wedding day?" I knew I'd got ot wrong!

On this day: -

  • 1715 - King Louis XIV of France dies after a reign of 72 years—the longest of any major European monarch.
  • 1914 - The last passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, dies in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • 1923 - Rocky Marciano is born.
  • 1962 - United Nations announces Earth's population has hit 3 billion.
  • 1972 - Bobby Fischer beats Boris Spassky in Iceland to become World Chess Champion. He later walks next door to Sainsbury's for a sandwich.
  • 1974 - The SR71 Blackbird sets the record for a flight from New York to London in a time of 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds at a speed of 1,435.587 mph.

31st August

I was intrigued when I read of the title of this year’s Young Writer Topic. “My Happiest Day!” Now considering the age of the participants I would imagine that it wouldn’t be that difficult to recall happy times. 17 years, maybe 14 of them cognisant, shouldn’t be such a task should it? But then think about yourself! Most of us have been here for a wee bit longer than that and will have had many “Happy Days” to remember but try to nominate the happiest one.

I challenge you all to consider this and let me have a few lines of what might have been your “Happiest Day”

As for me? I think that probably my happiest day was the day that our first born arrived. I was excluded from proceedings and was summarily dismissed to the waiting room at the Maternity Unit in Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary.

I have a vivid recollection of that time. There was a toilet off the waiting room with a poster on the door. “Lighten your load for an easier road!” it said! I came to the conclusion that it was not there advertising the existence of the toilet but was intended to encourage pregnant ladies to lose weight.

Peter was born at around 10 in the evening by mid cavity forceps (which is why I had been excluded) after a long and arduous induced labour. At that time the maternity unit was in the vicinity of the current Main Entrance and I remember distinctly walking purposefully down the ramp beside the Ward, turning right at the bottom and being confronted with a horizontal black and white vehicle barrier which I vaulted without breaking my stride in my efforts to advise Peter’s grandparents, who were waiting in the car in the car park, of his arrival.

On this day: -

  • 1888 - Mary Ann Nichols (1845-1888) was the first victim of the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper. Like the other four victims, Mary Ann was a prostitute working in the Whitechapel area of London.
  • 1994 - The Provisional Irish Republican Army (Sinn Féin) declares a ceasefire in Northern Ireland.
  • 1994 - Pentium computer beats world chess champ Garry Kasparov
  • 1997 - Diana, Princess of Wales, Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul (The driver) die in a car crash in a road tunnel in Paris.

30th August

I was honoured to recieve an email from Hugh yesterday thanking me for the article about the couple's Diamond Wedding Anniversary. It was however as I suspected journalistic license by the Falkirk Herald reporter that resulted in the omission of the data concerning the Rotary Club of Falkirk. It wasn't until he then forwarded on to me the email that he had sent to the FH that I also noted that they had misspelled the name of his daughter Diane.

He points out that they were not born in 195 (Although one of his "friends" said that they looked like they had!) but were actually born 1,760 years later!

More interesting than that is that it would appear that Alexandrina (Sandra to you and me) is an accomplished fiddler having been a violinist with the Falkirk Orchestra and the Stirling Reel & Strathspey Society.

On this day: -

  • 1146 - European leaders outlaw the crossbow, intending to end war for all time!
  • 1979 - 1st recorded occurrence of a comet hitting the sun, releases energy equal to one million hydrogen bombs.
  • 2003 - Charles Bronson dies.
29th August

I was late in obtaining my copy of the Falkirk Herald this week. I didn't get it until yesterday afternoon and imagine my surprise when I saw Hugh and Sandra staring back at me! He certainly kept quiet about that one!

I notice that someone has chosen not to mention the fact that he is a member of the Rotary Club of Falkirk!

I missed our meeting on Thursday too! I had been busy organising volunteer driver schedules for St John Scotland (Central) Patient Transfer Service and was so engrossed in what I was doing that it was about 1.20 by the time I realised that I should ideally have been at the Club meeting. It seems to have been a very successfull meeting by all accounts with IPDG Jo Pawley addressing the meeting and Margaret Lyon being installed as an honorary member. There were 14 members in attendance.

I posted this screenshot on facebook with the tag "IPDG Jo is pictured awaiting a kiss from someone" She responded with a curt "Thanks Guys!"

Also on this day: -

  • 1883 - Seismic sea waves created by the Krakatoa eruption create a rise in English Channel 32 hrs after explosion.
  • 1911 - Ishi, considered the last Native American to make contact with European Americans, emerges from the wilderness of northeastern California.
  • 1915 - Ingrid Bergman is born.
  • 1982 - Ingrid Bergman dies!

28th August

Another week slips by unnoticed. Except for the fact that today is Sandy Murrison's birthday. Happy birthday Sandy. Diane said to me "How old is Sandy?" I said "He's maybe a year or two older than me!" to which she replied "Oh no he's much older than you!" gulp "I remember when I was made aware of that I said he certainly doesn't look it!" It must be that Doric air! Either that or Glenbervie!

Also on this day: -

  • 1830 - 1st American built locomotive, "Tom Thumb" races a horse-drawn car from Stockton and Stokes stagecoach company from Baltimore to Ellicott Mills. Let history record that due to mechanical problems the horse won!
  • 1837 - John Lea and William Perrins manufacture Worcestershire sauce.
  • 1963 - Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I have a dream" speech addressing the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom civil rights march at Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
  • 1996 - Charles and Diana divorce!

22nd August

It's IPP Jim's birthday today! Happy birthday Jim.

The youngsters have discovered that they don't need to fly about in the rain. If they just all sit together mum and dad will come and feed them.

On this day: -

  • 565 - St Columba reports seeing monster in Loch Ness.
  • 1540 - King Henry VIII and his fifth wife, Kathryn Howard, left Windsor Castle on this day for a tour of England – or Summer Progress, as it was known. It was less than two months since the downfall of Thomas Cromwell, the King’s right-hand man, who had paid with his life for backing the wrong horse. The “horse” in question was Anne of Cleves, who Henry infamously described as “a Flanders mare.”

21st August

Good grief has it really been a week since I was here? How time flies. Between St John's Scotland Patient Transfer Service, making up reports for Council, getting the Club books fready for audit and running rellies to the airport I have just lost track of time.

It's the 21st of the month again and foodbank time. This will be the sixth time that I have asked you to donate to this and the result has been absolutely fantastic. The Foodbank has begun asking for household essentials and today I will transfer £288 in payment for 500Kg of branded washing powder to be delivered to them. Yes! that's not a misprint it's half a tonne! The remainder will be spent on essential comestibles.

The Club as a whole and members individually ought to be really proud of this achievement. We set out to "feed a family for a week" and we have surpassed that many times over during the lockdown.

Our second brood of swallows has fledged. They are, as I write this, behaving like Battle of Britain Spitfires over our garden hoovering up the midges. Within the next 4-6 weeks they will all be off to Africa and I will be able to regain control of my garage (after I have removed the guano which by the way is superfood for blackcurrants!). Do you recall my discourse on pigeons? Well I had the unenviable task of "Scraping oot the doocot". This involved the use of a garden hoe to scrape the guano from the floor and a triangular decorator's scraper (Used for stripping paint off woodwork) for removing the same offending deposit from nest boxes and other horizontal surfaces. The product was always scattered over a plot of 6 or so blackcurrant bushes which perennially provided produce consisting of lots of jars of blackcurrant jam! Yummie! if you care to forget how it was fed!

On this day: -

  • 1888 - American inventor William Seward Burroughs patents the adding machine.
  • 1940 - Leon Trotsky dies.
  • 1959 - Hawaii becomes the 50th US state.
  • 1986 - Usain Bolt is 34 today!
  • 1938 - Italy bars all Jewish teachers in Public Schools & High Schools.
  • 2015 - After 108 years a "message in a bottle" put in the sea by UK Marine Biological Association is announced found on a beach in Amrum, Germany.

14th August #2

The Kiwis are an irreverend bunch of people! These toilet signs were recently documented from a toilet in Invercargill. "Dig This" is Transport World and Classic Motorcycle Mecca's newest attraction and New Zealand's first and only heavy equipment playground!

"This ground-breaking" (note the pun) "experience gives visitors the opportunity to operate bulldozers, excavators and skid steers in a giant gravel pit and has recieved nothing but rave reviews since it opened in 2017. There is even a "Mini dig" experience allowing guests as young as four to have a go!"


14th August

Things have really dragged out! Who would have thought that we would have spent the whole of the Summer in Lockdown? We are looking at Autumn full in the face!

Autumn’s first day can fall on two different dates, depending on whether you use the meteorological season or the astronomical season.

The meteorological definition is the simpler of the two. It splits the year into four seasons of three full months each based on the Gregorian calendar, which makes it easier to compare seasonal and monthly statistics. So every year, autumn lasts from 1 September until 30 November, with winter then kicking off at the beginning of December. Under the meteorological calendar, spring then always encompasses March to May, with summer lasting from the start of June until the end of August.

The astronomical season isn’t quite as straightforward, because it is based on the position of the autumnal equinox, which comes later in the month and doesn’t always fall on the same date. This results in autumn having a different start date than under the meteorological system. This year’s autumnal equinox is on Tuesday 22 September – the earliest date it can fall, with the latest being 24 September.

Also We have our second brood of swallows (a gulp?) ready to fledge. These wee things are weeks old yet in about a month's time will leave here and fly to sub Saharan Africa! Believe it or not there are five in this nest.

On this day: -

  • 1040 - King Duncan I of Scotland is killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth (not murdered in his sleep as in Shakespeare's play). The latter does succeed him as King.
  • 1936 - A crowd variously estimated at 10,000 to 20,000 gathered at Owensboro, Kentucky on this day to watch the last ever public hanging in the United States. The fact that the prisoner was a young black man and that the sheriff overseeing the execution was a white woman intensified the interest of both the public and the Press.
  • 1945 - V-J Day, Japan surrenders unconditionally to end WW II (also August 15 depending on time zone).
  • 1947 - Pakistan gains independence from Great Britain.

13th August

Andrew has a nifty 50!

No point in me saying anything here except that it is quite obvious who her grandad is!


I went for a walk yesterday! The stags are still coralled and developing their antlers. They wait patiently together (for the meantime) for when they might be let loose among the hinds.

These guys are just lounging among the rashes in the heat of the sun.

While I can just imagine her saying "You lookin' at me?"

On this day: -

  • 1792 - Revolutionaries imprison French royals, including Marie Antoinette.
  • 1876 - he Bayreuth Festspielhaus opens with the first complete performance of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle
  • 1898 - William Gray patents coin-operated telephone.
  • 1942 - The 'Manhattan Project' commences, under the direction of US General Leslie Groves: its aim - to deliver an atomic bomb.
  • 1944 - Question! You will have heard many times about Field Marshall Lord Montgomery! Can you tell me what his first name was?
  • 2020 - Brightons smells like a steak dinner!

12th August #2

Here was I making light of the thunderstorms when of course I shouldn't have! The train derailment up north appears to have been quite tragic and I heard from my son that Richard's Brightons shop was struck by lightning last night. Richard confirms as follows: -

The shop was hit by lightning last night and I will be surprised if it is not completely flattened. Completely destroyed at the processing area. The shop looks ok but the roof is gone and I would not be surprised if it will be condemned as well.
Devastating but but everyone is ok, happened about 4am.

It just emphasises what the weather can do.

12th August

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the country becomes littered with PPI

On another note I have discovered that being deaf is not such a bad thing. Having removed my hearing aids last night about 11.15pm I sat in my bed and read a bit of my book before turning off the light and settling down to what turned out to be a sound and restful night's sleep. I rose at 7.45 and went downstairs where I was alerted to a text from my son. "Are you guys ok?" the message said. "Yeah! great" I replied. "Are you being sarcastic" came next. There followed a stream of social media videos from him depicting Beancross being deluged and The Brewers Fare across the road along with news articles about the thunderstorms of last night. Aparently his cat "Snoopy" (I know! I've already told him that's a name for a dog) had been out in it and came in looking like it had been struck by lightning. It seems to have been quite a night all told but I was blissfully unaware of any of it.

On this day: -

  • 30BC - Cleopatra dies!!!!
  • 1851 - Isaac Singer patents the sewing machine.
  • 1853 - The frigate Madagascar left Melbourne for London on this day in 1853 with more than 150 passengers and crew. She also had nearly three tons of gold on board – and was never seen again.
  • The Madagascar as painted by Thomas Goldsworth Dutton. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
  • 1883 - The last quagga (zebra subspecies) dies at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam.
  • 1908 - Henry Ford's company builds the first Model T car
  • 1918 - Guy Gibson is born! He dies 26 years later 1944 (The flooers o' the forest).
  • 1981 - IBM introduces its first Personal Computer (PC & PC-DOS version 1.0)

10th August #2

Bill has just sent me this photograph of the winners of the Young Writer competition.

The curious thing is that when I tried to open it up on my laptop (which is microsoft) it didn't recognise the .eml tag and I couldn't open it. I tried on my iPhone (which of course is apple) and it said "Cannot download attachment". On Friday I got a new phone, a Samsung Galaxy, which operates with Android. It not only downloaded the .eml but emailed it to my laptop as a jpg! Modern technology eh?

10th August

It's Ronald Mochrie's birthday today. Happy birthday Ronald.

Also I hear from Valerie Dillon that Inner Wheel had their handover on Friday. Valerie Dillon takes over the reins from Anne Watson.

On this day: -

  • 1893 - Rudolf Diesel's prime model internal combustion engine, a single 10-foot iron cylinder with a flywheel at its base, ran on its own power for the first time in Augsburg, Germany.
  • 1897 - German chemist Felix Hoffman first synthesizes acetylsalicylic acid, which would later be patened by his company Bayer under the name "aspirin"
  • 1952 - n the United States, a major outbreak of polio occurred in 1952. During that year, the disease infected around 57,000 people, killed over 3,000 and left some 20,000 with mild or debilitating paralysis. It was the last great outbreak of this disease, once one of the most feared diseases in the world.

    Polio would often strike without warning. In most cases, around 75%, there were no symptoms at all, but in 0.1-0.5% of infections the patient would suffer from mild or debilitating paralysis. This would often lead to deformities in the limbs for the rest of the patient's life. In some cases, the muscles of the neck and diaphragm would be paralyzed, meaning the patient would struggle to breath on their own. In the early days, this required the use of an 'iron lung', a large negative-pressure chamber that breathed for the patient as they lay inside.
  •  Children with polio in a US hospital, inside an iron lung.

    Most would be in the lung for a few weeks or a month while they were treated. A few unlucky cases would require the lung for the rest of their lives; as of 2013, there were estimated to be six to eight iron lung users, some of whom can only leave for hours at a time before they struggle to breath.

8th August

Congratulations to Jennifer Jones in being elected as President of Rotary International for 2022-2023

Archie Ralston says: -

"Jennifer will become the first female Rotary International President and no one deserves it more. She is a fantastic ambassador for Rotary and a genuinely nice and considerate person who will be a breath of fresh air in our organisation. No one deserves this accolade more."

On this day: -

  • 1898 - Will Kellogg invents Corn Flakes.
  • 1963 - The great Train Robbery - 15 men steal £2.6 million in used banknotes.
  • 2019 - Our defibrillator was mounted at the Falkirk Wheel.

6th August

We had a really nice meeting today on ZOOM. There were 14 of us present and we chatted about lots of things. There was one however that was discussed that I have put in a separate area in the members only part of the web site under the heading "Decisions taken during lockdown"

We spoke about whether and when we might return to our regular meetings at the Park. Sandy had been speaking to Robert Hannigan who said that they were accepting group bookings again within certain parameters. June, however in her capacity as H&S representative for the Club and with her experience in infection control was firmly of the belief that it was far too early to be considering such a move.


Our swallows have begun a second brood who are really doing exremely well! There were 5 gaping beaks at the edge of the nest when I went to take this photograph! They retreated quite quickly when they became aware of the camera.



I had to pay a visit to the 3 shop in the High Street this morning! The Howgate must be suffering! This is the photograph I took at about 10.00am: -


And finally the latest of my projects that are using up the bits of my daughters decking! We have solar panels on the roof of the garage that require maintenance as do three high level windows in our kitchen which are also accessed from the roof of the garage. So I reckoned a wee staircase would assist in access for that purpose: -

It sits beside tha chair that I manufactured out of what was left of our own decking.

5th August

Yesterday Gordon posed a question for me. "Why are the letters of the alphabet in that order?" he said.
Well I have been contemplating the question and have come to the conclusion that it is "in that order" simply as a kind of mnemonic in order that we can recall all of the characters that are available. It really wouldn't matter what order one recalled them in as long as they were all there and it helps that we all use the same sequence!
More important, I feel, is the question of who decided the sounds that would be attributed to each or even which character, or group of characters, would represent which sound? I mean coffee and Kauphy both are sounded the same but neither has any of the characters employed by the other!
Rough, Through, Though, Bough and the like, in that respect have always intrigued me because even the same letter or sequence of letters can be pronounced totally differently in different words.
Now I know that you will all be saying "Surely there is something of import that he can put on here other than that drivel!" but such is the nature of deipnosophy!

4th August

I was emailing David Wheeler earlier today to say that I was "on tenterhooks" awaiting a response from HMRC about our application for Gift Aid Status. That provoked a distant memory and I sought to remind myself of that by reference to the Falkirk Historical Society's web site. They say that Lint Riggs in Falkirk gets it's name from the literal translation "Fields of Flax" but there is no evidence that Flax was farmed extensively in the area.

My recollection is that there was a Flax/ Linen industry in the town and the name of the street references that industry. Once the Flax was processed and spun it was woven into linen and hung on fences out in the open fields to bleach. The finest linen bleached white while the less refined linen bleached  a shade of brown. These fences were called tenters and were constructed with hooks upon which the linen was stretched thus the word tenterhooks was used to describe anyone who was stretched in anticipation of something. AND hence the name of the Falkirk High School playing fields - Bleachfields!

Don't ask me where all of this came from because I can't remember and while I have no corroboration I believe it to be true!

2nd August

It’s insect time!

I was cutting the grass yesterday and was being bothered by flies so I went into the house and found my “grass cutting Hat” which I donned after liberally dowsing it with Oil of Citronella!

That reminded me of the time that I found out about Oil of Citronella being an insect repellent. Picture it; Killin, Finlarig Pier 1967; 66th Stirlingshire Scout Camp. We had been there for a fortnight and wanted to express our thanks to the shopkeepers of the town by way of a campfire come BBQ. The air was thick with midges and Bob Fearns decided that we would make garlands from bandages soaked in Oil of Citronella to drape over the ladies’ shoulders.

The following morning Mrs Ostler who was the matriarch of the local caravan site and shop at the time (and whose daughter I had an eye on) was serving the local Police Constable when he asked “Is yer dug in heat?” Mrs Ostler was nonplussed until he explained “It’s just that I can smell “Antimate”” Apparently the main ingredient in “Antimate” is oil of Citronella and we had been liberally spreading it among the female population of Killin. Baby Boom? Naw!

Anyhow I digress I managed to find this on line in answer to Gordon’s query yesterday.

At or about this time of year male and female ants will sprout wings and venture out of their nests, seeking ants from other colonies to mate with.

Andrew Whitehouse from Buglife - The Invertebrate Conservation Trust - said: "Flying ants’ day is a wonder of nature. It is when the next generation of male and queen ants make their nuptial flights. They are often seen flying joined together in what has become to be known as the nuptial flight.”

“On a hot and calm day sometime between June and September, thousands of winged males and queens from many colonies in the same area will take flight to find a mate. It is incredible that the different colonies can co-ordinate these flights so precisely.”

"Once mated the new queens will land, lose their wings and look for a hole or crevice to start up a new colony in. The whole process is over within a few minutes or hours.”

Experts say the nuptial flight is a crucial part of the insect's development, allowing them to reproduce and spawn scores of other creatures. During the flight, virgin queens mate with males and then land to start a new colony.

The large numbers of flying ants which appear in a short space of time increase the chance of reproduction. If you're swatting away the little creatures from your white work shirt, you'll be interested to know the variety is known as the Lasius niger, or black garden ant.

Their nests have a single queen and typically around 5,000 workers. This figure can stretch to three times that number, though. The ants you see over the course of the year will be mostly workers collecting food for their colony - and they are all female. They survive for about a month, while the flying ants you see once a year are males and young queens.

Queens can live for over 10 years and spend most of their lives in their nest. New queens, however, will leave to mate and found a colony of their own. It is thought Flying Ant Day occurs when a spell of wet weather is followed closely by hot humid weather.

Which exactly what we had!!! Boom Boom!

Also I’m thinking that the big ones that Gordon saw were Females seeking to become Queens while the smaller less relevant nobodies were males! Do I see a similarity here?

1st August #2

I have this from Gordon: -

We have quite a lot of flag stones in the garden. The large area outside the dining room windows, the concrete pad under the whirly and a couple of adjoining flags around the raised vegetable bed all have ant colonies under them. They don't bother us, we don't bother them and sometimes they provide some entertainment.

  Today, Friday, while cutting the grass I noticed frantic activity on the surface of the flags outside the window. Closer inspection revealed  hundreds of ants rushing around on the surface, and emerging from below, many small ants with wings. As I watched, a few much larger winged ones came out as well. I went to the whirly and that nest was in the same state, and so was the one at the veg bed..
  I watched for about half an hour. About 98% of the winged ones coming out from below the whirly were small ones; about 85% small outside the window, and strangely only about 10% small ones from the one at the veg bed, the rest were all large; about four times the size of the small ones.
  All the wings were fully formed when the ants came out of the ground, they didn't have to sit and wait for them to swell or dry out  After walking around for a few moments the winged ones took off one by one and flew off in different directions. At the end of about half an hour all this activity stopped at the same time at all the nests and things went back to normal.
  I heard my neighbour in his garden and called him round to look and he had exactly the same thing happening. He had been washing his black Porche ( name dropping?  Me? ) and had been annoyed to find it covered in winged ants before it dried.

  Can anyone explain this please?

1st August

And who would have thought in mid march that we'd still be here, subject to the whims of a microscopic life form. It seems like an age ago that we visited Newcastle to retrieve our Grandchildren who had been visiting their maternal Grandmother during the School Holidays. On the way down we visited Cragside. It is an astonishing place with so much history not least of which is the fact that it is the first house to have been powered by electricity solely from Hydro electricity. This is the grand fireplace which was built with Italian Marble purely for a Royal visit. It is massive!

On this day: -

  • 1907 - First Scout camp opens on Brownsea Island, in Poole Harbour, Dorset.
  • 1958 - Diplomacy requires a lot of skills, though being able to swim usually isn't one of them. That wasn't the case in 1958, when Nikita Khrushchev, the Premier of the Soviet Union, travelled to Beijing to meet with Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the People's Republic of China. Despite their shared communist ideology, relations between the two countries had been deteriorating for some time. It was hardly surprising, then, that the visit wasn't as the Soviet side might have hoped. On the second day of their meetings, August 1, 1958, Mao received Khrushchev somewhere altogether surprising: his swimming pool. This was all the more of a surprise for Khrushchev, who couldn't swim. The leader of the Soviet Union, a world superpower, was thus obliged to wear water wings. Mao, on the other hand, was a more than proficient swimmer. Years later, in 1966, the then 72-year old would even swim across the Yangtze River.

30th July

We had a great meeting today on ZOOM. Ausat gave us his Job Talk and we had 18 members in attendance including Gillies Sinclair. (we were not all there at the same time.)

On this day: -

  • 1419 - First defenestration of Prague: anti-Catholic Hussites, followers of executed reformer Jan Hus, storm Prague town hall and throw the judge, mayor and several city council members out of the windows. They die in the fall or are killed by the crowd outside.

  • 1792 - 500 Marseillaisian men sing France's national anthem for 1st time.
  • 1863 - President Abraham Lincoln issues "eye-for-eye" order to shoot a rebel prisoner for every black prisoner shot

  • 1908 - Around the World Automobile Race ends in Paris.
  • 1930 - 1st FIFA World Cup Final, Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay: Uruguay beats Argentina, 4-2 in the inaugural event.
  • 1945 - After delivering the Atomic Bomb across the Pacific, the cruiser USS Indianapolis is torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-58. 880 of the crew died, many after being attacked by sharks, the inspiration for the movie Jaws.
  • A still from the movie "USS indianapolis - Men of Duty"
  • 2003 - The last 'old style' Volkswagen Beetle rolls off the assembly line in Mexico.

27th July - 

The roe deer that have been eating my geraniums are becoming much more daring these days. This pair of hinds were quietly munching on the grass in our front garden quite oblivious to the fact that if I had a gun I'd be having venison for dinner.

On this day: -

  • 1866 - Atlantic telegraph cable successfully laid (1,686 miles long).
  • 1890 - Vincent Van Gogh shoots himself and dies 2 days later.
  • 1921 - Frederick Banting and Charles Best isolate insulin at the University of Toronto.
  • 1940 - A short ani,mation entitled "A wild hare" introduces Bugs Bunny.
  • 2003 - Bob Hope dies aged 100.
  • 2012 - Who would believe that it is 8 years ago that the Queen opened the 30th Olympiad ably assisted by 007?

26th July

Not a lot happening today! but I did come across this: -

On this date in 1970 the “scandalous” revue “Oh! Calcutta!” opened in London. It ran for more than ten years, clocking up 3,918 performances.

Nothing at all to do with India, the show was a series of unrelated, but sex-dominated sketches featuring a totally nude cast, both male and female. The title came from a pun on the French “O quel cul t’as” meaning “what an ass you have”. The audience would have had ample opportunity to test out the claim as every feature of both male and female anatomy was put on display throughout the show.

Anxious to establish whether or not “Oh! Calcutta!” was being performed on the right lines, officers from the Obscene Publications Squad joined the audience for one of the early performances.

They recommended a prosecution for obscenity. As a result, the Director of Public Prosecutions asked a team, including two retired headmistresses, to give their verdict. They decided that the show was not obscene.

Actress Shelley Winters, who performed on stage and in films for more than 60 years is recorded as saying: - “I think on-stage nudity is disgusting, shameful and damaging to all things American. But if I were 22 with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic, and a progressive religious experience!”

25th July

President Narek was at the wholesaler again yesterday and added to the washing powder that Andrew procured with yet another bumper delivery.

Andrew has given me a few figures relating to what we are doing here - Since January 2019 we have donated nearly 2 Tonnes of produce to the Food Bank. 1.26 Tonnes of that has been donated since January of this year. The majority of that has been achieved since Lockdown! It occurs to me that we have achieved this with a figure approaching what we as Rotarians spend on one meal each week! Food for thought as well as food for those in need.

On this day: -

  • 1745 - Jacobite Rising Bonnie Prince Charlie lands on Eriskay, Hebrides.
  • 1797 - Horatio Nelson loses more than 300 men and his right arm during the failed conquest attempt of Tenerif.
  • 1897 - Athol Estes Porter died from tuberculosis, then known as consumption, on this day. The event is significant because her husband, William Sydney Porter, who had been on the run after being charged with embezzlement, was arrested when he returned to be at his wife’s deathbed. Porter was sent to prison in Columbia, Ohio, for five years and while there produced a body of written work that would help establish him as one of the world’s great short story writers. He wrote them under the pseudonym O. Henry.
  • 1978 - Louise Brown the world's first test tube baby is born.
  • 2017 - Sperm counts have halved in last 40 years says research published in "Human Reproduction Update" journal.

24th July

Goodness! I hadn't realised that I'd missed two days! I have an excuse though because I've been busy. My daughter Wendy dispensed with her deck at the back of her house to make way for a trampoline for the kids. We demolished the deck last week and I have all of the detritus up here at Muir Rig. I have just finished building a pergola over the footpath to the back green made up out of some of the bits: -

Andrew has sent me this great News: -

And if that is not enough if any of you is in any doubt about what an asset to the Club Andrew is he has also sent me this. Apparently the Food Bank had asked for large packets of washing powder so that they could break them down into smaller bags to include along with the food boxes. He got 10 x 10Kg boxes at a knockdown price and a gift of 3 other burst packets. (The biggest box in the Supermarkets is normally about 2.6 Kg)

On this day: -

  • 1851 - This was the day when citizens of the United Kingdom were allowed light and air in their homes without having to pay for it. The long-hated Window Tax had finally been scrapped.
  • 1943 - Operation Gomorrah: RAF begins bombing Hamburg (till 3rd August), creating a firestorm and killing 42,600 people
  • 1980 - This one is a good Quiz question! On this day in 1980 Australia won the 4 x 100m men's medley relay at the Moscow Olympics. The only time that the USA has not won the event at Olympic level.
  • 1980 - Peter sellers dies aged just 55.
  • 2001 - Another great Quiz question: -Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the last Tsar of Bulgaria when he was a child, is sworn in as Prime Minister of Bulgaria, becoming the first monarch in history to regain political power through democratic election to a different office.

21st July

It's that time of the month again. It's Foodbank time! I know that lots of you do it different times but the 21st is the date that I first sent out the email suggesting that we do this after Council decided it would be a good idea so here we are again 4 months down the line!


Gordon Daly sent me this link! It's lengthy but he feels that the article about Sulphites in wine is worth reading. I've got to say I learned a lot from the article. You can copy and paste the link into your browser.


One phenomenon that amuses me about this lockdown thing is the number of emails that are being sent back and forth, normally with amusing stuff about Covid19 and the Pandemic. Odd really that we should find entertainment and amusement in the existence of a disease that kills people. Anyhow that was not supposed to sound as bad as it looks, the point is my sister sends me stuff and the latest was this (I have only included the ones that made me laugh and binned the rest): -

How Do Court Reporters Keep Straight Faces?
These are from a book called Disorder in the Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place.
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget..
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
WITNESS: Oral...



On this day: -

  • 1925 - John T. Scopes found guilty of teaching evolution in the “Scopes monkey trial” in Dayton, Tennessee, fined $100 and costs
  • 1969 - Apollo 11: Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to step on the Moon at 2:56:15 AM (GMT).
  • 1983 - World's lowest-ever natural temperature recorded −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F; 184.0 K) at Soviet Vostok Station, Antarctica.

19th July

OK did you Google it, know it or just couldn't care less? The longest word in the English language with only one vowel is "Strengths"!

My sister sent me an email with a number of humourous quips about the present situation among which my favourite was: -

"If you believe that this will all end and we will get back to normal once we reopen everything raise your hand... Now slap yourself with it!"

In 1941 on this day the BBC World service began by playing "V" for Victory (...- being morse code for the letter V and also the opening of Beethoven's 5th Symphony.)

On this day: -

  • 1545 - King Henry VIII's flagship Mary Rose sinks at Portsmouth; 73 die.
  • 1843 - The steamship SS Great Britain is launched, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is the first ocean-going craft with an iron hull or screw propeller and the largest vessel afloat in the world. It's also 50 years since it was transported up the Bristol Chanel to be refurbished.
  • 1879 - Doc Holliday kills for the first time after a man shoots up his New Mexico saloon.
  • 1922 - American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller first to break 1 minute barrier for 100m freestyle; swims 58.6s at Alameda, California.

18th July

I was watching Eggheads last night and the question was posed "What is the longest word in the English Language with only one vowel?" It has 9 letters by the way.

I will leave you to ponder that while I tell you a story about how I can not only recall but pronounce the longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary (at least it was in 1976). Pneumonoultramicroscopisilicovolcanoconiosis!

This all cropped up out of having, in the office of Wilson and Wilson, a swear box! It was so well fed that we bought stuff for the common good of the office from the proceeds (there were only four of us in this particular room). Apart from a print of Picasso's blue Madonna and Child to decorate the place (which I still have) the first thing we bought was a Dictionary which was duly inscribed on the fly leaf "Ex calyx maledictorum" (Supposed to be latin for out of the swear cup). Any how at lunch times and tea breaks we would each take it in turn to choose a number between 1 and 1300. The dictionary would be opened at that page and you would then be asked to define each of the words thereon. I recall that on page 850 or thereabouts that word appeared and I have it stuck in my head alongside "Podunk" ever since. Podunk is a town in USA the name of which has become synonymous with somewhere that you wouldn't really want to go. (Kind of like "The Plean") The average score was mid to late 50% of the page. One occasion saw in excess of 60!

It occurs to me that it would be a good educative game for lockdown!

17th July #2

I saw this on the Rotary pages on Facebook the other day and tought that the sentiment is still as pertinent today: -

17th July

Now that I have access to the bank again I have approval from Council to transfer £505 for the purposes of providing the Food Bank with groceries. I'll keep you posted of progress.

On this day: -

  • 180 - 6 inhabitants of Carthage, North Africa executed for being Christians. Earliest record of Christianity in this part of the world.
  • 1717 - KIng George I sails down the Thames on a barge with 50 musicians performing the Premiere of George Frideric Handel's Water Music.
  • 1826 - "L'Argus" accidentally discovers raft holding survivors from wrecked French frigate "Méduse." After 13 days at sea only 15 of 151 remain, the rest having been cannibalised, murdered, or committed suicide. This event was made famous by Théodore Gericault’s painting "The Raft of the Medusa".
  • 1954 - Angela Merkel is 66 today!
  • 1989 - First Flight of the B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. Of the 21 manufactured 20 are still in service today, the remaining one having been destroyed in an accident.
  • 1917 - Under mounting pressure, King George V renounced all his German connections on this day and changed the name of the UK Royal Family from the alien Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the acceptable English-sounding Windsor.
  • Tsar Nicolas II poses with King George V in German Military Uniform!!!

16th July

As a result of posting Margaret's email last night I had little to post today until Robert sent me this video. I've actually had it sent to me by quite a few people but never thought about posting it here. So because I have no idea how to upload a video into this page here is the link: -

So you thought that this lockdown was bad did you? on this day in 1439 kissing was banned in England (to stop the Black Death from spreading)

Also on this day: -

  • 1054 - Three Roman legates fracture relations between Western and Eastern Christian churches by placing an invalid Papal Bull of Excommunication on the altar of Hagia Sophia during liturgy. Often dated as the start of the East-West Schism.
  • 1519 - Public debate between Martin Luther and theologian Johann Eck at Pleissenburg Castle in Liepzig, during which Luther denies the divine right of the Pope.
  • 1661 - 1st banknotes in Europe are issued by Bank of Stockholm.
  • 1867 - D.R. Averill of Ohio patents ready-mixed paint.
  • 1867 - Joseph Monier patents reinforced concrete.
  • 1901 - The Fawcett Commission headed by Millicent Fawcett is established as a result of an outcry against the treatment of Afrikaners in concentration camps during the South African War.

15th July #2

I'm posting this because I liked it but it just means that I won't have anything for tomorrow. I have this from Margaret today: -

I cannot have you and the Club thinking that I was so careless as to allow the Club's bank statements to be sent to an empty house, as reported in your 'Bits and Pieces'. I set up mail redirection before my moving date and, when I received the redirected statements in Edderton, brought them down the road and gave them to Robert to pass to you. Glad they arrived!

I owe Margaret and apology for that. It was my understanding (obviously misunderstanding) that Robert recovered the mail from Skythorn Way! Sorry Margaret and cudos to you for the effort!

She goes on to say: -

"I also recall more recently promising one or two photos for your Bits and Pieces. Attached is a small selection for you to choose from. Please pass on my details to everyone and invite them to stay in touch."

We share the entrance with Holly House next door

Walking up the drive you can just see a wee bit of blue in the 
background, Cambuscurrie Bay in the Dornoch Firth

The view from the patio. You can just make out the railway line at the bottom of the hill.

At the back of the house there is the beautiful broom (now sadly gone over), the old wall 
and the ditch which serves occasionally as an overflow for the Edderton Burn.

My latest purchase and its first cut!

Katie spotted this wee creature yesterday in the field just over the fence. To begin with we 
thought it was a newt, but now favour the Common Lizard.
I have met the new T&ER President and her partner, also a Rotarian. They live just along the road.  Looking forward to meeting more of them tomorrow evening via Skype.

15th July

Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you, Happy birhday Stewart Rohoss Happy birthday to you. When Stewart was 1 year old I was eight times his age!  Now I am only 1.1 times his age! He is catching up!

On this day: -

  • 1834 - The Spanish Inquisition is officially ended after 356 years.
  • 1858 - Emmeline Pankhurst is born. Those who knew that the word "Suffrage" meant the right to vote would mostly have been aghast at the suggestion this should include women. At the time it was argued that the female mind simply could not understand how Parliament worked and therefore women should not take part in the electoral process. Emmeline told one meeting: “There is something that governments care for more than human life, and that is the security of property. And so it is through property that we shall strike the enemy... Those of you who can break windows, break them. Those of you who can still further attack the secret idol of property, do so. And my last word is to the Government: I incite this meeting to rebellion!”
  • 1869 - Margarine is patented by Hippolye Méga-Mouriès for use by French Navy.
  • 1910 - In his book "Clinical Psychiatry", Emil Kraelelin gives a name to Alzheimer's Disease. He names it after his friend and colleague Alois Alzheimer.
  • 1948 - Alcoholics Anonymous is founded

14th July

I've been busy! When Margaret handed over the Role of Treasurer to me It was after I had given the Clydesdale Bank signed mandates authorising the change od signatories. The change of intenet banking details was done immediately and I have happily been accessing our accounts since mid May. While clearing up at Skythorn Way however Robert Craig came across statements still being delivered to the empty house. I tried to rectify this with the bank and they locked the accounts! To cut a long story very very short, Jim Cairns and I spent in excess of two hours yesterday at the Bank while a lovely young lady sorted things out. I am back in harness again. (The mandate I had signed on 17th May had been lying on someones desk doing nothing for two months!

Gordon Daly has given me this link about a comet that is visible in the sky currently and won't return for 7,000 years! Worth a look.: -

The boy in the Picture???? It was sweetie pie Bill Laurie.


11th July #2

I have been informed of an error in my script about Bill Rutherford. I should have noted that he was 95 when he passed away not 85. Sorry

11th July

I have amassed lots of Rotary memorabilia over the last 31 years. Among that is a Quaich, one of which was presented to each of the team that organised the House of Friendship at the 1997 RI Convention in Glasgow by Bill Rutherford who was the team leader.

The Team consisted of Bill, me, Lex Taylor (Larbert deceased), Jim Beveridge (Corstorphine deceased), Bob Taylor (Braids in a nursing home) and the treasurer whose name shamefully I cannot recall.

It was in the large hall at the SECC. There were 30 odd stalls selling all sorts of stuff from jewellery to Kilts. There was a marquee in the centre with a history of Scotland on display.

There was a restaurant and cafe

And there was entertainment in the way of Scottish Country dancing, Fiddle bands & etc. The event lasted for four days. There were 23,500 attendees. It was a great show.

The point of all of this is that I was informed yesterday that Bill Rutherford had died. He was 95. Bill was District Governor in 1991 and he was a great guy. I have kept in touch with the group for all these years (apart from the treasurer) but it's just me and Bob left now. I will remember Bill fondly as I do his wife who had no Qualms in roundly chastising the RI president when he lit a cigarette at the table at a lunchtime meeting of the Rotary Club of Glasgow.

Sadly yesterday we were also informed of the death of Morris Robb, past member of this Club and past Director of Architecture for Falkirk Council.

On a brighter note it is exactly one year ago that the Floral Clock was officially "opened" for the second time.

On this day also: -

  • 1533 - Pope Clement VII excommunicates England's King Henry VIII
  • 1804 - A duel is fought in which Aaron Burr, Vice President of the USA mortally wounds Alexander Hamilton former secretary of the Treasury!
  • 1877 - Kate Edger becomes New Zealand’s first woman graduate and first woman in the British Empire to earn a Bachelor of Arts
  • 1972 - The first game of the World Chess Championship battle between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky begins in Iceland.

10th July

It's probably because the web site has been down since wednesday afternoon and I posted on the "News" page yesterday but I still don't have any guesses for my "So Sweet" identity on the 7th. How many of you will try to guess? I'll give you another clue - He hasn't changed! (And I don't mean that he is still as sweet)


I emailed Inglis yesterday and got this reply: -


we are now home after 4months in Spain! We managed to get a flight with Ryanair on the 3rd of July arriving back in Edinburgh at midnight. There were only 20 people on the plane, no food only drinks and loo if necessary! The plane was very clean and we had to wear masks all the time, interestingly when we got off the plane all as normal no checks, no temperature taken, and no talk of quarantine as we expected. Now safely at pond cottage. Campbell, our son, picked us up from the airport and Elizabeth, our daughter, came on the Saturday with enough food for a month. We are now catching up with mountains of mail and enjoying being back in our house In Culross.

With Best Regards Katherine and Inglis.

And then Katherine added: -

Ps Spain would welcome visitors, and where we were in Estepona there is no  covid19. Most of the problem has been in Madrid, Barcelona and Catalonia not Costa del Sol. Everyone has to wear masks and keep their distance and the beaches have guards all along the coast. The police turn people away on the roadblocks if people try to get down to Costa del Sol who should not be coming.



On this day: -

  • 552 - Origin of Armenian calendar
  • 988 - The city of Dublin is founded on the banks of the river Liffey
  • 1778 - American Revolution: Louis XVI of France declares war on the Kingdom of Great Britain.
  • 1913 - World's official highest recorded temperature at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California at 134 °F (56.7 °C)
  • 1925 - The trial of John T Scopes, a high school teacher, begins in Dayton Tennessee. He is accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act. It becomes known as "The Monkey Trial"
  • 1985 - French foreign intelligence agents blow up the Greenpeace boat Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbor, New Zealand to prevent it interfering with French nuclear tests in the South Pacific. Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira is killed.

7th July #2

I was short of copy for today's post. That is until this arrived in my inbox. I should say that my gmail account offers me a number of choices in terms of replies to emails and it seems to recognise the content that it addresses. When this arrived I was given the following choices: -

  • Thankyou
  • Thankyou so much.. and
  • You're so sweet thankyou!
You are now charged with the task of deciding just who this "so sweet" person is!
I'll give you a clue - it's a boy!

Answers on an email to      
Solution to be posted after I've received a few guesses.
Nae prizes.

7th July

On this day: -

  • 1456 - A retrial verdict acquits Joan of Arc of heresey 25 years after her death!
  • 1928 - Sliced bread is sold for the first time by the Chillicothe Baking Company Missouri.
  • 1930 - Arthur Conan Doyle dies.
  • 1940 - Ringo Starr is 80 today.
  • 1946 - I missed this on the 5th because of the iPad thing but on the 6th of July 1946 Micheline Bernardini modelled the first Bikini while carrying a box into which it could be packed: -

6th July #2

I'm back in business! I got my laptop back this afternoon. Here is a scan of the table mat I spoke of earlier: -

Coincidentally we also have the photograph of the Club at the same time. Craig Bryce is in the chair and there are a few others instantly recognisable: -

6th July

Firstly apologies to everyone for yesterday. Not being accustomed to using the iPad when I pressed the send button I thought nothing had happened so I pressed it again and again and again. The result was that you would probably have got eight notifications. Idiot!

I phoned the computer chap and asked if I could expect my laptop back today. His only response was "I'm working on it".

Diane has begun clearing out drawers and has come across a table mat in a gold colour that's very glossy. It commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Club in1974 with an etching of a view of the steeple and the north side of the High Street. I cannot figure out how to import it here on this iPad so I'll post a copy when I get my laptop back.

5th July
My laptop is in the shop and I am dictating this on Diane's iPad so I'll make this short and sweet. I was watching the field at the side of the house today and became aware of a dozen or so wood pigeons in the field all facing the same direction. They were squatted down and were not feeding. Coincidentally they were all facing into the wind. I remember 16 years ago reading Tom Sawyer and in that book I read that horses will always stand in a field with their back to the wind. I didn't know that this was a phenomenon on among other animals. I have however witnessed and confirmed that horses do indeed stand with her back to the wind. I have however witnessed and confirmed that horses do indeed stand with a back to the wind.

I hope to have my laptop back tomorrow. So I will close now and hopefully return tomorrow.

3rd July

It's all been decided then! Next Thursday 9th July we will be able to see the official handover of the chains! You should all have a link from President Narek to join him, Jim, and LInda via zoom at his office at 1.00pm. If you don't have it contact Narek and he'll respond.

I have been rattled at trying to capture a screen image of our meetings. Both Andrew and I have been taking photos of the screen but that always showed the photographer taking the snap. I contacted Gordon McInally who always has great screen shots and he told me what to do: -

It's got to be on a lap top or pc and if you hit the "windows" button and "prt scr" simultaneously a screenshot will automatically be sent to your "Screenshots" Folder in "Pictures". Seemples! Watch this space!

The young red deer are growing exponentially: -

On this day: -

  • 1767 - The first edition of Norway's oldest newspaper still in print "Addresseavisen" is published.
  • 1886 - Karl Benz officially unveils the Benz Patent "Motorwagen" - The first purpose built automobile.
  • 1928 - John Logie Baird demonstrates the first colour television transmission in London.
  • 1962 - Tom Cruise is born.
  • 1996 - UK House of Commons announces that the Stone of Scone, aka the Stone of Destiny, used in the coronation of Scottish (and subsequently English and British monarchs), will be returned to Scotland after 700 years in Westminster Abbey. (That is notwithstanding a short sabatical in Bonnybridge after being stolen by a group of students from Glasgow University)
  • 1940 - Worried that the Germans would commandeer the French Navy, the majority of which was anchored at Mers-el-Kébir and Oran, Algeria, Churchil sought reassurance from  the French Admiral Darlan that he would not allow that to happen. Darlan tried to ressure Churchill that he would not but Churchill thought that the risk was too great and decided to do something about it. He despatched a powerful Royal Navy taskforce, led by HMS Hood under the command of Admiral Sir James Somerville to Mers-el-Kébir. He was instructed to issue an ultimatum to the French that would require them to do one of the following: -
    * Join the Royal Navy in continuing the war with Germany.
    * Sail to a British port with reduced crews to be interned for the duration.
    * Sail to the West Indies or the United States and remain there for the rest of the war.
    * Scuttle their ships within six hours.
  • If they refused all four options, Somerville was ordered to destroy the French ships to prevent their capture by the Germans. He had received a message from the Admiralty, which read: “You are charged with one of the most disagreeable and difficult tasks that a British admiral has ever been faced with, but we have complete confidence in you and rely on you to carry it out relentlessly.”
  • In the absence of a satisfactory response to the ultimatum, the British launched what the reluctant Somerville later described as a “shameful” air and sea attack on the French on July 3. The bombardment killed 1,297 French servicemen, sank a battleship and damaged five ships. Five British aircraft were shot down and two crewmen killed.
  • In a postscript to the story, the Germans did try to capture the French fleet based at Toulon in November, 1942 but all ships of any military value, including the Strasbourg, were scuttled by the French. Many Frenchmen saw this as proof that there had never been any question of them surrendering their ships to the Germans and that the British action at Mers-el-Kébir had been an unnecessary betrayal.

    Churchill later received a letter from Admiral Darlan: “Prime Minister, you said to me, 'I hope you will never surrender the fleet'. I replied, 'There is no question of doing so'. It seems to me you did not believe my word. The destruction of the fleet at Toulon has just proved that I was right.”

2nd July

I was listening to the morning show on Radio Scotland this morning and they have a piece where celebs talk about their favourite Holiday. I think its to try and compensate for the fact that we are unable to participate these days in holiday type activities.

Anyhow it got me thinking. During the time that might be called my childhood, the only time that we went on anything that might have been called a holiday was when we visited my Aunt and Uncle who stayed at 60 Bath Street in Portobello. It was on the second floor on the corner of a victorian block of flats overlooking the beach. I can't actually recall how long we stayed at a time but I do remember staying overnight. There were five of them and 5 or 6 of us depending on when all this happened. As I write I can't imagine how we all fitted in!

Later in my teens, holidays were spent at Brisbane Glen in Largs where I visited my father's cousins. They were a brother and sister who lived together. Willie was a Gamekeeper and his sister Janet kept house and reared hens and turkeys (for eggs and the pot) and ducks and pheasants for the shoot. The hens were real "free range" hens. The coops were dotted around the farmhouse in various fields. The March field (that's the field at the "boundary"); Charlie's Field (Charlie was the horse); the top field (up at the highest part of the farm) & etc.

Every day there were three trips to the hens, regardless of the weather. First thing in the morning we'd traipse out to open up the coops. Sometime through the day we'd traipse round again and collect the eggs. And last thing at night, at last light, we'd traipse round again to shut them in for the night. If it was raining we'd be clad in oilskins with a souwester and wellies and I have vivid memories of bats diving at and clattering off my souwester as I made through the trees to the top field.


These were great times! I learned how to clip sheep with hand shears. I learned how to fold, roll and pack a fleece.  I learned to shoot, I learned to pluck, clean and prepare for the table all sorts of poultry and game. I learned how to retrieve Charlie, the Horse, from the field and hitch him up to the cart. I learned how to drive the horse and cart too. I also learned a whole lot about how to entertain, how to behave in font of "my betters" and how to stay out of the way of Derek (The Aberdeen Angus Bull.)

All of this brings me to my point (about time I hear you say) At what point in time did we stop calling hens hens and start calling them chickens! Chickens are wee yellow cuddly things that we don't EAT.

1st July

Would you believe it? Not only do we have a new President in Narek Bido but we have begun the run down to Christmas already! The nights are becoming progressively shorter and we have a new RI Theme: -

I thought that the last two theme logos were really quite inovative this one looks like it has been manufactured by a year one primary class! I will as a result keep the "Rotary Connects the World" logo for this page because ti better reflects the raison d'etre!

I got this from Anne Watson yesterday so be on your guard: -

COVID 19 Scams

This from Carole Anderson, Community Development Officer at Age Scotland.: -

You will no doubt be aware of the increased threat of financial harm that is currently being experienced within the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Scams such as fake coronavirus testing appointments, Government grants, furlough payments, requests for refund of overpayments, mortgage holidays – all are being used by scammers employing ever-more sophisticated methods. 

 To that end the Scottish Government has issued a weekly "Cybercrime" information update, which is particularly useful for keeping up to date with new scams:

 Please pass this on to anyone you think may be interested and apologies if you have already received it from another source.


I thought that I had the gold medal for inane and useless information but Robert Craig is catching up in Silver medal place very quickly he says: -

"Did you know?" (Just imagine the accent!) That Panam was begun in 1926 by a man called Juan Trippe?

I know that Gordon is not a fan of Wikipedia but they say: -

Pan American Airways, Incorporated (PAA) was founded as a shell company on March 14, 1927 by Air Corps Majors Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, Carl A. Spaatz, and John H. Jouett as a counterbalance to the German-owned Colombian carrier SCADTA,[5] operating in Colombia since 1920.........

Juan Trippe formed the Aviation Corporation of the Americas (ACA) on June 2, 1927, with the backing of powerful and politically connected financiers who included Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney and W. Averell Harriman, and raised $250,000 in startup capital from the sale of stock.[7] Their operation had the all-important landing rights for Havana, having acquired American International Airways, a small airline established in 1926 by John K. Montgomery and Richard B. Bevier as a seaplane service from Key West, Florida, to Havana. ACA met its deadline of having an air mail service operating by October 19, 1927 by chartering a Fairchild FC-2 floatplane from a small Dominican Republic carrier, West Indian Aerial Express.

All that having been said I still liked the notion of an uber successful international airline being started by a chap called Juan Trippe.


On this day: -

  • 1881 - The world's first international telephone call is made between St. Steven, New Brunswick, Canada and Calais, Maine, USA.
  • 1908 - "SOS" (· · · – – – · · ·) distress signal becomes the worldwide standard for help.
  • 1913 - The start of the first Tour de France Cycle Race.
  • 1916 - 1st of 4 fatal Jersey Shore shark attacks occur at Beach Haven when Charles Vansant (25) bled to death, challenging previous scientific belief that sharks never hurt humans, and sparking popular fear over sharks which persists today
  • 1959 - Specific values for the Pound, yard and other derived units are adopted after agreement between USA, UK and other Commonwealth Countries.
  • 1997 - United Kingdom returns Hong Kong and the New Territories to the People's Republic of China.

29th June

On this day

  • 1613 - The Globe Theatre burns to the ground.
  • 1981 - Hu Yaobang became Chairman of the Communist Party of China on this day. His death eight years later would lead to the notorious Tiananmen Square Massacre. See below
  • 2007 - The first iPhone is released.
  • 2008 - Thomas Beatie, the world's first pregnant man, gives birth to a daughter.
  • 2012 - A derecho sweeps across the eastern United States leaving 22 pedople dead and millions without power! (A derecho is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with a fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms known as a mesoscale convective system. Derechos can cause hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, heavy rains, and flash floods.)
Of course I was aware of the Tiananmen Square massacre but until now was never really aware of what triggered it: -
A man who wanted to pursue social and economic reforms, Hu inevitably became opposed by the hardliners. So despite being appointed to the more powerful position of party General Secretary in 1982, he was eventually forced out of office and made to state humiliating “self-criticisms” of his ideas in public.
After all, they said, amongst other things he refused in 1986 to crack down on protesting students, saying that they should be allowed to vent their frustrations.
Hu died of a heart attack, aged 73, in April 1989. Not surprisingly given his downfall, his death was hardly mentioned officially and there was no suggestion of a state funeral. “We’ll see about that,” the collective student body responded.
University students from across Beijing marched on Tiananmen Square, calling for the rehabilitation of Hu's reputation – even if the slogans that they shouted had been officially approved and considered acceptable to the Party.
Meanwhile, a delegation of student petitioners waited in vain for three days at the Great Hall of the People to put their case. The Party leadership took note of the protest, however, and decided that Hu should be given a state funeral after all, albeit a muted one.
It took place on April 22, 1989 and turned out to be the focus of massive demonstrations by thousands of students. On top of various grievances they were angry that the Government had refused to receive their petition.
A concerned Party leadership responded by publishing an editorial in the People’s Daily. It described the protests as “dongluan” (meaning "turmoil" or "rioting") and said they had been carried out by a "tiny minority.”
This further enraged the students who feared arrest if accused of being involved in “dongluan” activities and they demanded retraction of the editorial. It remained a major point of contention throughout the protests.

Amid a continued stand-off, students from other cities poured into Beijing to join the protests. Worryingly for the Government, other groups joined in, including a variety of workers, housewives, doctors and even sailors from the Chinese Navy.
Then on May 13 the students took a decisive step by announcing a hunger strike. Over one thousand of them took part, gaining widespread sympathy. Hardline student leaders then called for the protests to continue until June 20 – the date of the next National People's Congress meeting.

Alarmed at the prospect of such prolonged protests, the Government finally decided to bring in the People's Liberation Army and force the protesters out of Tiananmen Square.

On foot and in tanks, firing tear gas, the army moved into the square on the morning of June 3, 1989. But the horror would not take a firm grip until nightfall. Throughout the early hours of June 4 soldiers beat, bayoneted, and shot protesters. Many were crushed to death as tanks drove over them.

By 6am the square had been cleared. Doctors and ambulance drivers who tried to enter the area were shot, as were parents looking for their missing sons or daughters.

Amid all the shock and grief, the next day brought an astonishing event. As foreign journalists and photographers watched spellbound from their hotel balconies, a young man carrying shopping bags stepped in front of a line of tanks.

When the lead tank changed direction, the man jumped back in front of it. After a while he climbed onto the tank and reportedly asked the crew: "Why are you here? You have caused nothing but misery.”

Though the tanks tried to manoeuvre around him, he repeatedly moved to block their path. Finally, as he continued to defy the tanks, he was overpowered by security men and taken away. His identity and his fate are unknown.


28th June #2

This year sees 45 years since Ian Rule and Inglis McAulay joined the Rotary Club of Falkirk. They are our two longest serving members. Congratulations guys. Harry is close behind at 43 years.

Other notable milestones are Jim Watson - 40 years, Sandy Murrison 35 years, and Robert Hannigan 30 years.

Between all of our members we have amassed a total of 656 years of Rotary Service with an average length of service of 20.5 years.

Just in case you are wondering this information was gleaned from a spreadsheet that Bob Grant created when he was secretary and I have been keeping it up to date.


28th June.

I have been remiss! And I apologise to Bill! Because I didn't post anything yesterday I missed the fact that it was his birthday. A big one too! The only thing that prompted me to visit the page today was the fact that it is Linda Noble's birthday today. A Happy Birthday to you both. A wee bird tells me that Linda has a big day to celebrate as well! Something to do with trombones and big parades.

Also on this day: -

  • 1491 - Henry VIII is born!
  • 1820 - Tomato is proven to be non-poisonous by Colonel Robert Gibbon eating a tomato on steps of courthouse in Salem, New Jersey
  • 1838 - Coronation of Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey, London.
  • 1846 - Saxophone is patented by Antoine-Joseph "Adolfe" Sax
  • 1914 - Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and his wife Sophie are assassinated in Sarajevo by young Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip at 10.45, the casus belli of WWI.
  • 1919 - Treaty of Versailles, ending WWI and establishing the League of Nations, is signed in France.
  • 1971 - The first British national Scrabble competition was staged in London on this day and won by Stephen Haskell, a young teacher. He notched up an aggregate score of 1,345 points from three games.
  • That would have impressed Alfred Mosher Butts, an American architect who invented the game in the 1930s. The Great Depression had left him without work but not without ideas and inspiration.

    He liked crosswords, chess and other mind games and settled down in his New York apartment to create a new game that would involve knowledge, strategy and chance – and hopefully earn him some money. The world came to know his creation as Scrabble, but that’s not what Mr Butts called it.

    He first tried naming it Lexico, then in 1940, with sparse interest from game manufacturers and his dream starting to fade, he renamed it Criss Cross Words. That didn’t work either so finally, in desperation, he called the game simply . . . It.

    Thankfully, a friend, James Brunot, offered to manufacture and market the game when he retired from work in 1948. He was the one who came up with the name Scrabble.


26th June

Weird things are happening on the website template. I couldn't get in this morning and now that I can get in there are badges for "Admin Edit" that are missing!

We had our Club Assembly yesterday by ZOOM. : -

It was a really successful event which included the District Governor Elect Calum and Assistant Governor Ken. There were 20 of us all told present although if truth be told we weren't all there at the same time. Gordon was there early on and Margaret joined us later probably for the last time now that she has completed her move north.
The content of the reports has been sent to you all by Secretary June and they show that we are not about to let this pandemic get us down. As DGE Calum says we are one of very few Clubs in District 1020 that were here at trhe start of the second world war. While we are meeting on ZOOM, and thank technology for that, at that time it would have been a case of "When will we next meet?" to which the answer would have been "Next week at the Park if its still there!".

We have had some great weather recently accompanied by spectacular sunsets.


Andrew tells me that Rotary Foundation  has gained for the twelfth consecutive year the highest possible four star rating from Charity Navigator.

On this day: -

  • 1284 - According to the Lüneburg manuscript, a piper leads 130 children of Hamelin away
  • 1857 - The first 62 recipients are awarded the Victoria Cross for valour in the Crimean war by Queen Victoria.
  • 1945 - United Nations Charter signed by 50 nations in San Francisco.
  • 1977 - Elvis Presley performs in the last Concert of his life in Indianapolis Indiana.
  • 1974 - The Universal Product Code is scanned for the first time to sell a packet of Wrigleys Chewing Gum at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy Ohio

24th June

I was in the garden today and was about to take a picture of the latest two blooms on our Paeony when right alongside I saw this: -

It looks as though some poor young bird has been taken from the nest and plucked before being transported elsewhere.

Anyway, I'd shown you the Paeony before so I thought I'd show you another rose.

This rose has been in our garden for 40 odd years. Before that it was in my father's garden and his father's and his father's garden (If you are to believe my dad) It is affectionately known as Granny's Rose. The story went along the lines that they were all jacobite supporters back then, but when the rose was originally adopted as a Jacobite symbpol it was because it was an indigenous and common Scottish wildflower.

I decided to check on my facts before posting this and came across these from the web site of Historic Environment Scotland at Culloden: -

In the years before the ’45, any signs of Jacobite allegiance were suppressed. Jacobites had to meet and plot in secret. Because of this, a number of secret Jacobite symbols emerged, which revealed to those ‘in the know’ who was on their side.

These symbols included:

  • The White Rose – Used on its own it symbolized the exiled King James but it could be present with one bud symbolizing Prince Charles or two symbolizing Prince Charles and his brother Henry.

    Due to the treasonous nature of Jacobite affiliation symbols were an important way of conveying Jacobite loyalties in a covert way. Jacobites would often drink a toast to the king ‘over the water’ in glasses encoded with these secret symbols. Often a glass of wine would be held above a bowl or glass of water as a toast to the health of the king was offered; thus literally toasting the king over the water.

    One final hidden Jacobite message which is just a little bit different. Some believe that the popular Christmas carol ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ is actually a Jacobite call to arms. The Latin version of the carol, Adeste Fideles, celebrated not the birth of Jesus but the birth of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. It was written by John Francis Wade an English Jacobite who fled the country after the failed 1745 Rebellion. Fideles is Faithful Catholic Jacobites. Bethlehem is a common Jacobite cipher for England, and Regem Angelorum is a well-known pun on Angelorum (angels) and Anglorum (English). So ‘Come and Behold Him, Born the King of Angels’ really means, ‘Come and Behold Him, Born the King of the English’ – Bonnie Prince Charlie. The English translation was not made until 1841 by which time the Jacobite connotations had been lost.

    On this day: -

    • 1314 - Battle of Bannockburn; Scotland regains independence from England.
    • 1322 - Jews are expelled from France for 3rd time.
    • 1374 - Sudden outbreak of St. John's Dance causes people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.
    • 1509 - Henry VIII is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.
    • 1717 - 1st Free Masons' grand lodge founded in London
    • 1916 - Mary Pickford becomes the first female film star to get a million dollar contract.
    • 2010 - In the longest match in tennis history, American John Isner defeats Nicolas Mahut of France at Wimbledon after 11 hours, 5 minutes of play over 3 days


    23rd June

    This from Anne Watson yesterday: -

    Dear Sandy 

    I remember John showing us a picture of his lovely seat when he gave his Presidents talk many years ago  To find out from his research that it very likely was made at Carron Co. is wonderful, who knew that the Czar visited Carron and that we did trade with Russia.  Such an iconic company which is  sadly no more. 

    My maternal grandmother’s family for several generations were employed by Carron Co. either in the foundry or the mines. They lived in Blackmill and West Carron between Carron and Skinflats and were a large family of 12 only 3 girls. My grandmother was the youngest born in 1900, the eldest, John Colvin was a Methodist Minister and emigrated to Australia in 1912. He wrote to “wee Kate” every month until his death in 1957. My grandmother died at 85 and my regret is that I never wrote down all the stories she told me.



    I have been watching television this morning , BBC1 "Your Money And Your Life". They were wittering on about "Veganism" being a "healthy" choice! They were comparing salt, sugar and saturated fat contents of vegan fast food with the sort of stuff that the masses eat. They seem, however to have missed the point and I am sure that the mainstream Vegan movement has cause to complain.

    Veganism has more in common with religion than dietary trends. It is a life style. It is a way of life that eschews the notion of "using" any animal for our sustenance or comfort. That includes the use of leather, wool and meat of course. I cannot say that I subscribe to the notion but I can respect the belief. The notion that it is wholly and wrongly portrayed in a BBC programme leaves me utterly gobsmacked!                                                                                                                                                               ...............................................................................                                                                                                    

    Our swallows have taken to leaving the nest in the morning, flying about during the day and returning to the nest at night! Wierd!


    And this from Ausat yesterday: -

    Hi sandy

    How are you and how are you coping with LD?

    Muna ‘s father, who is 89 & lives with us and had a multiple medical problems had developed COVID 19 while he was in hospital for his hairline fracture. Thanks to God no symptoms appeared, just the COVID 19 test was positive, after 10 days  in COVID ward under observation, he was discharged on 9th June and since then he has been fine at home. It was a big relief.


    On this day: -

    • 930 - World's oldest parliament, the Icelandic Parliament, the Alþingi (anglicised as Althing or Althingi), established.
    • 1974 - 1st extraterrestrial message sent from Earth into space
    • 2016 - UK Votes to leave the European Union.
    • 1912 - Allan Turing is born. He takes his own life 42 years later after being chemically castrated for the crime of homosexuality.
    • 1981 - Longest game in Professional Baseball ends: Pawtucket Red Sox finally beat Rochester Red Wings 3-2 in 33 innings (game began on the 18th of April)

    22nd June

    Our swallows have done something I've never witnessed before. They have fledged (left the nest) they have flown about! But now they have decided that its too cold and windy out there and have returned to the warmth of the nest!

    John Struthers read the bit about the Savannah and sent me this: -

    Hi Sandy,

    I was particularly interested in the recent story about the Ship Savannah.   Why ? My addition to the story started some forty years ago when we bought this cast iron chair.

    On Saturday 3rd May 1992 the Telegraph newspaper published an article about Sir John Soane’s Museum in London and it was accompanied by a photograph showing a chair similar to ours.

    I wrote to the curator asking for information on the origin of their chair and received a very interesting reply: -

    I then wrote to Mr Thorson at the museum in Savannah and received a book from him about the history of the S. S. Savannah.

    And in it is a photograph of the chair gifted to Captain Moses Rogers ..........

    • I believe our chair was manufactured at Carron Iron Works.
    • The Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia visited Carron Works in 1817.
    •  Workers from Carron Coy. broke their bond and headed for St. Petersburg.
    • S. S. Savannah arrived in St. Petersburg in 1829.


    On this day: -
    • 1633 - Galileo Galilei forced to recant his Copernican views that the Earth orbits the Sun by the Pope (Vatican only admits it was wrong on Oct 31, 1992!)
    • 1865 - The CSS Shenandoah fires the last shot of the American Civil War in the Bering Strait to indicate surrender.
    • 1963 - "Little" Stevie Wonder aged 13 releases his first single "Fingertips" (first live non-studio recording to go to No. 1 on Billboard).
    • 1847 - First ring doughnut supposedly created by Hanson Gregory

    21st June

    Firstly and most importantly it's FoodBank time again. I will email everyone as well but please try to have any donations into the Trust deposited before the end of the month so that it's all in this financial year.

    This from Gordon: -

    Well, I got it wrong again, as usual. Just at high water this afternoon, down the river came a mallard duck with 5 ducklings, about a week old. No doubt a goosander will appear any day now with her brood.

    I think that they are all up here Gordon!

    My faith in humankind has been justified! 6 years ago I transferred from O2 for my phone provision to 3 Yesterday in the post I got this! Well done Telefonica!

    And to finish with Now I know there were 5 swallows in the nest! But the nest is empty now! Ready to start a second brood.

    On this day: -

    • 1879 - Frank W. Woolworth opens his 1st successful "F. W. Woolworth Great Five Cent Store" on North Queen Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
    • 1982 - Prince William is 38 today.
    • This, it would appear, is not such a notable date as others. Nothing but boring things happen.

    20th June

    I got this from Anne Watson yesterday: -

    Vera Lynn has died at 103 what a wonderful life she had. My dad was a big fan of hers. In 1942 my dad was a “Desert Rat “ fighting in North Africa  at El Alamein  he was seriously wounded and ended up in a Military Hospital in Alexandria  While he was there he had a major operation to remove most of his right lung, he was treated with Penicillin which was newish at that time, it saved his life then and several times over the following years 
    While in hospital they had three important visitors Field Marshal Montgomery, Winston Churchill, and Vera Lynn You can imagine which one the boys liked best.
    When he left hospital Dad was considered non combative and was in charge of a supply depot near Naples where he learned to speak Italian, sing Neapolitan love songs and enjoy smelly cheese. An Italian family in Bo’ness would give him Gorgonzola and my mother made him keep it in the coal house.
    He was never truly well after the war but he managed to father another 3 children, he died aged 51 of lung cancer but he never forgot Vera Lynn and the boost to moral she gave them, and could be quite emotional when he heard her sing.
    I am sure that there are other families up and down the county who have similar stories to tell though not many veterans left My dad would be 102 if alive 
    Happy Memories 


    While the hinds are in the field to the North of us delivering and looking after their offspring the stags are in the field to the south, "in velvet", preparing for the next round: -

    While the swallows are growing out of their nest!

    On this day: -

    • 1649 - King Charles the first is sentenced to death for what the High Court of Justice described as "his tyrannical rule as King of England." The monarch’s head was chopped off in a public execution that gratified the anti-royalists but appalled large sections of the population who held steadfastly to a belief in the “divine right of kings.”

    • 1756 - Black Hole of Calcutta: 146 British soldiers, Anglo-Indian soldiers and Indian civilians are imprisoned in a small dungeon in Calcutta, India where most die from suffocation and heat exhaustion
    • 1840 - Samuel Morse patents his telegraph (That one is for George)
    • 1895 - 1st female PhD from an American University, earned by Caroline Willard Baldwin (in Science) at Cornell University.
    • 2001 - In an attempt to save her five children from Satan Andrea Yates drowns them all in a bathtub - Houston Texas.

    19th June #2

    I forgot!

    On this day!

    • 1566 - The birthday of King James 1st & 6th.
    • 1819 - A ship with smoke billowing from her was spotted distantly off the coast of Ireland on this day causing the vessel Kite to be despatched to the rescue. But to the amazement of the Kite’s officers, the ship thought to be in distress turned away as the rescuers drew near. This, in fact, was no ship in distress; it was a ship in triumph: the Savannah had set sail from Savannah, Georgia, on the first successful trans-Atlantic voyage (partially made) under steam propulsion

    • 1917 - The British Royal Family, which has had strong German ties since George I, renounces its German names and titles and adopts the name of Windsor
    • 1978 - Garfield, The Guiness Book of Records holder of the most widely syndicated comic strip makes its debut.

    19th June.

    Yesterday's ZOOM meeting turned out to be quite difficult. There seemed to be something up with the internet in the area and many of us had difficulty in joining the meeting. We had eight at most and a good humoured blether: -

    Gordon has a question: -

    Hi Sandy,

    This has been a most strange year for ducklings here at Carron. Usually we will have several broods on the river during the spring, both mallard and goosander This year we have had just the one mallard family, the 3 very  early hatchlings, all of which have survived, and no goosanders We have had well over a dozen mallard drakes but only two other  ducks, neither of which has produced any ducklings and one goosander pair. I would be interested to hear from anyone who exercises along either canal regarding how many duck families they have seen this spring.


    Last Year for our Golden Wedding my sister bought us a perrenial flower that she hoped would continue to remind us of the event. It was as close to a golden Paeonie Rose as she could get and it has only just issued its first two blooms of this year, achieving exactly what she had hoped.

    Paeonia Border Charm.

    18th June

    Gordon has told me about this: -

    On the afternoon of 18th. June 1815 there took place what has been described as the most successful cavalry charge ever, when The Scots Greys, the regiment raised over 300 years ago by Tam Dalziel's ancestor, charged the French infantry at Waterloo with soldiers of The Gordon Highlanders clinging to their stirrup leathers. During the action Sergeant Ewart captured a French regimental eagle which is still on display in Edinburgh Castle.

    Elizabeth Lady Butler's depiction of the Scots Greys famous charge at the Battle of Waterloo. In actuality, it appears that they were unable to build up the momentum of a gallop, because the broken ground obliged them to advance at a canter.

    If you wish to know more I got this from Wikipedia (Gordon's not a fan of Wikipedia and suggest we go to  scroll down and near the bottom see what Corp. Dickson of F Troop has to say.)

    On this day: -

    • 1583 - Richard Martin of London takes out first life insurance policy, on William Gibbons; premium was £383.
    • 1812 - War of 1812 begins as US declares war against Britain.
    • 1815 - Battle of Waterloo; Napoleon and France defeated by British forces under Wellington and Prussian troops under Blucher.
    • 1858 - Charles Darwin recieves a paper from Alfred Russell Wallace that includes identical conclusions about evolution to his own and prompts him to publish his theory. (On that note I would recommend reading "This thing of Darkness" by Harry Thompson.)
    • 1928 - American aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the 1st woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean landing at Burry Port, Wales.
    • 1942 - Paul McCartney is 78 today
    • 1959 - Governor of Louisiana Earl K. Long is committed to a state mental hospital; he responds by having the hospital's director fired and replaced with a crony who proceeds to proclaim him perfectly sane.
    • 2020 - Vera Lynne dies aged 103.

    17th June

    The Roe deer have returned and eaten the rest of my Geraniums!

    But the red deer in the field are something else. I took this photograph from inside the patio doors: -

    During the process I happened to make a noise with my camera against the glass and the wee one instantly flattened itself against the ground deep in the grass. I was so gobsmacked I omitted to take a photograph before it popped its head up to see all was clear and continued suckling! Awesome!

    On this day: -

    • 1631 - Mumtaz Mahal dies during childbirth. Her husband, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan I, then spends more than 20 years building her tomb, the Taj Mahal
    • 1837 - Charles Goodyear obtains his 1st rubber patent. (begs the question "what were the previous ones made of?")
    • 1885 - The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbour.
    • 1939 - Last public guillotining in France. Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, is guillotined in Versailles outside the prison Saint-Pierre.

    16th June #2

    Inglis and Katherine reckon that all you old people will enjoy this: -

    You might consider these words of wisdom: 

    Some senior citizens are being criticized for the present deficiencies of our modern world; real or imaginary, present or past, foreign or domestic.

    We take responsibility for all our actions and omissions; we do not try to blame others for our past imperfections, ignorance or failures.

    Our generation saved the World from Fascism, Communism, and Racism, while we raised the Standard of Living, Health Care, and Life Expectancy.

    HOWEVER, upon reflection we would like to point out that it was NOT senior citizens who took:

    • The melody out of music,
    • The pride out of appearance,
    • The courtesy out of driving, The romance out of love,
    • The commitment out of marriage,
    • The responsibility out of parenthood,
    • The togetherness out of the family,
    • The learning out of education,
    • The civility out of behaviour,
    • The refinement out of language,
    • The dedication out of employment,
    • The prudence out of spending,
    • And, we DO understand the meaning of patriotism, and remember those who have fought and died for our country.


    •  I'm the life of the party . . . even if it lasts until 8 p.m.
    •  I'm very good at opening childproof caps . . .  With a hammer.
    •  I'm awake many hours before my body allows me to get up.
    •  I'm smiling all the time, because I can't hear a thing you're saying.
    •  I'm sure everything I can't find is in a safe secure place, somewhere.
    •  I'm wrinkled, saggy, lumpy, and that's just my left leg; but I haven't made my skin look like wall paper or snake skin.
    • My ears, nose, tongue, or naval haven't been pierced with metal rings.
    • I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
    • Yes, I'm a SENIOR CITIZEN, and I think I am having the time of my life!
    • Now if I could only remember who sent this to me, I wouldn't send it back to them.
    • Or, maybe I should send it to all my friends anyway.They won't remember, even if they did send it.

    Spread the laughter, Share the cheer, Let's be happy, While we are here! 

    And last but not least go back to the top and read it once again, this time slowly.

    I enjoyed it the second time even more.

    16th June

    A couple of years ago during my recuperation we visited Mugdock Country Park. It's well worth a visit with lots of beautiful walks, a Garden Centre a castle a walled garden and Anti Aircraft Gun Emplacement.

    While we were in the Garden centre we were blown away by a display of what we were informed were Perennial  Geraniums. Flowers that belong to the genus Geranium are referred to as true geraniums, hardy geraniums, or perennial geraniums. ... The flowers float on top of the plant, in shades of white, pink, magenta, purples, and blues. The flowers are small—around 1 inch—and cupped-shaped, attracting plenty of butterflies and bees.

    This is what Rozanne should look like!

    The head gardener was unable to tell us what the genus was and I have found no one since who could. The display took the form of a raised bank of about 10 feet by 5 ft covered in blooms. I thought that that was the sort of ground cover plant that I could use. Unfortunately they had none for sale!

    Subsequently after a bit of research we were able to buy "Geranium Rozanne" which wasn't what we had seen but it was close. We planted it last year and it was growing well until we discovered that it has another name - "Roe deer food!".

    This is what mine looks like this morning!

    On this day: -

    • 1916 - Lor Byron challenges his house guests to write a ghost story. Mary Shelley obliges with Frankenstein!
    • 1855 - William Booth gets married.
    • 1880 - Salvation Army forms in London! awww on his wedding anniversary!
    • 1944 - George Junius Stinney Jnr. becomes the youngest person to be executed in the US at the age of fourteen!
    • 1960 - Psycho opens in New York
    • 2010 - Bhutan institutes a total ban on tobacco!

    15th June

    Andrew and his drinking buddies have pooled their Friday night booze money again and taken a delivery to the Food Bank! They amassed £120 between them which grossed up at 77 Kilos for the FB. Well done guys. It puts a whole new meaning on the phrase Pub Grub!

    On this day: -

    • 1215 - King John signs Magna Carta at Runnymede, near Windsor.
    • 1219 - Dannebrog is the flag of Denmark and the oldest national flag in the world. According to legend, it fell from the sky during the Battle of Lyndanisse (now Tallinn) in Estonia, and turned the Danes' luck.
    • 1381 - Several centuries before Margaret Thatcher, the first poll tax riot rocked England. It was called the Peasants’ Revolt or the Great Uprising
    • 1996 - Ella Fitzgerald dies.
    • 2002 - Near earth asteroid 2002 MN missed the Earth by 75,000 miles (120,000 km), about one-third of the distance between the Earth and the Moon

    There's a gap here because the whole shooting match went down on Monday 15th June and the closest backup that RIBI had was for the 9th.

    9th June #2

    How on earth did I miss this? Actually I jested earlier. I was encouraged (by you know who) to wind June up about her age but then I realised that on the very day that June was born : -

    An extract from Rotary Calling in 1960: -

    9th June.

    It's June McAlpine's birthday today! Happy birthday June! Linda tells me that June is 65 today so well done June for looking so fantastic. I would never have believed it.

    Andrew gave me this for today too: -

    9 Jun 1963 The Beatles on the last night of their tour with Roy Orbison, performed at King George's Hall, Blackburn, Lancashire. It was during this tour that The Beatles' fans started throwing jelly babies at them while they were on stage, after an off-the-cuff remark on television that George Harrison enjoyed eating them.

    As you are no doubt aware if you read these daily diatribes I live in a rural area and have been actively involved in the garden. (grass cutting and hedge trimming actually! Diane does all the real gardening). Well this morning when I got up I became aware of the fact that I had a slight itch on the inside of my left forearm. On closer inspection I discovered that I had a tick! This photgraph isn't mine I got it off the web!

    Fortunately I have had one before and had the instrument for its proper removal in the first aid kit. I will monitor the site for any sign of rash in the future that may indicate the presence of Lyme disease.

    On this day: -

    • 68 - Roman Emperor Nero commits suicide, imploring his secretary Epaphroditos to slit his throat to evade a Senate-imposed death by flogging.
    • 1870 - Charles Dickens dies.
    • 1934 - 1st appearance of Donald Duck in a cartoon, "The Wise Little Hen"
    • 1997 - British lease on the New Territories in Hong Kong expires

    8th June

    It's a special day today It’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday ! He is recorded as saying: -

    • “Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change!” 
    • “Give me the luxuries in life and I will willingly do without the necessities”
    • I believe in God only I spell it N-A-T-U-R-E

    On Sunday July 7th 2019 The Unesco World Heritage Organisation inscribed 8 of the works of Frank Lloyd Wright on the approved list.

    These included: -

    • Unity Temple
    • The Frederick C. Robie House
    • Taliesin
    • Hollyhock House
    • Falling Water
    • Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House
    • Taliesen West
    • Solomon R Guggenheim Museum.

    Did you know that the South American Giant Otter can grow to 1.7 metres in length and has been known to kill crocodiles? It is also known locally as the "River Wolf" or "Water Dog"

    On this day: -

    • 452 - Italy invaded by Attila the Hun.
    • 1783 - Laki volcano in southern Iceland begins 8-month eruption, killing 10,000 and causing widespread famines throughout Asia and Europe.
    • 1869 - Ives W. McGaffey of Chicago patents the 1st vacuum cleaner, calls it a "sweeping machine"
    • 1987 - New Zealand's Labour government legislates against nuclear weapons and nuclear powered vessels in NZ. Only nation to legislate against nuclear power.
    • USS Barbero and the US Postal service attempt the delivery of mail via "Missile Mail" (It could only happen in the USA eh?)

    7th June

    Another hungry mouth to feed! I have seen two beaks at once. There are normally either four or five in the nest. The swallows get very angry if I go into the garage. After all they own it!

    I also noticed a pied wagtail on the grass watching me intently while I was in the garage. That prompted me to have a wee search and I eventually found its nest on top of the stonework between the joists.

    I got this from Elspeth Laurie: -

    "I Thought you would like to know though you may have heard anyway that the Soroptimist Club raised £656 for the Visor appeal from one round robin email."

    On this day: -

    • 1329 - Robert the Bruce dies.
    • 1654 - Louis XIV is crowned King of France. His 72 year long reign is the longest that a monarch has held power in history.
    • 1929 - Vatican City becomes a sovereign state.
    • 1965 - The Supreme Court of the United States decides on Griswold v. Connecticut, effectively legalizing the use of contraception by married couples.
    • 1975 - Sony introduces the Betamax videocassette recorder for sale to the public.
    • 2017 - Police in Mozambique warn bald men against attacks after 5 men are murdered for the gold believed to be in their heads

    6th June

    It's another lovely day! I was sitting in my study engrossed in a long message from Seagull Trust Cruises when I heard what sounded like somone knocking. I ignored it and then it happened again. I looked up and there was Peter, my son at the window with a huge grin on his face; he'd come to finish off what I was unable to complete in the cutting of our hedges. While that was the most lovely thing for him to be doing I wasn't really in the mood for gardening but it got me off my backside.

    All of the hedges are now at the same height and there remains a wee bit of tidying up to do around one of the leylandii.

    I have begun to gather my herbs together in the one place now. Previously they were spread about willy nilly all over the place but now I have them in a line.

    I have cut back and repotted my Rosemary on the left because it was getting quite woody, I did the same for my sage in the blue pot next to it (I read on the net that you couldn't really do it any damage no matter how hard back you cut it) Behind that is my Bay tree then to the right of that my Marjoram; it dies back every year and then really comes back with a vengeance; its a nice substitute for Basil. In front of the Marjoram is  Oregano then Mint, freshly seeded flat leaf Parsley, then curly Parsley and at the end is Corsican Mint.

    We have two varieties of Thyme, Chives, Lemon Balm, Horse Radish and Fennel planted out in other parts of the garden. So if anyone wants cuttings or whatever just say the word.

    On this day: -

    • 1752 – A devastating fire destroys one third of Moscow, including 18,000 homes
    • 1822 – Alexis St. Martin is accidentally shot in the stomach, leading to William Beaumont’s studies on digestion?????
    • 1844 – YMCA is founded in London.
    • 1882 - Electric iron patented by Henry W Seely, NYC.
    • 1940 – Tom Jones’s birthday. He is 80 today!
    • 1942 – Colonel Gaddafi’s birthday. He's deid!
    • 1985 – The grave of “Wolfgang Gerhard” is opened in Embu, Brazil; the exhumed remains are later proven to be those of Josef Mengele, Auschwitz’s “Angel of Death”
    • 2002 - A near-Earth asteroid estimated at 10 metres diameter explodes over the Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Libya. Resulting explosion estimated to have a force of 26 kilotons, more powerful than the Nagasaki atomic bomb.

    5th June

    Gordon sent me what I believe he thinks is a joke!

    Who was the fattest Knight at King Arthur's Round Table?

    Sir Cumference!

    I can do better (worse) than that!

    What does a Cypriot cheese say to itself in the mirror? ....... "Haloumi!"

    Why do French people eat snails? ..... They don't like fast food!

    How do Footballers cool down? .... They stand next to the fans!

    Is that enough Gordon? Shall I stop now?

    I've been clearing out again and came across this: -

    Picture it - West Berlin - 1971 - Height of the Cold War - The German, American Volksfest (pronounced Folksvest). This was the menu for the hundreds of stalls that surrounded the fairground attractions like a Ferris Wheel, a Big Dipper, Carousels & etc. We had a ball! It was the first time that I had corn on the cob! we got it from a stall like a burger van. I dropped mine in the muck and was immediately presented with a replacement by the lady in the stall. We drank beer from the main sponsor's 2 litre glasses: -

    On this day: -

    • 1873 - Sultan Bargash bin Said under British pressure closes the infamous slave market of Zanzibar in modern day Tanzania.
    • 1883 - The first regularly scheduled Orient Express departs Paris.
    • 1956 - On the Milton Berle Show Elvis Presley scandalises the audience with his suggestive hip movements when he introduces his new single "Hound Dog"
    • 1981 - 5 people in Los Angeles are identified with a rare type of pneumonia turning out to be the first recognised cases of AIDS.
    • 1984 - Indira Gandhi orders an attack on Sikh's holiest site, the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
    • 1988 - Russian orthodox church celebrates it's 1,000th anniversary.

    4th June

    It's now nearly three months since all of this actually hit home to the residents of UK.

    While the virus was busy multiplying itself across the globe we were partying! 7th March saw many of us join Margaret at her home in anticipation of her imminent move to Tain. Sadly (for Margaret) that was not to be.

    That was probably the last time we met together as a group. On a brighter note however Margaret tells me that she anticipates moving before the end of June. (The month that is).

    I've just noticed that thumb on Diane's arm! Looks like mine! Was I saying "Get out of the picture!" or was I trying hard to usher her into the picture??? I think the latter! cos she's shy! (not like Linda!)

    On this day: -

    • 1940 - British complete the "Miracle of Dunkirk" by evacuating 338,226 allied troops from France via a flotilla of over 800 vessels including Royal Navy destroyers, merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft and even lifeboats.
    • 1945 - US, Soviet Union, Britain and France agree to divide up occupied Germany.
    • 1989 - Tiananmen Square Massacre: Chinese troops clear the square of student protesters, unofficial figures place death toll near 1,000.
    • 1927 - 1st Ryder Cup Golf, Worcester CC: US beats Great Britain, 9½-2½; Walter Hagen first American captain; Ted Ray first GB skipper.
    • 1969 - 22-year-old man sneaks into wheel pod of a jet parked in Havana and survives 9-hr flight to Spain despite thin oxygen levels at 29,000 ft
    • 1973 - A patent for the ATM is granted to Don Wetzel, Tom Barnes and George Chastain.

    3rd June

    Sorry about yesterday I had totally lost track of time and forgotten to produce Rotary Calling! So I spent the day doing that instead (as well as scarifying a bit of my grass).

    I have been scrolling back through photographs on my phone and came across this one for 3rd June 2018! 2 years ago! This is what Social Distancing is depriving us of!: -

    Did you know that 1st - 7th June is Volunteers week! St John Scotland is sending out a daily update to all of their volunteers! Today they are celebrating "Wellbeing Wednesday" with their top five tips on looking after yourself: -

    On this day: -

    • 1851 - 1st baseball uniforms were worn when the NY Knickerbockers wore a uniform of straw hats, white shirts and blue long trousers
    • 1943 - A mob of 60 from the Los Angeles Naval Reserve Armory beat up everyone perceived to be Hispanic, starting the week-long Zoot Suit Riots.
    • 1968 - American radical feminist Valerie Solanas attempts to assassinate Andy Warhol by shooting him three times. She is later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and pleads guilty to "reckless assault with intent to harm", serving a 3 year sentence.
    • 1979 - Ixtoc I rig in the Gulf of Mexico blows, spilling 3 million barrels of oil in one of the worst oil spills in history.
    • 1986 - Rafael Nadal is 34 today. Happy birthday Rafa!
    • 1989 - Beginning of the Tiananmen Square Massacre as Chinese troops open fire on pro-democracy supporters in Beijing

    1st June

    It's Robin Johnston's birthday today! Happy birthday Robin.

    Did you know that now that the golf courses are open thay have coined a new golfing term. It's call a Dominic Cummings! It's the term for a long drive that goes seriously out of bounds and there's no penalty!

    Andrew has not been idle! Apart from making chunky her tea he’s been on the bike! he says: -

    “On the 1st May over a WhatsApp beer I was challenged to do a 300 mile total cycle in May.

    I accepted the challenge; the rules were simple cycle 300 miles or pay £100 to Strathcarron Hospice if I managed to do it my friend (Charlie who is also a cancer survivor and all round good guy) who set the challenge would pay £50 to Strathcarron.

    So I now have his £50 and I will also donate my £100 To them.

    Total miles on my push bike (not electric). Is 538” That’s the end of the quote by the way not inches!

    Well done Andrew Donations are accepted (Andrew says) to any charity of your choice. Obviously Strathcarron figures high in that. Both Bill Laurie and I have however donated to our own Trust Fund on the understanding that fundraising is not predictable these days.

    Why not make Andrew’s epic cycle worthwhile and donate the remaining 3 weeks of your lunch money this month to a charity of your choice!

    And Linda Noble has been busy too! -

    "Today I delivered some masks to Robert Craig and the pair of us had socially distancing lunch in his courtyard , and very nice it was too.
    He gave me a tour of his garden. Now that garden can hold thirty of us all socially distancing, as Robert said , you can drive in 3 point turn and park down his driveway. You will recall earlier I said that maybe we could all meet in a park, bring a chair and packed lunch . If this part of the lockdown goes according to plan maybe we should seriously think about this ?"

    On this day: -

    • 4000 BC - Approximate domestication of the horse in the Eurasian steppes near Dereivka, central Ukraine (hypothesis only) (You don't say!!!!)
    • 1495 - First written record of Scotch Whisky appears in Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, Friar John Cor is the distiller
    • 1926 - Marilyn Monroe is born.
    • 1964 - Kenya becomes a republic with Jomo Kenyatta as its 1st President.
    • 1974 - The Heimlich maneuver for rescuing choking victims is published in the journal Emergency Medicine.

    31st May

    Yesterday we took advantage of the new rules and played host to our daughter, her husband and Jorja and Shaw. We were quite strict about socially distancing although whoever linked the two notions "socially distant" and "gathering" together in the same sentence has some imagination being as they are quite opposed to one another.

    I had come across a book on the bookshelf that really interested me. It contained 366 stories each of 366 words. Just the thing to get kids interested in reading. One of the stories really got me going. It was about a wee boy who saved up words! He kept them in a box under the bed. One day his wee sister (Too young to talk yet) found the box and ate all of the words! He was distraught but eventually manged to shut her up; because she regurgitated the words incessantly, when she fell asleep uttering "Zebra, Zoo and zzzzz!" He held her upside down by the ankles and all of the words came tumbling out! He gathered them all up and put them back in the box. The last two words being The End! I read the story to the kids and left them with the book to take home.: -

    The eagle eyed among you will havs spied the absence of my decorative screen wall which blew over and smashed during the high winds last week.

    Andrew tells me he was making a cup of tea for Gillian: -

    On this day: -

    • 1669 - Citing poor eyesight, English civil servant Samuel Pepys records the last event in his famous diary.
    • 1868 - Dr James Moore (UK) wins 1st recorded bicycle race, (2k) velocipede race at Parc fde St Cloud, Paris.
    • 1902 - Boer War Ends; Treaty of Unity signed, Britain annexes Transvaal.
    • 1910 - Union of South Africa declares its independence from the United Kingdom.
    • 1930 - Clint Eastwood is born - That makes him 90 today.
    • 1935 - 7.7 magnitude earthquake hits Quetta in Balochistan, British Raj (Pakistan) killing an estimated 50,000 people.
    • 1970 - 7.75 Ancash earthquake off coast of Peru kills 66-70,000 and sets off world's deadliest avalanche.

    30th May

    This from Gordon: -

    I've just watched something I have never seen before.

    A mallard duck was standing on a stone in the middle of the river preening and minding her own business. The duck with the 3 ducklings came swimming slowly down river feeding. Without warning the mother took off and at an altitude of about 4 inches flew right at the preening bird, which woke up to the situation just in time and took off vertically, being missed by a feather breadth. The mother then proceeded to attack every othe mallard in the vicinity, both ducks and drakes, none of which had taken the slightest notice of her untill she started to throw her weight around. Mayhem ensued for about twenty minutes. During all this the ducklings took no notice and continued scooping up the insects from the surface of the water. Amazing.

    Maybe she thought the rest of them were breaking the lockdown rules.

    On this day

    • 1431 - Joan of Arc is burned at the stake

    • 1806 - Future US President Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson accused Jackson's wife of bigamy (an unnamed source says her first husband was the umoire)
    • 1911 - 1st Indianapolis 500 car race, Ray Harroun wins at 74.59 MPH (120 KPH)
    • 1911 - William Gilbert (Of Gilbert and Sullivan) died in a gallant attempt to rescue a woman swimmer who was in difficulties.
    • 1987 - North American Philips Company unveils compact disc video.

    29th May

    First of all read yesterday's #2

    Now for today! So it's warm! So it's sunny! So what! Everyone is waxing lyrical about the garden and the Summer and how good it is to be alive and so on! Well I was trawling through some memorabilia last night and thought that I'd change the theme!

    Picture it! 55 years ago! December! Five sisters of Kintail. Sgurr Fhuaran is the central and highest peak of the renowned ridge. A perfect cone, its west ridge is perhaps the longest continuous ascent route in Scotland. The peak is at 1,067m (3,500 ft). The first Falkirk Rover Crew decided that they would do a winter traverse of the ridge.

    I was 20! Just a boy. That's me third from the left.

    And this is what we traversed.

    That was one amazing weekend which I will never forget.

    On this day: -

    • 1660 - On his 30th birthday Charles II returns to London from exile in the Netherlands to claim the English throne after the Puritan Commonwealth comes to an end. (These things are all american! I'm sure it was the British throne!)
    • 1886 - American chemist John Pemberton begins to advertise Coca-Cola in the Atlanta Journal.
    • 1942 - Bing Crosby records "White Christmas", world's best-selling single (estimated 100 million copies sold)
    • 1953 - Edmund Hillary (NZ) and Tenzing Norgay (Nepal) are first to reach the summit of Mount Everest as part of a British Expedition.
    • 1985 - Amputee Steve Fonyo completes his Cross-Canada marathon at Victoria Columbia after a gruelling 14 months.

    28th May #2

    Gordon tells me that the lead boat of the flotilla into the gondola on TFW, and the first to rotate, at the opening by HM was The Falkirk Seagull Trust's Govan Seagull. This was granted to mark the contribution of (as it was then) The Seagull Trust in the campaign to have the canal network reopened.
    He also tells me that Linda Noble delivered masks for Liz and him yesterday.

    28th May

    The photograph is of Victoria on the Falkirk wheel way back on Sunday 24th May 2002 ~ Hard to believe that this May marked the 18th birthday of the world famous only rotating boat lift.   It seems only a few years since HRH Queen Elizabeth II performed the opening ceremony and allowed the Linlithgow Union Canal Society flagship Victoria to be one of the first boats to transit the wheel.   Not that the Queen was on board;  She had her own boat !!!

    One might have thought that one would have wished to travel on one’s boat named after one's  Great Great Grandmother, but it was not to be.

    Transcribed from the LUCS monthly magazine “Basin Banter”

    On this day: -

    • 1431 - Joan of Arc is accused of relapsing into heresy by donning male clothing again, providing justification for her execution.
    • 1907 - The first Isle of Man TT races are held.
    • 1917 - JFK's Birthday.
    • 1934 - Near Callander, Ontario, the Dionne quintuplets are born to Olivia and Elzire Dionne, later becoming the first quintuplets to survive infancy.
    • 1936 - Alan Turing submits "On Computable Numbers" for publication, in which he set out the theoretical basis for modern computers.
    • 1951 - Radio programme "Crazy People" (later titled The Goon Show) premieres on the BBC, created by Spike Milligan
    • 1972 - Edward VIII dies

    27th May

    It's my big brother Alistair's birthday today! He'll be 82! He speaks Russian and was deployed in Gatow, West Berlin for many years flying on Nimrod reconnaisance aircraft. He is not allowed to tell us what he was doing!

    We now have two fawns in the field next door! Here is number 2: -


    Yesterday I learned a new word which interested me! I think that there are many occasions when I might be able to use it! Ipse dixit: an unproven assertion based on the bare authority of some speaker; a dogmatic statement; a dictum!! According to the Oxford English Dictionary it was coined to describe Pythagoras by his contemporaries!!!

    On this day: -

    • 1679 - Habeaus Corpus Act (strengthening person's right to challenge unlawful arrest & imprisonment) passes in England.
    • 1930 - The 1,046-foot (319-metre) Chrysler Building in New York City, the tallest man-made structure at the time, opens to the public
    • 1937 - The Golden Gate Bridge San GFrancisco opens to pedestrian traffic.
    • 1941 - The German battleship BIsmarck is sunk killing 2,100 men.
    • 2006 - Earthquake strikes Java, Indonesia at 5:53:58 AM local time (22:53:58 UTC May 26) devastating Bantul and the city of Yogyakarta, killing over 6,600 people.
    • 1995 - Superman (Christopher Reeve) is paralysed from the neck down after falling from his horse in a riding competition.
    • 2014 - Maya Angelou dies. (Maya Anjelou was a remarkable woman! If you don't know her Google her! She is, I believe, the most remarkable voice against racism the world has known.)

    26th May

     I have never been a great one for Facebook but since I undertook to look after the Club Facebook page I have been looking at the content on my own page. Yesterday I was "messaged" by my Cousin in law who is researching her family tree. She attached some photographs of Diane's Grandparents that we'd never seen. This prompted me to share information with her (she has the same grandparents as Diane) and that threw up some anomalies! While researching these anomalies I came across the "Stirling Directory and Almanac" which had the answer to all of our prayers hidden away within its depths: -

    Does anyone know if you can still buy this stuff? Looks like a cure for Covid 19!

    Also Andrew tells me (also on facebook) that: -

    Historically, bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

    Now I can remember plain bread and the burnt crust was the upper one! And what's more they were both the worst bits! the best bit was in between! ...Come on Andrew you must do better!

    On this day: -

    • 1647 - Alse Young Hanged in Connecticut - The first person to be executed as a witch in the British American Colonies.
    • 1897 - Bram Stoker publishes Dracula
    • 1923 - The first 24 hour Le mans Race
    • 1927 - Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company produce the last (and 15th million) Model T Ford / Tin Lizzie
    • 1967 - EMI releases "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" a few days early in the UK; it would go to number one for 15 weeks in the US and 22 weeks in the UK

    25th May

    Yesterday was a momentous day! This little one arrived in the world.

    We learned some time ago that immediately after birth the mother will hide the fawn away from prying eyes and initially we thought it was deserted but the mum keeps a close eye on her offspring from a distance and comes back to feed when necessary.

    But that wasn't all! We had a belter of a sunset and a beautiful New Moon: -

    You have to look for it but it is bang in the middle of the picture.

    On this day: -

    • 1720 - The Ship "Le Grand St Antoine" reaches Marseille, bringing Europe's last major plague outbreak. Kills around 100,000!
    • 1907 - John Wayne's birthday.
    • 1977 - Original "Star Wars" movie (Episode IV – A New Hope), directed by George Lucas and starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford first released.
    • 1986 - Hands Across America - 6.5 million people hold hands from California to NY.
    • 2001 - 32 year old Eric Weihenmayer from Boulder Colorado becomes the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. (Didn't really appreciate the view though)
    • 1703 - Samuel Pepys dies.

    24th May

    Last year at this time I crewed for Gordon on his boat . It was on the occasion of "The Canal Carnival" which involved a huge number of boats leaving the basin to travel down onto the Forth and Clyde canal and then west towards Auchinstarry.

    The Scottish Canals boat “Maryhill” led the Flotilla which featured many smaller steam boats, narrow boats and rowing boats.

    Canal enthusiasts from all over the UK had brought their boats to the event on trailers in order to take part.

    People from as far away as Cumbria, the Lake District and even Bath showed off their boats to the delight of the general public gathered there to witness the spectacle.

     On this day: -

    • 1738 - John Wesley is converted, launching the Methodist movement; celebrated annually by Methodists as Aldersgate Day.
    • 1819 - Queen Victoria is born.
    • 1844 - Samuel Morse taps out "What hath God wrought" in the world's first telegraph message.
    • 1941 - German battleship Bismarck sinks the British battle cruiser HMS Hood; 1,416 die, 3 survive.
    • 1956 - 1st Eurovision Song Contest: Lys Assia for Switzerland wins singing "Refrain" in Lugano.
    • 1976 - In the Judgment of Paris, wine testers rate wines from California higher than their French counterparts, challenging the notion of France being the foremost producer of the world's best wines

    23rd May

    How time flies!

    We had our AGM on Thursday by ZOOM. It was, in my view, extremely successful. It's also got to go down on record as the shortest AGM ever!

    The budget was unanimously agreed at £150 per head for the coming year and the £50 levy for PI which was to be collected annually in January has been suspended for the time being; there being sufficient funds in the pot for the foreseeable future.

    During the course of the meeting Linda Noble asked if any member of the Club would like a mask and if so to let her know. She will happily make a mask for you. So lets keep Linda busy eh? Drop her an email with your order.

    That having been said this generous initiative of Linda's brought back memories for me. I recall, (I think that it was the brainchild of David McKenzie ex rector at Falkirk High) we had on more than one occasion what we called a "Talentathon" where members of the Club offered their individual talents to other Club members in return for a donation to the Trust Fund.

    Now! during the last two Council meetings we have had debates about whether we should be emptying the coffers when we don't know how or when we can start fundraising again. But no discussion has yet taken place about how we will return to fundraising. That aside I think that this presents an ideal opportunity to top up the funds.

    Last time as I recall I offered a bespoke framed watercolour of any member's home and I think I recall correctly when I say that Ian Johnston offered a delivery of dung. Anything goes. So howsabout it? Can any of you offer your unique talent for the benefit of the Trust Fund? Let me know and I'll draw up a list for people to choose from.

    On an entirely different note, Andrew has informed me that this week there were no reported new cases of wild Polio anywhere in the world! So far this year there have been 47 reported in Pakistan and 12 in Afghanistan. The last Polio case repoted in Nigeria was on the 20th August 2016.

    On this day: -

    • 1618 - Second Defenestration (look that one up in the dictionary) of Prague: Two Catholic Lords Regent and their secretary are thrown out of a window and amazingly are not seriously injured by the 70 foot (21m) fall. Triggers the Thirty Years' War.
    • 1883 - Baseball game between one-armed and one-legged players at Recreation Park, Philadelphia, Snorkeys defeat the Hoppers 33-17.
    • Bonnie and Clyde are shot dead by police.
    • 1941 - Bob Dylan is 79 today!
    • 1958 - Mao Zedong starts the "Great Leap Forward" movement in China.
    • 1992 - Italy's most prominent anti-Mafia Judge Giovani Falcone, along with his wife and three body guards were killed by the Corleonesi Clan with a half ton bomb near Capaci in Sicily
    • 1998 - The Good Friday Agreement is accepted in a referendum in Northern Ireland with 75% voting yes.

    22nd May

    Again I'm having difficulty filling this spot. But as usual someone has come to the rescue. This time in the shape of Andrew. He apparently has a regular triste with his pals on a Friday night at the pub and they have decided to donate the money that they would otherwise have spent on pints, peanuts and passage to the food bank. He obviously had first hand knowledge of what the Foodbank needed so that was a great help. This is the boot of his car on the way to the Foodbank: -

    It begs the question - "How much does he actually drink on these soirees?

    On another matter when, yesterday, I used the word "Prosaic" in connection with LInda's description of her position It was intended to express admiration at the fact that the body of the text was "pertaining to or resembling prose"! it was not intended to be anything other than complimentary.

    On this day: -

    • 1933 - First modern sighting of the Loch Ness Monster by Aldie and John Mackay saw "something resembling a whale"
    • 1946 - First US rocket (WAC Corporal) to reach edge of space fired from White Sands Missile Range New Mexico.
    • 1980 - PacMan is released!
    • 1987 - The first ever Rugby World Cup kicks off with New Zealand playing Italy in Aukland.
    • 2012 - Tokyo "Skytree" opens to the public! It is the tallest "Tower" in the world (2,080.05ft) and the second tallest man made structure on earth after Burj Kalifa (2,272.4409ft)
    • 2015 - The Republic of Ireland becomes the first Nation in the world to legalise gay marriage.
    • 2017 - 22 people are killed at the Ariana Grande Concert in the Manchester Arena bombing.

    21st May

    It's that time again! Send your lunch money to the Trust Fund!

    Linda is becomining all prosaic!: -

    The sun is out.

    The Azaleas are out.

    I have a garden.

    I have a roof over my head.

    I am not alone.

    I went for weekly  shop today.

    I have food everyday on my table (too much really).

    Our sons and daughters in laws are in work.

    Our grandchildren are healthy.

    We have great neighbours.

    We can pay our bills.

    We have a television.

    I can speak to friends either by what’s app, Zoom, house party or by phone.

    So yes, very grateful; but missing hugs and kisses from my family and friends, the nonsense chat, the laugh till you cry, the planning of where to go or do next, the glass of wine with my  best friend, Rotary meetings, Seagull Trust .

    I look forward to the empty calendar being filled in so I remember where and when , and wow this is a busy month !!!

    Stay safe




    And on that note a quote from my hero: -

    There is nothing higher,

    that I can see,

    Than the deep and full understanding and appreciation,

    of the beauty around you!

    Frank Lloyd Wright

    On this day: -

    • 1904 - Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) forms in Paris1
    • 1927 - Aviator Charles Lindbergh, in the Spirit of St Louis, lands in Paris after the first solo air crossing of Atlantic
    • 1932 - After flying for 17 hours from Newfoundland, Amelia Earhart lands near Londonderry, Northern Ireland, becoming the 1st transatlantic solo flight by a woman. And what's interesting about that when she was in UK she spoke to the Rotary Club of Falkirk.
    • 1934 - Oskaloosa Iowa becomes the first Municipality of the United States to fingerprint all of its residents!
    • 1936 - Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover's severed genitals in her handbag!
    • 2004 - Stanislav Petrov awarded World Citizen Award for averting a potential nuclear war in 1983 after correctly guessing Russian early warning system at fault.

    20th May

    Linda is Centre Stage today: -

    I had a go at the three fold mask but found it quite uncomfortable, however, due to one of the earlier posts I had a go at the duck bill one - much more comfortable.

    Unfortunately, my 40 year old sewing machine struggles with the thickness of the material at the loop part, but when I retired I purchased an overlocker to make my own curtains and such like and I also took lessons for around 8 years. So, after thinking about how I could work through the fact that my trusted old sewing machine was not coping; out  came the overlocker!  

    WOW! I can now rattle through them. 

    The most time consuming is the cutting, but once I get that done I have a wee production line going.


    Having been an amateur seamstress since I was a youngster I have all the gear including a special needle for threading the elastic. (editor’s note: the “Special Needle” is called a “stick with a hole in it”).


    I have been a busy bee doing this as my immediate family and friends are all looking for them. Material was a bit of a problem but what with sheets, duvet covers an old trouser suit, frocks and some donations coming in the stock is building up . I believe they will be part of our norm till we have a vaccine.

    For us ladies (Ladies???) never mind the lipstick get your mascara on! and gentlemen trim your eyebrows. 

    (did mine at the same time as my ears and nose!)

    On this Day: -

    • 1802 - Naloleon Bonaparte reinstates slavery in the French Colonies after it had been abolished during the Revolution.
    • 1899 - Jacob German a New York Taxi Driver was arrested in the first US traffic violation for speeding along Lexington Street. He was doing 12 mph.
    • 1902 - Cuba gains independence from the United States of America
    • 1927 - At 7:40 AM, Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York to cross the Atlantic for Paris, aboard Spirit of St Louis (1st non-stop flight)
    • 1927 - Saudi Arabia becomes independent of Great Britain in the Treaty of Jeddah.

    • 1990 - Hubble space telescope sends its first photographs from space
    • 2020 - It's Cher's birthday today! She is 74.

    19th May

    Good afternoon, I’m running out of stuff to write about. Hence the silence yesterday.

    Inglis and Katherine are still bound over in Spain but he tells me that they hope to catch a flight home late June all going well. John Struthers has been painting his fences and weedkilling his drive while Ronald and Helen assure me that their neighbours do their shopping and they are both well and being well catered for

    Gordon Daly tells me that the three ducklings are almost as big as their mum now.

    Gordon (always a fount of knowledge) reminds us of the old saying “Ne’er cast a clout ‘til May be oot!”! He rightly points out that the “May” in the saying does not refer to the calendar month but the blossom of the May tree or Hawthorn. The “May” is in blossom now so he says “ye kin a’ cast yer clouts!”

    I remember being in a hotel in Lincoln about this time of year three years ago and I overheard some English residents in the bar discussing the saying. They were certain that the “May” referred to was the Calendar month but as for “casting clouts” they hadn’t the slightest scooby!

    I took it upon myself to educate them, not only in the meaning and underlying dress codes but also in the way that the whole should be enunciated if it were to sound at all accurate.

    By the Way I would recommend “The Castle” hotel in Lincoln to anyone that is visiting there. We had a beautiful room with a magnificent view of the Cathedral.

    Still no sign of any fawns although the hinds are behaving very erratically.

    There was a competition in USA for the most effective defence against this pandemic: -

    On this day: -

    • 1536 - Anne Boleyn, second wife of English King Henry VIII, is beheaded at the Tower of London on charges of adultery, incest and treason.
    • 1897 - Oscar Wilde is released from Reading Gaol.
    That reminds me! In 1985 I published through Falkirk Library a "Town Trail of Falkirk". It won the Scottish Libraries association Publication of the Year. Sorry Inglis but it was printed by the Monument Press in Stirling.

    Part of the script describing the Steeple reads: -
    "A steeply winding stair that leads to a grim chamber that was the Gaolers'..."
    The monument Press however decided that I had made a typo and changed it to "Goalers'". This led Colm Brogan in his article the Glasgow Herald headed "What's the difference between Falkirk and Benidorm? They're both well known tourist resorts except Falkirk" to write: -

    Since Falkirk has (and really does have) two football teams, it is appropriate that the goalers (a Falkirk term, presumably) should have such a grim if historic chamber"!

    Well think again Colm! Falkirk is doing very nicely as a National Tourist Attraction.

    17th May

    I got a lovely phone call yesterday from John Struthers. Among the other things that we spoke about was books. I have a long held love of books! Not so much for the content but for the things themselves. When I designed a book binding Factory for Dunn and Wilson 40 years ago I met Tommy Valentine. Tommy was internationally renowned as a conservator of books and he taught me lots. He even let me see (but not touch) a complete set of the volumes of Audubon’s birds. I think that there are something like 4 or 5 complete sets left in the world today.

    Any how this is our reading place.

    I treasure two of the books particularly. The first one is Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim”. When my maiden aunt died my father had the job of clearing the house. Before he could get there my cousins had emptied the house of anything that they thought was of any value. My aunt had been nanny to the Blackie family (the publishers) and on the bookshelf pretty well the only things left were two books; Kim and a leather bound volume of “The works of Robert Burns” both signed on the fly leaf by J. Blackie.


    It turns out that the “Kim” is a first edition and worth in the region of £200. But I’d never sell it. It sits on the top row of the bookshelves well out of the reach of little hands.

    The other is “The Forth Bridge” a “by subscription only” publication of the articles in “Engineering Magazine” at the time of the original Construction. It was published to commemorate the centenary of the Bridge in 1989.

    On this day: -

    • 1527 - Pánfilo de Narváez departs Spain to explore Florida with 600 men - by 1536 only 4 survive.
    • 1792 - 24 merchants form New York Stock Exchange at 70 Wall Street.
    • 1961 - Fidel Castro offers to exchange Bay of Pigs prisoners for 500 bulldozers.
    • 1990 - The World Health Organisation removes "Homosexuality" from the list of psychiatric diseases.
    • 2004 - Massachusetts becomes the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.
    • 2012 - Donna Summer dies.

    16th May

    It's World Whisky Day!

    To mark such an occasion here are some thirst quenching facts about the historic distillery Dallas Dhu set in the beautiful Speyside countryside:

    Dallas Dhu was the idea of entrepreneur Alexander Edward in 1898 and it  filled its first barrel on 3 June 1899.

    The distillery closed during the First World War but was afterwards sold to J.P. O’Brien & Co. Ltd.

    During this time fifteen men were employed, they were expected to turn their hand to anything from unloading barley to shovelling peat and rolling out the barrels.

    The exception was the exciseman Maurice Walsh, who became famous. He is known as the author of The Quiet Man, which was made into a film starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.

    Production at Dallas Dhu ended in 1983 due to an excess of stock, falling demand, and an unreliable water supply.

    We have so much love for Scotland and are looking forward to days out again. This site is a perfect one to add to your future travel plans. The marvellous mash tun, washbacks and still house of this fantastic site will be waiting for you when the time is right to visit once more.

    On this day: -

    • 1568 - Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England
    • 1888 - Nikola Tesla delivers a lecture describing the equipment which will allow the generation and use of alternating currents to transmit electricity over long distances.
    • 1920 - Joan of Arc is canonised.
    • 1929 - The first Academy Awards.
    • 1943 - Operation Chastise: No. 617 Squadron RAF begins the famous Dambusters Raid, bombing the Möhne and Eder dams in the Ruhr valley with bouncing bombs.
    • 1951 - The first scheduled flights by El Al from Idlewild airport in New York to Heathrow

    15th May.

    Since accepting the post of Public Image Chair I have consistently posted anything that we do that is worthy of note on facebook. Latterly of course that has been our amazing success with the Food bank project. But I also see a lot that is posted by other "Friends".

    Gordon McInally was District Governor (from South Queensferry then) when I was first President. He has since gone on to be RIBI President and regularly speaks at Rotary events about "Hope and Homes for Children". Gordon posted the following today about a ZOOM Meeting that his Club had: -

    "Great presentation from RI Staff Member John Hannes at this evening's meeting of Kelso Rotary Club. President Heather McInally was delighted to welcome visitors from as far afield as Canada, USA, Belgium, The Philippines and Germany as well as from within Scotland. In addition to toasting "Rotary the World Over", we were able to toast RI President Mark Maloney on this his birthday. Congratulations to Regine Rosen for winning the wine raffle."

    So you see there is no reason why in these dire times we cannot continue our meetings in a true spirit of Fellowship, albeit at a distance, until this is all over.

    Today's tip: -

    I thought that I had created this tip all by myself until I heard a TV Chef recommend it the other day. Fair took the wind out of my sails. So it did!

    For years now, when there has just been the two of us I have always bought mince in multiples of 250g (That being the weight that I consider to be required for mince and tatties, chile con carne or spaghetti bolgnese for two people). I proceed to freeze any excess in bags of 250g each. The bags I use are ASDA zip lock bags. I put 250g into the bag compact into a sausage at the bottom then roll it flat in the bag thus: -

    I then pop it in the freezer. It economises in the space taken up and is much, much quicker and easier to thaw out when it is needed.

    On this day: -

    • 1252 - Pope Innocent IV issues the papal bull ad exstirpanda, which authorises, but also limits, the torture of heretics in the Medieval Inquisition. (benevolent soul that he was!)
    • 1567 - Mary, Queen of Scots, marries James Hepburn (fourth Earl of Boswell) in her third Marriage.
    • 1928 - Mickey Mouse prmieres in his first Cartoon "Plane Crazy"
    • 1940 - Richard and Maurice McDonald open the 1st McDonald's restaurant in San Bernardino, California. (Where did Ronald come from then?)
    • 1987 - The Soviet Union launches the Polyus Prototype Orbital Weapons Platform. It fails to reach orbit! (tee hee)
    • 2010 - Jessica Watson at age 16 becomes the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world

    14th May #3

    We have just had our first "1,000 people reached" post on facebook: -

    14th May #2

    Today we had a Zoom informal meeting! The members that joined in were: -

    Jim Carins, Sandy McGill, Andrew Niven, Tom Curry, Margaret Lyon, George Honeyman, Sandy Murrison & Bill laurie.
    George told us about a Polish relative who came here during the war (and not the 1st WW). The Polish man, Ted, had married a relative of George and stayed in UK. He also spoke about a drive over to Poland with George as the driver.
    We then heard other members' memories of their childhood in the years after the war. Sandy Murrison contributed most I think with his memories of the bombings of Aberdeen who suffrered terribly during that time.
    Sandy McGill then held a quiz that lasted for around 10 minuets.

    Apart from the quiz it was just like a table at one of our regular meetings. We had a great blether and a great laugh as well.

    14th May

    At yesterday’s Council Meeting Margaret announced that it would be her last Council Meeting! While she still waits on the authorities allowing her to move, this is a milestone for the Club and she will be sadly missed.

    After the party that she had (Ostensibly a farewell party) Margaret very kindly visited Diane and me with some leftovers from the party and (I don’t know if she was aware of it) I noticed her eyes flare at the sight of my fridge covered as it is in magnets. This is  a problem I have! I have to buy a magnet wherever I go. I thought that since I had nothing for yesterday I’d look at the accumulated memorabilia.


    They include many Rotary memories from Menorca, Belfast,  Nottingham, Bournemouth, Blackpool, Glasgow, Lytham, Brighton and Manchester along with personal memories from Portugal, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Australia (Perth and Sydney), New Zealand (all over), USA (LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Mojave Desert, Route 66, Grand Canyon, Joshua tree National Park, Oak Park, Scottsdale Arizona, Bear Run Pennsylvania, Miami, Naples (Florida)) Italy (Rome, Naples, Venice and Verona) Spain (Barcelona, Mijas, Malaga, Marbella and Gibraltar) Portugal, Morocco, France, Switzerland, lots of other Eurpean destinations and most of Great Britain from Mallaig to St Keverne in Cornwall and from Durness to Dover.

    It’s not until we are so constrained as we are that these things are put in proportion.

    Keep safe.

    On this day: -

    • 1796 - English country doctor Edward Jenner administers the first inoculation against smallpox, using cowpox pus, in Berkeley, Gloucestershire
    • 1870 - The first game of rugby is played in New Zealand between Nelson College and the Nelson Rugby Football Club.
    • 1897 - The Stars and Stripes for ever is first performed in Public at Willowgrove Park Phillidelphia
    • 1939 - Linda Medini becomes the World's youngest confirmed mother in medical History at the age of five.
    • 1948 - Israel declares independence from British administration.
    • 1955 - Eight Communist Bloc Countries sign a mutual defence Treaty called the Warsaw Pact.

    12th May #2

    My utmost admiration to the whole Club who enabled this and to Narek, Andrew and Jim for facilitating it. This is what £600 worth of aid to the foodbank looks like!

    12th May

    How time flies! This will be the 52nd post on this site since the beginning of the lockdown. I don't think any of us thought at the beginning just how drawn out this issue was going to be.

    John Struthers tells me that he has been to the doctor: -

    On the other hand my very kind neighbour sent me some fertiliser the other day: -

    The benefits of Country Living show no bounds!

    On this day: -

    • 1789 - William Wilberforce makes his first major speech on abolition in the UK House of Commons, reasoning the slave trade morally reprehensible and an issue of natural justice.
    • 1937 - The Duke of York is crowned King George VI.
    • 1940 - Nazi blitzkrieg and conquest of France begins with the crossing of the Muese River.
    • 1941 - Konrad Zuse presents the Z3 in Berlin. The worlds first working programmable fully automatic computer.
    • 1943 - Axis forces in North Africa surrender
    • 2002 - Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives in Cuba for a five-day visit with Fidel Castro becoming first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since Castro's 1959 revolution.
    • 2008 - Wenchuan earthquake, measuring 7.8 in magnitude occurs in Sichuan, China, killing over 87,000, injuring 374,643 and leaving homeless between 4.8 million and 11 million people.

    11th May

    It's Harry Johnston's birthday today. And its a big birthday! Happy birthday Harry! You won't be able to celebrate the way that you might otherwise have done but enjoy yourself anyway.

    11th May is also the anniversary of our trip to Nottingham last year to the RIBI Conference.


    On this day: -

    • 1310 - 54 members of the Nights Templar are burned at the stake as heretics.
    • 1812 - Waltz introduced into English ballrooms. Some observers consider it disgusting and immoral.
    • 1812 - British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons, London. Ironically, descendants of both later elected to Parliament at the same time.
    • 1820 - Florence Nightingale was born.
    • 1940 - Harry Johnston was born!
    • 1987 - The first Heart-Lung transplant takes place in Baltimore.
    • 2000 - India's population officially reaches 1 billion - Astha Arora named India's billionth baby.

    10th May

    I believe that Andrew has had an accident with electricity! He sent me photographs with no explanation. I can only assume that they are before and after him sticking his finger in an electrical socket.


    Or maybe there's another explanation?

    Jim Watson's daughter Joan has been doing a weekly shop for them since lockdown. On Thursday she emailed to say "don’t have lunch I will get you a treat!" Jim and Anne expected something with the shop from Tesco but at midday a charming Irish gentleman delivered a wonderful afternoon tea from Finnigans in Vicar Street. Joan came round and they had a lovely socially distant tea in the garden.

    On this Day: -

    • 1752 - Benjamin Franklin tests the lightning conductor with his kite-flying experiment.
    • 1863 - General "Stonewall" Jackson dies 8 days after being accidentally shot by his own Confederate troops.
    • 1935 - My big sister Jean is born. Happy birthday Jean!
    • 1954 - Bill Haley and his Comets release Rock around the Clock The first rock and roll record to reach number one in the Billboard Charts.
    • 1963 - Decca signs Rolling Stones on advice of Beatle George Harrison.
    • 1975 - Sony introduces the "Betamax" Videorecorder in Japan.
    • 1994 - Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa's first black President.

        9th May

        I managed to cut the hedge yesterday! In the process I lost a screw from the blade of the hedge trimmer. It's lying somewhere among oodles of hawthorn clippings. I managed to find another that would do but have been advised that I might also have lost a spacer without which if I tightened the screw and tried to use the trimmer again it would probably seize up. That in my view is a perfect excuse not to be cutting any more hedges!

        We had our weekly family quiz on Zoom last night. It's always great fun and President Jim has asked me to put a quiz together for next Thursday's meeting. Of course we will only run it if all those present are happy to participate. I spoke to George Honeyman after the meeting yesterday. He was annoyed that he couldn't get into the meeting but he had been using the link from last week. I pointed him towards the link that June sent out for the repetitive meetings and he looks forward to being there on Thursday.

        During the course of the Zoom meeting last night Wendy (my daughter) told us that Jorja (her daughter 9 yo) was becoming curious about her wine. Wendy asked her to smell it and tell her what she thought it smelled like. Jorja sniffed pensively and replied "It just smells like Granny's House"!!!!!

        On this day: -

        • 1386 - Treaty of Windsor between Portugal and England (oldest diplomatic alliance in the world still in force)
        • 1941 - British intelligence at Bletchley Park breaks German spy codes after capturing Enigma machines aboard the weather ship Muenchen.
        • 1960 - US becomes the first country to legalize the birth control pill.
        • 1986 - Tenzing Norgay dies.

        8th May

        Lots of stuff this morning: -

        Firstly and most importantly, it's not only John Struthers's birthday today it's Margaret's birthday too! How cool is that. John tells me that having his birhday on VE day brings back memories of the locals having a celebration bonfire in the middle of the road at Wall Street / Watling Avenue in Camelon! Obviously that not only melted the tar but left a gaping hole in the road for the following morning.

        About 5 or 6 years ago I was told to change my life style because my cholesterol was too high! There were the usual references to alcohol and exercise but I changed by shunning butter and margarine in favour of a spread that reduces cholesterol. It worked!

        Fast forward five years and, one chicken and a chicken dinner later: -

        The chicken cost me £3.00! we had our dinner last night with the legs, put two breasts in the freezer for another meal and made 10 plates of soup, eight of which will be in the freezer in the ubiquitous spread containers. And, no! Benecol is not paying me for this!

        Yesterday I cut one hedge! This is the other side of the garden this morning. If my achievements can match my aspirations I will post an "after" picture of the same hedge tomorrow.

        On this day: -

        • 1660 - English parliament declares Charles Stuart to be King Charles II of England.
        • 1933 - Mohandas Ghandi begins a 21 day fast in protest against British Rule in India.
        • 1945 - V-E Day: World War II ends in Europe after Germany signs an unconditional surrender.
        • 1958 - "Dracula" film starring Christopher Lee as the eponymous vampire, directed by Terence Fisher is the first Hammer Horror film released
        • 1980 - World Health Organization announces smallpox has been eradicated.

        7th May

        I've been cutting my Hawthorn hedge today. Normally my son, Peter, would come and do that but this "social distancing" doesn't really help does it. The hedge is the best part of 8 ft high and 5 ft wide so it's not the easiest thing to attack.

        I've got one side of the garden done there's only the other side to do. I just do a bit at a time. There was a day when I'd blitz it in a oner. These days are gone.

        Andrew has asked me "When you nod your head and say "mmhhm!" in passive approval how do you spell that?" Well I suppose asking the question audibly is one thing! asking the question in the written word seems somewhat daft! Any takers?

        I got this on facebook. Posted by Ken Drummond from Larbert: -

        6th May

        I thought that I was the doyen of irrelevant nonsense but I have upstart competition in the shape of Andrew Niven who sent me this: -

        Before The 17th Century, almost all cultivated carrots were purple!

        The modern day orange carrot wasn’t cultivated until Dutch growers in the late 16th century took mutant strains of the existing purple carrot and gradually developed them into the orange variety we have today. Before this, almost all carrots were purple with some mutated yellow and white carrots. These mutations were rarely cultivated and lacked the purple pigment anthocyanin.

        It is thought that the modern day orange carrot was developed by crossing the mutated yellow and white rooted carrots as well as varieties of wild carrots, which are quite distinct from cultivated varieties.

        Some think that the reason the orange carrot (was there only one?) became so popular in the Netherlands was due to the emblem of the House of Orange coinciding with the ongoing struggle for Dutch independence during the 17th century.

        But it might also be that the orange carrots that the Dutch developed were sweeter tasting and fleshier than their purple counterparts, thus providing more food per plant and providing a better taste.

        This next bit Andrew didn’t send me but was obtained from “The World Carrot Museum” ( Now I bet you never knew that such a thing ever existed)


        o   Until approx. 200 BC: Prehistoric/Egyptians/Greeks: The seed carrot period.

        o   Between 200BC & 1100AD: Romans/ Charlemagne/ Middle Ages: The Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) – Skirret (Sium Sisarium) period.

        o   Between 1100 & 1600 Europe: The Anthocyanin carrot period. (purple/yellow/white)

        o   Between 1600 & 1950 The carotine carrot period (orange and other colours)

        o   1950 onwards: The F1 Hybrid period.

        Now don’t say that you don’t learn at this site!

        On this day: -

        • 1840 - World's first adhesive postage stamp, the "Penny Black", is first used in Great Britain.
        • 1889 - Exposition Universelle in Paris opens with the recently completed Eiffel Tower serving as the entrance arch.
        • 1937 - German airship Hindenburg explodes in flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 35 of the 97 on board and 1 on the ground.
        • 1954 - Roger Bannister becomes the 1st person to run a 4 minute mile, recording 3:59:4 at Iffley Road, Oxford.
        • 1960 - 20 million viewers watch the first ever televised Royal Wedding, of Princess Margaret to Anthony Armstrong Jones. (¶ Puir auld Peter (Townsend) was her choice but he didny suit the boys, so they sent him up the creek! From "the Coronation Coronach" in the Rebels Ceilidh Song Book. Sung to the tune of The Sash)
        • 1994 - Official opening of the Channel Tunnel

        5th May#2

        I don't know how I missed this yesterday: -

        Thirty-three years ago today, on May 4, 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Duarte decision that Rotary International must admit women into Rotary clubs. ...

        5th May

        I received my masks today from Wendy: -

        That's me kitted out for the shopping on Thursday. I knew that the sashes that I had kept from the Rotary International Convention in Glasgow would come in handy at some point.

        I am becoming impatient! Kind of like an expectant father! There is a bevvy of heavily pregnant hinds in the fields adjacent to the house and it's about this time of year that I would expect to see the first of the new fawns. I am quite sure that the actual fawns were modelled on Disney's Bambi. There is an uncanny resemblance that demonstrates just how clever these animators were.

        On this day: -

        • 1821 - Napoleon dies in exile in St Helena
        • 1891 - Music Hall (Carnegie Hall) opens in New York, Tchaikovsky is guest conductor.
        • 1905 - The trial of the Stratton Brothers begins in London in the first case where fingerprint evidence is used to obtain a conviction for murder.
        • 1955 - West Germany is granted full sovereignty by its three occupying powers.
        • 1965 - First large-scale US Army ground units arrive in South Vietnam. (It's a tourist destination now! can you believe that?)
        • 1973 - Secretariat wins the Kentucky Derby in 1min  59.4s which is a record that still stands today.
        • 1981 - After 66 days on hunger strike, 26 year old Provisional IRA member and British MP Bobby Sands dies in the Maze Prision. Nine more hunger strikers die in the next 3 months.

        4th May

        I was watching a recorded programme of Countryfile last night. It included an item about someone in the highlands making scents that were in some way or another related to the Highlands, the Countryside and the outdoors. One of the scents was labelled “Highland Pineapple”! The presenter observed (rightly in my view) that there would be little chance of coming across pineapple in the Highland Countryside. The response to that was “If you walk through a thick growth of Gorse you will smell pineapple!”. The last time I was in a thick growth of gorse (looking for a golf ball) all I could smell was blood! MINE!

        Gordon tells me that the mallard and her three offspring are still faring well. I think that the weather might just be kind enough as not snap back to the temperatures normally expected and these wee blighters will survive. That is if the mink ever leave them to prosper.

        Last night I watched our swallows, (four or five of them now) wheeling and diving about the sky like Battle of Britain spitfires gorging themselves on the clouds of midges that gather at that time of the evening. They are not about to starve.

        Later, after Countryfile, we watched BBC Young Musician Keyboard heat and I learnt a new word. One of the contestants was assessed by the (obviously well qualified) critic who was part of the presenting team thus: - “I was hugely impressed by his pianism!”. Maybe its just that I’m not a musician but I’ve never heard of pianism before. I like that word even although my aging version of the Oxford English Dictionary refuses to acknowledge its existence.

        On this day: -

        • 1776 - Rhode Island becomes the first American Colony to renounce alegiance to George iii
        • 1814 - Napoleon arrives on Elba to begin his exile
        • 1904 - Construction of the Panama Canal begins.
        • 1972 - "The Don't Make A Wave Committee," a fledgling environmental organisation founded in Canada in 1971, officially changes its name to the "Greenpeace Foundation"
        • 1979 - Margaret Thatcher becomes the first woman to be elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
        • 1932 - Al Capone begins an eleven year prison sentence for Tax Evasion.

        3rd May

        I don't know what happened yesterday! I think that I simply forgot to come here!

        On Thursday I posted a pattern for making your own masks. I was in the process of prodding Diane to see if she would maybe make some for us when my daughter called to ask for the sewing machine so that she could do just that. This is the result: -

        While transferring the sewing machine, materials and such it was necessary for me to drive to Wendy and Derek's home via the M80 this is it mid day Saturday who says we are not observing the lockdown?: -

        On this day: -

        • 1903 - Bing Crosby is born
        • 1926 - Britain's Trade Union Congress calls for the country's first ever general strike, begins at 1 minute to midnight in support striking coal miners, lasts 9 days
        • 1937 - Margaret Mitchell wins Pulitzer Prize for "Gone With the Wind"
        • 1945 - World War II: German ship "Cap Arcona" laden with prisoners sunk by Royal Air Force in East Sea, 5,800 killed - one of largest maritime losses of life.
        • 1978 - First unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail ("spam") is sent by a Digital Equipment Corporation marketing representative to every ARPANET address on the US west coast
        • 1999 - Stephen Hendry defeats Mark Williams 18-11 to win the World Snooker Championship for a record seventh time.

        1st May

        Well that's my screen wall finished now complete with inset butterfly.

        On this day: -

        • 1707 - Acts of Union came into force uniting England and Scotland to form the United Kingdom! "Sic a parcel o' rogues in a Nation!"
        • On that topic, Robert Burns's poem "Such a parcel o' rogues" was penned bearing in mind that a number of wealthy Scottish entrepreneurs had lost substantial amounts of money in the "Darien Venture" and it was they who were the subjects of the poem. Not the English as most people suspect. They sold Scotland down the river with the promise of reimbursement from the English purse!
        • 1851 - Queen Victoria opens the "Great Exhibition" in London.
        • 1931 - The Empire State Building Opens
        • 1941 - Citizen Kane premiers at the Palace Theater in New York.

        30th April

        I've just been out for our weekly shop. The recommendation is that one should wear a mask! I don't have one! Ever the optimist I went to the medicine cupboard thinking that I might find something that would fit the bill. When we had Diane's mum staying with us we had a number of packets of Large tubular bandages which were for her legs. Sadly Mae passed away but we still have a stock!

        I didn't use it though! It looks silly! When I got to the shop mask wearers were in the minority anyway. So! here is a pattern for making your own.

        There was a suggestion in one of the "News for Clubs" emails I repeat the content: -

        Finally I think there is a simple thing that we can do immediately, which would be positive and constructive.

        We could encourage our fellow Rotarians and wider community to use 40 mins of their unexpected free time to go online and learn basic lifesaving skills at no cost.

        Rotary District 1220's "Save a Life " Campaign developed a simple free online learning programme.  This takes 40 mins with a certificate at the end and is suitable for ages 10 to 100 !!

        This would have many benefits including building confidence and resilience whilst combating boredom !!

        I went to the address and qualified: -

        ON THIS DAY: -
        • 1789 - George Washington is inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America
        • 1852 - Calamity Jane is Born.
        • 1952 - Mr Potato Head is 1st toy advertised on television.
        • 1989 - World Wide Web (WWW) is first launched in the public domain by CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee
        • 1994 - Ayrton Senna Dies

        29th April #2

        I've been taking tuition on how to insert photographs in the editing window so these are just trials: -

        29th April

        Good morning all. I spent yesterday cutting and splitting a whole pile of logs that my friend Logan let me have, clearing space for some more. It occurred to me that the Country as a whole has this notion of people who are over 70 being "Vulnerable"! Well I for one am over 70 and certainly don't feel in the least "Vulnerable"

        LInda Pacitti, who always reads and comments on my blogs (much appreciated Linda) has sent me this! She says that Roberto sent it to her; perhaps recognising Linda in both categories.

        Being my ussual pedantic self however I notice that Ben Franklin wasn't much good at English seeing as how "there is a bacterium" or "There are bacteria" and I suppose the Irish whiskey market was huge at that time.

        On this day: -

        • 1899 - Duke Ellington was born
        • 1916 - Irish republicans abandon the post office in Dublin and surrender unconditionally, marking the end of the Easter Rising
        • 1945 - US Army liberates 31,601 people from the Dachau Nazi concentration camp in Germany
        • 1975 - USA begins to evacuate its citizens from Saigon in Operation Frequent Wind in response to advancing North Vietnamese forces, bringing an end to US involvement in the Vietnam War.
        • 1980 - Alfred Hitchcock dies.
        • 1990 - Wrecking cranes began tearing down the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate.

        28th April #2

        I have posted this on facebook because I thought that it was a great photograph (Do you think it has been doctored?) and a good laugh too! I notice that the chaffinch has a ring on too!

        28th April

        That burst of super weather during April has thrown up a few early birds! Literally in the first instance when Gordon told me about a sighting of newly hatched Mallards on the Carron.

        Secondly, while I know a wee bit about birds I know nothing about plants but Margaret tells me that this violet that she recorded last week is the first this year and its early too! I hope that the weather doesn’t turn nasty again. (Don't ask me why there are two images here! When I go the the edit page to remove one there are none!)

        On this day: -

        ·        1770 - Captain Cook lands at Botany Bay

        ·        1789 – Fletcher Christian leads a Mutiny on the Bounty.

        ·        2020 – Jim Cairns has similar thoughts about a Mars Bar

        ·        1902 - Using the ISO 8601 standard Year Zero definition for the Gregorian calendar preceded by the Julian calendar, the one billionth minute since the start of January 1 Year Zero occurs at 10:40 AM on this date.

        ·        1926 – Harper Lee is born (Author of “To Kill a Mockingbird”)

        ·        1940 – Glen Miller records “Pennsylvania 6-5000”

        ·        2004 - Shrek the sheep from Tarras, Central Otago, New Zealand, is finally shorn live on TV after 6 years avoidance; the fleece weighed 27 kg (60 lb)

        27th April

        Happy Birthday to Robert Hannigan who will be 77 today.

        Michael White has let me have his Screen Memories Quiz again: -

        He has very kindly included the answers too. If anyone is interested in the answers email me and I'll let you have them.

        On this day: -

        • 1667 - Blind and impoverished, John Milton sells the copyright of "Paradise Lost" for £10
        • 1865 - Steamboat "SS Sultana" explodes in the Mississippi River, killing up to 1,800 of the 2,427 passengers in the greatest maritime disaster in United States history. Most were paroled Union POWs on their way home.
        • 1904 - The Australian Labor Party under Prime Minister Chris Watson becomes the first Labor government in the world.
        • 1945 - Italian partisans capture Benito Mussolini at Dongo (Lake Como)
        • 1956 - Undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano, retires from the ring.
        • 1967 - R.C. Duncan patents "Pampers" disposable nappies.

        26th April#2

        I forgot!: -

        On this day: -

        • 1865 - John Wilkes Booth dies. Less than two weeks beforehand he had shot Abraham Lincoln in the head and had shouted "Sic semper tyrannis" (ever thus to tyrants) "The South is avenged". Having been tracked to, and electing to remain in, a burning barn rather than surrender to the authorities he was then shot and killed in the burning barn by Corporal Boston Corbett.
        • 1895 - Oscar Wilde sues the Marquess of Queensberry for libel over a sodomite slur!
        • 1954 - The New Polio Vaccine is given for the first time in a nation-wide polio vaccine test.
        • 1986 - An explosion and fire at the No. 4 reactor of Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine resulted in a nuclear meltdown.

        26th April

        It must be getting on for three years ago that I relieved George and Sheila Honeyman of a number of decorative concrete screen walling blocks in exchange for a donation to Wateraid. They have been lying in a pile at the side of the garage since then. Until the advent of Corona virus. I got this far over the last two days and then ran out of cement mortar. I have one more course to lay and then it’s done.

        Inglis responded to the post yesterday as follows: -

        “Life in Spain continues although children are now allowed out having been forbidden to leave the house for the past 6 weeks. We are Not!

        However, if you have a receipt to prove you’ve come from the super market with your daily

        case of Rioja, the police will let you through the road block but only with 11 bottles!

        Both well but look like being under house arrest for another3 weeks”

        25th April

        Through all of this it's easy to forget that Inglis and Katherine are still imprisoned in Spain. I am aware of their situation because they keep in touch and I appreciate their support for these daily blethers. Today Inglis has sent me a video which I have no idea how to embed here so I will post it on our facebook page. I think the jist of the Spanish is "We are all in this together!"

        Also Valerie Dillon who was included in the email with Morrisons' phone number says: -

        Ii received my shop yesterday Linlithgow is 8.5 miles from Livingston (limit 10 miles)  thank you!  You order from  a limited list (more than adequate) and pay on arrival.  Impossible like the other Supermarkets to get a "slot" so something to be said for being elderly and vulnerable. Linlithgow Link left me a cherry scone and roll at my door!  So with the volunteer service you gave the number for, all sorted!
        I hope othere have benefited from the numbers! Gorgeous day. Swallows arrived at my friends' in Boness yesterday.  They have the expected date in their calendar with a 4 day window.
        Have a great day keep safe,


        Jim Watson tells me that his younger Daughter is is working at the coronavirus testing centre at Falkirk Community Hospital. He sent a photograph of the team and asks us to identify his daughter (No prizes he says)

        And! On this day: -

        • 1792 - The Guillotine is first used in France to execute Highwayman Nicolas Pelletier.
        • 1917 - Ella Fitzgerald is born
        • 1953 - Francis Crick and Jim Watson's discovery of the double helix structure of DNA is published in "Nature" Magazine

        24th April

        They say that “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”! If that is the case, does it follow then that two swallows do?

        Rather bedraggled swallows.

        Yesterday saw the swallows’ arrival back in our garage after their mammoth journey from here last year in September/ October down the East coast of Spain all the way to Africa, South of the Sahara, and back. They can reach speeds of up to 35mph during the journey, travelling up to 200miles every day, but average about 16-22mph during this time.

        Few predators are agile enough to catch a swallow although hobbies and sparrowhawks are sometimes able to take swallows in flight. The biggest dangers they face are during their migration. They can be netted by humans as they cross Spain or die of starvation and exhaustion while Crossing the Sahara Desert.

        The birds that own our garage over the Summer months will raise at least two broods of 4-5  each year but mortality in the first year is 70%-80% which explains why there are only one or two pairs return each year. Most swallows don’t live longer than 3-4 years but the longest surviving recorded is 11 years.

        All the more remarkable to see these beautiful birds return to their place of birth each year totally intuitively.

        Last night saw the continuation of beautiful sunsets: -

        Valerie Dillon was provoked by yesterday’s remarks to write to me thus: -

        “Sandy, the mention of Hamilton Street took me back to my childhood   I have a poor memory but I did help in my Aunts shop at the top of the street on the left bagging sugar, patting butter, cutting the ration book tokens for the meagre rations, tins of broken biscuits. Hard times!

        My uncle had the licenced  grocers in the Main St. Customers paid into a "club" and it was queued out at Hogmanay   Competition was the Coop with their “divi”!

        My aunt’s best friend was Mrs Myles (butchers)  All before your time.”

        The photographs: -

        Well done Tom Curry for getting them both right on the second tranche of photoghraphs. Andrew and Gordon were the only two who were prepared to see their images on line for scrutiny!

        Thank you Gordon, Andrew and Tom.

        Finally, on this day: -

        ·        1184 BC - Traditional anniversary of the Greeks entering Troy in the Wooden Horse.

        ·        1558  - Mary, Queen of Scots marries French dauphin Francis.

        ·        1599 – Oliver Cromwell is born.

        ·        1916 - Easter Rising of Irish republicans against British occupation begins in Dublin.

        ·        1981 - Bill Shoemaker wins his 8,000th race, 2000 more than any other jockey.

        ·        1942 – Barbara Streisand is born!

        ·        1986 – Wallis Simpson dies.

        ·        1995 – Ginger Rodgers Dies.

        23rd April

        OK so only two people sent me photographs and only one of these two has hazarded a guess at the identity of the other. He actually had two goes (Three if you count his wife's) So here are the same two people much later in life (But much much earlier than today)


        On another note, my neice posted on facebook a few photographs of her garden which included some stained glass panels mounted within fencing. It reminded me that when we were renovating Hamilton Street in the late seventies I retrieved the following from the skip. It's a panel that would have sat on the inside of the lower sash of a sash and case window in flats whose front window was right on the edge of the footpath. It would have stopped nosey folk peering into your front room. Sadly this was the only one that I managed to retrieve. It's been lying in a cupboard all this time and Lisa has just given me some inspiration about what to do with it.

        22nd April #2

        I found this on Facebook and laughed!

        22nd April

        It's 10.4°C outside and that East wind is continuing to keep the perceived temperature lower than the bright sunshine would suggest. I recall about 1968 I used to travel from Camelon to Cumbernauld with two colleagues to work. One was an estimator and the other a retired Policeman come inventor of window ironmongery. They used to refer to the East wind of the ilk that we are experiencing as "a McGregor". I'd never heard of that phrase before then and have never heard of it since. Maybe some of you are aware of it and can enlighten us all about its oriigins.


        Great Stuff! Believe it or not I have contributors! And two of them have sent me photographs! Do you have any idea who these two are: -


        I'll post later photos of them both tomorrow.

        I now have a reply from LHS and will chat to Mhairi this evening to see how we can help. Her reply as follows:-

        We are manufacturing the visors at school with our 3D printers and laser cutter and since Monday also trialling surgical face mask straps.

        We were initially funded from donations of material which came in through a post on Strathcarron Hospice fb page and it has grown arms and legs since then.

        I aim to send you a much more detailed response later this evening.

        The visors are cheap to manufacture as the main components are polypropylene or acrylic with a PVC A4 size shield at the front. Each £70 can make up to 300 visors and Larbert round Table have just bought us £500 worth of polypropylene.


        On this date

        1564 - William Shakespeare is born

        1616 - William Shakespeare dies!

        1915 - 1st military use of poison gas (chlorine, by Germany) in WW I

        1928 - Shirley Temple is born

        1937 - Jack Nicholson is born

        1981 - More than $3.3 million is stolen from the First National Bank of Arizona in Tucson in the then largest US bank robbery in history.

        21st April

        It has been one month since I started posting these daily ditties! And one month since we began donating our lunch money for the Food Bank. Please try to do this its a fantastic way for us to remain effective in the face of this Scourge. With the addition of the money that we would otherwise be paying for Speakers' lunches we can provide in excess of £300 worth of supplies to the Food Bank every Month.

        In checking back to verify that it has indeed been a whole month I realise that yesterday’s post was very nearly a copy of one of the earlier ones only instead of flowers we had birds. So apologies for that.

        While I have been doing this I have been keeping an eye on Facebook for anything interesting and there appear to be a number of things always doing the rounds asking people to do stuff. The latest one is to post a photograph of yourself as a child and then as you are now for comparison. While I am not about to do that on Facebook I thought I’d just do it here. If any of you would care to reciprocate then email me with photographs and I’ll post them. In fact, wouldn’t it be fun if, once I had the photographs, I only posted the child photographs and asked you all to identify the adult. Then add the adult photographs after you’ve all had time to consider them. Here’s mine : -


        I have now had a response from Larbert High School by way of an email that I can correspond with about PPE rather than the Twitter thing which I don’t have. Apparently yesterday they shipped out their 25,000thVisor. I have replied to the email asking how we can help and also asking a few pertinent questions, (Least ways I think that they were pertinent) I will report back once they reply.

        This Day in: -

        ·        1509 - With the death of Henry VII, his eldest surviving son assumed the English throne as Henry VIII.

        ·        1838 – The birthday of John Muir largely responsible for the establishment of both Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park in California.

        ·        1918 - Manfred, Freiherr (baron) von Richthofen, Germany's top flying ace in World War I, was shot down and killed during a battle near Amiens, France.

        ·        1934 - The Daily Mail printed a photograph that reportedly depicted the small head and neck of the Loch Ness monster; the iconic image, widely known as the “surgeon's photograph,” sparked an international sensation but was later revealed to be a hoax.

        20th April

        Who would have thought that this would have dragged out as long as it seems likely to. I'm not complaining it's all for the good obviously. I looked out of the window this morning and the Forth Valley looked pretty much the same as it always does in fine weather. Beautiful! I think that we are very lucky staying where we do with the views and the wildlife. The odd passing slurry tanker takes the edge off it every so often but that's the price you pay for country living. This was the view from my bedroom window this morning. Lockdown or not it looks just the same.

        Over the piece I have tried to record as much of the wildlife as I can. In the following picture the top three photographs were taken this morning the rest are historical and form only a small fraction of what we are priveleged to share. The Sparrowhawk sat for quite some time apparently waiting on something to arrive at the feeder. He was obviously oblivious to the fact that it was empty and even if it hadn't been the fact that he was there made it a definite no go area.

        19th April

        Yesterday after I posted about my doughballs I got a lovely email from Anne Watson wishing that Jim had such culinary talents. She went on to talk about her Mother: -

        “My mother was born in Camelon in a little cottage on the Main Street possibly where the car park for the Beefeater is. As you crossed the bridge from Falkirk there was the bonded warehouse on the left and a big billboard and then the semi-detached cottages her maiden name was Yuill. The bowling green was at the back and during the war years my grandfather was the green keeper.  After she married and my father went to war we lived “Up the braes“ for about 16 years and then in Fairlie Street in Camelon for many years. My mother had a Cousin Jenny O’Neil who lived in Stirling Road and when we visited we played in the Cemetery.

        When you get old it is remarkable how much of your childhood comes back.”

        I remember Mrs O’Neil who stayed in one of the four in a block flats facing onto Nailer Road at the bottom of the Street as I recall. That is certainly on the way to the Cemetery which would have been accessed at that time by passing under the railway bridge and turning right on the North side of the railway.

        That got me to thinking. I remember that the Camelon Pigeon Racing Club (The Doo Club) had a cottage in the same area of Main Street where Anne’s Mum stayed, where they held shows. There was a steep incline down at the back to where the boolin’ green was and that allowed these cottages to have a very useful basement.

        Pigeon racing was fun. We would buy breeding stock and breed from that every year. The old bird races were first in the season. That is birds that were at least a year old. We would lift the bird from the nest and sit it in a basket where it could see the eggs lying unprotected. We’d then take the basket away out of sight of the nest so that the mate could sit on the eggs. They would fly like their life depended on it to get back to the nest.

        This is me in my mid teens

        We would take a basket of birds to the Camelon Railway Station on a Friday night where each bird would be identified by its aluminium ring (fitted very soon after hatching and not thereafter removable.) and fitted with a removable rubber ring with a number on it. That number was recorded against that of its permanent ring and the bird put in a communal basket.

        Once the baskets were filled they would be sent to their destination for release. The races got longer and longer as the season progressed starting at Lockerbie (63 miles) and ending in Nantes or Rennes (in excess of 500 miles).

        After release the birds would fly at an average speed of as much as 60 mph back to the home loft where the rubber ring would be removed and put in a capsule which in turn would be placed in a “Pigeon Clock”. The time that the ring was inserted would be recorded and stamped inside the clock which would have been sealed on the Friday night.

        Once all of one’s birds had been recorded in the same manner the clock in its entirety would be taken to the Doo Club to be opened and the times registered. Every individual loft would have had its own position recorded so that each had a specific distance from the liberation point to be calculated with the time that the bird took to cover it.

        The times were recorded by velocity in yards per minute and it was not uncommon for figures exceeding 1,600 to be so recorded.

        18th April

        Today is Robert Craigs brthday. It was remiss of me not to have recorded the fact that yesterday was George and Shiela Honeyman's Golden Wedding Anniversary.

        Yesterday also saw us consume the HotPot with doughballs: -

        It was only two wee tatties each honest!

        Yesterday was also #BatAppreciationDay! We have 18 species in the UK, including the pipistrelle in this picture!

        Bats really do get a bad rap, but did you know they're actually really important?!

        1. They're pest controllers! All bats in the UK only eat insects, and they eat thousands of them every night.

        2. They help us track changes in biodiversity! In the UK, some bats are used as in 'indicator species' by DEFRA to help measure targets around the population size of important species or the area of land managed for wildlife.

        3. Bats are pollinators! Around the world over 500 different plant species rely on bats to pollinate their flowers - including some species of mango!

        On RSPB reserves  16 of the known bat species found regularly in the UK have been recorded! RSPB Ayelsbeare Common in Devon has the highest number of bat species (13), and the rarest bat found on our reserves is the Grey long-eared Bat at RSPB Arne!

        And How's about this for amusement: -

        17th April

        I have just read over what I wrote yesterday! "Dumplings"???? What on earth am I wittering on about! I never called them dumplings in my life before! They were "Doughballs".

        That reminds me of when I first began work in Wilson and Wilson in 1961. For a paltry £96 per annum (that's £8 per month or £6-18/4d per month after National Insurance contributions see photie) I was "Apprentice Architectural Draftsman" charged with the responsibilty of answering the door, making prints (copies of the drawings), running out for 40 Gold leaf for Bertie Wilson (Past President of this Club 1938-39) and running out to the baker in Manor Street for elevenses for the senior members of staff. Often I would hear the strains of "Some day my prints will come" emanating from Donald Ross's office as I sweated to fulfil my task copying drawings in an atmosphere of raw ammonia.

        We worked Saturday mornings then at 39 Vicar Street above the Bank of Scotland (Although I think it might have been the Commercial Bank then). On the floor above there were two Jewish ladies stayed; the misses Bulbin. The misses Bulbin would prepare their flat for Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) on a Friday and Billy Bryce and I took it in turns to ascend the stairs on a Saturday morning to light their fire which had been set the day before. For this we were rewarded with a cup of tea and a scone (again prepared and laid out the day before. And before anyone says anything we boiled the kettle and poured the water into a pre-prepared teapot ourselves).

        Anyhow I digress! Because we were at the pointy end of the Wilson and Wilson ship and were the first impression that anyone visiting the firm had of just what to expect beyond that portal, we were constrained to talk "properly". Now coming from Camelon I'd no idea that there was a "proper" and an "Improper" way to talk but I toed the line!

        One day I was standing at the bus stop in Ochiltree Terrace waiting on the number 86 bus that would take me to Falkirk to my work and was in conversation with one of my contemporaries (see? proper use of the word) with whom I had been at school when he announced "You've got awfy posh all of a sudden!" I was gobsmacked! It was my first realisation that one should temper one's language to accord with one's surroundings. Kind of like not telling jokes in a daft Japanese accent while being the guest of the Japanese Consul at the Consulate! (For Raymond Morton's benefit)

        So! enough of the "Dumplings" it's "Doughballs!

        16th April

        We had our ZOOM Council meeting with the following results: -

        • Our efforts with regard to assisting in the PPE Crisis is to be directed towards the initiative among the local High Schools headed up by Larbert High School. Sandy is to contact them to see how we can help.
        • Margaret and Sandy are in the process of handing over Treasurer Duties to Sandy and Sandy is in the process of handing over the secretary duties to June. This will all be achieved, hopefully within the next week. I will continue as PI, Editor and Webmaster! "AW NAW!" I hear you say! If anyone else cares to apply for the posts I will happily step aside.
        • It is hoped to have a Club meeting on ZOOM in two weeks time. You will be invited nearer the time but let me know how you feel about that. If you have an email address and are receiving these updates then you should be able to participate. President Jim and Andrew for instance took part in today's meeting by mobile phone! it's "Seemples"
        • I hate to quote the man publicly but Raymond says "If I can do it then anyone can!"
        What can I bleat about today?
        I am sure that Diane will not be upset at me divulging that because she cooked for me for over forty years, for the past 10-20 years I have been doing most of the cooking. Recently pretty well all of the cooking. I watched a programme last night about "Yorkshire Hot Pot" and so today I made a "Hot Pot". Cheap cuts of beef, vegetables stock all in a slow cooker. I even resolved to make Dumplings. I haven't had stew and Dumplings for ages.
        I was doing my weekly shop this morning and asked a young assistant at Tesco "Where am I likely to find suet?" "Sewet?" she says. "whit's that?" Fortunately before I was required to explain (and I might have had difficulty) another assistant says "In the next aisle!". Phew!
        Anyhow its been in the slow cooker now for four hours so I'd better get through and make the dumplings.

        15th April

        We will be having a ZOOM Council meeting tomorrow so if there is anything that you think we should be discussing let me know.

        The maths thing yesterday still remians up for grabs although I did get a few replies. Needless to say the replies didn't agree either.

        How's about the English language? It never ceases to amaze me that lots of people will say things like: -

        "The data was regarded in the same way by him and I as a contemporary phenomena"

        It took me a while to compose that sentence which includes the word "data" which is a plural and treats it as a singular. It includes the phrase "him and me" which should, to be grammatically correct, should be "him and me". It uses the word contemporary to mean modern when the Oxford english Dictionary defines it as follows this and finally the word Phenomenma is plural and should be phenomenon (if you consider "data" as singular)

        Contemporary: -

        1. adj. Living, existing or occurring together in time.
        2. adj. Equal in age
        3. adj. Occurring at the same moment of time or existing together at the same time.
        This from the roots - Con together and tempor time.

        I am prepared to accept that in modern usage the word "data" has been accepted as a singular in much the same way as "media" (plural of medium) has come to be accepted as a singular group noun. I am also prepared to accept that "contemporary" has become commonly used to describe "modern". BUT I am not prepared to accept the demonstrably bad grammar that has stemmed from a parental directive that was intended to eschew the use of the equally wrong phrase "Diane and me are going to the pictures".

        If you are in any doubt about what is correct then miss out the "Diane and" or the "him and" bits of the sentences and see if they still make sense.

        Rant over! Now for today in history: -

        1755 - Samuel Johnson's "A Dictionary of the English Language" published in London.

        1912 – RMS Titanic sinks at 02.27am.

        1955 - Ray Kroc opens first McDonald's Inc. fast food restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois.

        Famous birthdays: -

        ·        1452 Leonardo DaVinci

        ·        1894 Nikita Khrushchev

        ·        1889 Charlie Chaplin

        ·        1927 Benedict Xvi

        Famous deaths: -

        ·        1865 Abraham Lincoln

        ·        1912 Edward Smith (Captain of the Titanic)

        ·        1850 Madame Tussaud

        And finally did you know that Madame Tussaud, famous for her waxworks, perfected her art in the grimmest of 'schools' – the French Revolution - where she made models of guillotined heads.

        14th April.

        Some time ago my grandson tried to convince me that there was a hierarchy to the order in which mathematical calculations within a formula ought to be carried out. I asked him to tell me why that should be the case and he replied that that was what he had been taught in the maths class. That he actually believed the maths teacher was admirable but I could see no mathematical basis for the argument. This morning I have had a discussion on Facebook (my first ever). There was a post that asked what the result of the following calculation would be: -

        60+60×0+1 = ?

        My argument is 60 plus 60 times zero is zero! add 1 then you have 1 left!

        Others argued (Like my grandson) that the multiplication is always done first and consequently got the following result:-

        60x0=0 +60 +1 =61!

        Makes no sense to me! What happened to brackets?

        In my day we would have been constrained to order the calculation either like: -

        (60+60)x(0+1)=121  OR 60+(60x0)+1= 61 OR (60+60)x0(+1)=1 OR any other way that you might want to do it but it would be incontravertible.

        Is there a mathematician out there that can explain why people are thinking like this?

        Quote of the Day: -

        "I'd rather sit here admiring beautiful women and wanting what I don't have than having what I don't want!"

        Quote from Robbie Munro's father in +William McIntyre's books.

        On this day: -

        ·        1536 – Henry viii expropriates (dispossesses for public use) minor monasteries.

        ·        1721 - William Augustus (The Butcher) Duke of Cumberland was born.

        ·        1912 – RMS Titanic hits an iceberg off Newfoundland at 11.40pm.

        ·        1950 – The first edition of “The Eagle” is published.

        13th April Easter Monday #2

        I forgot all about this!

        13th April Easter Monday

        I was at a loss about what to post today until I remembered a video that Andrew sent me. The following is the transcript of the video: -

        A university professor asked a class what gender computers should be. He split the Class in two with the gents in one room and the ladies in another and left them to deliberate. After a while they came back with their hypotheses: -

        According to the men it should be feminine because: -

        • ·        No one except their creator understands their internal logic
        • ·        When they communicate with each other they speak in a code language that only they and other computers can understand
        • ·        Every mistake you make is stored on their hard drive for later retrieval.
        • ·        As soon as you commit to one you find yourself spending half of your pay cheque on accessorising it.

        According to the women it should be Masculine because

        • ·        In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on!
        • ·        They have a lot of data but still can’t think for themselves!
        • ·        They are supposed to help you solve problems but half of the time they are the problem.
        • ·        As soon as you commit to one you realise that if you had just waited a little longer you could have got a better model.
        And for Andrew (because he's already heard all of that) and  whose seventeenth Wedding Anniversary was yesterday: -

        On this day in: -

        1919 - British and Gurkha troops massacre hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in the Amritsar Massacre

        1928 - German pilot Hermann Köhl, Irish aviator James Fitzmaurice and Baron Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld, the expedition’s financier, complete the first Europe to North America transatlantic flight, taking off from Ireland and landing safely on a small Canadian island.

        1943 - Four convicts attempt to escape from the prison at Alcatraz. Two were drowned in San Francisco Bay after being shot and the other two were recaptured.

        1964 - Sidney Poitier becomes the first black actor to win the coveted Best Actor Oscar for his role in Lilies of the Field.

        1992 - Princess Anne files for uncontested divorce from Mark Phillips after 2½ years of separation.

        1997 - 21-year-old Tiger Woods wins for the first time, the prestigious Masters Tournament by a record 12 strokes in Augusta, Georgia.

        12th April Easter Sunday.

        What can I say? Our garden is devoid of children and everything is quiet. It gives me space and time to think! Easter is a lot like Christmas! The reason for the celebration is lost among all the easter eggs and bunnies. I suppose that the time of year cannot be coincidental! I don't know about the chronology of the Crucifixion and subsequent happenings or what time of year that it actually happened. There's something about different calendars that runs in my mind. Spring is, however, the ideal time to be celebrating rebirth and resurrection when you see all that is happening around us. I think that this enforced isolation will give a lot of people time for thought in that regard.

        Gordon Daly tells me about the regeneration in his garden: -

        Yesterday and today we have had a pair of Mallards wandering around. Yesterday they were parading back and forth along the decking outside our living room, pausing every so often to peer in through the glass, then they inspected our little pond before wandering off back down the bank to the river. Today they have been wandering about on the street, and twice landed on the top of a neighbours leylandii hedge. Looking for a nesting site I guess.
        The blue tits have started building in the nest box on our ash tree and the coal tits ditto in a hole in a tree across the river.
        The woodpeckers are still visiting the fat filled coconuts but not as often as recently, I guess the insect world must be wakening up.
        The newts in the pond are now in amorous mode, and the first pair of pondskaters have appeared.
        Now going out to cut the last of the brambles and with luck get them burned this afternoon.

        11th April #2

        I have just received an email from one of our members asking if I had contact details for another Rotarian in the District. I was easily able to respond positively. What I did was log into the Club web site, I clicked on DMS, I clicked on "Search and email", I entered the man's name and club (Although the Club wasn't necessary) and hit return! Voila! Name, Address, Telephone number and email address. Seemples!

        11th April

        Being cooped up like this I began to think about holidays or the lack of them. I am sure that you all have at one time been in a queue at the bag check at the airport and, when stepping forward to the desk, being asked “Did you pack this case yourself?”.

        Well I have been investigating my family tree for a while now and most of my ancestors were in the “Service” industry. Dairy maids, shepherds, House maids and the like. It got me to thinking; what’s the difference between a “servant” and an “employee”? I am sure that none of us has servants these days but I reckon that a “servant” is someone who does the stuff for other people that most of us would consider to be private and choose to do our self.

        I mean don’t get me wrong, having a butler is just the sort of thing that I could take to but sadly these days are gone. So! The next time I am asked “Did you pack this case yourself?” I am going to reply “Of course not! What kind of person do you think I am?”

        On another note, my sister from NZ sent me this. Apparently all sorts of bodily fluids emanate from the ardent cyclist and will trail in his/her wake! So, when out cycling, the way to avoid being engulfed by these malodourous emanations is to “Keep your Distance”. The chart tells you how far you need to be behind the source at different speeds to avoid collateral contamination.

        On this day: -

        ·        1814 - Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France abdicates the throne, and, in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, is banished to the Mediterranean island of Elba.

        ·        1960 - Jeremy Clarkson is born

        ·        1968 - US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs 1968 Civil Rights Act

        ·        1970 – Apollo 13, the third Lunar landing mission is launched

        ·        1979 – Ugandan dictator Idi Amin is overthrown

        10th April

        After a lengthy consultation with Chris, the mastermind behind the Rotary Web site Template, I have discovered that the problem was my browser. I have been using Firefox for ages and all of a sudden it is stopping me logging into the Falkirk Web Site. I can now get in easily with Microsoft Edge. If anyone has experience of a decent browser and can recommend I'd be happy to accept advice. Meanwhile: -

        I am reliably informed by my son that today is the 250th anniversary of the day after Captain Cook landed in Botany Bay! If I had done this yesterday it would have been the proper anniversary.

        On the 10th April: -

        1919 - Zapata was assassinated (With a moustache like that I'm not surprised)

        1953 - The worlds first 3D film opens in New York. House of Wax Starring Vincent Price.

        1963 - The atomic submarine USS Thresher sinks in the Atlantic killing all on board.

        1970 - Paul McCartney announces the breakup of the Beatles.

        And finally you will all have had an electronic Easter card from me which is just intended to keep in touch without the need for post offices and stamps and the like. I promise it won't happen again.

        8th April #4

        Nothing much of note happened on this date except

        • 1950 Vaslav Nijinski dies
        • 1973 Pablo Picasso Dies
        • 2013 Margaret Thatcher dies

        8th April #3

        This isolation thing isn't all bad! Not long after I last posted #2 I had a cry from the kitchen! "Sandy the Washing machine is broken again"! This had happened before! It would appear that something (probably a sock I thought) was stuck in the innards of the drainage system and every so often it choked the outlet. I had been unable to get the back off the machine so I just disconnected the drain pipe and blew down it! That had worked twice before but not this time. What to do?

        Is going out for a new washing machine a "necessary Journey"?

        Instead I opened the filter at the front and took it out but even though the machine was full of water nothing in the way of water came out! Odd! I thought. Then lying down on my side and shining a torch in to the orifice I see the problem! There's a £2 coin jammed beautifully in the bore of the drain being exactly the same size, if a micro millimetre bigger. It was jammed there by contact at the top and bottom of its circumference so when I poked it with a skewer it spun about the vertical axis like a throttle valve and I got two gallons of dirty water in my face.

        So! Lots of flooding and soaking up, but with a pair of long nosed pliers the offending object was removed. I'll keep it for you Jim. But the best bit is while I might be a wee bit soggy I do not have the expense of a new washing machine and remarkably I'm £2 richer. What's not to like about that?

        8th April #2

        During this isolation thing I've, like many others, been doing stuff that has been needing done for ages. Yesterday I decided to repair my Hi Fi which consists of a turntable on top of a controller amp on top of a tuner on top of a CD player which in turn sits on top of a tape player! We've had it for yonks!

        The trouble was that while the cd player was able to stack 6 cds and play them when requested, they had got stuck and nothing would play, go in, or come out! Anyhow properly taken to bits, cleared and rebuilt it worked and while looking for things to play on it I came across this.

        This was for a concert in 1972 to celebrate the Centenary of the Burgh of Grangemouth. We went specifically to hear the Master play the Villa Lobos preludes (second last bit of the programme.) some 2 minutes into the prelude number one someone in the audience sneezed. Andres Segovia stopped playing, looked scornfully at the sneezer, then back down to his guitar and started again. Such was his reverence for the guitar. He spent his life transcribing classical music written for other instruments just so that the guitar could be recognised as a proper orchestral instrument. The Greatest! in my view. But clock the remainder of the year's programme. Bob Spears tells me that there was a "Pop Concert" on at the Stadium which he attended. He doesn't say who headlined then.

        8th April

        You couldn't make it up! (By Gordon Daly)

        Oh yes you could.

        We got an ASDA delivery today. After the van had left we discovered that the two sherry bottles still had the security locks on.
        I phoned the ASDA 0800 etc help line to be connected to a lady in mid-west USA, who took my phone number and said someone would call me.
        Then I went to the ASDA web site. It said to call the local store and gave the phone number. I phoned and was welcomed by a machine which said that they were not answering the phone and to go to the web site.
        Circular internet.
        I then went to the web site of the makers of Bottlelox. It gave a phone number which was not answered and a link to someone who would answer a typed question. I explained what had happened and asked for advice.
        Still waiting for an answer.
        Then I went to my search engine where I found several U-tube videos made by folk who had obviously stolen bottles of booze and who gave instructions on how to open bottles which had Bottleloks fitted. I am not prepared to try any of them.
        My next door neighbours have offered to take the bottles back and if all else fails we might take them up on that.
        Maybe I need to set up a still and make my own booze. We can use the Carron for cooling water and we have enough shredded documents to keep a fire going for quite a time.
        Anyone got any spare copper pipe?

        7th April #3

        Inspired by Katherine's email I have revisited my collection of Vinyl begun 50 years ago. This one os 40 years old and my grandson loves it!

        7th April #2

        We have just managed to arrange the payment to Cycling without age. I received a response from Christine sayin that her tardiness in reply was due to the fact that she was just out of Hospital after having her gall bladder removed. I responded by saying that "Cholecystectomy" has got to rank way up there in the good excuses table. This was her response: -

        "Hi Sandy, 
        I can’t thank your club enough for considering us. It is very much appreciated and will indeed contribute to the purchase of a container to house two trishaws in the grounds of Falkirk stadium to take people with mobility restrictions around the Kelpies.
        Thank you! 
        I’m glad you appreciated my novel reason for tardy response! Unfortunately the procedure is hindering me more than I imagined. I’ve been in a fair bit of pain since as an infection was diagnosed after having to return to hospital just yesterday.
        However still feel fairly lucky in the grand scheme of things around the world right now.
        Keep well all of you! 
        Christine. X"

        7th April

        I've just had a great email from Andrew with a couple of facts about things that happened on this date historically. Good idea Andrew! I've added a few!

        On this day in: -

        • 1930 - The first steel columns were set for the Empire State Building
        • 1934 - The Scottish National Party was founded
        • 1966 - The USA recovered a hydrogen bomb that they had lost off the coast of Spain
        • 1968 - Jim Clark dies at Hockenheim
        • 2000 - President Clinton signed the Senior Citizens' Freedom to Work Act reversing a depression era law which forbade senior citizens to earn money without loss of retirement benefits.
        • 2020 - The world is in lockdown as a result of a COVID19 Corona Virus pandemic.
        I'm not sure what the weather was like at that time but in 1969 the temperature was 8.5C. (Pretty much the same as it is as I write.) The highest recorded temperature on this date is 21.4C and the lowest -3.8C.
        Now tell me what would you have done without all of this Knowledge?

        I don't have a suitable photograph today but if you look on the club facebook page (link at the bottom of the home page) I have posted an exercise video that Inglis sent me. Very useful piece of advice!

        6th April

        The other day, aware of the fact that I'm rabbitting on about what I am doing, I suggested that I was curious about how everyone was passing their time in seclusion.

        Gordon Daly has been busy!:-

        • Shredding Bank statements
        • Looking for somewhere to put the shreds
        • Read 2 books that had sat on the shelf for a while
        • Pruned the Cherry Tree (I don't know whether that's some sort of Euphemism)
        • Pruned the Crab Apple
        • Planted Garlic and Onions
        • Cleared Brambles form the river's edge
        • Looking for somewhere to put the clearings
        • Found TV Channels that he never knew existed
        Tom Curry Has also been busy
        • Gardening
        • Cleaned the gutters on the shed and the Greenhouse
        • Washed out a manhole
        • Sunbathed.
        I know that Robert Craig has been hard at work with his mossmower and I need to do the same thing. While I was in the garden the other day contemplating just that, I saw literally hundreds of geese overhead. Immediately I took this photograph of them travelling North East they all turned round an went back the way they came!

        5th April.

        Isn't this weather great! I have power washed the deck, cleaned and deployed the Barbie and tidied my study. It's amazing what you can find when you least expect it! I've no idea how this managed to find its way down the side of the sofa! We were 5or 6 years into decimalisation when we moved here!

        Anyhow I have also planted some rocket and hope to be harvesting this time next month. It says on the packet "Remember small sowings every three weeks ensure a continuous supply"

        So having done all of that time for a wee bit R&R

        If things aren't bad enough, I have it from a good source that terrorists have planted small bombs in hundreds of tins of alphabetti Spaghetti in the supermarket shelves. If these go off it could spell disaster!

        4th April

        It's my parents' Wedding Anniversary today! but I am an orphan, so there's no need for me to worry. Thinking about them though brings back memories of 3 Stirling Road in Camelon. My formative years include the Fishmonger who had a wee van with an open flat back where the fish was kept. He always came round to the back door. He'd climb the steps, knock the door and then retreat to the bottom before anyone answered. He was an extremely mannerly man I recall.

        Andrew has been reminiscing too! He sent me this: -

        If you are anything like me then if you cast your mind back to around 7am or so up until the late 80s you'd be very familiar with the jingle of milk bottles and the heavy clunk as they were placed on the doorstep. There's almost certainly a couple of foil topped glass milk bottles there, full of milk and replacing the empties that you'd put there the night before. Some of the tops may have been pecked, mainly by bluetits, although if you left some plastic cups by the bottles the milkman would have popped these over the top of the bottles to protect them. (I've no recollection of this bit! did we have "plastic cups" then?)

        Andrew also adds "If anyone needs anything delivered or collected call, text or email Andrew or Gillian we'd be happy to help"

        3rd April No 2

        Making up for yesterday:

        I have access to a paper, given to me by my niece, written by Vincent C.C. Cheng, Susanna K.P. Lau, Patrick C.Y.Woo and Kwok Yung Yuen for the American Society for Microbiology in 2007. It is a 694 page document. The paper is copyright protected and attributable solely to them. An extract from the conclusions (on page 683) reads as follows: -

        "Coronaviruses are well known to undergo genetic recombination which may lead to new genotypes and outbreaks. The presence of a large resevoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb.

        The possibility of the re-emergence of SARS and other novel viruses from animals or laboritories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored"

        This was published 13 years ago!

        3rd April

        A slight hiccup yesterday and earlier today meant that I couldn't log into the Template. Problem solved! they were doing "Maintenance"! I have however tried to continue my daily contact with you all by email the latest of which was this morning in which I made refernce to what we were doing to while away the time in isolation.

        I am thinking now that it would be good if you were to let me know what you are doing. I could then let everyone else know.

        We told CHAS that we couldn't give them any meaningful cash and offered them £52 being the cash that we haven't paid for speakers' lunches. I got the following lovely response: -

        "This is so very kind of you and your group. It is a difficult time right now and we completely understand the decision to primarily help your local Community. To even be considered and the savings to come to us it means a lot.

        KIndest regards

        Kirsty Moran."

        To add to my worries, my doctor has told me that I have to stop drinking. That will be a huge change for me because he has been my doctor for at least 20 years.

        Ist April

        Just as I typed that it ocurred to me that the date might be considered significant when you see the photo that I'm about to post. I did the weekly shop this morning and visited the Co-op in Bonnybridge. The place was deserted. Miriads of roller shutters on shop fronts. Admittedly two of them were bookies but the majority of the others are takeaways. There's at least three Indian, Two Chinese an Italian and two cafes all within a couple of hundred yards. I presume that the population of Bonnybridge is now taking lessons on home cooking because I could get none of my store cupboard stuff when I tried.

        The photo of Bonnybridge High Street was taken "pano" with my phone and the chap in the front walked past as I took the photograph. I'm afraid that I must have missed one of his legs (he certainly had two) and his head appears to have been misplaced but Hey Ho on the way home I was reminded about the quote in my latest edition of Rotary Calling "Beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from Negativity"

        Sorry about the quality of the photograph but they were running away from me and I didn't wish to disturb them further.

        31st March,

        Three months of the year gone already! and with all of this going on I have forgotten all about our monthly magazine Rotary Calling! That's next on the agenda. I have been fortunate in  having contributions to this daily Blog from Lots of folk, the latest being Gillian Niven who has sent me this: -

        Aparently Gillian met Jenny at RYLA and says she's a force to be reckoned with.

        On the news front Inglis tells me that he and Katherine are locked down in Spain and that two return flights that they had booked were both cancelled. He says it looks like they are stuck there for a while but the local food and WINE (his capitals) suppplies are Good. Both are however healthy and well.

        And finally a moral booster: -

        30th March

        It's amazing what extreme conditions like we are experiencing currently can do. All of a sudden I realise that my bank balance isn't reducing like it usually does! That got me to thinking about what I would normally be doing that I'm not doing now. The notion that one should only venture out for "necessities" looms large in that thought process. Last week when I went for our necessities I stood on the mark in the queue for the checkout and was aware of a chap behind me whose only purchase appeared to be two 24 can packs of budwieser which he was having difficulty carrying. I jokingly said "We are only supposed to be shopping for necessities" to be met with the reply "these are necessities".

        Round about this time of year we'd also be buying Easter eggs for our annual hunt in the garden when all of the grandchildren would be here! Not this year. But then what's necessary about these things? Nothing. This lockdown has focused my mind on just what things are really necessary. Not eating out, not drinking wine, not theatre going, not indeed, anything to do with solely having pleasure. Although having said that there is one thing that springs to mind on the pleasure front that might just be considered to be necessary!

        Stay safe it looks like we are in this for the long haul.

        29th March

        I have it from a reliable source that our Police force is being asked to operate as normal with NO PPE! Surely someone has lost his/her reason. How can you ask the Country to stay indoors, stand and applaud the NHS, avoid social contact at all costs and still expect our Police to carry on as usual with no protection. Admittedly there will have been a sharp fall in the Housebreaking figures but can you imagine apprehending an offender of whatever nature while maintaining a 2m distance or trying to stay 2m away from the passenger of your Patrol Car?

        That's my Grump for the day. I looked out of my bedroom window this morning and was presented by Forth valley in all its glory. OK it might be infected but that doesn't take away from the beauty of it.

        28th March

        It's not getting any better is it? I was given a book by my sister in law "Sapiens A brief History of Humankind" by a chap called Yuval Noah Harari. I got half way through it and laid it aside. It wasn't until I saw him on the tele last night that I decided to return to read the rest. The book is about who we are where we came from and where we are headed.

        It was obvously written before this Pandemic but curiously last night he took the view that what we are doing now will change the Human race for all time coming. Universities have been considering distance learning for decades, he says, all of a sudden they made it happen within a week!

        Is it possible that we as a race will recede into the depths of technology to the effect that we no longer need physical social interaction? I hope not!

        27th March

        It is widely believed by those in the know that when Robert Burns referred to "Daisies" he was referring to what we know today as Daffodils or Narcisssi. This time of year always brings to mind his lines in "Epistle to Davy, a Brother Poet" when he says: -

        "In days when daisies deck the ground, and Blackbirds whistle clear, with honest joy our hearts will bound to see the coming year!"

        Despite all of the hardships and constraints put upon us by Covid 19 Mother Nature continues in her relentless regeneration nonetheless. My spirits are lifted when I walk round the garden and see the evidence of this.


        26th March

        Staying where we do it has only just occurred to us that not a lot has changed since we were constrained to "stay at home" . This morning however I tired of watching the continual repetitive reporting about Covid 19 and started scrolling through the channels to see what else was on the tele! I normally watch the news while I'm having my breakfast but like I say I tired of it.

        ITV3 "Man about the house" 50 year old classic comedy that never gets less funny. Then it struck me that the beautiful Paula Wilcox, the perfect middle class foil to Richard O'Sullivan's baser instincts, and her classic "blonde" flatmate Sally Thomset are both, like most of us, in their seventies and somehow or another the characters have not aged!!!!!!! Well worth a visit.


        I'm going to look for more of it.

        25th March.

        It occurs to me that being isolated as we all are we might not all have the incentive to rise in the morning and make an effort to look good! After all why bother when no one else is going to see us. I have this image in my head of a whole pile of gorillas queueing up at the hairdressers after this is all over.

        For my part I take a great pleasure in doing quite the opposite! Shower shave shampoo all the four "sh"s aftershave, pedicure - the works! Take my socks for instance.

        No one is going to see them (Well not unless I post the photo on a web site or something) but I got them for Christmas and it makes me feel good wearing them. They are called "Happy Socks"! Everyone could be doing with a dose of "Happy" these days.

        On another note President Nominee Linda says: -

        "Hallglen Primary School is providing a "Grab and Go" lunch box for all pupils! No need to be a pupil at Hallglen. The facility is for all pupils in the Catchment area. From looking at Twitter it would seem that most Primary Schools are doing the same."

        24th March and even more Draconian measures imposed! Not without reason I say. Diane and I are managing quite well, as I said yesterday, our freezer is normally fairly well stocked but I visited Tesco in Camelon this morning for essentials like bread and milk.

        I managed to buy almost everything I sought, apart from of course toilet rolls, but was amused to find that the shelves where the root ginger and Tomato puree might normally repose were starkly empty. Who stockpiles root ginger? And Tomato puree? I ask you who would have thought that the resident population of Camelon were so gastronomically gifted that they cook from scratch chinese and italian meals?

        Not to worry! I was heartened to note that they have stuck striped black and yellow sticky tape on the floor at the checkout every 1.5m so there are wee boxes within which you must stay to keep your distance.

        Now that I remember (a lightbulb moment) that's where I've heard the phrase before! The institute of Advanced Motorists advise you to recite "Keep your distance" twice while following another car. If you pass the point where the other car was when you started reciting before you are finished you are too close!

        Watch this space and don't hesitate to contact me or any other Club member if you feel the need for whatever reason. Keep well.

        Its the 23rd March!

        Diane and I have been managing to comply with the regular advice being given by all of the relevant authorities. We normally keep the freezer well stocked so we are simply working our way through its contents. I can't understand why there is a compulsion to stockpile toilet paper. It's not as if you would die if you suddenly ran out of it. After all we didn't always have toilet paper.

        Did you know that paper was invented by the chinese? and so it's not a stretch of the imagination to understand that they also invented toilet paper. The earliest recorded use of paper for personal hygiene is in China in the sixth Century. (AD that is) but it wasn't until the 14th century that, during the Ming Dynasty, they started to manufacture it specifically for that purpose. (Thinks!!! is that where the word mingin' comes from?)

        In 1393 the Court ordered 720,000 sheets each 600mm x 900mm for the personal use of the Emperor.

        The Emperor Hong Wu was particularly delicate in his habits and ordered 15,000 sheets especially soft and perfumed for his own use.

        What you might have used before that depended on where you lived and your status within that community. If you were wealthy you might have used wool or a soft washable rag. The Romans used a wet sponge on the end of a stick. If you were not so well off a fistfull of grass, leaves or straw did the trick.

        In some parts of Europe even today the use of toilet paper is considered dirty and unhygienic. The preferred option is a thorough wash in a bidet or such like thing.

        Many places in the world rely simply upon the use of flowing water in a river or stream which not only carries the waste away but also allows washing at the same time. In India and parts of the middle East it is considered offensive to eat or pass food at the table with your left hand. It would appear that that is the hand of preference for such personal hygiene.

        Thanks to from where all this interesting stuff came.

        Good morning all,

        Its mothers' day! although many of you will be missing your family coming to you rather than missing a visit to your mum, it's still one of these times when family would normally gather together. I have just finished setting up a ZOOM meeting between Diane and our kids. The Grandkids loved the idea.

        The weather seems to be trying to make up for the general misery attaching to this distancing stuff. The daffodils are growing in strength and number by the day

        and my EPN crocuses are flourishing.

        It's agood time to get stuck in about the gardening! But then its also a good time to sit on ones rear end with a good book.

        It's Saturday 21st March 2020

        How are you all feeling today? The situation with this virus seems to be escalating daily but there's no reason to get down about it. Even a youngster like me can remember sticking pennies on the frost on the window just so that we could see outside. No central heating, only one loo (and maybe even that outside) and no toilet paper either, just torn newspaper tied through a hole in the corner with sisal string.

        Don't forget that you need to keep well. Enjoy the fresh air (just not too close to anyone else) Even if its just for a quick walk round the park.

        If you are one of the many who are finding themselves working from home keep an eye on your sitting posture and try not to sit for longer than 30-45 minutes before standing up and moving around. You might even try some star jumps.

        Linda Noble remembers leaner times too: -

        "I remember when I was wee, a horse drawn carriage that was a Bakers Shop, an old bus converted into a chip van. my mum filling the boiler and heating the water and carrying pans of water to the bath in the summer when the coal fire wasn't on"

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