• Upcoming trips



    13-23 January, 2018 Cruise out of New York around the Caribbean on the Norwegian Gem. Note : this trip has been cancelled altogether because of the damage caused by the hurricanes to the Caribbean islands.

    October 31st - 11 November. Caribbean cruise to break up the winter. Note: The itinerary has not yet been determined owing to the havoc wreaked by the hurricanes.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    October 8 Went to BAM, for the first time since Ethel died, to hear a wonderful modern opera composed and written by Matthew Aucoin called “Crossing”. It is based on Walt Whitman’s experience and the libretto is largely taken from his poetry.

    The story is multi-themed, as modern plays tend to be; the first is a harrowing anti war depiction of the suffering wounded seen through Whitman’s eyes when he volunteered as a nurse during the American civil war; the second is Slavery and its effect upon a run-away slave who fights on the Union side; the third is treachery portrayed by a guilt-laden deserter who spies for the South. And forth, inevitably these days, is the (entirely fictional) homosexual one.

    The powerful music fits the story perfectly and the voices of the lead singers and the chorus is magnificent; Rod Gilfry, bass-baritone, sings the part of Walt Whitman, Alexander Lewis plays John Wormley, the deserter, and Davone Tines, whose baritone reminded me, distinctly, of the sound of the legendary Paul Robeson.  Both Christine and I were extremely moved by the work. We newly discovered Walt Whitman’s poetry, too.

    October 20. Thanks to the invitation of our friend Francia, who is a member, we went to the Diller-Quaile School of Music to listen to a chamber concert given by the Diller-Quaile String Quartet. The program was comprised of Haydn and Debussy quartets; played magnificently by very experienced and talented musicians in an intimate. and perfectly designed, music space. Chatting with the musicians after the concert added to a first class evening.

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Over the Sea to Skye – part 1

Kim and Tom met me at Edinburgh airport. Fortunately, Tom had tracked the progress of my flight, which landed four hours late due to the wild weather over Newark the night before. From the airport we drove straight to Earlston and to their newly extended and fitted house.

Kim and Tom are very happy in their comfortable new home. Its mod-cons. include a wood-burning stove in the  living room and three bathrooms. Kim’s garden fell hostage to the back hoe during the re-construction but she already has a Cox’s Orange Pippin fruiting  in the front yard, laden with several first-year apples! The way things grow in Scotland, her gardens should be a blaze of colour next spring.

The house is a mile or so outside downtown Earlston, in farm country.  Their neighbours are a few farm workers and a million free-range chickens. The views from their windows are stunning–changing with every light and season.

Kim’s daughter, Rebecca, was away in Aberdeen University studying archaeology so I was able to use her bedroom and en suite bathroom. Rebecca now prefers books in her room rather than the stuffed animals of yore!

The day following we started on our journey across Scotland to the Isle of Skye. Tom drove a thousand miles or so, much of it on single lane roads and in pelting rain. During the course of the journey we called in on Tom’s aunt, Dorothy; Tom’s sister and brother-in-law, Kitty and Douglas and also Rebecca in her apartment in Aberdeen. We passed through many villages with quaint names such as Uig, Methlick, Aberfeldy and Sligachan. All were  charming and at one with the countryside, but some of the bigger towns have suffered from the march of modernism and the most disappointing was Inverness. In my romantic youth my parents took me to Inverness and I retained persistent memories of a gallant city and Scottish knights. Today, the salient feature of downtown Inverness is a giant Cosco supermarket!

Never-the-less, nothing could detract from the magnificent scenery, and, given the wildly changing weather, we saw it in all it’s moods.  I hope the following photos do it some justice.  The sheer number will require more than one post.  Click on them for greatest detail:

Kim invoking the Fire gods . . . . . . . .

Kim invoking the Fire gods . . . . . . . .

. . . . .Success! A comfortable glow for the evening.

. . . . .Success! A comfortable glow for the evening.

Morning view from the bedroom  . . . . .

Morning view from the bedroom . . . . .

. . . . . . later on.

. . . . . . later on.

Rape seed field. It will be a vast expanse of bright yellow when it flowers--what luck to have it growing next to your home?

Rape seed field. It will be a vast expanse of bright yellow when it flowers–what luck to have it growing next to your home?

. . . . evening mood.

. . . . evening mood.

Windy afternoon

Windy afternoon

Just up the lane from Kim’s house are the chicken sheds. The farmer has a very modern set-up. At a certain time the shed doors open and the hens swarm into the adjacent field to feed on the  local insects and worms. The hens are quite domesticated and, at a given signal, they all pour back into the sheds to go about their business of laying eggs.

For their convenience, a conveyer belt is provided so that the eggs are rolled away, underground, to the packing station across the road. The hens are thus saved the bother of having sit on them for long periods as would be their natural bent.

Free-ranging hens en masse . . . . . .

Free-ranging hens en masse . . . . . .

. . . . detail.

. . . . detail.

 Waitress

Waitress

Stylish mushroom

Stylish mushroom

Inviting footpath

Inviting footpath

Kim among the bamboos

Kim among the bamboo canes

River scene

River scene

 

This is the front porch of the Minaig B & B run very comfortably by Valerie and Ian Forsyth. We stayed here overninght before taking the ferry to the Isle of Skye

This is the front porch of the Minaig B & B run very comfortably by Valerie and Ian Forsyth. We stayed here overnight before taking the ferry to the Isle of Skye

 

Valerie's hens

Valerie’s hens

To be continued

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