Clearing out the cobwebs

Big cheers for the gorgeous West Coast of Scotland today. Looking across to the Isle of Arran from Seamill, with salt air on the tongue, a Scottish breakfast that had included black pudding and haggis warming the tum, wind tousling one’s mop, the loveliest company, ever-changing light, and glad watching of the CalMac ferry to-ing-and-fro-ing are among life’s richest experiences …

Be a leader

Take the Lead

You choose how your life is going to be. Don’t let anyone make decisions for you unless they’ve got your head on their neck and your heart in their chest. Be a leader. A leader of your own life. And don’t get yourself to a point where you realize that you are on a road that is not your own. And, no, leadership does not mean that you have to be popular or have people following you. Being a leader is about leading your own mind’s logic and leading your heart’s reason. Be cognizant of the decisions that your mind and heart make, and your life will be much more meaningful and rewarding.

Najwa Zebian
Mind Platter


Take the Lead. Now there’s a challenge in times when the very notion of leadership – or the perceived lack thereof – is taking some stick all around the world. But what an important and necessary challenge! I am responsible for my own life. I can decide to stand tall and smile – two simple actions that change the way I go about my day.

I am responsible for doing everything I can to maintain my personal sense of general wellbeing – no matter the constantly changing circumstances, or the opinions, patterns, politics or preferences of others. I have not abrogated that responsibility to a prime minister, nor to a president, doctor, neighbour, nurse, partner, teacher, friend or family member – though I need to remind myself of that fact from time to time, and albeit that I am grateful whenever effective and necessary leadership and service for the good of all is provided by any or all of these.

I am the leader of my own life – and complex and demanding a responsibility as that is, and though I may fail more than I’d prefer to, whilst gratefully in possession of my faculties I am not powerless. And therein lies my hope and my chief reason for gratitude as, in company with all humankind, I continue to chart my course through strange and difficult times.

Autumnal amble

Spectacular Autumn colours minutes from my kitchen door – together with lungs full of cool but not yet cold fresh air – make for a great start to the day. I’ve often wondered what makes us so sensitive to light and colour. Unrelenting grey days do indeed make me feel grey. Bright blue and green and gold, on the other hand, and I’m ready for anything!

… nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things

Gerard Manley Hopkins

MV Columbus

I want to say such a fond farewell to MV Columbus – the beautiful, friendly ship with whom I met some truly wonderful new friends and visited some of the world’s great cities – among them Aarhus, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, St Petersburg and …

I smile as I think of a morning in the stunningly beautiful Tallin, in Estonia. Along with a couple of friends, we were attracted to a lovely looking street café that was apparently famous for, and had an extensive menu describing, about a dozen different flavoured lemonades. Back and forth we went, for half an hour or more: strawberry lemonade, marmalade lemonade, lightly peppered lemonade, and so on. Several times we sent the young waitress away for another few minutes until we’d settled on our choices. Eventually we were sure. The waitress reappeared and we named our desires. “Sorry,” she said, in perfect English, “we’ve only got lemonade today!”

Post Covid-19, Columbus has been sold at auction, and has been described as being “in limbo” for the time being. May she sail again in better times. And may she bring joy to others as she has to me.

Cerebral response

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on

‘Tis a strange thing. My brain doesn’t appear to work in quite the same way it used to. Does yours? Having watched this evening’s broadcasts about the latest C-19 restrictions here in the UK my brain announced, loud and clear, that what I required, fairly urgently, was cherry pie! And who can argue with that? … And yes, of course: with double cream. Hands up, who ate cherry pie tonight?

Just when …

Photo by Luis Dalvan on

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands

Denise Levertov
From A Gift

And therein lies the hope of all humanity: in what sometimes appears to each of us emptiness lies, precisely, our availability. Ours for others. Others’ for us. Just when you seem to yourself …

The gifted ecology of one-another-ness.

Leaping light for your delight

The colours and shapes of autumn at home are comfort and joy! And whether speaking of the ‘island’ of home, heart, soul, mind, body or nation W H Auden issues apt seasonal invitation:

Look, stranger, on this island now
The leaping light for your delight discovers,
Stand stable here
And silent be,
That through the channels of the ear
May wander like a river
The swaying sound of the sea.

Here at the small field’s ending pause
When the chalk wall falls to the foam and its tall ledges
Oppose the pluck

W H Auden
On this Island

Isn’t it a lovely thought that you might, perhaps, tonight, ‘stand stable’ at home for a space? – there to take stock of ‘the leaping light for your delight’ … a reflection in a treasured piece of jewellery, firelight, the warm glow from evening light on bookshelves or coffee table, a child’s framed painting, steam rising from a coffee cup, a jar of lentils, the fluid movement of a houseplant touched by slight draught. All in and around your own personal island …


grape leaf anemone – eriocapitella vitifolia

Evening sunlight behind grape leaf anenome – eriocapitella vitifolia – illuminates so much attention-grabbing detail!

I’m endlessly fascinated by how much variety rises up from dark earth – and by Nature’s immense ‘imagination’ in and throughout the universe: from tiny ants to the mighty oak tree they march around with their organised purpose, to tight-closed protective buds opening to ‘smiling’ fragile flowers like these – each protector and provider to the millions of future-ensuring seeds that will propagate and bloom in a steady procession of tomorrows.

Life is mystery and wonder indeed – and every day we’re alive to witness some more of it we, and the wider life we see, are enlightened …

If I were tall as they …

Will there really be a morning?
Is there such a thing as day?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were tall as they?

Emily Dickinson

Will there really be a morning? – And the frustrations and (for many of us, relative) privations of global pandemic have millions of us asking similar questions. Can we dare to hope – from the mountains – that before too long we’ll get back to something approaching what we used to think normal?

Hands up. I share the frustration today. Most 21st century humans are trained planners – we’ve become accustomed to having a fairly clear idea of what we’ll be doing, and when. Covid-19 has thrown our ‘best laid plans’ into disarray.

And the point of this post? Well, only an observation: that – in the midst of occasional frustration – any time spent with poetry serves me well. Others have wondered what I’m wondering. Others are asking questions today like mine. Poetry bids us remember our shared humanity. And as my grandmother used to say: ‘a problem shared is a problem halved …’

Sometimes I find, in company with poets, that I am tall as they.

Like a kite

throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back: a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country

Anaïs Nin

Books are such precious gifts. A lovely friend (thank you) gave me a little journal for my birthday in July this year. It’s one of those treasures that invites one to keep it close and open at random every once in a while … and I do. This afternoon I’m warmed by the invitation to ‘throw your dreams into space like a kite’ … and I have. Now to wonder where the wind will carry them, and turn to preparing supper …