Friday, 11 July 2014

A welcome surprise

My spy in Switzerland today told me The Rescued Heart (set in Basel and Scotland) is on sale at Bider and Tanner, a bookshop in Basel.that carries works in English. A bit of a mystery how a book published in America found its way there. However, I hope any Swiss readers agree that I have written about their city with enduring affection. Basel remains one of my favourite places: small enough to walk everywhere, large enough to have theatres and art galleries. Having France and Germany on the doorstep adds a touch of zest to Swiss reliability and efficiency. If only I could wave a magic wand and be on the spot to sign copies. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

A break from the rain


     A week ago the wind dropped and the sun came out, for three days only. In this part of the world, the sun means we shed our cares, shed our clothes and shed our inhibitions. Bare legs in sandals, sunburnt shoulders poking out of vests and, best of all, smiles in the street. No-one glared at children and strangers made cheerful comments to each other while waiting for the bus. The queue of cars taking bags of garden clippings to the tip backed up into the road. Instead of impatience, smiles and waves all round.

     It was too good to last. This weekend, the east coat is back to normal: wind and driving rain. 

       Image courtesy of Idea Go at

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Just back from my son’s wedding, a joyful mix of English, Canadian and Filipino traditions.  It was moving to see them overcome by their own good fortune and to hear them promising to love and cherish each other in sickness and in health.

Forsaking all others is a choice and a pledge. However grand or simple the ceremony, at its heart lies the promise of lifetime commitment. It lifts the spirit to see the next generation making that pledge.   

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


We homed in on it from fifty yards away. A small chest of drawers, dumped on the pavement beside the rubbish bins. Ugly handles and battered feet, but, hey, the wood was sound and the drawers still slid in and out with ease. Oblivious to the stares of passers-by, we circled the object of our covetousness, before common sense came to the rescue.

Twenty years ago, it would have come home with us, to be stripped down and restored to useful life. Twenty years ago, the hours we spent in the back garden, doing up battered finds with a cup of tea to hand, were therapeutic. But now? We have accumulated too much stuff: the house is full; the loft is full; the garage is slowly filling up.

Scrubbing, sanding, repainting and revarnishing now belong to the land of lost content. Time to let the younger generation carry off the plunder.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Invaded by Google+

In my innocence, I volunteered to create a blog for a community group. A short statement of our aims plus a few photos. Easy-peasy, you might think. Think again. Working from my laptop, it proved impossible to erase my own Google+ profile from the new community blog. Using an alternative email address did not prevent Google’s myriad, invasive tentacles identifying me. Somewhere, somehow, there must be an escape option, but non-technical dinosaurs are slow-witted, helpless prey and our privacy has gone forever. 
However, we dinosaurs still remember the old ways. I walked to the local library on my own two feet and created a Blogger account using their computer. Mission accomplished, with the bonus of fresh air and a couple of “wee blethers” along the way.  

Image courtesy of Victor Haddick at

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Wasteful charity

In one week, I have received three fundraising appeals from the Red Cross, containing:
3 pens
6 cards
6 envelopes
6 drinks coasters
12 gift stickers

The Red Cross does brilliant work, but wasteful, aggressive fundraising like this sets my teeth on edge and discourages donations. Why not a simple flyer?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Spitting mad but almost grateful

In a lifetime’s travelling, I kept my eyes open for trouble. All I had stolen was one travel alarm clock and one rainjacket. Smug, moi? You bet.
Then, in my home town, smugness reared up and kicked me in the teeth. I tried on a jacket in the changing cubicle of a shop, making the classic mistake of picking up my shopping bag and leaving my handbag behind. Returning in panic ten minutes later, I found some lowlife had taken £60 in untraceable folding money. I’m still kicking myself for being such an idiot. 
Still, be thankful for small mercies. The thief did not take my house keys, car keys, driving licence, credit cards or phone—nor my precious writing notebook. No hassle, and life goes on. I could almost be grateful.  

Image courtesy of sattva at