Some late curation

Em's latest effort with classmates and teacher

Joe Pinkstone - Telegraph 31st Oct - Get angry if you want to get the job done

Anger boosts performance on difficult tasks, not easy ones. Unsurprisingly, life is not solely about the pursuit of happiness and overall positive emotions. What we really need is an emotional mix including negatives - Prof Heather Lynch. The harder the task the stronger the anger the more success.

Charlotte Lytton - Times 4th Nov - How to tackle the winter blues.

Get outside first thing in a morning - exposure to bright light first thing improves people with SAD and lowers the likelihood of psychiatric conditions.
Take vitamin D until March - 10 mag per day
Get a light box??
Keep exercising - releases dopamine and endorphins to lift the mood.
Make plans: don't hibernate. Even when you don't feel like it.

Rachel Carlyle - Times 4th Nov - Can music really help to boost your brain?

Listening to music releases dopamine and serotonin, the body's antidepressants. Particularly music that produce chill and spine-tingles. Chilled-out music also makes you more creative by encouraging new neural connections.
Bittersweet and moving music, not relaxing, best for pain, strength of ibuprofen, 
The key is to engage the parasympathetic system which can also be achieved in second phase of a 4:6 breathing pattern or 6 breaths per minute. 5 minutes a day for anxiety, as good as meditation
Avoid vocals to help sleep.
Music we like most, best for keeping brain younger, especially music from our youth. Good for dementia.


Durham - late autumn sun

Deep blue cloudless sky
Dominant grey stone cathedral
Smooth tree-lined calm reflective river Wear
Bubbling fast-flowing restless weirs
Narrow winding streets, open squares

Short pleasant weather window amongst some unpleasant
Time for brother Steve to bow out


He had already gone
But he would have the last breath
Well we had switched him off
We were all there
Funny thing that last breath


dostadning (death dealing) - Swedish tidying up before you die

 curation -  The Times - Oct 14th

Margaret Magnusson talks to Alice Thomson

Death dealing - tidying affairs and clutter before you die. Supposedly a fun thing and start early. Don't expect everything to be sorted out by your kids: they will be upset enough. So get rid of useless items before you leave the stage. While you still have the energy. And celebrate what they meant to you. Pass stuff on to people who would benefit and appreciate it. Otherwise trash or charity shops. 

    Start with clothes then photos and other personal items. Organise the finances. Talk to the family.

    Don't complain and do what you enjoy. Ailments and disappointments are boring.

Time and Tide - Scarborough Oct 2023


Scarborough sun and smiles
strollers surfers dogs clock cafe people
the day after Babet

We were warned tot to go.
Not only a visit to the clock but the Filey distillery as well. Went by no.12 service bus round a few villages - Cayton, Muston, Grisethorpe and Hunmanby. There's a stained glass place somewhere there which we will try and find again. Good food at the whisky spot. And it would be churlish not to buy a bottle of 'Flagship'.

Garden glimpses (7) Robinia - vision of colour soon to fall

  autumn wind in the trees

breathy whisper in the leaves

 hearable spite the breeze

Can it be true? - Two mature ladies and one older gent win the latest floodlit tournament.

Then....... suddenly, amongst the descending mist and gloom, appeared a ghostly figure who unleashed yet another winning boule .......

Old skill metal balls
Twilight cheeky phantoms win
Laugh less stern more future

old skill new marbles
twilight mature singers win
enjoy more tomorrows

                                              qui est-ce


More curation for the blip - The Times Sept 23rd 2023

 It's all about faith, but not the religious kind.

         * Walking over Helvellyn - nature notes - Melissa Harrison.

The challenge of hill walking - '...  a landscape resistant to human influence provides a kind of bellicosity, a refusal to feel impotent, diminished or small. Yet it's exactly that feeling that I seek out in high places. I find it deeply relieving to be reminded of the insignificance of my part in this vast, ancient and astonishing world.'

         * Space Odyssey - Leading ac - Dust and rock extracted from an asteroid are a precious scientific resource (the trip to Bennu 2011-2023).

'The mission is not only an immense achievement in itself, by yielding information on the existence of conditions for life, it makes humanity more at home in the inconceivable al vastness of the universe.'

       I feel exactly this watching and listening to Brian Cox - it's too hard to explain, just switch him on and try and grasp a light year or two.

Curation for the blip - mostly The Times newspaper this last weekend.- Sept 16th

* Am I the only one with mild paranoia?

Matthew Parris - For good Darwinian reasons something within all of us keeps a wary eye out for the false friends, concealed danger, for persons unknown who are trying to compromise us, poison us, steal our secrets or undermine our security.

This seems slightly over the top, a bit serious for individual suspiciousness. But it's about.

* Dominic Sandbrook - 'the country is broken' - Declinism - apparently we've been here before on several occasions, often following a good spell of Tory government, such as 'you've never had it so good' Harold Macmillan in the 60s and John Major in the 90s. John Smith in 1993 said there was no suprise that hotels were falling into the sea (a Scarborough reference). Today I think broken is global, but there is no need panic. We've won two world wars, live longer healthier lives and have more opportunities.

* Professor Arthur C. Brookes, renowned social scientist who's baseline mood defaults to gloom and anxiety. He has pioneered a course on 'Leadership and Happiness' which worked for him. Natural positive and negative settings exist together in various proportions. High doses of both is the mad scientist, two lows is a judge, otherwise cheerleaders and poets. They are present in family, friends, work and faith and comprise enjoyment, satisfaction (accomplishing goals) and purpose (a sense of direction). Faith is not religious, but more a recognition of our place in a much bigger picture than ourselves. Social media and the pandemic have reduced human connection (eye to eye, touch). He goes on to detail some tactics, but they have mostly been covered in pieces dealing with successful ageing.

So, a bit of 'same old'. Don't expect to be happy all the time. Live with unhappiness, it can be a source of energy. Think of it as work in progress.

This oldie has a blip - Sept 2023

 A blip meaning a flare in anxiety and a downturn in mood. No photographs because I couldn't be bothered, despite successful visits to Butlins, Skegness with the family and Bridlington with the choir.

It's been on its way since lockdown 2022. Difficulty reading for pleasure, poor concentration and not enjoying much other than beer. 

Erickson suggests over 65 is a time for reflection 'if we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our past, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.'

... 'feelings of fear and dread about their mortality.'

Late life is thus characterized by both satisfaction and despair that must be balanced.

All very well, but it's more complex. I have lived with anxiety/high funtioning and generalised (described alsewhere) for ever. An angry father back from the war, a bright older brother. I did well on reflection. Good at sports, very good at medicine and always open to new learning and experience. Grumpiness and mild paranoia kept me solidly on the ground. So professionally reasonable and socially inept - I've lived with this and it's okay now, not at the time. Try to live in the present, enjoy nature and take exercise, keep friends close and have a hobby (singing) are all part of my lifestyle and went well, up until earlier this year.

So what's gone wrong? Lockdown I've mentioned. A mild covid episode. Hernia surgery left me with a lower abdomen resembling a ploughed field. It has also changed the signals for when I need the loo. My 75th birthday came and went - geriatric now and aware of things wearing out. When things go wrong it's tiresome and time-consuming to put right, for instance losing the internet on my so-called smart TV. There is a background feeling of most things being broken - natural disasters, climate change, AI, racial injustice, cost of living, wars. Some call resulting tiredness and lack of motivation a spiritual PTSD. Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives whilst I'm 'In the sidings' to quote Louis Killen. And finally an alcoholic son with dreadful behaviour - not all the time.

Everyday stuff can also be huge things to achieve. Best example is driving, brought on by more and more bigger cars which take up more and more parking spaces. The garden is hard work, ivy especially. Doing the budget, getting a will (third), keeping up with photos and writing take a big effort when I'd rather be solving the crossword. Reading still difficult otherwise. Helping out, housework and cooking.

Keep up with the recommendations. I have another - do things in small bite pieces and pat your back when it's done.

The tides might be a helpful metaphor - regular ebb and flow. At worst flood tide is cataclysmic and all hope is lost during the ebb. Yet the daily recurrence provides another chance, just as good, coming soon.

And, there are a lot of people a lot worse off.

Awayday/week Alnmouth Aug 2023


Our third or fourth time, Judith's first. I thought I knew where the apartment was, but wrong. So, visit the PO and get on the phone, number from the main street agency or so we thought. Wrong again, wrong holiday agency. No wonder no one we asked knew where it was. Until someone was helpful. We'd to say sorry to ourselves for the blunder and to the staff that couldn't help.

Left the car at the apartment - everywhere by bus. Timetables could be confusing, so Lindisfarne was a no-no. Otherwise quite relaxing along rural agricultural and coastal routes.

We walked locally a couple of times. Took in the gallery and the golf club for a coffee as well as the pub. A 7-miler finished with great fish and chips from The Hope and Anchor.



Another small village and harbour. Busy but not a lot to do other than visit Dunstanburgh castle and 
The Jolly Fisherman (fish and chip van in the car park). Robinson's smokery opposite.


Congested lunch. More hungry starlings.
But, if you don't like cars, dogs or sight-seeing boat trips, don't go to Seahouses.


Very busy. Barter Books full. White Swan empty. Memories of looking for Tourist Info in the theatre and asking for train times from the stage staff. Lunch at The Market Tavern - great mackerel and chicken liver pate platter.

A brilliant part of the world.


A couple of odd things, then Em's very own flower - Aug 2023

Who put the dog with specs on my shed door?

This older acrobat juggled for us in Uppermill.

Series of em's sunflower - it's a cracker

Honey Juniors guard of honour at 'Town' match

 All excited as the coach tries to herd them into the stadium.
Town legend 'Boothy' has a kind word - he still lives in Honley.
Then chaos back to their seats - up and down to toilet and cafe.
Matthew and myself were supporting Jenson.
Moment pre-match when standing along with the teams (Town and Leicester).
Vardy was a sub.
Only decent shot of the game was the decider. We lost.
I'm not sure if any of the boys watched it.


Garden glimpses (5) - august 2023

          It started as a seed in a small plastic pot. Germinated on Lou's kitchen window and look at it now. Nurtured well and strong thankfully. Not quite twice Em's height.


From Bob Carrick's flying club pal -  a fair crop. Still green.
Simon Barnes curation - originally a Mexico plant, with an Aztec name. A fruit (like peppers, cucumber and green beans) in the nightshade family like potatoes. Around 1500, came to Europe with Cortez more as an ornament. Porugese traders introduced it to India and China.
Heinz started ketchup in 1876, with sugar and vinegar.
Subject of a Gershwin song 'Let's call the whole thing off.'

assorted plants



Three Towers - a weekend in the borders

The borders ?is/are a largely rural district of SE Scotland, between Northumberland and Edinburgh.
Famous for abbeys and rugby clubs. Proud of their textile history.

1. Waterloo monument - early 19th century, marks the battle.

200 metres above Teviotdale. You can climb it for a fee..

Surrounded by woodland and green undergrowth - brambles, ferns, laurel, nettle, buttercups.

Stunning view.

BBQ - single pot with a block of charcoal in the bottom. Convenient and portable. No controls.

2. Monteath Mausoleum - built 1864 to commemorate the general who is actually interred in Glasgow.

Another great view.

                                                                      buck moon

                        3. Smailholm - The Pringle family weren't taking any chances when they built a tower house to keep out the notorious Border Reivers: it's got 2.5m thick walls.

between Jedburgh and Kelso

roadworks portaloo traffic lights
when you gotta go
you gotta go


Garden Glimpses (4) - more Simon Barnes curation


Wild most places. Woody, bushy. Produce hips, insect pollinated, seeds dispersed by birds.

Domesticated by cutting - cloning. So, for the flower and not food. Originally leisured elite as demonstration of power and wealth. Also for scent, oil and attar for hygiene issues.

Now the most popular cut flower. A gift as an expression of love and desire - Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus; gods of love, lust, beauty, pleasure, passion, procreation. Now also Valentine's. Purity in religion as well - Virgin Mary, the rosary, Rose Windows (Chartres, York), Islamic gardens.

Common symbol - see below. Socialism too after French Revolution (1848).
A film - 'The Name of the Rose' with Sean Connery.
A saying - 'smell the roses' - a short escape from the cares of work and family.

Tudor Rose

Created in the wake of England's Wars of the Roses, fought between the houses of Lancaster 
and York, as they claimed, reclaimed and ousted one another from the throne. The name 'War of the Roses' was awarded by Henry VII after the event. He chose the red and white colour scheme for his Tudor rose when he married Elizabeth of York in January 1486.

Yorkshire Cricket Rose

Lord Hawke, in the early days of his captaincy, designed the white rose badge. It is not a real flower. Based on a hedge rose, the eleven petals represent the players. 



Latin - digitalis. Poisenous. First described by Leonard Fuchs of fuchsia fame 1542.

1785 first reported for treatment of dropsy by William Withering. Active ingredient is digoxin - slows heart rate in atrial fibrillation and improves heart muscle function in heart failure. Therapeutic dose close to toxic so easy to overdose.

No one knows who or how discovered. A herbal remedy, many of which attributed to 'wise woman' who understood plant secrets. Is it magic or science? Sadly many a witch suffered.


This is a ragged specimen but it is bamboo.
Its main attribute is strength and often seen in Chinese construction sites. 
Fast growing up to 10ft tall and 1 ft diameter.

Loads of other uses - weapons (sticks and spears),
musical instruments, baskets, furniture, fishing traps 
and poles, floating houses, food, garments.

Home to the giant panda.

Garden Glimpses (3) courtesy of Simon Barnes


Mary's gold - a religious name then. 
Flowering plant, coloured leaves and nectar for insect
pollination rather than wind. 100 million years ago when we were
hunter-gatherers in Africa.
Celebrations including funerals. Central to Indian religious festivals - I
got a garland as I got off the plane.
Secrete a chemical that repels pests and worms. Useful for tomatoes and corpses.
Flavouring in cooking, wine and porridge.
And a film - 'The Exotic Marigold Hotel'.


I read somewhere that they were good for caterpillars. Talboys has a few clumps next to the boulodrome, so he kindly donated one. No caterpillars yet.

European originally, more widespread now. In abandoned human dwellings along with ashes, bones and rubbish - 'all that is least glorious'. Also land next to farms and roadside verges, at the expense of wild flowers.

It's hairy. They stick into skin and deposit very irritating chemicals, producing dermatitis. Defence against grazing animals.

They do have their uses. Clothing (eg. uniforms), rucksacs, green-yellow dye, food (tea, beer) and some people rub the leaves on aching joints.

And it's a myth that dock is the antidote. But it works for me.


Did anyone know it is the BP logo?

Cultivated for 5000 years. Edible roots known as  Jerusalem artichokes. Seeds for bread and porridge. Oil for cooking. Waste fed to livestock.

An obsession of the bloke with one ear. He painted loads. Said to be a genius.

They look great. This one is a bush.