Friday, 24 April 2015
I know a number of regular churchgoers who are capable of some unfriendly acts. On a Sunday, they go to church, confess their sins (silently) and obtain full forgiveness. From Monday to Saturday they can be selfish, unkind and dishonest, but the following Sunday they again confess their sins and obtain forgiveness. And so the cycle goes on.
I do my best every day to be humanitarian, kind and helpful. Sometimes, it is true, I fall short. I have nowhere to go to get forgiveness.
Who is the better person?
Wednesday, 8 April 2015
Tuesday, 7 April 2015
Sunday, 15 February 2015
Friday, 3 January 2014
My first thought is to look backwards - 100 years in fact. Did those who welcomed in 1914 have any idea what was about to be unleashed upon the world? Did they thing that something that happened in Sarajevo would embroil the world in a four-year war? I doubt it.
Yes at the start of 2014, we have escalating conflict in so many part of the world. Whether it be Africa, Asia or Indo-china, there are tensions that could easily and quickly spill over into full out war. In the meantime, a small proportion of the world is getting richer and a large proportion is getting poorer. Millions are obese - yet millions go hungry. We are killing our wildlife and warming our planet. It is not a good scenario.
Anything I decide about my life sounds somehow trivial after that. I do not have a raft of resolutions. The main one is to be more productive with my life and be much more disciplined with my time. Less of letting time slip by and more filing time with useful and enjoyable things. No major change, just minor tweaks. Live every day rather than live one day many times.
And remember - 'As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are; otherwise you may miss most of your life'.
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
I have some what neglected this blog but hopefully I will return to it in 2014.
We are currently over in Spain and heading out to celebrate New Year in Alhaurin El Grande with friends and neighbours.
I need to make some resolutions for 2014, of which more later. In the meantime, I wish all friends and family a very Happy New Year.
Friday, 28 June 2013
In the meantime we are enjoying the sunshine, conversation with our new friends and exploring new towns and new restaurants. Last week we spent a few days near Tarifa and had an enjoyable day at Cape Trafalgar, where the famous battle took place.
Back now in the House near Alhaurin El Grande.
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
In February, just after I had taken the decision to retire but when I was still snowed under with work, I got a call from Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin to say that my Dad had been admitted and was in a serious condition. He was in a 'do not resuscitate' regime.
I flew straight up to Aberdeen and was at his bedside late that day. He was perfectly lucid and pleased to see me. But he was also very frail. I stayed with him for the next 48 hours as he slowly slipped away and on Monday February 18th he died. He was 96 years old and had had a good life. The last few months were challenging for him, and he was ready to go.
My Dad was born in Plymouth on 1 July 1916 - the first day of the battle of the Somme. He came up to Scotland in 1947 and stayed there ever since. We had the funeral service in Keith and I was pleased by how many people came along, even though most of his friends had died over recent years.
His passing marks the end of an era - the end of a generation in my family.
This week I have been going through old photographs trying to put them in some sort of order and into albums. But of course this has not been easy; each photo captures a moment in his life and each photo cased me to reflect on that life.
Rest in Peace, Dad. I am grateful to you for so much.
Saturday, 8 June 2013
On the first day of retirement, I played 6 sets of tennis for Hertford and, after hurting my leg early on, can now hardly walk. Not a great start.
I have then had a few days of administration stuff - clearing rubbish out of the flat, getting paperwork in order, filing old photos (of which more later) etc.
And lots of time to reflect. Trying not to be guilty about lost opportunities in the past or worried about uncertainty in the future. I think this reflection has been necessary before moving on. Which I am ready to do.
Saturday, 1 June 2013
It is probably not appropriate to list the work-related ones here. Suffice to say that I was under great stress, feeling under-supported and came to the conclusion that resigning was the only option. I was asked to stay on until the end of May, which I have done.
The personal reasons are also many and varied. A couple of close friends have recently died; that concentrated the mind. On the positive side, we bought a house in Spain and I want to be able to spend more time in it. I am also keen to start to do more creative things with my life but didn't have the time.
Yes I have retired earlier than I had intended. Yes that means that finances will be tight. But I hope I still have the energy and the mental ability to move on to new experiences. I'd like to take a few months to chill out then make positive decisions about the future. I hope that future includes travel, new friends, new accomplishments, time in Spain and generally a new control over my life. And I hope I can share some of them here.
Monday, 31 December 2012
2012 was a mixed year. Work was constantly stressful; I had a number of minor but frustrating physical injuries; there was a feeling of not being entirely in charge of my destiny. However there were good times. I loved the Olympics. We went to Iceland, Spain (many times), Italy, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine and Bulgaria. And of course we bought a house in Spain. I enjoyed games of golf and tennis. We had some good theatre and concert visits. And Andrew kept me sane.
2013 has the potential to be a difficult year. And also the potential to be a life-changing year in a positive way. I guess that all depends on whether I can take big decisions or whether I delay those decisions. Do I take the risks inherent in making those decisions, or take the safer way forward? I probably need to decide that within the first month of the year.
As for resolutions, most of those need to be ones I can reasonably achieve. And they are all based round my health and fitness. Less eating, less alcohol and more exercise. It sounds simple to say but it harder to actually do.
But I think if I can improve my health and well-being, I can then have the energy and drive to make the necessary decisions and to do so for my own sake rather than for the sake of others. I am not suggesting that I need to be selfish or self-centred but I do need to be self-reliant and more instinctive.
So lets confront issues and solve them. Onwards and upwards.
Wednesday, 26 December 2012
Monday, 24 December 2012
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Friday, 9 November 2012
We boarded the Queen Elizabeth in Venice after a fascinating couple of days in the city. We then visited Mykonos, Olympia, Istanbul, Odessa, Yalta, Nessabur, Izmir and Santorini. Some I had been to before, some were new to me. Andrew and I were quite adventurous and took local transport rather than organised shore excursions. That worked well and got us away from the endless series of coaches and away from the crowds. We had coffees and beers in local cafes, and spoke to locals. Odessa and Yalta were much nicer than I had expected. The weather throughout was great. And we had a good couple of days in Athens before flying back to to the UK.
Pied Piper Travel gave us a ready-made crown of like-minded friends. Not having to pack and unpack was wonderful. Our cabin was spacious and had a balcony. So yes I would go on a cruise again. I certainly came back feeling refreshed and invigorated.
Sunday, 26 August 2012
Work is getting busier and more stressful. I try to use my time off properly but find myself increasingly tired and just needing to relax quietly.
However things have moved on in Spain. In June we were there for 10 days and looked at a few houses. One was a bank reposession and we decided to put in a low offer. It was accepted.
So last week we went back to Malaga to sign the legal deeds. We now own a house near Alhaurin De La Torre. Scary - but exciting.
It needs a full clean and some cosmetic work before we can move in. We will still be working in the UK for the next couple of years but hopefully we can spend gradually-increasing time in Spain, espcially in the winter. I am so looking forward to that.
Monday, 21 May 2012
In future I will try to do everything with a good grace. If I have to do something I don't want to do or something I am annoyed at being asked to do, that is no reason not to do it as well as I can with as much enthusiasm as I can. Others do not need to see my annoyance. Grumpiness is not helpful. A smile is.
I must make a new will. I want to try to protect my future and have enough to live on for many years. But if I have any assets remaining when I shuffle off this mortal coil, they should go to the person(s) or organisation(s) of my choosing.
Wasting time, when there is so little of it, is not clever.
I should never take the love of others for granted. I must ensure that I tell people when I love them and tell them when I am grateful for something they have done for me.
Age gives me an opportunity to be the person I am and not the person others want me to be. I need to take that opportunity.
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Thursday, 3 May 2012
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."
That gives me something to work on during the next decade. I think I have already made a start to some of these. I hope I have.
Saturday, 25 February 2012
On the Saturday we went to Gulfoss Waterfall and the Geysirs, on Sunday we walked round Reykjavik before going to the Blue Lagoon and on Monday we did a trip to Snaefellsness. The scenery was amazing, the hot water pools were weird and wonderful and the weather was an interesting mixture of extreme cold, sunshine, snow and some rain.
Here are some of my photos.
The highlight? Not sure. The Blue Lagoon was relaxing and fun - swimming in driving rain was an interesting feeling. Stopping in Sneafulness and walking through a snow-covered lava field to a warm pool in which we soaked, despite the snow, was memorable. And the ethereal light over snow-covered mountains in the early evening was magical. I'd like to return.
Friday, 17 February 2012
We are on a 'Northern Lights' weekend. And the chances of seeing the northern lights appear to be quite good. That tour takes us outside Reykjavik tomorrow night. The weather forecast is for mainly clear skies and the aurora forecast states the following -
Auroral activity will be active. Weather permitting, active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Tromsø, Norway to as far south as Umea, Sweden and Trondheim, Norway, and visible low on the horizon in Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki.
So, fingers crossed.
Even if we don't see the northern lights, I am looking forward to the weekend. It will be a busy one. On Saturday during the day, we take a Golden Circle tour. Then we are meeting a friend of ours, Gudrun, before the Northern Lights tour.
On Sunday we are heading for a swim in the Blue Lagoon.
And on Monday, we take a GoEcco tour of Snaefellsness.
And during the weekend there is a LGBT festival in Reykjavik so we hope to find time to visit the gay bars, particularly Truno.
It should be fun and I am looking forward to it.
Then we return early Tuesday.
Friday, 3 February 2012
I have never had a diabetes test. However recently I have been experiencing some issues which are symptoms of diabetes, notably tiredness, bruising which is slow to heal, skin itches etc. Time, I reckoned, for a test.
On Thursday, a week ago, I firstly weighed myself. 13 stone 5 lbs. Not good.
Then I went off to Lloyds pharmacy for a diabetes test. Apparently a normal reading is between 4.2 and 4.5. A reading of 6.0 of above results in an immediate referral to a diabetes specialist. My reading was 5.9. Borderline. Defined as pre-diabetes. Scary.
I was asked to go back in a month and in the meantime improve my diet and increase my exercise levels. Not easy as in fact my diet is reasonably good. And I have a very sore left knee, so I cannot play tennis or go for a run at present.
But I will need to make some changes. Less wine. More vegetables. And, particularly, more fruit. I also had porridge for breakfast each day last week. And salads at lunchtime instead of sandwiches.
This morning my weight was down to 13 stone exactly. Which I guess is a good start. Now I need to work on reducing that still further. I will be really stressed if my diabetes reading has not gone down when I am tested again. Which I will have done towards the end of this month.
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Friday, 16 December 2011
I read an interesting post on Facebook from Tom Brooks quoting from a blog by Marc and Angel where they give practical tips for productive living. This listed 30 things which were described as things we should stop doing to ourselves. Normally I find such lists a bit trite, a bit superficial and a bit irrelevant. But this list is very powerful and,in my case, absolutely spot-on. So I hope they won't mind if I repeat it here as much for my benefit rather that for anyone who may read this. But you may find something useful here.
Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves. Read The Road Less Traveled.
Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive. But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either. You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else. Read Stumbling on Happiness.
Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place. Evaluate situations and take decisive action. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. Making progress involves risk. Period! You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. Ask yourself this: “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you. You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough. But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past. You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation. So smile! Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself! And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too. If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway. Just do what you know in your heart is right.
Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done. Read Getting Things Done.
Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t take the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.
Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well. You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out. But making one person smile CAN change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. So narrow your focus.
Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.